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Author Topic: [APEX] Free Universal System Feedback  (Read 3219 times)
Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« on: February 08, 2011, 08:22:00 PM »

Hey Forge!

I'd like to get some feedback on my new system called the Adaptable Play Engine v10, or APEX for short. It's a free, simple set of universal mechanics built for simplicity and ease of access. I'm shooting for light weight, traditional RPG mechanics that can be used with any setting you throw at it. The link is found below:

http://apexrpg.wordpress.com

The site linked above is going to be the front face for the game, but it's a work in progress. You can see some first draft material there, but here are some notes and a quick primer for the system:

We've eliminated the idea of having Attributes and Skills as seperate entities. We found it to be slightly redundant, so we simplified everything into a single list of Abilities. Abilities cover just about every task or activity, or could without too much stretch. Some examples are Agility, Athletics, Awareness, Close Combat, Deception, Influence, Marksmanship, Mechanics, and so on. The Abilities available to characters are based off of the setting in which they exist.

Each Ability is assigned a type of die (from d4-d12). So your character might have the following Abilities: Agility d4, Athletics d6, Awareness d8, Influence D10, and Marksmanship d12. Whenever you character wants to attempt to use an Ability, they roll the Ability Die against a default Target Number of 5. Rolling equal to or over 5 is a success. If you roll the maximum result on the die, you can reroll it and add it to the result, repeating every time you roll the maximum result. Situation modifiers from -4 to +2 can be used to adjust a roll based on the entire group's common sense opinion (the Players and the Narrator should come to a consensus or at least compromise).

Characters also have defenses which are static target numbers for others to roll against when trying to use Abilities on your character. They are derrived from the die types of specific Abilities. For example, the Dodge defense is equal to (2 + 1/2 Agility Die), so someone with an Agility of d8, would have a Dodge of 6 (2 + 1/2 of 8 = 6). If you want to shoot another character or creature, you'd roll Marksmanship vs. Dodge.

Those are just some basics for the mechanics. Please check out the APEX website.
 

Here is what I'm looking for as far as feedback:

1) Would you ever consider using a free set of mechanics for your game?
2) Would you ever consider creating a setting to go along with a set of rules like this?
3) How does the APEX website look?
4) How do the rules look based on what's there?

Here is what I'm NOT looking for:

1) Any comments/discussions on player vs gamemaster power


I'm also looking for any like-minded individuals to assist in the creation of the website and a pdf document. Of course, this is a free product, so any contributions would be for credit only. So let me know what you think or if you'd like to get involved.

Thanks guys!
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SteveCooper
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 03:26:58 AM »

Would you ever consider using a free set of mechanics for your game?

Probably not, but I'm reading this forum because I want to write my own set of mechanics, so I'm the wrong person to ask.

Would you ever consider creating a setting to go along with a set of rules like this?

If I were to run a game with a group that were most comfortable with the system, I'd consider running a campaign with it.

How does the APEX website look?

I like it. The getting started page has plenty of examples, which really help get in getting to grips with something new. The visual design is nice and the sidebar showing the structure of the site is good.

How do the rules look based on what's there?

This reminds me somewhat of the Cortex system, used in games like Battlestar Galactica. I've had problems with Cortex because of the unpredictability of character skills; someone who is amazing at a skill fails far too often, and someone poorly skilled does too well too often.

For instance, if I understand your system, a world-class character (d12) only succeeds a standard test 2/3 of the time. That is, Chuck Yeager crashes 1/3 of his test aircraft, and Mozart fails 1/3 of composing rolls. On the other end, someone with no skill at all passes a standard test 1/4 of the time. I'd like to see more variation in the outcomes; more like d4 passes 5% and d12 passes 95%, with a smooth progression in between.

Because a small number of small-sided dice is highly random, tests are unpredictable; that makes players fear to act. This might stifle exciting things because players fear for their characters.

Have you seen this effect in playtesting?


