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ILM
2015-07-27, 10:55 AM
edit: the OP is already out of date, but I post WIP files in the thread as I go along.

So I seem to have embarked in a project to build a system. :smallsigh:

I'm trying to make a diceless, classless system. I've played 3.5e for years, so essentially I want to keep what I like and fix what I don't. So here's the mission statement:
- balance between martial characters and spellcasters
- actual in-encounter utility of social skills, healing, and generally anything that doesn't involve hitting people with weapons
- tactical play
- short-ish duration encounters (give or take 5 rounds?) but not so short that they turn into rocket tag
- ease of creating higher-level characters and monsters

So yeah, tall order.

Anyway, the core of the mechanics is going to be two-fold: skill points at every level that you get to spend on abilities, and talents you pick also at every level (I'm thinking one or two per level but I still need to balance that part) which are basically feats, class abilities and spells/maneuvers all rolled into one.

"Rolls" are basically comparing abilities: attack vs. defense, or athletics vs. a set DC, that sort of thing. To this end, I've cooked up a list of abilities:

Combat swing a sword
Defense defend against physical attacks
Arcana do magic
Shield defend against magic
Influence seduce, coerce, persuade, bluff
Willpower resist influence
Stealth sneak, move silently, pickpocket
Perception spot, search, listen, sense motive
Athletics run, jump, tumble, climb, ride
Knowledge lore, survival, general education
Heal mend broken bones
Craft build stuff, disarm traps
Perform play music, dance, etc
Quickness initiative, move speed
Luck number of points you can freely spend to augment checks (on a one-time basis, they refresh at each encounter)

Notice that the first 8 basically oppose one another, while the rest are more general utility things.

What I need help with at this point

1) can I handle most in-game situations with these abilities, or are there things I just can't deal with? (for example, what if I want to see how well a character drives a carriage?)
2) how many would you say is too many? I wanted to have less than 10 but I don't think that's possible.

xBlackWolfx
2015-07-27, 03:00 PM
First edition D&D didn't have skills, or feats. Everything a character did was pretty much based on an attribute roll, besides attacking which used a different stat, and saving throws.

So essentially, a character's stats were:

strength
constitution
dexterity
intelligence
wisdom
charisma
hit points
thaco (attack score, don't ask)
damage (determined by weapon primarily)
AC
and the four saving throws, which I can't remember right now. One was dragon-breath, another was I believe wands/magic, another was petrification/paralysis, I'm thinking the fourth was poison.

So essentially, all characters had a total of 14 different stats. The scores in all these defined everything a character could do. Note that thieves also had roll-under skills for the things that they could do (such as opening locks and sneaking and such). These are what eventually evolved into the skills system which wasn't introduced until third. Second edition had 'non-weapon proficiencies', but they were an optional rule.

Really, you could make the stat system as detailed or as minimalistic as you want. I heard of a system once where characters only had 2 stats, physical and magic. The game had a requirment the two total together into a specific number, thus the higher one stat was, the lower the other had to be.

Also, to be honest, your stats look like something you would see in a computer rpg. I see nothing that equates to strength or constitution. How do you determine the strength of a character's immune system? Or how do you determine how much equipment they can carry around with them, or how much they can lift? Also, having too many 'attributes' is normally a very noob mistake. Most systems have between 5 and 10, though many out there have as low as 3. Oh, there's also a system out there called 'USR' (unbelievably simple role-playing) which only has 3 stats, and that's pretty much all a character is defined by. Well, they do have attack, defense, and hit points, but nothing more. Its a free download if you want to look at it.

