A combat system
Last time I discussed the initial idea behind Killing Monsters and Taking Their Stuff (KMATTS), of having a character be defined by a set of cards and having D6s have contextual powers based on their placement in the tableau. It's a powerful basic idea for a game, since it allows for significant uniqueness in characters with a relatively low card count. The original conception would actually fit into a standard 54-card deck, with 6 cards each for character classes and skill sets, with each double-sided (since you never hold the card). That compactness and richness meant that the idea was worth pursuing.
Knowing that D6s would have different abilities depending on where they were placed led me to what I thought would be the first source of decision tension in the game: spending D6s on character abilities or spending them on defense. When I think of a game, I try and think first of what difficult decisions the player is going to confront. In this case, I wanted the player to have to decide if they're going to spend their dice to try and power through the dungeon faster at the cost of making their character less healthy. That is, the dice would now represent not just your offensive capability but would also represent your health. It seemed like a good structure to hang difficult decisions from.
Good enough, I now had some basic concepts for the game as well as a central source of tension. What I did not have was a combat system. On a player's turn, I knew they would have to decide if they wanted to spend their dice for activating powers or bank them, but I didn't know what would inform their decisions. Clearly, they would be fighting monsters, but what were they going to actually do on their turn? Roll dice? Play cards? Both? A physical system? Something else?
I already had D6s as an integral part of the system, and players were going to need a bunch of them to track health/abilities. As long as I was going to do that, I might as well go all the way and use D6s as the base for combat as well. I figured the game would be playable with one of those bricks of small D6s. That meant that if I had a couple players, each with 8 or so D6s to track their character, maybe 4 each for loot, that still left a dozen D6s to play with for combat.
I've encountered plenty of systems using D6s in the past. I thought about using a spot-the-number system, ala the block games from Columbia Games or the World of Warcraft Board Game by Fantasy Flight. The problem with that kind of system is that I wasn't sure that it would provide decisions on the scale I wanted. A system using totals against a threshold seemed like it would even provide less design space. But what about a pattern-based system?
Lots of games have explored Yahtzee-esque systems, where you are seeking to roll certain patterns. To Court a King is an excellent example, with players rolling for certain patterns to obtain cards to give them special powers for future rolls. That seemed like a way forward: the different character/skill abilities would be dice manipulation, the patterns you seek would give you the combat result. It seemed like a promising path.
Next time, picking patterns.