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Author Topic: reducing handling time without sacrificing (much) detail: a demonstration  (Read 855 times)
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

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« on: November 04, 2011, 05:41:12 AM »

Business Up Front

The topic at hand isn't something that I need help with. It's a problem that I've solved in the context of a particular game, and I thought I'd write about it because it may be useful and edifying to others, so all discussion needs to be carried out with that in mind: I don't need or want suggestions on this issue in my game (questions about the game to beat down confusion are of course fine). I am instead inviting discussion of the problem in general, and how the principles behind my decisions for this game can be useful to others. If you are designing a game and have this problem, I invite you to join this discussion. 

That problem is: eliminating handling time while still maintaining desired levels of detail. For the specific case at hand, I wanted my game MADcorp to take the following into account when determining damage effects: attacker's skill, defender's endurance, weapon profile, and armor profile. On top of that, I wanted an interesting variation in damage effects, particularly such that people sometimes got broken bones and limbs cut off and shit.

For those of you that don't know, MADcorp is the game of corporate dungeoncrawling horror in a world gone weird. It's a very grungy, funny, brutal game that could feasibly be described as kill puppies for satan blended with D&D, maybe. You can read the Employee Handbooks here, while the Reference Sheets are most directly relevant to this thread, and I am making the core rules available to anyone interested in playtesting it (just email or PM me).

MADcorp is primarily an attempt to recreate the dynamics of an early early game of mine, Misadventures in Nowhere (which I've written about before in several places on the Forge), with better (read: more elegant) rules.


So let's talk about how Misadventures in Nowhere handled this issue.

1. Determine if you hit based on a d100 roll under your weapon skill, modified by some defensive scores on the part of the target.

2. When a hit is determined, roll a damage die. (The size of the damage die varied by a few factors, but in practice didn't vary much -- it was usually a d6, sometimes a d8, rarely a d4, and I think the largest die that anyone ever got to roll was a d10.)

3. Multiply that roll by your Attack Adjustment (Atk: a function of strength, skill, the weapon itself, and how you used it; the lowest Atk I can remember was 15, and the highest 115 -- which, scarily enough, was a particular character's bare hands) and divide by a hundred, then add the result to the original roll. [I.e. add a percentage equal to your Attack Adjustment to the damage roll.]

4. Multiply this result by the victim's Damage Absorb (a function of constitution and armor, but mostly armor; average unarmored score was 0.5, while armor could jack it up as high as 30) and divide by a hundred, then subtract this result from the result of step 2. [I.e. subtract a percentage equal to Damage Absorb from step 2's result.] This result is the actual damage inflicted.
3a. Wait, does your weapon/attack have a To Pierce modifier? If so, subtract it from the Damage Absorb before applying Damage Absorb.

5. Compare the damage dealt to the target's Damage Absorb; does it exceed it? If no, continue to step 5. If yes, then an Injury may be inflicted. Target rolls d100 under constitution (average score 50), penalized by the margin by which damage exceeds Damage Absorb and by your weapon's To Injure modifier. Does this roll succeed? If yes, no Injury is sustained. If no, then an Injury is sustained: death if the blow landed on the head, neck, back, or gut; broken bones if landed anywhere else.
4a. Wait, did that constitution roll fail by a margin of 25 or more? Then it's also death if it landed on the chest, and it's mangling if it landed anywhere else. If the body part to be mangled was already Injured, it gets amputated instead of mangled.

6. Compare the damage dealt to the target's Pain Threshold (a function of strength and constitution; average PTh was 7, if I remember right, while lowest possible was 1 but lowest ever seen in play was 4). If it exceeds it, then the target is in excruciating pain, and suffers the pain penalties [mainly penalties to offensive and defensive capabilities].

7. Compare all accumulated damage to the target's Damage Threshold (a function of strength and constitution; average DTh was 15, lowest possible was 11). If it exceeds it, then the target must roll d100 under Resilience (average score: 50) or else go into critical condition.