Also one problem with diceless systems: they make things too predictable. The only system I know of that has a mechanic like what you're describing is amber, which also relied entirely on stat comparison. However, it also used a lot of situational modifiers to make things a bit more unpredictable. That one marvel rpg from like 10 years ago w/e it was called was also diceless, but characters in that system had a resource they could spend to boost their stats temporarily, which they would need to do to overcome most obstacles. Essentially, you wagered points to have a chance at beating an unspecified difficulty. The system didn't last very long btw.

dazzlerdal
2015-07-27, 03:10 PM
I've been working on a system based on 3.5 for a while. It isn't diceless, but it is almost entirely classless. It uses skills a lot more, and there are a lot more uses for them in combat. I've also managed to shorten the length of encounters (lower hp and increase damage but only if the players are thinking tactically and exploiting vulnerabilities).

Have a look if you want, I call it AARGS (Action, Reaction, Roleplaying Game System).

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?418874-AARGS-Alternative-d20-Rule-System

ILM
2015-07-27, 04:35 PM
Also, to be honest, your stats look like something you would see in a computer rpg. I see nothing that equates to strength or constitution. How do you determine the strength of a character's immune system? Or how do you determine how much equipment they can carry around with them, or how much they can lift? Also, having too many 'attributes' is normally a very noob mistake. Most systems have between 5 and 10, though many out there have as low as 3. Oh, there's also a system out there called 'USR' (unbelievably simple role-playing) which only has 3 stats, and that's pretty much all a character is defined by. Well, they do have attack, defense, and hit points, but nothing more. Its a free download if you want to look at it.

Also one problem with diceless systems: they make things too predictable. The only system I know of that has a mechanic like what you're describing is amber, which also relied entirely on stat comparison. However, it also used a lot of situational modifiers to make things a bit more unpredictable. That one marvel rpg from like 10 years ago w/e it was called was also diceless, but characters in that system had a resource they could spend to boost their stats temporarily, which they would need to do to overcome most obstacles. Essentially, you wagered points to have a chance at beating an unspecified difficulty. The system didn't last very long btw.
Thanks a lot for the wider perspective! I'm only familiar with a few systems (like... Ars Magica 4.0, 3.0/5, Deadlands before d20 and oWoD, basically) so I can definitely use a bit of perspective.

You're not wrong on strength of immune system; I used to have an ability called Toughness but I rolled it into... Not sure what actually. :smallconfused: Carrying capacity would be Athletics though. I do see your point about too many attributes, but how do the other systems fare with 5 or even 3 attributes? What I've seen is sub-systems with myriads of skills (not unlike 3.5e with 6 attributes, but then you add BAB and AC and 20+ skills and stuff). For instance: I want weapon combat, magic combat and social combat to have their place in my system. I thought about keying defense off the same ability as offense, but that (coupled with a diceless system) makes it all completely static. So I split offense and defense, allowing the archetype of the unstoppable (but somewhat ineffective) bulwark and the glass cannon, and shaking things up a little generally. However, I end up with 6 attributes just for combat... I could probably roll Heal into Knowledge and split out Toughness to stay at 15 abilities.

On the other hand, I do also feel that having more independent abilities, including but not limited to stuff you fight with, helps with at least giving them all at least the potential to be useful. D&D tends to over-emphasize combat statistics, which I feel is the root cause for the weakness of non-combat oriented characters (even in games that are ostensibly more about roleplay than dungeon-crawling).

As for predictability, that was in fact a deliberate move. I dislike randomness; I always have. I think it speaks to mild OCD or something. So I removed the dice altogether. When you think about it, 3.5e's basic rolls are just a distribution around the mean. Over time, 1d20 + BAB + Str vs. 10 + Dex + armor bonus really just amounts to BAB + Str vs. armor + Dex (which right there made sure defense was a losing proposition from the start). Of course, it doesn't really make sense that out of two almost-but-not-quite evenly-matched guys, one would systematically get the upper hand over the other - hence my introducing the Luck ability. If you have X points in Luck, you can add up to X to any check you make before knowing the results. Think of it as a lower-magnitude Moment of Prescience that refreshes every encounter. Much like that system you mention which didn't last long :/.


I've been working on a system based on 3.5 for a while. It isn't diceless, but it is almost entirely classless. It uses skills a lot more, and there are a lot more uses for them in combat. I've also managed to shorten the length of encounters (lower hp and increase damage but only if the players are thinking tactically and exploiting vulnerabilities).

