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<OA/RPG> Damage system complexity

Started by Resonantg, July 19, 2005, 07:01:51 PM

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G'day people.

Preliminary playtesting on the GAMM-D combat system for Orion's Arm RPG has hit a hiccup that I'm having a hard time smoothing out.  Basically, we are looking at a highly simulationist combat system where damage is applied directly to traits instead of using hit points or some other aggregate stat.  Where the hiccup comes in is handling quick knockouts and stuns without having to resort to big wounds and help prevent the "arms race" some game systems have.

Traits and how damage works

When an attack is successful, the Degree of Success (DoS) is the critical element.  Each attack is essentially two parted: A base damage, and then a multiplier for location sensitivity.  The base damage is fixed with the type of weapon or attack.  Then, based on the DoS over the defender, you find out if the attacker hit anything sensitive.  This is calculated by the DoS versus the defender's Defense Factor (DF) which is part of every defensive maneuver.  For every time the DoS exceeds the DF , the damage is applied to another trait.  The Defender gets to choose then, which traits are affected, including stacking wounds on Traits if they so desire.


Artie Alpha is just smacked hard by Billy Beta.  Billy's DoS on the attack is 7, but Artie chose a maneuver that has a DF of 4.  This means that Billy does x1 damage for sure, because he hit.  Billy rolls damage on 2d10, and gets an 11.  Now he's already done 11 points to a single trait, but because he has exceeded the DF once, he gets to apply the damage to ANOTHER trait or the SAME Trait for yet another 11 points.  And since the DoS, does not exceed the DF again with it's remainder (7-4=3) only two Traits are affected.  The defender must now choose 2 Physical Traits (since it was physical damage) it's only allowed to affect physical traits to wound, in which to apply 2 11 point chunks of damage.


And now for an extra twist.  The attacker may desire to just temporarily disable a target and not kill them, so they may choose to convert their attack from wounds to just penalties.  This is similar to saying "I just want to stun him."  The attacker can then convert as many traits as he's done damage to, to Penalties instead of Wounds.

Now, the difference currently between "Wounds" and "Penalties" as playtesters have been calling them, is this:

- Wounds heal only in days or hours but don't penalize Traits till they go -0.
- Penalties affect Trait rolls immedeately, but evaporate a point a second.

Now, wounds heal at a rate of 1 point per hour as long as the trait is above zero.  Once it becomes -0, it heals at a rate of 1 point per day.  And, when the damage dips below their Stamina Trait ("Endurance" for the Physical Traits) that trait "Collapses" and some very negative things happen, plus the body can no longer heal, and requires medicine to push it back up to where it can heal.

When a trait does go -Stamina, here's some examples of the effects for the Physical Traits:

Strength: The character is unable to move, lacking any strength to do so
Agility: The body is unable to generate enough effort or control to move or stand.
Dexterity: Equalibrium is shot, fine motor control, non existant, the character can only flail helplessly.
Endurance: The Character is put into a coma.
Resiliance: The character is physically killed and will soon suffer other problems if not resussitated.

Here's an example of how Traits are going to be written out on the Character Sheets.  The first is a normal "average" entry with no wounds or penalties.  The second is what happens when you have Wounds that do not exceed your Trait's Base state and go -0.  The second is when you have Wounds that go -0 but no penalties.  The fourth is a Penalty only blow, and the last is when you have both -0 wounds and penalties. (unfortunately I couldn't get tables to work for cleaner presentation so bear with me.)

Trait - Base Trait - Wound - Penalties - Effective Trait

STR | 25 | 00 / -0 | -0 | 25
AGL | 25 | 15 / -0 | -0 | 25
DEX | 25 | 32 / -7 | -0 | 18
END | 25 | 00 / -0 | -6 | 19
RSL | 25 | 36 / -11 | -9 | 5

The point of Collapse is when the Effective trait reaches -0.  As you can see, when penalties are used, the trait collapses far faster because it effects immedeately, while the Wounds have a buffer.  The Penalty is supposed to represent the momentary shock of a blow which can blur your vision for a minute or confuse you temporarily.  You can't die from penalties, unless attached to wounds... or other outside causes like bleeding.  Even if your RSL is reduced to -0 by penalties, you essentially lose consciousness, like your heart stopped for a second or the wind was knocked out of you so hard you couldn't restart your breathing till unconscious.  You then recover at a rate of one point a second, allowing for quick recovery from this collapsed state and to normal.

This is currently how we're handling things, but for some reason, it's not feeling right to me, and I'm not sure why.  It's like knowing that there has to be a smoother, less complex way of handling this but not sure how to do it.

I have considered using a  "checks" system where they roll their Trait against a target number, but this doesn't feel right either.  I know this is highly Karmic in nature too, which may rankle some, but is a neccessity for the game setting at large. (massive power scales and humans as we know them are the rarity not the rule)

So I guess ultimately, I need to get some outside opinion because I'm too close to the trees to see the forest and there may be a simpler way to do this maybe sans penalties or through another method.  Like I said, I'm looking for ideas to smooth things out and make them cleaner for players to understand, faster to use and specific analysis or ideas will probably help the most.

Thanks for your input!

St. Paul, MN

See my game development blog at:


I think the simplest way is to apply all "Stun" Damage to a particular Stat like Endurance. It could lead to everyone focusing on taking out Endurance though as it is an easy way to bring an enemy down. Remember however, it is difficult to stun someone while shooting them with a typical fire arm so you may want to allow special "Stun" attacks (rifle butt, Sap etc) that do specifically Endurane damage, otherwise damage is random. So when Ednurance reaches Level X(The level at which someone is incapped) the person can no longer function.

However, IMHO if you want to be more realistic, have another stat which simply tracks consciousness. Set it to level 50, and everytime a Stat takes damage, the Uncon level takes damage. So regardless of the state of other stats, a character is incapped when Uncon reaches 0.

I think though that this illustrates a point about Hit Points. People often bad mouth them as unrealistic (and with good cause) but honestly their abstractness can be an asset when trying to avoid a combat system becoming too cumbersome.