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Ability/Defense Paradigm

 
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2005 8:44 pm    Post subject: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Basically this system is a step towards a more ability oriented system. The idea is to create an extensible system of abilities, while allowing high level abilities to still exist.

Ability Tier:Each ability will have a "tier" to it, whcih is a general level of effectiveness. A tier is some number. So an ability may look like Fire bolt - 2, this means firebolt at tier 2.

Abilities Overview:There will be offensive abilities and defensive abilities. The key paradigm is that you can have potentially infinite new offensive abilities, but the number of defensive abilities remain finite.

Offensive Abilities: Offensive abilities do something that didn't happen before. This could be something like damaging your opponent, giving you a bonus against your opponent, allowing you to tumble past someone and ignore an AoO, or conjuring a wall on the battlefield. Each offensive ability has a pointer to a defensive ability which nullifies it.

Defensive Abilities: Defensive abilities stop offensive abilities from having any effect. So you could take no damage from someone's fireball, automatically shrug off their domination, or prevent them from denying you an AoO from tumbling. They're used automatically and if you have a sufficient tier, then the offensive ability cannot be used or is reduced in effect.

The Counter System: Basically the idea is that every offensive ability has one of the defensive abilities as a nullifier. Depending on the difference in tier of the defensive and offensive, the offensive ability may be degraded or nullified. So for instance if you had fire resistance- 3 versus fireball -2, your fire resistance may totally nullify the attack. Fire resistance-2 versus fireball-2 may reduce it somewhat. Fire resistance-1 versus fireball-2 would have no effect. I haven't exactly decided how effective I want each tier difference to be yet, but it will be as uniform as possible when completed.

And you'd have defenses for various things, so your defense called Iron will might resist domination, fear and psiblasts and so on. So you'd have an ability called tumble which is negated by combat reflexes. An ability called weapon spec which is negated by a defense called parry, and so on. It wouldn't actually cost an action to use any of the defenses.

Gaining Abilities:
As far as getting these abilities, they are handed out in a non-linear fashion. That is, the DM will just simply say: "You gain a Tier 3 ability of your choice".

and not:
"you gain 1 point to gain a new ability at level 1 or increaes an ability one tier."

You can set up different ability tier increasing schemes as well, but the key principle is that you never get to choose between upgrading a level 3 ability to a level 4 and taking a new level 1 ability.

Now I'm not sure if defensive abilities should be part of a separate choice pool than offensive ones or not. Offhand it doesn't seem all that bad if someone has all offense or all defense, so I'm not sure if it's necessary to differentiate.

So are there any obvious flaws to this system?

What are your thoughts?
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Essence
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:19 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A character who takes all of the defensive abilities (some finite number) has in theory the ability to negate all of the offensive abilities (an infinite number).

On a more Maj-induced note:
If you have X defenses, then really, you have X offenses. It doesn't matter what they're called or the precise mechanics: the most important part of an offense is which defense it targets. You literally always have an infinite variety of offensive abilities, in that "swing an axe" is a seperate ability from "swing a chair", and "3d6 Fireball" is different from "4d6 Fireball". The only question is 'which defense does this guy NOT have, and how can I get an attack that targets that defense?'
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Absentminded_Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:36 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I agree with Essence. If you have a finite number of defenses, then mechanically you only have that same finite number of categories of offenses. All these differences that make up your potentially infinite number of offenses are just flavor text.

Also, is there any coherent way for the GM to determine when it is appropriate for a character to gain a Tier 3 ability vs. a Tier 1 ability? Or does he just flip a coin/roll a die/read tea leaves?
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:42 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Essence wrote:
A character who takes all of the defensive abilities (some finite number) has in theory the ability to negate all of the offensive abilities (an infinite number).

Well, this is where the tiers come in. A character is never going to get all defenses at top tier.

You're going to be looking at something like.
- Choose 3 tier 3 abilities.
- Choose 3 tier 2 abilities.
- Choose 5 tier 1 abilities.

For character creation. So yeah you could take a ton of defenses, but only a few of those are going to be absolute, the rest will be breachable by someone who specializes in a given attack form. So if you've taken fire resistance-1 for instance, it won't do you much good against the guy with fireball-3.

And generally when PCs have gained so many abilities that they're getting close to collecting them all or almost all, then you just move things to the next tier. So monsters with fireball-4 start showing up. That's an effort to constantly be extending the system. PCs then start learning tier-4 abilities and so on.

Quote:

If you have X defenses, then really, you have X offenses. It doesn't matter what they're called or the precise mechanics: the most important part of an offense is which defense it targets.

