PDA

View Full Version : Statistics and Gaming



Thinker
2010-07-27, 12:14 PM
When you are designing mechanics, choosing abilities, or just comparing different aspects of mechanics, how much of what you do is related to statistical analysis? You know that Power Attack is better than no Power Attack and you know that Power Attack is better for combat than Skill Focus (Appraise), but what is your basis for Power Attack instead of Weapon Specialization? What role do statistics play in your gaming activities in general? Do you think a knowledge of statistics (or even math in general) is important for designing a good game?

For me, I try to assign a value to everything based on their significance to the expected time spent in the game. For example, if the game is combat heavy, I might assign (in my own mind) a value of 0 to Power Attack and use that as my baseline, with other feats measured against it. When designing mechanics I try to approach it in a similar manner, trying to determine how large an effect a specific ability has on the rest of the game. I find math and statistics to be very important to game design.

Aroka
2010-07-27, 01:22 PM
I don't see balance as a design goal for RPGs, but running the numbers - figuring out what sort of results the mechanics can and will get you - is absolutely essential. D&D 3.X is full of examples of writers not even trying a single experiment using their mechanics.

The one that jumps to mind first (and is probably the craziest example) is the DMG2 mechanics for running a business. If you take out a loan at something like a modest 1% yearly interest (and good luck finding terms that good!) to start a small shop in a big city, even if you're a surprisingly high-level experts with your feats directed toward running your business, you'll literally never be able to pay off the loan, and, in fact, probably won't be able to keep up with your interest payments, because the profits businesses create are so ridiculously poor. The way the numbers work, your investment (whether a loan or not) literally won't be paid off in DECADES (I think I got 80 years with a 1st-level expert with feats for the job in a low-risk business).

Nevermind modelling actual economy, but why would any PC ever use those rules when even high-risk businesses won't pay off the initial investment in years and years, much less make a profit?

Basically, you should do numbers and statistics at least to the point that you know what the actual effects of mechanics are. This does pertain to optimization somewhat - if one option of an equal "price" is strictly worse than another in almost every conceivable way, why include it? These mistakes aren't uncommon in RPGs.

valadil
2010-07-27, 01:43 PM
When you are designing mechanics, choosing abilities, or just comparing different aspects of mechanics, how much of what you do is related to statistical analysis? You know that Power Attack is better than no Power Attack and you know that Power Attack is better for combat than Skill Focus (Appraise), but what is your basis for Power Attack instead of Weapon Specialization? What role do statistics play in your gaming activities in general? Do you think a knowledge of statistics (or even math in general) is important for designing a good game?


I do some amount of analysis, but mostly I just trust what I read online. I saw a chart once explaining the damage you get out of power attack. I agreed with their math and have kept it in mind when building fighter types. I think a lot of the reason 3rd ed and up is more heavily optimized than previous editions is because this sort of knowledge spreads more easily. You only need one person to go to that level of effort analyzing power attack, and then millions of gamers have access to that knowledge.

I think games should be designed so that more affects can't be compared. In 4th ed, I don't know how a weapon that does 2w compares to one that does 1w + push 3 squares. And I wouldn't trust anyone who claims to have figured out the math behind a push. Which power I took would depend on the context of the character.

Thinker
2010-07-27, 01:54 PM
I do some amount of analysis, but mostly I just trust what I read online. I saw a chart once explaining the damage you get out of power attack. I agreed with their math and have kept it in mind when building fighter types. I think a lot of the reason 3rd ed and up is more heavily optimized than previous editions is because this sort of knowledge spreads more easily. You only need one person to go to that level of effort analyzing power attack, and then millions of gamers have access to that knowledge.
That is certainly true and I hadn't considered that it had an important role in optimization.



I think games should be designed so that more affects can't be compared.
That is an interesting take and I suppose one that would have a lesser number of abilities overall to avoid duplications. To use a 3e comparison, you, all precision damage is the same and it applies in different scenarios with different classes, though you can compare it to Power Attack, it is more difficult.


In 4th ed, I don't know how a weapon that does 2w compares to one that does 1w + push 3 squares. And I wouldn't trust anyone who claims to have figured out the math behind a push. Which power I took would depend on the context of the character.
I would hesitate to immediately disbelieve anyone just for that claim, though I would certainly want to see the math behind their claims. I do and read a lot of statistics related to baseball (referred to as sabermetrics) and there are a lot of situations that are seemingly unrelated or hard to define that can be quantified. I think that you could find a way to relate the overall value of 2w to 1w + push, but it would have to be based on a firm grasp of average party composition, average terrain, etc. and I don't think that there are enough surveys of gamers to truly know this sort of information.

Xefas
2010-07-27, 02:02 PM
I think the only aspect important to a game is whether it is fun or not. "Fun" is a broad term, and heavily subjective.

However, in my experience, I have only met a hand full of people whose fun genuinely revolves around mechanical balance and analysis *in a roleplaying game*. I've found that, often, if you take someone overly concerned with balance and the idea of "everyone must contribute in combat equally" and have them play something like Burning Wheel, Shock, or Primetime Adventures, they realize that mechanics are just a vessel for the development of plot or characters, and when you really get into roleplaying, playing a sickly one-legged orphan can be just as fun as playing the heroic champion who shoots unblockable instant-death lasers from his eyes.

The most fun sessions I've had of rules-heavy games like D&D and Exalted were ones where we hardly rolled any dice.

valadil
2010-07-27, 02:15 PM
I would hesitate to immediately disbelieve anyone just for that claim, though I would certainly want to see the math behind their claims.

