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View Full Version : Help me figure out some math for a friend's homebrew system?

Douche
2017-12-19, 09:45 AM
My friend made a system inspired by GURPS but simplified and different. Forget about GURPS though, don't let it taint your perception because I haven't played it and the only reason I'm mentioning it is that it's where he got most of his ideas.

The entire dice system goes as such. There are 4 stats (Strength, Agility, Wisdom, Intelligence). For the purposes of this discussion, we only need to talk about Wisdom & Strength though, because they're the only ones that are relevant to combat (and Agility is somewhat interchangeable). Putting 1 point into your stat allows you to roll an extra dice whenever you are in combat. Ergo, if you have 5 strength & you attack someone, then you roll 5d6

1-3 = 0 successes

4-5 = 1 success

6 = 2 successes

So to summarize, if I roll 5d6 - the result is 2,2,3,5,6,6 - (2) 6's = 4 successes, (1) 5 = 1 success. Total is 5 successes. Opponent rolls 3 successes, end result is 2 damage.

Following so far? It's a simple system which I appreciate, allows the game to go much faster.

Here's the issue: when you compare Spellcasting to Melee fighters, it doesn't seem to make sense to me. Spellcasting allows you to use mana to automatically add extra successes to your roll. Here's how it goes: I cast a damage spell - I roll my Wisdom & choose to consume as much mana as I want to add to my wisdom (up to my wisdom score). Therefore, if I have 5 wisdom & choose to use 5 mana, it is 5d6+5. Using the above example, that would total to 10 successes.

Sounds fair, except that mana is a limited resource (3x your wisdom score). Meanwhile, a brawler character can make 2 melee attacks per turn. The second attack is made with a 2 die penalty though. So with 5 strength, that's 8d6 per turn.

My question is: does that sound balanced to you? I'm not good at dice math. Do those two options average out?

By my understanding, you pretty much have a 4/6 chance to get a success on each dice. Therefore, if we were to scale up to 12 [offensive stat]...
Spellcaster (12d6+12 = 20 successes on average)
Brawler (22d6 = 14 successes on average)

Now that is for one round of combat. If you stretch that out to 5 rounds then the automatic successes are limited to mana, capping it at 36.

As a result it would look something like this

Spellcaster (60d6+36 = 76 successes on average)
Brawler (110d6 = 73 successes on average)

Does that sound right?

For the purposes of this discussion, understand that there isn't really any AoE and the only versatility that spellcasting offers in combat is that they can use their spells to add or subtract from the successes of others. Furthermore, Brawlers also have a mana pool that they can use to buff their attacks (still based on their wisdom) so if they have, say, 3 wisdom - that equates to an extra 9 successes they can choose to apply where they see fit.

Now here is my issue, Strength also scales your HP (10 + 2x strength), allows you to wear heavy armor (which automatically subtracts 3 successes if you get hit), and allows you to parry attacks for free (compared to a spellcaster having to consume mana and therefore subtracting from his damage output). So initially, if you compare the two, Spellcasting seems more glamorous, but the closer you look - the more it appears that a Brawler has the advantage in combat.

I just want to make sure I've got the right perception here, because I'm really considering just scrapping my spellcaster & making a melee fighter character instead. In particular, the guy running the game constantly thinks that magic is OP & wants to nerf it more, despite it being clear that they are effectively equal if you look solely at damage output (and spellcasting being weaker if you consider defensive options)

Becca Stareyes
2017-12-19, 01:41 PM
Okay, the expected value for a dice roll is one success (3/6 * 0 successes + 2/6 * 1 success + 1/6*2 successes). So in that end, a +1 success is worth about the same as a die on average.

So after round 1, your spellcaster would average 24 successes to your brawler's 22. Which is less unbalanced.
After round 5, your spellcaster would average 96 successes to your brawler's 110. As soon as the spellcaster runs out of mana, they are going to be less effective than the brawler.

