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Fidelity to Source Material

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Fidelity to Source Material

Postby UniversalTank » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:29 am

So, some friends have asked me to do a Fire Emblem game, but they want it to run in 3.5. So they don't have to learn anything new I suppose. Anyway, I accepted the task and now that I'm digging into it I'm finding that it's going to be much harder than I originally though.

For one, I need to make all the classes since there are no D&D classes that work like FE classes. Then there's the matter of class progression and classing up. I'm thinking that it will work something like PrCs.

Anyway, my problem is that I don't really know how close to the source material I should stick. Should I keep the weapon triangles? How are the mounted classes going to work if they have to go inside a cave or something? The flying classes make the problem pretty important. Should I keep weapon durability in? There's a million questions because the base systems aren't very similar at all.

I know I'm ditching the random stat increases on level up from FE because it doesn't work with 3.5 at all and it sucks. I'm thinking having lots of stat-ups but forcing a low starting point-buy so players are starting with no higher that +2 mods.

I don't want to just do things like avoid interiors to remove flying complications because while the campaign is set in an FE world I want it to be more about the characters and not armies clashing. That will be more of a back-drop. Also, I want the product to be usable in all situations, not just specifically what I come up with for one campaign.

If anything I mentioned needs clarification just ask, I don't know how familiar everyone is with FE mechanics.

Any thoughts, comments, or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Stories are like artillery fire. Loud, indirect, and often off target. - Me

"I'm gonna monkey jump up there, and monkey kick his ass!" - Garidus Kerben, Dawn Caste, on action to be taken against a prison warden holding him captive.
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Re: Fidelity to Source Material

Postby Proven Paradox » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:08 am

I would go back to your players and ask them to clarify what exactly they want from a Fire Emblem game. My experience with it (limited: the games don't really suit my tastes) suggests that while it may make for a perfectly good game, it makes for a HORRIBLE tabletop experience. At least, as an RPG like 3.5. (A Fire Emblem wargame sounds entirely reasonable, but that's a different animal.)

One thing to realize is that a lot of what works well in a video game does not convert to a tabletop. As I recall from the games, a character's possible actions were limited almost entirely by what kind of items they had in their inventory, and they were limited to four or five items at a time. In a video game, that's fine! Five options multiplied by the number of characters I have on the field equals A LOT OF OPTIONS. In a tabletop, that sucks! Five options just isn't enough to make an interesting character.

Another one I don't think works well is the weapon triangle. I think it went Swords > Axes, Axes > Spears, Spear > Swords? That works fine in a video game where you're controlling multiple characters, each of whom can cover the necessary bases. But in a table top, if I'm a Swordsman and we come up against a bunch of Spearmen? I get to sit the fight out. With something as all-encompassing as the weapon triangle was in FE, that is going to happen a LOT.

I don't think you should keep weapon durability, but I also don't think that should be in the original game either, so eh.

I suspect what your players really want is the setting, in which case there's not much mechanical work to do at all. Just write up the setting and insert your standard 3.5 characters into it. Maybe write up some of the iconic characters as high level NPCs. Any iconic weapons or items should be fairly quick to stat up. If you want to get fancy, perhaps write a setting specific PrC or two.

If they want more though, you have to go through and examine everything from the game with a critical eye, determining what can and can't convert to tabletop. You have to be willing to prune the stuff that doesn't, and there is going to be a LOT of that.
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Re: Fidelity to Source Material

Postby UniversalTank » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:32 am

Yeah, the problems you mentioned are the ones that I ran into when approaching the basic concept. A lot of it doesn't translate, not well at least. I think in this case most of the mechanics of the game have to go out the window, which is fine, I think they want the feel of the classes and the setting. I know from experience that the classes can be difficult to emulate with 3.5 classes, which is why I wrote a myrmidon class to use in a friend's game. That didn't even work that well, while he was sufficiently squishy for a myrmidon, he was too easy to hit because dex with light armor AC isn't a big enough bonus to emulate the dodge rate a myrmidon has.