I feel like they'd have to make quite a few assumptions about the value of a push/pull. I also think that movement would scale differently than damage. For instance, more damage is always better. But pushing someone 20 squares isn't all that different from pushing them 10. And if you're in a dungeon you might not have the option to push that far, so some of the effect is lost. You could probably have a few models for how you compare forced movement with damage, but I don't think any one model would be totally true. That's not the case for comparing power attack with weapon specialization.

akma
2010-07-27, 02:39 PM
Mathemetically, the probablity of you succseeding in something you try in D&D rises per 5% per each +1, and decreases by 5% per every -1. So -5 to attack means 25% less chance to hit. With damage it`s more complicated, becuse it varias in situation.
If you attack an opponent that does a lot of damage in his attacks, it`s important to kill him fast so he would do less damage overall, so adding +5 to damage if you will hit him will be worthwhile. It`s the same with low HP enemies that you want to finish fast so they won`t do anymore damage.
However, if you attack an enemy that doesn`t do a lot of damage and got a resonable amount of HP, I would do regular attacks, unless he got a very low AC (one that I could hit with a 5 or less on the die).


But pushing someone 20 squares isn't all that different from pushing them 10.

I admit I am completly unfamilier with 4E rules, but I disagree.
If it`s a melee fighter, the more you push him the better, becuse then he can`t hit you until he gets closer. 10 squares might add another round to the time it will take for him to get to you, meaning that you could attack him for a range without getting hit for 1 more round.
But if his main attack is ranged or magic, pushing him more will hurt your cause, becuse your melee focused allies will take longer to get to hit him.

Thinker
2010-07-27, 02:46 PM
I think the only aspect important to a game is whether it is fun or not. "Fun" is a broad term, and heavily subjective.

However, in my experience, I have only met a hand full of people whose fun genuinely revolves around mechanical balance and analysis *in a roleplaying game*. I've found that, often, if you take someone overly concerned with balance and the idea of "everyone must contribute in combat equally" and have them play something like Burning Wheel, Shock, or Primetime Adventures, they realize that mechanics are just a vessel for the development of plot or characters, and when you really get into roleplaying, playing a sickly one-legged orphan can be just as fun as playing the heroic champion who shoots unblockable instant-death lasers from his eyes.

The most fun sessions I've had of rules-heavy games like D&D and Exalted were ones where we hardly rolled any dice.

That is an interesting take. It seems as though you think of things as "less is best". I don't understand how playing a character who most likely fails to contribute fun in any way. I suppose it doesn't matter if failure doesn't matter much or that the mechanics are such that your character's shortcomings don't actually affect play. Systems don't have to be balanced so that everyone can contribute equally in all situations.

Mechanics should do what they say they do. If a system says that spell-casters are powerful masters of reality and can bend it to their whim, but need time and preparation to do so and aren't particularly good in a fight on their own, the system should actually reflect that. It should also note that these spell-casters probably won't make the best adventurers (if the game is based around adventuring).

Xefas
2010-07-27, 03:02 PM
I don't understand how playing a character who most likely fails to contribute fun in any way.

Of course he contributes. A sickly one-legged orphan can be given all manner of situations to create an interesting story for all players to partake in.

For instance, given a D&Desque high-fantasy setting, it could be the tale of Ted the Pathetic Orphan who travels far and wide to find his hero, Steve the Magnificent Paladin, who his dead mum read him stories about before she tragically died. Steve could grow Ted's leg back, and then Ted could become an adventurer just like Steve! On his way, he faces such harrowing tasks as how to feed and shelter himself. Perhaps he even runs into a lone kobold that tries to eat him, but he outwits the fiend, only to find out that Tiktik was banished from his homeland for being the least effective kobold ever to be born, and the two become friends and travel together.

After a year or more of limping all over the tri-state area, he eventually runs into a spot of trouble with brigands, but is rescued by a dashing elf, Margaret the Dashing. She speaks with Ted and tells him that, a few hundred years ago, she had adventured with Steve, and that he must have died a long time ago.

Ted, heartbroken, returns home to his orphanage, which is under imminent attack by Grimdark the Necromancer. At that moment, he realizes that he never needed his leg in the first place, nor did he need Steve. He got along just fine by himself, and the strength was in him all along; he just needed the inspiration to get off his ass and do it!

He then leads a brave defense of the orphanage, rallying the convalescent orphans to fight off the zombie horde. Of course, they fail in the end and everyone dies. Ted goes to Celestia, where he meets Steve, and the two of them stand aside one another as equals. The end.

That could easily take several months of weekly gaming sessions and would be fun as hell to play.

Curmudgeon
2010-07-27, 04:04 PM
Mathemetically, the probablity of you succseeding in something you try in D&D rises per 5% per each +1, and decreases by 5% per every -1. So -5 to attack means 25% less chance to hit.
This is always wrong.

Let's just take a simple thought experiment: an enemy where you need a rolled 25 to hit. You'll hit 5% of the time (on natural 20s). OK, so add +5 to your AB, and you need a rolled 20 to hit. You'll still hit 5% of the time (on natural 20s) ─ a 0% increase in your chance to hit for that +5.

You can't determine probabilities in a vacuum.

Thinker
2010-07-28, 08:04 AM
@Xefas (sorry, it is a bit long):

Of course he contributes. A sickly one-legged orphan can be given all manner of situations to create an interesting story for all players to partake in.
So Mr. Orphan is an NPC? If the story is all about one character, the other players may not enjoy it as much.



