Some Ideas from the baltic

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  • #2561
    JackG
    Participant

    I’ll go into greater detail on why we thought of these things later, but these are some ideas the group has been mulling over and thinking about. That we think would really compliment the codex feel. To be honest most of them are more about comunicating the narative of what is going on efficiently to the players. Especially the damage ideas. They really liked wrathful strike as a concept but thought why not just be able to spend dice in damage like in aiming. Personally I find that a very simple idea that is quite in keeping with the logic of the system. Basically it comes down to anything codex original was thumbs up… anything that smelled anything like 3.5 got grimaces and groans.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oebuY2fIKDg0JytddS0QgmnkZJuumwYvvZrHrMGzP10/edit?usp=sharing

    #2563
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    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.

    #2566
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    The overall philosophy of Codex, especially the combat part, is to allow the player to partially manage the chaos of combat. The chaos is meant to always be there, it’s nigh impossible to fully eliminate that in almost any kind of real fight, but if you are skilled and use the right strategy, you can manage it so as to minimize your own risks and maximize the peril experienced by your opponent. This is how the tabletop RPG gets us closer to what a street fight or a good intense fencing match is like from my experience.

    This is partially reflected by the core mechanic – the “Roll Many / Keep One” modified dice pool of the Martial Pool. I spent a lot of time looking at other systems – percentile base, conventional dice pool with target numbers, regular D20, D6, etc. etc. What I wanted was the widest possible variation in potential outcomes, without being enslaved to a flat probability curve the way you are in a percentile dice system. After doing the weapons encyclopedia for a Riddle of Steel book, I concluded that D10 or D12 dice pools offer too little variation. Everything had basically a DC 7 or 8, or else the system kind of breaks. A DC 9 means it almost never works while a DC 6 is a super weapon. Ultimately all the weapons become very similar.

    With DnD it’s even worse of course, since the only way to differentiate a weapon is through damage.

    A real fight has a wide range of possibility for any given moment, as wide as your perception and your imagination within the limits of the physical body. I felt that on a tabletop, where you are using physical dice, this was best reflected with a small number of D20s. It can’t be eight or ten of them like in a regular dice pool, because it’s too hard to ‘read’ that many 20 sided dice instantly. That is one of the reasons the Martial Pool is limited to four MP. This also matches Joachim Meyers admonition to make no more than four strikes in Krieg, because after that you are running out of ideas.

    This 20 sided dice mechanic is used, as much as possible, with some consistency throughout the system. You always want to roll high. When there are ‘human complexity’ level probabilities involved, (like for a skill check) you use the wide variance of the D20 instead of a smaller die roll.

    I think any ‘reforms’ should try to adhere to this philosophy, and try to be relatively consistent in how the dice are used. If that makes any sense.

    #2569
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    I think in a real fight, there is a certain thrill in knowing you are entering the chaos, and harnessing it to your own skill and your own luck. It’s the same for risky sports and play like skateboarding or say, climbing up the side of a building. Or riding a horse fast through the open country. You are always up against the risks, but you can organize things (through a variety of means) so that you are making it a calculated or manageable risk, which is something I came to love as a young man, and still do.

    And this is what I was aiming for with Codex.

    #2575
    JackG
    Participant

    “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.”

    The issue with hitpoints is
    A) no feedback to the player, a succeeded or failed constitution check tells a story about what happened “the bear takes 10 damage” does not tell a compelling story of what happened. One player just did something but in effect nothing happened, the player then feels powerless.
    B) All or nothing, there are only two possible outcomes… nothing, or completely over.
    C) increased system load. You already have dice pools that are cool and adding and managing this resource is core game and the funnest bit of it. Hitpoints take you away from the fun bits of the game that use easy amounts that can be held in the head (1-5) and add a resource that is trickier to handle and requires pen and paper book-keeping (1-50)

    We both know toughness and ability to take damage vary between players, people and luck. People can take insane damage and keep going or drop from nothing. I agree hitpoints can do that, but they can become very math based. I’m always pro simple and close to reality and to me that’s how it works usually – someone gets hurt – they are either tough enough to keep going or it effects them, the tougher they are the less it effects them.

    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!)

    Not quite, you get free dice pools to use in the check equal to your skills in that level. Take “rucking”, if the character has 1 level in rucking they get a free dice to use to roll the check every time they make the check, if they hike hard in the morning and again in the afternoon they get a free dice every time. For the soft courtier with no rucking skill just doing it will cost two daily dice and make the player then search for a good place to rest where they can get their dice back. Characters with “fight” 3 would get 3 MP dice per round and could then use their daily dice for MP as well or for soaking damage. The group liked the feel of combat having resource management, but missed having it in non combat.

