Saturday, 24 November 2012

Loose Ends, Swiping at other peoples fun, hey try this at home

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Okay so I'm doing my head in at the moment with my compulsive stimulationist tampering.
The home game I was trying to make all the hitpoint scale slower because healing was faster but I'm just confusing myself and it's kinda cruel to be doing to my players, this being their first role playing game, and I'm changing the rules in the background all the time.

Also the planescape hack happening on g+ , I'm trying to think how size works, and putting in a size stat and it gives damage resistance for big creatures and for small creatures it adds to armour class.
And then adds to damage inflicting by big creatures. But then should I make it increase the damage to small creatures? I'm leaning toward just making it a hit point penalty. But reduce damage inflicted by them as well?

(the good question to ask yourself when you start disappearing down this rabbit hole, is "Does having these rules make for fun "tactical" decisions? And fun being negated here by looking things up, excess number crunching, and/or slower game play" In this case... I don't know. Yes/ no /maybe? arghh?)

I'll give an example:

A large squirrel (the size of a child) is size -1. This means they get +1 to armour class.
But should they also get -1 per hit dice and /or damage? Is it dumb to write it as -1?

A  ogre is size +1. This means it has damage resistance 5 (size 2 would d.r 10 see the post on Climbing on things and Stabbing them in their stupid face), inflicts an additional +1 to damage, and touch attacks get +1 to hit it.

The other thing that is doing my head is strength modifiers for creatures, and if to add to them all their attacks or just not their bite attacks or just increase the die size up or down depending on their size and strength and only add strength modifier for weapon use. Maybe I need to buy me some d7 and d14 and shit.

The question here is why am I bothering?
I don't know, it just bugs me if I don't have some weird internal consistency with stimulation mechanics. Like it does not have to be realistic, at all, it just needs some internal logic, no matter how twisted.
I was much much much worse about this as a kid. Like I would get so irate at  stuff like race as class mechanics and stuff.
(I actually kind like race as class as a streamlined piece of world building, like "oh you can play a piggy man, they are from the fire swamp and you have these abilitys from both your physical attributes as a piggy man and growing up warring with the plague gnomes and eluding the Glibber Ballooners)
Which was weird because most of the games we ran in would have very little use of the mechanics but for some reason they had to be there and they had to Make Sense.
Kids are stupid.
This was the height of "If you make a serious game, you have to be very serious and detailed and realistic" zeitgeist I think. Ie white wolf, rolemaster etc.
Now it kinda seems like to make a serious game it's all about narrative flow and doing one thing and  themes and stuff and respecting the genre and extra-diegetic mechanics.

Which I'm surprised I'm not more into, as:

  • I normally d.m and I am used to having massive amounts of creative input into the game, and greatly enjoy doing so

  • I am a total entitled snowflake player character and like having things written in very big letters what I can do without having to rely on a favourable d.m interpretation.

  •  I will completely ham up the place in character if given half (or less) a chance. I hope I am successfully aware of when I should shut up and let someone else do something. Apologies if  you've played with me and I was not.

 So with this in mind , I though I would be more favourable to "storygames" (a loose, contentious, grouping).
But the ones I tried to read, I could barely make sense of them, and the ones I got through , appeared completely unplayable to me, personally. Also Apocalypse World "pick a name" thing?
I am 100 % hostile to this. Like I have heard reasons and had intelligent discussions about it but shit I just think it's the stupidest thing ever.
I am incapable of taking it seriously and it's pointless to try and talk me about it because I'm just going to be a complete child about it and call you a stupid head. Because it's stupid.

Also attempting to enforce narrative techniques that are stupid is stupid. Like joker immunity or the main character not dying half way through the book, or something.
Stuff that writers keep doing because it's really hard to make stories interesting without resorting to these. Or so your editor will tell you. Stuff like this,  roleplaying games should not have to have because they get around them by having you not just having to sit there and listen/read the thing.
Also? A story where the main character completely fails to stop the bad guy, and the other main character dies off screen and the bad guy gets hit by a car randomly but does not die is awesome. It's called No Country for Old Man and it is awesome. Also Ian Banks , and a metric shit tonne of other works that did not bow to narrative convention.

I'm sure people are having fun right now with these systems. It's a matter of taste innit? And like all matters of taste people get all name cally about it. Like people who I like like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I do not like them and will threaten you with violence if you ever try and play them in my presence. (Sorry Jack Shear, Jez Gordon. I could be all neutral about describing Nick Caves music, but I am human and have a emotional reaction to it, and this emotional reaction is that its the FUCKING WORST THING EVER but at the same time it's a matter of taste.



Okay back to my original thing I was talking about

I was gonna make a token swipe at claw/claw/bite attacks because of reasons and then talk about how getting nailed by bizarre arbitrary rule artifacts is actually part of the fun of FLAILSNAILS d and d I am discovering and there is certain meaning to be discovered by mediating on this. Your character thrust into unknown worlds, completely unsuspecting of how the laws of physics are going to turn on them.
You , the player discovering that the g.m likes all the stuff you hate and now you are trying to remember how descending armour class, save or die etc works because surprise.
It is like life. Arbitrary, meaningless and cruel , but so much so it becomes a slap stick farce, and there in lies the lesson.