For instance, given a D&Desque high-fantasy setting, it could be the tale of Ted the Pathetic Orphan who travels far and wide to find his hero, Steve the Magnificent Paladin, who his dead mum read him stories about before she tragically died. Steve could grow Ted's leg back, and then Ted could become an adventurer just like Steve! On his way, he faces such harrowing tasks as how to feed and shelter himself.
If the entire game is about Ted the Pathetic Orphan, why would the other players bother showing up? How is such a harrowing task interesting and fun (not just for Ted's player, but for the GM and the other players, too)? What sort of resolution system do you use for this? If it is basically assumed that Ted will succeed provided he describes his ineffectiveness and desire well enough, it fails to provide an interesting experience because there is no longer any risk. It's like playing poker without any chips and already knowing all of the hands, sure you win, but it isn't going to be fun. The flip side is that you use a resolution system where the risk and danger is very real and Ted is likely to fail because of his background...and then Ted the Pathetic Orphan dies as expected due to starvation.



Perhaps he even runs into a lone kobold that tries to eat him, but he outwits the fiend, only to find out that Tiktik was banished from his homeland for being the least effective kobold ever to be born, and the two become friends and travel together.

So Ted finds one of the only creatures lamer than himself to team up with. Assuming that Tiktik is actually quite handy, albeit not very bright and their team-up works, Ted being pathetic has nothing to do with this. He could simply be any character with above average intelligence. How do you resolve the differences between Ted and Tiktik's cunning? You could just compare their scores and roleplay out that Ted wins, but without risk, why does Tiktik even bother? In a world where the dim never outwit the bright, how did Tiktik survive?



After a year or more of limping all over the tri-state area, he eventually runs into a spot of trouble with brigands, but is rescued by a dashing elf, Margaret the Dashing. She speaks with Ted and tells him that, a few hundred years ago, she had adventured with Steve, and that he must have died a long time ago.
So is Margaret a DMPC that is significantly better than Ted? What happened to Tiktik? How are the brigands important to the story, except to introduce that Margaret is far better than Ted, which isn't surprising given the basis of the story? How do you display any of this with a system?



Ted, heartbroken, returns home to his orphanage, which is under imminent attack by Grimdark the Necromancer. At that moment, he realizes that he never needed his leg in the first place, nor did he need Steve. He got along just fine by himself, and the strength was in him all along; he just needed the inspiration to get off his ass and do it!
Except that he didn't. He survived briefly on his own, outwitted another character, and then was rescued by a third. Sure he went on adventures, but the strength was never with him.



He then leads a brave defense of the orphanage, rallying the convalescent orphans to fight off the zombie horde. Of course, they fail in the end and everyone dies. Ted goes to Celestia, where he meets Steve, and the two of them stand aside one another as equals. The end.
So Ted never had any personal strength, failed to accomplish anything, and got a bunch of orphans killed rather than trying to save them (by fleeing)? I doubt all of the orphans are crippled in the same way as Ted. In what way is he Steve's equal?



That could easily take several months of weekly gaming sessions and would be fun as hell to play.
How would you resolve the encounters in your story to make it interesting? There should generally be a risk of failure for the party's endeavors and I fail to see how there could have been here (except when the story necessitated that he fail). Either the risk would have been too great and it wouldn't be fun or it would be too small and not be fun. How was any of this fun for the other people who weren't playing Ted the Pathetic?
Xefas, I am not trying to say that your play-style is wrong or even trying to discuss roleplay with mechanics. I'm certainly not trying to pick on you, these are simply curiosities to me.

I am trying to gather how people prefer to resolve mechanics, how mechanics do or should integrate with the world and the story, how the numbers and statistics should be weighed for those mechanics, and what people find fun.

Telonius
2010-07-28, 08:21 AM
You know that Power Attack is better than no Power Attack and you know that Power Attack is better for combat than Skill Focus (Appraise), but what is your basis for Power Attack instead of Weapon Specialization?

Weapon Specialization gives you a flat +2 bonus to damage for all hits from a single weapon. It doesn't scale with level; it gives you +2 at first level and +2 at 20th. Let's say you have 4 encounters a day, and you hit 5 times each encounter. (Just pulling the numbers out of the air, but I think that's a reasonable estimate). That's a total of +40 damage if you take Weapon Spec.

Now, say you have Power Attack and PA for 2 on each of those that would have been hits (using a 2h weapon). How often do you make the hit by two or less? I'd guess maybe 2 or 3 times a day, but let's say 5 just for the sake of argument. 15 hits at +4 damage each, gives a total of +60 damage, at very minimal power attacking. Much more is possible, if you discover you're fighting a low-AC foe. Plus you can use the feat with any weapon. If you find a +4 Sword of Ogre Decapitation you can still make use of Power Attack, whereas you're out of luck if your Weapon Specialization is in Greataxe.

Earthwalker
2010-07-28, 09:02 AM
At the moment I am playing DnD 3.5 and I must say I do look here for ideas of what feas are worth taking. I also spend time myself trying to work out what will be best. So the functions of the mechanics do mean something to me. If I was honest tho the work needed in terms of rules fu and metagaming are outside my tolerances for playing a fun game.
I donít like the tactical combat with the moving these squares to flank the bad guy to sneak attack for +xD6 damage. I would be happy to play a game where I knew no rules at all. If a GM wanted to just ask what I was doing and then tell me how it worked I would be fine. Of course thatís not likely to find a GM that wants to take on that much work.

