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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 143 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Donjon] Many Various Tweaks  (Read 7829 times)
memolith
Member

Posts: 28


« on: November 10, 2006, 07:14:17 AM »

First off, I want to say how much I love Donjon. We finished up the sample adventure in the book last night, and it was tremendously fun.

One short anecdote:
There's a scene with a chasm, and an underground river running below. I declared that there was a tunnel entrance opposite the players. The players proceeded to narrate the following facts:
Breanna: I explore the perimeter and find a narrow ledge near the wall, spanning the chasm. It looks slippery and dangerous.
Ben: There's a fairly sturdy bridge spanning the chasm, supported by strong ropes.
Dan: The ropes are sturdily attached to the stonework at the bridge's ends.
Chris: I run across the bridge.
Lauren: I use my Spot Danger ability. There's a pit bull gnawing on one of the ropes. (Huh? Okay...)
The bridge couldn't support the weight, so Chris and the pitbull fall into the chasm. His torch gets broken, as well as his ceremonial wooden mask.
Dan: Rolls Wisdom and says: It was all an illusion. The only thing that's real is the pit in the middle of the room that Chris fell into.

We had a good laugh about that.

So, the adjustments that I've made, and some more that I'm thinking of making:

-First, I'm using the odds/evens success variant, which is online somewhere. This is mainly due to a lack of d20's.
-For Initiative, I'm using playing cards and counting down from Aces in suit order. This has worked pretty well so far.
-I'm also using the standard d20 attribute names (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha), for clarity.

Experience:
I changed the experience award system, after the players fought a lvl 4 minotaur at level 1 and only received 1 experience point. Now, I have a formula. XP = ( Monster Level - Party Level ) * Monster Level. Each player gets that much experience. It isn't divided up.
For monsters of the same level, each player gets experience equal to the monster level. For monsters one level higher, they get 1.5 * Monster Level. If this causes advancement to occur too quickly, then I'll simply scale up the leveling chart.

Looting Corpses:
Monster Level - Party Level = Number of players who get to loot the corpse.

Damage, death, and unconsciousness:
Death is merely a frustrating inconvenience, and smashing is virtually impossible. So, here's my variant.
When a PC hits zero Flesh Wounds, he drops unconscious. If all PC's get knocked unconscious, everyone respawns after an appropriate interval, but they have lost something important, depending on the circumstances.
-If they lost vs. the Big Bad, then they have lost the quest.
-vs. a random mook monster, everyone loses an item, or a point or two from wealth or provisions, due to the monster looting their unconscious bodies.
-Or something else appropriate to the conflict.
-I think I'd like to have the option of death, if a player wants their character to die. Perhaps this would bail everyone else out, or provide some other important effect.

Combat:
So far, my biggest issue has been a lack of focus in combat. I have five players. During larger combats, they get very distracted. I had one player answer a cellphone call and disappear for an hour. There's also excessive off-topic table chatter, boredom, laptopping, food runs, and general apathy whenever it's not any given person's turn.
I have played with these people for years and never had this problem (we've done d20, The Window, Paranoia, Dogs in the Vineyard, The Pool, and Burning Wheel). So, I think the issue is extensive waiting periods between turns, plus a general confusion about when their next action will be causes them to lose focus.

My proposal is to simplify combat and/or Initiative.
I'm going to try to streamline combat into a single roll, and do away with active defense.

To attack:
Roll Dex + Str + Weapon Rating + Hit Ability + Deal Damage Ability

To defend:
Roll Dex + Con + Armor Rating + Dodge Ability + Absorb Damage Ability

This isn't mechanically identical, but at least it's similar. We'll see how it plays out. If attacker succeeds, he can spend successes as normal for damage, and describe how he bypasses the defenses of his opponent. If defender succeeds, he can describe a combination of dodging, armor protection, and gritting teeth through the pain, etc. I'm not sure if the Law of Successes should apply in the normal case.

Initiative:
My players are getting 4-7 actions per flurry. Once I figure in my monster's actions, we're looking at 30-40 actions per flurry. Am I doing something horribly wrong? Those combat rounds last AGES.

So, my proposed tweak is this:
You get one action per round. At levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and every four levels after, you get one additional action per round.

To figure turn order, I'm thinking of doing one of the following:
1) Just go around the table, starting on the GM's left.
2) Roll 1 die + Wisdom + Level. Highest roller goes first, then play proceeds clockwise.
3) Same as above, but we descend from highest roll to lowest roll. This would require tracking everyone's number.

I'm looking for feedback, so any comments, suggestions, or flaming would be appreciated.
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memolith
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 08:53:15 AM »

Sadly, scheduling errors have prevented us from playing for a few weeks, so I haven't gotten around to testing some of these tweaks.

I looked over the character sheets, and realized that my previous method requires rolling enormous pools of dice, even at level 2. I believe the half-orc barbarian had 17 attack dice. That's a lot of dice to count out!

