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Lilith

Tabletop RPG Metathread: We Like To Party

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Okay, got a lot of feedback to process. Long post incoming.

 

***

 

Originally Posted By: Dantius
Since it's pretty clear that not even 3.5 in its arcane complexity could make things perfectly balanced, then it seems foolish to switch out the simplicity of Eph's system for something vastly more complex (cf. your quadratic equation f(L)= x^2+7x+12 (that you didn't even properly declare variables for :p)).

 

That quadratic equation is exactly the same as the one behind the CoH skill system, which several campaigns have used successfully; I've just laid bare the mathematics behind the system in case someone needs them. Maybe it'd be better if I moved that to a separate page for aspiring GMs, since it's not necessary for players to know?

 

3.5 is also not the best example to make your case with, because by the designers' own admission it was deliberately imbalanced in order to trap inexperienced players so that they'd make worse characters than experienced players.

 

Quote:
I mean, jeez. I understand that it's all cool and modern to have RPG's with no attributes and no skills and "keys" instead or whatever, since you seem to insistently link to hipster rule sets like that every time someone brings up a minor and inconsequential problem with the current system that could easily be fixed within the current system. I'm just wondering what exactly is the problem with stats and attributes that makes them so bad that they must be replaced at all costs as soon as possible?

 

Do you have any substantive criticism of RPG theory, apart from the fact that it's supposedly written by hipsters who are too cool and modern for you? Remember, OD&D effectively had no attributes or skills either -- technically it had attributes that you wrote on your character sheet, but they had almost no effect in combat. So this is hardly hypermodernist design I'm pushing here.

 

Anyway, since you asked what the problem is, here it is: the current system lets the attack and defence bonuses of different party members grow apart from each other over time, and then eventually, at a high enough level, you have a situation where there is no target number you can make an attack roll require where one party member won't fail 95% of the time and the other won't succeed 95% of the time, and no to-hit bonus you can give an enemy that won't make them hit one party member 95% of the time and another 5% of the time. I want a system that's equally functional whether the party is level 1 or level 50, and none of the current AIMhack systems provide that. If you have your own suggestion for fixing this that doesn't rely on "socially pressure the players into keeping their combat bonuses relatively close to each other", I'm all ears.

 

In any case, if you're going to continue this discussion, cut down on the tiresome hyperbole. If I thought the old systems needed to be replaced "at all costs as soon as possible", I'd already have switched over to this system for ATCT. I'm not doing so: this new system is still at the idea stage at this point.

 

Quote:
Was your family killed by Thulsa DEX/STR/INT at a young age and you grew up swearing revenge against him? Pretty much every successful DnD based gaming system, whether pen-and-paper or CRPG (think KOTOR or NWN) uses attributes and skills, and they seem to be doing fine, so I really thng that you're just posting solutions in search of a problem here.

 

Pretty much every D&D-based system also uses character classes. Part of the balance problems come from the fact that we've got rid of character classes -- this system is an attempt to reinstate the niche protection that classes provide without falling into the class-as-identity trap.

 

But hey, you don't like it. That's fine. It's not like you were going to be playing in any of my campaigns anyway.

 

Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief
Typo?

 

Oops. Was tired, will fix. It's meant to be the same rule as the ATCT system: -2 penalty and you can't take 10.

 

Originally Posted By: Nioca
Um... that seems like an awful lot of work and added complication just for the sake of avoiding base attributes.

 

It's less complicated than it looks -- during character creation, you make between four and seven decisions about your combat specialties (depending on how fine-grained your counting is), pick six spells/techniques, and allocate your skills. Under the old stat+skill system, you make between three and seven decisions about how to allocate your stats (again, depending on how you want to count), pick a variable number of spells/techniques depending on your Intelligence, and allocate your skills. The total number of decisions made during character creation is pretty similar. The new system is arguably more complicated than the ATCT system, but it also fixes the most glaring problems with the ATCT system (or it's supposed to, at least). If it seems complex, it's either because it's unfamiliar or because I've done a poor job of explaining it.

 

Levelling up is arguably a bit more complex than it used to be, but only because of the retraining rules, which I've added to allow more character customisation for those who want it -- if you find the retraining rules confusing, you can play without ever touching them and the game will work fine. I've brought back levels partly because they're a useful balancing tool for combat, and partly because gaining a level seems to more psychologically rewarding than gaining some skill points, based on the ATCT group's experiences.

 

I think at this point something that might be helpful is cordoning off some of the more advanced rules with a big banner that reads: (OPTIONAL, NOT REALLY ALL THAT IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHEN YOU'RE FIRST MAKING A CHARACTER). I might also offer an automated method of selecting your strategies and specialisations based on what combat abilities you choose, so that if you don't want to deal with the system's complexity, you only have to pick your combat abilities. Would any of that help?

 

Originally Posted By: Triumph
Ditto what the others have said. I am willing for AIMHack to lack a little in balance in order to preserve simplicity and flexibility. What you've drawn up is interesting stuff, to be sure...but I think maybe it's no longer AIMHack. If you want to develop your own system, rock on! Just recognize it as such.

 

I'm considering renaming it at this point, yes. The changes are admittedly pretty major, although there's still a lot of AIMhack DNA in it. It looks more different than it is because the parts I want the most feedback on are the parts I'm changing.

 

I'll probably run a short campaign of 1-3 sessions with this system after ATCT is over, to test out how it works in practice and identify possible weaknesses.

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I'm just a kibitzer with no personal stake in this stuff, so my words have zero weight. But I read this out of casual interest, and the proposed rules didn't look so complicated to me. It seems pretty simple, in fact. In effect you have a bunch of abilities whose scores can range from 0 to 2, instead of 3 to 18 or whatever. And the abilities are defined directly in terms of what you actually do in the game, instead of through a two-stage process where you first say what people in general are like, and then figure out how their attributes will affect what happens in the game.

 

Is it really more complicated, or just unfamiliar?

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Is it really more complicated, or just unfamiliar?


I think there is at least some truth to this. As I've reflected more, I think I was onto something with my comment about the name. When you try to call this AIMHack, I compare it with original AIMHack and say "Whoa, what happened???" If I approach this as a new system (albeit one inspired by original AIMHack), I find myself more open and less guarded. The label affects expectations.

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Originally Posted By: Triumph
Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Is it really more complicated, or just unfamiliar?


I think there is at least some truth to this. As I've reflected more, I think I was onto something with my comment about the name. When you try to call this AIMHack, I compare it with original AIMHack and say "Whoa, what happened???" If I approach this as a new system (albeit one inspired by original AIMHack), I find myself more open and less guarded. The label affects expectations.


Yeah, all things considered I probably will change the name, in which case I'll also either change the name of this thread to encompass TRPG systems in general, or start a new Tabletop RPG Discussion Thread in its place.

Anyone got a good name suggestion? I don't want to just go ahead and name it after myself.

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I'm hoping maybe people will warm up a bit more to the new system if they see how it operates. So as an exercise, I decided to build some characters from AIMhack campaigns in the new as-yet-unnamed system, to show that the two systems are basically comparable in complexity and versatility, and that even characters that have similar strategies and specialisations can play quite differently due to their choice of abilities. I'll arbitrarily choose to stat them all out at level 5: the only things that will change are HP, non-combat skills, and possibly what combat abilities are permitted. I won't bother showing how to allocate their non-combat skills because those haven't really changed very much from the old system, except that not having to spend points on combat skills means you'll have more points to work with in general.

 

***

 

Click to reveal..
Aurora (Lilith, Rumours of my Death)

 

Level: 5

HP: 24

 

Combat Strategy: +2 Control, +1 Support

Offensive Specialisation: +2 Will

Survival Strategy: Ranged

Defensive Specialisation: +1 Reflex, +1 Will

 

Combat Abilities: Despair (Control/Will), Fear (Control/Will), Command (Control/Will), Calm (Control/Will), Confidence (Support), Battle Rage (Support)

 

Aurora can still use her knives, since that's just a basic Assault/Reflex weapon attack available to all characters -- it's just that she won't get any attack bonuses from her strategy or specialisation. This isn't very different from what the situation was in RomD, where her physical attack bonuses were notably lower than her magical attack bonuses. The difference is that in the new system, the gap between her physical and magical attacks will stay the same at all levels unless I consciously change it through retraining, which means her physical attacks are always a bit weaker but never become useless.

 

***

 

Grastakoss (Lilith, Island in Chaos)

 

Level: 5

HP: 40

 

Combat Strategy: +2 Assault, +1 Support

Offensive Specialisation: +1 Fortitude, +1 Ref

Survival Strategy: Endurance

Defensive Specialisation: +2 Fort

 

Combat Abilities: Unconquered Sun (Support), Thunderous Aura (Support), Cosmic Inflation (Support), Big Crunch (Skirmish/Fort), 2 other melee abilities

 

***

 

Lephista (Sarachim, City of Hope)

 

Level: 5

HP: 32

 

Combat Strategy: +2 Assault, +1 Support

Offensive Specialisation: +1 Fort, +1 Reflex

Survival Strategy: Balanced

Defensive Specialisation: +1 Fort, +1 Will

 

Combat Abilities: Brafdyk's Mystic Succor (Support, ranged), Roulsk's Patent Curative (Support, ranged), Lephista's Enhanced Avian (Support, close-range), 3 melee abilities

 

I think you've got the idea of how basic character-building might work by now. Now, imagine that I ran CoH and ATCT as a single big campaign, with Sarachim deciding to have Lephista try to renounce violence starting from the end of the CoH part. Let's see how many levels it takes for Lephista to go from end-of-CoH Lephista to start-of-ATCT Lephista!

 

Level 6: change Survival Strategy to Ranged, swap out one of the melee abilities for a new ranged combat ability (maybe Choking Cloud)

 

Level 7: swap primary and secondary Combat Strategy, swap in another ranged combat ability

 

Level 8: change secondary Combat Strategy to Control, change a point of Offensive Specialisation from Reflex to Fort

 

Final stats:

 

Lephista (Sarachim, All the Creeping Things)

 

Level: 8

HP: 33

 

Combat Strategy: +2 Support, +1 Control

Offensive Specialisation: +2 Fort

Survival Strategy: Balanced

Defensive Specialisation: +1 Fort, +1 Will

 

Combat Abilities: Brafdyk's Mystic Succor (Support), Roulsk's Patent Curative (Support), Lephista's Enhanced Avian (Support), Choking Cloud (Control/Fort), Seline's Dread Cloud (Skirmish/Fort), 1 melee ability

 

We've now turned Lephista from a bloodthirsty warrior-priestess into a mostly-pacifist healer in the space of 3 levels, while keeping her a viable, useful character all the way through. That's not so fast as to be jarring, but not so slow as to be frustrating.

 

The exercise with Lephista does bring to light one problem with the draft retraining system. Changing your Survival Strategy from Balanced to Ranged means you inevitably have a bunch of close-ranged powers for the next level or two, despite your defences being balanced around the assumption that you're mostly avoiding closing in on enemies. On the other side of the coin, it's not clear what you do when changing from Ranged to Balanced, or Balanced to one of the close-range strategies -- can you just not use all the extra ranged abilities you have until you swap them out for close-range abilities? That's not very fun.

 

To deal with this problem, I may make it easier to swap out abilities when levelling up, or allow characters to freely convert a long-range ability to an equivalent close-range ability or vice versa. I'm also wondering if I should make ranged abilities slightly easier to get in general: let the melee strategies take 1 ranged technique and let the Balanced strategy take 3. I don't want to make the Ranged strategy too weak, though.

 

I also haven't quite hammered out how non-combat magic is going to work. It's probably going to be handled using the normal non-combat skill system but with a few quirks.

 

EDIT: By the way, if anyone has a PC and they can't see how their abilities could be expressed under the new system, consider this an open invitation to request that I rebuild that character to show how it would be done.

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Just to try the system out and see if I understood it correctly, I took the two Motian characters I've used so far and converted them. I put them below in case anyone's interested.

Click to reveal.. (Aaron and Lucia)
Aaron (from End of Days)

 

Level: 5

HP: 32

 

Combat Strat: +2 Control, +1 Assault

Offense Spec: +1 Will, +1 Reflex

Survival Strat: Balanced

Defense Spec: +1 Will, +1 Reflex

 

Combat Abilities: Vertigo (Ranged Control/Will), Agony Seed (Ranged Control/Will), Nightmare Aura (Control/Will), 3 melee abilities.

 

 

Lucia (from All the Creeping Things)

 

Level: 5

HP: 24

 

Combat Strat: +2 Skirmish, +1 Control

Offense Spec: +1 Reflex, +1 Fortitude

Survival Strat: Ranged

Defense Spec: +1 Reflex, +1 Fortitude

 

Combat Abilities: Solar Flare (Ranged Skirmish/Reflex), Cyclone (Control/Fortitude), Sudden Winter (Ranged Skirmish/Reflex), Flashbang (Ranged Control/Fortitude), Lucia's Kinetic Field (Ranged Control/Fortitude), and 1 other ability.