I think your impression is correct -- the spellcaster only has a slight advantage over the brawler in early rounds, and that's made up for the fact they have to trade attack for defense, while the brawler doesn't.

noob
2017-12-19, 02:56 PM
I want more context: what do you do outside of combat and what do you fight?
For example if all you do is digging maybe being battle efficient is less useful than having the best shovel and putting everything in strength.
If somehow there is monsters who have horribly horrible effects of death(such as: if the monster deals damage once then you die horribly one week later) and have to be dispatched on the first turn or else you are sure to die then having on average 2 more success on the first turn is good even if you will have less on subsequent turns.
If you your party usually builds towers and then use crossbows to hit people at the ground then maxing whichever ability allows to use crossbow better or build towers faster is a good idea.

jqavins
2017-12-19, 04:03 PM
Okay, the expected value for a dice roll is one success (3/6 * 0 successes + 2/6 * 1 success + 1/6*2 successes).
No, it's 2/3 success per die.
3/6 * 0 + 2/6 * 1 + 1/6*2
1/2*0 + 1/3*1 + 1/6*2
0 + 1/3 + 1/3
2/3
This affects the attribute-derived dice of both classes equally, and affects brawler's the second attack likewise, while the manna provides automatic successes. This helps the caster until the manna is gone, but is offset by the brawler's manna based defense.

But after the manna is gone, it's a simple matter of caster's dice = 1*attribute and brawler's dice = 2*attribute-2. Brawler wins, without question.

There may be two other advantages to the caster. One is range. You've only mentioned melee, and called the fighter "brawler," implying that he always goes toe-to-toe. Spells usually work at range, so the caster should be attacked less.

Second, hitting things is basically only good for one thing, while magic has a wide range of uses beyond beating things up. This is the same point noob is making. If your games are just one combat after another, and ranged spells are not available, then the caster is worthless. But, in my opinion, so are the games. If you do more than that, then we need more information.

Quiz question: what's the first thing you do with a newly designed game system? Answer: play test. The key word is test. Give it a shot and see how it goes.

Incidentally, the only resemblance this has to GURPS is that it uses four attributes (not the same four) and uses d6s. If Steve Jackson heard that this is supposedly GURPS derived he might die just so he could roll over in his grave.

Douche
2017-12-20, 10:50 AM
I want more context: what do you do outside of combat and what do you fight?
For example if all you do is digging maybe being battle efficient is less useful than having the best shovel and putting everything in strength.
If somehow there is monsters who have horribly horrible effects of death(such as: if the monster deals damage once then you die horribly one week later) and have to be dispatched on the first turn or else you are sure to die then having on average 2 more success on the first turn is good even if you will have less on subsequent turns.
If you your party usually builds towers and then use crossbows to hit people at the ground then maxing whichever ability allows to use crossbow better or build towers faster is a good idea.

I don't think it does require context because I'm trying to do a mathematical comparison. We could roleplay around it, but the fact of the matter is that, as a spellcaster, I blow my load after 2 round having to both attack and defend with an extremely limited resource.

Speaking of roleplaying, the spellcasting definitely allows you to impact the story a lot more (my character specializes in portals & teleportation magic) that a purely physical character.. but when it comes to actual rules for stuff, combat is where it matters, and that is where a spellcaster is actually weaker all-around despite having to manage resources.

To be clear, most of the fights have taken place in a featureless open plane. The enemies are built the same way the PC's are, although I don't get to look at their stats or anything. As you can tell, it's a very rules-light system so we try to focus on the storytelling, but combat does occur maybe once per session and that's where the stakes seem the highest, so it is troubling that spellcasters are so heavily gimped

clash
2017-12-20, 11:03 AM
If spellcasters can do things that brawlers cant, ie portals and teleportation magic then they have more out of combat utility. That needs to be balanced against something. If all a brawler can do is fight then he had better be the best at it.

jqavins
2017-12-20, 11:13 AM
I don't think it does require context because I'm trying to do a mathematical comparison.What you're apparently trying to do is a better/worse judgment based on a mathematical comparison. The math doesn't require context, and you got the math pretty much right. But better/worse is inherently qualitative; the math can only inform it up to a point, and context is required to interpret the result of the math.

[A]s a spellcaster, I blow my load after 2 roundAfter two rounds of combat.

Speaking of roleplaying, the spellcasting definitely allows you to impact the story a lot more... [but] when it comes to actual rules for stuff, combat is where it matters.I find this an oddly narrow view of TTRPGs. Particularly given:
[C]ombat does occur maybe once per session...What this rule change means is not that casters are totally gimped, but that combat isn't their role. Combat casters are gimped. If you live for that one combat per session then you're better off not playing casters, but if you simply like playing casters then you need to adapt to a new role.

And that's why context matters.

If spellcasters can do things that brawlers cant, ie portals and teleportation magic then they have more out of combat utility. That needs to be balanced against something. If all a brawler can do is fight then he had better be the best at it.
I didn't notice until now, a day later, that you'd ninjad me. Well said, sir or madam.