I found some really interesting ideas in the playtest version of Caoimhe Ora Snow’s current Kickstarter project: The Queen’s Cavaliers RPG. I backed the project so that I could download the playtest document and get a look at the mechanics.
The Queen’s Cavaliers is a role-playing game that evokes stylish and heroic swashbuckling tales like Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (but with a “clockpunk” twist that frankly is of secondary interest to me). I’ve tried, as both a player and a GM, to create swashbuckling action in my D&D games in the past — swinging from chandeliers, harrowing fights in a ship’s rigging, duels atop runaway carriages! — tried and failed. I don’t know if it’s the rules or the culture, but D&D favours a stand-and-deliver style of combat that would put Errol Flynn to sleep.
A quote from The Queen’s Cavaliers’ Kickstarter page:
TQC’s combat system is flexible and designed to be entertaining, with more options than simply doing damage from round to round. Want to swing on a chandelier to gain advantage over your foes, or recite an epic poem to build style points? These are all valid and effective strategies in TQC.
So I wanted to get a look under the hood to see how the game achieves its claims.
In TQC, a successful combat roll results not in hit-point damage but in a number of Success Points. You then spend those points according to the skill that you were using. For example, the Feint skill (each cross is a Success Point):
I like the idea that you can achieve anything from gaining the upper hand to disarming your foe, or a combination of things, with a single roll. Combat seems focused on making creative, cinematic manoeuvres and getting your opponent to yield. Style Points can be spent to add dice to future rolls, and players are encouraged to narrate how the extra die allows them to succeed with style and flair, just like those unshakable Musketeers.
Overall, the resolution system is pretty detailed compared to most indie games — I might put it on par with D&D — but it’s very well organized, self-consistent and easy to understand. Best of all, I can really see myself swinging from the chandeliers!