8. There was also a thing about determing if and for how long you are stunned/flinching after getting hit that involved even more math based on how much damage was dealt and how tough the recipient was. I'm not gonna go into it but let the record show that there was yet more math to be performed.


So, yeah.

But you know what? I really liked this system. It worked, and it took into account all the factors that I thought should be taken into account -- like I said earlier: skill, weapon profile, armor profile, and target's endurance. The only problem is, as you can see, that's too many steps and WAY too much fuckin' math.

So how do I recreate the dynamics I liked from this system while eliminating all that crap? Especially considering that one of my main design goals for MADcorp is to eliminate all math beyond adding integers smaller than 5 to each other?


First, let's break it down a bit.

Let's look at the possible range of outputs from the above system:

- You suffer a minor wound that merely edges you towards dropping from blood loss and shock.
- You suffer a more serious wound that really edges you towards dropping from blood loss and shock, probably puts you in excruciating pain, and might also maim you.
- You suffer a really serious wound that might drop you immediately, that certainly puts you in excruciating pain, and might also really maim you.
- You are killed outright -- skull caved in, spine snapped, heart pierced, guts spilled, head cut off, or torso bisected.

In other words:
- Minor wound
- Grievous wound
- Grievous wound plus crippling
- Severe wound
- Severe wound plus mangling/amputation
- Immediately (or close enough to it) fatal wound

So, let's start with that. The only output we need from the damage mechanics is which of those six results occur -- we don't even need numbers. The specific nature of the wound (graze on the cheek! Deep cut to the shoulder! Rupture of the femoral artery!) actually doesn't matter as long as it accounts for the mechanical consequences connected to those 6 results, and thus can be left as Color to be delivered by the narrator. As for the maiming, we can just roll a d4 to randomly determine a limb -- hit location is otherwise irrelevant, because Injuries under the old system to the head, neck, or torso were in fact Fatal Wounds, aside from minor Injuries (crippling) to the chest being broken ribs, which wasn't mechanically interesting anyway and would best be implemented as a specific Coloring of a Grievous Wound. Now we just have to decide how to arrive at those results.

Immediately what came to mind was a table that you roll on and it told you which one it was. Credit where due: I would never have arrived at this thought, or even the concept of a "damage table," if not for Sorcerer.

As for how non-Severe Wounds edge you towards dropping from shock (which is what Severe Wounds might do to you immediately), I devised a "Physical Trauma Track" that looks a bit like this:

Minor [][][][][] -> Grievous [][][] -> Severe [][][] -> Dead []

(Credit where due: The Burning Wheel)

Whenever a wound is suffered, you tick a box in the appropriate category. The arrows indicate spillover: for instance, if you already have five Minor Wounds, a sixth will instead be a Grievous Wound. Thus the lesser wounds add up until they are, in combination, Severe. Also, should you manage to survive a Severe Wound, it also adds up to you being killed outright. (Crippling, Mangling, and Amputation are indicated by writing a C, M, or A in the appropriate box rather than ticking it, with the initials of the affected limb below it.)


Attacker skill

Obviously attacker skill comes into play by giving you better odds on that damage table. Specifically, you attack somebody by trying to roll a d20 high but under an Effectiveness score called HIT (which ranges from 3 to 18 with the traditional D&D bell curve). High, successful rolls give you bonuses to your damage roll, while a low success (specifically a 1 through 4) imparts a penalty. All other bonuses in the game function by letting you roll an extra die or dice and take the best, and penalties work conversely by making you roll an extra die or dice and take the worst. (I can talk about that decision re:modifiers if anyone wants to). So I made damage modifiers function the same way: you roll more than once (depending on the modifier you have) and pick the result you prefer if you had a bonus, or the defender picks the result he prefers if you had a penalty. Also, all other rolls-to-achieve-an-effect in the game use d20s, so let's make the damage table a d20 table.


Okay, so what about weapon and armor profiles?