Psyx
2010-07-28, 10:14 AM
When you are designing mechanics, choosing abilities, or just comparing different aspects of mechanics, how much of what you do is related to statistical analysis? You know that Power Attack is better than no Power Attack and you know that Power Attack is better for combat than Skill Focus (Appraise), but what is your basis for Power Attack instead of Weapon Specialization? What role do statistics play in your gaming activities in general? Do you think a knowledge of statistics (or even math in general) is important for designing a good game?

Yes.

People who can't do maths should not design game systems.

Look at V:tM 1st Ed: A game written by people who couldn't add up.


That's why the D20 OGL has been good in many ways: It's allowed creative people with great setting ideas to make a game without knowing much about maths.

akma
2010-07-28, 10:43 AM
This is always wrong.

Let's just take a simple thought experiment: an enemy where you need a rolled 25 to hit. You'll hit 5% of the time (on natural 20s). OK, so add +5 to your AB, and you need a rolled 20 to hit. You'll still hit 5% of the time (on natural 20s) ─ a 0% increase in your chance to hit for that +5.

You can't determine probabilities in a vacuum.

No resonable DM would put an enemy that it would take a naturel 20 to hit.
Of course, there could be cases when naturel 20 will be needed, but they are rare.
In cases when you need 16 and higher to hit the enemy, -4 or -40 to attack won`t have any diffrence between then, but I`m sure those are not the common cases, as I personelly wouldn`t put a that hard to hit enemy most of the time, and with a party of varied attack bonuses, the person with significantly lower attack bonus will likely have a diffrent method of attacking that doesn`t involve AC or that the effective AC against it is lower (touch attacks, attacks while the enemy is flat footed, fireballs, etc)

Caphi
2010-07-28, 10:46 AM
No resonable DM would put an enemy that it would take a naturel 20 to hit.

No DM would ever use one of these? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PuzzleBoss)

Curmudgeon
2010-07-28, 10:55 AM
I`ll say my exemple is rarely wrong in cases where the bonuses and minuses are not extreme.
But your math is still entirely wrong.

OK, so you've got an enemy that you'll hit on only a rolled 20 (1 number). If you increase your AB by +5 you'll hit on 15-20 (6 numbers), increasing your chances of hitting by +500% ─ not the +25% you stated.

You still can't determine probabilities in a vacuum.

Amphetryon
2010-07-28, 11:00 AM
No resonable DM would put an enemy that it would take a naturel 20 to hit.
Of course, there could be cases when naturel 20 will be needed, but they are rare.
I can see that your experiences and expectations of a DM being 'reasonable' are greatly different than my own, or of a great many posters whom I would call friends.

I'll assume that the first sentence of yours in the above quote was not intended to be inflammatory toward these friends.

Enjoy your gaming groups.

akma
2010-07-28, 11:01 AM
But your math is still entirely wrong.

OK, so you've got an enemy that you'll hit on only a rolled 20 (1 number). If you increase your AB by +5 you'll hit on 15-20 (6 numbers), increasing your chances of hitting by +500% ─ not the +25% you stated.

You still can't determine probabilities in a vacuum.

I deleted that line, appearently not fast enough...
Anyways, I`m not talking about the multiple of chance.
Only to hit with a 20, means 5% probablity to hit.
Hitting with 15-20, means that there are six possiblities for you to hit, means that the total chance of you hitting your enemy is 30%.


I can see that your experiences and expectations of a DM being 'reasonable' are greatly different than my own, or of a great many posters whom I would call friends.


I don`t get it, why make the players fight an enemy that they can rarely hit?

Thinker
2010-07-28, 11:03 AM
Weapon Specialization gives you a flat +2 bonus to damage for all hits from a single weapon. It doesn't scale with level; it gives you +2 at first level and +2 at 20th. Let's say you have 4 encounters a day, and you hit 5 times each encounter. (Just pulling the numbers out of the air, but I think that's a reasonable estimate). That's a total of +40 damage if you take Weapon Spec.

Now, say you have Power Attack and PA for 2 on each of those that would have been hits (using a 2h weapon). How often do you make the hit by two or less? I'd guess maybe 2 or 3 times a day, but let's say 5 just for the sake of argument. 15 hits at +4 damage each, gives a total of +60 damage, at very minimal power attacking. Much more is possible, if you discover you're fighting a low-AC foe. Plus you can use the feat with any weapon. If you find a +4 Sword of Ogre Decapitation you can still make use of Power Attack, whereas you're out of luck if your Weapon Specialization is in Greataxe.

Thank you for illustrating the example in a clear way. I know the math behind it. I'm very good at math and statistics. I was asking what people use as their basis for these comparisons on their own. It doesn't just have to be this explicit example.

Amphetryon
2010-07-28, 11:19 AM
I don`t get it, why make the players fight an enemy that they can rarely hit?Some folks enjoy a game of D&D that's got other methods of dealing with enemies than 'I swing my [melee weapon] at it.'

Thinker
2010-07-28, 11:22 AM
Some folks enjoy a game of D&D that's got other methods of dealing with enemies than 'I swing my [melee weapon] at it.'

What other options do you think make a more interesting game beyond that?

Amphetryon
2010-07-28, 11:25 AM
What other options do you think make a more interesting game beyond that?

Magic, Skills, Storyline, Phat Lewt.... just to name a few.

