|Image by PIR04D from Pixabay
I thought it might be helpful to give an example of a rules hack I did last year that I was particularly proud of as a follow up to my four posts on rules hacking and customization. The previous ones are:
- What Are You Looking For?
- ... And What to Do When You've Found It.
- Game System Hacking 101 (pt. 1)
- Game System Hacking 101 (pt. 2)
Revisiting My Vision
She Who Waits...
A Mysterious and Intrigue-filled Fantasy Saga for ICRPG 2e
She who waits is a tale of young people who discover they are part of a noble house in exile when have to fight for their lives to escape enemies who would kill them over old feuds they have never known. To survive they must make allies and claim their birthright by their wits and by the sword. Focused on Dominion-level play.
Film & Television: Game of Thrones, Return of the King, Excalibur
Video Games: Final Fantasy Tactics, Banner Saga, Final Fantasy XII, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Books: Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey, Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Grabbing a Useful System
The rules don’t distinguish between actions performed in the present moment and those performed in the past. When an operation is underway, you can invoke a flashback to roll for an action in the past that impacts your current situation. Maybe you convinced the district Watch sergeant to cancel the patrol tonight, so you make a Sway roll to see how that went.
The GM sets a stress cost when you activate a flashback action
- 0 Stress: An ordinary action for which you had easy opportunity. Consorting with a friend to agree to arrive at the dice game ahead of time, to suddenly spring out as a surprise ally.
- 1 Stress: A complex action or unlikely opportunity. Finessing your pistols into a hiding spot near the card table so you could retrieve them after the pat-down at the front door.
- 2 (or more) Stress: An elaborate action that involved special opportunities or contingencies. Having already Studied the history of the property and learned of a ghost that is known to haunt its ancient canal dock—a ghost that can be compelled to reveal the location of the hidden vault.
After the stress cost is paid, a flashback action is handled just like any other action. Sometimes it will entail an action roll, because there’s some danger or trouble involved. Sometimes a flashback will entail a fortune roll, because we just need to find out how well (or how much, or how long, etc.). Sometimes a flashback won’t call for a roll at all because you can just pay the stress and it’s accomplished.
If a flashback involves a downtime activity, pay 1 coin or 1 rep for it, instead of stress.
The rules in this subsection are CC-BY One-Seven DesignThis can serve my purposes perfectly. Players can use Flashbacks to handle positioning the special units, setting traps, making barricades, establishing signals, etc., to cover their prep on the fly in response to events on the battlefield.
Making it Abstract
When an encounter is underway, characters can Invoke a flashback to have the character have previously made an action in the past that impacts the current situation. Maybe you positioned your archers on the cliff or set a trap that could be set. These cost a variable amount of a limited resource, that may harm the character if overdone.The more sophisticated the action, the greater the cost in stress.After the cost in resources is spent, the action is handled just like any other action. Sometimes this will entail a roll, because there is some danger or risk of failure involved. Sometimes a flashback won't call for a roll at all.
Aiming for Reasonable Unity
"Listen: we have great momentum tonight, and I don't want to break it with a long planning session and drawing huge maps. Here is how we are going to keep it moving. I am going to fast forward to the battle. I am going to assume you set up a bunch of clever tricks for an ambush."So, I am going to give you one HEART each that you can use to flash back about things you prepared. So, if I say there is a group coming around the pit trap, and one of you wanted to add a trap of your own on the safe path, then you can say: 'hold on, I want to play a flashback.'"Then you tell me what you did. If it needs rolls, we will roll it. You will lose 1d4 off your Flashback HEART. If you spend more than you have, the rest goes off your hit points, because you tired yourself out with all the excess prep work."