Well, first let's talk about how they worked in Misadventures in Nowhere.

So, each weapon had an assortment of Attack Adjustments depending on how you used it. Depending on the weapon, you could swing, hack, crush, thrust, bash (e.g. pistol whipping, hilt strikes, smacking somebody with a shield), cleave, or shoot, and each of those had different Attack Adjustment scores. Heavier weapons had larger Attack Adjustments, but their weight also penalized the amount of extra Attack Adjustment you got from strength -- so if you were weak, you would actually get better total Attack Adjustments with light weapons than you would with heavy ones. Furthermore, each type of attack also had other effects associated with it -- for instance, "thrust" and "shoot" had the best To Pierce modifiers, while "hack" and "crush" had the best To Injure modifiers.

Armor was less interesting. Basically, there was a very D&D-ish scale from cloth to plate with better effectiveness as you ascended the scale. The only interesting things were that different types of armor had different ratios of Damage Absorb to Armor Save (a factor in whether you get hit at all), and the weight of armor penalized how much Hit Save (another factor, in equivalent numbers, in whether or not you get hit) you got from your agility -- meaning that weak, fast characters were often better off with light armor. And there was some kind of spot rule for kevlar armor vs. guns, I don't remember exactly.

Now, Misadventures in Nowhere was designed in high school, and since then I've become more knowledgeable about arms and armor, so my philosophy regarding how they should work has changed. Based on my (non-scientific) research and observation, I've come to three major conclusions:

1. A deadly weapon is a deadly weapon -- specifically, the D&D conceit that bigger weapons deal more damage points (i.e. are more likely to kill you) is bullshit. Getting stabbed with a knife is just as likely to kill you as getting chopped with a big-ass sword. (It should be noted that 0e doesn't suffer from this problem. All weapons deal 1d6 damage there, and it's specifically stated that 6 is enough to kill any normal person.)

2. The respective advantages of smaller and bigger weapons are entirely situational -- most broadly, small weapons are better up close and in confinement, and bigger weapons are better when you've got more distance and more room to move around. Musashi will back me up on this.

3. The performance of any given article of armor depends on what you hit it with as much as it does on what the armor's made of. For instance, the curves and angles of plate armor are ideal for causing edges to glance off, but pointy objects that are well-aimed to concave portions of the armor (e.g. at joints) or at right angles to the armor's surface will actually penetrate quite well; and while leather tends to give relatively easy to shearing forces, it has a certain capability to spread out impact forces, resulting in lower pressure (and thus less trauma) actually being applied to your body.

So my first decision here was to classify weapons according to how they cause damage. I ended up with the following "damage classes": edged, blunt (referring specifically to deadly blunt weapons), piercing, brawling (bare hands, as well as improvised weapons), gun, and explosives. (There's also fire & burns, electrocution, when animals attack, psychic, accidental injury, and weird magic, but those are special damage classes that only apply to weapons in special cases.) It should be noted that I classified knives as "edged," while only spears and arrows were classified as "piercing." This decision actually has more to do with how knife blades interact with armor than on how they inflict wounds: they interact with armor in roughly the same way that swords do.

Second, I classified armor according to how it interacts with weapons. With some distinct game-specific Color, I ended up with three classes: street, clink, and tactical. (There's also gadget class armor, but it's customized re:effectiveness vs. weapons, and the major mechanical issue with it is whether or not you know how to use it.) Street armor is mostly leather, cloth, and padding, and is most effective against blunt force trauma (blunt, brawling, and accidental injury class damage), but not really effective against anything else unless the armor is heavy. Clink armor is Medieval-style metal armor -- rings, chain, plate -- and is most effective against edged weapons and least effective against piercing and gun class damage. Tactical armor is riot, SWAT, and modern combat gear, ranging from hard plastics and steel meshes up to ceramic plate; it's pretty good all around, but most effective against guns.

