Can it get too complicated?
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July 18th, 2010, 06:11
Yes it can; the more complicated you make things, the more likely you'll introduce a bug, which is ever more likely to be difficult to find and eliminate. While computers can handle incredibly complex calculations faster than a human can even read the first value or variable, humans still have to program the computers! A computer is only as good as the human using it; a program only as good as the programmer.
I personally went through and simplified much of my own mechanics, because I decided that the key focus should not be complexity, but making the mechanic support a fun, easy to extend game. The result killed a lot of things, notably my magic system (which was complex enough that I got a headache thinking about it), but in the end, I don't think players will notice; nearly everything is done in such a manner that it is indistinguishable from the prior designs.
In your example of weapons; you can imitate the greater damage properties of heavier-type weapons (such as a maul or war axe) by giving a higher critical hit multiplier. In effect, what D20/3.5e does. Axes have a crit on 20, times 3 critical hit damage. Bigger axes get bigger damage die; a small Handaxe got 1d6 IIRC, 1d8 for a Battle Axe, 1d10 for the Dwarven War Axe, and 1d12 for the Great Axe. All were crit on 20/x3 weapons.
At a glance, it tells you that a Battle axe does 1-8 points damage per hit, 3-24 on a critical hit. You can tell at a glance which base axe is stronger, damage-wise. You still use the weight of the weapon for encumbrance rules.
Of course, in the hypothetical situation posted earlier by wolfing, the 1d8 slashing vs 2d5 bludgeoning weapon, the 2d5 weapon would have a higher base damage, greater range, and wouldn't suffer near enough of a drawback from the attack speed difference to really matter. Depending on damage reduction, I'd likely stick to the crushing weapon. The added bonus of reduced repair costs and delayed replacement is a minor bonus.
Damage reduction that makes crushing damage less viable would mean I'd carry the shorter, slashing weapon as a backup. In the way presented, it's pretty clear what the drawbacks of each are, and there are not enough drawbacks to balance the two weapons. Increasing the attacks/round gap to 2.0 vs 1.6 would push it more towards the short slasher, trading damage per attack and range vs more attacks per round. With a quick glance, I'd say the slasher would do more damage, but the user take more as well all things else being equal, in any given combat round. The crusher would allow the user to stay out of the range of some shorter weapons, reducing damage taken.
What you do have should be explained clearly to the player. Remember that while the player is not necessarily familiar with the weapons being used, their character(s) are trained in their use.
As with Davion said, if you can't eyeball the system and tell whats going on, then it's probably too complex. If you get a headache looking at it, then it's definitely too complex. However, if you can make someone you dislike's head explode by making them look at it, it's perfect.
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I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity - Edgar Allan Poe
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