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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 234 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Mayhem Gaming,  (Read 3671 times)

Posts: 146

« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2009, 11:44:06 PM »

Ok. I am VERY grateful if this works: Streed (R) Rpgs needs directions! (& co-developers?)
Or maybe it didn't, i dont really know what URL is...
But to the important here: YOUR game:

I finally managed to read through some of the chunks i only skimmed through earlier, and i am AMAZED!
Have you really done all that? (Obviously..)
Now to more valid questions(i'll try to avoid too many references to my own game):
* This do seem like a lot of Character Choises(i like that), but how is the World Description?
* Doesn't some Players get baffled at all those choises?
* You may have written it somwhere, but...is it possible to play an "ordinary human"?
* Why should anyone play an "ordinary human" when you can choose a Mage, or a "Mythical Beast"?

For now, it seems that only playtesting remains, with a capital "P", in more ways than one:
One: Regular Playtesting.
Two: Quote from me, earlier in this Thread:

"Oh, and Playtesting is obviously (not so obvious, really) not only about Playtesting: It is for Any "Work in progress" that has more or less been playtested at least once...
I know what it says in the "Rules for Playtesting", but this matter has been much discussed in another Forge Forum, (under a thread called Actual Play vs Playtesting,.... or something like that)."

And a quote from you,  even earlier:
"Balancing those factors was EXCRUCIATINGLY difficult, and took us several years worth of painstaking statistical analysis, playtesting, and mathematical tweaking to get it to all work right, such that one weapon wasn't dramatically better than another. "

So, Your system has been, in a way, at least partially playtested, and some would clearly argue, that this Topic really belong in Playtesting, and not in Fist Thoughts!

Personally, i don't bother much, and say more or less the same as dindenver said in my Topic:
You know what you want, obviously, so just go ahead and playtest it!
Posts: 3453

« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2009, 04:55:54 AM »

Maugh, I can scoop spam posts invisibly out of threads. Please don't acknowledge the spam in any way in your own posts. Instead, just click the "report to moderator" link at the bottom right of the spam post. I'll come take care of it.


the Forge's tech admin

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W

« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2009, 05:13:01 PM »

I'd be interested to hear the basic idea behind the balance testing, did you set up an array of strategic cases and track expected utility? Doesn't the utility of a strategic option depend on the distribution of different kinds of threats? I've got to that point and not much further, and reverted to the "sweetshop indecision" metric of balance! I'd love to here how you went about it.

Also I'm a sucker for a characterful magic system, so I'm wondering how your 6 polar system interacts with the world you have built; is there a single setting? Does it cause political conflict to become ideological faster, or affect the cultures of those who use it?

On the other hand it seems a little like dark/chaos and light/order picked the short straw a little; enhancement and detriment seem a lot more thematically one-note than the rest. Is that just a consequence of the name? Do they improve in practice?

I like the "species trait as skill" idea, it's one of those simplifications that is so obvious no-one ever thinks about it! Good effort. It's an interesting compromise between freeform traits and the "racial bonuses" you see all over the place.

I'll give a go at the question "what is your game about?", and hopefully you can tell me if that is a hat that fits your game:

It's about swashbuckling your way through the world doing big dynamic stuff.

In that respect it reminds me a little of exalted, perhaps a tuned version. In case you weren't aware, that game already implements a combat clock and a wide variety of specified powers. You can likely learn a lot from the criticisms and praises that game has had, and use them to insure your game is even better.

On the dice system, what difference do odd valued stats make? It occurs to me that if you use the same skill system for deciding attributes, that the attributes could just upgrade from one dice to another, but at a different factor to their current cost per step:

eg a d6 would be  (1+2+4+6)*f=13f vs (1+2+3+4+5+6)*f=21f

the latter would seem less rational, except that the average values from the dice are going up like this:


vs the skills going from 0->1->2->3

in other words if you compare average result/cost on the latter system, it will come out very similar to the skill system, and so capable of being subject to the same unified analysis of efficiency.

Posts: 20

« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2009, 08:56:12 PM »

The weapon balancing was a nightmare.  Really, it was like chasing the rabbit down the rabbit hole, where every turn brought something a little unexpected and every twist showed us something we -thought- we had understood.


Our weapons use the following statistics: 

Melee bonus (accuracy, ranging from -2 to +2),
Parry bonus (defensive efficacy, ranging from -2 to +3),
Damage amp (sharpness, for critical hits, ranging from 3 to 6 every time someone hits by that amount, the damage increases by one die),
Range (from 1 meter to 3 meters for melee, longer for ranged attacks,)
Speed, (Very fast, Fast, Average, Slow, and Very Slow.  Each category takes one spot longer on the combat wheel, and therefore delays the time until that player can act.)
And Damage Die (ranging from d6 to 3d8)

The goal was to be able to define each of the weapons so that it works most like that actual weapon, but to set it so that one weapon wasn't inherently stronger than others.   We went through various methods over the course of several years, with some aggressive disagreement between members of our group on the best way to consider the balance, and eventually worked out the following methods:

1.  Our mathematician/programmer devised a testing program that tested each weapon against a range of armor, defensive bonuses, and skill disparities, and averaged the results across them to come up with a final version.  I.E.  Test the broadsword against every combination of armor, defensive bonus, and skill disparity, and average all of those results to get a damage-per-round average.  Then, to consider the attacking weapon's parry modifier, each DPR result was adjusted post-hoc to compensate for the advantage of using a more defensive weapon.  He used Ruby on Rails to program his tester.  It takes a few minutes to run on his programming workstation, which gives you an idea of the scale of calculations that it's doing.