So what I did was give each armor class a set of penalties that it applies to damage rolls, depending on which damage class you hit it with. If it's heavy armor, it adds an extra penalty across the board.

I decided to go a bit further with it and give each damage class a separate damage table, with different weights among the six damage results. For instance, blunt weapons ought to cause more broken bones than other weapons, edged and gun weapons should be the only ones capable of outright amputation (keep in mind that a HIT roll implies more than one actual "attack," and thus when you HIT with guns you're firing multiple shots), and piercing and gun weapons should be more skewed towards Severe Wounds (i.e. wounds that aren't immediately fatal but might immediately put you into critical condition) given their relative propensity to cause trauma to vital organs. However, a deadly weapon is a deadly weapon, so a result of 20 on all the damage tables is an immediately fatal wound -- except brawling, which can at best cause a Severe Wound. I also threw in a couple other effects -- for instance, gun damage might result in a higher chance of infection due to bullets imbedded in your flesh; blunt and brawling damage may cause knockouts; sometimes a Severe Wound comes with a higher probability of making you go critical.

I also divided weapons into various "reach classes" based on optimal range: shortest, short, medium, or long. Each of these classes implies a set of bonuses or penalties to HIT rolls at the four ranges: Far, Near, Close, and In Your Face (credit where due: 3:16). Ranged weapons are also classified into four reach classes of the same name, but with different definitions -- i.e. a shortest reach gun does not have the same reach as a shortest reach contact weapon. Keep in mind that the HIT roll may apply a modifier to the damage roll, and thus reach class indirectly impacts damage.


What else?

Finally, let's talk about the role of the target's toughness, and the whole flinching/stunning factor. These two things are combined in the MADcorp system. First off, the flinching/stunning issue is best understood as being temporarily taken out of the fight. Second, time is different in this game. In Misadventures in Nowhere, the smallest unit of time was a few seconds; in MADcorp, it's defined as "less than a minute" and it doesn't get more concrete than that. Misadventures combat is blow-by-blow, and MADcorp isn't. Third, the "excruciating pain" thing: rather than add another score or roll here, I simply decided that Grievous and Severe Wounds implied excruciating pain, period, and you get a small penalty while in excruciating pain. However, characters with a "skill" called "High Threshold of Pain" (all the fighty classes have it) get to ignore the first thing that would cause them excruciating pain; that's as far as toughness goes on that issue.

Otherwise, here's what happens. All characters have an Effectiveness score called ENDURE (ranging from 3 to 18, just like HIT). When you suffer a Minor Wound, you must ENDURE (i.e. roll d20 under ENDURE) or else "flinch." When you suffer a Grievous Wound, you must ENDURE or else "go down." When you suffer a Severe Wound, you must ENDURE or else "go critical." Flinching means losing your action this turn unless you've already taken action (actions occur in descending order from highest successfull roll; credit where due: 3:16). Going down means you're out of the fight, but you get an ENDURE roll each round to get back up. Going critical means you will die unless you can pass an ENDURE roll each turn, until you are stabilized by medical attention. (This particular game is intentionally brutal about lethality, as was Misadventures in Nowhere. Just a stylistic choice.)


A side note.

One of the other good decisions in MADcorp is the Effectiveness scores (termed "aptitudes"). Misadventures in Nowhere had ten attributes that described basic qualities and faculties of the character: strength, constitution, agility, dexterity, charisma, perception, cleverness, intellect, wisdom, and luck. From these, various other stats were derived, including skills and things like Damage Threshold and Attack Adjustment. The attribute scores were occasionally used directly as Effectiveness, but mostly were used to derive Effective and Resource values. With MADcorp I decided to jettison the idea of stats to describe innate qualities (which almost invariably leads to much layering and/or deriving-stuff-throug-math), and instead classified the stats by categories of action: HIT, SEE, MOVE, THINK, and ENDURE. These are the only Effective values a character has; all other elements of a character modify or expand uses of these scores, and/or provide Resources or Positioning.

Just a thing to think about.