Have a look if you want, I call it AARGS (Action, Reaction, Roleplaying Game System).

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?418874-AARGS-Alternative-d20-Rule-System
Looking good! I only had the time to browse quickly through Classes and Combat, but I see that there a re a lot of things you and I are both trying to do (albeit sometimes in different manners), like harmonizing attack and defense values and methodologies. While I do have quite a few different abilities, my aim is to completely streamline the game. So basically, you get 2 action points per round (screw move/standard/swift/etc. actions) and get to use them however you want. Classes and class abilities are gone, replaced by Talents which basically equate to elaborate feat trees. Some talents are always-on; some are strictly out-of-combat - rituals basically. But most require 1, 2 or occasionally 0 AP to use (higher-level talents may require more than 2, locking you down for more than a round - jury's still out). All talents are a variation of "check Combat vs. Defense" or "check Heal over DC 12", so everything is dimensionally coherent with similar orders of magnitude: a dedicated attacker will have roughly the same Combat stat as a dedicated defender's Defense stat, instead of having an attack bonus structurally higher than AC, saves that increase haphazardly while DCs pretty much scale on a 1:2 basis with character level, and so on. Then, sort of like in some tactical RPGs, you can keep 1 or 2 AP in reserve and use them on out-of-turn talents. This is where I'll put attacks of opportunity, counterspelling and so on.

xBlackWolfx
2015-07-27, 07:51 PM
Systems with three attributes aren't all that are. Tri-stat is one. Another one would be Bash, a superhero rpg. Its attributes are brawn, agility, and mind. Brawn is physical power, durability, and health, agility is speed, and mind is everything mental from intelligence to willpower to charisma. Of course, that system also has skills.

USR uses action, wit, and ego. Action is the physical stat, wit is the mental stat, and ego is essentially charisma. Characters also have 'hits' (hit points) and specialisms, which are skills though there's no pre-defined list, you can just make up whatever specialisms you want for your character.

Oh, and microlite20 also only has 3 attributes (whittled down from D&D's 6): strength, dexterity, and mind. They're all essentially equivalent to Bash's attributes, brawn, agility, and mind. There's also 4 skills: Physical, Subterfuge, Knowledge, and Communication. Well, there's also survival, which is optional. One guy I found who did an actual play claimed he added in a perception skill.

The idea behind such a minimalistic array is that they all cover a wide variety of things. In the case of microlite, they fused strength and constitution together into a single attribute that does everything the two of those did before. Mind is a combination of intelligence, wisdom, and charisma.

In the case of the 2 attribute system I mentioned, essentially anytime you did something that didn't involve magic, you would roll your physical stat, such as using a weapon or running or w/e. The magic stat was used when you cast a spell or did anything involving magic.

You don't really need a lot of stats, the only benefit to having lots of stats is it gives players more options to customize their characters. But is it really necessary to make it so a character could be either strong or durable without being both? Is it necessary to divide wisdom and intelligence? Most modern systems also don't have a charisma attribute (though that's because they normally treat it as a skill, based off of intelligence).

Oh yeah, there's also GURPS which only has 4 attributes, though that system I think has like what, 100 skills??? Its designed to be a generic system, so that skill list encompasses everything they could think of for every setting all rolled into one list. I highly doubt there's any campaign where the entire list would be used.

dazzlerdal
2015-07-28, 01:01 AM
Well I wanted to iron out the "bugs" that led to number creep first and foremost.

That meant all level based progression of stats had to go.

Then I noticed quite a lot of problems with the combat system (the difference between spellcasting and martial attacks for one) so I started weaving the two into the same system.

Then I realised since I had removed level based progression of stats I no longer needed to balance the classes, and indeed people could have whatever they wanted for abilities to make their own class (that was the most fun part, coming up with options).