In the process of doing this I noticed a few things. First of all, there are several abilities that can be used both in and out of combat. Take Lucia's Kinetic Field for instance. It can be used to move enemies around against their will, but it can also help move things around outside of combat. I take it this would be considered a combat ability, but what about other abilities that are a little less obvious? How do you define what is and is not a combat ability?

The other thing I noticed was that magic users have less versatility in this system. For example, Lucia as she is in the AtCT system has a range of abilities that would fall under the Skirmisher, Control, and Assault categories of this system. In order to switch her over to this system, I had to drop an entire category of abilities (in this case I dropped her Assault abilities which means she would no longer be able to use Star Missile and Tyinian Sunbeam).

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Originally Posted By: B.J.Earles
Just to try the system out and see if I understood it correctly, I took the two Motian characters I've used so far and converted them. I put them below in case anyone's interested.


Yup, you've got the idea alright! There are a couple of Lucia's abilities that kind of fall on the borderline between Reflex and Fort, and could reasonably fit into either.

Quote:
In the process of doing this I noticed a few things. First of all, there are several abilities that can be used both in and out of combat. Take Lucia's Kinetic Field for instance. It can be used to move enemies around against their will, but it can also help move things around outside of combat. I take it this would be considered a combat ability, but what about other abilities that are a little less obvious? How do you define what is and is not a combat ability?


If it's something you'd reasonably expect to find generally useful during combat, and not just in very specific circumstances, it should probably be defined as a combat ability. I don't think there's a need to be super strict about this -- if a combat ability has a use out of combat, or you're in a situation where a non-combat spell happens to be useful during a fight, then you can use it that way.

Quote:
The other thing I noticed was that magic users have less versatility in this system. For example, Lucia as she is in the AtCT system has a range of abilities that would fall under the Skirmisher, Control, and Assault categories of this system. In order to switch her over to this system, I had to drop an entire category of abilities (in this case I dropped her Assault abilities which means she would no longer be able to use Star Missile and Tyinian Sunbeam).


Keep in mind that she can still take those abilities, she just won't get a strategy bonus for them -- the +1 or +2 bonus is good to have, but not absolutely essential, especially since she's still getting a specialisation bonus if they target Fort or Reflex. The strategy and specialisation bonuses are meant to function as a reward for specialising, without overly punishing generalists. Specialists who put all their combat abilities in one or two strategies and focus on targeting a single defence (like Aurora as written up in my previous post) will have the best possible bonuses with all their abilities, but may be at a disadvantage when they're in a combat situation that calls for a tactic they don't have available or have no bonuses in (Aurora's reduced to using weak knife attacks against single enemies if she's facing a large group of mindless monsters). Generalists, on the other hand, are more likely to have the right kind of ability for the situation, but it may be an ability with a reduced bonus.

It sounds like the trouble you had with statting up Lucia mostly reflects the fact that she's limited to having 6 combat abilities under the new system. I kind of want to put a limit on number of combat abilities somewhere, though, because in ATCT the number of spells and techniques characters know is already ballooning out to the point where people are having trouble coming up with new ones. Maybe 7 or 8 is the ideal number? I'm not sure.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Keep in mind that she can still take those abilities, she just won't get a strategy bonus for them
Okay, that was something I didn't understand at first; perhaps that could be a little clearer.

Originally Posted By: Lilith
It sounds like the trouble you had with statting up Lucia mostly reflects the fact that she's limited to having 6 combat abilities under the new system. I kind of want to put a limit on number of combat abilities somewhere, though, because in ATCT the number of spells and techniques characters know is already ballooning out to the point where people are having trouble coming up with new ones. Maybe 7 or 8 is the ideal number? I'm not sure.
I actually brought up the possibility of having a flat number of spell/technique slots in the discussion after the last AtCT session. Thinking back, the number I proposed there was 5. I don't have any problem being limited to 6 slots; if anything, it's going to make me think harder about my strategies for combat (and yes, this is a good thing tongue ).

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Originally Posted By: Nioca
Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief
Originally Posted By: Nioca
Um... that seems like an awful lot of work and added complication just for the sake of avoiding base attributes.


Base attributes do not help remove the problems of

Quote:
specialist/generalist balance breaks down at higher levels and the requirement to invest in unused stats or skills just to maintain reasonable survivability

This has less to do with base attributes, and more to do with the fact that survival and weapons skills are lumped in with non-combat skills.


then why did you bring up base attributes

Also, Sawbones!

Click to reveal.. (Sawbones)
Allen "Sawbones" Macterris of Blood Marsh
Level: 5
HP: 45

Combat Strategy
Primary: Assault (+2)
Secondary: Control (+1)

Combat Specialization
Fortitude (+1)
Reflex (+1)

Survival Strategy
Endurance

Defensive Specialization
Fortitude (+1)
Reflex (+1)

Combat Abilities:
None! Sawbones predates your fancy-shmancy techniques. Ah, good days. tongue


I was a little unsure of his secondary Combat Strategy, but he was tackling people far more often than he was stitching them. In combat, at least. Should there be similar categories for non-combat skills? Lore, crafting, magic etc. strategies?

Also, the Reflex Offensive and Defensive specializations seem a little overpowered in comparison to Fortitude and Will. As you say, they will apply to most weapon or projectile attacks.

Next is Aluar
Click to reveal.. (Aluar Malara de la Torre Arce y Santo Reinoso)
Aluar Malara de la Torre Arce y Santo Reinoso of End of Days
Level: 5
HP: 27

Combat Strategy
Primary: Assault (+2)
Secondary: Skirmish (+1)

Combat Specialization
Reflex (+2)

Survival Strategy
Evasion

Defensive Specialization
Reflex (+4)

Combat Abilities:
Pacify(Ranged Control/Will)
Two-fer(Melee Skirmish/Reflex)
Frenzy(Self Support/Fortitude)
Just Business(Melee Assault/Reflex)
Melee Ability
Melee Ability


One thing I noticed for Aluar is that his combat abilities fall into all four strategies, all three specializations, both engagement ranges, and one of them is technically illegal(Pacify, for being Ranged). Assuming I did that right. That's pretty much the maximum amount of variation for only four abilities that seemed pretty natural to his character.

Also, a bit of confusion. Would Pacify, an item-granted ability, be subject to Strategies/Specializations at all, and would it count against the ability total?

Last, Nikita
Click to reveal.. (Nikita Otto)
Nikita Otto of Island in Chaos
Level: 5
HP: 30

Combat Strategy
Primary: Control (+2)
Secondary: Assault (+1)

Combat Specialization
Reflex (+1)
Will(+1)

Survival Strategy
Ranged

Defensive Specialization
Will(+2)

Combat Abilities:
Capacitance(Ranged Support)
Amber Man(Ranged Support)
Arc(Ranged Assault/Reflex)
Full Spectrum(Ranged Control/Fortitude)
Spasm(Ranged Control/Will)
Recharge(Ranged Support


Nikita is probably one of the best examples of how the old system is broken, so it's not surprising that this is a significantly different character.

First, she has 30 health, three more than Aluar, which makes me think that Evasion characters probably shouldn't be "fighting on the front lines", considering that they're technically the squishiest. I don't know if that balances with the extra defenses or not, I'd have to see, but that just struck me as something to look at.

I would put in some mechanic that bases number of combat abilities off of Combat Strategy or level, or at least increase the number from six. I know the original has way too many spells that are all over the place and can be far too specialized, but this list seems significantly lacking.

These are just things that struck me while doing this. I'd definitely have to play a game to see if these mechanics are effective or not.

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Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief

I was a little unsure of his secondary Combat Strategy, but he was tackling people far more often than he was stitching them. In combat, at least. Should there be similar categories for non-combat skills? Lore, crafting, magic etc. strategies?


I think the non-combat skill system is pretty functional as it is, although I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.

Quote:
Also, the Reflex Offensive and Defensive specializations seem a little overpowered in comparison to Fortitude and Will. As you say, they will apply to most weapon or projectile attacks.


This is true. Should some or all elemental/magical attacks be shifted from Reflex to Fortitude? I can see an argument for putting cold attacks and maybe fire attacks under Fortitude, at least -- you shield yourself and weather the blast, rather than dodging it.

This probably still leaves Will attacks as the least common, but on the other hand they're also likely to be the attacks you least want to be hit by when they do show up.

Quote:
Also, a bit of confusion. Would Pacify, an item-granted ability, be subject to Strategies/Specializations at all, and would it count against the ability total?


Magical items are kind of their own thing and wouldn't count as a combat ability, unless having the item is a core part of your character concept.

Quote:
Nikita is probably one of the best examples of how the old system is broken, so it's not surprising that this is a significantly different character.

First, she has 30 health, three more than Aluar, which makes me think that Evasion characters probably shouldn't be "fighting on the front lines", considering that they're technically the squishiest. I don't know if that balances with the extra defenses or not, I'd have to see, but that just struck me as something to look at.


I'm not sure what you actually did with the HP totals there -- did you calculate based on the characters' original levels instead of calculating them all at the same level? But yeah, in any case, Evasion characters have equal lowest HP, along with Ranged. Overall, they should be better off than Endurance strategists against attacks where they have a +2 defensive specialisation, about equal where they have a +1 specialisation, and worse off where they have no specialisation. They also benefit a lot from having a good healer in the party, since their lower HP total makes them easier to keep healed than Endurance or Balanced characters.

Quote:
I would put in some mechanic that bases number of combat abilities off of Combat Strategy or level, or at least increase the number from six. I know the original has way too many spells that are all over the place and can be far too specialized, but this list seems significantly lacking.


Hmm. I might end up basing it on level after all -- maybe start with 5 and get an extra one every 2-3 levels, to a maximum of 10? I'm not sure. I'd have to decide how to make that interact with the limit on number of ranged techniques for non-Ranged characters -- although at this point I'm not so sure that the limit is the best way to balance Ranged characters in the first place. It seems to cause more problems than it solves. It might be better to simply give non-Ranged characters a penalty to rolls on ranged attacks, with the penalty being smaller for Balanced characters.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
I think the non-combat skill system is pretty functional as it is, although I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.
So if I understand you correctly, the only thing you're removing from the skill list is the Martial abilities. That leaves the Magic skills in the mix, but since all the combat spells are affected by the new combat system instead of the skills that means that all the current schools are reduced to just their utility spells. To me this looks like it has the possibility to completely throw off any balance the current system has. Maybe.

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Originally Posted By: B.J.Earles
Originally Posted By: Lilith
I think the non-combat skill system is pretty functional as it is, although I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.
So if I understand you correctly, the only thing you're removing from the skill list is the Martial abilities. That leaves the Magic skills in the mix, but since all the combat spells are affected by the new combat system instead of the skills that means that all the current schools are reduced to just their utility spells. To me this looks like it has the possibility to completely throw off any balance the current system has. Maybe.


Oh, I see what you're saying. I might condense the magic schools into fewer categories like Sarachim's done for The Abyss, so that each category covers more stuff. I think that'll be enough to keep it balanced. Magic's pretty useful, even without the combat spells.

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The schools I'm most worried about are Abjuration and Evocation. All the other schools have lots of utility spells that are easily non-combat spells, but those two are geared almost entirely for combat. I don't thing switching to Sarachim's system will help all that much either as Abjuration and Evocation were lumped together to make Force Magic, IIRC. That still leaves you with a magic school designed almost specifically for combat.

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Quote:
But yeah, in any case, Evasion characters have equal lowest HP, along with Ranged.


Quote:
Evasion: You fight on the front lines, but survive by avoiding attacks rather than enduring them. You begin with only 12 HP and gain 3 HP per level, but gain +2 to all defences, and the bonuses from your Defensive Specialisation (see below) are doubled. You never provoke attacks of opportunity.
Ranged: You stay away from the thick of battle, trying not to let the enemy get close enough to hit you in the first place. You begin with only 15 HP and gain 3 HP per level, but may take as many ranged combat abilities as you want.


No they don't. Evasion starts with 3 less health than Ranged, and gains at the same rate. Small difference, I guess. Never mind.

Originally Posted By: B.J.Earles
The schools I'm most worried about are Abjuration and Evocation. All the other schools have lots of utility spells that are easily non-combat spells, but those two are geared almost entirely for combat. I don't thing switching to Sarachim's system will help all that much either as Abjuration and Evocation were lumped together to make Force Magic, IIRC. That still leaves you with a magic school designed almost specifically for combat.


It's not like the explicitly non-combat skills are at all balanced to begin with. I can recall maybe one Streetwise roll in seven campaigns. Same with History, Religion, and Crafting. Somewhat applies to Thievery. Artifice pops up here and there, but you can almost always get by without it.

Really, the only ones that see much use are Magic, Composure, Perception(Though you'll usually do well enough even if nobody actually has the skill), First Aid(Which has actually become pretty well-balanced with magical healing since the beginning), Nature(Depending on the campaign), and Stealth.

