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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 54 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: How good are you at mental arithmetic?  (Read 8013 times)
Jack Aidley
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Posts: 488


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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2003, 02:56:38 AM »

Addendum.

Ron, I've been thinking a bit more and realised that there are circumstances in which I basically use the method you've descibed. I sometimes call on one of the players to roll what I call a 'GM's feeling nasty dice' (usually a D20) and if the result is low I do the nasty but slightly unfair thing I've just thought of to the character, but if the result is high I'm feeling 'nice' and let it pass without action.

Perhaps I am, in reality, merely clinging to the kind of mechanics I was iontroduced to gaming with without good reason.
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2003, 11:30:03 AM »

In the Legendary Quest combat system, an attack is handled by rolling 1d30, adding an Attack Bonus and comparing it to the opponent's Defense.  The difference between the 1d30+skill and Defense is added as "Severity Damage" to the damage roll.  So, we have a die roll, one addition, and one subtraction on every attack.

This system has worked well for years and has been complimented many times for its simplicity and efficiency.  If I were to remove the subtraction step from the sequence in the quest for greater simplicity, as some might suggest, I am certain that I would receive nothing but disapproval from my players.  

So, I have to agree with John Kim when he says, "any amount of arithmetic is fine -- as long as it is fun for the players, and consistent with the game".  Boil it down until any further reduction will take something imporant away and then stop.  In the end, though, only real-life playtesting can tell you if you've struck the right balance.
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John Kirk

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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2003, 12:32:54 PM »

Let me suggest one very pragmatic way of helping to answer the original question. I call it the "table test." It consists of giving players the option of looking their dice rolls up on a results table instead of doing the calculation. (It only works if such a table can be constructed, of course. Don't try this with 3+-die or variable-size dice pools)

Here's the table for your system (you might have to widen your browser window):

Code:
                          Green Die
           0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 + second die
                                               0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
Red Die
0          0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18
1         -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17
2         -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  15  16
3         -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  15
4         -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14
5         -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13
6         -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12
7         -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  
8         -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10
9 + second die
   0      -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
   1      -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8
   2      -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   3      -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5   6
   4      -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4   5
   5      -14 -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3   4
   6      -15 -14 -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2   3
   7      -16 -15 -14 -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1   2
   8      -17 -16 -15 -14 -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0   1
   9      -18 -17 -16 -15 -14 -13 -12 -11 -10 -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1   0
[/size]

Now, here's the test: make well-formatted (with appropriate row and column shading, etc.) printed copies of the table available to your players. The question is, do they use them?

If they do, then it means they're finding someting about the procedure (whether it's the actual math, or remembering the correct steps) on the onerous side. In my experience, players are more consistent in their attitude about table lookups than about dice math. Most find it somewhat more distracting than they would wish, but it's rarely a deal-killer for a system. (Looking up in a table takes a lot of steps and can take a longer time, but it doesn't appear to involve the kind of left-right-brain switching that mental calculation can invoke.) If players would rather use the table than do the math, it suggests that they (and other players like them) will regard the math as a significant drawback to your system. If they'd rather do the math than use the table, then they, at least, aren't having too much trouble with it.

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
John Kim
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Posts: 1805


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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2003, 10:31:56 PM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag
  Let me suggest one very pragmatic way of helping to answer the original question. I call it the "table test." It consists of giving players the option of looking their dice rolls up on a results table instead of doing the calculation.
...
Now, here's the test: make well-formatted (with appropriate row and column shading, etc.) printed copies of the table available to your players. The question is, do they use them?
...
If they'd rather do the math than use the table, then they, at least, aren't having too much trouble with it.  

Hm.  I don't consider that a good rule of thumb, just using myself as a test case.  I mean, there is no way that I would use the table, since doing it in my head is faster.  Nevertheless, I wouldn't particularly like doing it in play.  It's not like I would quit playing or anything -- heck, I put up with Rolemaster and Champions -- but I would consider it less than ideal.  Again, as other people said, I think the issue is personal preference.  

Two specific issues I have are:

1) I dislike dice schemes based on color-coding.  My dice are a rainbow assortment of colors with few the same, and I guess I feel silly buying all-new dice just because mine aren't the right colors.  However, I find it really annoying for each person to have their own private color convention -- it makes it confusing to read die rolls, especially if you switch dice.  It annoyed me enough in percentile rolls that for my current RuneQuest game I bit the bullet and bought a dozen ten-siders numbered "00-90" for the group.  

2) One-fifth of all rolls involve re-rolls, which seems frequent to me.  Having to roll, parse, and re-roll adds significantly to the resolution time.  I would probably prefer 3d10, say, which gives a similar curve but immediate results.
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- John
Jack Aidley
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Posts: 488


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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2003, 02:36:33 AM »

I initially didn't have a colour scheme. I added one at the request of my players because they said it made it easier to understand. As for buying dice, well, we game with my dice and I went out and brought the necessary red and green d10's for all of my players.

Actually I'm considering moving away from playing with dice at the moment, simply because Guinness (my new cat) keeps stealing them and chasing them round the room during play...
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
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