Finally, being an amateur programmer, I decided to simplify it as much as I could without losing the sandbox complexity of 3.5 so that should I ever develop my programming skills enough to write a game, the rules would port over quite easily (I don't know if anyone has even tried to conceive a 3.5 game in programming code, but its impossible).

I don't know if that helps you any, but I think the best thing I did was try and conceive of my rules in programming code, it really helped me figure out what was logical, what was not, how things should be represented so that redundant options and methods were removed (why have two similar tasks do the same thing when you can have one).

For me personally, action points and more maths was not an option since DnD is already a math heavy game and I wanted to remove as much of that as possible (while still retaining complexity). Come up with your combat system first though, all your other rules will weave into that. And if you get a good idea, don't be afraid to rewrite everything you have done so far (even though it does take a long time).

One particular bugbear of mine was 3.5's penchant for breaking a rule multiple times. Grapple provokes opportunity attacks unless the target has this feat, but if the attacker has this feat then ignore the target's feat, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. My personal rule was you can only break a rule once. So if grapples provoke opportunity attacks, then there is only an option to allow them not to provoke opportunity attacks, nothing else can break that option.

xBlackWolfx
2015-07-28, 05:47 PM
You may not be allowed to make a video game based off of your game. The OGL isn't clear on video games based off of 3.x, and its possible they may not allow it. Pathfinder for instance obviously isn't going to be able to make a game based off of their modified 3.x (the game they are developing doesn't emulate the rules at all, it just takes place in the setting they made for pathfinder, which they do own a copyright to).

One game I've taken a particular interest in over the past week or two is microlite20. It was originally a heavily watered-down version of 3.x. Think 3.x, but with only 3 attributes, 4 skills, no feats, and no progressions. The system has been modified quite a few times, in fact you can download a PDF that is a compilation of possibly over 100 different variations of it, including games that are obviously based off of d20 modern and the first two editions of mutants and masterminds.

I'm actually brainstorming my own iteration for my own games, though honestly its pretty much just the basic game with progressions and a lot of custom races and classes. Note, a common criticism of microlite20 is the lack of progressions. Everything is just a flat bonus you get at first level, plus your level. This means that a wizard pretty much has the same attack bonus as a fighter, its just 1 point lower. And skills have the same problem: you only get a +3 bonus to one skill (based off of your class) at level one. Obviously, in the long run, this means that the skill your character is supposed to be specialized in isn't really going to be much higher than everyone else's. And like I said before, there's one actual play I found where some guy criticizes the lack of a perception skill. I would just use subtlety or survival with mind (skills aren't tied to specific attributes like they are in official D&D).

dazzlerdal
2015-07-29, 12:56 AM
Well allowed is only a problem if you care about copyright. I've looked into it and it is not legal to copyright a set of rules (you can copyright the name, but not the rules). The licence WoTC made for 3rd edition was a scam and completely unnecessary.

So you don't have to sign up for the OGL, or indeed anything else if you don't care about protecting your baby (not that you can because it is not possible to copyright a set of rules).

I can see why systems opt to remove the progression because inevitably it leads to number creep which means an escalation in challenges and an ever diminishing set of tools and increasing complexity for the DM (for instance you can't use an orc against a level 20 PC because it has 0% chance to hit unless you bump it up with 20 levels). That is one problem I tried to solve in my game (first I removed progression, then I added it back in as optional but provided so many options that you cannot select them all and would probably want to branch out a bit in abilities which keeps low level threats usable.

xBlackWolfx
2015-07-29, 07:31 AM
By 'progression', I meant that everyone's stats are essentially the same. Characters all get a bonus to attack bonus and all their skills equal to their level. This means that a wizard is pretty much as good as a fighter when it comes to his attack bonus. Also, some people have pointed out that microlite20 makes no mention of weapon proficiencies. Yeah, fighters get a +1 to their attack bonus at level 1, and being 'trained' in a skill gives you a flat +3 bonus, but obviously these flat one-time bonuses mean nothing in the long run. Many people alter this so a fighter is in fact better at using melee weapons than a wizard. And being 'trained' in a skill means you'll always be much better at it than someone who isn't trained.

