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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: horomancer on May 13, 2010, 05:24:26 PM

Title: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: horomancer on May 13, 2010, 05:24:26 PM
Working on a low power, low fantasy campaign and a system to match it. Using a mishmash of various x20 system rules to achieve the right feel and decided to place my thoughts here for others to mull over. If anyone sees something they've done before, please let me know how it turned out when you played with it.

I plan to keep core stats (STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, CHA), but display them in the true20 method of just having the modifier. The first (possible) change is implementing a system for chargen based off of Perfect20's raise system. I'm on the fence on if I'll have players make their own class, or just use it as a tool to make campaign specific classes. The class generator works by breaking down the class into it's Combat, Save, Feat, Skill Point, Trait, and Trait TEIR progression. Points from a pool are distributed from a pool to each segment, with no more than two points to any one segment. Putting 2 points in Combat would give that class the 'Best' combat progression of a fighter with +1 BAB per level. 2 Points in the Save progression gives 3 good saves instead of 1 good and 2 poor saves, so on and so forth with the notable exception of Trait TEIR. Traits are meant to be the usual class specific abilities, and the various abilities are organized into teirs. Mundane things like 'sneak attack' or 'armour mastery' are open to all, while traits for pseudo-casters (Paladin, Ranger) are second teir and most of the good magic is third tier.
I tried applying this logic to the core classes in the Pathfinder rule book with marginal success. Aside from Rogues 8+INT skill points progression, most classes are built with roughly 6 points. The Ranger was notably higher than the rest, 7 or 8 points depending on how you break down the feats and traits, and Sorcerer appeared to only have 4 points building it.

Class aside, Character gen in general has changed. HP has been outed in favor of a 'wound' system which is still be worked on. BAB is now applied to both attack and defense rolls. The maximum character level is set to 10 with anything beyond that being considered 'epic' and earned piece mill rather than by the level. Feats will more than likely be awarded at an accelerated rate so that a character concept can be fully fleshed out in the shorter level period. The magic system will not be X spells per day or spell points, but rather fallow constraits of time and money for ritual casting and a Fatigue system similar to True20 for spontanious casters. Magic is not the wizbang sort and will most likely not be casted during a fight, serving a more utilitarian roll.

Probably the most influential change is the dice. The d20 is dropped in favor of the 3d6 system outlined in the Unearthed Arcana. Since I have a bell curve to work with, I've plugged the attack roll directly into the damage equation.
Atk = 3d6 + STR/DEX +BAB +random mods
Def = 10 + DEX + BAB +random modifiers
If the Atk > Def than the attack is successful! Here is where it gets not so elegant a kinda crunchy. The difference of the two values is found, then added to 10 plus the Armour and Weapon value ((Atk-Def)+10+Wep-Arm). The result of this is a DC for the defender to roll a Fort save against, failure resulting in a wound. I haven't quiet pegged down wounding. I want to have damage be a variable, possibly based off of how much the defender fails their save by. This would allow for a certain degree of bug smashing as weaker monster could be killed in a single solid hit, but let evenly matched fighters duke it out for a few rounds. I estimate the Fort save will fall between 9 and 16 on most evenly matched exchanges and could be closer to 26 to 30 when a combat savy character goes against a non combat character or lower level combatant. I thinking for ever 5 points a character fails the Fort save by, they take a wound which gives them a -1 to their CON (possible a minus to all actions?) and the character will lose consciousness at -3 CON and must make Will saves or die at -5. Since damage is done to CON the Fort saves will become progressively lower, causing a death spiral. Criticals happen on a natural 18, doubling the bonus given by the weapon used, fumbles happen on a natural 3 with something bad happening, probably what would ever screw over the character most at that point in time. I'm also playing with the notion that characters trying to avoid being hit by projectile attacks use their Reflex save +10 akin to how saves work in 4e. Since fire balls won't be exploding everywhere and elaborate traps in a dungeon will not be standard fair, the Reflex save will  be rarely used. At a glance, typical fighter type builds will suffer from this change, while roguesish or monkish types will be at a serious  advantage at low levels and be unaffected at higher levels. The problem is I've set up different methods for reflex save as i have for fort saves, and that kills me inside.

