Rebuilding the Core Mechanic

I’m in a little bit of an internal battle with myself.  On the one hand, I’ve built out a core mechanic that I liked with the 2d10.  Add them together, you get your attack against a target defense.  Trigger special powers off of one, and deal damage with the other.  I liked the mechanic, but I also like the idea of dropping the attack roll altogether.

This is causing me some challenges with some of what I’ve built already , so I haven’t made much progress on building out my rules in the last week or two.  I think I have most of the structures in place that I want to have, and now it’s time to get the math straight – but until I understand how I want this mechanic that’s core to the game to work, I’m stuck.

The main difficulty I see, and what I alluded to last week, was that I’m not sure how to scale different defenses if there isn’t an attack roll.  Is there any differentiation between attacking an agile rogue compared to attacking a well-armored knight, or a sturdy barbarian?  If I attack with Poison as compared to a ray of energy, should different characters have different defenses?  Do you have different pools of hit points for different types of attacks, or a dodge chance that’s omnipresent for agility?  How do you make the dodge chance useful without slowing the game down to a crawl (a static number/triggered dodge maybe)?

Without an attack that targets a different defense, you either have different pools of health, or one big pool of health that doesn’t care about what kind of attack it was.  The only other options is to layer in some mechanical defense mechanism on top of that.  And as you scale, since you don’t have an attack or a defense to scale up, the only thing to do is scale the amount of damage you can deal or take, or enhance whatever mechanic you’ve overlayed on top of the system.  If you’re going to overlay a mechanic, why not an attack roll again?

I like the idea of not having a turn end in failure all the time, where a “fail” is just a marginal success on the way to victory.  I’m having trouble building on this though right now, and it’s slowing my progress.

That’s not a big problem, since I have plenty of time.  I’m just not sure how to handle it right now.

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8 thoughts on “Rebuilding the Core Mechanic

  1. wylliamjudd

    I really like your idea with magic of having your spells build over turns. More powerful spells may always require multiple turns to fire, while it may be possible to get a weaker spell done in fewer turns. The reason I bring this up is that you already have a different system for magic than for melee attacks.

    You could do a static chance to dodge, like roll a d6 when you’re attacked, avoid the attack on 6. You could have the defender roll this before the attacker rolls for damage. Armor could still reduce the damage you take by a flat 1, 2, 4 (or however you decide you want that to work. You could also have interesting effects with attacks… if they deal at least a certain amount of damage perhaps?

    If you use the chance to dodge I suggest, you might want to limit who has access to dodge. As you say, if every character has a chance to dodge, why not just bring back the attack roll? Dodging could be a fun mechanic if only one class has access to it, for example. You could also have a variety of defenses that use whatever defense system you want to use, such as roll a 6 to avoid specific kinds of attacks.

    If you want the dodge to be more of a contest between two characters (rather than based on the characters innate ability to dodge whatever comes its way), then you might just want to bring your 2d10 mechanic back. If you do decide to use your 2d10 mechanic, I would be curious how you handle bonuses to hit and defense, because the math of each is considerably more complex than the math in D&D.

    For example, if the attack roll has no bonus.
    2d10 ~ 1d20
    DC 11 ~ DC 10 (55%)
    DC 12 ~ DC 12 (45%)
    DC 13 ~ DC 14 (36%)

    DC 18 ~ DC 20 (6%)

    That is assuming that the bonuses to hit and to defense are +x. There are other was to do it though, like rolling additional dice and adding them together, or choosing the highest, etc.

    Another idea is that you could keep the 2d10 mechanic (sort of) and take away the chance to miss. One die would trigger special effects (this could even include dodging), while the other die would deal damage.

    Here’s a spitball of how that could work.

    Hack and Slash
    White 10: Double damage
    Black Die Damage

    Bash
    White 8-10: Knock down
    Black Die Damage

    Nimble Dodge
    White 9-10: Dodge
    Black Die Damage

    Slice and Dice
    White 9-10: Move around
    Black Die +2 Damage

    Cleave
    White 6-10: attack a second opponent next to you
    Black Die Damage

    Reply
    1. JackOfHearts Post author

      “Another idea is that you could keep the 2d10 mechanic (sort of) and take away the chance to miss. One die would trigger special effects (this could even include dodging), while the other die would deal damage.”

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Obviously, it gets rid of the concept of a non-linear mechanic, and I feel like we could do more with the two dice than just use them as a trigger. I’d like to figure out how to use either dice for triggering powers, but have both serve some other purpose.

      Reply
  2. wylliamjudd

    What might be cooler is to have “white” triggered abilities, and “black” triggered abilities, and add the 2d10 together for the damage. That way you still get the numerical spread of the 2d10, and you get more effects each turn.

    Whatever system you use, the fun will probably come from what actions and abilities you actually design. Also, once you start testing a system, you might get ideas about how to modify it to be more fun.

    Reply
    1. JackOfHearts Post author

      This is where I’m leaning, although the problem becomes how to scale it. You could scale the dice up, but I’m hoping to avoid that. I could scale it with increasing flat bonuses, but I haven’t thought through the math of that yet.

      Reply
  3. connorbros

    One alternative that comes to mind is have the default involve no explicit dodging (from a flavour perspective, when imagining combat in fantasy RPGs, I often imagine there are many ineffectual, knocked aside or set-up blows between turns, and that one attack for the turn is the one with the most focus, best chance, or really aimed-for strike).

    Then, different characters who have earned it, through training, specialization or magical effect, can have a limited use ability where they flat out dodge an attack. This could be once per short interim, or some number of times (say, three) per day, depending on their skill at it. Also, you can tailor this ability to match the flavour of the character’s dodging: a heavily armoured warrior can shrug off or completely nullify some light attacks, but cannot use it against a heavy anti-armour blow, while a nimble character can slip aside from a normal or slower attack but cannot just ‘dodge’ a well-aimed or quick blow. Likewise, some people can train themselves to resist magic attacking their mind, or others build a specific sense for or resistance to fire.

    There are many possibilities, it leaves room for flavour, doesn’t just add more rolling back in, and I think it’s a feel good mechanic for players. When they are using it, it feels like a safety buffer they can rely on, something to manage/another option they have earned. When they are playing against it (like an epic enemy has X number of resistances to a status effect per day, for example) it actually increases strategic depth because it gives them two angles of attack to pursue – overwhelming said defences or just trying something completely different to circumvent them.

    Of course, this is probably just one option of many, but hopefully it helps give you some perspective on alternatives as you think things through.

    -Dustin

    Reply
  4. Wylliam Judd

    Those are good ideas too. Times/day feels very D&D to me, and doesn’t really make sense to me from a simulation perspective, but I like the idea of “dodges” that uses some kind of resource – for instance stamina.

    Reply
    1. JackOfHearts Post author

      I am trying to avoid times/day mechanics unless they’re based in the fiction of the game somehow. Using energy/stamina as a defense mechanism is definitely still a possibility though.

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Frustration | Lost Worlds

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