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  • Writer's pictureChris Buckingham

#5 - LSL Cards & Combat - Character Modifiers / Perks

While aiming to keep the gameplay experience light, it felt a little too simple to have every Playable Character be assigned the same attributes (e.g. moves per turn, combat strength).

Each Character in the comic has a personality and it needed to be reflected in the gameplay. And every time the game is played it felt important that players had a variety in the buffs, de-buffs and surprise features that could change their play experience when they select from the 100+ available. So a sprinkling of RPG mechanics was included.

This mechanic includes modifiers to combat and movement, and the inclusion of a 'special skill'. A couple of examples include:

Designing perks aint easy when balancing them across 100+ characters. Here's a breakdown of what needed to be considered if there'll be any hope of getting that balance right...


- What are we trying to balance? The obvious answer is, ensuring fairness in game mechanics in order to generate an intended response or experience for the players - everything from the availability of tactical choices and to the probability of chance outcomes.

- These Perks must be personal. Each perk must be tailormade to fit the personality of the character as seen in the comic series. And no perks can be transferrable (your perk is the same throughout the round, unless transferability is a quirk of the perk).

- Alternate Costume Perks. But what if you really like a principle character from the comic and just want to mix it up a little. The solution is costumes, each with its own distinct perk designed to favour a specific game mode. I'll skip the rules on costume changes, for now the variants in costume perks are intended to enhance a sense of 'RPG immersion'.

- Don't expect a perfect balance out of the gate. Even if on paper it all works, we'll have to consider player preferences -- if the audience really likes a character it'd be worth spicing up their perk or adding in a few alternate costumes. The combination of cards and perks will also throw up a bunch of unexpected opportunities and tactics we hadn't planned for -- and need to address.

- Why not intentionally add in some unbalance characters. Want to create a 'hard mode' for players looking for a challenge - easy done, nerf a character, there's a ton to choose from so it won't break the game. Want players to have an intentionally absurd/ unexpected gameplay experience - just create a few perks with wild outcomes or descriptions that are intentionally left open for interpretation. And finally, why can't we have an 'Odd Job': like the N64 GoldenEye multiplayer mode, the Odd Job character was broken, it gave a clear advantage over all other playable characters (he was short and therefore harder to target) - like the Odd Job situation, one or two broken characters wouldn't hurt, leaving it up to the wisdom and preference of the players whether that character was off limits or fair game to use.

- Start by assigning Combat and Movement modifiers. Designing perks started with a simple idea - add or subtract points for rolls across both movement and combat to reflect the nature of a given character. In this example, Tuckaluficus is a big guy, so...

eg. Brute +4 Combat, -2 Movement.

From here Special Skills are chosen to counteract the roll modifiers,

eg. Tactical Special Skill: +2 starting cards.

- Make the Special Skills truly special. Special Skills are more than a rebalancing tool, they're a game mechanic that adds unexpected outcomes when faced with gameplay challenges, they're an opportunity to add levity into gameplay and/or a chance to give players a stronger tactical strategy when playing a given mode or opponent. But most important, the skills can't all be 'obvious', for example - extra starting cards - is a good fit for a 'Tactical Perk' but honestly, it's pretty bland. So current special skills assigned to Playable Characters vary enormously, from controlling NPC's to invisibility, from rolling on an extensive 'random outcome table' to distance attacks and from spawning minions to power moves.

With a bunch of preliminary posts about the nature of the game space and the characters within it, it's time to look at the core elements of the game - the cards, and the combat.

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