From Chainmail to D&D Next
This a low fantasy, Norse or Germanic styled fantasy game. Only the players roll dice, and based on the description of their actions the GM sets the difficultly and the degree of risk. When they fail they will suffer a similar degree of injury or set back as what they would of done. High Valor requires a higher degree of trust and collaborative work between GM and Players than many game because no exact difficulty numbers are defined. The system is simple and fast, and I hope leads to creative solutions and combat. I like that GM only need to keep track of Challenge numbers.
Plays this game when sorcery and magic are low, and you want a fast and creative system. The narration of the characters actions are the keys to the difficultly and their success. Player and GM need to trust each other and understand the limits of narration.
These Comments by the author, Tim Kirk will help make the narrative and contextual approach clear:
I don’t think they quite get how lowering the challenge of a foe by wounding them works, but its another viewpoint. For you think about.
In High Valor the heroes approach matters. Attacking and wounding a dragons forelimb, isn’t going to inconvenience the massive multi-limbed creature. (Great you’ve made it mad!)
On the other hand, taking out an eye—is hard, but easier than decapitating it, or severing its heart in two. Context matters in High Valor.
More examples: Stabbing a spider in the “stomach” to wound it. isn’t going to slow it down at all and thus its every bit the threat it started out being. Stabbing a man in the “stomach” well that’s a different story. We slow down. At least a little.
Saying “I hit it..” doesn’t do ANYTHING in High Valor besides just that. You whack it, doing no damage of note. On the other hand. “I take off his hand with a furious blow” does do exactly that.
GM’s don’t roll. Many games do that to make some fights easier or harder—to remove the aspect of bias. Yet all that does really is increase randomness (random roll vs random roll=more random than a single random roll.) If you want to make something easier or harder? Well, I just do it. Let the players find ways to change their difficulty. Tricks, traps, tactics. Fun stuff.