Monday, March 13, 2017

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post, I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough.

In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game.

As follows:
Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM.

Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll.

2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10

If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage.

3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10

Because each character only has 3 ability scores (STR, DEX, WIL), it should be pretty easy for the GM to set up 3 macros for each character. 4, if the character has a skill path (which gives them advantage on related danger rolls).

Forget initiative. Combat is simultaneous. Player actions are taken in the order they are posted. Players who have not posted in time may have default actions assigned to them by the GM.

Surprise: If one group ambushes another, this triggers a danger roll (WIL) for the leader of the surprised group. If this roll is unsuccessful, the surprised group misses one round of action.

Combat: Whenever a player posts an action that is intended to wreck damage on another character, they should include an attack roll.

2d6 + Attack Bonus

When all actions for a given round are posted, the GM will compare the results to the defender’s AC, and post any overage as damage inflicted. The GM will roll attacks directed at the PCs, and then stitch all the results together as a narrative.

Danish Fairy Tales, Sven Grundtvig, 1914
Magic: At the beginning of each game-day, all spell-casting characters get new spells.
This is tricky, because it’s fun, but it also requires negotiation, which can stretch out over days.

1. The GM will generate the names of the new spells and posts them along with any other information about the beginning of the new day.
2. The player should, in their very next post, include a brief description of what they think that spell does.
3. The GM responds with the final description of the spell, if necessary.
4. The player may attempt to use the spell for purposes outside of the final description, but the GM is the final arbiter of how the spell manifests.
5. Once the spell is cast, it is gone for good.

Don’t nail down all the details of a given spell, just get the general function and flavor.

If, however, the player doesn’t respond with a description, the GM can provide a description and should make it a very boring utility spell.

If the GM has a bunch of spells to crank out, there are some great generators, such as Adventuresmith (which seems to get better and better every time I open it up).

There are ways to streamline the spell creation process (like, say, just have the GM generate and describe the spells), but they're more work and less fun. I'd like to play-test version listed, and see how it goes.

Overview: GUYS! Maze Rats is really good. And I think the above would make for snappy PbP game. It also delivers a ton of actionable flavor in a very small package. I kinda want to convert my Into the Odd game over, but I think I'll just adopt the GM-rolls-for-danger rule.