Card Based RPG mechanics

Why a card based action system?

The purpose of exploring the route of a card based rpg (rather than just one with character sheets and dice) is to allow for more simultaneous actions.  Rather than having players ask for clarifications on the situation between each person’s turn, there will be a step in the combat round for players to all ask their questions and table talk their tactics.  Then, cards with player actions will be selected and revealed at the same time.  This will allow players to be engaged much more of the time and reduce the amount of time waiting for players to figure out what they would like to do on their turns.

How many times have you sat and waited patiently with other players while you watch a single player agonize over what they will do on their turn?  How many times have you then seen that one player choose an action, roll and fail, causing no end result?  This is what a simultaneous action system can help to deal with.

Why a hand of cards instead of all ability options at once?

4th Edition D&D: did something sort of card oriented.  The problem is, when you get to higher levels, the number of options per turn are very complex.  Having a hand of cards rather than having them all of the time will cut down on the analysis paralysis.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Utilized more of a card based system then 4th edition did.  The problem with this system is that you have to have room to lay all the cards out in front of you and when you use them, you have to place recharge counters on them.  This is what prevents you from just having a “hand” of cards.  Again, the options get out of control for a single turn.

How does this make logic in game sense?

Imagine if you had more than a half a dozen options on how to react to a combat situation in real life.  You will never have the ability to think of perfect solutions each time like you would in a table top RPG where you can take virtually as much time as you like to figure out an action.  That is what the hand of cards represents.


Possible issues:

Player actions being wasted on “overkill” of an enemy.  This isn’t a huge problem, but more a nature of simultaneous actions.

Things moving along so quickly that players get confused as to what is going on.

Including ways for players to be creative and do cinematic actions that can’t be represented in a card ability.

About dhunterphillips

Visit my Facebook Fan Page to connect: While not working as a GeoInt Analyst in the Washington DC metro area, D. Hunter Phillips enjoys a life-long love of sci-fi, fantasy, role-playing games, and a great many other nerdy things that he explores through writing and games. D. Hunter regularly writes board game reviews at Through his writing, D. Hunter hopes to inspire and speculate on the future and the past. He seeks deeper meanings within pulp genres of fantasy and sci-fi. D. Hunter enjoys the tales of John Ringo and Charles Stross. D. Hunter's readings lead him in a never ending cycle of sci-fi, history, physics, and psychology. D. Hunter enjoys going to DC area Goth clubs and seeing some of his favorite bands, such as VNV Nation. He also loves his home life with his partner in crime and several pets.
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