Monday, June 27, 2016

Miss Points V

In response to last week's game, I started looking at the basic monster crit table, Table M. What I noticed is that it is almost a Death, Dismemberment, and Injury (DDI) table in reverse. It uses a range of 1 through 30, and the higher the result the more devastating the critical hit for the monster. The DDI uses 3d6 for a range of 3 through 18, and the lower the result the more disastrous the effect.

This makes sense (to me) as in the first instance (Crit Table M), you are following up on a critical hit so you want to encourage the higher-is-better mode. In addition, it allowed the designers to play with the results and base the die used to on Crit Table M to be based on the Hit Dice of the creature making the attack. In the second instance (DDI), the Player Character has reached 0 Hit/Miss Points - it's the end of the line and so lower is worse enforces the "fumble" nature of the table.

This lead me to consider essentially combining these tables. This way, when a monster crits, it is as if for that attack they have bypassed all of the Player Character's ability to avoid a major's the same as if the PC were at 0 Hit/Miss Points.

First, I attempted to classify the Table M results to see how they lined up with the DDI Table. That did not go quite as planned. The DDI table has 7 categories, including two that would not be in a crit table as they are somewhat beneficial. Crit Table M has at least 9 or 10, depending on how one looks at the descriptions. Crit Table M also includes more descriptive results (of course) and effects for which I had not accounted. However, after some gyrations and figuring, I ended up with 9 categories that ranged from Effect (like "Prone" or "Disarmed") to Death - all in a relatively orderly increase in consequences. The full breakdown looks something like this:

Next, I altered the DDI table to include the new categories - essentially adding spaces for those instances where it was a wound with an additional effect. The challenge here was reevaluating the results portion. I wanted to keep 3d6, or at least some combination of dice, to provide less linear results. I also wanted to keep decent proportions so that results clustered around the middle of the table. The effort looks like this:

It looks like it is working. I didn't have to change too much in the DDI table - and in fact I feel the additional categories, as they gain more details and better descriptions, will actually add to the enjoyment of this approach. See that green? That's the "sweet" spot. There is a roughly 80% chance that's where you're going to roll. This means getting down to 0 hit points isn't automatically a death sentence - though it could be. The challenge is that if you stay there, as you can see in column 5 - Effects of Multiples - things are going to start piling up. This, to me, is an opportunity for interesting decision-making in combat...should I stay or should I go? Is it worth it to use Step Back?

Unfortunately, this was as far as I was able to get before our game this past Saturday. But I had these two tables which was enough to go on - I figured if something came up I'd just use these and wing it. We did end up with an opponent scoring a critical hit on a PC (ironically the same opponent in the same room as last time - just from a different direction and a different PC) - I rolled a d8 (for a 2HD creature) which resulted in a 3. So the PC was knocked prone - right in the doorway/entrance to the room - meaning all of the other characters who needed to get by, either to help or flee, had to dance around their prone compatriot. But there were no characters getting to 0 HP/MP, so we didn't test it from the other direction.

There was one other general change I incorporated on the fly. I ruled that in the initial round after combat, if PC's declare it, they can forgo all actions for that round (searching bodies, searching the room, etc.) and get one Recovery Die (remember, that's half of the class hit die for the character) back. This is to simulate that moment of recollecting your wits, catching your breath, and refocusing. It seemed to work well.

All in all a fun game on Saturday - the lone wizard left in the group finally got to experience the joy of Color Spray and what it can do to multiple opponents. Unfortunately for her, she then rolled a 1 on a very important spell check after spell-burning 12 points. Ahh...the life (and death) of the wizard...

We won't play for a couple of weeks, but in the interim I'm going to start the arduous task of bringing the descriptive force of Table M into the DDI in the hopes of getting one basic table from which either Crits or DDI can draw. After that, I'll be looking at the other monster crit tables like G (giants) - which is deadly as hell.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Miss Points IV - After Action Report II

The bad news is, we didn't get a ton of gaming done this week. The good news is that we did not because our friends are awesome.