ILM
2015-07-29, 09:30 AM
Thanks for the discussion, I really enjoy the viewpoints.

I'm still working on the core mechanics of the system. I'm down to 13 abilities and I don't think I'll go any lower. Instead of having Combat vs. Defense, Arcane vs. Magic Defense and Influence vs. Willpower however, I'm going to mix things up a little: while Combat (now split into Strength and Agility) will mostly target Defense, Magic and Influence (and certain combat maneuvers) will simply target other abilities. For example, a damage-dealing spell will be mitigated by Defense, but an illusion will be opposed by Perception, and a confusion spell will use Intelligence. Combined with the Luck mechanic, this should keep things interesting.

I think I've finished creating the new health system (wound points) and the bare bones of the action economy and how an encounter flows.

My current brain-twister is how to elegantly define and manage stacking bonuses. I'm tempted to allow unrestricted stacking because the billion different bonus types in 3.5 are a pain to manage, but it has potential to spin out of control, especially with the existence of 0 AP actions and slotless items.

dazzlerdal
2015-07-29, 01:14 PM
Well I believe 5e opted to only have one type of bonus that never stacks which has the unfortunate side effect of rendering most individual circumstances of combat irrelevant (great for simplification, not so great for immersion when you take into account flanking, elevation, size, etc and in the end all you get is a +1 bonus).

When I started my rules I decided to have a limited number of bonuses that were typified by the source they came from (eg items, magic, race, class, feats, circumstance, etc) and to ban stacking unless the source was identical (i.e. if you possess the same feat 10 times then you have a +10 bonus, but if you possess four different feats that did a similar thing then you only get a +1 bonus). That satisfied my need for simplicity and freedom at the same time (the maths taxing to calculate the bonus because there is no stacking, but there are enough bonuses to mean that you can have plenty of variation in combat and encourage tactical play).

JBPuffin
2015-07-29, 01:39 PM
I've never played a static tabletop system, but the idea does have quite a few merits. Removing randomness makes sense - and heck, it'd be easy enough to add in - and Luck is a great way to keep things sort of non-static. Would you mind updating the original post with the changed list of abilities? I'd be better equipped to help out if I didn't have to form the new list myself :smallwink:. I'll be watching this.

ILM
2015-07-29, 03:00 PM
Would you mind updating the original post with the changed list of abilities? I'd be better equipped to help out if I didn't have to form the new list myself :smallwink:. I'll be watching this.
I'll do you one better and post my draft on google docs as soon as I get back to the right computer (i.e. give it about half a day).

@dazzlerdal: I see what you mean and I kind of like the idea. I thought about keeping some of the bonus types of 3e but decided they didn't make much sense. Profane/divine/enhancement/insight/circumstance/competence--whaaat? But grouping them by source makes quite a bit more sense. Will think about it, thanks! :)

Another brainstorm, if you guy's aren't tired of thinking for me yet :smalltongue:. I wanted to make my spells and abilities more or less at will. All of them, all the time; balance would come from limiting raw power and tweaking their action economy cost. While I think I can make it work, I have a problem with short-term buffs: if you have a spell that gives, say, +2 to Strength but only lasts 10 rounds, what's keeping a player from saying "I recast it every 10 rounds and have it up all day", thus turning this in a day-long buff? I really don't want to introduce spells per day, or power points or mana points, my health points system is incompatible with HP costs (which would be made moot by healing anyway) and I don't want to introduce a cooldown for each spell either. The only idea I had was to create a parallel "fatigue" system, based on your Toughness stat, and where using a talent of any sort costs you fatigue points that you can only regain by resting for 8 hours... Except that this basically works out to mana points :/.

If it helps, I was only considering a few possible spell durations: like 1 round, 3 rounds for short-term buffs (expandable to 5 with the proper Talents?), and then maybe 1 round per rank in Arcana. Next would be all-day buffs, i.e. permanent unless dispelled. Screw minutes/level, 10 min/level or hour/level.

