Mhu Thulan

Roleplaying games, resources for, design of

Category: Design

Hitting Harder, Casting Faster

I’ve made some tweaks to the Immergleich rules.

Evening out the speed of combat

Despite considerable design efforts on my part [1], melee with comparably-strong opponents tends to take longer as PCs go up in level. High-end single monsters, in particular, take time to grind down. That’s tedious.

Complication — my previous previous changes have left high-end monsters are already very vulnerable to big-hit special attacks (e.g. the Thief’s backstab ability, or the Magic Missile spell). So I can’t just further reduce their hp. I could reign those attacks in a bit, or I could increase PC damage more subtly. I have done the latter:

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Working with the Design Space of a Tabletop RPG’s Resolution System

I want to make decisions about the main resolution system for a game I’m designing, but feel stymied because I don’t know what the relevant design space is. I don’t feel confident that I know the questions I can usefully ask. You can see  a similar problem (while designing a different game) in my previous posts Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly, and in Some numbers for Dungeon World rolls with LotFP skills — I’m coming up with ideas, and generating some stats about them, but I don’t have any clear idea of my goals so it’s all a bit aimless.

I want to know:

  • What is the space of plausibly-useful resolution systems that I can use for a game like the one I am designing?
  • How can I “navigate” that space for a particular game so as to home in on the system that gaves me game behaviour I like?

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Simple random attributes lead to average characters?

Jon Spengler says in Rolling D&D Stats is Bad For You, a Reprisal that standard rolling methods generate a lot of mostly-average characters. I.e. many chars with all their attribute close to their overall mean. In contrast, assign-an-array methods tend to give extremes — characters who are strong at one thing and weak at another. And thus the latter is usually better for play.

My instinct was that he was right, but I decided to put some numbers on it to check it, and so that we can measure how much difference the various creation methods make.

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Immergleich rules update — attributes, skills and hit points

I’ve implemented some significant changes to Immergleich’s rules. They affect three things – attributes, skills, and hit points.

Attributes are now attribute modifiers

D&D characters are succinctly described by their six attributes (strength, dexterity, etc). it’s easy to make lots of rolls using just attribute values. Creating them randomly gives you a possibly-surprising character to play, which is fun and a challenge. But the raw attribute values (3-18) are very rarely used, and they don’t improve through advancement at all.

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Some numbers for Dungeon World rolls with LotFP skills

Over on G+, I had some suggestions about alternatives to my ideas in  Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly. I’ve replied here so that I can use table formatting.

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Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly

The Problem

As noted in D&D attributes, equal random generation, and skills, I’ve introduced Dungeon World -style 2d6+(attribute mod) rolls to my LotFP-based game.

Complication — LotFP already has a skill system. And it’s not clear how my attribute rolls should relate to it.

The LotFP skill system only covers a small set of activities…

lotfp_skills

… and most characters are terrible at them — their chance of success is a flat 1 in 6, regardless of level.

So I could just drop LotFP skills?

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Equal 3d6 — a computer program to roll characters for you

As I noted in my previous post, I want to generate random character attributes (Str, Dex, etc). But I want them to be balanced — I want characters to differ in their talents but have the same overall ability. There are many ways to do this (e.g. see a discussion of such on rpg.net), but the natural way for me was to write a computer program to do it.

The rules

  • Characters consist of six attributes in an order
  • Attributes are rolled on 3d6 and modifiers calculated on the Mentzer/BECMI scale that LotFP uses
  • Each generated character is checked against an acceptance rule. If they pass they go on the list to print, otherways they are discarded and a new one is rolled in their place
    • Default rule is “modifiers must sum to +2”
  • The program is set to produce a fixed number of characters per run. It will keep trying to generate them until it has that number
    • If the acceptance rule always returns false, the program will run until the end of time

The code is set up so most of the above are easy to change and experiment with.

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