(Probabilites calculated using TROLL using expression 'sum accumulate x:=d12 while x=12')
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Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 08:14:30 AM »

Thanks very much Steve! That was exactly the type of feedback I was looking for, as far as the rules system. Yes, the latest version of APEX is influenced heavily by Cortex and Savage Worlds, just simplified in our eyes and made a bit more manageable. I definitely do want to respond to you in length, but I'd like to get a few more other snippets of feedback from others before I start flooding the thread with ideas and stuff. :)
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 01:54:50 PM »

Quote
1) Would you ever consider using a free set of mechanics for your game?
2) Would you ever consider creating a setting to go along with a set of rules like this?
3) How does the APEX website look?
4) How do the rules look based on what's there?

1.  Definitely!  It mostly depends on what the rules support and what issues it brings up for me, as a creator.
2.  Maybe?  If you mean a setting book or product to an existing set of rules, that depends on what obligations it produces, much as #1.
3.  There's a lot of organized entries and that's really useful!  A lot of what's under "Getting Started" looks like it could get repeated in "Action Basics" and other parts under "Rules" (not a bad thing repetition).
4.  There's not enough rules to say much.  Rules exist to help push play and set up choices- there's a general idea of a resolution mechanic, but nothing much on what informs what choices the players have at their hands, or what kinds of things are rewarded in play.

To go a bit further with "obligations" mentioned above, there's game systems like Clinton R. Nixon's Solar System and FATE, for example that don't put much restriction on what I can do with the mechanics or any ownership of the game (aside from, giving attribution to folks).

Chris
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Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 08:33:19 AM »

Thanks a bunch for the feedback guys! My name is Zack by the way :)

Okay, so to respond to Steve. I defintely appreciate where you're coming, and that is a concern for me as well. I haven't had the opportunity to playtest yet. I've been considering hitting the forums with playtester requests, but I kind of wanted to get some general feedback first and get the website a bit more complete. Without playtesting though, my gut feeling is that the spread is pretty decent for starting characters. I tried to use the TROLL link you posted, but had some trouble figuring it out completely. Here are the fractional probabilies as calculated by me, all at the default Target Number of 5:

Die   Fraction of Success
d4   1/4 (25%)
d6   1/3 (~33%)
d8   1/2 (50%)
d10   3/5 (60%)
d12   2/3 (~67%)

I was trying to figure out how to proceed further with better Ability dice. I'm leaning towards going with d12 + dx. In other words, each step above d12 receives an additional die of ascending type. Keep in mind, the d12 is just the max for normal characters. You mentioned that as you saw it, d12 was meant to be a 'world class' Ability. After looking back at my description, I can see how it could be percieved that way, so I added a little snippet to say "Talents are far above human average, but by no means legendary." A d12 is meant to be the maximum "natural" aptitude for normal people, but I'm considering adding a rule to allow for higher level aptitudes for characters in Tiers 2, 3, and 4 (levels 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20 respectively). Here is an example:

Advanced Ability Dice   
d12+d4 (Tier 2) 
d12+d6 (Tier 2)
d12+d8 (Tier 3)
d12+d10 (Tier 3)
d12+d12 (Tier 4)


For the characters who are meant to be "legendary", not only would it be assumed that they have much higher aptitudes that d12 in their respective forte's, but they may also have Perks to help them as well. In the example of Chuck Yeager, he would probably be considered a "Tier 4" character, which means he would have a higher aptitude than d12, such as d12+d12 or something. He'd also likely have the "Ace Pilot" Perk, which gives an additional +1 when piloting air vehicles. Further more, it's likely Chuck would be pumped up during his test flights, so he would probaly use "Adrenaline" to help boost his rolls. It's not detailed on the site yet, but spending an Adrenaline point will award you with an extra d4 for your roll.