Grod_The_Giant
2015-07-29, 05:35 PM
The first piece of advice for a would-be system builder: read lots of systems. Read really different systems-- games that use classes, no classes, single die, percentage dice, die pools, weird dice, playing cards, and so on. Look at simulationist games like GURPS and narrativist games like Fate, rules-heavy games like D&D and rules-light games like Risus. Take influences from more than one source.


Notice that the first 8 basically oppose one another, while the rest are more general utility things.
That could very easily be a problem, where most of the eight combat skills are mandatory (good luck surviving with no Defense!), thereby pushing "utility" skills to secondary roles-- in a sense, exactly what you're trying to avoid.


1) can I handle most in-game situations with these abilities, or are there things I just can't deal with? (for example, what if I want to see how well a character drives a carriage?)
2) how many would you say is too many? I wanted to have less than 10 but I don't think that's possible.
The second question is the more important one, as it hints at a broader idea: do you want skills or attributes? A game like Fate is pure skill-based-- there's a list of skills, and you have a separate rank in each one. You might have the right skill for the situation, or you might not. A game like 5e D&D is (essentially) attribute based-- all characters have the same set of attributes, with minor bonuses for a specific set of uses. You always have the right "thing" to roll. 3e D&D is predominately skill-based, since your attribute bonus is typically overshadowed by your specific skill (or BAB, or save bonus), but it's there if you've got nothing else.

If you want a skill based system, you can have a decent sized list. Exactly how big depends on how many "skill points" characters will have to invest, but as a general rule, more listed skills mean more specialized characters-- if being a socialite requires a dozen different skills, you're going to have a hard time also being good at fighting and stealth, for instance. On the other hand, more it also means more distinct characters. Fate's list is pretty good; 3e D&D's list is a bit too long; Traveler's is way too long.
If you want an attribute based system, your list should be shorter. How much shorter depends on how distinct you want characters to be, whether you're making pure attribute rolls or adding varying bonuses, and so on. I went with 10 for STaRS (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?361270-STaRS-the-Simple-TAbletop-Roleplaying-System-5-0), since I wanted fairly distinct characters in a purely attribute-based system, but you can easily go very low (brains/brawn/beauty) or... fairly high, although at a certain point it starts becoming more of a skill thing.

The main difference is that skills are specific and attributes are general. Looking at your list, you've got some of both-- things like Luck and Quickness are pretty general, while Perform and Heal are very specific.

So, uh... yeah. Take a step back and think about which you're going for.

xBlackWolfx
2015-07-29, 10:23 PM
The first piece of advice for a would-be system builder: read lots of systems. Read really different systems-- games that use classes, no classes, single die, percentage dice, die pools, weird dice, playing cards, and so on. Look at simulationist games like GURPS and narrativist games like Fate, rules-heavy games like D&D and rules-light games like Risus. Take influences from more than one source.


Yeah, its not that hard to get rpgs. There's many free ones out there, and besides that the ones you have to pay for often have a free pdf that explains the basic rules. Some systems, like D&D 3.x are available for free in their entirety. I have dozens of pdfs of rpgs, and I only paid for 3 of them (both editions of Bash, and M&M 3/DC adventures). Oh, there's also the talislanta games, you can download a pdf of every edition ever released now. Many people consider it a highly underrated setting with an awesome system. It really is quite a marvel to read, though I don't really feel the setting for some reason.

ILM
2015-07-30, 03:20 AM
@Grod: It's an interesting way to see it and you do have a point. The list of abilities changed a bit since my OP but I still have Craft and Arts in there and you're right that they're a tad more specific than Toughness or Intelligence. Maybe I should regroup them into "Arts and Crafts"? (or something that sounds less pre-school) My problem is that there's a vast difference between a dancer and a blacksmith; how do I convey that?