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Marshall Burns
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American Wizard


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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2011, 05:43:27 AM »

Back to the matter at hand.
All right, let's look at the MADcorp system step-by-step.

1. Determine if you hit by rolling d20 under HIT, with modifiers from reach class and current range (these range from -2D to +2D), modifiers from character capability (for instance, the Shootist class gets +2D to HIT with guns), and any situational modifiers the Ref may decide to apply (e.g. "Your visibility is compromised. -1D to HIT.")

2. When a hit is determined, roll damage on the table appropriate to your weapon, with modifiers from any armor (ranging from +0D to -3D), how good your HIT roll was (ranging from -1D to +2D), and a few other factors (e.g. Carvers get +1D damage with edged weapons; high-caliber or rapid-fire guns deal +1D damage; people with massive physiques get +1D damage with big weapons)

3. Tick off the appropriate box on the Trauma Track. If crippling, mangling, or amputation is indicated, roll 1d4 to determine which limb is affected (mangling twice on the same limb means amputation).

4. The victim must ENDURE vs. flinching/going down/going critical as appropriate.

See that? Still several rolls involved, but there's half the steps. The only math involved is adding modifiers together, which is easily done in your head and certainly doesn't require a calculator like the old method did. There's still quite a bit handling time relative to, say, Sorcerer, but FAR less than the old system. And yet the range of results is the same (even the probabilities are close enough for blues), and it still takes into account attacker skill, defender toughness, weapon profile, and armor profile. The dice do the math for you.


Compromise.

Let's get real for a moment and talk about the detail that I did lose. For instance, in MADcorp an axe and a sword deal damage identically. That wasn't the case in Misadventures in Nowhere. Axes were more likely to maim people than swords were. Furthermore, I think that the way axes interact with armor is meaningfully different from swords, but I can live with it being the same in this game, because I don't think that small a detail is enough to warrant yet another damage class. Similarly, bullet-shooting guns and shotguns deal damage identically, and that wasn't true in the old game, but again I can live with it.

Also, in MADcorp it's impossible for armor to completely negate an attack. A blade never actually gets totally turned away by armor, like it could in Misadventures in Nowhere with the Armor Save mechanic. The best it can do is reduce it to a Minor Wound. But I can live with that: I don't value that detail enough to add the extra complexity necessary to implement that possibility.

And let's talk about search time. I greatly reduced handling time, but I also increased search time. In fact, flipping to the appropriate damage table then looking up the results has been one of the greatest complaints of playtesters so far. Personally, I'm not concerned on that front. First off, the time used up is still less than it would have been, while the system still manages to maintain my critical threshold of desired detail. Second, I'm convinced that the search time will reduce dramatically as players get used to the game. Frankly, I think the complaints have been more a matter of rolling-damage-on-tables being such an unusual idea than anything.


Party in the Back

So, let's talk about this issue, and the larger issue that it's a part of: including desired levels of detail in a game while keeping complexity to a minimum. If you are designing a game that you want to have lots of detail but are having trouble keeping the complexity down, I invite you to post in this thread and talk about your game. And anyone who has anything to add to the discussion about how the principles and decisions I used can be useful to others on this front, or how any other principles and decisions can be useful, jump in! And, again, anyone who has any confusions about the system I've discussed as an illustration and demonstration, please ask questions until you're not confused anymore.

-Marshall
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Kyle Van Pelt
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Posts: 22


« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 06:54:15 AM »

Hey Marshall,

Your experiences are, in a way, very similar to mine when developing my game Kamui. I have yet to post in any detail about my game here on the Forge (I try to lurk for a couple months before posting anything of substance), but this topic resonates with me.

Before...