Obviously, that depends as much on the DMs making the campaigns as the system itself. But it's silly to worry about the noncombat magic skills becoming unbalanced when all of the noncombat skills already are.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Do you have any substantive criticism of RPG theory, apart from the fact that it's supposedly written by hipsters who are too cool and modern for you? Remember, OD&D effectively had no attributes or skills either -- technically it had attributes that you wrote on your character sheet, but they had almost no effect in combat. So this is hardly hypermodernist design I'm pushing here.


My main problem with RPG theory is the tendency to throw babies out with proverbial bathwater, by making statements like this:

Originally Posted By: An anonymous RPG theorist
I think the non-combat skill system is pretty functional as it is, although I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.


, which irks me because it's just changing things for the sake of being able to change them, and a willingness to ditch systems that, by their own admission, are "pretty functional", purely for the sake of design aesthetics or frankly irrelevantly small perceived problems.

And claiming that ODnD didn't have attributes either is a red herring- ODnD was kind of terrible anyways, so why would we want to emulate it?

Originally Posted By: Lilith
If you have your own suggestion for fixing this that doesn't rely on "socially pressure the players into keeping their combat bonuses relatively close to each other", I'm all ears.


Easy, and I'm pretty sure it's been discussed here before. Have every player pick a "primary" combat stat (like Martial:Swords or Evocation) that progresses with level without requiring points invested into it and is high enough that no point investment could possibly cause another skill to exceed it (for instance, PCS=4+2*"Level"). That way, everyone has the same main combat bonus, but characters that wish to "specialize" in combat can spend their level-up points to improve other combat skills that just won't each as high as their primary one for increased tactical flexibility without overpowering, while character that want to be generalists can still pursue other noncombat skills without worrying about one-hit kills or becoming irrelevant in combat.

See? A solution to your main complaint that didn't require throwing the entire system and forcing everyone to relearn a new one that had no relation to the old.

Originally Posted By: Lilith
Pretty much every D&D-based system also uses character classes. Part of the balance problems come from the fact that we've got rid of character classes -- this system is an attempt to reinstate the niche protection that classes provide without falling into the class-as-identity trap.


And the total removal of classes is one of the issues I have with the system. If you're concerned that you can't create characters unique enough to break past the label that the class attaches to them (which you can do easily, BTW. You come up with some of the best and most original characters here!), then that's not necessarily a problem with the class-based system, but a problem with how one plays it. "Cleric" could just as easily mean Torquemada as Mother Teresa (Hi, Nalyd!), and "Barbarians" could range from Genghis Khan to Thog, so if you're simply playing along with the predetermined stereotypes of class, that's your problem.

I mean, as I take another look at your design, you're basically trying to put classes back in without explicitly stating it. So why not just put classes back in? It would be way simpler and more efficient, and you could define just three or four classes broadly enough that you would't fall into the identity trap- for instance, a "magic" class or a "combat" class hardly defines a character in the way that a "sorcerer" or "barbarian" would, and it could be used to balance various characters against one another without slotting them into predefined roles, which seems to be what you want to be able to do.

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Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief

No they don't. Evasion starts with 3 less health than Ranged, and gains at the same rate. Small difference, I guess. Never mind.


Whoops, good catch. They're both meant to start with 12 HP. Fixed. See, this is why I post these things for you guys to look over instead of just going ahead and running a game.

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It's not like the explicitly non-combat skills are at all balanced to begin with. I can recall maybe one Streetwise roll in seven campaigns. Same with History, Religion, and Crafting. Somewhat applies to Thievery. Artifice pops up here and there, but you can almost always get by without it.

Really, the only ones that see much use are Magic, Composure, Perception(Though you'll usually do well enough even if nobody actually has the skill), First Aid(Which has actually become pretty well-balanced with magical healing since the beginning), Nature(Depending on the campaign), and Stealth.


Any suggestions? I've been trying to create situations where the lesser-used skills can shine, but it's easier said than done. Merging History and Religion into Arcana has helped for ATCT, but even then it's one of the more marginal skills. Merging Artifice and Crafting didn't really help make them more useful, but at least it meant there was one less useless skill. Should Artifice and Thievery be merged as well, maybe?

Streetwise has seen a fair bit of use in ATCT -- among other things, I've basically made it into the equivalent of Composure for working with large groups instead of individual people, which seems to have helped. Apart from that, the main reason it's seen less use than it could have is that most parties don't spend all that much time around large groups of people.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
, which irks me because it's just changing things for the sake of being able to change them, and a willingness to ditch systems that, by their own admission, are "pretty functional", purely for the sake of design aesthetics or frankly irrelevantly small perceived problems.


I think it's valuable to try out different rules and see how they function. It's not like we're forbidden from ever using the old rules again if the new ones don't work.

I mean, really, the rate of change in the rules we play by here is pretty moderate by the standards of the hobby. I know groups who try out a totally new game every month.

Besides, it's not as if you didn't change a bunch of stuff to suit your tastes when you ran your own campaign.

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And claiming that ODnD didn't have attributes either is a red herring- ODnD was kind of terrible anyways, so why would we want to emulate it?


Can you maybe name a couple of game systems you actually like and think are well-designed? Because you're spending a lot of time hating on things and I'm not sure what it would take to please you.

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Easy, and I'm pretty sure it's been discussed here before. Have every player pick a "primary" combat stat (like Martial:Swords or Evocation) that progresses with level without requiring points invested into it and is high enough that no point investment could possibly cause another skill to exceed it (for instance, PCS=4+2*"Level"). That way, everyone has the same main combat bonus, but characters that wish to "specialize" in combat can spend their level-up points to improve other combat skills that just won't each as high as their primary one for increased tactical flexibility without overpowering, while character that want to be generalists can still pursue other noncombat skills without worrying about one-hit kills or becoming irrelevant in combat.


This is a possible solution, yes. One of the issues it doesn't resolve is the fact that AIMhack forces players to choose between combat and non-combat effectiveness -- either having a secondary combat skill is useful, in which case players who don't invest in it will still be less useful in combat, or it's useless, in which case it's just an invitation to waste skill points.

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See? A solution to your main complaint that didn't require throwing the entire system and forcing everyone to relearn a new one that had no relation to the old.


If you're complaining about learning a set of rule changes that can fit on a single printed page, I don't know how you even got into this hobby in the first place.

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And the total removal of classes is one of the issues I have with the system. If you're concerned that you can't create characters unique enough to break past the label that the class attaches to them (which you can do easily, BTW. You come up with some of the best and most original characters here!), then that's not necessarily a problem with the class-based system, but a problem with how one plays it. "Cleric" could just as easily mean Torquemada as Mother Teresa (Hi, Nalyd!), and "Barbarians" could range from Genghis Khan to Thog, so if you're simply playing along with the predetermined stereotypes of class, that's your problem.


This sounds very nice until you actually try to work out how you're going to express each class mechanically, at which point it starts to break down a bit as you have to decide which abilities are permissible for a class and which ones aren't. If you're not proposing that we forbid characters from taking abilities from outside their class, but just giving classes a bonus to the things they're best at, how is your proposed system any different from mine?

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I mean, as I take another look at your design, you're basically trying to put classes back in without explicitly stating it. So why not just put classes back in? It would be way simpler and more efficient, and you could define just three or four classes broadly enough that you would't fall into the identity trap- for instance, a "magic" class or a "combat" class hardly defines a character in the way that a "sorcerer" or "barbarian" would, and it could be used to balance various characters against one another without slotting them into predefined roles, which seems to be what you want to be able to do.


Long story short, because I want the rules to define what characters do while leaving a degree of freedom on how they do it. It's simpler design to have the same basic rules for a character who shoots arrows at single enemies and for a character who hurls firebolts at single enemies than to have distinct mechanical subsystems for each of them, and it means that it's easier to balance a character who wants both arrows and firebolts against a character who wants, say, firebolts and healing spells, because you can easily see what each one will actually be doing in play.

I don't see how classes could be all that much simpler than a system where you make four decisions, pick six combat abilities, allocate your skills and your character is done. That's pretty simple already!

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Versions and naming:

 

For me, AIMhack just mean "simplified d20 over AIM". We've forked the original "Ephesian AIMhack" many times already. Dust Bowl introduced the alchemy system. COH introduced quadratic skill costs. TPOF had the varying dice. ATCT eliminated the base stats, and introduced social conflict rules (which I keep on forgetting about; sorry!). The Abyss revamped the magic schools. The Zombie campaigns introduced feats and other stuff (I'm not following Zombies very closely -- sorry!). I don't remember when martial techniques appeared, but they're new too. At what point do you draw the line and say, "This stops being AIMhack"?

 

Nomenclature is hard. The outside world sees discrete versions: D&D 3.0 versus 3.5, or Windows Vista versus 7. But internally, it's a continuum.

 

As for the name of the new system: we've already taken our cue from the navies of the world and named our systems after the first campaign they were featured in (ZombieHack, CreepingHack). So when you run your one-shot testing the system, make sure you give it an appropriate name, so you end up with something like AwesomeHack. Good thing I'm not in charge, or I'd pick a one-shot name so we end up with HackHack.

 

Complexity Creep:

 

When dealing with complexity in an evolving game, the important thing is to manage overall complexity, not incremental complexity. That is to say, the acid test is to show the entire system to new players and see if they 'grok' it. Novices are hard to come by, but at any rate I think it's a bad idea to judge a new system though the lens of an older one. You'll either continually add more complexity because it's easy to justify small increments, or you'll be unwilling to change or drop complexity because of sacred cows.

 

As has been mentioned already, there are two areas where we have to control complexity. The first is during actual gameplay. One of the original goals of "Ephesian AIMhack" was that play should consist of players choosing what to do, and then rolling a d20 if randomness was needed. That hasn't changed that much. With the addition of martial techniques, combat now always consists of choosing from a list of techniques. There are some extensions to the system (ie. alchemy), but that's about it.

 

Does it pass the acid test? Pretty much; there's a very small gap between a new roleplayer saying "My character does X" and translating that action into "game terms". Extensions like alchemy are more complex, but as long as they are "opt-in" (not every player needs to know the alchemy rules), then there's alright.

 

The second area of potential complexity creep is character creation and advancement. The original "Ephesian AIMhack" was very good in the transition from character concept to character implementation. And until now, character creation hasn't changed all that much, aside from perhaps the Zombie campaigns. Stuff like quadratic skill costs is only slightly more complicated than linear costs during character creation, and it's as straightforward when leveling. Martial characters have to come up with techniques now (or use the Compendium), but since mages have always done so I don't see this as much of a problem. ATCT's system has probably been the biggest change (again, not including the Zombie campaigns). But one of the key features of AIMhack systems is that the task of deriving secondary statistics and computing bonuses and penalties and DCs is solely in the GM's hands (aside from max. HP in ATCT's case).

 

The question of whether the proposed system passes the acid test is clearly not as clear to most people here; I think a one-shot (or more character conversion examples) will be needed.

 

Why Complexity:

 

For an example of a system with far less complexity than any of the AIMhack systems, check this out. A bit of background: this is an event where forty GMs take hundreds of one or two character parties through a (very) scripted one-shot. Obviously such a small ruleset is needed for such a huge event, but there are three main reasons why our AIMhack systems are more complex.

 

The first reason we add complexity is because some characters aren't possible in the old system. For instance, you can't make mages in the linked system.

 

The second reason we add complexity is to ensure all character concepts have roughly the same number of options. Think about how martial characters were given techniques.

 

The final reason we add complexity is to balance power, and this is a subject that's come up a lot recently. Ideally, we want to create a system where any character concept is roughly as powerful as any other character once implemented. I don't want to end up with a system where I'm discouraged from playing, say, a melee fighter because "mages are more powerful". The problem is that all systems are going to inherently make some characters more powerful than others, which is why we're always tinkering.

 

(A side note: I think one of the reasons I'm so blase about new AIMhack systems constantly being made is that I'm viewing the whole thing as an ongoing skunk works project, rather than a final product. If a campaign tries ten new things and only one works -- hey! -- we found something that works. Heck, even if all ten fail, we now know never to try those things again. This probably puts me in the minority, as most people would rather have fun now.)

 

Generalists versus Specialists:

 

Know what I think we should do? A one-shot. Except instead of the GM calculating all the derived statistics (ie. Armour Class), it's up to the players. And instead of rolling the d20 and having the GM add the bonuses and compare it to the DC, have the players do this. Basically, make it more like tabletop D&D. I realize this transparency is something that AIMhack is supposed to be against, but it might make the strengths and weaknesses of both generalists and specialists more apparent. Maybe.

 

The New System, Classes:

 

At first glance, I like it. You effectively build your own class. You lose the flavour that 'normal' classes give, but as you say, this is much more of a good thing than it is a bad thing. Letting your class define your combat ability, and having your skill points determine how effective you are out of combat, and not mixing the two, is something we've needed for a long, long while. I think that all characters should be roughly as useful as each other, both in combat and out of it. I suppose this discourages some character concepts, such as only being useful in combat, or only being useful out of it (think Meredith at the beginning of CoH), but I'm sure most people don't have a problem with this.