That's true. Though there are more to offenses than just what defensive ability it goes against. Range, number of targets, secondary status effects, casting cost, effect bonuses, activation time, and so on. So you could have firebolt as a short range fire attack and fireball as a long range area attack. Firebolt might be more accurate or more damaging or whatever though.

But the idea is that you can get all sorts of different variations on an attack.

Also, since I'll likely be basing this on a SAME system or at least something similar, you'll have a SA based fire attack and a ME based fire attack too.

I don't really forsee running out of potential attack types.

Quote:

Also, is there any coherent way for the GM to determine when it is appropriate for a character to gain a Tier 3 ability vs. a Tier 1 ability? Or does he just flip a coin/roll a die/read tea leaves?


Basically it's just a matter of preference. So long as everyone gets the same ability and tier, there shouldn't be any problem as far as I can tell. Generally you should also be getting abilities in a 3 tier span. If you've gto tier 5 abilities, the DM shouldn't be handing out tier 1s at all, since they're not very competetive at that stage.

Besides that I don't really think it matters. It'd be fairly easy to come up with a system. Something like low tier, middle tier, low tier, highest tier, repeat. Or something similar. But as long as everyone gets the same number of abilities, it should work out any way you do it.
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Essence
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:55 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The issue isn't the number of variations you can make on an attack. The issue is that, literally, the only important part of an attack, from a powergamer's PoV, is what defense it targets. As long as there are several different defenses to target, it is always to the player's benefit to be able to target every one of them and never to his benefit to try to defend against them.

Just like Frank's been saying for the past year.
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 5:32 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Essence wrote:
The issue isn't the number of variations you can make on an attack. The issue is that, literally, the only important part of an attack, from a powergamer's PoV, is what defense it targets. As long as there are several different defenses to target, it is always to the player's benefit to be able to target every one of them and never to his benefit to try to defend against them.


This doesn't seem to make much sense to me, at least not under this system.

Suppose a character took all offenses. So he has firebolt-3, icebolt-3, swordfocus-3, lightningbolt-2 and so on... While he can probably find something to hurt any defensive specialist, the defensive specialist can pick literally anything to hurt him since he can't defend agianst anything.

Remember that firebolt -3 doesn't have a bigger bonus to hit than firebolt -1, they both do the same damage unless the target has fire resistance. If the target has no defense at all, you're just as good with firebolt-1 as you are with firebolt-3. Firebolt-3 has no bonuses, all it means is that it can penetrate fire resistance-2 or less.

So the defensive guy can effectively use all his gimmicks against mr.offense and at all full power, while mr.offense can use some of his gimmicks at full power, but some may fail or be partially resisted. The defensive guy cannot choose wrong, the offensive guy can.

I fail to see how 100% offensive is at all better. If anything I'd think the advantage might shift to the defensive guy.
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Absentminded_Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:00 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RC wrote:
Basically it's just a matter of preference. So long as everyone gets the same ability and tier, there shouldn't be any problem as far as I can tell. Generally you should also be getting abilities in a 3 tier span. If you've gto tier 5 abilities, the DM shouldn't be handing out tier 1s at all, since they're not very competetive at that stage.


So basically it's like taking XP out of D&D, except that you don't have to worry about fixing all those spell/item XP costs, while also scaling all newly acquired abilities to an appropriate level. I like this idea. It makes it easier for people to rectify mistakes from character creation later in the campaign.

About damage: When you say that fireball 1 does the same damage if successful as fireball 3, what is this damage going to be? Instant death? Loss of x number of hit points? The first would make the game no fun, while the second risks trivializing higher-tier attacks.
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:31 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Absentminded_Wizard wrote:

So basically it's like taking XP out of D&D, except that you don't have to worry about fixing all those spell/item XP costs, while also scaling all newly acquired abilities to an appropriate level. I like this idea. It makes it easier for people to rectify mistakes from character creation later in the campaign.

Well I actually plan on using this stuff for an entirely new RPG system. But the basic concept could still be applied to a D&D game theoretically. The hardest thing about plugging it into D&D would be trying to patch it into the basic level system.

But in concept you could definitely apply it to D&D as well. Think of setting all your combat spells to having the same base damage, and repacing numeric DR style energy resistance with the energy resistance defense abilities. So burning hands could be tier 1, scorching ray and fireball could be tier 2 and so forth. You probably don't need any more than 5-6 tiers at maximum unless you delve deep into the realm of the divine.

Quote:

About damage: When you say that fireball 1 does the same damage if successful as fireball 3, what is this damage going to be? Instant death? Loss of x number of hit points? The first would make the game no fun, while the second risks trivializing higher-tier attacks.


