Saturday, October 30, 2010

Damaged Again

This option would allow for the players modified attack roll difference (vs target number) to imply mechanically a deadlier blow was delivered.

How it Works
You roll to hit as normal.  If a successful strike was delivered, subtract the target number from the players modified die roll total. This result is then compared to the chart below :

Damage table
  • Difference of 1 to 3 = 2pts damage
  • Difference of 4 to 6 = 4pts damage
  • Difference of 7 to 9 = 6pts damage
  • Difference of 10 or more = 6pts+1d6 damage  
  • If a two handed weapon is used in combat add +2 to the damage done

Damage effects
You may wish to add a bit of flair or impact to combat.  To do so (for roughly man sized opponents)see the options below:

  • IF DAMAGE RESULT IS 4 POINTS roll an additional 1d6.  If the result is an even number there is no additional effect, if the roll is an odd number the target staggers back a distance in feet equal to number on die roll.
  • IF DAMAGE RESULT IS 6 POINTS roll an additional 1d6.  If the result is an even number the target staggers back a distance in feet equal to the number rolled.  If the result is an odd number, the target falls to the ground and must spend their next action standing up.
  • IF DAMAGE RESULT is 6+1d6 use the total sum of damage.  If the result is an even number the target is knocked down and must spend their next action standing up.  If the result is an odd number, the target is knocked down and stunned and may make no action on their next turn.  The next action the target makes is either to stand or flee.

Mechanical Example: The player attacks a target wearing leather armor (AC12) The player rolls a d20 and gets a result of 16. The difference between the target number (12) and the die roll (16) is 4.  Using the damage chart it shows 4 points of damage are applied to the target. Using the optional rules the player would roll another d6 to see if there was knock back.  The player rolls and gets a result of 3, so the target would stagger back 3 feet after taking the damage

Cinematic version: Toshiro Redcap spies an archer guarding a passage way up ahead. Clinging to shadows cast by flickering torchlight he creeps to within striking distance. Edging closer his final step  suddenly sends a sharp squeak into the silence. The nightingale board gives away Toshiro’s movement and the archer spins round on him drawing back his bow. The archer turns too late as Toshiro’s katana slashes down cleaving the gap between them and biting through the archer’s armor.  Blood wells from the cut and the archer staggers back in pain and surprise.

I think mechanically it works and fits with the cinematic combat of earlier editions. Jim at Carjacked Seraphim posted a simple to use chart for this mechanic to use with OD&D and/or other d20 systems.  Kudos Jim! I can't wait to use your chart for my Halloween haunted house game.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Damage via d6, another option (edit v 1.1)

Recently JB made an excellent post regarding the d6 as the arbiter of weapon damage.  I agree with much of JB's thoughts although I have a twist on it which I am using in my ROGUISH RPG.

I believe there should be at least some sort of subtle difference between daggers, spears, sling stones, battle axes and long swords.  Yet I do not want to use multiple dice types (ROGUISH is d6 only) nor have everyone running around with the same weapon because it does X damage.

So how to make them interesting and different while using d6 only?  I decided to create damage classes.

(L) Light damage = roll 2d6 keep the lowest number rolled
(M) Medium damage = roll 1d6 use number rolled
(V) Heavy damage = roll 1d6 and use highest number
(X) Extra Heavy damage= roll 1d6 and add +2

Weapons, monster attacks, and spells all use this simple short hand notation (L, M, V, or X).  So if you like the idea of d6 weapon damage but want to keep a bit of difference between weapon types, this might work for you.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Cleric Conundrum: Van Helsing

At the same time, the cleric class, in its origins and even in its in-game description, isn't a completely good fit for medieval Christian priests. It's a bit more like a religious knight (as opposed to the paladin, which is a "holy knight," if the distinction makes sense), but its essential character is that of Van Helsing from the Hammer horror films -- a monster (i.e. undead) hunter. 
--James Maliszewki  10/11/2008

I dislike the cleric class for much the same reason many in the OSR dislike the thief class.  The argument is the thief class can be considered in game terms a broken and unnecessary class.  By creating a specialized class and skills, a broken subset of rules was made to handle previously common talents and the basic game structure was then broken.   The thief then is an artificial class construct that limits what any character should have a reasonable chance to do: climb walls, find and disarm traps, pick locks, scale walls, hide in shadows, or sneak around.

If one agrees to this then I would ask you to consider if the cleric is any different?

The cleric in essence is a specialized fighter with
1) Spell casting ability
2) Ability to turn undead
3) limited weapon choices based on deity

Spell casting
There really isn't, to my mind, any reason why the spells allocated to the cleric class should not just be part of the wizard's spell lists.  The conceit for game play is that they are divinely granted, but with the wizard class already the core spell caster in game terms, these spells should really just be part of the wizard lists.  If you can agree to that, then one is left with a fighter, on a mission from god, with weapon restrictions from that deity, that can turn the undead.

Turning Undead
In order to turn the undead the cleric must present a holy symbol.  So in game terms, isn't the power over the undead really the result of ownership of a holy symbol or blessed relic?  That being the case couldn't anyone/ or any class use it?  Of course they could, but the cleric gets a bonus to do so and in game terms is the only class that can do it.  This ability, based on presentation of a holy symbol, is something any character could do, just like picking a lock, or sneaking around.  The limit or effectiveness would be based on the power of the holy symbol, perhaps varying ranges of Holy Symbols +1 through +5, or better yet specialized symbols or artifacts that effect specific undead types.  Far more interesting in terms of game play.

