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Here it goes, I am working on my own RPG system and I need some suggestions for a combat system that promotes creative problem solving. One of the key aspects to this system is that its not restrictive in the way of equipment(I mean you more or less have whatever you need within reason). But its restricted by your creativity and problem solving. I actually have all the key pieces designed except the combat system. I know I want an initative roll type system for who goes first but past that I am not sure what kind of mechanics would promote creative problem solving. would a skill system help?

test means I would like answered test means important to keep in mind

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closed as unclear what you're asking by BESW, doppelgreener, Wibbs, Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 20 '14 at 23:10

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I honestly can't figure out what you're asking. Please clarify with some examples. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 20 '14 at 23:10

I hesitate to recommend it as a design to use, but if you're trying to promote creative solutions to problems, especially during combat, Dungeon World is required reading.

(It—and its parent Apocalypse World—is really more required reading for any designer today working on innovation in mechanics, but it particularly fits your purpose.)

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Can you elaborate on why those are required reading? – Mala Jan 20 '14 at 22:30
@Mala Because they're a new thing under the sun in terms of mechanics and game construction. Imagine if someone just invented "initiative rolls and turn-based combat": that game would be required reading for any designer, no matter what kind of game they're working on. So, AW did that: invented a new way to make games tick, one that inherently rewards/requires creative choices during action sequences. DW is an even more accessible expression of that thing. – SevenSidedDie Jan 20 '14 at 22:35
Reading around the system (as much as I can without having to buy the book, so probably still very much in the dark like everyone else), it seems pretty similar in terms of thought processes as other systems; you declare actions, you move/roll attacks/opportunity attacks, you take damage depending on the rolls. I don't see what is new about it, nor what it contributes to answering the question; the most it does for me is spell out "when you say you do something in character, you end up having to do rolls for it" - like every other system. – Ardavion Jan 21 '14 at 9:55
@Ardavion DW is out for free in its entirety so you can actually read it all without buying anything. The new mechanics focus on the DM needin to announce dangers (with soft moves) before dealing damage, players gaining something even if they fail a roll, which is an incentive to keep doing things. The lack of turns makes it possible to think in terms of fiction (no action economy) and you can't roll if you don't take your risks in fiction. Also, your rolls are never just a pass/fail with no other consequences. A fail is not just "I don't hit", it's a "I put myself in danger". – Zachiel Jan 21 '14 at 14:00
@Zachiel my apologies, I followed the above links and saw links to buy the PDF, so didn't assume the rules were free. Read more of the DW rules, it just feels like the kind of stuff I've seen in other systems, or at least in my roleplaying/GMing experience: this really doesn't feel new to me. Saying "no action economy" doesn't really ring true; you make a move when in other systems you make actions, ergo the move is the action economy. Plus, pass/fail situations lead to consequences as part of typical roleplay anyway (i.e. "I miss the Orc, allowing him to sound the alarm on his next turn"). – Ardavion Jan 21 '14 at 14:50

I know I want an initative roll type system for who goes first but past that I am not sure what kind of mechanics would promote creative problem solving.

The easy way is to simply make it one of the most effective ways to deal with things in combat.

The oldest example would be Tunnels and Trolls - each round you can either contribute directly to combat attack & defense, OR you can do a "Saving Throw" (T&T used Saving Throw to mean any possible attribute/skill check). If you did a Saving Throw, the GM would decide what possible outcomes would make sense - "I throw a bag over the monster's head so it can't see!" "Ok, that's a Dex Saving Throw level 3, and if you succeed it isn't able to do any damage this round."

Sorcerer had the GM give players 1-3 bonus dice for tactically smart, dramatically entertaining combat choices.

There's three things necessary to make this work in your game design:

  1. It has to have mechanical impact. That can be bonus dice/better damage/conditions, but it has to be a better than basic powers/attacks.

  2. The players have to know that this is viable option and a good choice.

  3. The GM has to be taught how to judge/apply these things, and how to frame scenes/encounters with plenty of stuff to creatively solve things.

Very old school D&D somewhat dealt with creative solutions, mostly through use of objects + magic, but it primarily was a negative reinforcement cycle - if you didn't cheap your way through/around an encounter, it became very easy to get killed. Positive reinforcement works better and to what level it helps depends on how your system is built.

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+1 for making creative solutions more rewarding than the standard combat options. – GMJoe Jan 21 '14 at 1:29

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