Huzzah, I completed Nanowrimo with 52,839 words. I could retell the enthralling tale of an unexpected word war with a friend which resulted in me writing 8,000 words and finishing two days early, but this blog is about Dinosaur Cowboys not Nanowrimo!
So far I have some general ideas, but want to flesh it all out a bit (plus the background) to see what kind of game I want to go. Right now I am grappling between making it a dedicated skirmish game or just making it a light RPG that can handle big fights well (a weakness a previous post-apocalyptic ruleset Drylands suffered from).
So far I’m thinking, for combat, you get X number of Attacks, with each attack being a D12. Then you have a To-Hit value that is either character based, weapon based, or target armor based (haven’t decided yet). For every Attack dice >= to the To-Hit roll, you get one hit. Basically you count the number of successful attacks (count +2 for “criticals” which are any rolls of 12), then add that to the (static) base damage of the weapon. The result is the damage that is applied to the target (although maybe you subtract some for their armor). If the target is mounted they will have a damage track that represents their mount, with boxes like “-1 Movement” and stuff, and also hits that go through to the rider. If you are on foot your character takes the damage directly, which can be lethal faster. Then dinosaurs themselves just add +Attacks in close combat, and +Armor to the rider’s armor. The other nice part of this approach to combat is I can apply it directly to close combat, which is always AWESOME if you can have the ranged and hand to hand rules work the same. But yeah, I should be able to get some variety of weapons with high attacks low base damage, or low attacks high base damage, or medium of both. I figure lasers will be the most common, but plasma will be around too. And each gun would have a reload value that means you have to take a turn (or phase or whatever) reloading your gun instead of shooting. So you might see “2×1″ as a reload value, which means if you get 2 or more 1s on your Attacks, you need to reload. Simple and effective.
I figure carry weights can be done by sizes (for weapons), and everything else is trucked around on the dinosaurs, so no weight needs to be tracked. Remove food and water requirements since that just slows down the game. Simple kill based experience. One problem is how to make it feel like your character is advancing. I guess your dinosaur could get more powerful, and you could get more HP and weapons (heck maybe I’ll even bring back the “Laser Pistol +2″ approach). Or each character / member of your gang could have special descriptive traits, like “Speedy” guys have +1 Movement or whatever. I want to have some customization but not get into a TON of special rules per person. Ideally just flat modifiers that apply to the character sheet so you don’t have to remember anything in detail.
As for the background, well a volcano (supervolcano even?) rises in the middle of America. A lush jungle springs up form the morphed ecology (temperatures rise, water tables change, etc.). The volcano also exposes metal veins for mining and so on. The rich interior builds a big fence (called The Border from inside, and The Fence from outside) and starts to live a rich, industrialized / civilized lifestyle. Sort of like Brave New World vs. the savage reserves, or modern society vs. camping, or central vs. rim planets in Firefly.
Anyways outside The Border the temperatures are drier as a result, and it’s pretty much your standard wild west / post apocalyptic scenario. Everyone outside calls themselves Dusters (or Primitives or Savages is the inside term) and everyone inside are called Veggies or Volkies (or Neotechnoists from the inside). Outside people are omnivores, inside people have the luxury of being vegetarians. Outside is lawless, inside is ordered and controlled.
So yeah, super psyched for the whole idea, and also for making some figures and designing character sheets and actually PLAYING the game, haha.