Deen Fellithor
2010-07-28, 11:26 AM
hello, thread! when my firends and me desine game mechanics we just go with what is coolest and do not obther with working out statistics and stuff. its just a game!'

cheers,
Deen Fellithor

Thinker
2010-07-28, 11:28 AM
Magic, Skills, Storyline, Phat Lewt.... just to name a few.

I was hoping for a more specific response :smalltongue: I don't disagree with you, I simply want to know more. How should these other mechanics be resolved?

Caphi
2010-07-28, 11:29 AM
I was hoping for a more specific response :smalltongue: I don't disagree with you, I simply want to know more. How should these other mechanics be resolved?

I wound find a way to immobilize or flatfoot him (if he was a fast type) or eliminate his armor (if he was a heavy type). In the latter case, making touch attacks would also work.

Psyx
2010-07-28, 11:41 AM
Games should be designed so that 'no brainer' feats and spells should... not really exist. Ideally, things should be better balanced, and across the board, nothing should ever be always the 'weaker' option.

This goes for skills too. 'hobby' skills should be balanced -cost wise- against useful skills. Focus(underwater basket weaving) should not 'cost' the same as power attack, which should not cost the same as weapon focus.

Games should be written in such a manner than a player with 'inside knowledge' should not be able to create a character that is vastly superior in every way to someone who just read the book once.

Choices should be simple and obvious, and their value/worth evident.

'How to' advice by the publisher should be fair and sensible. It shouldn't lie, or misrepresent certain feats, because it's taken to heart by new players, and if it falsely 'sells' weak abilities, then new players will be even more hamstrung.

akma
2010-07-28, 11:48 AM
Some folks enjoy a game of D&D that's got other methods of dealing with enemies than 'I swing my [melee weapon] at it.'

I see your point now.


I was hoping for a more specific response :smalltongue: I don't disagree with you, I simply want to know more. How should these other mechanics be resolved?

There are plenty of things you can do in D&D. Attacks that require saves and ignore AC are plenty, and there are also attacks that AC is less effective against (like touch attacks) and magic missiles that always hit.

Thinker
2010-07-28, 11:52 AM
There are plenty of things you can do in D&D. Attacks that require saves and ignore AC are plenty, and there are also attacks that AC is less effective against (like touch attacks) and magic missiles that always hit.

I don't care what D&D does; most people on here are familiar with it and so it makes a good reference point for examples and the like, but D&D should not be the default assumption about generic mechanical discussion. I'm asking, in your mind, what should the mechanics do in relation to combat? How should they relate to one another? What options should be available to melee type characters? In your experience, what makes for a fun method?

Thinker
2010-07-28, 11:58 AM
Games should be designed so that 'no brainer' feats and spells should... not really exist. Ideally, things should be better balanced, and across the board, nothing should ever be always the 'weaker' option.

This goes for skills too. 'hobby' skills should be balanced -cost wise- against useful skills. Focus(underwater basket weaving) should not 'cost' the same as power attack, which should not cost the same as weapon focus.

Games should be written in such a manner than a player with 'inside knowledge' should not be able to create a character that is vastly superior in every way to someone who just read the book once.

Choices should be simple and obvious, and their value/worth evident.

'How to' advice by the publisher should be fair and sensible. It shouldn't lie, or misrepresent certain feats, because it's taken to heart by new players, and if it falsely 'sells' weak abilities, then new players will be even more hamstrung.

That is an interesting position. Do you think that all options should be balanced with one another so that a base ability is as good as all other abilities? What about abilities that are further down a chain of abilities (for example, Weapon Specialization requires Power Attack) and those can be better than the base ability? Do you think that it is OK for a system to provide certain abilities that are better so long as it accurately annotates this?

How would you handle abilities that clearly should be better for the sake of the environment/campaign/etc. After all, in a modern setting, a fine katana could cost the same amount to purchase as a Glock, but the Glock would be far more useful in a combat situation.

How should abilities that are used in different situations be balanced? Should in combat abilities cost the same as social abilities? Should their costs be drawn from the same pool?

akma
2010-07-28, 12:02 PM
I don't care what D&D does; most people on here are familiar with it and so it makes a good reference point for examples and the like, but D&D should not be the default assumption about generic mechanical discussion. I'm asking, in your mind, what should the mechanics do in relation to combat? How should they relate to one another? What options should be available to melee type characters? In your experience, what makes for a fun method?

In general, I`ll say that game systems should reward clever combat stratagy in a significant way.
Also, enemies having specific weaknesses and things they are more powerfull against, and that various powers the character might have should be signifcant and variad.
The combat system should be built in a way that the combatants are generally equal in power, for exemple making long range attacks much more powerfull then short range attacks will hurt the balance and hurt players who will want to play melee.
For a melee type fighter, I`ll say that a main attack and a few secondery special attacks (like an attack that make the enemy fall) would be nice, and not just having 1 usefull attack.
About what makes a fun method, I can not currently think of a good answer to that question.

jseah
2010-07-28, 12:10 PM
^Deen:
You end up with things like that error I caught in my homebrew system.

Rapid Casting
For each 1% of casting time reduction, the spell failure chance is increased by 1%
There were other ways of reducing spell failure. Which meant that it was possible to reduce casting time to 0% and cast instantly, and manage to pull off the spell some of the time.
Even more hilariously, it was technically possible to reduce casting time to negative percentages. And still succeed at the spell almost all the time.


^Thinker:
I think every character should have more than one option, regardless of the build in the system. Many options should be easy and obviously important in the system so that characters don't run out of things to do, even if it's run away and regroup, unless they're massively outclassed by an opponent specializing in reducing enemy options.