 

The New System, Skirmish:

 

Hmmm. I thought about Blitz, but that doesn't really fit when you look at the actual definition.

 

The New System, Stamina:

 

Is this how you're dealing with stamina in ATCT? I remember asking you, and you said that spending an extra stamina meant a +3 to the roll.

 

Interesting that the bonus is applied directly to the roll. So basically you're much more likely to crit when you spend a stamina, and you'll never fail horribly. Alright, cool. Just be careful how this affects the design space. I know D&D 4.0 is very fond of having effect trigger whenever a critical hit is made, and spending a stamina to quadruple your chances of a crit might be a bad idea. Yes, I know the supply of stamina is limited, but still something to think about.

 

Stamina > Hit Points:

 

Gonna segue into talking about the current system now. The following topics deal with stuff I've noticed playing in ATCT, but the issues are common to other AIMhack systems as well. Also, these aren't necessarily problems, just observations. Maybe things are working as intended, I dunno.

 

A couple of times in ATCT, I've had my melee fighter in the thick of things, trading blows. I get down on health, and then the healer patches me up. The end result is that I'm effectively no worse for wear, while the healer ends up down on stamina. With the way healing works, it's always the healer who spends the stamina. Overall, healers have to avoid spending stamina whenever they want, while other characters have more freedom to do so.

 

D&D 4.0 has it where the healed character is the one who spends a healing surge. Should we make the same change in our AIMhack games? Or perhaps you choose at the time of casting who spends the stamina -- I want to avoid situations where you avoid healing someone because they're low on stamina.

 

Non-Combat Spells > Non-Combat Skills:

 

There's been discussion before about the possible disparity between fighters and mages in combat. I'm not going to touch that here -- for the most part, I've been fine with my melee-only character in ATCT. Not overjoyed, but fine. I've been slowly expanding the available martial techniques so I can be effective against numerous possible situations (one-vs-one, many-vs-one, one-vs-many, etc.).

 

But the difference between mages and non-mages is different once you're out of combat. Weimin's got a wide range of non-combat skills (Artifice, Composure, Stealth, Streetwise, Thievery), all at 5. I joked a while back about suddenly acquiring 5 ranks in Divination, and rejected it because it didn't fit my character concept. But imagine if I were to build a Weimin2, who instead of having five different non-combat non-magic skills, he was trained in five different magic schools, each with three non-combat spells. Between those fifteen spells, I could cover the most common uses of those five skills (and maybe have some spells left over!). Heck, Weimin2 could spread himself out to all seven schools present in ATCT, in an effort to maximize the number of spells per skill points allotted.

 

The point is that utility spells are a lot of fun, but one thing I've realized in ATCT is that they risk obsoleting the other non-combat skills. Think about how Amadan used Detrimentum to 'pick' a locked door after Weimin failed to do so. Yes, yes, we rolled differently, and the ranks of the respective skills were different. But given two characters with equal ranks in the respective skills, who would be better at picking a lock? And, of course, Detrimentum can be used in combat as well, something I haven't tried yet with my lockpicks.

 

I think one of the key underlying issues are skills that only have a few uses. The best example I can think of is First Aid. Give one character 5 ranks in First Aid, another 5 ranks in some healing-capable school. Who would be better at healing? It better not be the mage, because the mage would have one HP-raising spell, one disease-curing spell, and one spell for absolutely free.

 

I'm not quite sure what the best solution is. Maybe this is an argument for merging skills together, the way Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate were all merged into Composure. Or maybe this is an argument for limiting how utility spells can be used. I dunno, I'll have to think on it some more, and this post is hugemassive enough as it is.

 

EDIT: Regarding merging the spell schools for the new system: yeah, I think it would be needed. It might also mitigate the issue in my last point, regarding skill point investment so as to maximize the number of spells. I remember joking at the beginning of ATCT about creating a character who had one point in every skill, but a low level character with seven utility spells might be overpowered. Or maybe not; at low levels you have to allocate points so you survive... this might have to be tested.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
For me, AIMhack just mean "simplified d20 over AIM". We've forked the original "Ephesian AIMhack" many times already. Dust Bowl introduced the alchemy system. COH introduced quadratic skill costs. TPOF had the varying dice. ATCT eliminated the base stats, and introduced social conflict rules (which I keep on forgetting about; sorry!). The Abyss revamped the magic schools. The Zombie campaigns introduced feats and other stuff (I'm not following Zombies very closely -- sorry!). I don't remember when martial techniques appeared, but they're new too. At what point do you draw the line and say, "This stops being AIMhack"?


Well, since some people do seem to think they'd prefer to see it renamed at this point, it's no skin off my nose to do so. I almost want to call it HipsterHack at this point, because Dantius amuses me.

Don't apologise for not using the social mechanics -- the fact that you've implicitly turned down every opportunity to use them tells me something in itself. For the next campaign, I'm thinking of maybe replacing them with a system that lets you read a character's mood and get specific pieces of information about their motivations, rather than directly beat them in an argument. That way, you still end up roleplaying out social encounters rather than running the risk of glossing over them by pulling out mechanics, but the social skills help you change the course of those encounters to your benefit.

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As for the name of the new system: we've already taken our cue from the navies of the world and named our systems after the first campaign they were featured in (ZombieHack, CreepingHack). So when you run your one-shot testing the system, make sure you give it an appropriate name, so you end up with something like AwesomeHack. Good thing I'm not in charge, or I'd pick a one-shot name so we end up with HackHack.


I'm thinking that my system test will probably be a mini-campaign inspired by XCrawl. That'll give you guys an excuse to make the craziest, most gonzo characters you want, and give me plenty of opportunities to stress-test the new combat mechanics.

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(A side note: I think one of the reasons I'm so blase about new AIMhack systems constantly being made is that I'm viewing the whole thing as an ongoing skunk works project, rather than a final product. If a campaign tries ten new things and only one works -- hey! -- we found something that works. Heck, even if all ten fail, we now know never to try those things again. This probably puts me in the minority, as most people would rather have fun now.)


If you're in the minority, it's a minority that I'm part of. Plus, I do think that the rules changes that have been implemented so far have been a net positive for the game -- being afraid of changing anything lest some of the things you change be less fun is a recipe for never having more fun than you currently are.

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Know what I think we should do? A one-shot. Except instead of the GM calculating all the derived statistics (ie. Armour Class), it's up to the players. And instead of rolling the d20 and having the GM add the bonuses and compare it to the DC, have the players do this. Basically, make it more like tabletop D&D. I realize this transparency is something that AIMhack is supposed to be against, but it might make the strengths and weaknesses of both generalists and specialists more apparent. Maybe.


Heck, I think the new trend that Nioca and I have started toward having GMs roll in the open and follow the rules strictly rather than eyeballing rolls is already helping to lay bare how much different mechanical options really help or hinder characters. When Weimin hits an enemy on a roll of 2, it becomes obvious to everyone at the table that his high combat skill really is working to his advantage, and that stamina expenditure, perks and status effect bonuses really do matter.

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I suppose this discourages some character concepts, such as only being useful in combat, or only being useful out of it (think Meredith at the beginning of CoH), but I'm sure most people don't have a problem with this.


It's worth remembering that Meredith spent just as much time attacking people as the rest of the party, and was only as successful in combat as she was because for that campaign I was still mostly eyeballing rolls.

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Hmmm. I thought about Blitz, but that doesn't really fit when you look at the actual definition.


I'll take this as agreement that it needs a better name, I guess. Changing Skirmish to Assault and Assault to something else that specifically implies a single-target attack would also be an acceptable solution.

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Is this how you're dealing with stamina in ATCT? I remember asking you, and you said that spending an extra stamina meant a +3 to the roll.


It's a straight +3 per stamina in ATCT, but I think +1d6 is more fun and dynamic, makes it more visible just how much stamina expenditure contributes, and means that spending 3 stamina doesn't basically guarantee a success on most rolls (although it still helps a lot).

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Interesting that the bonus is applied directly to the roll. So basically you're much more likely to crit when you spend a stamina, and you'll never fail horribly. Alright, cool. Just be careful how this affects the design space. I know D&D 4.0 is very fond of having effect trigger whenever a critical hit is made, and spending a stamina to quadruple your chances of a crit might be a bad idea. Yes, I know the supply of stamina is limited, but still something to think about.


Yeah, I'm hoping that sticking to the definition of a crit as "best plausible outcome" rather than "automatic perfect success", and keeping a bit of a tight rein on perks and abilities that give bonuses to crits, will avoid making this unbalancing.

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A couple of times in ATCT, I've had my melee fighter in the thick of things, trading blows. I get down on health, and then the healer patches me up. The end result is that I'm effectively no worse for wear, while the healer ends up down on stamina. With the way healing works, it's always the healer who spends the stamina. Overall, healers have to avoid spending stamina whenever they want, while other characters have more freedom to do so.

D&D 4.0 has it where the healed character is the one who spends a healing surge. Should we make the same change in our AIMhack games? Or perhaps you choose at the time of casting who spends the stamina -- I want to avoid situations where you avoid healing someone because they're low on stamina.


It's an interesting idea -- and players of healers have complained mildly about having to be stingy with their stamina, so it's not like it's a solution in search of a problem. What do other people think?

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The point is that utility spells are a lot of fun, but one thing I've realized in ATCT is that they risk obsoleting the other non-combat skills. Think about how Amadan used Detrimentum to 'pick' a locked door after Weimin failed to do so. Yes, yes, we rolled differently, and the ranks of the respective skills were different. But given two characters with equal ranks in the respective skills, who would be better at picking a lock? And, of course, Detrimentum can be used in combat as well, something I haven't tried yet with my lockpicks.


I've thought of a few possible rules fixes for this -- for example, maybe magic is inherently capricious and unreliable, so you can't take 10 when casting a spell the way you can with other skills. This makes non-magical skills the party's bread and butter, while magic gets pulled out when nobody has a skill that's relevant or good enough to deal with the current situation. I don't think that solves the problem, but I do think it'd help, especially in combination with limiting the number of spells that characters can have.

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I think one of the key underlying issues are skills that only have a few uses. The best example I can think of is First Aid. Give one character 5 ranks in First Aid, another 5 ranks in some healing-capable school. Who would be better at healing? It better not be the mage, because the mage would have one HP-raising spell, one disease-curing spell, and one spell for absolutely free.


This is something I've thought about as well, and I've tried to allow a fairly broad interpretation for uses of First Aid besides healing HP -- but you're right, there's only so much it can do, which is why nobody raises First Aid as high as they raise Conjuration or Vitaemancy. I think treating all healing magic as combat abilities might help, so that you're no longer spending the same currency to buy in-combat healing and out-of-combat healing. (Of course, you can still use your healing magic outside of combat, but the point is that you've spent one of your six combat slots on it.)

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Complexity creep is no doubt an issue. At some point you hit a ceiling where newbies will roll their eyes and move on.

 

But what's the complexity floor? What's the minimum amount of rules you really want?

 

Why do you want any rules at all? What's the essential difference between AIMHack and the old free-form RPs that used to grace this forum?

 

I ask these questions from idle curiosity, but their answers might be useful. If it turned out that there was a simple consensus on what the rules were there for, it might be easier to identify a good set of rules, as being ones that did that job well.

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I was thinking the other day about starting a new topic: "What's Your RPG Manifesto?". Ask people what the top five/ten/whatever qualities they'd like to see in their ideal tabletop RPG. Sound like a good idea?

 

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In combat, you hit equal-level targets on a 10 if no other bonuses or penalties apply. +1 to hit for every level a target is lower than you; -1 to hit for every two levels a target is above you.
Didn't ask about this yesterday; is there a specific reason this is the way it is? I assume there is, but making it scale the same either way would make things a lot simpler. In our AIMhack games we always have every party member be at the same level, but presumably GMs might want to make encounters with NPCs of varying levels. Making the bonuses/penalties scale the same either way would effectively give characters constant bonuses to hit and constant defences, a lot simpler than changing the number depending on who is attacking whom.

 

There's also the question of how big the bonuses from your strategies and specializations should be, but that's something that's best determined in the one-shot.

 

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Know what I think we should do? A one-shot. Except instead of the GM calculating all the derived statistics (ie. Armour Class), it's up to the players. And instead of rolling the d20 and having the GM add the bonuses and compare it to the DC, have the players do this. Basically, make it more like tabletop D&D. I realize this transparency is something that AIMhack is supposed to be against, but it might make the strengths and weaknesses of both generalists and specialists more apparent. Maybe.
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Heck, I think the new trend that Nioca and I have started toward having GMs roll in the open and follow the rules strictly rather than eyeballing rolls is already helping to lay bare how much different mechanical options really help or hinder characters. When Weimin hits an enemy on a roll of 2, it becomes obvious to everyone at the table that his high combat skill really is working to his advantage, and that stamina expenditure, perks and status effect bonuses really do matter.
Yeah, hitting on that 2 was nice. Mostly because I hate it when I spend a lot of effort on ensuring a hit only to roll high anyway. ;-)

 

(Reminded of this one fight in Dust Bowl where Diki hit on a 6, and everyone was too busy congratulating Eric and commenting on how weak these giant crabs were to think about the bard. :-P )

 

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Hmmm. I thought about Blitz, but that doesn't really fit when you look at the actual definition.
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I'll take this as agreement that it needs a better name, I guess. Changing Skirmish to Assault and Assault to something else that specifically implies a single-target attack would also be an acceptable solution.
Change Skirmish to Assault and Assault to Duel?

