Reply To: Some Ideas from the baltic

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Hans Hellinger

Regarding Wrathful Strike
I think spending (unlimited) extra dice to automatically cause extra damage will ‘break’ the combat system by making it too easy to rack up damage, which will get to the point that armor won’t really protect any more for example. We had a rule similar to this years ago and that was what happened. Having the random possibility of extra damage such as by putting multiple dice into an attack works out differently, because there is always a risk it won’t pay off – in fact it usually won’t. Your best chance is about 20% with four dice, 25% with five.

If you can automatically put out say 5d12 damage every round, almost any opponent even in good armor will be annihilated very quickly, which I don’t think is realistic. You can still do more damage by attacking more often or doing multi-die attacks and getting critical hits, but that way you must still contend with the random element and the attendant risk, which is always there in a real fight.

So for me, and for the default rules, I think Wrathful Strike should remain limited. However, if you think this variation might work in your campaign, I’d say by all means definitely try it out (either in your campaign or in some test fights) and see how it goes (and let us know).

“Damage Reform”
I’m not a fan of this for Codex, especially the critical hits based on damage dice. It would dramatically increase the rate of instant death, debilitating wounds and wounds you have to track, which means a lot more overhead for players. It also will make for a much more lethal game, which could be fun, but I think there are easier ways to do that (like just reduce the maximum number of Hit Points). This seems like a more complicated way to make fighting a lot more lethal, almost to Riddle of Steel levels, which I suspect a lot of players wouldn’t like too much (assuming it applied to PCs as well as NPCs). It’s an interesting mechanic, and I have seen something similar (I think Goodman Games does a dice mechanic something kind of like this with their version of DnD) but I don’t like it for Codex.

Early in the design of Codex combat system, I considered the damage by attack type option, but as you encountered, you still have the issue of differentiating weapons. A hatchet and a bardiche can both cut, but a bardiche can cut a horse in half. However, just because it can, doesn’t mean it will every third time you use it. If you differentiate a bardiche from a hatchet by giving it an automatic +4 damage, then your damage threshold becomes much higher, though the variation is relatively low. It becomes 5-15 damage instead of 1-10. A bardiche is a horrifying weapon but no weapon automatically causes serious wounds every time you attempt to use it.

I also think Slashing (draw cuts) can potentially do the most damage of the four attack types though they are the least effective against any kind of metal armor.

I submit this depiction of flensing poles in use on whales as evidence

By reducing the differentiation to a +1, +2, +3, +4 etc., you are basically assuming that no matter how you attack somebody with a Berdiche, (or any badass weapon) it’s going to automatically do substantial damage. I don’t think that’s realistic – sometimes you clothing protects you, sometimes (based on historical accounts) you just suffer minor wounds ever from very scary weapons. I can start providing some examples.

Though it is a bit confusing to give a different damage dice to each weapon, while using a wound-type model for Critical hits, I think this system which Codex in fact uses is the best balance between giving the individual weapon unique capability, while also recognizing that a wildly successful attack with almost any kind of weapon becomes effectively similar beyond a certain point.

Some weapon types are also easier to cause serious damage with, i.e. with less skill, like say a framing hammer; while some can cause much more damage in the hands of a skilled practitioner, like a sword. This is why I give a lot of blunt weapons very high base damage ratings, without necessarily the best fighting stats. Your sword is more likely to give you that Artful Strike.

Regarding ditching or replacing Hit Points
I don’t think that is necessary. So many games submerged themselves in the murk of delving deeper and ever deeper into modeling wounds and damage effects, hit locations and so on, most of which doesn’t matter in a real fight and is hard to control anyway. If you wound someone severely enough, as in badly enough to sever a limb say, or run them through, they are probably going to die. The fight is about injuring the other person or people, and avoiding serious injury yourself.

For me Hit Points are only a problem when somebody has so many of them that they are nigh invulnerable (ala most versions of DnD, at higher levels). Codex has a Severe wound system, which I think lets you model the maiming type injuries (if you want to) pretty well. But most of the fun (for me) is in the fight, in the part leading up to the significant wounds.

Daily Dice Pools
There is already a rule for Free Dice based on Temperament which can be used for combat or skill checks, though they are not required for either. This is layered in as a bonus over the normal game mechanics in other words. If I’m reading your thing correctly a PC would only be able to fight once in a day or use skills until resting again? I think that is a bit draconian! I’ve been in a fight more than once in a day, I think most people in their jobs have to use their skills once in a day (unless they have really good hipster jobs!)

REST Check
There already is a Rest system in the Players Guide, which I think is a bit less complicated (one chart to look at and one die roll needed for wound recovery only)

There already is a Navigation skill.

There already is a mechanism for buying Skills via experience points, though using Practice and die roll successes is used in other systems. I also added a rule for making up new skills.

There are already a couple of skills similar to ‘rough living’, Bushcraft for example, though I kind of like the idea of that as a skill for being able to adapt to field conditions, so to speak.

Rucking looks like a good skill – I especially find the ‘complications.’ Amusing!

Overall, I think I have a couple of game designers in this playtest group so it’s natural lots of new ideas bubble up. Some of these would probably work well in another game, some might be good house rules for your group, some I am highly dubious of. But it’s good to think these things through, and some are probably worth testing.