Everything else should function similar to Pathfinder D&D with some tweaks to Skill DCs to adjust for the difficulty in getting a value greater than 14 on the 3d6.

Title: Re: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: horomancer on May 13, 2010, 06:24:23 PM
Hmmmmm I suppose that I could swap the rolls for the damage and smooth out my logic problem of having Saves be passive. The new combat formula would go
((Atk-Def)+3d6+Wep-Arm) vs 10+Fort base +CON.

This would put all the rolling in the attacker's hands in all parts of a conflict.

That leaves Magic mechanics and Will saves. Magic is still very much in it's conceptual stage, but I have some reservations on changing it from the Auto success vs Save of classic D&D. Mainly because I don't know what to add to the roll. DCs are typically set as 10+STAT+Caster Lvl vs d20+Save+WIS. I Suppose I could use the smae logic to make it 3d6+STAT+Caster Lvl vs. 10+Save+WIS. I guess I could set the Trait TIER value as 0, 1/2, or 1 for caster lvl. It does not fit well with the types of magic I have in mind, however. There is nothing in the way of mind control, little in the way of illusions, and targeting magic is so difficult that often buffs are used on friendlies where the save would be forfited anyways. It also detracts from the very systematic notion of magic-as-a-science that i'm working on.

Title: Re: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: horomancer on May 14, 2010, 06:52:39 AM
Working on logical changes to combat and skill use for complex tasks. Right now i've taken away the notion of 'flat footed', instead favoring a bonus to the attacker based off the situation. Not being able to move effectively in a combat situation may grant the attack a +1, while sniping at an unaware target may be something like +5. I do like the notion of 'combat advantage' from 4e serving as a catch all for governing when certain combat abilities can function, most notable being sneak attack. Currently the rule is combat advantage is granted to all attackers fighting the same target in melee with a bonus equal to Number of attackers - 1. So you have 3 people surrounding a target, they all get +2 on their attack roll and can use any special traits that require the combat advantage state. This leads to more dangerous combat than traditional D&D, such as a 10th lvl fighter bing in real danger from 5 2nd Lvl goblins. Normally that wouldn't even merit rolling out, now it could be certain death if the player didn't use smart tactics. To compensate for this I plan to have a mundane trait that grants a higher threshold for how many attackers are needed to receive a combat advantage bonus.

Skills are a better more difficult. The current notion for complex or time consuming actions is I have have an attempt DC and a Total DC. The attempt would fall in the typical range of 15 for an easy task to 25 for a difficult task. The Total could be anything above 25. The players would roll against the first DC, and if it passes, subtract that number from the total. When they meat or excced the total, the task is down. Depending on the outcome of a failed roll or time constratints, I may disallow the use of the take 10, take 16 and take 18 mechanics.
An example-
Players want to use one of the fate magics on an enemy NPC, which require a great deal of personal information about the target which is a prominent figure in the city they are in. Getting the required info is easy (DC 15), getting it without raising suspecions is not (DC 23). One roll equals one day of info gathering and the Calculator needs total of 100 for him to target the NPC. If there is no time limit, the players could take 18 and get all the info without any suspicion, or take 16 if a character is good at information gathering. Using the Take 16 and take 18 mechanics the players would spend roughly 50 to 500 days gathering info. In this instance I would rule that Take 10 is possible, though it is almost certain the target will catch wind of the plot, or roll it out which may take longer, but could possibly keep the players plans secret.

Title: Re: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: Locke on May 14, 2010, 11:04:49 AM
- check out my game in sig to see how I have implemented some of the things that you have mentioned

1. i don't see the need for separate saves, Constitution can be used as a save just as well as Fortitude.

2. it sounds like the character's will be actively defending themselves meaning a defender must actively parry an incoming attack based on BAB.  Be careful as higher level fighters could automatically hit high level rogues or spell casters in combat.  Remember the d20 system only gives 20 points of resolution.  A fighter type with a bab + str + feats + magic could easily have a +18 to hit at level 8.  This almost completely wipes out the d20 resolution only at level 8 not to mention higher levels.  The problem with 3d6 is that most often you get 11 or near that value.  This means a fighter with a bab of +8 with a str of 20 +5, magic of +3, and feats of +3 could have a total of +18 bonus.  This means that most likely the score will be around the high 20's.  Since your target uses 10 for defense they are looking to get hit pretty much automatically if they are also not a front line fighter.

of course these are inherent problems of d20 and if you accept them as is then you might not take issue as i do.