My birthday was a week ago. It was one of those birthdays that is considered a major milestone of sorts - that being I'm old. We did not game the week before due to some family obligations. So our friends, who make up 40% of our group, decided to go all out for me this weekend.

First, this little side trip. We have cats. Those cats are outdoor cats. They have claws. Those cats were in our backyard when a neighborhood dog of the large white husky variety got loose and came bounding into the same backyard. One cat bolted while the other seemed to try not to draw attention and slinked away. The dog took the bait chasing the sprinting cat for about three steps when that feline disappeared into some brush. He then turned his attention to the fat waddling ball of fur skulking away - and the chase was on. I have never seen that overweight piece of hate move so fast. He was up a tree in a flash. Did he stop at the first branch? Nah...too easy - and that dog might have super powers that allow him to hover! Second Branch? Nah...the dog might even be able to climb trees himself! No...that quivering mass of anger went up to the third branch...a good 18 to 20 feet up.

Then he realized he was not going to get down on his own...and started that mournful, plaintive wail. While it was Mozart to my ears, my wife and kids were not so pleased. For some reason, they like that blubber-bound spawn of satan. After much consternation - which is a nice way of saying me swearing at my wife, my kids, and that plump beast, I finally got him stuffed in a pillowcase and out of the tree without either of us dying.

Our friends arrived about an hour later. They not only brought my favorite stuffed mushrooms and peppers (no...seriously..these things are unreal), my friend +Paul Kelley made a cake....from scratch...I mean really from scratch. And he went all out...

But he didn't make me just one d20 Cake...he made two!

I'm not doing these justice. The top one...he actually made the mold for the d20 by himself out of cardboard and aluminum foil! He built it in two pieces. Then he made some physics-defying icing out of white chocolate and gelatin and then "enrobed" the cake - all so it would look like a d20. Amazing.

Suffice it to say, we spent quite a bit of time just eating and talking. We started with the "appetizers" (which really were just dinner) and spent about an hour eating. Then we finally got down to gaming. As is typical, that was another half hour of remembering where we left off and exactly what had happened so far. Even with a map and better notes, it still takes some time to reorient.

There were three events that had the potential to engage the Miss Point system.

First, a minor skirmish in which our intrepid stumblebums actually used some tactics and were able to dispatch the challenge rather quickly (I also began the streak of rolling for crap!). So no Miss Points to worry about here.

Second, a pit trap. Saves were failed and into the pit she went. However, it brings up an interesting question - are traps miss points? How do they work in the damage system? For the moment, I treated them like any other attempt to strike in combat. That is, the character took 6 points from her Hit/Miss points, and I narrated that she was able to land without major injury and just avoid impaling herself on spikes.

Third, a more significant combat even though it lasted but a round as one opponent rolled a crit against a character (my only good roll of the night!). I ruled that the crit would take away Hit/Miss points, but also force a roll on the nasty Death, Dismemberment, and Injury table. He rolled a d6 three times. First roll: 1. Second Roll: 1. I thought for sure the character was going to die. Third Roll: 5, for a total of 7 - Major Injury! The 50/50 chance indicated the injury affected movement - so I narrated it that the creature was able to hamstring the character. Everyone freaked out. The other two nearby characters basically tackled the injured character, allowing their opponents a free attack, but successfully hustling the injured character through the door, shutting it behind them.

They dragged the hamstrung character to a comfortable spot where a cleric of like alignment attempted Miraculous Healing (Lay Hands On). I allowed one point of spell burn (which we discussed briefly what that meant for her god) and she rolled...a total of 18! So she was able to cover the 3hd equivalent necessary to heal a major wound (see the chart). Using all of this info I narrated how they were all stunned as they watched the pieces of hamstring weave themselves back together followed by the wound closing up leaving just a scar.

We decided it was a good place to break for cake. Cake that was so filling by the time we were done, we were all in a sugar/carb induced coma. So we quit for the night.

Free RPG Day 2016

Just a quick take on the Free RPG Day 2016. This time, Joseph Goodman forced me into the situation where I had to bring along my entire family. Why? Well...