2.  I myself devised a testing sheet that tested every weapon against every other weapon in an array.  For example, how does the broadsword fair in damage per round against the battleaxe?  THen I took the reverse.  How does the battleaxe fare against the broadsword?  By taking the difference between those two values, I get the balance between them, measuring which weapon is more effective and by how much.  Then by taking every other comparison for the broadsword, (bs vs rapier, bs vs spear, etc.,) and then averaging those results, I get the average performance of each weapon, which stacks nicely into a long list of balance numbers, determining just how effective each weapon is in relation to its peers and how much more or less effective it was in a ranked and valued list.  I used excel, and I still think that my method is more direct, since it tests for the defensive bonus directly.  Jake disagrees, I'm sure.

Using either method, a perfect balance is really pretty much impossible, especially when trying to fit stats that best fit the weapon's personality, but by lowering the balance number on my test and by streamlining the total DPR in Jake's test, we get a very, very tight list.  You could probably find problems in it if you really looked, but it's a big gap from dnd 3rd, where if you weren't using a greatsword and a buckler you were pretty much completely tactically inferior. 

Sounds complicated enough, right?  Well, it gets worse.  How do 1 and 2 handed weapons mix into this?  Should 2H weapons be stronger, since they limit options?  What happens when you equip a very offensive and very defensive pair of weapons together, (such as a morningstar/shield combination,) Why wouldn't they just use the aggro one to attack, and the defensive one to defend and how does any other combination compete with that?  How do you operationalize something like range, which doesn't effectively fit into the mathematic equation at all?  Should bows and crossbows be competitive with melee weapons?  Oh hate, we forgot about the reload factor in the crossbows, how about mounted combat?  What happens when we factor in bonuses from magic or weapon techniques?  What is the value of frontloaded weapons that do damage now and then slow the character down versus weapons that allow small damage now and tactical options later?  Does the rain in Spain REALLY fall mainly in the plain?...  (okay, that last one was just to see if anybody was still reading.)

Hopefully you can see why it took several years of discussion and testing to get it to the point where I think it's right.  It was a fun little puzzle, and that's like saying that a degree in biochemistry is a fun little puzzle.  In the end, we had to develop list after list and address individual concerns until we came up with something that was satisfactory to all involved.  At the end of the day, I think that that programmer friend of mine is still tweaking the list for his own use, but the final product we have is pretty solid, (although there could be some inconsistencies.)

So yeah, we did eventually have to cede a few points away from a perfect balance.  We balanced it mathematically as best we could so that the weapons are as fair as we can get them, and we really tried, but a few factors like range and such we just had to roll with what looks best on the list, which is what I think you're saying when you say "sweetshop indecision" method.  Weapons that got underused got boosted up a little bit, and I have to admit that I overbalanced the katana just a hair, since the katana is the porsche of martial weaponry...


So yeah, we looked at the weapon balancing pretty heavily.  Check out the weapon list in the book.  It's tasty.

As for order/light getting the short straw, actually detriment plays pretty well.  It ends up doing a lot of 'hexes,' and 'curses,' kinds of effects.  They're tons of fun to play, and lowering an opponent's skill levels through skill penalties ruins people's day.  Enhancement gets haste effects, which are flat out glorious in a timing-based system.  Read the spells, if youve got doubts.  Detriment is one of my favorite schools, actually.

On the dice system, the odd valued stats don't change the skill die, but they do allow access to some abilities, and the attributes each affect something apart from just the skill die.  There is a branch of the game called the attribute abilities section where players can pick up abilities that fit their characters, but these have skill requisites. 

Each attribute also affects something else, which is frequently just as important as the skill die.  Endurance affects total life, willpower your critical state and overload mechanic, intelligence max feedback, charisma first impression, intuition and cunning affect your intuitive defense and surprise attacks, and strength and agility affect what kinds of armor and weapons you can equip.

We have tried a few scales for dice and attributes, and eventually settled on the even-value distribution because it is so straight-forward.  6 Str, d6, 8 Agi, d8, etc.

The species traits function as abilities, rather than skills which is a subtle but important difference.  Abilities are purchased with skill points, but skills make checks, and abilities rely on other skills to make their checks.  The monkey totem still needs to invest in Acrobatics for that skill, they're just a little better at it than most.  The switch-up is that you have to buy into the racial ability to get access to that bonus, so it's modular, just like all the other abilities in the game.  The human that doesn't take any race doesn't get the bonus, but they also have a few more points to spend on other abilities and skills.

 We're actually in a pretty big transition with the races right now, because they weren't 'races' per se in this last draft, and are becoming formally races.  It's a semantic change, for the most part, but it's a big edition to the book.  It will be a while before we finish that next draft, though, so it's not something to wait for just yet.

"Swashbuckling your way through the world doing big dynamic stuff," works pretty well.  Thanks for the read.

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W

« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2009, 05:12:03 PM »

What a monster file! Just downloaded it. Can't get it readable though, any chance you could check it out?

I'll probably save on commenting on the finished weapons list until I get a look at the rules properly.

I'm a little disappointed I misunderstood you on skills vs attributes, in some ways, because it occurred to me that just by having racial skills as well as attributes, you expand the range of possible actions that those characters can pursue. A flying skill etc.

Posts: 20

« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2009, 07:33:45 PM »

The file should just be a PDF.  It's a big pdf, lots of images and such, but it should be readable with just acrobat reader.  Works for me just fine.  I'll look into the compatability issue.

Posts: 20

« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2009, 08:56:29 PM »

All righty.  I had my wife look at it, (she's the graphic designer that designed the layout and such,) and she said that I exported it all kinds of wrong.  She tweaked it, dramatically reducing the file size and hopefully improving the backwards compatability for older versions of acrobat.  Sorry for the inconvenience, and I hope this works much better.  Thank you for your patience.
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