    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)

    Yeah we like the concept, but wanted it to be a bigger part of the game. Now it only matters for your hitpoints and therefor only if you lose hitpoints.

    #2579
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    The issue with hitpoints is
    A) no feedback to the player, a succeeded or failed constitution check tells a story about what happened “the bear takes 10 damage” does not tell a compelling story of what happened. One player just did something but in effect nothing happened, the player then feels powerless.
    B) All or nothing, there are only two possible outcomes… nothing, or completely over.
    C) increased system load. You already have dice pools that are cool and adding and managing this resource is core game and the funnest bit of it. Hitpoints take you away from the fun bits of the game that use easy amounts that can be held in the head (1-5) and add a resource that is trickier to handle and requires pen and paper book-keeping (1-50)

    We both know toughness and ability to take damage vary between players, people and luck. People can take insane damage and keep going or drop from nothing. I agree hitpoints can do that, but they can become very math based. I’m always pro simple and close to reality and to me that’s how it works usually – someone gets hurt – they are either tough enough to keep going or it effects them, the tougher they are the less it effects them.

    Hit Points are one of those big dividing lines between DnD people and non DnD people. I am personally not ‘brand loyal’, in that I see the problem with Hit Points, but I don’t think it’s actually a mechanics problem, it’s just ‘power creep’ and ‘fan service’, i.e. when they give out too many of them.

    What you are describing above will just introduce a lot more die rolls to a combat (for each PC or NPC involved in fighting) and while yeah, I can see that ‘You did 8 HP damage’ isn’t as exciting as ‘Oh! you caused a wound. Let me see how bad, Oh! I rolled a bad injury, he’s insta-dead, or bleeeding out, or etc.

    When you are managing a battle with 8-10 combatants tracking all those rates of bleeding is going to become a chore, and the extra 10-15 die rolls every round are going to start to get a little repetitive. One thing I really wanted to do with Codex is make the combat fairly quick and not have to roll the dice too many times.

    Yes, Hit Points follow a different mechanic than the Martial Pool, but so what? I don’t think you can do the whole game with a single mechanic. What can I say, I prefer Bridge to Blackjack. As long as you don’t have tons of healing potions and healing spells and power-ups and all that crap to keep track of, and as long as all the guys only have 30 Hit Points anyway, I don’t think it’s a lot of math or book keeping. You do need a piece of scrap paper during combat, to record everyones initiative ordeer and your NPCs (remainig) Hit Points, but I don’t think that is a huge burden.

    Not quite, you get free dice pools to use in the check equal to your skills in that level. Take “rucking”, if the character has 1 level in rucking they get a free dice to use to roll the check every time they make the check, if they hike hard in the morning and again in the afternoon they get a free dice every time. For the soft courtier with no rucking skill just doing it will cost two daily dice and make the player then search for a good place to rest where they can get their dice back. Characters with “fight” 3 would get 3 MP dice per round and could then use their daily dice for MP as well or for soaking damage. The group liked the feel of combat having resource management, but missed having it in non combat.

    Well, Ok but that idea of using skills you don’t have only works to a point. Effectively I guess it would really be an ability score check in that case. But for more trained skills, the DC should be set pretty high for untrained professional skills. Somebody who has never used a cannon and has no skill with gunpowder really shouldn’t try to load the cannon, for example. I’d say same for someone who has never sailed a boat.

    I like making everything as interesting of a mechanic (and as much of a game within the game) as is reasonable, but my goal in running a campaign, which is reflected in the campaign material we are putting out so far (Players Guide and Monsterberg) the goal is actually what some people call ‘Immersionist’, not ‘Gameist’ or ‘Simulationist’ or ‘Narrativist’ per GNS theory, which I loathe by the way.

    It does take a little getting used to the combat system, but once you get it, it flows naturally. I think the rest of the system is easy to follow. And the goal is to allow you to feel like you are part of the world created by your GM, so that you can immerse yourself in it, feel the fear, the tension, the excitement and the elation when you pull something off. Because it’s not meant to be too easy, or too cute. It’s just meant to feel real and plausible enough that you don’t have to try too extra hard to just become part of it. If that makes any sense. So for this reason, pure elegance (or consistency) of mechanics takes a back seat to ease / simplicity of play and an overall sense of plausibility.

    And I really have no problem with Hit Points at all. 😛

    #2582
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    That said, Codex is meant to be highly customizable (perhaps to a fault). So if you prefer to use something like the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay method for tracking wounds as a customization or houserule, by all means do so.

    Personally, for me, per the immersionist concept, I like to narrate the effects of a hit a bit – “Your shot just nicked his leg, tearing a hole in his pants” (2 HP damage) or “Your ax cut deep into his shoulder, as he yelps in pain!” (12 HP damage)

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