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity

Why do you want any rules at all? What's the essential difference between AIMHack and the old free-form RPs that used to grace this forum?


There are three main reasons for rules in RPG theory, which are arguably just three ways of saying the same thing:

* to change the social dynamics of the group to allow things to happen that otherwise wouldn't, and prevent things from happening that otherwise would

* to create a common frame of reference, agreed upon in advance, that defines what each player has the right to do even when other players don't want them to

* to make it possible for unwanted events to happen at the table, when it's agreed that unwanted events happening sometimes helps to produce tension but nobody will choose for them to happen at any specific moment if it's purely up to their own decision

If the GM says your character is dead just because she says so, she's being a jerk. If she says your character is dead because you had 2 HP left and the ancient dragon rolled a critical hit on its breath attack, she's just playing by the rules.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
I was thinking the other day about starting a new topic: "What's Your RPG Manifesto?". Ask people what the top five/ten/whatever qualities they'd like to see in their ideal tabletop RPG. Sound like a good idea?


Sounds like an idea to me. I'd suggest posting it here except you'd mostly only be getting the AIMhack crew posting in it, so go ahead and make a thread.

Quote:
Didn't ask about this yesterday; is there a specific reason this is the way it is? I assume there is, but making it scale the same either way would make things a lot simpler. In our AIMhack games we always have every party member be at the same level, but presumably GMs might want to make encounters with NPCs of varying levels. Making the bonuses/penalties scale the same either way would effectively give characters constant bonuses to hit and constant defences, a lot simpler than changing the number depending on who is attacking whom.

There's also the question of how big the bonuses from your strategies and specializations should be, but that's something that's best determined in the one-shot.


To put it simply, the reason I based accuracy on level difference the way I did is that missing all the time isn't fun, and if you got a -1 for every level you were below a higher-levelled opponent, you'd spend a whole lot of time missing against them. Likewise, lower-levelled opponents would quickly become irrelevant because they couldn't hit you. Making it a lot easier for high-level opponents to hit you, but only a bit harder for you to hit them, is better for gameplay, and I don't think it really adds all that much complexity.

As far as the other bonuses go, I've done the numbers with the new system and you should normally have a to-hit of somewhere between 6 and 16 on an equal-levelled enemy, depending on how many of the attacker and defender's bonuses apply. That seems like about the right range of numbers to me, although of course there's still a need for testing.

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Change Skirmish to Assault and Assault to Duel?


Mmmmaybe. I thought of this, but Duel is a little too specific -- you're not necessarily dueling enemies when you're using single-target attacks, you're just focusing on one at a time. Maybe change Skirmish to Assault and Assault to Focused?

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Change Skirmish to Assault and Assault to Duel?
Mmmmaybe. I thought of this, but Duel is a little too specific -- you're not necessarily dueling enemies when you're using single-target attacks, you're just focusing on one at a time. Maybe change Skirmish to Assault and Assault to Focused?
Yeah, I don't think Duel would work either. I like the idea of changing Skirmish to Assault (makes me think of military movements). The only replacement for Assault I've found that would even remotely work is Strike. Kind of came from the idea of a surgical strike, since you're only targeting one enemy.

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Yeah, that's pretty straightfoward. Strike/Assault it is, unless someone comes up with something better. Thanks, BJ!

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In general I think what I mainly wanted from rules was unexpected events. That way we didn't have to be purely creative; we could also react, and riff on events that were randomly generated.

 

In-person RPGs are interesting things because they have three event resolution systems running in parallel: the 'three R's' of rolls, rules, and role-playing. Most games have at most two of these elements. My feeling about what changes when you have all three is that each of the three individually should be kept quite simple. Just combining them adds enough complexity for a good game.

 

AIMHack seems to be doing pretty well at keeping them all simple. There does still seem to be some tendency to forking, though. Does AIMHack have a soul, an identity that persists through changes in detail? Maybe it's a matter of this: Which kinds of things ought to be decided by which of the three Rs? Is there by any chance some consensus on this?

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I like Strike/Assault/Control/Support as well. By the way, will there be a distinction between Control attacks that focus on one target and Control attacks that focus on multiple targets?

 

Also, I went ahead and build Weimin with the new system:

Click to reveal.. (Core)

Combat Strategy: +2 Strike, +1 Assault

Offensive Specialization: +2 Reflex

Survival Strategy: Balanced

Defensive Specialization: +2 Reflex

 

Techniques:

Hurricane Spin (Skirmish/Reflex)

Duelist's Counter (Strike/None?)

Coordinated Strike (Strike/Reflex) (also Support)

Distracting Strike (Strike/Reflex?)

Palmed Weapon (Strike/Reflex) (Ranged)

Interrupting Shot (Strike/Reflex?)

 

I also have skills and HP totals for him at level 1 (as a complete novice), level 6 (the start of ATCT), and level 11 (roughly where we are now).

Click to reveal.. (Level 1)

Max HP: 16

 

Stealth: 3

Streetwise: 3

Thievery: 3

Perception: 1

Streetwise: 1

Click to reveal.. (Level 6)

Max HP: 36

 

Composure: 6

Artifice: 5

Stealth: 5

Streetwise: 5

Thievery: 5

Acrobatics: 2

Athletics: 2

Perception: 2

Click to reveal.. (Level 11)

Max HP: 56

 

Composure: 11

Streetwise: 11

Artifice: 5

Stealth: 5

Thievery: 5

Acrobatics: 4

Perception: 4

Athletics: 2

Divination: 4

I notice no one's posted skills along with their converted characters. These characters are more powerful than ATCT Weimin, but that's because I goofed: I included skill points invested in combat skills when I picked the levels.

 

Still, it's worth looking at the possible allocation of skill points in this new system. It's possible to create a character that just maxes out on two skills, and has no other skills. Here are some other cases where characters try to focus on a number of skills equally:

Click to reveal.. (Focuses Equally on 3 Skills)

Level 1: 3 skills at 3, 2 extra

Level 6: 3 skills at 7, 6 extra

Level 11: 3 skills at 11, 12 extra

Level 16: 3 skills at 15, 20 extra

Click to reveal.. (Focuses Equally on 4 Skills)

Level 1: 4 skills at 2, 8 extra

Level 6: 4 skills at 6, 6 extra

Level 11: 4 skills at 9, 30 extra

Level 16: 4 skills at 13, 16 extra

Click to reveal.. (Focuses Equally on 5 Skills)

Level 1: 5 skills at 2, 5 extra

Level 6: 5 skills at 5, 15 extra

Level 11: 5 skills at 8, 30 extra

Level 16: 5 skills at 11, 50 extra

If you want to have your rank in a focused skill scale with your level, you can't focus on more than two skills. This might not be a problem; I mean, we're currently not scaling our skills (aside from combat skills) with our level currently. Also the disparity between ranks isn't as apparent at low levels, and we might not reach those higher levels anyway.

 

And hey, maybe the system is working as intended. It's hard to say who's more powerful: a Level 16 character with two skills at +19, or a Level 16 character with five skills at +11. An eight point difference is huge, but then, so is versatility.

 

But any problems with the skill system will be magnified now that points don't have to be allocated for combat skills. The only thing I'm really worried about is the difference between trained and untrained characters in high level campaigns. How do you set the DC for, say, an Athletics check if one character is maxed out and another is untrained? Are we fine with some skills having "Must Invest" status?

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postin' from the hilton hotel in sydney, payin' way too much for internet access

 

Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
I like Strike/Assault/Control/Support as well. By the way, will there be a distinction between Control attacks that focus on one target and Control attacks that focus on multiple targets?

 

Not in terms of strategy: one thing I'm currently working on is a standardised pricing system for techniques, which would take into account things like number of targets.

 

Quote:
Techniques:

Hurricane Spin (Skirmish/Reflex)

Duelist's Counter (Strike/None?)

Coordinated Strike (Strike/Reflex) (also Support)

Distracting Strike (Strike/Reflex?)

Palmed Weapon (Strike/Reflex) (Ranged)

Interrupting Shot (Strike/Reflex?)

 

You could make an argument for Duelist's Counter being either Strike/Reflex or Support -- on balance, I'd probably call it Support, since it places a beneficial effect on the user and doesn't do damage at the time it's used. You could likely get away with having Distracting Strike target Will, but Reflex is probably the right place for it.

 

Quote:
If you want to have your rank in a focused skill scale with your level, you can't focus on more than two skills. This might not be a problem; I mean, we're currently not scaling our skills (aside from combat skills) with our level currently. Also the disparity between ranks isn't as apparent at low levels, and we might not reach those higher levels anyway.

 

And hey, maybe the system is working as intended. It's hard to say who's more powerful: a Level 16 character with two skills at +19, or a Level 16 character with five skills at +11. An eight point difference is huge, but then, so is versatility.

 

Yeah, the system is working as designed. I'm not sure that the design itself is optimal, but that's something that playtesting can help to iron out.

 

Quote:
But any problems with the skill system will be magnified now that points don't have to be allocated for combat skills. The only thing I'm really worried about is the difference between trained and untrained characters in high level campaigns. How do you set the DC for, say, an Athletics check if one character is maxed out and another is untrained? Are we fine with some skills having "Must Invest" status?

 

The design issue here is the assumption that we want to be able to set a static target number for all characters to meet, while also having all characters have a real chance of both success and failure. As long as we hold to this assumption, we can't let characters' bonuses drift too far apart. I think that's a good assumption to make for attack bonuses in combat. I also think the assumption can be relaxed a little outside of combat, as long as you provide alternative ways around making skill checks that a character is weak in (spells, items, other skills, etc.), and/or expect that either some characters will basically auto-succeed or some will basically auto-fail certain checks and set the consequences accordingly.

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Okay, so I statted most of my characters under the HipsterHack system.

Click to reveal.. (That's a lot of characters)
====================================

====================================

ETRIS TANNER

 

LEVEL: 7

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Control

OFFENSIVE: Fortitude

SURVIVAL: Balanced

DEFENSIVE: Fortitude/Reflex

 

Health: 40

Grapple: 3

Attack: 2

Taunt: 1

Stabilize: 0

Fortitude: 2

Reflex: 2

Will: 1

 

TECHNIQUES

Shockwave (Ranged Assault/Fortitude) [+2/1STM]

Tyinian Sunbeam (Ranged Strike/Fortitude) [+4]

Hinder (Control/Fortitude) [+3]

Force Shield (Support)

Razorwind (Assault/Reflex) [+2]

Force Throw (Control/Fortitude) [+3]

 

(Nothing really to note here, other than that Etris definitely got a bit of an upgrade from his Labyrinth rendition. If I was actually building him in this system, there's a couple things I'd do differently.)

 

====================================

====================================

AMADAN RAYTON (BLOODMARSH)

 

LEVEL: 7

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Support

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Balanced

DEFENSIVE: Reflex

 

Health: 40

Grapple: 0

Attack: 4

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 1

Fortitude: 1

Reflex: 3

Will: 1

 

TECHNIQUES

Fire Arrow (Support) [+1/MAct]

Detrimentum (Ranged Strike/Fortitude) [+2]

Spinneret Arrow (Support) [+1/MAct]

CryoArrow (Support) [+1/MAct]

Explosive Arrow (Support) [+1/MAct+1STM]

Blur (Support) [+1]

 

(Most of my characters ported over without too many hiccups. Amadan, however, is a good example of how this system can get really wonky when you have an unusual character. By definition, his various Arrow spells are close-ranged Support spells, and NOT ranged Strike spells. This means he doesn't need to use the Ranged survival strategy. In addition, since he DOES have one ranged strike spell, he doesn't fit under the Evasion survival strategy. This slots him into Balanced, where, he gets 40 hitpoints. And because he's reflex-based, it means he's got a fair chance of taking Mal Travers in a sword-fight. In short, as-is, Amadan is completely and utterly broken)

 

====================================

====================================

AMADAN RAYTON (ATCT)

 

LEVEL: 12

PRIMARY COMBAT: Support

SECONDAY COMBAT: Strike

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Balanced

DEFENSIVE: Reflex

 

Health: 60

Grapple: 0

Attack: 3

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 2

Fortitude: 1

Reflex: 3

Will: 1

 

TECHNIQUES

Energetic Arrow (Support) [+2/MAct]

Ameliorate (Support) [+2/1STM]

Pyrokinesis (Control/Fortitude)

Volcanic Arrow (Support) [+2/MAct+1STM]

Hunter's Jump (Ranged Support) [+2]

Truefire (Ranged Strike/Reflex) [+4/FRAct]

 

(Mostly the same as his Bloodmarsh incarnation, but with primary and secondary swapped.)

