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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 192 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Going Diceless...  (Read 1925 times)
Kiram
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Posts: 4


« on: September 01, 2009, 12:41:06 AM »

First of all, this is my first post! Woo!

Now that that is out of the way, I would like to pose a question: I've been cultivating an idea for a diceless combat system for a while now, but looking through the archives breifly, I see that this isn't exactly an original idea. I looked through a few, and none seemed exactly like what I was looking to create, however I wanted to know if there was anything I should look at before proceeding? Are there any cliche's or bad designs to be avoided? Or shining examples of how diceless combat should work? I'd really appreciate any feedback on this, since I've largely been designing this system in a void, having never encountered a diceless system before.

Thank you in advance!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2009, 01:12:51 AM »

Hi Kiram, welcome to the forge!

I'm not sure dice/diceless makes much of a difference - probably about as much difference as automatic or manual in a car. Perhaps even less difference. I'm not sure going diceless will mean any radical change in gameplay for you? There is, perhaps, a bit of a myth or superstition that it does.

From what I've seen here radical change seems to come from strongly identifying a certain issue or topic, then determining a certain special way of approaching that issue/topic in play via mechanics. But just going diceless itself? I wouldn't say it means much just by itself.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 06:58:32 AM »

Woo!  Welcome.  What's your game about?
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Kiram
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2009, 09:20:45 AM »

Thanks for the advice!

My game isn't really about anything. I set out originally to create simply a quicker method of combat resolution, because I was really tired of having one combat last over half an hour, even when we all knew our characters and their abilities well. The combat would, near inevitably, get bogged down in the huge amount of dice-rolling that needs to be done in regular D&D and a lot of other systems. And whenever new players are involved, you get to add shuffling through books for specific rules to the mix as well.

A basic outline of my system follows:

Character design is (generally) classless and based on a point-buy system. You buy feats, you buy stat-points, you buy skills, you buy HP, abilities, everything (an idea I lifted off of Mutants and Masterminds to be honest). I feel like this makes your character much more customizable. If you want your character to be sneaky, you pick up a bunch of points in stealth and sneak attack, if you want your character to be a meat-tank, you spend all your available points into HP. I boiled stats down to a few more basic ideas, bringing it down to Strength, Speed, Toughness, and Intellegence.

I did away with XP in general, replacing it with...more points. Instead of getting X many experience points when you kill a bad-guy, I thought it might be interesting to simply hand out a point or collection of points every encounter with which you can buy more abilities. This kinda eliminates the the big decompression period that generally comes when you level and everyone passes around the books to get leveled. You could certainly modify it, however, to give out the points at the end of the adventure, or series of encounters, or whatever if you don't like the idea of your players getting slightly stronger in the middle of their raid on the keep or what have you.

In combat resolution, I wanted to take away the feeling I got with some combats where it seemed that it boiled down to "I hit him with my sword." "I shoot him with my bow." "I chop him with my axe." "I cast Magic Missle." rinse, repeat. I went diceless here, introducing a pool of points (action points were about all I could think to call them). The amount of points you can spend is based on your stats, with damage being based on points spent. So if you have a strength of 4, your attack will do a maximum of 4 damage.
But the kicker is that you have to use your points to defend as well. If someone throws a rock at you, you've got to use action points to get out of the way, or take a rock in the head. With a limited (and slowly regenerating) pool of points, the game becomes a bit more strategic. You could go all out to hit him with everything you've got, but after a few rounds of this, you are going to be too exausted to defend yourself. etc. If not defended or dodged, that attack does the full amount of damage that the player decided on.

One of the more interesting things (in my opinion) that I worked out was speed. In combat, you not only spend points to make attacks stronger, but faster. Your speed, much like your strength, determines the "max speed" of your actions, and anyone with enough points to spend and a high enough speed can react to your action. This makes combat much more interesting as people can react, friend and foe alike, to other people's actions, and makes combination attacks possible. For instance, if you run out of action points going all out attacking a boss-type encounter, and he picks up a rock and throws it at you, a team-mate may react by stepping in front of the rock to save you from harm.


So, is this post understandable? Is it ripping off of some other major design that I've just never seen? Any questions about it?
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Kiram
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2009, 09:33:43 AM »

Edit: You could also add a secondary pool of points for supernatural effects (Mana, MP, Chakra, Qi, etc). Spells would then have 2 costs, an action-point cost and a MP (or what have you) cost, with set effects and damage.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2009, 03:12:38 PM »

In terms of your concern with the speed of combat, is that going to be much faster than a dice roll?

This may be a bit of a perceptual error, with it seeming that having dice rolls to do every little task is slowing down play, when what is slowing down play is that each task is little and does bugger all. In D&D, you do very little each attack - perhaps chip away a few hit points. Very little is resolved per task. Even if people were spending points instead of rolling, if it's done by the D&D paradigm, they would still be spending RL time spending points to do very little. That is if your still following the D&D sort of paradigm and just going diceless.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Kiram
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Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2009, 11:58:36 PM »

Hmm. That is an interesting point. I guess I'll just have to put it on the table and see if it feels any different. Thanks for the advice.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2009, 03:14:05 PM »

Sounds good! This is actually one thing you could test just by yourself (as it's just dice rolls/point spending) - do the same combat, timed by stop watch, first with dice rolls, then with point spending. Check out what the times are, comparitively.
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Skull
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 04:50:49 PM »

 I have found that by increasing the possible of death in combat the less time in combat the group will spend. example: if it will take 2-3 hits from a weapon to kill the average person (PC or NPC) and each weapon has a set damage rating: like 5 damage. This way there is less dice rolling or some such thing. Then you compound this by having the armor reflect that the characters wearing the armor will still suffer damage even with this protection (which is a bit more realistic). Then to top this off, you have it take almost real world time to heal (unless using magic) any damage suffered; no sitting in a corner for 5 mins to regenerate what you lost.
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2009, 12:02:02 PM »

Hey there!

That is an interesting system, and since the whole thing is point based, I have a few questions to ask you.

Can attacks miss? If so, how can they miss?
What kind of initiative system (if any) do you have in place?

Also, working off of Skull's point (which is actually a practical example of how to do what I believe Callan is suggesting), making each round of combat effect more than it currently does will drastically improve the speed of combat. Sadly, the more you resolve per round (or even getting rid of rounds all together and just figuring it out with one roll/point expidenture) the less simulated tactical experience there is. That is, you lose the level of detail and the level of tactical thinking that you seem to want to preserve. The only compromise I can see is to increase what each round accomplishes so that you spend no more than 10 minutes on a given combat encounter. Say each round takes about 5 minutes. That means you need to construct your system in such a way as to have no more than an average of two rounds. Now, getting around a group of five players and a GM in five minutes or less means few choices to make for the player (to reduce handling) and a great deal of importance for each choice (to increase the scale). After all of that is done, narration can be handled on a per player basis at whatever level of detail you desire. At that point players could discuss how they wanted the combat to have gone in a cinematic sense, so long as their description matches what mechanically happened. This conversation could take five to ten minutes itself, but I believe will be significantly more interesting than the half hour of dragging combat you are describing.

Hope that offers some perspective!

Cheers,
--Norm
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