On a similar thought, in the Rules System section, when I do the write up there, I'd like to point out to the Players and the Narrator that not every roll is complete Success/Failure. Some rolls are best if the effects are "softer". In other words, just because you got a successful roll on your Mechanics doesn't mean you fix the car instantly. It may require more successes or Crits to fully fix the vehicle. At the same time, just because you fail your Mechanics roll doesn't mean the engine explodes on you. Failures can often come in the form of setbacks or "less then desireable" outcomes without being complete failures.Another, maybe more poignant example, is climbing a wall. If your character fails their Agility or Athletics roll to climb the wall, that doesn't mean they fall on their face and take damage right away. It may just take them a bit longer to scale the barricade.

Back to the subject of legendary characters then, Mozart would probably have a legendary Composition Ability of d12+d12, he'd probably have a Perk, such as "Master Composer", and he'd probably spend Adrenaline to make sure his compositions are masterpieces. In the event that does happen to fail his Composition roll, its not that he writes a garbage symphony, it may just take longer because he isn't happy with the results, which likely happened to Mozart all the time.

Does this help the way the curve feels?



Okay, now for Chris. From what I understand, you're saying there just isn't enough substance there to be useful, correct? So your suggestion would be to give example of how to handle different situations? Like, "If you want to climb a tree, use Agility."

Things like that?
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Devon Oratz
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 11:00:31 AM »

I am not that interested in mechanics that exist divorced from a setting or concept, because "generic" mechanics aren't custom suited to reinforce the Color and theme of the game they are wedded to like, well, non-generic mechanics are. I also don't particularly like "Die Step" systems like Earthdawn and Serenity, although I prefer yours to most of the ones I've seen for its simplicity.  Even with those things, I might wind up messing around with your system for one of my games, but that's mostly because I just inherently like screwing around with systems, mechanics, and numbers.

Your website looks pretty good but MAN that's a lot of links. There are also a few typos on the start page that you might want to fix.

So there's your one, two, three, and four in a bit of a scramble.

By the way, the concerns Steve brought up could be addressed pretty elegantly just by lowering the universal target number to 4 instead of 5. That way you get:

d4: 25% (unchanged)
d6: 33% (unchanged)
d8: 62%
d10: 70%
d12: 75%

It would also more or less increase the rate of success across the board for actions, which IMHO is definitely a good thing.
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My Blog: tarotAmerican
Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 01:17:20 PM »

Thanks Devon!

I must admit when it comes to looking at systems, non-generic ones are usually more interesting to me too for the exact reasons you outlined. When a system is strongly tied to the setting, its definitely more appealing but only if you're interested in that setting. To flip the script on you, I find your P10 rules to be interesting, but I'm just not that interested in grindhouse horror, so I'd probably never actually play the game.

I think the disconnected is inspiration. A set of rules strongly tied to a setting can feel more inspiring, but I'd consider that a side-effect of the setting. To me, it's not the rules that inspire me, it's the setting, so rules tied to an inspiring setting will probably feel more appealing out of the box. My hope is that I can provide FREE, simple, generic rules so people can worry more about what setting inspires them and less about how they'll be able to jury-rig an existing system to fit their needs. All of the game systems I've designed in the past have always been strongly tied to their intended setting.This is my first foray (and first spark of interest) into generic systems in years. The whole reason why I went generic this time around is because I'd like a set of rules that don't have be tweaked that much to go from one setting to another.

I can see how the number of links could be a bit overwhelming. I have gotten feedback saying the linking is a good thing though, so I won't worry too much about them unless I get more complaints. Some people just prefer to look at rules in book-format, which I totally understand. The website is nice though because it lets me worry about content more so then appearance, which I often get distracted by :)

As far as lowering the universal TN to 4, I had that thought as well, but remember that you succeed when you roll equal to or above the target number. The success chances would be more like this if I'm not mistaken:

d4: 25% (1/4)
d6: 50% (3/6)
d8: 63% (5/8)
d10: 70% (7/10)
d12: 75% (9/12)

That said, it seems like a nice and simple way to solve the issue. I think my pattern-oriented brain prefers intervals of 5, but given the fact that players are more interested in succeeding than failing, I think this would be a good adjustment to the system.

