17 June 2009

D+ v. D+

One thing I forgot to mention about HackMaster Basic: It uses (at least for combat) 1d20 + modifiers versus 1d20 + modifiers.

(If any non-game-geeks want to try to follow this, that means: The player of the attacker rolls a die—which happens to be twenty-sided instead of your standard cubic dice—and adds whatever modifiers his character is entitled to. The player of the defender does likewise. The higher total of die plus modifiers “wins”. You may have read that there is no winning in role-playing games. This is—generally—true. There are no game ending victory conditions. There are, however, minor victories along the way.)

From a design point-of-view, I love this. In actual play...not so much, and I can’t make a convincing argument for why this is so. Likely it stems—at least in part—from two of my peculiar weaknesses:

  • Remembering details
  • Mental arithmetic

When running the Lord of the Rings campaign, I often found myself doing this dance:

  1. Roll for the NPC
  2. Add the NPC’s modifiers
  3. Ask the player for their total
  4. Having completely forgotten the total for the NPC I had just calculated, calculate it again
  5. If I’m lucky, those numbers haven’t forced the player’s total from my mind...

And—of course—Decipher’s Coda system using 2d6 (your standard pair of two cubic dice) rather than a single die just added one more obstacle for my arithmetic-challenged brain.

10 comments:

Don the NE DM said...

The number thing is why I always have a scrap paper or my dry erase board handy, I write down my totals before asking the player for theirs. That way I don't have to do too much in the way of mental math. Of course there are many systems that due this, including Forbidden, but I say Forbidden is better but I am biased. ;)

Robert Fisher said...

I really like this design. Even better if the difference between the two results determines the magnitude of the outcome, but that adds more math.

With Forbidden, I think it helps that the numbers tend to be lower and there tend to be fewer modifiers.

I think I did jot down the numbers sometimes, but—if we ever do restart the LotR campaign...and if we keep it Coda—I’m going to have to be more methodical about it.

Don the NE DM said...

Well, I have been trying to keep with the K.I.S.S. method for Forbidden. Problem is that Von has to keep reminding me that having a 5 is actually a really good thing, you would think I would remember that. To quote Von exactly "It's not D&D."

I liked my character in the LotR campaign. My Noble bardic warrior with the ability to summon the Armies of Gondor.. or so he leads people to believe. :D

Matthew James Stanham said...

It is tempting to just "add 10" instead of rolling a D20, which puts us right back at the door of D&D. I have recently been thinking how much I like the War Hammer approach, where you roll under your weapon skill to score a hit, and the opponent can sacrifice an attack to do the same to negate a hit. The last part turned up in the AD&D/2e CFHB as well, of course.

Robert Fisher said...

With the Coda system, I’m considering having the defender just add 7 instead of rolling (2d6), but there are some complications that I might like to adjust for. (e.g. Orcs have an ability that lets them roll 3d6 on dodges.)

tzunder said...

I can cope with 1d6+mod, 2d6+mod, 1d10+mod and 1d20+mod..

But I can't possibly cope with d100+mod.. aargh

Many maths literate people can't understand this.

I am assuming that the mod is on a similar scale to the basic die.

Matthew James Stanham said...

With the Coda system, I’m considering having the defender just add 7 instead of rolling (2d6), but there are some complications that I might like to adjust for. (e.g. Orcs have an ability that lets them roll 3d6 on dodges).

A bit tricky, I suppose you would have to decide between 10 and 11, or use 11 on odd rounds or something. Let us know how it turns out for you.

Robert Fisher said...

I’d have no problem with just setting it at 10. Or even letting PCs with the ability have an 11 and stick NPCs with a 10. ^_^

Of course, it can’t be that straightforward. The actual rule is that you roll 3d6 and drop the lowest. Still, that just means I have to think a little harder to calculate the average.

There’s an open-ended roll rule too, but hopefully that can be ignored.

There’s also some weirdness in how the different defenses interact, which losing the roll might make a bit wonky. I’m going to have to take some time to re-familiarize myself with the rules when the time comes.

It might go better if I go with the “players always roll” route.

Greylond said...

On the HackMaster Basic Character sheet is a chart for your two most commonly used weapons. All you have to do is to total up all of your bonuses for Attack, Defense, Init, Speed, and Damage. Then when you roll you just roll the die and addup one number. It's a fairly easy combat system that flows really well, IMO.

Robert Fisher said...

I dunno...my weakness at mental arithmetic has disrupted the flow of many a system. ^_^ We’ll see. In any case, though, it’ll really be about the system as a whole.

Now to read the Quick Start rules.