Kamui was a bit simpler than your rules before, but with a similar base. Conflict resolution was handled by rolling under your target number on a d100, and the TN was determined by your Skill + Related Stat + Mods. Defensive values would reduce the TN instead of being an "Opposed Roll" or anything like that. Similar damage types came into play, and I also related damage dice from d4s up to d10s, however, I also included non-existent die types like d5s, d7s, and d9s. The process was:

1. Determine your Attack Value (AV) by adding your Skill (let's say Polearm) to your Related Stat (which for Polearm would be AGI). Add any modifiers. If you used a Technique (which I'll discuss in a different thread later on), it added special effects to the attack. Also, add 50 simply because you are the attacker.

2. Subtract the enemy's Defense Value (DV) from your AV. DV is calculated in the same way as AV, but without the +50 modifier. Defensive Techniques also came into play, adding special effects to your defense.

3. If you rolled under your modified AV with a d100, you successfully connected with the attack. Roll damage.

4. If you did enough damage to reduce their HP to 0, any overflow damage reduces another pool called Meta Health Points (MHP). MHP do not regenerate like HP can, and resembles lasting damage.

5. Apply any special effects from the Techniques. (If I used a Tech that inflicts Paralysis, that would have a chance to occur now.)

It seems simpler, but since combats are handled with a given number of Action Points, you could throw as many as 3 Polearm attacks per round, provided you didn't move about or do anything else. (More if you wielded something lighter.)

Currently...

Kamui worked, but it didn't accomplish any sort of design goal. I revised my goal, and in the process came up with something faster to play, albeit not the same game I had set out to make originally. That being said, it is a better game.

I also devised a "Damage Track" system for health, however, it ended up working like this:

Light wounds are simple grazing blows, scratches, cuts, and bruises.
Moderate wounds are painful wounds that aren't lasting in any way.
Heavy wounds are deep, damaging wounds that may last if not treated soon.
Critical wounds are in danger of killing you if not handled immediately.
Deadly wounds put you in a "dying" state.

Since Endurance (an attribute) determines how many of these wounds you may take, a normal person can take this:

Light 00000
Mod
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Kyle Van Pelt
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2011, 07:12:33 AM »

Hey Marshall,

Your experiences are, in a way, very similar to mine when developing my game Kamui. I have yet to post in any detail about my game here on the Forge (I try to lurk for a couple months before posting anything of substance), but this topic resonates with me.

Before...

Kamui was a bit simpler than your rules before, but with a similar base. Conflict resolution was handled by rolling under your target number on a d100, and the TN was determined by your Skill + Related Stat + Mods. Defensive values would reduce the TN instead of being an "Opposed Roll" or anything like that. Similar damage types came into play, and I also related damage dice from d4s up to d10s, however, I also included non-existent die types like d5s, d7s, and d9s. The process was:

1. Determine your Attack Value (AV) by adding your Skill (let's say Polearm) to your Related Stat (which for Polearm would be AGI). Add any modifiers. If you used a Technique (which I'll discuss in a different thread later on), it added special effects to the attack. Also, add 50 simply because you are the attacker.

2. Subtract the enemy's Defense Value (DV) from your AV. DV is calculated in the same way as AV, but without the +50 modifier. Defensive Techniques also came into play, adding special effects to your defense.

3. If you rolled under your modified AV with a d100, you successfully connected with the attack. Roll damage.

4. If you did enough damage to reduce their HP to 0, any overflow damage reduces another pool called Meta Health Points (MHP). MHP do not regenerate like HP can, and resembles lasting damage.

5. Apply any special effects from the Techniques. (If I used a Tech that inflicts Paralysis, that would have a chance to occur now.)

It seems simpler, but since combats are handled with a given number of Action Points, you could throw as many as 3 Polearm attacks per round, provided you didn't move about or do anything else. (More if you wielded something lighter.)

Currently...

Kamui worked, but it didn't accomplish any sort of design goal. I revised my goal, and in the process came up with something faster to play, albeit not the same game I had set out to make originally. That being said, it is a better game.

I also devised a "Damage Track" system for health, however, it ended up working like this: (And yes, it is a "death spiral" mechanic.)

