Frustration

It’s a Monday.  I’ve hit a point where I’m not quite sure how to continue with Lost Worlds.  I may take a break from this whole thing for awhile and come back to it with some fresh thoughts.  I may play in Andy’s game for awhile and review how I feel about the game from a player perspective rather than a GM perspective.

Barring some flash of insight (no, I’m not about to crit you with a cyclops Brian), I have two choices: wait and think more on my core mechanic, or design the game using the core mechanic I have and borrowing heavily from familiar systems.  I’m not sure which route I want to go.

The Problems

I want to do away with rolling to hit, and then rolling again for damage.  I want the initial roll to be non-linear, and to have the actual number you roll represent something like “damage” – that’s non-linear and really utilizes the non-linear feature of the 2d10 system.

If I remove the to-hit roll, that means I remove the meaning of different types of defenses (Reflex, Fortitude, Will – as examples).  The result is that you either need to have different pools of hit points (Marvel, for example, has three different stress tracks, one for physical, one for mental, and one for emotional), or you need to implement class powers that help you avoid/mitigate attacks of a certain type.

Of course, if you have class & monster powers that allow them to avoid or mitigate powers of a certain type, you’re almost full circle back to just having defenses again with an attack roll, which seems to be the least intrusive “power” you could have to avoid certain types of attacks.  I could just not worry about different types of attacks for mitigation purposes, but I don’t like that from a simulation/differentiation standpoint.  I think rogues like to be nimble, and barbarians like to be hardy.

Different health tracks seems over-complicated right now, and what do you do when you’ve run out of a particular pool?  The rogue dodges and dodges until she can’t dodge anymore, period?

One thought I had was to go ahead and use the different pools, and rule that if the attacker’s 2d10 roll is greater than your pool, you take a wound.  If it’s less than your pool, you lose points on your pool.  That way, even as you’re getting worn out, there’s generally some slack you have at the bottom of that pool that gives you a chance of avoiding another attack.  If you happen to be completely out of slack, well that means you took the least wounds you could up to this point and you really are exhausted to the point you can’t dodge again.

If I go with different pools of health, how many do you use?  I was thinking about simplifying the game so that your ability scores were also your defenses.  I was planning to do away with Reflex, Fortitude, and Will from D&D and go with D&D Next’s philosophy of double-utilizing ability scores as defenses (so: The 8 ability scores would also be defenses).  I don’t think I want 8 separate pools of health though!

Let’s turn this around a little bit, and say I decide to go with 2d10 to hit, and if you hit, the black die represents your damage.  What the non-linear mechanic does is help scale fights against more difficult opponents (making them even harder) or easier opponents (making them easier) without having to build an exponential bonus to defenses.  You can trigger powers off of one or both dice.  However, if the mechanic is 2d10, damage is basically going to be a static d10 roll, all the time.

First of all, I don’t know if this is bad.  It might simplify the game in a pleasing way, but the simulationist in me doesn’t like it.  So you could tack on some rules here.  Maybe a small weapon uses the lowest rolling of the two dice as its damage.  A medium weapon uses the black die for damage.  A large weapon uses the larger of the two dice for damage.  This gives a nice low, medium, and high damage curve as well (well, technically medium is still linear, but it’s going to average in between the two curves).

What this also means, is that either luck & fatigue can’t really scale much, because this mechanic doesn’t have a built-in multiplier – or I need to build in a multiplier on the damage somehow.

What’s Next

So, I’m stewing on all of this and I haven’t broken through the wall yet.  I have most of the structures of the game in place (although there are certainly some decisions still to be made, such as weapon proficiency), but I can’t really move forward or even playtest until I make an initial set of decisions on all of this.

I think I’ll stew on it a little bit more, maybe wait and see if I get any feedback.  In a few weeks I may decide to move forward with a 2d10 attack to see if hit/miss occurs, and then make a decision on how damage will scale.

I think going to GenCon and playing a lot of different games might be inspiring for me to start building again.  I also think playing in a game (months away still) might be inspiring as well.  And as always, I’m looking for reader feedback!

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3 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. wylliamjudd

    Personally, I think that 8 is way too many attributes. I think that 6 is too many.

    “I want the initial roll to be non-linear, and to have the actual number you roll represent something like “damage” – that’s non-linear and really utilizes the non-linear feature of the 2d10 system.” I think that this is the best part so far. Maybe not all the rolls represent damage.

    Personally as a player one of the most important aspects I want to enjoy an RPG is to have options, but not too many options. At least 2, not more than 8. What do I want to do this turn? It’s important that I don’t have one best option that I use the vast majority of the time.

    I don’t think that multiple avenues of damage mitigation are as important as you make them out to be. A barbarian can have more HP than a rogue, and a rogue can be better at mitigating damage. They don’t need different ways of mitigating damage, or even different things that hit one better than another.

    You’ll probably want a good system for other kinds of contests besides health. For example, you might have a spell to dominate someone’s mind, in which case you’ll be targeting his/her intellect. Or you might be sneaking up on someone, in which case you’ll be targeting his/her perception. How can you do these things in a non-linear way? (not rhetorical)

    It might help to think of how you want non-combat abilities to work first, and then come back to combat. I also agree that taking a break and coming back fresh is a good idea.

    Reply
  2. wylliamjudd

    What if dodging is an “attack roll” against your opponent’s agility? Whenever you beat your opponent’s static ability score, you dodge their attack that turn. It might be fun to think about how to represent a static ability score, and a rolled ability score for each attribute. Maybe you don’t roll 2d10. Maybe attributes go from 2d4 to 2d12, and each one correlates with some static defensive number (double the die type perhaps). Then it would usually take two turns to overcome someone in any given contest, unless you roll high, or have a big advantage (for example 2d10 vs. 8, you have a good chance of getting the full effect that turn. Since you don’t want people dying in two hits, maybe they get 3 or 4 wounds before they die, and those wounds have some negative impact if you want a grittier game, or are just harder to heal if you want a less gritty game.

    Hope this isn’t hijacking your project. I’ve actually been holding back a lot of ideas because A. I don’t want to hijack your ideas and B. I don’t want you to steal my ideas. In this case though, the thinking comes directly from your writing.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Dice Chart Porn | Lost Worlds

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