Weapon Restrictions
Weapon restrictions based on deity are not something that requires a class distinction so much as it is part of a character concept.  Dwarves are fond of axes and hammers, elves bows, and perhaps due to regional or clan religion there is a ban on ranged weapons, or edged weapons.  It is an interesting concept for a character, but not something that requires a specialized class.

Van Helsing
If you think of the recent Van Helsing film, he was a fighting man in service to the church.  The church supplied him with the tools/weapons and hireling necessary to fight the undead.  He did not cast spells (any more so than did Peter Cushing's Van Helsing) he was simply armed and equipped by the church to battle a specific monster threat.

In effect Van Helsing is just a fighter, on a mission, given tools by his employer to accomplish the mission he is hired to do.  Using the Van Helsing reference, and comparing the Cleric class to the thief the cleric class unnecessary?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"...and then what happended?"

In most forms of entertainment there is a finite resolution.  Books, Movies, TV series, board games, video games, card games, etc.-they all have in common a definitive end at some point.  Role playing is different though as there is no clear winner and the adventures never need end.  Even if a character dies, a new one can be created and can join right in.

It's the rare entertainment though that leaves one with a "...and then what happened?" ending.  By "...and then what happened?" I mean there is no clear resolution and a sense of leaving to the individual's own mind the possible resolutions.  I don;t know if this is possible in RPG's but I am intrigued at the potential.  I guess a campaign is really an extended "...and then what happened?" Yet I've never refereed or played one that really left me with that feeling. Is it possible?

For example,  did Clint Eastwood survive the swim in Escape from Alcatraz or not?  At the end of the first star wars film (1977) does Vader live? die? become a renegade?  (as an aside I remember long debates in grade school (before Empire Strikes Back) about what happened to Vader and the Empire at the end of Star Wars and frankly I still think our ideas at 8 or 9 were better than Lucas')  My point is that not resolving everything (what was in the case in Pulp Fiction?) and leaving it to individuals to ponder or resolve is a rare event in entertainment.

You probably missed it, but this week was the end of the second "THE COLONY" experiment, and it was an ending that my wife and I are still discussing.  We did not discuss the end of BSG or Lost for more than a day and frankly both of those were completely lame in comparison to how THE COLONY ended.

THE COLONY is a show on the Discovery channel that pre-supposes a global pandemic causes the breakdown of civilization.  Into this setting a group of individuals is put together and for 50 days and tries to survive.  Through the days they must find food, scavenge equipment, defend themselves from hostiles, make moral decisions over helping others and in general just try to survive.  It is an extremely interesting show not only from the "survival" aspect but from the civilization versus self preservation difficulties and moral questions that arise.  For example food and clean a water are limited, and your group of 12 has enough for maybe 3 or 4 days...and then a group of 12 women and children come by begging for food and water outside your shelter: Do you help them? Do you keep it all for your own group? If you do give it away will news of that get around to other people? What happens to you if everyone scavenging in the wild thinks you have food and decides to try and come take it? Will you be able to replenish the stock you give away?

In season 2 the scenario is: After a global pandemic wipes out most people, the uninfected colonist are dropped off in a government safe area by a group known as VOPA.  (VIRAL OUTBREAK PROTECTION AGENCY)..and then kind of abandoned to survive with a bit of food and a few supplies. VOPA appears randomly as do raiders, traders, and other interesting twists.  All the while the colonist try to survive and improve their daily lives.

...and while season 1 and 2 are both good, Season 2 is far and away a better show.  For those who intend on renting or buying the DVD's of the series or finding them online to watch, please stop reading here.  All I will says is the series, and the ending in particular, will keep you off balance and discussing "...and then what happened?"

SPOILER: At the end of Season 2 the Colonist find and raid the enemy camp, make off with some supplies and decide to evacuate to a previously discovered and unoccupied fishing house in a fan boat they constructed.  The destination house is right on the water, has a dock and is undamaged.  Easy food and clean water available and no one else around!

After the raid as they are packing to board the boat VOPA suddenly arrives in 3 or 4 black Suburbans.  One man gets out and says he can take TWO of the group to a safe area where they will have meals and treatment and be protected...who wants to go?  VOPA's previous involvement was about zero so this is a shock to the colonists, and despite all the vehicles the can only take two colonists because the rest are filled with agents...its odd to say the least.  So one woman colonist (and only one) agrees to go.  As the vehicles drive off, you hear the sound of aerosol spray cans  and the woman screaming while the vehicles leave the encampment. 

Cut to the Colonists camp suddenly being counter attacked by raiders.  The colonist hurriedly get onto their boat and take off.  Then you get the normal fly over scenes of their ragged boat cutting through the water in the sunlight. Now comes the camera face time for each colonist about "what they learned" and then a pan shot of the boat and colonists faces as they approach their safe house.  You see smiles and the Colonist faces as they see the house..and then suddenly smiles change to fear and or two guys pick up their makeshift weapons, and the camera pans 180 to the house again...a group of armed raiders comes charging out of the house and on to the dock threatening the colonists...then the screen goes black....and then what happened??

It's rare when you are left hanging and get so many plot twists at the very end of a TV season that will never be resolved.  There is something about the inherent gritty nature, moral quandaries and surprise plot twits in this series, and in most PA material (not of the radiated mutant variety) that is intriguing.  If you enjoy it as well, The Colony is good show for you to explore.