I’m working on a PbtA game right now that’s inspired by Final Fantasy, JRPGs, and science-fantasy anime. I’m also someone who has very little interest in traditional, crunchy, D&D-style combat systems, which JRPGs have largely emulated. As such, I’m trying to make a game where fighting is narratively common, and the aesthetics of how people fight is diverse (are you a big strong warrior, a mage, a sneaky sort, etc.) without making a system that’s heavily dedicated to tactics minutiae. The tension there has got me thinking about how you can change up some of the common PbtA design norms without adding in a whole lot of math or crunchy systems on top.
Traditional Apocalypse World design is to have a single stat that the main “fight something” move rolls off of, and let people opt into how much they want to fight or not by picking playbooks that do or don’t lean into that. But if your game is of a genre where the norm is that everyone is equally expected to fight, this seems less appropriate. Dungeon World gets at this by adding in some light D&D-style math and rules about multiple ways to roll various stats to fight, but even that level of D&D emulation is something I’d rather not do.
So, if fighting is ubiquitous in this genre, but you want your PbtA game to have light, simple rules that let you enjoy the fiction of fighting without getting super involved in the mechanics of it, how would you achieve that?
I’ve seen a few games recently that I think have gotten at this idea: Legacy: Rhapsody of Blood, Fellowship, and @edige23 's Hearts of Wulin playtest that was just released, if I’m not misunderstanding the rules… Basically, the solution is to let people pick a stat to roll on the fight move, or select a stat at character creation that their character will fight with. Naturally, you’ll expect most of your players to pick whatever their highest, main stat is for fighting, but that’s fine if it’s part of your fiction that everyone should be able to fight, and you’re not trying to incentivize anyone being particularly better or worse at it. The important thing on top of that is then probably to make sure the stats, moves, and playbooks are pushing something more interesting and unique about each of these characters that isn’t solely about how or if they fight.
What do people think about ways you can make a PbtA game where all your PCs are capable of, and expected, to fight, without adding in much more combat minutiae than is found in your average PbtA game?