Friday, July 15, 2016

Miss Points VII - The Risk of Overcomplication

I was really struggling with the next step in the process. I couldn't get my brain around what I wanted to accomplish, so the "how" was difficult. The goal was to merge the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury (DDI) table with Table M - the generic monster crit table from DCC. I even went through the entire exercise of determining various effects in an attempt to get my arms around it. I think where I went wrong was in this post: "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..."

Towards that end, from the tables in that post I took the categorization off the DDI and linked it to the categorization of Table M. This allowed me to link the results of the 3d6 roll of DDI to the d30 roll of Table M. I ended up with something like this...

Two things struck me about this table. First and foremost, this complicates the DDI roll. It would require a second roll. In its proto-form, this table actually had different "secondary" die where it was needed - for example, 1d6 if you got a 5 (Major Wound + Effect), whereas you would use a d5 if you got a 7 (Major Wound). I simplified that to a d6 across the board; the thought was that this way you could designate one of the 3d6 you are already using - by color or order or something - and that would eliminate a second roll. (NOTE: As I was proofreading this, I realized this won't work. Can you see why? When rolling for DDI, you have to use 4d6 and designate one as the "follow-on" die.)

Second, there were a couple of places where the description was essentially extra hit point damage. They are a few of the greyed cells in the table above. This doesn't make sense to me in this scenario as the entire point is to eschew HP. I could think of a couple of options...collapse them (difficult because it changes the die rolls) or write different descriptions.

But something was still bothering me. As I was considering these two issues, for some reason (likely the thought of writing descriptions) memories of something I've seen Harley Stroh do at games escaped their confines and crept afore. When a player kills a creature, Harley has the player describe the manner of death. I thought, "Wow, if only there were a way..." Then it hit me. It should have hit me harder and upside the head for being an idiot. I was going in the wrong direction. So this is the current state of the DDI/Table M mashed-up chart:

What this accomplishes is it leaves the specifics to those involved. Once the monster rolls a 29, Death is upon you. The description (in this version of the chart) is intended to provide the game boundaries - the effects from a rules perspective. The specific things that take place are left to the imaginations of those involved (with some hints). I like that.

Still more work to do. I left the percentages in just for those interested in how they play out. My actual play version will eschew that. I also want to move a couple of things around for clarity. Lastly, I might add back in some more descriptive stuff ala Table M - I just haven't figured out how yet. That way, for people like me who are creativity sinks can get some inspiration. It's also damn difficult to get away from the evocative nature of some of those Table M results...

Would you prefer one way over the other - is the top chart better than the bottom? As always, I welcome any feedback, questions, comments, suggestions, issues, etc. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Miss Points VI - Effects

One of the first things I noticed was that Crit Table M included a class of things not in the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury (DDI) table – Effects. This does not mean there are no consequences or impacts listed in the DDI; there most certainly are. This refers to various non-injury types of effects Such as being knocked prone or being disarmed. Although it somewhat went against the title of the DDI table, I wanted to use these effects for two main reasons. First, I liked them – they added more interesting things and decisions in the course of combat. But second, and more importantly, it provided what to me was the best approach in aligning these two tables – that is, instead of removing effects from the existing DCC crit table, it made more sense to me to add the effects to the DDI in order to align the two.

Once the decision was made to add these effects, the primary question was…which effects? In order to be as complete as possible, I decided to go to the rule set that is a strong source for DCC in general – the d20 rules. I grabbed the list of Conditions from the SRD site, and started messing around with it. It was clear there were things that made no sense to me as effects while others were things I found interesting, but not necessarily for the first pass at this effort. So to organize my thoughts, as I often need to do, I categorized the Conditions into things I would Keep, Ignore, or Investigate (later). This became the Conditions table. This is a sample:

(If you want to see the entire things, you can go here - where you can see pretty much all the spreadsheets in progress, as well as the alternative percentage calculations for things like 2d5 or the Odd Mix: 1d3+1d5+1d7...)

I then distilled this down by using only those categorized as “Keep”. In that process, I noticed there were a few that were in Table M, but not in this pared-down list, so I added them. This resulted in the following list of Effects:

Even that is not quite done; for as I typed this I realized that some of the Effects were more like actual damage – duh...Ability Damage has it right in its name. Others I could see being either – Blindness, for example, could be temporary (as an effect) or permanent (damage). I also needed a kind of "severity" rating to determine where these effects would fit in the overall scheme. So with a bit more work, I ended up with this table - Effects ranked by severity.

So that’s the set of effects from which I will draw when building the new DDI table – for all of those places where it currently reads “EFFECT TBD”, the severity of the effect dictating where in the table it will be used.

Next to structure the table...