I was playing Skyrim on PC the other day, thinking "this would be fun to play co-op" and then "that'll never happen - but this would be simple enough to turn into a wargame."
Skyrim has relatively simple combat, but Mount & Blade has interesting melee mechanics with directional slashes, thrusts, parries and swings. I wondered how this could be done simply in a wargame (maybe a dice pool?). Most times we push minis together and throw dice, but what's the best way decision making be added into the melee process (if it was restricted to 3-5 "heroes") without it bogging down? Maybe a dice pool?
The health-mana-stamina resource management seem to be staples of the PC game industry - it's quite usual for a hero to have a pool of mana which is used up to cast spells, stamina is used for special attacks/dodges/sprinting, and health is, well, health.
I like the idea of "complex heroes, simple minions" used in games like LOTR:SBG. A goblin is just a goblin. A man of Gondor is just a guy, with average stats. "Grunts" have a standard profile, which makes them easy to remember - which is good, since there is usually a lot of them. However a hero like Aragorn has special rules, extra attacks, and the resources Might, Will and Fate - probably the closest I've seen to the Stamina, Magic and Health trinity. Because the LOTR heroes are few, you can afford to spend a little time on record keeping and add in a little more detail without the game bogging down. However I'd like to do away with tracking stuff on paper altogether.
Ways to minimize record keeping... If you simply had a binary system (magic/no magic, stamina/no stamina, wounded/dead) you could use but a few counters on the tabletop to track the status - and only place the counters when a character out of that specific resource. Perhaps all characters have a magic "rating", and they make a saving throw every time they cast a spell; a failure means it might work, but he is out of magic next turn, and must roll against the magic score to get it back and remove the "no magic" counter. A similar system could be used for stamina, to perform sprints, dodges and special attacks.
In the era of notable for its swarms of RPG-lites or wargames-that-want-to-tell-a-story (usually wargames created by ex-RPGers) I'm surprised we don't see more games paying direct homage to PC/pen and paper RPG classics, using the more streamlined and interesting skirmish rules (reactions, interactive initiative/activation) we have about nowdays.
Bombshell Games' Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare was a not-so-sly nod to the PC shooter genre, but I can't recall any really obvious adaptions from PC fantasy and sci fi. (I do recall a home made X-COM game, but sadly I can't find it since Fantasy Flight came out with its strategic-level boardgame and monopolised all the google search results)
I'm thinking PC MMO terms - "controllers" "area of effect" "buffer/debuffer." A homage to PC games like Baldur's Gate, Guild Wars, The Elder Scrolls, and even WoW, using iconic abilities and spells. Perhaps with sample classes like rogue, paladin etc, that have a synergy with each other. A optional co-op/horde mode (one player controls the "baddies" and 2-4 players control the "party"- similar to the boardgame Descent) would allow a MMO co-op feel.
I quite like Savage Worlds RPG system and I might see if I can get their generic fantasy sourcebook. Hmm, I think I recall Goalsystem Delves does a lot of what I describe. I did play it a few years back, but obviously it didn't "take."* (*EDIT: And now I feel like an idiot - I even reviewed it!)
Following on from that, it's been a long time since I played any games with a strong magic system. You know, serious game-changing stuff, like from early edition
What are games with "good" magic systems? Or do you have to go to an RPG for that? I confess it's an area I haven't really considered as it's been a while since I played a game with anything but rudimentary magic. Again, this idea flowed from a PC game I saw - Lichdom: Battlemage - which attempts to move mages away from the frail-pointy-hat-ranged-spells stereotype to a sort of kick-ass fireball-slinging Schwarznegger.
Is it possible to have a "build your own spell" system; i.e. you start with a few basic, generic effects, then increase their potency/combine them with others. I.e. "forcefield" - when cast on oneself, costs x. If it is extended to a 3" area of effect centred on the caster, it costs 3x. If this 3" AoE spell was centred on an area 5" from the caster, it costs 15x. Perhaps "fireball" costs 2x. If a forcefield, with a fire damage effect was cast, the two costs would be added together ......I'm sure there's something like this out there already.
Most wargames I know kinda "bolt on" magic, and it's usually just an alternate ranged weapon or a defence bonus. Warhammer (at least the editions I last played) had scaled back its potency. In LOTR it is more mild buffs/debuffs (+1 defence vs arrow fire etc). The original SoBH had only two spells! I wonder if the low-magic fantasy that seems common is due to designers bad experiences with unbalanced magic in early Warhammer? Are there any games where magic is an integral part of the game?