I am finding more and more that the ideas I have just don't translate to any one system, or even any two systems. There are a lot of strong options, and a lot of systems that seem like they would meet the goals, but they ultimately fall short. The problem is that I want to run a squad combat game. I don't mean like DnD where your adventuring party runs around and does things, but something akin to Dawn of War, Company of Heroes or even Myth: the Fallen Lords. It's a pretty simple concept, but one that doesn't lend itself to any easy resolution. Players would spend a session or two playing a normal, if gritty and harsh, adventuring style game, and then one session resolving the military campaign from that battle. Each player would take ownership of a company and guide their company through the battle. Survivors from previous battles would be better than fresh troops who hadn't seen battle, and military founds could be spent on boosting certain companies with better weapons, better food, or even creature comforts.
The Black Company D20 setting that came out years ago first spurred this, but I haven't had an inclination to stop being lazy and actually do something with it until recently. The situation is further complicated by wanting to run squad combat while adventuring combat is also occurring. Of course, getting across gritty realism coupled with flexible magic is not something that's easy either. I had been inspired to think of healing as a two part process, mainly from playing Arkham Horror. Physical wounds are one aspect, and the mental anguish caused by those physical wounds is the other aspect. That way, even healing wounds has a side effect, making combat not always the right answer, but not so incredibly perilous that a stray lance spells your death. There has to be the appropriate balance.
This had lead me to think of partially co-opting the Earthdawn (don't run away yet) system of Wounds in some way, or maybe the WW system of degrees of Wounds, but again, not so complicated. I don't like tracking hit points really, it's a great way to track your character's power and all, but I think there can be a more fun and less math heavy way to go about it. Which has led me to a dual wound system. There are only two types of injuries, superficial and serious. Superficial wounds would tick over into serious wounds if they either go untreated, or enough of them accumulate. This number might grow as a character increases in power. The number of serious injuries able to be sustained might be flexible as well, but again, probably a low number. Armor helps to determine the type of wound receive. Each attack is an either OR sort of thing, accepting SERIOUS WEAPONS, like magic or siege weapons or the like.
Magic poses a potential problem, but I think it's manageable. Magic again cribs from Earthdawn a little bit, and a little bit from a crafting system. Please don't run, I think it's ok. I will go into specifics about how it works later, but the gist of CASTING magic is as follows:
1) determine strength of access
2) determine effect
3) decide if you are keeping access for later use
Magic has advantages and disadvantages to keeping it ready to access.
Some spells, if the player wants to make it really complicated might go on for several turns, or have side effects to channel them. Most spells would be instant duration. Most people cannot access magic, and rarely do people choose to access one specific type of magic. Though accepting and being trained in the magic goes a long way to efficacy. Priests gain access to the same types of magic as magi, only though prayer and devotion and adherence to rituals and rites, magi do not need to do this. The other option is bargaining with souls. Only those born with the ability may do this, though they can sometimes allow other people to do it.
How would you advance? Well two ways:
1) Trained skills just take time. Learning weapons, riding a horse, farming, whatever. Different skills take time.
2) Sessions/Stories gives the players feats, aspects, or tricks they can learn and perform. The rough rate would be upon completion of a session for lesser rewards, or upon completion of a story for greater rewards. This is very rough still. I don't think experience and levels is really necessary in this type of game. Probably lesser rewards for most things, greater rewards for the military conflicts.
Death? Death is serious. You almost never get back up if you are dead. There are exceptions.
Tarot Cards. I would like to incorporate the use of Tarot Cards into the game somehow, I am still thinking about it.
Large scale combat. Each squad would have a superficial/serious rating. When they take a serious wound, someone bites it. If the squad has veterans, this might be prevented by expending one of the veteran points they receive. Commanders can do the same, if the squad has any ranking officers. I haven't given this section quite enough thought yet, but I want it to be simple and dirty.
Anyway, I haven't posted in a long time and this is just something I have been thinking of for a long time.