Light wounds are simple grazing blows, scratches, cuts, and bruises.
Moderate wounds are painful wounds that aren't lasting in any way.
Heavy wounds are deep, damaging wounds that may last if not treated soon.
Critical wounds are in danger of killing you if not handled immediately.
Deadly wounds put you in a "dying" state.

Since Endurance (an attribute) determines how many of these wounds you may take, a normal person can take this:

Light 00000
Mod 0000
Heavy 000
Crit 00
Deadly 0

If you take a Light wound when all your Light wounds are filled, if overflows into Moderate, and so on.

The important thing to note is that if you take more than one Deadly wound, it becomes Overkill damage. Kamui makes the attempt to never put PC death out of the player's hands, so when you take Overkill, you may "buy off" the Overkill wounds by taking negative Traits. These can be any negative Trait, provided you can explain it. (Your character is still out of the fight for a scene, but he comes back next scene with the new Traits.) So, if my guy gets blasted with a huge fireball and it sends him into Overkill, I could take Phobia of Fire to represent that he's been mentally scarred by the blast, or Debt to represent the life debt or monetary debt he owes whoever saved him, or anything else.

Rolling for damage is very simple now, since all you do is take your weapon's damage rating (let's say Moderate), modify it by Strength (if I have STR 5, which is pretty good, it stages up the damage by 1), and subtract the Armor Rating the enemy has to its Damage Type (if I'm using an Impact attack, their armor's Impact Rating would stage the damage down by the rating's number.) It's still not as fluid as I would like, but I'm getting there.

Also, all the numbers involved in the AV and DV mess were divided by 10, to make for easier math. It's a d10 system now. It's not exactly an "elegant" solution, but it does work faster, and it is easier on me when calculating Techniques (which is a different topic for another day.)

It's not the same as your example, but it does have some similarities. Granted, Kamui's goal is probably different from yours as far as what the game hopes to achieve, but I felt compelled to share a little.

TL;DR

While detail is cool, complexity rarely is, and although I naturally design things to be somewhat convoluted, I'm finding that by simplifying what you can, it allows players to focus more on what is being done than how it's being done in the game's engine, which I think is a step in the right direction. Good post, Marshall, I look forward to more insights.
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Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2011, 06:51:50 PM »

Could you possibly cover alot of detail ground by having a single point of extra damage the GM can either assign or not assign? As he sees fit from his judgement of prior fiction? So in this way, sometimes the GM might decide that since you were using a shotgun and the dude just walked out of a doorway right in front of you, yes, the extra point of damage is added?
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Kyle Van Pelt
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2011, 01:00:25 PM »

Could you possibly cover alot of detail ground by having a single point of extra damage the GM can either assign or not assign? As he sees fit from his judgement of prior fiction? So in this way, sometimes the GM might decide that since you were using a shotgun and the dude just walked out of a doorway right in front of you, yes, the extra point of damage is added?

Hey Callan,

I can't speak for Marshall, but I know for my system, a situational bonus like that would either be covered in the system (my shotgun rules account for close-range blasts) or would result not in an extra wound (you take 2 Heavy wounds from the shot), but a staging up of that wound (you take a Critical wound from the shot).

That being said, it would simplify things just to have a point you can add or subtract from the attack for "situational bonuses". That way, I could just remove the rules for close-range shotgun blasts and say "If the target is very close to your attack, the DM may choose to add a point of damage", or something like that. There's definitely some merit to that, although I don't think that's what I'm aiming for.

