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Author Topic: TROS - Death Spiral?  (Read 16307 times)
Drifter Bob
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Posts: 166


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« on: March 30, 2004, 10:40:40 PM »

I was on usenet with the very a naive intention of promoting my new D20 book, and needless to say, like a tourist straying off the path in a visit to HELL, I got sucked into a billion different ridiculous and bitter arguments about literally everything.  

One of the stupid arguments I got sucked into against my will (I am helpless here) was this ridiculous debate about the DnD combat system, which I personally find both complicated AND unrealistic.  (Perfect example of the wrong way to do it, IMHO.)  Though it's ok for what it is, it does not do realistic combat.  

Anyway, as an example of a better way of doing things, I cited TROS.  As soon as I explained there was a dice pool mechanic they all started screaming "Death Spiral" at me.  I tried to explain that the two exchanges per melee round (especially) the SA's, the way armor works, and the various combat options all prevented this from being the case, but they don't believe me and spit numbers at me, claiming that the system encourages "kamikaze" play, i.e. spending all dice in one attack.

As an instinctive min-maxer I remember actually trying this in the few TROS I have played and I got creamed.  So I don't think it really has a death spiral mechanic at all.  Injuries do have a cumulative effect, so the first person hit is at a disadvantage, but even when that happens the fight isn't over.  IMHO.  Anyway, please explain this so I can enlighten these DnD heretics.  I am out of my depth on TROS having only played a few times so far, but I this death spiral thing is just a cop-out, an easy way to claim that no other system but THEIR system could possibly work.  Why I feel the need to argue this even further, I can't explain, hell is hot, but you love the burn... and the defeat of wrongheaded evil!  Hell, they are never going to buy my stupid book anyway, I might as well have fun with them...

DB
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"We can't all be Saints."

John Dillinger
Ingenious
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2004, 11:07:36 PM »

One word my friend.
Counter.
That typically f**ks up people that do full CP attacks.
I mean, you *DO* get to use the opponent's successes on the next attack.. and they'd be defenseless. (assuming the counter was successful..)

Also, take any D&Der's neurotic zealotry with a grain of salt. Often-times they are too feeble-minded to notice that they're missing out on something a HELL of alot better.

And since when the hell isn't D&D a game that encourages kamikazee play? Nuhhhmmmm?? Last time I played, our group went up against what I beleive was a level 20 demon. It couldnt kill us. I remember being eaten by a gigantic worm.. and I carved myself out of it's stomach. I also remember killing a giant turtle of some sort.. as it was trying to chomp me in half..

What I really think, is that they don't like a game where their skill as a player(and hence, their character's skill and strategy..) is potentially fatal to their characters. If their skills/strategy fails, character is dead.. etc..
D&D players also seem to be heavy into the character longevity issue.

I was all of the above and more as a D&D player... Pathetically much more.. :-\

Put those comic-book playstyle loving idiots in their place. The 'kewl powerz' shit is for fantasy settings.. and TROS *might* just be too realistic for their tastes. And, like a liberal that thinks everyone is wrong but them...well, you see my point.

-Ingenious
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kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2004, 11:16:42 PM »

1.  If someone throws all dice in an attack at you, you can buy initiative and hit them first.  Since they overcommitted, they don't have any dice to buy it back.  Your first hit could decide the fight before they even get their turn.

2.  You don't usually know how big your opponent's dice pool is.  If someone throws all dice against a superior opponent, they will be left wide open in the second exchange and probably get killed.  If they had been more cautious they would have been able to take advantage of the TN 4 full evade to get the heck out of there when they realize in the second exchange that their opponent's dice pool is bigger than theirs and they are probably going to lose if they stay in the fight.

3.  You are increasing the number of dice in play by not splitting the pool, so the margins of success either way (from your hit, or from an opponent using a counter) become potentially larger.  This means that instead of injuries, hits will more often result in immediate deaths.  In the long run this is worse for players than the GM, since a PC death is much more significant than an NPC death.  In general, increased variability works against the players.
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Kenji
Irmo
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Posts: 258


« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2004, 01:22:47 AM »

This was also a major point in the discussion of the recent TROS 'review' on RPG.net
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bergh
Member

Posts: 266


« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2004, 02:16:28 AM »

funny, my players who all where all DnD munchkins type players, really love the change that TRoS has giving them, the love the fast and deadly way TRoS, and all the freedom it gives when making your character type, instead of classes and levels and such, they like they way how "human" there characters are.

Anyway there are a few die-hard DnD players and Rolemaster fanatic's in my club, and the all cry that TRoS is to complicated, my players has actually defended the game, saying that then they are simply to stupid to play.
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Kind regards....