I've reworked the list of abilities (still WIP!) and how they interact. The way I now see things is: Defense is basically your AC and DR rolled into one, while Toughness dictates (among other things) your hp. Anything that deals primarily hp damage will be resisted with Defense, whether it's a sword or spell or arrow. However, I plan to introduce a bunch of Talents that will have other effects, and they'll be resisted with, say, Perception or Intelligence or Agility or really any ability that's appropriate for the effect. In that sense, while everyone will definitely want some Defense, you'll also want points in other stats to avoid being a complete pushover in other areas. To compensate for the fact that Defense is pretty much mandatory, and for some other inherent advantages of attack over defense, I think I'll give it a slight natural advantage: while I anticipate basic weapons to add 1, 2 or 3 points to your attack stat tops (before masterwork or magical bonuses), I think armor will range from 0 to like, what, 6? So with equal investment in ability ranks and equivalent bonuses on both sides, a defender will always have a slight advantage thanks to armor (which attackers can overcome with Luck points or group tactics or certain Talents, I hope). The overarching goal is to make specialization possible and even beneficial, but at the expense of decreased flexibility and increased vulnerability. For the moment, the ability points gained at each level ensure that you can keep 5 abilities maxed out, at the expense of having zero in all others. Realistically I hope, you'll have one, maybe two maxed out stats, and points here and there and one or two dump stats.


Anyway, for those of you who're curious, here's a really rough, really WIP first draft: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2d-anNcWNo7dzMycmw4MnRfVXM/view?usp=sharing

NichG
2015-07-30, 04:35 AM
A simple way to handle buffs is to introduce a spell maintenance system for anything with non-instantaneous duration. That is to say, a character can sustain only a certain number of simultaneous effects - if they want to cast a new spell, they have to let one of the old spells terminate. The hard-mode version of this is that you even need a free slot for instantaneous spells, its just that the slot immediately frees up, and it takes an action to intentionally allow a spell to terminate and free up a slot. That way if the character is keeping up a +2 Strength buff all the time, that's costing them a slot and maybe even costing them an extra round delay before they can start casting. Available slots could depend on level/stats/whatnot, and you could even have something more flexible where the number of slots somehow depends on the power of the spell (so maybe because you have a +2 Strength buff up, you can only cast up to Lv5 spells rather than Lv6 spells as you'd normally be able to). That at least makes it a strategically interesting decision how to deploy those resources.

Grod_The_Giant
2015-07-30, 07:29 AM
My problem is that there's a vast difference between a dancer and a blacksmith; how do I convey that?
Craft gets folded into Intelligence, Art under Charisma.


To compensate for the fact that Defense is pretty much mandatory, and for some other inherent advantages of attack over defense, I think I'll give it a slight natural advantage: while I anticipate basic weapons to add 1, 2 or 3 points to your attack stat tops (before masterwork or magical bonuses), I think armor will range from 0 to like, what, 6? So with equal investment in ability ranks and equivalent bonuses on both sides, a defender will always have a slight advantage thanks to armor
Nooo no no no no no, don't do this. Especially if you're also using a non-binary toughness system like hit points. People will still put as many points as they can in combat skills because that's what RPGs tend to spend the most time on; doing it like this just means that everyone will miss all the time, resulting in not-fun combat. Instead, I'd either fold them into more general attributes (ie, attacks under Strength, defense under Agility), or have a separate pool of combat skills.

ILM
2015-07-30, 10:06 AM
Craft gets folded into Intelligence, Art under Charisma.
I considered it, but art isn't so much about force of personality. Dancing is closer to agility; playing an instrument might be as well. Comedy or oratory would definitely fall under charisma but painting? :/


Nooo no no no no no, don't do this. Especially if you're also using a non-binary toughness system like hit points. People will still put as many points as they can in combat skills because that's what RPGs tend to spend the most time on; doing it like this just means that everyone will miss all the time, resulting in not-fun combat. Instead, I'd either fold them into more general attributes (ie, attacks under Strength, defense under Agility), or have a separate pool of combat skills.
Hm. Just to be clear, I was only thinking about a small advantage, but ok. For clarity, the health system basically works like this: you have 2+(Toughness/3) wound points total (or 2+Toughness/4 - will decide during balancing phase). If the enemy Strength (+bonuses+Luck) beats your Defense (+bonuses+Luck), you lose 1 wound point. If he beats if by 5 you lose 2, by 10 you lose 3 and so on. I don't think I'm the first one to come up with something like.