The more diverse the options characters get, the less likely they are going to find themselves helpless.

As for melee, since their defining ability is to deal lots of damage up close and be able to absorb attacks, they should be able to:
1. keep up with enemy movement (either by moving faster and through obstacles or slowing down enemies)
2. prevent enemies from ignoring them
3. bypass enemy hindrances/protections (not necessarily perfectly)
4. easily kill/destroy unhardened targets

Curmudgeon
2010-07-28, 12:26 PM
No resonable DM would put an enemy that it would take a naturel 20 to hit.
I refer you to Dungeon Master's Guide page 49, Table 3Ė2: Encounter Difficulty. You'll see that fully 5% of all encounters should be of Overpowering difficulty (EL 5+ higher than party level). Any reasonable DM will rather frequently put forward an enemy that's extremely difficult to hit.

Bagelz
2010-07-28, 12:29 PM
on the topic of 4e modifiers:
I did a spreadsheet on weapon properties. dazed/stunned/slowed/forced movement aside (purely a DPR exersize).
ignoring powers, assumming 1[w] at-wills or encounters (heroic teir) and ignoring extra dice for crits on magic items.

EDIT: rechecked my math
at a base 40% to hit with a +2 proficiency (no stat bonus: is mostly the same with stat bonus)
increasing the die size will net 1/2 damage per round (20% from d4 to d6, 9% from d10 to d12)
adding for each point of brutal it will add 0.2 damage (8% at d4, 3%at d12)
going to +3 profiency or high crit both add 5% damage (0.125 dmg at d4, 0.325dmg at d12)
size>+3=high crit>brutal

at a base 60% to hit
die size adds 0.7 dpr (30% from d4 to d6, 12% from d10 to d12)
brutal add 0.3 dpr (12% at d4, 4.6% at d12)
+3 and high crit still ad 5%.
size>brutal>highcrit+3

high crit and +3 scale with weapon size not with chance to hit.
size and brutal scale with chance to hit. If you are a striker get the biggest damage die you can (1d12 or 2d6).


now if you are not a striker, then your riders (slow/stun/secondary attack) are more important than damage, and i'd take a +3 sword over anything barring other feats (for example a warden can take feats to get +6 damage per hit if they slow with a hammer while in guardian form, so take a hammer instead of a sword).

akma
2010-07-28, 12:52 PM
I refer you to Dungeon Master's Guide page 49, Table 3Ė2: Encounter Difficulty. You'll see that fully 5% of all encounters should be of Overpowering difficulty (EL 5+ higher than party level). Any reasonable DM will rather frequently put forward an enemy that's extremely difficult to hit.

Amphetryon already convinced me.

Thinker
2010-07-28, 01:18 PM
on the topic of 4e modifiers:
I did a spreadsheet on weapon properties. dazed/stunned/slowed/forced movement aside (purely a DPR exersize).
ignoring powers, assumming 1[w] at-wills or encounters (heroic teir) and ignoring extra dice for crits on magic items.

EDIT: rechecked my math
at a base 40% to hit with a +2 proficiency (no stat bonus: is mostly the same with stat bonus)
increasing the die size will net 1/2 damage per round (20% from d4 to d6, 9% from d10 to d12)
adding for each point of brutal it will add 0.2 damage (8% at d4, 3%at d12)
going to +3 profiency or high crit both add 5% damage (0.125 dmg at d4, 0.325dmg at d12)
size>+3=high crit>brutal

at a base 60% to hit
die size adds 0.7 dpr (30% from d4 to d6, 12% from d10 to d12)
brutal add 0.3 dpr (12% at d4, 4.6% at d12)
+3 and high crit still ad 5%.
size>brutal>highcrit+3

high crit and +3 scale with weapon size not with chance to hit.
size and brutal scale with chance to hit. If you are a striker get the biggest damage die you can (1d12 or 2d6).


now if you are not a striker, then your riders (slow/stun/secondary attack) are more important than damage, and i'd take a +3 sword over anything barring other feats (for example a warden can take feats to get +6 damage per hit if they slow with a hammer while in guardian form, so take a hammer instead of a sword).
Nice work. Any chance you can post a Google Docs link to your spreadsheet?

Vantharion
2010-07-28, 01:44 PM
No DM would ever use one of these? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PuzzleBoss)

I hate you, I just got distracted from what I was doing for about 3 hours...
Why do people ALWAYS link to tvtropes... its like saying 'Hey, why don't you go ascend in Nethack' with a high will DC.

Reinboom
2010-07-28, 02:17 PM
If it is an auxiliary mechanic (feats), I avoid trying set mechanics that affect the confirmation rolls (hit d20) in games. These mechanical pieces tend to either become tax or are worthless and become difficult to design other interesting pieces in the same group.

With others (class features), yes, I do.
I tend to write quick scripts to assist me in these goals, however. One example script is: http://pifro.com/tempmove/dicekeep.php


I would like to note that with many mechanics, however, it is a might bit difficult to try to find a value pretesting. Some mechanics get used in completely unintentional ways and can balloon.
For this reason, I try to avoid open-ended mechanics mechanics that cause events based on loose conditions (keep doing x until, or 'whenever x, then y with no cost'). I also avoid mechanics that reference portions of the game that would be always shifting (wildshape).


(Sidenote: I love information gathering topics such as this. So handy to dig through.)

