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...

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....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Miss Points - Part II

So this is what we'll be using this weekend as the Stumblebums strike out from Hirot...

I tried to simplify a few things...and add some class-based aspects to give it a little

Hit Point Damage and Recovery

Damage is determined using the same rules described in DCC RPG. But in The Broken Earth, hit points represent the ability of the character to avoid serious damage through a combination of influences including, but not limited to, luck, skill, and stamina. It does not represent significant physical damage. A character with only a few hit points remaining might be exhausted, just a split-second slower, and/or at wit’s end; but the character has only taken minor cuts, bumps, and bruises.

Hit Point “Damage”

“Damage” is applied directly to hit points. This does not necessarily mean the character has taken actual physical damage…yet.

For each successful attack against a character that drops the character to 0 hit points, as well as for every successful attack against a character when that character is currently at 0 hit points, the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury table is consulted (See Below).

Hit Point Recovery

No matter the method, a character’s hit points cannot recover beyond the character’s maximum hit point score. 

Each class has a Recovery Die, or RD. It is, in general, one half of the class hit die:

Cleric: 1d4
Thief: 1d3
Warriors: 1d6
Wizards: 1d2
Dwarf: 1d5
Elf: 1d3
Halfling: 1d3

Recovery During Combat

When in combat, a character can regain hit points – a representation of regaining composure, catching one’s breath, or otherwise restoring the ability to avoid serious physical damage. This is handled through the Step Back mechanic. The Step Back mechanic allows a character to burn, or reduce, an attribute in order to regain hit points during combat.

The Step Back Mechanic

No other actions can be taken in a round in which the Step Back – it accounts for all action die use for the round. The character does not disengage from combat. Therefore, any enemy can continue to engage in combat with the character.

In general, the Step Back works as follows:

  1. Choose an attribute to “burn”. This serves not only as a source, but as a Base Target Number.
  2. Add your current Luck modifier and Level to the base target number – this is your final Target Number (TN).
  3. Roll 1d20 Under your Target Number.
  4. Reduce the selected attribute by the number of attempts in a day (cumulative).

The algorithm is as follows:

  • A = number of attempt today.
  • Roll = 2 to TN: Success! You gain 1 RD + Level hit points. Reduce the chosen Attribute by A.
  • Roll = 1: Critical Success! You gain 1RD per level hit points. Reduce the selected Attribute by A.
  • Roll > TN +1  < 20 : Failure! You do not gain hit points. Reduce the selected Attribute by A.
  • Roll = 20: Fumble! You do not gain hit points. Reduce the selected Attribute by 2A.
  • A = A + 1

Attributes you can burn

In addition to Stamina, each character class can burn one other attribute to regain hit points:

Cleric: Personality
Thief: Agility
Warriors: Strength
Wizards: Intelligence
Dwarf: Strength
Elf: Intelligence
Halfling: Personality

Not Today: This represents the character drawing on sheer physical strength to continue to avoid taking damage. The character can reduce Strength to recover hit points.

Rub Some Dirt On It: This represents the character ignoring the accumulated fatigue of battle to continue to avoid taking damage. The character can reduce Stamina to recover hit points.

Not So Fast: This represents [[INSERT SOMETHING HERE]] to avoid taking damage. The character can reduce Agility to recover hit points.

Come On, Focus: This represents the character ignoring the mind-fog of combat to continue to avoid taking damage. The character can reduce Intelligence to recover hit points.

Quiet Reserve: This represents the character digging down deep through sheer force of will to avoid taking damage. The character can reduce Personality to recover hit points.

Recovery Outside of Combat

For each full turn (1 Hour) of rest, a character regains 1 RD per level.

Physical Damage and Recovery

If a successful attack (or similar) takes a character to 0 hit points, or if an attack is successful on a character who is already at 0 hit points, a roll is made on the Death, Dismemberment, and Injury Table.

Physical Damage

Effects of Multples (optional)
Natural Healing
Dice Equivalent
If Critical Hit, decapitated. Otherwise, a grievous wound (snapped spinal column, stabbed Aorta, Brain Penetration) that causes death before the end of the round.
Mortal Wound
Gutted, stabbed through lung, broken back, severed limb. Die in 4d4 Rounds.
Two Mortal Wounds results in Saving Throw; failed Saving Throw increases effect to Instant Death
Major broken bone, severe laceration, or other injury. Results in -3 (cumulative) to all rolls; 1 in 2 chance the injury affects movement.
Third Major Wounds results in Saving Throw; failed Saving Throw increases effect to Mortal Wound.
Will heal 3d4+4 Weeks. If unattended, 1d6 additional weeks and 30% chance of healing improperly.
Minor broken bone, minor laceration, or other injury. Results in -1 (cumulative) to all rolls; 1 in 6 chance the injury affects movement.
Four Minor Wounds results in Saving Throw; failed Saving Throw increases effect to Major Wound.
Will heal in 1d4+4 weeks.  If unattended, 1d2 additional weeks.
Stunned for 1d4 rounds; 1 in 2 chance of being knocked down; 1 in 6 chance of being knocked unconscious.
Fifth Stun results in Saving Throw; failed Saving Throw increases effect to Minor Wound.
1d4 rounds
No Effect
Your Luck has saved you once again.
A flood of adrenaline flows through your system returning 1d4 Hit Points per level. In 2d6 rounds, this effect fades and the character is reduced to 1d6 hit points and must make a saving throw or be stunned for 1d4 rounds.


Miraculous Healing TBD