Thanks for the input Devon!
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Devon Oratz
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 01:30:12 PM »

Quote
To flip the script on you, I find your P10 rules to be interesting, but I'm just not that interested in grindhouse horror, so I'd probably never actually play the game.

Touche. I do think I will be developing at least one other game in another genre with a very similar rules set. Originally, Phantasm was one of three games I'd made with the same overall system, before I rewrote it.

Quote
As far as lowering the universal TN to 4, I had that thought as well, but remember that you succeed when you roll equal to or above the target number. The success chances would be more like this if I'm not mistaken:

I think I had some kind of major brain fart there when looking at the d6. Embarrassing as most of my games involve d6. 

Quote
My hope is that I can provide FREE, simple, generic rules so people can worry more about what setting inspires them and less about how they'll be able to jury-rig an existing system to fit their needs. All of the game systems I've designed in the past have always been strongly tied to their intended setting.This is my first foray (and first spark of interest) into generic systems in years. The whole reason why I went generic this time around is because I'd like a set of rules that don't have be tweaked that much to go from one setting to another.

A good number of products already provide this, though (although you could argue the 'free' in some cases, the 'simple' in other cases, and the 'generic' in still other cases). For instance, off the top of my head, I can think of the FuZion system, and as a rule for every RPG I'm aware of there's nine similar ones that I'm not.

I suppose the question to ask yourself is: how is your system different, how is it better, and what you want it to do that existing "generic" and/or "free" systems like Fuzion, d20, HERO System, Basic Roleplaying (Chaosium), GURPS, etc. aren't doing for you. (I know some of those aren't free but a few of them have more-or-less free iterations, like the OGL/SRD for the d20 system, or have become abandonware, which is kind of the same thing.) The last thing--what you want this system to accomplish that similar products aren't--is arguably pretty important.

(I am sorry in advance if I made any embarrassing mistakes in this post. I am not used to not being able to edit my posts and it is really taking some getting used to.)
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~"Quiet desperation, it ain't my goddamn scene!"~
***
My Blog: tarotAmerican
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 01:52:36 PM »

Hi Zack,

Quote
Okay, now for Chris. From what I understand, you're saying there just isn't enough substance there to be useful, correct? So your suggestion would be to give example of how to handle different situations? Like, "If you want to climb a tree, use Agility."

Things like that?

Not quite.

You're designing a game because right now, another game isn't doing what you already want.   What kind of play is it you're designing to create?  What is it that your game is/will be doing that other games aren't, and how will it do it?

Don't worry about answering those questions here- instead take the time to answer those questions by working on your rules further.

I can't really say much about the rules because all I'm seeing is a resolution mechanic.  It's like judging D&D on the statement, "On a roll of a 1 or 2, you kick open the door"... there's not enough context to work with.

Chris
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SteveCooper
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 04:06:54 PM »

*** mostly written earlier today, before other posts ***

Hi, Zack.

I think adding dice helps stretch the curve out, and that helps you model characters who are amazing. d12+d12+d4 (Chuck flies a plane) actually comes out at 99.3% likely to pass a difficulty 5 challenge. So that's great. I still think that you might need to be clearer about when a character rolls; The more common rolling is, the more often characters will fail at seemingly easy things.
 
Even if d12 represents 'really competent professional' and not 'world-class', then you have to account for the high rate of failure. Imagine you are playing a professional bomb-disposal expert and you have to make a 'disable IED' roll at difficulty five; you've got, on average, about three bombs before your character is dead. Poor characters have much less chance; an untrained person has only 1% chance of passing three successive rolls.

Also as written, better characters are more likely to botch, since the chance of botch increases with dice; you are more likely to roll a '1' on 2d12 than on 1d12.