 

====================================

====================================

EVA ROE

 

LEVEL: 5

PRIMARY COMBAT: Assault

SECONDARY COMBAT: Support

OFFENSIVE: Fortitude/Reflex

SURVIVAL: Ranged

DEFENSIVE: Will

 

Health: 24

Grapple: 1

Attack: 1

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 1

Fortitude: 0

Reflex: 0

Will: 2

 

TECHNIQUES

Flameburst (Ranged Assault/Reflex) [+3]

Errant Maelstrom (Ranged Assault/Fortitude) [+3/3STM]

Prismatic Armor (Support) [+1]

Yarren's Disruptor (Control/Will)

Heal (Ranged Support) [+1]

Deflective Sheen (Support) [+1/1STM]

 

(There's a lot of things I'd do differently with Eva here, but no matter how you slice it, she gets nerfed hard, here. That said, some of her abilities don't show up here, because they fall on the utility side of the spectrum)

 

====================================

====================================

MAL TRAVERS

 

LEVEL: 8

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Assault

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Balanced

DEFENSIVE: Reflex/Fortitude

 

Health: 44

Grapple: 0

Attack: 4

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 0

Fortitude: 2

Reflex: 2

Will: 1

 

TECHNIQUES

Wings of Fury (Ranged Strike/Reflex) [+4]

Blitz Barrage (Strike/Reflex) [+4/1STM]

Crimson Confiscation (Strike/Reflex) [+4]

Talon Defense (Assault/Reflex) [+3/2SMT&FRAct]

Impregnable Barrier (Support)

???

 

(Yikes. Mal would be a rather terrifying opponent to face, especially if he's got his perks as well. Not much else to mention here)

 

====================================

====================================

ARELL ISEIL

 

LEVEL: 5

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Support

OFFENSIVE: Fortitude/Will

SURVIVAL: Ranged

DEFENSIVE: Reflex/Will

 

Health: 24

Grapple: 1

Attack: 2

Taunt: 1

Stabilize: 1

Fortitude: 0

Reflex: 1

Will: 1

 

TECHNIQUES

Vitaepulse (Ranged Support | Ranged Strike/Fortitude) [+1/MAct | +3]

Soulfire (Ranged Assault/OMGWTHBBQ) [1STM]

Hibernation (Ranged Control/Will) [+1]

Sanguine Corruption (Ranged Strike/Fortitude) [+3/1STM]

Bachman's Muscular Delimiter (Support) [+1/1STM]

Void (Support) [+1/1STM]

 

(Hard to tell how effective Arell would be under the new system; a lot of her spells would fall under utility. Soulfire... I have no idea what that'd fall under. And Vitaepulse, being a healing and anti-undead spell, has two different bonus values)

 

====================================

====================================

HEXELION TYRALSON

 

LEVEL: 4

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Control

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Balanced

DEFENSIVE: Reflex/Will

 

Health: 28

Grapple: 1

Attack: 4

Taunt: 1

Stabilize: 0

Fortitude: 1

Reflex: 2

Will: 2

 

TECHNIQUES

Stalwart Defense (Support) [1STM]

Steelstorm (Assault/Reflex) [+2/2STM]

Myn's Friendly Fire (Ranged Control/Will) [+1]

???

???

???

 

(Most of Hex's combat techniques don't fit under this new system; I'd have to come up with new ones.)

 

====================================

====================================

YEMIRRR RATBANE

 

LEVEL: 4

PRIMARY COMBAT: Strike

SECONDARY COMBAT: Assault

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Endurance

DEFENSIVE: Fortitude/Reflex

 

Health: 40

Grapple: 0

Attack: 4

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 0

Fortitude: 1

Reflex: 1

Will: 0

 

TECHNIQUES

Blitz Barrage (Strike/Reflex) [+4/1STM]

Wide Cleave (Assault/Reflex) [+3/1STM FRAct]

Shatter Strike (Strike/Reflex) [+4/FRAct]

Grapple Breaker (Strike/Fortitude) [+2]

Chill (Strike/Reflex) [+4]

Impulse (Assault/Fortitude) [+1]

 

(Chill got nerfed into a melee-ranged spell, which kinda defeats the purpose of having it. Even so, Yemirrr's still an opponent you probably wouldn't want to face on a battlefield.)

 

====================================

====================================

SARELIM SILVERWIND

 

LEVEL: 1

PRIMARY COMBAT: Support

SECONDARY COMBAT: Strike

OFFENSIVE: Reflex

SURVIVAL: Evasion

DEFENSIVE: Reflex

 

Health: 12

Grapple: 0

Attack: 3

Taunt: 0

Stabilize: 0

Fortitude: 2

Reflex: 6

Will: 2

 

TECHNIQUES

??????????????

 

(Not much to say here, other than "wow, look at that reflex defense". He definitely becomes a bit more competent in combat.)

Drawing some conclusions here: First off, it seems that melee combat and melee fighters get a definite boost under this system. However, a specialized mage can be a bit difficult to run because, while six combat techniques works fine for a melee fighter or hybrid character, it winds up becoming rather restrictive for a specialized mage (see Eva).

 

Also, if you have a mage specializing in Strike spells, especially ones based off of Reflex, they become inexplicably good at melee as well. Which is... odd, to say the least.

 

Finally, how would perks, traits, and special abilities be handled under this system? Would they still exist?

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Drawing some conclusions here: First off, it seems that melee combat and melee fighters get a definite boost under this system. However, a specialized mage can be a bit difficult to run because, while six combat techniques works fine for a melee fighter or hybrid character, it winds up becoming rather restrictive for a specialized mage (see Eva).


I settled on six as the right amount, because I think it's about the number of options a person can reasonably hold in memory and consider at any one time. Plus, once you consider non-combat spells, even most pure spellcasters haven't had very many more than six combat spells.

I also envisage that as you rise in levels, while you still have the same number of combat abilities, each combat ability could become broader in scope. At level 1, "Fire Arrow" and "Ice Arrow" might be separate abilities, but by level 5 you could subsume them both into "Elemental Arrow" and take another ability to fill the free slot. I'll give this some more thought.

Quote:
Also, if you have a mage specializing in Strike spells, especially ones based off of Reflex, they become inexplicably good at melee as well. Which is... odd, to say the least.


And a mage specialising in inflicting nonlethal diseases would also be oddly competent at grappling. These are more amusing wrinkles in the system than critical problems, but I guess there are ways to fix them. How about the option of taking a "Non-Physical Combatant" trait at first level, granting a seventh combat ability (or even an eighth?) at the cost of, say, a -4 penalty to grappling and weapon/unarmed attacks?

Quote:
Finally, how would perks, traits, and special abilities be handled under this system? Would they still exist?


I imagine they'll be handled much the same way as they've always been -- as sui generis situational bonuses granted on an ad-hoc basis within rough guidelines.

EDIT: While I'm here, Nioca and I just sketched out a couple of other ideas over AIM too.

* There's a bit too much of a binary split between ranged and non-ranged characters at this point. I'm thinking the system will work better if it's retooled so that anyone can take any number of ranged combat abilities, but non-Ranged strategists receive a penalty on them: -2 when abilities are used at short range (2-6 spaces away from the user) and -4 for long range (7 or more spaces away). For Balanced characters, the penalties are halved. (Or maybe they should get no penalty for short range and half the penalty for long range? I'm not sure.)

* We've also talked a bit about defenses and armour. One problem we've noted is that Reflex is a bit overloaded as a defense: it's the defense that protects you against most of the things that will actually damage you, which is to say the things that most enemies will be doing most of the time. Another we've noted is that nobody can decide what armour should actually do. Maybe one of the benefits of heavy armour is that it lets you use your Fortitude defense in place of Reflex for physical (but not magical) attacks?

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A thought about the survival strategies and HP: As it stands right now, HP inflates rather rapidly. Even squishy characters wind up with a massive amount of HP as they hit high levels, enough so that attacks need to do a ridiculous amount of damage to even pose a threat.

 

I propose the following: Halve the starting HP for each strategy, and reduce the gains-per-level by 2. This reduces the HP inflation drastically, and also makes the difference between Endurance and Evasion/Ranged strategies more noticeable. This also makes Evasion a slightly-less appealing strategy to take, since its high defenses is actually balanced by low HP.

 

Code:
_______________AS IT STANDS NOW______________ENDURANCE - 20 +5 - L1:20 L5:40 L10:65 L15:90 BALANCED - 16 +4 - L1:16 L5:32 L10:52 L15:72RANGE/EVD - 12 +3 - L1:12 L5:24 L10:39 L15:54_______________PROPOSED CHANGE_______________ENDURANCE - 10 +3 - L1:10 L5:22 L10:37 L15:52 BALANCED - 08 +2 - L1:08 L5:16 L10:26 L15:36RANGE/EVD - 06 +1 - L1:06 L5:10 L10:15 L15:20

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Originally Posted By: Nioca
I propose the following: Halve the starting HP for each strategy, and reduce the gains-per-level by 2. This reduces the HP inflation drastically, and also makes the difference between Endurance and Evasion/Ranged strategies more noticeable. This also makes Evasion a slightly-less appealing strategy to take, since its high defenses is actually balanced by low HP.

HP only matters relative to other HP. Functionally, if you halve each strategy's HP you haven't actually changed anything, except aesthetically.

Now, aesthetic preferences do count for something (it is a form of entertainment, after all, and maybe even an art), but they vary so much from person to person that it's unlikely your arbitrary notion of what constitutes "huge damage" is reflective of the community as a whole. We should probably leave them for each GM to decide on their own.

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Originally Posted By: Sarachim
Now, aesthetic preferences do count for something (it is a form of entertainment, after all, and maybe even an art), but they vary so much from person to person that it's unlikely your arbitrary notion of what constitutes "huge damage" is reflective of the community as a whole. We should probably leave them for each GM to decide on their own.


Yeah, the system works fine if you give each strategy its own fixed base HP and don't have HP increase with level at all -- but in my experience, players do like to see numbers get bigger. Nioca's proposed changes don't work for me, because I want to keep the strategies' relative HP the same at all levels: one of my design goals is to avoid the existence of strategies that are better at low levels or at high levels. I also think the starting HP values are already as low as they can be while still providing the amount of granularity I want: having some characters start with only 6 HP would mean that even 1 point of damage is potentially a big deal.

From a mechanical perspective, if the concern is simply that Endurance is too weak compared to the other strategies (which might be true), then we can either give Endurance strategists more HP (maybe 24 to start and 6 per level), or we can give them a cool thing that's unique to them, on par with Evasion's immunity to opportunity attacks. Maybe some benefits that make being reduced to 0 HP less serious for Endurance strategists than for others, since their whole shtick is taking damage and surviving it?

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Maybe some benefits that make being reduced to 0 HP less serious for Endurance strategists than for others, since their whole shtick is taking damage and surviving it?

That's okay for balance purposes, but not much fun. Doing cool stuff is fun, surviving the cool stuff others do to you less so. Also, it doesn't really expand the design space, because all this ability would do is encourage the Endurance player to throw his character into the thick of things, same as more HP would do.

If we can't think of something cooler, we might as well just give Endurance more HP instead; it's functionally pretty much the same and simpler to balance.

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Originally Posted By: Sarachim
That's okay for balance purposes, but not much fun. Doing cool stuff is fun, surviving the cool stuff others do to you less so. Also, it doesn't really expand the design space, because all this ability would do is encourage the Endurance player to throw his character into the thick of things, same as more HP would do.


Well, I was thinking along the lines of Mal's perk in RomD that let him continue acting normally even at 0 HP, albeit still losing stamina every round. On reflection, though, that raises a number of design challenges that would need to be addressed. Guess I'll throw that idea on the increasingly large "I'll think about it" pile for now.

EDIT: Just to make one further comment on the HP-inflation thing from a couple of posts ago -- my personal preferred solution actually is to simply not make HP increase with level. The main practical consequence of this change is that damage doesn't have to scale to level: a level-1 enemy won't hit a level-10 character very often but will still do significant damage if it gets a lucky hit in, and 20 archers on a castle wall are a meaningful threat no matter how much higher-level you are than them. I like the idea of this, and it widens the encounter design space slightly, but it does seem to be a matter of taste.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
EDIT: Just to make one further comment on the HP-inflation thing from a couple of posts ago -- my personal preferred solution actually is to simply not make HP increase with level. The main practical consequence of this change is that damage doesn't have to scale to level: a level-1 enemy won't hit a level-10 character very often but will still do significant damage if it gets a lucky hit in, and 20 archers on a castle wall are a meaningful threat no matter how much higher-level you are than them. I like the idea of this, and it widens the encounter design space slightly, but it does seem to be a matter of taste.
That actually sounds rather agreeable to me, especially with the damage system you currently have in place: Right now, you've either got to pull numbers out of your rump or have fights be a battle of attrition if PvP breaks out. If it's a flat 10 (or if it's a constant number depending on survival strategy), then you could use the same damage system for enemies that you do for PCs.

