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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Shield Ability: What it's good for  (Read 7677 times)
Ben Robbins
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2008, 05:31:53 PM »

We tried this last night and it seemed a little wonky so I wanted to make sure we weren't missing something.

Is there any downside to giving someone else your shield ability die? You don't lose anything, and there's no impairment, so there's no cost to doing it. Is that right?

If there's no cost, there's no reason for heroes not to just give each other their shield ability dice whenever they can, sans oaths. And since just about every hero has a shield, it increases the baseline defense of most heroes (6 dice if there are any other heroes in the same range band instead of 5 for the usual melee+shield combo).

That changes the balance of the game overall -- heroes start off better than minotaurs or snakes or boars, because they are often getting more dice then they were before.

I guess I'm unclear what problem this new rule was intended to solve. If you want the shield wall effect you could already do that in the rules: just ask someone to protect you for an oath, they give you shield as a helping die and take impairment. It works until everyone gets too tired to keep it up.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
ping
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« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2008, 01:04:47 AM »

Is there any downside to giving someone else your shield ability die? You don't lose anything, and there's no impairment, so there's no cost to doing it. Is that right?

If there's no cost, there's no reason for heroes not to just give each other their shield ability dice whenever they can, sans oaths.
<snip>
If you want the shield wall effect you could already do that in the rules: just ask someone to protect you for an oath, they give you shield as a helping die and take impairment. It works until everyone gets too tired to keep it up.

I thought the downside of using the shield skill was because the shielder is giving up an offensive die and therefore reducing his chance for glory during that round. It might not be enough since he's getting more shield dice himself, living longer and getting better positioning roles for the higher level wounds later in the fight. That said, there were definitely some unanticipated side-effects in addition to the fact that, as Ben says, the constant use of the shield-other dice did seem to throw off the balance of the combat.  For one, since there's no limit to the number of times you can use the shield-other power, potentially _every_ round a hero might have to make a decision of which other hero, if any, is going to get his shield.  That can slow things down and get really old really fast if there's no strategic reason or plan to pick anyone in particular. It can get even older if there's a lot of bargaining with oaths.

I also wonder if fundamentally this shield system doesn't fit in the with rest of the game economy.  It would be the only mechanic to get extra dice that has unlimited uses.  This seems out of place to me in a game that's about trading limited resources, (impairments, strife tolerance) for oaths and glory.  If you throw in an unlimited resource, suddenly the balance is upset both in terms of combat and in terms of bargaining.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2008, 01:37:52 AM »

I thought the downside of using the shield skill was because the shielder is giving up an offensive die and therefore reducing his chance for glory during that round. It might not be enough since he's getting more shield dice himself, living longer and getting better positioning roles for the higher level wounds later in the fight.

During the game I thought you needed to at least be using your Shield ability (for yourself) to be able to share the die, but when I went back and read the post I saw even that wasn't necessary -- you can use your Spear ability for your action and still give someone else your Shield die. So no downside at all that I'm seeing.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
John Harper
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« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2008, 10:57:06 AM »

Hooray for playtesting!

You both make excellent points. Clearly this rule needs to be tweaked (or dropped as Ben says). I don't have an answer right now, but I will ponder some more.
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Aaron
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2008, 09:11:43 PM »

I think the downside is in the initial character creation, and on going experience, not the use of the die in game.  What ability dice do the characters have in shield?  Without some special use of this dice there is no point in having anything above d6, and probably not alot of point even in a d6, unless you plan on using it as a helping die for yourself, and there are better ways to do that! 
Because shield die can only be used for defense it is half as versatile as spear and sword.

Maybe the thing to do would be to only use the shield helping dice after all the normal rolls have been made and the character is still going to get hit.  This would be instead of "front loading" the defense roll with all the shield dice.  Then he could decide whose dice to use and pay them an oath for them.  Sort of like falling back into the shield wall as a last option.  Than way not everyone is using the shield dice and it would still be reasonable to charge an oath.

Aaron.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2008, 09:29:03 PM »

Actually you can't defend with Sword ability unless you are doing some whiggy sword in either hand thing (which personally I reject as being out of genre, but that's just me). Ability die goes in the hand that holds the weapon.*

We have a character who bumped his Shield up to d10 and I can say it is effective. No matter what he's using to attack (except bow) he can always choose a solid defense.

Possibly the only weak point is letting the Spear ability defend, but then again it is in-genre that spear is the king of weapons.