3. be careful about adding niche rules for circumstances in combat.  it looks like your okay now, but adding rules for complex combat and simple combat seems redundant, players should be able to remember the rules they need to remember easily.

4. at the end of the day think about what your system does that current DnD doesn't do.  There are a lot of people that post here who in imho don't have a good idea of why they are doing what they are.  Also a lot of this attention seems to be based around tweaking DnD.

hope this helps!  good luck!

Title: Re: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: horomancer on May 14, 2010, 02:56:50 PM
Hey Jeff
I've peeked through your game system before, but will sit down to more thoroughly scourer it for material applicable to my situation. The more I've dweld on it, the more I agree that 'saves' in general are problematic and can be removed. I'm worried that the lack of a numeric boost to CON when determining wounds may make wounding to easy. I'll have to toy with the numbers to see if that's actually true or not.
The combat system is set so that being focused on fighting means you end up being good at fighting and a level 8 character built for fight will excel in that matter. The kind of magic that gives direct and large boosts to stats or attack rolls simply does not exist in my world, nor do bonuses to weapons that make you hit better. There is some room for improving Atk values from Traits and Feats, but the short of it is, characters not made with combat in mine should avoid fighting when possible, or press every advantage the have.

Title: Re: Low power d20 system thoughts
Post by: horomancer on May 14, 2010, 06:44:04 PM
I'm leaning towards having a 'caught off guard' variable in the combat system for when someone gets the drop on another character before they realize there's a fight going down. If the defender fails what ever check is needed to tell what is happening, they lose their BAB to defense.

i'm trying to push combat out of my mind so I can focus on one aspect of magic. The two tracks of magical ability in the game are Sympathy which, will take much meditation on, and Essence work. Essence work is based of Taosit views of the world being broken down into Human, Earth and Heaven spheres. Each sphere corresponds to a Pow Tier, with the lowest tier being humand and the greatest being heaven. I have a good idea on what the Human tier will cover, it focusing on healing the user and anyone he can lay hands on. It should be noted that this school of magic is regarded in the game world about the same way it's regarded in the real world. Some people will swear by Acupressure, Dowsing, Horoscopes, Feng shui, and the Farmer's Almanac. Some people think it's a bunch of bullshit. Since there are no outward signs that any of these things work aside from results that could have occurred naturally without mystic intervention, the practice has been widely accepted by the common people.
The Human tier has pathways for holistic healing which mechanically adds a fixed bonus to a Heal skill check, resulting in a higher bonus for the wounded to make a recovery check on. There is also room for monk style combat prowess or heightened resistance to poison and illness.
The Earth tier covers dowsing (really a weak form of sympathy) and fengshui. A character can adjust objects and subtle energies in an environment to create a lasting zone of productivity. This mechanically adds a fixed bonus to a single character for a particular Skill of the casters choosing. Likewise this can be used to create a fixed minus to a character and as the caster's skill grows in this field the bonus or minus can be increased or decreased and become more flexible in it's targeting.
The Heaven tier is built on the caster taking complex calculations based off of a person's life in relation to the heavenly bodies. From these calculations a persons fate can be discerned vaguely and altered to a small degree. At the start a Calculator (only those who work in the Heaven sphere get this title) can give fortune to a person in the form of adding an extra d6 to any one roll they make, allowing the character to take the 3 highest numbers as there roll. As a Calculator becomes more experienced they will be able to effect more people in the same amount of time doing calculations and uping the die count bonus granted. Calculators can also bestow misfortune in the form of bonus dice being rolled for a character to pick the lowest numbers. Given the harsh nature of the dice, this power can come as a real life saver for a party in dangerous situations.

I'm at an uncertain point with the distribution of Power traits in regard to Essence working. Either I can make all aspects of Essence separate, so that a player building a Calculator would not know how to do feng shui or energy healing, or make it so a Calculator would have these lesser disciplines to a certain degree, though possibly not to their fullest power