As for inventory, that'd follow normal 3.5 rules I think, with some items traded in/out, and they would certainly not be limited to five items on hand, maybe five weapons "ready", but they'd have all the items and skills needed to make interesting characters and handle non FE type situations like climbing and swimming. One thing I would like to more or less do away with is armor, since FE doesn't really use an AC system which is all or nothing.

I think the largest difference would be the casters. FE magic just isn't like D&D magic, at all. Even the mages use "weapons". This is a huge balance factor when it comes down the melee versus caster.

This is what I'm thinking so far:
Weapon triangle may exist but only offering a +1 or 2 circumstance bonus to hit. (this may end up influenced by level or take another form that also includes weapon skill)

Healing staves will heal dice of damage plus a modifier in a range based on int/wis/cha (in the game it was based on magic) and have a weak melee attack. Magic tomes will deal damage similarly to how staves heal and be usable at melee range.

Levels might have to be changed to work on a 10/10/10 system where the levels are a bit shorter and less powerful than regular D&D and paths are set. Some classes may have more than once choice for the second class, but the third is determined by the second. Or I'll due away with the 2nd promotion and just use the sets from the early games.

Characters getting scaling DR of different vulnerabilities as well as an AC which will more represent the ability to dodge when you're attacked. AC would scale with level as well as the DR. This will let me give the Armored units that deal they had at the end of most FE games where they had a 79% chance to be hit for 0 and fast characters have a 5% chance to be hit for near lethal damage. Granted these stats are for fighting people of the opposite types, two fast characters would have more like 50-60% chance for 5-10. Still working out how high I want HP to reach and damage will scale accordingly.

Some kind of skill-with-weapon ranking, possibly just level requirements, for different material weapons that could replace the concept of magical pluses that don't exist in FE. Magic weapons in the fire emblem games are usually amazingly powerful compared to the regular ones, plus they're stupidly rare.

I think that sticks fairly well to the source I think. Coming up with abilities for all the classes will be a mother but that's half the fun.
Stories are like artillery fire. Loud, indirect, and often off target. - Me

"I'm gonna monkey jump up there, and monkey kick his ass!" - Garidus Kerben, Dawn Caste, on action to be taken against a prison warden holding him captive.
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Re: Fidelity to Source Material

Postby Gralamin » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:34 pm

Should of noticed this earlier. I'm actually running a 4e Fire Emblem inspired game right now.

For one, I need to make all the classes since there are no D&D classes that work like FE classes. Then there's the matter of class progression and classing up. I'm thinking that it will work something like PrCs.

Are you sure they want a rigid attachment to the base mechanics? Or would they rather have a Fire Emblem type setting, with the representations of the classes being just an abstraction they take into it? (For example, One of my players is/was a rogue with some custom Gestalt features, and just went and said "I'm an assassin".)

Anyway, my problem is that I don't really know how close to the source material I should stick. Should I keep the weapon triangles? How are the mounted classes going to work if they have to go inside a cave or something? The flying classes make the problem pretty important. Should I keep weapon durability in? There's a million questions because the base systems aren't very similar at all.

Weapon Triangles aren't really needed, but they can probably be implemented with some static modifiers based on weapon types. Mounted characters in FE could use their horses in caves, why shouldn't the players? Durability should be ignored.

I know I'm ditching the random stat increases on level up from FE because it doesn't work with 3.5 at all and it sucks. I'm thinking having lots of stat-ups but forcing a low starting point-buy so players are starting with no higher that +2 mods.

I took an opposite approach, since I was starting in Epic levels. High starting point buy, and +1 to three stats at level 24 and 28. It seems to work pretty well.

I don't want to just do things like avoid interiors to remove flying complications because while the campaign is set in an FE world I want it to be more about the characters and not armies clashing. That will be more of a back-drop. Also, I want the product to be usable in all situations, not just specifically what I come up with for one campaign.

Why make a whole product? Are you sure that is what your group wants?
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