Also, in testing a couple of opposed rolls, I realized that it might be too lethal for successes to be 1:1. Normally when rolling to attack, your hit successes roll over as additional dice for your damage roll. Using this method, they effectively roll over as successes. So, the number of successes are larger. I was considering making wounds cost 2:1, but that still leaves the problem of gigantic pools.

So, I changed the formulas to fix both problems at once:

To attack:
Roll (Dex + Str + Weapon Rating + Hit Ability + Deal Damage Ability) / 2

To defend:
(Roll Dex + Con + Armor Rating + Dodge Ability + Absorb Damage Ability) / 2
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memolith
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2006, 07:36:52 AM »

This has been quite a lively conversation I've been having with myself, so I might as well continue.

We tested these changes last Thursday, and things went fantastic!

The new initiative system led to shorter combat rounds, which made things flow much faster, and my players were much more focused and attentive.

The new Attack/Defense rating greatly sped things up, by reducing the processing time to figure out which abilities to use. Also, one issue I was afraid of was recalculating those ratings after an ability was damaged. It wasn't a problem at all. At one point, I had a mummy deal Dex damage to one of the PC's, and it was just a matter of dividing by two and subtracting from both scores.

I think the layer of abstraction in combat has made things more interesting. Now, when they succeed or fail, they can scan their abilities and color the narrative with whichever one seems most interesting at the moment.

All these changes haven't modified the core of the system; they've just chipped away some of the tedium to reveal the shiny diamond at the center of Donjon.

At least that's what I think.
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The Dragon Master
Member

Posts: 115


WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 02:43:39 PM »

I should be starting a game with my nieces and nephews this weekend. I'll definitely try out your initiative system, and probably a few of your other tweaks, and let you know how it works out for us.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony

Sorcerer Workshop, Phoenix Comicon, May 27th - 30th 2010
Stefan / 1of3
Member

Posts: 88


« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 03:47:10 PM »

Hi.

I think, I experienced similar problems like you. Except for the attribute names (those are fun!) and the experience.

Quote
To attack:
Roll Dex + Str + Weapon Rating + Hit Ability + Deal Damage Ability

To defend:
Roll Dex + Con + Armor Rating + Dodge Ability + Absorb Damage Ability

That means many dice. I'd take it a step further:

Attack with: Vir + Ability + Weapon
Defend with: Adr + Ability + Armor

Whe is now used to regenerate damage. At the beginning of every scene the players can roll a simple Wherewithal test and heal 1 dam / success. With this rule abilities like Fast Healing or Medicine can be used regularly. Use Medicine to gain bonus dice for the healing roll and add dice from Fast Healing directly.

Smashing is completely out. Instead Wherewithal becomes basic Hit Points. As long as a character (PC and NPC alike) have at least one Flesh Wound the can act normally. When they hit zero Flesh Wounds, Whe becomes a cap on all dice pools and all additional damage is substracted directly from Wherewithal (unless redirected to another attribute). When both Flesh Wound and Wherewithal are zero, the character falls unconscious.


Quote
Initiative:
My players are getting 4-7 actions per flurry. Once I figure in my monster's actions, we're looking at 30-40 actions per flurry. Am I doing something horribly wrong? Those combat rounds last AGES.

So, my proposed tweak is this:
You get one action per round. At levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and every four levels after, you get one additional action per round.

I wonder, doesn't that unbalance the game? Of course Discernment was overpowered before, but this way a group of small foes gets even more dangerous compared to a big bad because the have much more actions.

I'd go this way: A character gets one action per level. Actions are taken in Discernment order.
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memolith
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2007, 08:25:25 AM »

Quote
That means many dice. I'd take it a step further:

Attack with: Vir + Ability + Weapon
Defend with: Adr + Ability + Armor

Hey, whatever works, right? I decided to leave all the options in and divide by two, to make converting characters easier, and to be able to make super-badass tanks that can't do anything else.

Quote
I wonder, doesn't that unbalance the game? Of course Discernment was overpowered before, but this way a group of small foes gets even more dangerous compared to a big bad because the have much more actions.

I didn't notice any problem with small foes in larger numbers. Their whiff factor was higher, and they were easier to kill, usually in one hit or two. Not to mention magic.

Quote
I should be starting a game with my nieces and nephews this weekend. I'll definitely try out your initiative system, and probably a few of your other tweaks, and let you know how it works out for us.

I'd like to hear how it went.

~Chris

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The Dragon Master
Member

Posts: 115


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2007, 11:39:36 AM »

Unfortunately we only ended up getting through Character Creation this last weekend (and they will all be out of town this coming weekend). With luck the game will be starting in two weeks, I'll make sure to post how this works for us at that point.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony

Sorcerer Workshop, Phoenix Comicon, May 27th - 30th 2010
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