-Brian Bergh
brianbbj@hotmail.com
TRoS .pdf files: http://fflr.dk/tabletop/TROS/
bottleneck
Member

Posts: 41


« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2004, 03:27:43 AM »

Quote from: Ingenious
One word my friend.
Counter.
That typically f**ks up people that do full CP attacks.
I mean, you *DO* get to use the opponent's successes on the next attack.. and they'd be defenseless. (assuming the counter was successful..)


assuming also that the defender is as skilled as the attacker. If you have 10 dice to defend against a 14 dice attack, counter is a poor option.

as for buying initiative - well, they can spend dice from their attack to buy it back. If you are agile, perceptive and wielding a rapier, sure - but if that description fits the other guy better, you have poor odds.

so what do you do when you have a 10dice CP and the the huge, poleaxe-wielding barbarian charges you with all his 14 dice?

quite often, you die - if red/red you get a 50/50 chance (on avg.) - but that's the kamikaze option. (If you can do an evasive strike, it's another story, though).

The 'coward' option (my favorite) is a full evade with all dice except one (if you have same reach, anyway). (if you're sure he spent _all_ his dice): if you lose you die anyway, if you win you live another round. But: if you tie, he has to pass init to you (no dice left), and you get a 'free' very puny attack or short stop, and have the init for the next round.

Kamikaze is not necessarily a bad option, but being predictable is.
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...just another opinion...
Malechi
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Posts: 186


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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2004, 07:55:52 AM »

I'd noticed this trend in our Midnight to TROS game... the character who got into combat the most tended to dump all his dice into the first exchange and throw red.  We're talking 20 dice (a regular feature in our games.. they're SAs run hot all night sometimes).  So i sat on it for a while.. let him get in some "easy kills" (kills are never easy in TROS i say)...

then tonight I pulled both a Counter (he was lucky we both scored 10 successes each) and I bought initiative.  THe initiative buying screwed him good though... scared the bejeezus out of him .... funnily enough after that he started to hold back a few dice ;)

cheers

Jason K..
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Katanapunk...The Riddle of Midnight... http://members.westnet.com.au/manji/
kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2004, 08:13:56 AM »

Quote from: bottleneck

as for buying initiative - well, they can spend dice from their attack to buy it back. If you are agile, perceptive and wielding a rapier, sure - but if that description fits the other guy better, you have poor odds.


Hi bottleneck, where is the attacker given the option of taking dice he's already declared on attack and using it to buy initiative instead?  I thought that once you declared your dice you were committed to following through.
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Kenji
[MKF]Kapten
Member

Posts: 67


« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2004, 08:24:17 AM »

Quote from: bergh

Anyway there are a few die-hard DnD players and Rolemaster fanatic's in my club, and the all cry that TRoS is to complicated, my players has actually defended the game, saying that then they are simply to stupid to play.


Heh, that a rolemaster player would complain that a system is too advanced o_O
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The path of the warrior is covered in blood. Most of it will be yours so you better have alot of it.


While other clans play, MKF kills!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2004, 10:08:57 AM »

TROS does have a death spiral. Intentionally. And thank goodness.

See, the D&D players' complaints are all based around the idea that the strategy of play is based on resource management - Hit Points, most importantly. If you put a death spiral into that sort of game, then you lose all ability to plan based on HP, and there goes half of player tactical choice - when to fight, and when to flee.

TROS, OTOH, has it's tactics in the selection of maneuvers and use of dice pool. Basically, getting hit once is a failure that's likely to make you lose. Not always, and that's cool that one can come from behind. But it realistically handicaps the injured. Thus most of the real tactics occur before the death spiral strikes.

Now, the death spiral usually strikes early, relative to D&D where you may have to wait hours to be out of HP. Which is the better case?

TROS gives you more tactics, more realism, and more drama. Most of the D&Ders won't consider the SA effect. That is, they're used to character plot immunity coming in the form of Hit Points. In TROS it comes in the form of SAs firing when the character is involved in what's important to them. So you get the same effect in terms of survival (I could even argue that for an experienced player that TROS is more survivable), but you get it much more dramatically.

So, most of the claims come from a missapplication of assumptions from D&D players of their game's ideals to TROS. As such the analysis can be ignored. Teaching people this is very difficult, OTOH, and I don't advocate attempting it. Trying to convince happy players of one game of the merits of a very different game is likely to end up with nothing but misunderstanding. Because they don't really want to understand.

Not to mention that this is very much the Usenet condition. People are there to socialize and decry things they don't understand for the most part.

Mike
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Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2004, 12:02:02 PM »

Quote from: kenjib
Quote from: bottleneck

as for buying initiative - well, they can spend dice from their attack to buy it back. If you are agile, perceptive and wielding a rapier, sure - but if that description fits the other guy better, you have poor odds.


