I hope I’m not losing my manliness, as I realized that I dislike elaborate and detailed combat mechanics in tabletop roleplaying games. Not every one, mind. D&D revolves around… Actually, D&D is very tangentially related to roleplaying.
But in Star Wars and, I got tired of the combat rules. They are restrictive and reality-based. But after watching Clone Wars (not to be confused with Clone Wars the movie, Clone Wars 2008 CGI series, Clone Wars comic book series nor Clone Wars novel), I realized that reality or common sense has nothing to do with Star Wars combat. The Jedi do backflips, restrict their force use, duel for an insane amount of time with other lighsaber-wielders and take on dozens of battle droids at once. Non-force wielders fire blasters with deadly accuracy, run around, use all manner of gadgets and run directly at the enemy in large-scale battles. And every opposing mook has been trained in the Imperial Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship. D20 packs the action tight and limits the imagination of the players.
My summer Star Wars campaign finale was regretfully done before a strict deadline and one of the players had to leave just before the characters had to plan a dashing rescue. Had it degenerated into combat, it would have taken at least half an hour, and people would have just shot at each other. Instead, I suggested that they fly in with a speeder, toss the enemies with a stun grenade while one of the characters jump to the rescuee with a jetpack, grabs him and jumps to the speeder. The whole process took five die rolls and was awesome enough for me to describe energetically. That was the final straw.
I tend to push events in a game forward like a train. I like it when stuff happens and the characters do something. I don’t like it when a game is just standing still while the players speculate some irrelevant detail, shop around comparing equipment, or indeed, shoot some irrelevant mooks (Again, in a game where fighting is but a part of some greater whole). It wastes time and throws the pacing off the tracks.
I’m starting to like process-based mechanics more and more. The Skill Challenge mechanic in D&D and in Saga Edition’s source booke is an example: Get X successes before Y failures. The GM describes the situation and you decide what you want to do. The Noitahovi-system is also a process: First opposed Perception, then Mind/Body, then Grit. If you do not get enough successess, you need to use Sisu points or lose. The advantage of a process-based system is that the scene advances. Look at the lightsaber battles in Star Wars: The duels take ages and usually move from locale to locale. It would be perfect to simulate with a process-based system.
I’ll give a concrete example later, when the threat of falling asleep at the keyboard has passed