As I mentioned in last week’s blog, part of the work on Interstellar Operations has simply been laying a massive foundation. A lot of discussion, a lot of paper work, a lot of trial and error of some different basic, core mechanics of how to make various things work…pretty sure we’ve generated and tossed aside more ideas for just a few of IO‘s section than all the previous rulebooks combined.
There’s an internal document called the BattleTech Stats Discussion: Scales and Stats that has been kicked around for literally years at this point. For simply being a “foundation” document, it’s large…8k and still rising as we continue to bang on various aspects.
As I mentioned in this old blog post (also more fully expanded and covered in the How The Core Rulebooks Work PDF), there are six scales to BattleTech gam play and 3 of them have to be covered in IO. But it also means we have to make sure that the progression of the stats and scales established in the first three scales are followed appropriately.
Another important reason to have this discussion is there are very important and key aspects to BattleTech that make the game what it is. Initiative, alternating actions, and range are just three of the key elements. In the past, when ever a game system for BattleTech has published that’s gone too far afield from those key elements (say the first BattleForce box set), the feel of BattleTech is lost and the game system doesn’t do well.
That type of discussion, then, becomes all the more difficult when you cross key aspects of game play with the truly large scales. For example, range is such a critical factor for making BattleTech feel the way it does when you’re tossing the dice. Yet when you stretch up to the Planetary Assault scale of the game, a hex is 250 kilometers, making all normal ranges irrelevant. It would be all to easy to simply say “yeah, ranges don’t work at this scale, so we dump them.” Yet the very discussion and generation of the document has forced us to take a long, hard look at all the sub-game systems published over the years, as well as our own enjoyment (and the knowledge we’ve garnered from years of playing and discussing such things with the community). And in walking that path we’ve discovered that range, even if it’s an abstraction, has to remain, or it doesn’t feel like BattleTech, which is the cardinal sin of any of this game design work.
With that in mind the document covers the following “core stats”:
- Combat Morale (In Game Play)
- Combat Fatigue (In Game Play)
- Combat Morale and Fatigue (Outside of Game Play)
- Damage Absorption
- Defensive Rating
- Damage Rating
- Experience Rating
Now obviously there’s far more details that can and must be fleshed out. However, we felt these were the core basics off of which everything else will build. For example, there’s no specific discussion of how combat is resolved in those headers, because it’s more important to determine the exact mechanics of how you determine how much damage a unit does and how the damage is applied to the target. Once those are locked down, the mechanics then for determining if you hit a target starts to shape out.
Next time I’ll dive a little more into how we’re working to solve some of the scaling issues to retain that all important flavor.