The Bard's Tale IV KS Updates #19-20: Final Hours

The Bard's Tale IV campaign is rapidly approaching its end point, and since the last time we checked the folks at inXile have pushed two new updates, update 19 and update 20.

Most of the material contained in the updates concerns social media campaigns, fan art, and calls for support, but there's also space for some mechanics chat. A snippet on party positioning:

Front and Back Rows in Combat

And now, a quick design fireside chat. This one is something many of you have been asking about.

Many dungeon crawls, including the original Bard's Tales, make use of a front row/back row system within combat encounters. This type of system allows you some tactical choice to how your party is presented in combat. For example, you can shield some (softer) characters like ranged casters in the back row, which allow them to be protected by stronger adventurers like a warrior. The rules generally state that if there are player characters (PCs) in the front rows, they will take short melee damage before the PC's in the back do. Of course, ranged weapons and spells can hit back row PC's regardless of the front row. Commonly this would also apply to the player's attacks, the back row only able to use spells and ranged attacks.

This system has been used many times prior, with varying levels of modification and effectiveness. It has been rooted in dungeon crawl history and so we will of course have it as a core mechanic in BT4 combat, but there's also some improvements we can make. For example, it tends to introduce an overly limiting (hard rule set) to the type of party you can make, restricting your choices during character creation. As stated in a previous update, an overarching design goal is to allow players to experiment with many different party make-ups.

To that end, we've been working on a system that satisfies the following design goals:

1) Stays true to the spirit of the front/back row positional system
2) Doesn't overly limit the positions that various PCs are (supposed) to occupy
3) Increases the strategic elements of PC positioning by designing class skills that promote positional movement
4) Feels dynamic while not turning into a chore