It's a good idea, though, and I think sub-consciously a lot of DMs do this already. I know I've done it a few times when DMing Shadowrun. In one instance, a player put the end of his shotgun barrel to a guy's torso and pulled the trigger. His armor would have reduced the blast quite a bit, but I said that since it was such a violent attack, I would stage the damage up by one.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2011, 06:46:01 PM »

It's a good idea, though, and I think sub-consciously a lot of DMs do this already. I know I've done it a few times when DMing Shadowrun. In one instance, a player put the end of his shotgun barrel to a guy's torso and pulled the trigger. His armor would have reduced the blast quite a bit, but I said that since it was such a violent attack, I would stage the damage up by one.
Yeah, that's idea. It's just that when that extra stage of damage isn't actually in the rules (ignoring the golden rule, for now), then it sets up a precident that if someones really adamant about the fiction they say, the rules should be broken again ("It's a roleplay game after all!"). Then the adamant fiction gets bigger, the breaking gets bigger and so on, again and again...I think if there was any edge to be found in playing by the rules, that edge is quickly lost. Anyway, just a quick idea. So on with the show!
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2011, 07:41:05 AM »

Could you possibly cover alot of detail ground by having a single point of extra damage the GM can either assign or not assign? As he sees fit from his judgement of prior fiction? So in this way, sometimes the GM might decide that since you were using a shotgun and the dude just walked out of a doorway right in front of you, yes, the extra point of damage is added?

Sure, that's a possible solution. Things that you'd have to look at there would include guidelines (I'd prefer very rigid ones, if I was playing) for when to stage up/stage down damage, and who's in charge of this decision, and how does that reconcile with his other responsibilities in facilitating the game?

In the case of MADcorp, I wanted something random (because I like games that occasionally stake an entire situation on a gamble), and something objective, or close to it. The only judgment calls here are, does the attacker get a bonus/penalty die on his HIT roll, and what kind of damage does the attack inflict? And the latter is only a concern if you start adding weapons that aren't covered in the rules.

A large portion of the rest of the game rests on the Referee's judgment calls, so I thought it would be good to have at least one avenue of interacting with a problematic situation (and in this type of game, "let's try shooting it" can be legitimately described as such) to recourse to if the judgment calls are all against you at the moment.

Like the lethality of the system, the decision to use dice is just another stylistic decision.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2011, 02:34:53 PM »

Sure, that's a possible solution. Things that you'd have to look at there would include guidelines (I'd prefer very rigid ones, if I was playing)
I'd think this rigidity, if any, is better generated by the group being told to set their own conventions in play (and how much those conventions border on being social contract, if at all). Part of the value of such rigidness is actually how much it aligns with ones own psychology on the matter (otherwise you'd just use board game style rules), and the group who plays it might easily think in very different ways from the game author.

Quote
In the case of MADcorp, I wanted something random (because I like games that occasionally stake an entire situation on a gamble), and something objective, or close to it. The only judgment calls here are, does the attacker get a bonus/penalty die on his HIT roll, and what kind of damage does the attack inflict?
It depends if your to hit mechanism is a binary hit/miss - if you take D&D's +2 for circumstances (assigned by GM judgement) for example, then it only affects the attack roll 1 in 10 times. So 9 out of 10 times the GM's judgement doesn't matter. Basically in a binary hit/miss system, a GM assigned bonus to hit probably wont affect play much at all.

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A large portion of the rest of the game rests on the Referee's judgment calls, so I thought it would be good to have at least one avenue of interacting with a problematic situation (and in this type of game, "let's try shooting it" can be legitimately described as such) to recourse to if the judgment calls are all against you at the moment.
Does the GM decide whether you can go to combat? Anyway, these are just my notes on the above subjects presented in a 'in case it's of use' way, not a 'you have to talk about this' way. I hope it's of some use.
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 01:41:38 PM »

I'd think this rigidity, if any, is better generated by the group being told to set their own conventions in play (and how much those conventions border on being social contract, if at all). Part of the value of such rigidness is actually how much it aligns with ones own psychology on the matter (otherwise you'd just use board game style rules), and the group who plays it might easily think in very different ways from the game author.

Callan,
This concept is interesting, although unfortunately would be a derail for this thread. Do you have any design or AP related to this sort of thing to start another discussion about it? 'Cause I'm interested in talking about it. I dunno, maybe I can dredge up some AP of my own to start a thread.
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