Right now the game I have in mind is going to be using the SAME system, or at the very least some kind of derivative of that system. Damage is going to be set up pretty much exactly how Frank created the damage system. 10 wound levels, with every 2 points of failure on the soak roll dealing 1 level of damage. How much damage that is exactly is going to be determined by your strength versus their strength more or less.

Also I'm not really sure how high tier attacks would be trivialized based on how much damage is dealt. Remember that if you have enough resistance, the attack deals no damage, at all. Equal resistance might warrant a +4 or so to the soak roll, which would average 2 less health levels of damage, which is fairly significant in the wound system.

What my system here is trying to do is create a means by which you can manage high level abilities without requiring huge lists of abilities people will have. So you can potentially run a high power game by having people select 10-15 abilities or so, you just change what tier they are. Some abilities, like teleportation or flying, can be set up with a minimum tier, to designate them as high level abilities. Alternately you can simply use flavor text to designate things. At low tiers Tumble could be physical acrobatics and rolls to avoid AoOs, at high tiers it could actually be a form of teleportation, similar to Nightcrawler. Either way you do it, it should still work the same.

The basic objective is simplicity. Shorter character sheet ability lists and a set of unified mechanics to handle a counter system.

Hopefully, (assuming this system doesn't have a terminal flaw which I have yet to detect) you will get a setup where you can seamlessly depict various high and low level attacks, from a peasant waving a burning torch to Apollo firing a sun ray at someone.
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Absentminded_Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:22 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RandomCasualty wrote:
Absentminded_Wizard wrote:

So basically it's like taking XP out of D&D, except that you don't have to worry about fixing all those spell/item XP costs, while also scaling all newly acquired abilities to an appropriate level. I like this idea. It makes it easier for people to rectify mistakes from character creation later in the campaign.

Well I actually plan on using this stuff for an entirely new RPG system. But the basic concept could still be applied to a D&D game theoretically. The hardest thing about plugging it into D&D would be trying to patch it into the basic level system.


That's why I said it was like taking the XP out of D&D. I probably should have said it was like taking the traditional concept of experience/advancement points out of RPGs altogether.

Quote:


Quote:

About damage: When you say that fireball 1 does the same damage if successful as fireball 3, what is this damage going to be? Instant death? Loss of x number of hit points? The first would make the game no fun, while the second risks trivializing higher-tier attacks.


Right now the game I have in mind is going to be using the SAME system, or at the very least some kind of derivative of that system. Damage is going to be set up pretty much exactly how Frank created the damage system. 10 wound levels, with every 2 points of failure on the soak roll dealing 1 level of damage. How much damage that is exactly is going to be determined by your strength versus their strength more or less.

Also I'm not really sure how high tier attacks would be trivialized based on how much damage is dealt. Remember that if you have enough resistance, the attack deals no damage, at all. Equal resistance might warrant a +4 or so to the soak roll, which would average 2 less health levels of damage, which is fairly significant in the wound system.


If you make an attack roll, and that roll affects the damage dealt, then my objection is a non-issue.

Quote:

What my system here is trying to do is create a means by which you can manage high level abilities without requiring huge lists of abilities people will have. So you can potentially run a high power game by having people select 10-15 abilities or so, you just change what tier they are. Some abilities, like teleportation or flying, can be set up with a minimum tier, to designate them as high level abilities. Alternately you can simply use flavor text to designate things. At low tiers Tumble could be physical acrobatics and rolls to avoid AoOs, at high tiers it could actually be a form of teleportation, similar to Nightcrawler. Either way you do it, it should still work the same.

The basic objective is simplicity. Shorter character sheet ability lists and a set of unified mechanics to handle a counter system.

Hopefully, (assuming this system doesn't have a terminal flaw which I have yet to detect) you will get a setup where you can seamlessly depict various high and low level attacks, from a peasant waving a burning torch to Apollo firing a sun ray at someone.


That's a noble aspiration. One potential problem is that--since there are only a finite number of defenses--there's the possibility that by a certain level, a character can have all the defenses at a sufficient level to be completely invulnerable to peasants. It could be worse than D&D syndrome ("Those peasants with their puny little pitchforks can't harm me in in my +5 plate mail with my ring of protection to boot") in that the character can't be harmed by the peasant mob even wearing no armor. Of course, if you can manage it so that this wouldn't happen until you're getting to godlike levels, it might be okay.
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Absentminded_Wizard wrote:

That's why I said it was like taking the XP out of D&D. I probably should have said it was like taking the traditional concept of experience/advancement points out of RPGs altogether.

