mercoledì 27 aprile 2011

Development #4: Action Resolution.. a Die-lemma

When you talk about D&D, your mind goes immediately to the european 20-sided polyhedron (that replaced Arnesonian's d6).
The typical D&D's action resolution has always been something like rolling a d20 (plus modifiers), meeting a target number or beating it, then rolling another kind of die (plus modifiers) to estabilish the damage.
Pretty easy mechanic but - especially in more recent versions - too many flying numbers IMHO.

In my Rule Set, I've decided to choose a 2d10 resolution instead of the classic d20. Why?
First of all, you have a bell distribution and not an uniform distribution.. so that results gather usually in the middle.
Second, I wanted to use a single dice roll to display both the chance and the quality - damage, in combat - of the action resolution itself.

When you roll the dice, you need to beat 2 target numbers: the first one depends on your parameters, the second one depends on your target.
To make it clear, the sequence is:
- look at the Resolution Matrix to see you target number to beat
- roll 2d10, and try to beat it
- if you beat it, take the lowest die
- if the lowest die beats your opponent's number, your action takes effect

What's the opponent's number? Well, it can be 2 things: a static Saving Throw (ST) against spells/missiles, or the Armour Rating (AR) against physical blows.

Let's say Harbrik the Dwarf is fighting against a goblin: Harbrik is the first to attack, so his player rolls 2d10 to beat a To Hit number of 12.
He gets 9 and 6, for a total of 15: that means he strikes the goblin, but first Harbrik needs to beat goblin's leather armour.
A leather armour has an AR of 3, so the lowest die - a 6 - easily beat it and the goblin takes the damage.

Now, that 6 represents the potential damage of the weapon wielded by Harbrik.. but it can't exceed the damage range of the weapon itself.
Each weapon - or monster attack - has its own damage range: to make a long story short, if a long sword deals a d8 of damage in D&D, in my game that same long sword has a damage range of 1-8.
So, if the lowest die is a 6 a long sword deals 6 points of damage, if it's a 7 you hit for 7 points of damage.
With a 9, you deal just 8 points of damage: you can't exceed the maximum (unless a particular rule says something different).

In all this process, no modifier - positive or negative - will be added.
FYI, the Action Resolution Table - used for Combat, Spells and other Actions - is just a revised version of Chainmail's Spell Complexity Table, expanded from a 12 to a 20 basys.

Artwork by Jared Hindman.

martedì 26 aprile 2011

Development #3: Journey to a Supposed Glory

According to my personal experience, one of the oldest and most common questions a player usually wonders is: how far will my character go?
Creating a new character is IMHO always funny, because in the process your original concept meets with the dice roll, shaping around and getting shaped by those curious tiny polyhedra.
Just a little more details, and your character literally becomes alive.. ready to venture in a marvellous and exciting world, along with his fellas.
As a player, you foretaste what your character could potentially do in the next future: beheading the orc's general, saving a princess, burning to ashes an evil warlord with an impressive fireball.. and so on.

But often experience teaches that pushing so far could be not so easy.

Building a campaign - whereas with building I mean a cooperative effort between the DM and the players - is something satisfying, but the journey is long and full of obstacles: you'll never know if the campaign you've always dreamed to play will reach its natural ending or not.

Sometimes players drop the group, sometimes things get too hasty or too slow and vibe seems not so good anymore.
Dreaming does not cost a thing, but keeping your feet on the ground could be easier and safer.

That's why IMHO it's better planning something modular than a long term campaign since the very beginning, because it could be really frustrating if your campaign starts breaking up when you're next to its climax.
The best damn thing? Divide et impera: in other words, Tiers.

Yes, Tiers: something you're going to associate with the most controversial game of these times: 4th Edition D&D.
So far from its origin, but yet so damn close. Thinking in Tiers can help you planning things in a modular way, playing up to a check point and only after deciding if going further or not.

Holmes did that, in his Basic D&D. People usually thinks Holmes' Edition is just an introductory set, good to start with but seen only as an amuse-bouche.. an appetizer: you start with it, play a couple of times.. and then move to AD&D 1st Edition.

Gygaxian AD&D is a really awesome game, but Holmes' D&D does not shine less: IMHO it's a complete game, although characters reach only the 3rd level of experience.
Too bad? Not at all, if you plan to play something on a human scale: you're not a normal man, not yet a hero.

That's what I wanna start from, in my game: building your characters in different Tiers, according to whom your character is able to manage.

In few words, my purpose it's to split your character's career in 3 differente Tiers.
Can you fight just orcs, goblins and big animals? You're still an Adventurer, with no renown.
Are you brave enough to challenge a giant? You're a Hero, and people knows you also far from your hometown.
Do you crave for a dragon? Shaken spears or splintered shields? You're a Legend, everybody knows who you are.

Adventurer: from 1st to 3rd level.
Hero: from 4th to 9th level.
Legend: from 10th level and beyond.

My 2 cents, for tonight.

Artwork by Jared Hindman.