*** TROLL ***

As to TROLL: open the page and paste in this code;

Code:
dice := {12,12,4};    \ this means 'd12+d12+d4'
bonus := 0;           \ this is the bonus to the roll

roll := sum (foreach die in dice do (sum accumulate score:=d die while score= die)) + bonus;

roll

Then hit the 'calculate probabilities' button. You'll see a bar graph with the chances of achieving different scores. It's a nice way to 'explore' the stats of your system. By varying the first two lines, you can explore the effects of different dice pools and bonuses.

*** 4 as the target number ***

I think 4 as the target number helps a lot. That spread seems a bit more reasonable. You still have to be happy with the numbers because they still imply a great deal of failing if too many rolls are requested.
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Devon Oratz
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 08:00:41 PM »

By the way, besides adding more dice, there's no reason that "superlative" characters can't use a d20, right?
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~"Quiet desperation, it ain't my goddamn scene!"~
***
My Blog: tarotAmerican
Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2011, 07:08:46 PM »

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm going to make some adjustments to the systems based off of your feedback and then report in a bit later.
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Jason J. Patterson
Member

Posts: 85

Bearer of the Mindsword


WWW
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 12:09:42 PM »

Your system's basics are very much like Savage Worlds sans Wild Die, so probably Cortex or Serenity, though I only got to play Serenity once so I don't remember it very well.  Not saying it's a bad thing, just confirming you confirmation; I'm running Savage Worlds games myself currently so while on one hand that's a plus for me, the only reason I DID finally decide to run SW was because of the Wild Die, allowing you two dice - I'm not at all a fan of single die systems so for me, this is not something I would likely consider for a go-to system. The only exception would be a very rules lite system like Broadsword or something where it is SO light that one die is fine because the whole system is nutshelled and not a whole lot, relatively, has been put into it. When you get all the modifiers and die type ranges, I just can't personally see my way clear to find a single die system satisfactory, so there is my bias, stated for warning.

Not a fan of site-based (as opposed to pdf) rules but the site does look good and pretty easy to navigate overall, though the actual basic task resolution and play mechanics are given in the Getting Started, rather than rules system link, which confused me, but that's likely just an organizational difference for me. I'm going to go in order of the links from left to right, top to bottom and comment as I go:


From your checklist, differentiation between Abilities and Perks are muddy; you read one section and say "Aha, the main part", and then you read the other and say "Aha... the... main part?" From a newcomer perspective it might not actually be as confusing, but for old hat gamers, you might want to actually just give us an aside and say "Things you know as attributes or skills would be in this category, while things you know as Advantages or Edges would be in this category" - abilities are basic things you can do, perks are special adeptness you have when doing certain basic things, right?


Not fond of the way you combined Perks and then the double-duty Quirks into one section, with Quirks being analogous to either Disadvantages or perhaps even Aspects or just simple flavor that have no in-game mechanical consideration. To me it feels like giving the thumbs up to writing "yes" in the space marked "eyes" on a form - technically correct but not really useful. I like your Ability list breakdown and descriptions and what you combined and made responsible for what activities.

Kudos on Crafting as a basic ability - I have to admit I don't know if I would have thought of it, and though I'm not sure it would be used much, I kinda like the idea of it being available as a basic Ability. Same for Husbandry though I'm iffy on it being tied to riding the horse. Deception and Influence, like with most games, are also iffy to me, as it is always a question as to where someone draws the line to break things into different types of influence - does it really MATTER if I'm being leader-like, a good bargainer, deceptive, seductive or genuine and humble? Not sure about the Athletics governing throwing and Marksmanship governing shooting, but I can kinda see it. Resolve is debatable but isn't it always, in game mechanics?

I have to say I have a bit of a problem with Street Smarts as usable for "dungeoneering" - it just seems too far removed from what is otherwise mostly a "get around the city, get information from people" skill. I see now your counterpart in Survival... symmetrical, but still, not sure I like that, but you do have to have it somewhere. So Street Smarts is Urban Survival+Dungeoneering for man-made dungeons and Survival is Rural Survival+Dungeoneering for natrual caves and the outdoors in general. Alright, if I look at it like that, I can accept it a litlte better - I think maybe Street Smarts seemed too loaded a term for me but probably fine for the average person.

