No More Turns

Want to know how the Core Mechanics work? Start here.

The Real Time Combat Engine of Unchained Heroes is structured to do away with the concept of Turns as we know them. The idea that we roll Initiative once and then the order of actions is static for the entire battle is put to the wayside. Without Turns, there are more options for the reactive combat experience that I was shooting for from the start.

Like other games, you start with rolling Initiative to determine the action declaration order–something we call the first Declaration Phase–and then each Hero and Villain(what we call our monsters) tells everyone what they will be doing. At that point, their action goes into something called the Preparation Phase, the length of which is determined by the AT of the action. You can think of the Preparation Phase as the time it takes to get out your magical components to cast a spell or the time it takes for you to position yourself for a perfect strike. Those of you that are fans of MMORPGs might call it the casting time or swing timer. When this phase is complete you get to jump into Activation Phase–when the action is actually performed.

Dynamic Actions

If this looks a lot like a turn to you, you are not exactly mistaken, games require order and systems, everything has it’s proper place and proper time, but in Unchained Heroes, everyone’s actions are moving down the Combat Timeline simultaneously. Each Hero and Villain has a Combat Timeline that progresses in lockstep with each other. Unchained Heroes releases the “turn” order from a  fixed round format where Jenn goes before Vicki who goes before Mike. Each Combatants action occurs on the Combat Timeline after their Preparation Phase is complete and then they immediately choose their next action.

Different actions are assigned different Action Times and different equipment such as weapons change the speed of your actions as well. A Dagger for example has a Weapon Speed of 7, while a Two-handed Greatsword has a Weapon Speed of 13. Now if we were to be playing a typical Turn-based RPG, your choice of weapon would be very important to maximize damage. In fact, I remember a game that I used to play where it only made sense to used 2 No-Dachi swords with d20 for damage each. Anything else would be hindering your damage output. Why use a dagger for d4 damage when you could use d20? You may say, for character reasons. Yes, I agree, that is a great reason, but game mechanics and role-playing mechanics were misaligned in that system. It forced you to choose one or the other and depending on the situation, you were hindered.  In Unchained Heroes, the AT of weapons allows for a normalization of damage, so choose your weapon based on what you feel like using for your Hero!

If we look at a dagger and a no-dachi in Unchained Heroes you would find the following:

  • Dagger Stats = Weapon Speed 7, Weapon Dice Size d6, Hands 1

  • No-Dachi Stats = Weapon Speed 13, Weapon Dice Dice Size d12, Hands 2

Without jumping too deeply into mechanics right now, you can see the person that chooses to use the Dagger is capable of 2 attacks for every 1 attack a No-Dachi user would be capable of performing. This normalizes damage output and frees a player from having to choose between handicapping their character for the sake of sticking to their role-playing story. It puts the power gamer and the role-player on a level playing field that rarely exists in Paper RPGs.

Designing a system that could put the role-playing aspect of RPGs and combine it power-gamer style combat was the fundamental goal I had when designing this game. I never wanted to sacrifice my play-style for the need to pick an role-playing spell in my spellbook over a fireball and I never wanted to have my dagger wielding Halfling rogue play second fiddle to my brother’s dual wielding Minotaur with double No-Dachis.

I look forward to telling you more about Unchained Heroes. Let me know if this style appeals to you as much as me with your comments in the comments section.

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