(In case you haven't noticed, one thing I'm definitely for is consistency; I find it preferable when the PCs and the NPCs are both playing by the same basic set of rules. As a player, it helps reassure me that everything's fair and on the level. As a DM, I find it just plain easier not to have two separate sets of rules for the different sides of a conflict.)

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Originally Posted By: Nioca
(In case you haven't noticed, one thing I'm definitely for is consistency; I find it preferable when the PCs and the NPCs are both playing by the same basic set of rules. As a player, it helps reassure me that everything's fair and on the level. As a DM, I find it just plain easier not to have two separate sets of rules for the different sides of a conflict.)


I don't feel there's a huge need to have PCs and NPCs play by the same rules for everything, because the things that PCs and NPCs are supposed to be doing are fundamentally different. When symmetry makes the system simpler, I support symmetry; when asymmetry makes the system simpler, I support asymmetry.

There are quite a few things that would have to be rebalanced before I'd feel comfortable applying the exact same rules to PCs and NPCs in all cases. (For one thing, the Evasion strategy would definitely need to be weakened if hitting by a large margin did more damage to PCs than hitting by a small margin.) Still, none of the above should be taken to say that it's never going to happen.

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at nioca's urging i drafted up some weapon and armour rules. i figured since most campaigns don't really have clearly defined weapon or armour rules so far, and the ones that do are a bit wonky, it was worth making it a priority to provide some. they seem pretty balanced to me based on my own calculations, so players who don't care about the mechanics can basically ignore them and pick whatever seems cool. (the one wrinkle is that if you can wear medium armour without a penalty, you probably should, but you're still not handicapping yourself massively by not doing so)

 

Click to reveal..
Armour Types:

 

Light: ordinary clothing, robes, leather armour. Normally has no mechanically defined effect, but exceptional or magical pieces of armour may have special properties.

 

Medium: studded leather, brigandine, chain mail. When the wearer is damaged by a physical attack, the die size of the damage is reduced by 1 (so 1d6 damage becomes 1d5, and 2d4 damage becomes 2d3). When wearing Medium armour in combat, characters with an Evasion or Ranged Survival Strategy receive a -1 penalty on all rolls.

 

Heavy: lamellar armour, breastplate, plate armour. When the wearer is damaged by a physical attack, the die size of the damage is reduced by 2 (so 1d6 becomes 1d4, and 2d4 becomes 2d2). In addition, the wearer may use their Fortitude defence in place of their Reflex defence against physical attacks that target Reflex. The wearer's movement speed in combat is reduced by 1. When wearing Heavy armour in combat, characters with an Evasion or Ranged Survival Strategy receive a -2 penalty on all rolls, and characters with a Balanced Survival Strategy receive a -1 penalty.

 

Weapon Types:

 

Normal: Swords, maces, axes -- most things that you can hold in one hand and hit people with are normal weapons. These inflict 1 point of damage if you hit by a margin of 0-4, 2 points if you hit by 5 or more, and 3 points on a critical hit.

 

Light: Daggers, small clubs, unarmed attacks -- a weapon that's light and easy to wield. Light weapons always inflict only 1 damage on a normal hit and 2 damage on a critical hit, but receive a +4 bonus to hit, making them powerful in conjunction with combat abilities that inflict disabling effects on a hit.

 

Heavy: Two-handed swords, battle axes, enormous warhammers -- any weapon that's too large to wield in one hand but lacks the reach of a polearm. Heavy weapons require two hands to use and receive a -2 penalty to hit, but always inflict 2 damage on a normal hit and 3 on a critical hit.

 

Reach: Long spears, halberds, and other polearms -- melee weapons designed to strike while the enemy is still too far away to hit back. Reach weapons require two hands to use and inflict the same damage as Normal weapons, but can be used to attack enemies up to 2 spaces away with no ranged attack penalty.

 

Missile: Slings, bows, crossbows -- projectile weapons requiring two hands to load and use effectively. Missile weapons inflict the same damage as Normal weapons, but can attack distant targets.

 

Light Thrown: Small rocks, throwing knives, shuriken -- weapons you can hold in the palm of your hand and throw. Light Thrown weapons inflict the same damage as a Light weapon and receive only a +3 bonus to hit, but can be used with one hand to attack distant targets.

 

Normal Thrown: Javelins, throwing axes, knobkerries -- large weapons that are nonetheless balanced to be thrown from one hand. Normal Thrown weapons inflict the same damage as Normal weapons and receive a -1 penalty to hit, in addition to any ranged attack penalties that may apply.

 

Shields: Not a weapon, but something you hold in your hand instead of a weapon to protect yourself. A normal shield grants a +1 bonus to your Reflex defence.

 

Dual-wielding: You can wield a Normal and a Light weapon at the same time, one in each hand, but can only attack with one of them in each round unless you use a combat ability that specifically allows you to attack with both.

 

Note on PvP: PCs use a different damage scale from NPCs, so damage should be adjusted accordingly. If a PC ever attacks another PC, Light weapons inflict 1d6 damage, Normal weapons inflict 1d8 (with no damage bonus for hitting by 5 or more), and Heavy weapons inflict 1d10. Critical hits inflict maximum damage and ignore armour. If a combat ability is used which would inflict extra damage, double all extra damage inflicted if the target is a PC.

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I did some number crunching. Here are the results:

 

Code:
OVERALL WEAPON TYPE DAMAGE (AC -2 to 23)(This is basically how the weapons average out against all varieties of foe)TYPE |DMG_MEAN (4Rnd) [12Rnd] | DMG_RANGE (4Rnd)    [12Rnd]Ligt |   0.685 (2.74) [08.22] | 0.10-1.05 (0.4-4.2) [1.2-12.6]Norm |   0.883 (3.53) [10.59] | 0.15-1.95 (0.6-7.8) [1.8-23.4]Hevy |   0.881 (3.52) [10.57] | 0.15-2.05 (0.6-8.2) [1.8-24.6]Lt.T |   0.648 (2.59) [07.78] | 0.10-1.05 (0.4-4.2) [1.2-12.6]Nm.T |   0.813 (3.25) [09.76] | 0.15-1.90 (0.6-7.6) [1.8-22.8]===============================================================LOW AC WEAPON TYPE DAMAGE (AC -2 to 10)(How the weapons fare against enemies with low defense, when the attacker has large hit bonuses, or both)TYPE |DMG_MEAN (4Rnd) [12Rnd] | DMG_RANGE (4Rnd)    [12Rnd]Ligt |   0.969 (3.88) [11.63] | 0.75-1.05 (3.0-4.2) [09.0-12.6]Norm |   1.438 (5.75) [17.26] | 0.85-1.95 (3.4-7.8) [10.2-23.4]Hevy |   1.450 (5.80) [17.40] | 0.85-2.05 (3.4-8.2) [10.2-24.6]Lt.T |   0.942 (3.77) [11.31] | 0.70-1.05 (2.8-4.2) [08.4-12.6]Nm.T |   1.346 (5.39) [16.15] | 0.75-1.90 (3.0-7.6) [09.0-22.8]===============================================================NORMAL AC WEAPON TYPE DAMAGE (AC 5 to 15)(How the weapons fare against enemies with normal defense in normal circumstances)TYPE |DMG_MEAN (4Rnd) [12Rnd] | DMG_RANGE (4Rnd)    [12Rnd]Ligt |   0.750 (3.00) [09.00] | 0.50-1.00 (2.0-4.0) [6.0-12.0]Norm |   0.850 (3.40) [10.20] | 0.35-1.35 (1.4-5.4) [4.2-16.2]Hevy |   0.850 (3.40) [10.20] | 0.35-1.35 (1.4-5.4) [4.2-16.2]Lt.T |   0.700 (2.80) [08.40] | 0.45-0.95 (1.8-3.8) [5.4-11.4]Nm.T |   0.755 (3.02) [09.15] | 0.30-1.25 (1.2-5.0) [3.6-15.0]===============================================================HIGH AC WEAPON TYPE DAMAGE (AC 10 to 23)(How the weapons fare against enemies with high defense, when the attacker has large hit penalties, or both)TYPE |DMG_MEAN (4Rnd) [12Rnd] | DMG_RANGE (4Rnd)    [12Rnd]Ligt |   0.425 (1.70) [05.10] | 0.10-0.75 (0.4-3.0) [1.2-09.0]Norm |   0.364 (1.46) [04.37] | 0.15-0.85 (0.6-3.4) [1.8-10.2]Hevy |   0.350 (1.40) [04.20] | 0.15-0.85 (0.6-3.4) [1.8-10.2]Lt.T |   0.379 (1.51) [04.54] | 0.10-0.70 (0.4-2.8) [1.2-08.4]Nm.T |   0.314 (1.26) [03.77] | 0.15-0.75 (0.6-3.0) [1.8-09.0]

From this, we can determine a few things. First off, and most glaringly, heavy weapons suck. They do the most damage against weak foes (where the extra damage isn't needed), and in that case the difference in damage between heavy weapons and normal weapons is completely negligible. They also do the worse damage than almost any other weapon group (save normal throwing) against high-AC foes. Overall, the net effect is that heavy weapons are basically reach weapons without reach and with worse accuracy; one's better off sticking with a normal or reach weapon in every conceivable circumstance, especially considering the former allows a shield and the latter allows ranged melee.

 

In addition, light weapons do surprisingly well versus high-AC enemies; in fact, they have the best damage output of any weapon type when going against an enemy with high AC. Arguably, this could be a feature; someone with a light weapon and a debuff could move in and soften up a High-AC target, at which the characters with normal and heavy weapons move in for the kill.

 

However, as the Overall analysis indicates, every weapon group except heavy balances out pretty well.

 

Also, where would magic fall in this schematic?

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Well, that was thorough. Thanks for doing all this!

 

Keep in mind that you should probably be weighting the high end of the accuracy range heavier than the low end for your calculations -- characters will normally be either using their best attacks or targeting an enemy's weak defense, after all. (There aren't too many situations where you want to use your weakest attack against an enemy's strongest defense!) With that in mind, Heavy weapons look a little better, although I could consider reducing the hit penalty to -1 if you still think it's necessary.

 

As far as light weapons go, thanks for confirming my belief that they're good enough to use as a main weapon -- and the fact that they're most useful in fairly different situations than Normal weapons makes dual-wielding viable too, I think.

 

Single-target direct damage spells will be treated as Normal weapons by default; I'm currently working on a table for calculating the stamina costs of adding various properties to combat abilities, which will include terms for making them do damage as a Light or Heavy weapon. In fact, I've got like 6 pages of handwritten notes on various system ideas right now that I just need to transcribe into a postable form.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Keep in mind that you should probably be weighting the high end of the accuracy range heavier than the low end for your calculations -- characters will normally be either using their best attacks or targeting an enemy's weak defense, after all. (There aren't too many situations where you want to use your weakest attack against an enemy's strongest defense!) With that in mind, Heavy weapons look a little better,
Heavy weapon damage only starts beating normal weapons when the enemy's AC is negative; From ACs 0-15, heavy and normal weapons deal the exact same average damage. At ACs 16-18, normal weapons actually beat heavy in average damage; once they get above that, they both bottom out at 0.15 (since the only way they can actually hit at that point is with a critical).

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Ouch. OK, yeah, let's change the penalty to -1.

 

Next up: the action economy! This should be a shortish post that mostly just formalises practices from AIMhack, but it needs doing at some point. There are probably some types of actions I've overlooked and can add in later, but this covers the most common cases.

 

Click to reveal..
Characters have three actions available to them each turn: a standard action, a move action and a minor action.

 

Things you can do as a standard action:

 

* any Strike, Assault or Control action

* any Support action that involves immediate HP recovery

* some other Support actions (further details will be available in the Combat Abilities section when I write that)

* anything you could use a move or minor action for

 

Things you can do as a move action:

 

* move a distance equal to your Speed or less

* move one space without provoking attacks of opportunity ("shift")

* some Support actions

* anything you could use a minor action for

 

Things you can do as a minor action:

 

* pick an item up off the ground

* pass an item to an adjacent character

* exchange the weapon(s) and/or shield you're wielding with other items in your inventory

* drink a potion or use a similar beneficial magic item (only once per turn)

* some Support actions

 

Also, the working title for the new system is now Nibiru, because I am a pretentious git.

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Too late; everyone thinks of it as HipsterHack now.

 

Thanks a bunch for the formal rules on weapon types and actions. I've said this before, but it's nice to have the behind-the-scenes rules out in the open. That way, we get some consistency between GMs. And youpi for the number crunching!