Deception, Stealth and Thievery. Tough call on that, to me. I guess one is a person being visible and fooling someone into thinking something other than what they see, the second is the stealther being invisible and the foe not seeing what's there, and the last is... a very small-scale hybrid of the two?

Overall I have to say your Ability list is probably one of the top mash of attributes/skills into broad categories I've seen.

Looking this over, I might try a finished product, if the rest of the material is as relatively solid as this is, even though it only uses a single die. I honestly don't see me using it regularly but like others here, I'd probably tinker around with the mechanics at the very least, possibly hacking it to something more my direction, considering it is free for personal use.

A really good start I think.


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"VVVVOOOOLLLLTTAAAAANNNNN, you will DDIIIEEE by my sword."
Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 09:03:35 PM »

Thanks so much for the feedback Jason! Very helpful!
 
I actually made some of the changes you mentioned prior to reading your post just now. For example, I removed the 'dungeoneering' aspect of Street Smarts and created a seperate Ability for that. I'll try to better describe the differences betweens Perks and Abilities, good call. It just didn't seem to fit, as I think we both agree. In response to the feedback from others suggesting a more favorable difficulty curve, I increased the frequency of higher die types in Hero abilities and removed the Talent as a priority. As for the idea of a two-dice vs one-die system, I think I kind of agree with you. It crossed my mind just to double up the Ability Dice. Instead of having an Agility of d10, you'd have an Agility of 2d10. The universal target number would double as well to 10. I'm fond of this idea because it gives a little more leway with modifier sizes.

Abilities would then be distributed as such:

•Assign 2 Primary Abilities – 2d12
•Assign 3 Secondary Abilities – 2d10
•Assign 5 Tertiary Abilities – 2d8
•The Remaining Abilities are Untrained – 2d6

Resistances would be derrived as such:

•Reaction (Agility Die Type +2)
•Defense (Close Combat Die Type +2)
•Ect

Advanced Abilities would go by bonuses then. Raising an Ability a step above 2d12 would go to 2d12+2, then 2d12+4, and so on, up to +8.

Anyone have an opinion on that?


As for the comments about Deception vs. Influence, I wanted to split up social abilities at least once, so I figured Influence would represented confidense and being yourself to win people over (heartfelt, honest, genuine, and naturally charismatic), while Deception represented false sincerity or being someone you're not (manipulative, lying, ingenuine, or falsely charismatic). It makes pretty good sense to me.

For Athletics or Marksmanship governming throwing weapons, it's a little iffy to me too, but I think I made the right choice. Marksmanship has to do with aim and steadyness when using projectile weapons. Athletics has to do with muscle power and, in this case, eye-hand coordination (a bit of a stretch, I know).

Deception, Stealth, Thievery? Split up, but easy to tell the difference I feel. Deception is a social skill, Stealth refers to movement and hiding, Thievery is delicate, dextrous hand-skills like picking locks and picking pockets. Feels right to me.


I'm curious about your issue with combining Perks and Quirks under a single headinh. It doesn't seem like you have an issue with Perks, but you're not fond of the way Quirks have no ingame impact?
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Parylus
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 09:11:47 PM »

Quick note on the dice probabilities. The curve looks good for doubling up the dice. Check it out:

Against the Universal Target Number of 10
2d6   16%
2d8   43%
2d10   64%
2d12   75%
2d12+2   85% (Available at Tier 2 / Level 6)
2d12+4   93% (Available at Tier 3 / Level 11)
2d12+6   97% (Available at Tier 4 / Level 16)

I'm pretty sure this is the direction I'll go in, given the decent curve and appeal of a non-single-die system. Any comments?
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