So anyway, I agree that we don't want people to miss all the time. However:
- I want to encourage people to try non-murderhobo characters. For instance, the Influence stat isn't just a prettier Diplomacy skill check: I plan to have roughly as many social Talents as melee or ranged - for out-of-combat situations (gathering info, pulling off a con, making yourself charming, etc. etc.) and for in-combat situations (taunts, confusion or enrage or even stun status effects, etc.; probably no WP damage though). They won't be damage-dealers, but an Influence-focused character might be great at battlefield control, and would likely completely ignore the Defense stat.
- Given how the WP system works, the plan is that a guy with maxed-out attack vs. a guy with maxed-out Defense would essentially deal 0 or 1 WP per attack depending on how each uses their Luck. A guy with mediocre attack trying to deal WP damage will never hit a guy with maxed-out Defense, which I consider to be working as intended - instead, he could probably punch right through his other defenses with the right kind of attack. And, obviously, a guy with maxed out attack vs. one with lackluster Defense would kill him in 2 or 3 rounds (or less depending on the gap). I admit I am concerned that as of now there's not much incentive not to max out Defense.

To address your suggestions though, if I folded Def into Agi I'd still have the same problem, except that for some reason every character would also be great at jumping and walking tightropes in addition to being great at defending themselves. Furthermore, I don't think I want to have a separate pool of points just for combat, as that would automatically make the game as combat-centric as D&D when I'm trying to go in another direction.

So to summarize: I absolutely agree with you that I don't want a system that encourages all characters to have the same array of stats to be successful at the game. Until I actually start introducing Talents, clearly only Str/Agi and Defense matter since the only way of affecting anything is to hit it with the biggest stick you can carry. The exact balance between Str/Agi and Def will probably be in flux until I've nailed down a number of other still-moving parts, and I'll forget about giving Def an inherent advantage in numbers if I find it tips the balance too much or generally makes things boring. That being said, in general it is my aim:
- to make a wide selection of ability arrays viable (including some that practically ignore Str, Agi and Def) through diverse and properly balanced Talents, and
- to encourage less combat-centric games through interesting out-of-combat mechanics (which as of now I think will mostly rely on Talents too).

Bruno Carvalho
2015-07-30, 02:11 PM
Be VERY careful with a diceless tactical system: They work very well in a free-form, more roleplaying-oriented game, but when you're going for a more crunchy, boardgame-oriented game where there are clear and obvious "win conditions", you can simply make your game solvable.

This way, you can make a strategy - or tactical idea - simply so powerfull and/or versatile that it "wins" everytime. Think about high-level 3.x (when the die rolls matter about NOTHING as everything you really need is high bonuses).

Lack of "randomness" does not means you can't go for different winning strategies - there are LOTS of good eurogames that do that - but its not an easy task.

ILM
2015-08-04, 09:11 AM
So, quite a bit has changed. I went back to the drawing board and abandoned the diceless idea (although I realize just now that I haven't changed the name of my working file). I've rebalanced everything around 10 levels instead of 20, clarified the progressions and character-building process, decided on a way bonuses would stack, did the groundwork for the various status effects in the game, tightened up the action economy, etc. etc.

I still need to write up all things related to movement, the environment and the tactical map as well as magic item creation, and then I'll be able to move on to Trait and Talent creation - which is actually when the work really begins, as anything before that is just scaffolding.

Work, work, work... Here's an updated (and still mostly unformatted) draft if anyone's curious or wants to volunteer feedback: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2d-anNcWNo7YWphb1h6UGRiblk/view?usp=sharing