Maybe the thing to do would be to only use the shield helping dice after all the normal rolls have been made and the character is still going to get hit.

You mean using the normal helping die / creative abilities rules? That's what I'm thinking. No new rule required.


* this leads me to a whole other question about two-weapon fighting, but I'll start another thread for that

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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
Aaron
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Posts: 102


« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2008, 07:45:33 PM »

I had missed the weapon dice had to go in the hand of the weapon. Wonder how I managed that..
Even so a character could use his shield ability dice in either hand if he wields two swords, unlike the shield dice.  So the shield ability isnt as weak as I first thought but it is still the weakest.

My idea is exactly like using the normal helping die/ creative rules but only allowing the "after you roll your other dice option".  So the character has used his own dice to defend first, then if unsuccessful he calls on aid.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2008, 09:12:18 PM »

That's really the problem -- using weapons in your left hand to defend breaks the system. Shields aren't broken, it's using weapons as shields that's broken.

I haven't had that much problem with it because I'm a stickler for Greek style, and I encourage my players to follow the classic forms (spear + shield, sword + shield, not sword + sword etc) but a quick examination of the math highlights the problem:

shield in left hand -- d8 to defend

sword in left hand -- 2d6 to defend, or you can move one of those to attack

javelin in left hand -- d6+1 to defend

Sword is at least as good as shield if not better (2d6 is more predictable than one d8), but javelin is the flat-out best -- a +1 is much better than a die size. When a javelin is a better shield than a shield... well that's pretty broken.

And of course with the weapon defense you can opt to make a left-hand attack if it turns out no one is attacking you, so even if a weapon gave you a d8 it would be better than a shield.

And that's before you factor in Abilities. As we've already discussed Shield only has one function, but Sword or Aim can defend if you have the appropriate weapon in your left hand and Spear can defend any time you have a spear. Taking a high aim and two javelins is terribly effective and versatile, which is goofy.

So clearly a fix is needed, but I would say leave shield as it is and change left-handed weapons instead -- after all by genre left-handed shield is the norm, left-handed weapons are the oddballs.

You already get a -2 if you attack with a left-hand weapon, so you could impose a -1 on defense any time you use a weapon (not a shield) to defend in your left-hand. If you wanted simplicity you could make it a -2 instead -- as soon as you have a weapon in your left hand you know they'll be a -2 to attack or defend. Like all modifiers these would apply to all defense dice you rolled.

Some characters might still find it preferable to fight with two swords, etc, but it shouldn't be better by default than the choices that fit the genre (sword + shield, spear + shield).
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
John Harper
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« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2008, 12:22:53 AM »

Huh.

I never said that you can't defend with a Javelin, did I? <checks game book> Nope! Dammit.

You can hold a Javelin in your left hand (and make a left hand attack with it) but you can't use it for defense. I should update the FAQ.

-----

I agree that two swords is an issue. It's (arguably) better than sword + shield, which is silly. I have a fix in mind, but I need to ponder it a bit more before I post it for discussion.
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Particle_Man
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2008, 08:08:24 AM »

I could see Achilles *really* wanting to get Hector, but Hector having 9 friends surround him on all sides, protecting him with their shields.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2008, 11:43:15 AM »

I could see Achilles *really* wanting to get Hector, but Hector having 9 friends surround him on all sides, protecting him with their shields.
Absolutely, and that totally works in the normal rules: if Hector gets hit, one protector gives him their Shield ability as a helping die (taking impairment in the process). If Hector rolls that die high enough to protect himself, done, otherwise the next protector gives him a helping die.

A group of minions could protect someone for quite a long time that way. The nice part is that since it's a helping die, the main guy is rolling so he can spend divine favor to open-end the die, which a minion couldn't. Like all helping dice you also only use it when you need it -- if the main guy succeeds in his own defense roll there's no need to call in help.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
Ben Robbins
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Posts: 60


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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2008, 11:45:11 AM »

I agree that two swords is an issue. It's (arguably) better than sword + shield, which is silly. I have a fix in mind, but I need to ponder it a bit more before I post it for discussion.
Cool John. Looking forward to hearing what you have in mind.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
Ben Robbins
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« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2008, 11:48:51 AM »

A group of minions could protect someone for quite a long time that way.
Should have said that if it was minions they'd be using Battle not Shield, which would wear down their effectiveness quite a bit faster.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
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