In my last blog post, I talked about the need for scaling the difficulty of individual components of a mission so that the overall difficulty of a mission should be the same if there are five players or if there is only one player.
I started looking at how to scale the damage that the enemies deal to the Heroes and I suddenly thought to myself “Do I actually need the enemies to deal damage to the Heroes? Do the Heroes actually need hit points?”
Why am I thinking this? When I originally was writing Spaceship 47 as an RPG, one of my design goals was to not have the PCs die. This was because I didn’t want a player to find themselves suddenly halfway through a session with nothing to do. The original idea was to have morale instead of HP and once that hit 0, then the character would be less useful, but still able to contribute. Then, when the mission was completed and the characters were back aboard Spaceship 47, the character would have to be retired and the player would have to pick a new one for the next session.
For the board game version I want each player to play the same character for the entirety of the campaign. Therefore I don’t want the characters to die like in normal games, or even Pseudo-die like in the RPG version. I want to have them survive until the last mission.
You may be wondering how the Heroes can fail if they are unable to die? Well, each of the missions has a goal, for example, rescue the scientists, plant a bomb etc. The enemies would take actions to stop the players from completing their goal. For instance, the first mission sees the Heroes break into the Research station on Mars to rescue the Scientists that are being held hostage by the Draydun. So the Draydun enemies would hamper the players by slowing down the Heroes, making it harder for them to get to where they are meant to go and then as a last resort trying to kill the Scientists as the Heroes and Scientists flee.
Yes, it would be easier for the Draydun if they actually killed the Heroes, but I am trying to go for the feel of a serial Sci-fi TV show, and when have you seen main characters killed off early on in a TV show season (apart from Game of Thrones obviously)?
The other big thing for this game is that each Hero will be completing their own story. Each mission is an opportunity for the player to complete the next goal in their Heroes’ story. It is pointless if the character dies halfway through the campaign as the player won’t have enough missions left to complete the story goals for their new character. So essentially, I don’t think health/HP is right for this game. Maybe that is taking away something that people like about these sort of games, which is always a worry. Maybe down the road I will add it back in, but at the moment, I am going to go with no HP for the Heroes and make the enemies in the mission use other methods in keeping the Heroes from their goals.
Oh, I should add that for the final mission, all bets are off – it’s the season finale and that’s when main characters can die. So for the final mission of the game, I will add in a health track for each Hero and they can die.
One other thing, the Draydun still have health and the Heroes still kill them. After all, the bastards are occupying Earth – they deserve it.