Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Final Notes on Daredevils

In many games, at the beginning of a combat round, players are required to declare what their characters will do during that round – a “statement of intent.”  Such is the case with Daredevils; however, it's called “selecting an Option.”  Daredevils handles this process in an interesting way.

In Daredevils, combat occurs in a “scale of play known as Detailed Action Time.”  Turns (actually, “Detailed Turns”) represent periods of time that are six seconds long.  Each “turn is broken down into four Phases:  Declaration Phase, two Action Phases, and Bookkeeping Phase.”  During the 'Declaration Phase,' each player selects an Option for his or her character that indicates the character's scope of activity for the two Action Phases of the turn.

There are only six Options; however, each Option is associated with four to eight “types” of Action.  Some Actions are associated with more than one Option.  A character can perform the same Action on both Action Phases of a turn or can perform different Actions, as long as those Actions are associated with the chosen Option.  For instance, the “Fire Weapon” Option allows the following Actions:  Shoot, Ready Weapon, Adopt Stance, Alter Position, and Short Move.

During the Declaration Phase, players indicate their choice of Option simultaneously.  This is done by “writing it down” or – here is what I think is the interesting part – “placing a six-sided die with the number of the Option on the top face.”  All Actions are assumed to be executed simultaneously.  However, “To lessen confusion, the Gamemaster may wish to have the character's [sic] Actions resolved in order of highest Deftness.”

The six Daredevils 'Options' are:  Movement, Observe/Command, Engage in Combat, Fire Weapon, Perform Function, and Operate Vehicle.  Specific 'Actions' don't need to be declared, but players are committing characters to general courses of action.  A character can attack, but the target need not be declared until it's time to resolve actions.  All Options have Actions that allow characters to move (other than Operate Vehicle – which implies movement anyway).  So, in case of emergencies, there's always the option to bail.

I think this method offers a nice middle-ground between rigid and detailed statements of intent (which can be difficult to record and keep track of) and free-wheeling action (which can provide undue advantage by allowing players to 'react' to circumstances that should not yet be known to characters).  Speaking of undue advantage, the Declaration Phase seems to apply only to the players; the Gamemaster does not reveal 'Options' upon which non-player characters will engage.  To be 'fair,' a Gamemaster can arrange dice for NPCs to be revealed when the players reveal their Options.  This might be bothersome with multiple NPCs adopting different Options, but a GM could identify NPCs on a piece of paper and assign dice behind a screen.

If I were to adapt this system to a fantasy-genre game, I would have as Options:  (1) Cast Spell, (2) Movement, (3) Engage in Combat, (4) Fire Weapon, (5) Handle Mount/Operate Vehicle, and (6) Anything Else.  Of course, one could accommodate more 'Options' – or define specific actions instead – by employing a d8 or a d10.  (I think that more than ten choices would tend to be unwieldy.)

Anyway, before we bid adieu to Daredevils, I provide below the table of “Random Locations For Action” as presented on page 56 of the rulebook.  It's obviously geared toward a pulp-era urban environment, but what more could you ask for?

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