Xefas
2010-07-28, 03:45 PM
Sorry it took a while to respond, I've been offline all day, I hope you don't mind if I continue our conversation from earlier.



If the entire game is about Ted the Pathetic Orphan, why would the other players bother showing up? How is such a harrowing task interesting and fun (not just for Ted's player, but for the GM and the other players, too)? What sort of resolution system do you use for this? If it is basically assumed that Ted will succeed provided he describes his ineffectiveness and desire well enough, it fails to provide an interesting experience because there is no longer any risk. It's like playing poker without any chips and already knowing all of the hands, sure you win, but it isn't going to be fun. The flip side is that you use a resolution system where the risk and danger is very real and Ted is likely to fail because of his background...and then Ted the Pathetic Orphan dies as expected due to starvation.

First of all, I suppose I should point out that my example story was not a complete story; it was just a rough outline. I could see the players being Ted, Tiktik, and possibly Margaret or another character that just hadn't been mentioned. Maybe another equally pathetic orphan who has both legs to act as a sort of foil for his crippled nature. As a DM, if a player is not involved in a current scene, I give them an NPC with a vague motivation and some stats and let them go nuts with it. In pretty much every instance, this has been quite fun for them, as they get to briefly change up who they're roleplaying. The gruff old miner gets to play as a the plucky young barmaid, etc.

As to the conflict resolution mechanic for feeding and clothing oneself, I'm not sure the *kind* of resolution overly matters, but I can give it to you in a number of systems. Say, D&D. Ted is a level 1 Commoner. He throws out a Search check to paw through dumpsters for food. He fails. He finds a dog gnawing on a half eaten bit of food. He throws out an Intimidate check. He fails. He tries to beg for food using Diplomacy. He fails. That's the entire mechanical part, which, I don't know about you, but I was bored reading. The interesting part is where Ted's player plucks at your heartstrings and makes you *care* about the character because he weaves a narrative around his skill checks. You want him to succeed because he's this innocent little hungry kid. And he fails! So he goes hungry for that day. He tries again tomorrow and so on, and chances are likely that he somehow finds enough food not to starve.

A system that I like a bit more is Burning Wheel. Ted was born in the City, so he has the City-Born Lifepath, and he's a poor homeless orphan, so I'll give him the Urchin Lifepath. He uses Streetwise with an intent of "I want to find enough food in the city to not be hungry.". His Perception is 2 and his Streetwise is 1, but the Obstacle is 2. Not good odds. He fails, of course. Except, when you fail in Burning Wheel, you often get what you want but with a complication. In this instance, he found an unguarded meat pie next to a vendor's stall. If he had succeeded, he would have swiped it. Because he failed, he swiped it but was caught in the act. Now the vendor calls the guards and run him out of town for being a worthless thieving urchin. But, hey, Ted always needed that push to go adventuring anyway...might as well be now! That failure was a vessel for the progression of the story. And, to top it off, since that was a Difficult challenge for Ted's Streetwise, his Streetwise goes up to 2 (still horrible) for using it. He's just a little bit more jaded about street-life now.

The other players in this scene were playing the Pie Vendor (which he played with a thick, surly Russian accent for absolutely no reason of course) and the Town Guardsmen. The whole thing took about 5 minutes and every player got to travel emotionally from "Awwww, poor orphan" to "Raawr, get that flee-bitten theif!" and back.


So Ted finds one of the only creatures lamer than himself to team up with. Assuming that Tiktik is actually quite handy, albeit not very bright and their team-up works, Ted being pathetic has nothing to do with this. He could simply be any character with above average intelligence. How do you resolve the differences between Ted and Tiktik's cunning? You could just compare their scores and roleplay out that Ted wins, but without risk, why does Tiktik even bother? In a world where the dim never outwit the bright, how did Tiktik survive?

This is sounding more and more awesome to me. The phrase "So Ted finds one of the only creatures lamer than himself..." is making me itch to actually play this.

Sure, in D&D, this could be over in a single Diplomacy roll, but to go back to my Burning Wheel example, you'd probably use a Duel of Wits. As a brief overview, its a social combat mechanism with various maneuvers (Point, Rebuttal, Feint, Obfuscate, Dismiss, Incite, and Avoid the Topic) by which you resolve a dispute.

Tiktik's player goes "Well, my intent? ****in' eat him!", and Ted's player goes "My intent? Please don't eat me mister monster."

Because they both suck at everything, and I don't really want to pull up my books and craft two characters at the moment, lets just say their Dispositions (basically Social Hit Points) are both 5. And then lets say Tiktik wins, but only be 1 Disposition, because he sucks that hard. That means that he lost 80% of his Disposition, which means Ted gets to insert a major compromise. The two players agree to the compromise "Ted must get Tiktik something to eat, and if he doesn't *then* Tiktik can eat him". Tiktik basically got what he wanted, but with a compromise. He's happy either way, because either way he gets food, but Ted chipped 80% of Tiktik's argument away, so he isn't eaten. Yet.


So is Margaret a DMPC that is significantly better than Ted? What happened to Tiktik? How are the brigands important to the story, except to introduce that Margaret is far better than Ted, which isn't surprising given the basis of the story? How do you display any of this with a system?

You could do this one of two ways, depending on player input. Margaret is better than Ted in every single conceivable way. I'd ask the remaining player if he'd be willing to player Margaret as the doting mentor who *won't* instantly solve everything so that Ted can grow as a person (this works a lot in Burning Wheel, because part of leveling up a skill is failing at it a few times to represent the fact that we learn a lot more from failure than we do success). If he says "Yes", then awesome. If he says "No", then Margaret is a brief NPC who shows up for a scene and then leaves to go on her adventuring way.


