I finished reading Circle of Hands by Ron Edwards. The combat/clash system is sticking in my brain.
A brief rundown:
- Everyone states their intentions
- Line everyone up in order of quickness (faster characters will go first)
- Anyone can pay (in resolve/might) to jump to the head of the line…at any time
- Actions are taken…and can pull other characters to the head of the line
It appears to be an engine that leverages chaos, imperfect information, and resource management to move combat from the poor analogue of the battle mat to a procedure for negotiating a charged moment of fiction.
It reminds me of Diaspora‘s space combat system; Diaspora’s space combat system uses a 1-D map to represent spaceship position and a procedure for resolution.
By reducing the number of physical dimensions representing the conflict, a more concise understanding of positioning, tempo, and advantage is exposed.
Circle of Hands does something similar, pushing the 2-D/3-D conflict to 1-D.
Circle of Hands conflict has a visual placeholder for players to reference. It draws attention to the most important aspect of a table-top RPG conflict: temporal positioning. How and when does each player participating in the conflict take their turn.
I suspect that Circle of Hands will solve one of the problems I have with Powered by the Apocalypse games (looking at you Dungeon World): namely when does someone get to do something?
The answer for Dungeon World is when the GM points the camera at a player. For Circle of Hands, the answer is in front of you, and it is your’s to change.