Hi bottleneck, where is the attacker given the option of taking dice he's already declared on attack and using it to buy initiative instead?  I thought that once you declared your dice you were committed to following through.


Yeah, I had to raise a brow at that, too. Once dice are declared, they're committed. Else, where's the risk in such a strategy? Your observations on Counter were right on, but I have to take exception to this one.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Eamon
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2004, 12:52:57 PM »

Give TROS hit points!

No, not really, but I'm sure that got your attention!

I'm sure most of you are wondering where I am going with this thought.  I'm the first person in my group to slam hit points.  I have trouble wrapping them around my brain.  When I have run games with hit points, I find they interfere with my suspension of disbelief.

On the flip side of things, not everyone wants heavy detail in damage systems.  While the TROS system is a fascinating depiction of wound theory, looking up the individual wound on a chart and rolling the die and figuring out what the impact does is slooooow.  TROS has an amazingly fun duelling system which in some opinions (that of my gaming group, at least), can get slow in the actual clash of arms.  And that is 99% of the time because of the chart-based damage system that the game uses.

Also, not everyone wants a death spiral system.  While it can be fun, I have to admit that sometimes I prefer more heroic battles.  While the spiritual attributes can often help an injured player make that last gasp of effort, the cumulative penalties can be overwhelming.

So... telling a player to drop 25 hit points does go faster than looking up the damage location IV chart versus crushing and rolling a d6 to determine effect, then adding or subtracting bleeding or shock values.  Is the TROS system more realistic than the hit point system?  Definately!  Does the tedious nature of determining injury ruin the exciting tempo of battle after a while?  It does for me (your own mileage may vary).

Recently I've had the pleasure of running Mutants and Masterminds, a D20 superheroes game.  Hit points have been nixed, and you just have a damage save.  As you fail your damage saves, the difficulty of saving against future damage goes up by one.  Also, if you fail too much in the first place, you can be stunned, injured, KO'd, or even killed.  Its much faster than hit points, ten times faster than my college era Champions preference, and about 10 times as fast as taking injury with TROS.

So... considering the excellent job done with TROS when it comes to trading and defending against blows, and quantifying the effect of armor and weapon damage styles, is it not possible that a leaner TROS damage system could be created?  Not necessarily the M&M system, but a new novel approach?  One that does not have the admitted depth of the current TROS damage system, but that accelerates play?  

And the nice thing about a leaner, simpler system is that simpler systems are easier to modify.  So if you wanted to run a heroic game where the question wasn't what is worth dying for, but rather who can nab the greater glory, then that would perhaps be easier to create.

For the TROS Wuxia game I've thought of running I've had a couple ideas in this respect.  I'll print them here.

1. Have every point over your toughness + armor (or toughness *2) for the Wuxia game) subtract 1 from your dice pool.  When you run out of dice, you collapse.  This is my death spiral method.

2. You can take as money points over your soak value as you have total in Spirit Attributes.  This makes battle a contest of will.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Personal Attacks?
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2004, 01:41:00 PM »

Quote
While the spiritual attributes can often help an injured player make that last gasp of effort, the cumulative penalties can be overwhelming.
I think that the point is that, in play, SAs are in force usually from the first blow - it'd be somewhat uncommon for things to change mid-battle so that SAs would only be available at the end.

The point is that with SAs the PCs should usually outclass their opponents, meaning that even injury will be pretty rare. So you don't have to worry about a death spiral because you're not getting wounded. This allows for very heroic play. Claims that players shy away from combat in TROS, or that they die too often are just unfounded.

As for the speed, well if the PCs have lots of SAs firing, then they'll tend to go through their enemies very quickly, no? Yes, the handling time for TROS may be higher for a round, but when you only have to do one fifth of the rounds, TROS can be substantively faster. When TROS is long, it's dramatic enough that most people think that it supports itself.

If you're playing out "balanced" battles that are taking forever as "sample" fights to see how the system works, you're not seeing how it works in play. If you are playing, and SAs aren't coming up, then consider that you may want to change your GMing tactics so that they do. Because when they do, the game flies.

Mike
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bergh
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Posts: 266


« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2004, 02:32:31 PM »

May you take dice from the pool you already have "signed" for full attack, to buy initiative? or may you not?
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Kind regards....

-Brian Bergh
brianbbj@hotmail.com
TRoS .pdf files: http://fflr.dk/tabletop/TROS/
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2004, 02:49:35 PM »

Quote from: bergh
May you take dice from the pool you already have "signed" for full attack, to buy initiative? or may you not?
Not really on topic - I'd refer you to this thread:http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10276

Mike
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