|ORD Spotlight #3: Map Combat
||[Jun. 26th, 2007|01:34 am]
Associated with Returner Games
These Map Combat rules were penned by JonB and the Damn Elf, the latter of whom is busy renovating his newly purchased house these days and never shows his face on IRC. Slacker. :p Other people like NinjaWeazel and Newbie X have contributed to it as well.
The rules attempt to transcribe the FFRPG's abstract combat system into something resembling the map-based combat of Final Fantasy Tactics or Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The older editions of the Final Fantasy Roleplaying Game were explicitly built with map combat support in mind, but the (perpetually in beta) Third Edition relies completely on a wonderfully fine-tuned abstract combat engine based on "the bad guys are here, and the good guys are here, and you hit each other" approach seen in classic Final Fantasy games, even neglecting the "Rows" of later entries in the series.
So, unlike a lot of ORD stuff, this particular set of rules has both canon and historical significance for the FFRPG.
The first thing that the Map Combat rules tackle is "how far can you move." Ranges are based on "hexes" which have an undefined size. The movement range depends on Speed, the character's Job, or the Monster's Type. Same this with the "Jump" which determines how tall a height change the character can move across from one square to the next. Pretty solid rules so far, there's nothing outrageous here.
After defining how to move around the map, we next come to new advantages that make sense in the Map Combat context. These advantages provide modifiers to a character's Move and Jump scores.
The rules for actually conducting an attack are laid out well, and easily understandable. I would dispute, depending on the range scale for a 'hex', whether Polearms and Flails should have such long ranges. Other than that, the text explains itself well, even providing an ASCII visual description of what a 'cone' effect looks like.
So how does attacking work? It's easy. Each attack has a Range (R:) and Area (A:) stat associate with it in Map Combat. The Range is how many hexes away the attack can hit, and the Area stat is how many hexes around the target are affected. Area is just, then, a more concrete way of saying something is T:Group in Abstract combat. There's some examples in the text to help clarify how these stats work.
Much of the rest of the ruleset is devoted to defining, for various abilities in the FFRPG, what the Range and Area and other details are, and how exactly they work in Map Combat. Much of the important rules relating to this are given in the errata, which occupies around one-third of the total size of the rules.
Of particular interest is the text that starts above Table A3-1 – Terrain Coloring and Difficulty and continues down to the extensive errata section. These rules describe how different terrains affect characters, and how they require differing amounts of Move to go into a hex of that terrain - or if the terrain is simply impassible because there's a huge tree in the way, or it's really deep water you wouldn't want to swim in while wearing armor. These rules could have some life on their own outside of Map Combat and get some use elsewhere in a campaign, so they're a nice addition.
The errata, I only have this to say: When your errata reaches a length comparable to the scale of the original rules, it's time to edit the rules and incorporate the errata into the main body of the text. The way it is organized now is confusing, spreads needed information through multiple locations, and is otherwise poorly done.
The Map Combat rules get a 8 for substance, and a 4 for organization. The Russian Judge gives it a 1 because it was written by Capitalists.
All in all, I like the Map Combat rules, and I think they'd work great on tabletop. I know some people have been using them online, and have had differing levels of success with them, with regards to speed issues and the fun factor.
Maybe some of the people that have played under these rules could give some comments about them from a Player or GM perspective?