While Goodman Games put out one item for Free RPG Day 2016, it was actually several different things for me to acquire - because he put a different cover on them; five different covers to be exact. This meant I had to get five things. The only barrier being that the rule at Games Plus (I'm not sure what it is elsewhere) is two items per person.

Since last week was my birthday, and the day after Free RPG Day 2016 was Father's Day, I had a little pull within the family unit. So my son and I drove down early in the morning (Games Plus opens at 10:00 AM on Saturdays - we were there somewhat earlier) and started the line. A while later, my wife and daughter joined us. However, being conscientious of others in line, they went to the end of the line.

Now there were four of us! This meant we could get up to eight things! 8 > 5! I win!

So it was that we were able to grab one of each of the covers...and a couple extra for good measure. But the last item I received was a die - I was worried that there might not be too many more of the Goodman Games items and I didn't want to clean them out. Turns out, they hadn't unpacked everything - so there was plenty to go around.

I know this because, aside from FREE STUFF, one of the reasons I go to Free RPG Day is to support Games Plus. I've been going to Games Plus since it was on the other side of the tracks (something like 35 years or however long they've been open). It truly is one of the great FLGS left in the country.

So we stayed and shopped for about an hour or so. My daughter, who is slowly getting a couple of her friends into playing, bought them each a set of dice and a little dice bag. My wife found a set of dice she has deemed the "Captain Amercia Set". My son decided he wanted to pull the trigger on a starter set for Flames of War. I found a couple of old d20 books on deities and cults and such - as that is something I'm focusing on developing for our little campaign world - for only a couple of bucks each.

So this was our final tally for Free RPG Day 2016 (minus the d20 books which I forgot to get in the pic):

I wish I could have stayed to play or run something - but we had friends coming over later on Saturday to play DCC in what is becoming our regular Saturday Night Game...more on that later.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Miss Points III - After Action Report

We finally saw some combat, so I wanted to take a moment to give a quick after-action report.

Our intrepid adventurers only made it through the first few encounters of this location. Because of some bad planning, however, my daughter's character got caught out alone approaching the front door. The battle/mad-dash-back-to-her-group that ensued caused her character Ella to face two opponents alone for a couple of rounds.

She was quickly reduced to 0 HP/MP (actually, she was reduced to -10...but not with these rules!) We consulted the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury chart. She rolled a 12 - Minor Injury! I asked her to roll a d6 to see if it affected movement - a one in six chance. She rolled a 1 - so movement was affected by the injury. I used these results to narrate how her opponents the large sword crashed flat side of the blade into her lower leg, breaking her tibia.

In the second round, one of the opponents was wrapped in a rope (Rope Trick FTW!) so only one could attempt strike her - and it was successful. Since she was still at 0 HP, instead of damage, we again consulted the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury chart. This time she rolled a 15! Lucky Girl! This meant she was stunned. A couple of d6 rolls to determine if she was knocked down - she was - and/or knocked out - she was not. Again using the results to narrate, I described how the weapon crashed awkwardly into her helmet and brained her but good.

So when her group finally caught up to her and dispatched the opponents, she was lying on the ground, head shaken, with a broken leg.

This is where things got dicey. At the last minute, to mesh these rules with DCC (they were originally written for a 0E-ish game) I added the column representing the number if dice needed in a Lay Hands On attempt in order to heal each category of injury. We have two clerics in the party - one of them the character that had just been injured. Between that and the rule book, there were three different sets of numbers for Lay Hands on results - each character sheet was different and both were different than the rules. I sorted it out and we proceeded.

The first attempt failed. But the second attempt - a bit later - did the trick and her bones were miraculously mended.

Thoughts: it did not slow down play at all in the midst of battle. What caused us more of an issue was the recovery aspects. There were other basic HP loss situations that occurred with other characters in the next few encounters - but they soon reached a point to barricade for an hour and rest, so they all got a recovery die back for that. The largest question I see is - between miraculous healing of injuries and complete rest - how fast does one regain hit/miss points? What does it take? That's what I'm kicking around at the moment....