I use stat checks for near everything in my games. A saving throw against a death ray would be a con check.
It is modified by the level difference between the death rayee and the death rayed. (i.e a 1st level guy zapped by a 10 level death rayist would be making there check at -9) . They then take a 1d6 con damage modified by how much they succeed or failed that rule. Say that unfortunate above has 11  < WHOA I screwed the math here big time >con, and failed their check by 16 (they rolled a 18). They now take 1d6+11 con damage.
If they had 11 con , it's effectively 2 (because of the level difference) , so rolling an 18 means they failed by 16, so they would be taking a 1d6+16 con damage.

Being reduced to zero con is death of course. Petrification works but with dexterity , zero dex means you are now a lawn ornament. Why I like have this fine/maimed/dead system of killing people rather than a either / or system of  killing people? I'm not sure. I think I just like death to be the result of more than one roll. MYSTERY. OR do I like to tamper for the sake of tampering? DOUBLE MYSTERY 

making a list of everything that happens in the surrounding area (in this case a city) after each game session, for the next 4 or  5 game sessions, (in the rare event of no player interference ) . Then hinting about what also happened "Meanwhile" via newspaper headings. (it's a modern setting, and yes , some  of the newspaper headings are red herrings).
I'm liking this because if players wander into a random area I can have a good idea of what cool  things could be happening, and if they don't I have clear idea on how the game world is going to change around them.


  1. So how big of a deal do you want size to be? Like I run games where being big is freakishly important/dangerous, like If someone is getting attacked by a bull or a horse or something else (which isn't even stupid huge by fantasy art standards) then I want it to be freakishly dangerous.

    If I was doing some Anime thing where 40 foot tall dragons are being drop kicked, it wouldn't work the same.

    Give a flat out bonus (to me) seems not as cool because it is more predictable, and I like freakish randomness.

    That is why I do the whole "multiply damage by, divide damage by" because if someone is fighting a giant, it might just be a level 0 dude, who is size 8 and all of a sudden he's a baddass against these tiny little people. His club is going to do d6x8 damage which can really fuck up mid level characters. But at the same time, he's just a level 0 dude so he won't hit very often. He becomes a very different kind of dangerous than like a quick and agile death monster who is man sized by fights like a level 8 warrior or some crap.

    But that makes being big REALLY dangerous, it sounds like you don't want being that big or that small to be such a huge difference? or am I off base?

    1. NAh you are excellent right. I thought hard about porting over your damage multiply system from NGR but yeah as you said makes being big really dangerous.

  2. Re: Nick Cave. No worries, I still think you're cool. ;)

  3. Maybe you're all up ons the consequences of size vs. DR and AC, even more than my tinkering-obsessed self. But in case you're not aware and it's of use, here's a couple more pieces of fodder I tend to look to when trying to mess around with these systems:

    Grin n Gritty Hit Points (v1):
    (Divides up dodge and damage absorption of armor. Also reduces hp inflation.)

    Ars Magica:
    (Two rolls: 1 for dodge, 1 for soak. Soak being a combination of size, stamina, and armor that can negate the effects of damage.)

    1. I played ars magica for a bit and I'm quite fond of it's mechanics. A little crunchy sometimes but yeah. Richard G who might pop up soon is running a stripped down version of it on g+ which I've been meaning to play.

      I'll have a look at the other link, again might be too crunchy but might be something I can igor away with.

    2. here I am, you were right.

      I am also trying to figure out size and thinking about Zzarchov's multiplier and wondering if it makes sense for my Bollymecha thing. Because that's a Battletech hack I'm planning to run inside my Ars Magica hack and I'm hoping I can make a smooth-scaling system that will handle anything from humans up to battleships.

      Now I write that down I notice how insane it is.
      You should totally come play Tartary but I guess it's at useless o clock for you - I'm running it tonight, 9pm gmt

    3. Hmmm... dunno if my previous comment got eaten or if it's waiting to show up.

      You should come play Tartary! I'm running it tonight, 9pm gmt (which is probably not a useful time for you).

      Zzarchov's scaling mechanic is very much on my mind right now for my Bollymecha mechanics - I'm planning on adding field weapons which are just scaled up personal weapons and running mechs effectively just as giant PCs but with degrading armour. Adding that to Ars Magica's exploding combat results and damage means that mech killer infantry are a real danger - it's always possible an ultra-crit from a handgun will bring down a walking tank - but most of the time your puny handgun bullets will bounce right off.

  4. Not to derail the conversation on monster size into one about OTHERPEOPLE'SFUN, but:

    I think to play D&D you need a certain kind of zen not-giving-a-fuck-ness about what type of story you're going to be part of at any given time. D&D can be adventure, political intrigue, slapstick comedy, horror, tragedy, economic minutiae... and moreover it can be all those things in the same session. Or, like you point out, it can bust out of genre altogether.

    So if you aren't completely cool with any of those things happening in any given session, then it's understandable that you might want to put crash barriers around your game to keep it in the area that you enjoy. For myself, I enjoy the uncertainty of D&D, but sometimes I also like that I can pick up Fiasco and have a sure-fire guarantee that I'm about to play a Coen Brothers movie.

    1. Yeah I totally agree. Have been meaning to try Fiasco too

  5. This is probably one of my favorite entries in a long time. You echo my sentiment on enforcing narrative through rules in such a succinct and straightforward manner, way better then any ramblings I've managed.

  6. If picking names from lists is stopping you playing and liking apocolypse world, then change it.

    You know why it's there, you're not going to make crappy name choices, so just make new ones!

    The only other suggestion would be to do it at the table with everyone else there.