Indeed. I never really liked XP systems in the first place. Bunch of number crunching for no real reason. At worst it actually creates inequality among players. It's a lot easier to simply say "Give everyone the same number of abilities and the same number of stat points. Period.", it leaves a lot less to the imagination.


Quote:

That's a noble aspiration. One potential problem is that--since there are only a finite number of defenses--there's the possibility that by a certain level, a character can have all the defenses at a sufficient level to be completely invulnerable to peasants. It could be worse than D&D syndrome ("Those peasants with their puny little pitchforks can't harm me in in my +5 plate mail with my ring of protection to boot") in that the character can't be harmed by the peasant mob even wearing no armor. Of course, if you can manage it so that this wouldn't happen until you're getting to godlike levels, it might be okay.


Yeah, well how I see it, having absolute physical defenses probably won't be a PC option. Certain monsters like golems and robots may have a hardness rating that makes them immune to people without a strength based physical attack, but PCs probably won't be able to get that until they reach the god like level. Of course, if you wanted a PC to be able to play collossus, there's no reason he couldn't, you'd just have to accept as a consequence that the common people can't hurt him anymore (at least not in a fantasy setting). In a modern setting this becomes less of a problem because many of your weapons (like rocket launchers) would have an innate resistance breaching ability.

One of the advantages of physicla combat, as to not screw the fighter types, is that it'll be tough to absolutely stop. There will be lots of defenses against various physical attack gimmicks, like there's going to be a parry skill which negates the bonus from an enemy with weapon focus, combat reflexes to negate tumbling, and an awareness defense to negate flanking, and so on. There's also a once/adventure ability (possibly going to get remade to once/combat) that lets you automatically dodge any agility attack of your choice as well, so long as the opponent doesn't have a certain defense.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 6:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's a bit more than X attacks possible if you have X defenses. This is because an attack usually targets more than one defense.

Let's say that you have four defenses: Phasing, Invisible, Fire Immune, Cold Immune. This doesn't mean that you only have 4 attacks: Transdimensional, Voodoo, Ice, Fire. It means that you have 8 attacks: Transdimensional Bullet, Ethereal Fire, Dimensional Freezing, Voodoo, Fire Ball, Zone of Cold, Ice, Fire.

In short, there are attacks that target one defense, and attacks that target two defenses. Presumably, an attack that targets one defense is somehow bigger than one that targets two defenses.

So actually you have N tiers of defenses, and X defenses of each tier, and that gives you X*N attacks that target one defense, and X^2*(N-1) attacks that target two defenses, and so on up to X^N*1 defenses which target one defense from each tier.

-Frank
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Aycarus
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:07 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RandomCasualty wrote:
Right now the game I have in mind is going to be using the SAME system, or at the very least some kind of derivative of that system.


Pity. I was kind of hoping you'd be presenting that ability score-less system you've been talking about. I've been kinda wondering what something like that would look like when it's hashed out.

One thing that I'd like to note too is that the math is reasonably balanced for any hit/damage system under the following conditions:

a) Hit points are fixed at a constant value. ie. 10 in SAME

b) For every bonus the attacker receives (to his to-hit roll or damage roll) that is proportional to level, there must be a similar bonus the defender receives that is proportional to level. For example, if the attacker gets to add strength to his to-hit roll (and strength is proportional to level), the defender negates that with his agility (also similarly proportional to level). Mind you, tweaking these numbers does create different combat lengths.

Note that this has nothing to do with ability score balance, which is at least maintained in SAME as well.
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:12 am    Post subject: Re: Ability/Defense Paradigm Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Aycarus wrote:

One thing that I'd like to note too is that the math is reasonably balanced for any hit/damage system under the following conditions:

a) Hit points are fixed at a constant value. ie. 10 in SAME

b) For every bonus the attacker receives (to his to-hit roll or damage roll) that is proportional to level, there must be a similar bonus the defender receives that is proportional to level. For example, if the attacker gets to add strength to his to-hit roll (and strength is proportional to level), the defender negates that with his agility (also similarly proportional to level). Mind you, tweaking these numbers does create different combat lengths.


I'm running the SAME base system exactly as Frank created it pretty much. About the only change I am making will possibly to rename strength to "body" or something similar, since I'm going to have the amount someone can lift be determined by an ability, so I may change the stat names around to make things seem more logical.

But as far as mechanics for combat goes, AC is determined by agility, attack roll adds agility. Damage resistance uses Strength, damage dealt uses strength.
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