Except that he didn't. He survived briefly on his own, outwitted another character, and then was rescued by a third. Sure he went on adventures, but the strength was never with him.

Even if the entire story was just that...that's a lot for him. It's relative. If I'm playing a Dawn Caste Solar in Exalted, and I murder 10,000 people inside of 5 minutes, that's trivial to me. That's nothing special. If I'm playing a 1-legged orphan with little to no skills to speak of, then surviving briefly on my own and outwitting someone is huge.

I'm not saying that you *have* to play gritty, worthless characters to have fun, merely that you *can* because who you're playing is more important than the mechanics with which you play.


So Ted never had any personal strength, failed to accomplish anything, and got a bunch of orphans killed rather than trying to save them (by fleeing)? I doubt all of the orphans are crippled in the same way as Ted. In what way is he Steve's equal?

Ted had a lot of personal strength. No other orphan decided to go out of his comfort zone, steal a pie, run from a mob, live on his own in the wilderness, outsmart a monster with his life on the line, keep his head while the prospect of being sold into slavery by bandits was looming, meet an Elf (like the kids back the Orphanage will ever believe him), and make it back home with pride.

He's just as much a hero as Steve, because it's relative. If a boar kills a rhino, he's a hero. If an ant kills a termite, he's a hero. Steve and Ted both fought the odds, broke out of their comfort zones, did more than they ever imagined they could, grew as people, and came out of it with integrity and a strong sense of personal worth.

I am trying to gather how people prefer to resolve mechanics, how mechanics do or should integrate with the world and the story, how the numbers and statistics should be weighed for those mechanics, and what people find fun.

If I recall its content well enough, this video can probably answer better than I ever could. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz39yejS9IQ)
(more part 2 than part 1, but part 1 sets up part 2)

Curmudgeon
2010-07-28, 03:49 PM
Amphetryon already convinced me.
That's good. I'm just trying to convince other people reading this thread, with a citation out of the rules rather than a playstyle-based appeal.

Thinker
2010-07-28, 04:13 PM
Sorry it took a while to respond, I've been offline all day, I hope you don't mind if I continue our conversation from earlier.
No problem. I enjoyed reading your response. Your perspective on the game is drastically different from mine, but you have helped me to see your point of view. I only use D&D examples because most people are familiar with that rule set. I love hearing about other ways that other systems resolve situations.

My perception of roleplaying games is as a cooperative effort by a party of individuals who work together to achieve a combined goal. There is variation, but that's basically what I think of. You seem to remove the requirement of a party and simply say that a task (or a series of tasks) needs to be fulfilled. That is a different approach that I had not heard of or tried before. You also seem to lean heavily on roleplaying and fulfillment of the story, which is good (though probably heavier than I, myself, would prefer). I am curious as to whether in this sort of game, Ted would constantly be pushed toward this outcome or if in your game he would be free to try to venture to another town where he isn't yet known as a pie thief.

I am also completely unfamiliar with Burning Wheel, though I am familiar with several other RPG systems. Does Burning Wheel promote the approach you described or did you get it from somewhere else?

Consider my horizons broadened.

Xefas
2010-07-28, 04:58 PM
No problem. I enjoyed reading your response. Your perspective on the game is drastically different from mine, but you have helped me to see your point of view. I only use D&D examples because most people are familiar with that rule set. I love hearing about other ways that other systems resolve situations.

My perception of roleplaying games is as a cooperative effort by a party of individuals who work together to achieve a combined goal. There is variation, but that's basically what I think of. You seem to remove the requirement of a party and simply say that a task (or a series of tasks) needs to be fulfilled. That is a different approach that I had not heard of or tried before. You also seem to lean heavily on roleplaying and fulfillment of the story, which is good (though probably heavier than I, myself, would prefer). I am curious as to whether in this sort of game, Ted would constantly be pushed toward this outcome or if in your game he would be free to try to venture to another town where he isn't yet known as a pie thief.

I am also completely unfamiliar with Burning Wheel, though I am familiar with several other RPG systems. Does Burning Wheel promote the approach you described or did you get it from somewhere else?

Consider my horizons broadened.

You're pretty much spot-on on all accounts. I try to promote a very meta experience, wherein there is no "party" but rather the whole experience is just a story, and the choice that is made is the one that is truest to the characters, but also makes for the best story ("best" being entirely subjectively agreed upon by the players). I don't profess that this is the 'best' way. Some people don't like the same kind of zoomed-out meta approach, and I respect that. In the end, a game is about having fun, and any given group should do whatever is most fun for them.

To answer your first question, Ted could, indeed, venture to an entirely separate town and try to do something else there. However, in my example, the player decided that the most interesting choice was for him to have an aspiration to adventure to find this paladin, and being kicked out gave him motivation to go do that (he might not have even had that aspiration written down until he failed the streetwise roll and decided to take the character in that direction).

Burning Wheel promotes this sort of behavior to a degree. It's basically what I've said plus almost as heavy a mechanical system as D&D has plus a heavier emphasis on the classic "party". Subbing in other players as NPCs in scenes they aren't participating in is something I took from other experiences, it isn't something that Burning Wheel promotes. In fact, a major part of Burning Wheel is intra-party conflict.

I dare say I would describe it as "gritty D&D + roleplaying mechanics".