 

I don't know quite what to think about the HP system. Yes, depending on how you look at it, you don't need to increase HP every level, since difficulty is all relative anyway. This got me thinking about why we have advancement in RPGs anyway. Usually, as characters level up, they become (1) more 'powerful', (2) able to endure longer, and (3) have more options available to them. To me, (1) isn't that important. Big deal, you add a bigger number to your attack and defence, so what. (2) and (3) mean more to me, though.

 

One of the big things that makes a high-level party feel stronger than a low-level party (for me, at least) is how long it can last before it has to rest and regain its strength. With respect to D&D, resources could mean spell slots (third edition), or daily powers, healing surges, and action points (fourth edition). A low-level party has so few resources that any taxing encounter is likely to force them to use everything at their disposal. The only per-day resources a level one character in D&D 4E has is one action point and one daily power; there's barely a spectrum between 'fully rested' and 'exhausted'. A higher-level party feels more powerful because it has more resources to burn through, and can choose when and where to put in extra effort.

 

Contrast this with our AIMhack systems. The only resource of note is Stamina (like in D&D, HP is just a buffer), which does not increase at higher levels. Having powers that can only be used so many times a day seems to be deliberately excluded from AIMhack's design philosophy (aside from some perks, of course).

 

The other way that high-level parties feel more powerful for me is their higher range of abilities and their specialization. In most RPG systems I've seen, the higher your level is, the more your character is mechanically distinct. This doesn't seem to be seen as a good thing here; all right, fine (and I'm not arguing that low-level characters should be identical mechanically). Also, high-level characters tend to specialize at certain tasks more than low-level characters do. Finally, the focus of high-level campaigns tends to be quite different when compared to low-level campaigns. Low-level characters are preoccupied with surviving and surmounting mundane obstacles. High-level characters get abilities like flight or teleportation or scrying, etc.

 

(On further thought, the last point doesn't necessarily need to be addressed in the ruleset. Think about Dust Bowl, how at the beginning the focus was on "getting through the jungle alive", but later on Sarachim decided not to draw focus from the other events of the campaign.)

 

Right now, systems like CreepingHack give the same feeling of progression that other systems do. You get skill training, and you also get more combat techniques as you level up your combat skills.

 

My biggest concern about the new system is that levels will become meaningless. With fixed HP (or virtually fixed HP) and a fixed number of techniques, the only thing that will distinguish your character at level one and your character at level ten will be your skills. And if you just focus on the same set of skills each level up...

 

(Sorry if this post is too subjective. It's also rushed, as I'm leaving for a D&D session in a little bit.)

 

(Also remind me to make that "RPG Manifesto" thread soon.)

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Thanks a bunch for the formal rules on weapon types and actions. I've said this before, but it's nice to have the behind-the-scenes rules out in the open. That way, we get some consistency between GMs. And youpi for the number crunching!


Yeah, I think I'm going to somehow have to organise the rules into "things the players absolutely have to know", "things the players can benefit from knowing but can build a character without knowing and have the GM handle the numbers", and "things that are basically just for the GM".

Quote:
One of the big things that makes a high-level party feel stronger than a low-level party (for me, at least) is how long it can last before it has to rest and regain its strength. With respect to D&D, resources could mean spell slots (third edition), or daily powers, healing surges, and action points (fourth edition). A low-level party has so few resources that any taxing encounter is likely to force them to use everything at their disposal. The only per-day resources a level one character in D&D 4E has is one action point and one daily power; there's barely a spectrum between 'fully rested' and 'exhausted'. A higher-level party feels more powerful because it has more resources to burn through, and can choose when and where to put in extra effort.

Contrast this with our AIMhack systems. The only resource of note is Stamina (like in D&D, HP is just a buffer), which does not increase at higher levels. Having powers that can only be used so many times a day seems to be deliberately excluded from AIMhack's design philosophy (aside from some perks, of course).


As someone familiar with D&D, you're probably also familiar with the concept of the 15-minute adventuring day: make too much of the fun stuff the players can do dependent upon limited resources that recharge over time, and you're encouraging them to rest up after every significant fight instead of pressing on -- and if they do press on, then they haven't just made things more difficult for themselves, they've also made things less interesting, because they have fewer viable options to deal with whatever they run into. It's tricky to make medium-term resource management meaningful while avoiding this problem.

Quote:
The other way that high-level parties feel more powerful for me is their higher range of abilities and their specialization. In most RPG systems I've seen, the higher your level is, the more your character is mechanically distinct. This doesn't seem to be seen as a good thing here; all right, fine (and I'm not arguing that low-level characters should be identical mechanically). Also, high-level characters tend to specialize at certain tasks more than low-level characters do. Finally, the focus of high-level campaigns tends to be quite different when compared to low-level campaigns. Low-level characters are preoccupied with surviving and surmounting mundane obstacles. High-level characters get abilities like flight or teleportation or scrying, etc.


I am okay with characters becoming more differentiated to some extent, but one of my design principles is that if you pay an opportunity cost to have skill in some area, that cost should always pay off in some way -- it's okay for skills that you didn't invest in at all to become increasingly useless, but the 3 skill points you put in a skill shouldn't become worthless because someone else put 10 points in it. (In RPG design theory, this is sometimes called "paying to suck".) In particular, one trap I'm trying to avoid falling into is allowing spells to encroach too heavily on what non-magical characters can do. Not only is it problematic game design, it doesn't really seem to fit the setting to me -- Mote isn't the kind of world that has wizards routinely flying from town to town.

All of the above is informing the new non-combat skill system that I'm currently working on. I'm hoping it'll satisfy you.

Alternatively, and I'm just spitballing here: maybe there could be mechanically differentiated tiers of play with their own skill lists and rules? If we want, say, Acrobatics and Athletics to become less relevant later on because you can bypass many of the challenges relating to them with magic, maybe we merge them into a single skill at level 10 or something.

Quote:
My biggest concern about the new system is that levels will become meaningless. With fixed HP (or virtually fixed HP) and a fixed number of techniques, the only thing that will distinguish your character at level one and your character at level ten will be your skills. And if you just focus on the same set of skills each level up...


This is something that's occurred to me as well. We could, of course, solve it by getting rid of levels entirely, but given that we do want a sense of progression, there are other options available to us. Since you've correctly called out stamina as the game's main resource, would having maximum stamina increase by 1 point per level help? If we were to do this, I think I'd want to implement a rule preventing players from spending more than 3 or so stamina on a single roll.

I guess we could also give characters an extra combat ability every 5 levels or something, but I sort of feel like that'll eventually lead to characters having way more abilities than they actually want or need in order to define their character. ATCT's melee characters are already running into this problem.

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If switching weapons is a minor action, then dual-wielding seems like a poor strategic choice. You give up using a shield just to occasionally save yourself a minor action.

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Originally Posted By: Sarachim
If switching weapons is a minor action, then dual-wielding seems like a poor strategic choice. You give up using a shield just to occasionally save yourself a minor action.


Good point. I was debating whether to make it a minor action or a move action: that seems to shift the balance toward "move action".

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Quote:
As someone familiar with D&D, you're probably also familiar with the concept of the 15-minute adventuring day: make too much of the fun stuff the players can do dependent upon limited resources that recharge over time, and you're encouraging them to rest up after every significant fight instead of pressing on -- and if they do press on, then they haven't just made things more difficult for themselves, they've also made things less interesting, because they have fewer viable options to deal with whatever they run into. It's tricky to make medium-term resource management meaningful while avoiding this problem.
Yes, this can be a big problem -- it's what ruins combat balance in games like NWN. What's the point of spell-per-day when you can just take a knee for five seconds and get them back? And it's possible to get the problem in tabletop RPGs as well, especially when you throw in stuff like D&D's Rope Trick.

As I see it, "fifteen minute days" should be implicitly discouraged by whatever the current quest is. What's been stopping the ATCT from resting until fully healed at every opportunity? Aside from arson, I mean. It's the fact that the party is working against the clock. There should be consequences for a party that dawdles. I'm trying and failing to think of a single quest in any meatspace or online campaign I've participated in that wasn't a race against time. And that's a good thing. Even were you to play in a basic dungeon stomp, there should be consequences for resting halfway through. Maybe the party gets attacked by the kobolds partway through the night. Or maybe the party loses the element of surprise, and the kobolds set up traps in the meantime. Or maybe they just leave and take the treasure with them. Or maybe, just maybe, nothing happens and it was worth the risk.

We've been talking a lot about good GM techniques, about making sure that failure is still interesting, and that there's still a path for the party to take if they fail. But there's another side to that coin: success should still matter, and failure should still matter. And there should be a difference between a fast victory and a slow victory.

Quote:
Alternatively, and I'm just spitballing here: maybe there could be mechanically differentiated tiers of play with their own skill lists and rules? If we want, say, Acrobatics and Athletics to become less relevant later on because you can bypass many of the challenges relating to them with magic, maybe we merge them into a single skill at level 10 or something.
This reminds me of an idea that goes in the opposite direction. It's from a system that I've never played, thus I have no idea how it works in practice, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Serenity RPG uses varying dice to represent a character's skill in a certain area. So if you're barely capable, you get a bonus d2 to your roll, but a more competent character could get a d4 or a d6 in a skill. Sorta like what Rowen did in his campaign. There's a bit more to it (base attributes are also represented by dice, and you combine the relevant attribute die and skill die for any check), but you get the idea. Thing is, you can't advance any base skill past d6; after that, you have to specialize. So you could have a d6 for all firearms, with a d8 in pistols and a d10 in assault rifles.

So maybe we can incorporate this into AIMhack (though it may be more complex then we want AIMhack to be). Keep having base skills like Athletics, but after a character has a certain amount of points in a skill, they have the option to invest points at a cheaper rate in a specialized subset of the general skill (Swimming, Heavy Lifting, etc.).

Aaaaand I just realized that I've reinvented the base attributes / skills divide. Bwahahahaha! As you can see, I'm spitballing here as well.

Quote:
This is something that's occurred to me as well. We could, of course, solve it by getting rid of levels entirely, but given that we do want a sense of progression, there are other options available to us. Since you've correctly called out stamina as the game's main resource, would having maximum stamina increase by 1 point per level help? If we were to do this, I think I'd want to implement a rule preventing players from spending more than 3 or so stamina on a single roll.
I'd be fine with increasing maximum stamina, though we'd have to test it out to see if it have the desired effect.

Quote:
I guess we could also give characters an extra combat ability every 5 levels or something, but I sort of feel like that'll eventually lead to characters having way more abilities than they actually want or need in order to define their character. ATCT's melee characters are already running into this problem.
I've mentioned this before, but I've set up Weimin's techniques so that he always has a technique or two for dealing with any given situation. So he used a different set of techniques when fighting Hirst's demon (many versus one) compared to when he was fighting Hirst's giant bugs (one versus many). Instead of choosing between eight different techniques, there's usually only two, maybe three good options at any given time. There's been a couple times where I've forgotten to use something (like Hurricane Spin), and a few techniques that I haven't needed to use yet (Wings of Fury or Make an Example), but for the most part things have been working out.

Now, coming up with new techniques? That's tough. :-P Mostly because I lack any creativity, but there's comparatively fewer ways to say "I hit it with a pointy stick" than to say "I cast a magic spell".

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I think at this point I'm getting a fairly clear vision of what I want Nibiru to be and how it can differentiate itself from other games out there.

 

What I'm aiming for is a D&D-style game that offers tactically deep but strategically balanced combat in a rules-light framework, with genre elements leaning more toward sword-and-sorcery than high fantasy, and with rules optimised for online play.

 

That last part is the interesting part to me right now, because it's something that many rule systems, even recent ones, haven't put a lot of thought into. There are already things the AIMhack community has done to make the game more suited to online play. On one hand, using a dicebot instead of physical dice makes non-standard die sizes trivial to handle: if we want to roll a d3 or a d5 for damage instead of a d4 or a d6, it's no extra mental overhead to do so. On the other hand, some things you can do at a tabletop become harder online, when you can't see the other players and get second-to-second feedback on what they're doing.

 

Handling turn-taking on a "team" basis rather than an individual basis is an important feature of AIMhack: online play tends to be slower than play at a physical tabletop, and the slowdown becomes less painful when you're not waiting for every other player ahead of you to take a turn before you're allowed to submit your action. Likewise, while 4E D&D has a lot of interrupts and reactions, AIMhack mostly doesn't. They make the game more dynamic and give players more chances to act in the same timeframe when you're playing at a physical table, but they risk doing just the opposite in an online environment: you're waiting patiently to see if the swordmage interrupts the Mucilaginous Cone's attack by teleporting over to it and hitting it first, because you suspect they'd like to do so, while the swordmage's player is blithely peeing in the next room instead of watching their computer screen.

 

One kind of reaction we haven't got rid of, though, is opportunity attacks. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to simplify them in order to speed up the pacing of the game, maybe either making them automatic unless a character specifies in advance that they don't want to make any (and having the GM roll the attack roll to save time), or replacing them with some other less time-consuming mechanic that serves the same role (making it harder for characters to just barrel through enemy ranks).

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