July 29, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - We Shot the Sheriff, and should have paid the price

I could be wrong about this one. But I have a slight feeling, playing with the ForgedAnvil character generator, that our old fight against the Sheriff of Tain should have gone a lot worse for us . . . and had things gone a slight bit differently, might have been a TPK.

Remember the situation - a level 15 sheriff pulled from, Rob says, the gladiator template n the Monster Manual or DMG. He had 110-115HP or so, and three attacks. He routinely seemed to hit us for 35-50 HP per turn (10-17 HP per attack) with a sword. He was not wearing his battle armor, but instead only mail.

After a hard-fought battle, we won.

Should we have?

July 28, 2015

Violent Resolution - His back was to me

Billy Ray Smith (Anthony Edwards): [outraged] You just shot that man in the back!Van Leek (Lou Gossett, Jr.): [unperturbed] His back was to me.                                                                        --El Diablo (1990)

There is an aphorism kicking around, perhaps actually taken from the US Military, perhaps invented or popularized from Tom Clancy novels, that if you can see a foe, you can bring the appropriate quantity of flaming death around its ears, be it physical, magical, or otherwise. In roleplaying games, this is partially true, and partially not. In some editions of D&D, for example, it's quite possible to have a foe with Armor Class so high that you cannot land an effective blow. This can be particularly true in GURPS, where even if you can see a target and it's not even moving or fighting back, it can have a Damage Resistance (DR) so high that attacking it is pointless.

This final column in the Violent Resolution series on Castalia House will deal with perception in combat, since the entire series is about that aspect of gaming.

July 27, 2015

ForgedAnvil character generator for D&D5

Holy crap, the ForgedAnvil Character Generator is amazing.

Put in an experience total. Put in your raw die rolls or the "standard array." Then start choosing, using pre-populated drop-down boxes, all the things that can be chosen. 

Weapons and armor? It's in there.

Spells? Feats? Languages? Yep.Even handy look-ups for spells and feats.

Multi-class support? Yes. 

Change your mind, and want to convert a Level 15 fighter from Champion to Battle Master? Might take you five minutes. Ten tops.

It also provides a detailed summary of everything your paper man can do, with game mechanics.

I will almost certainly be making my characters with this program for the foreseeable future.

July 26, 2015

Other People's Posts: Tim writes about 3D GURPS

+Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Manor writes about the most amazing 3D dungeon I've ever seen. And bonus - while the scenario in question will likely be released as a D&D game, it was originally statted out and executed in GURPS.

Simply amazing prop design, and I do wish that such fan work was easier to get through the pipeline. But no matter what, it makes a spectacular read. Go check it out.

July 25, 2015

Have I been playing my paladin wrong?

I've been playing in +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands game for a while now, and I've grown to like my character, Marcus. 

Still, there have been issues with how the game feels to me playing fighter-types (this is true of Swords and Wizardry as well), but looking over a few things, I've decided that part of the problem, if not all of it, is me. In short, system mastery has long been part of the D&D experience, and 5e is no exception. Sure, the requirements for mastery are toned down over, say, Pathfinder . . . but they're still there.

So let's start. It would appear my errors lie in a poor appreciation for what I can do each turn, and the duration and power of my spellcasting. Still - always good to start with the foundation.

Marcus the Paladin: The Basics

Lets start with the relevant stats:

6th Level (+3 proficiency bonus)

STR 17 (+3); DEX 12 (+1); CON 16 (+3); INT 12 (+1); WIS 14 (+2); CHA 18 (+4)
Max HP: 55 (max possible at this level would be 78)
Oath of Devotion

His equipment is top-notch. Part of a prior adventuring loot haul was a full set of +2 Plate Armor, and a looser hand with magical items than the normal 5e game seems to encourage has left him with a +2 shield and a +2 longsword as well. That makes standing to face him in melee combat look like this:

AC 24

1d20+8 to hit
1d8+5 (6-13) damage; 2d8+5 (7-21) on a critical. 
2 attacks per turn, so net 12-26 damage, 14-42 on two crits.

He also carries a non-magical longbow; that comes in handy from some of the distances we encounter, and at 1d20+4 to hit and 1d8+1 damage, twice per turn, it's not great but not awful, either.

So in a lone fight, bereft of magical abilities, he's going to be tough to hit at all (a 1st level fighter with a STR 18 would roll 1d20+6, hitting Marcus only 15% of the time). You'll need a 1d20+13 to hit him 50% of the time, or probably about 1d20+9 with advantage. Marcus is a tough nut to crack with AC this high.

That being said, he's got powers.

July 24, 2015

Fate Point Economy - Random thought

I've been reading some posts recently mostly expressing dissatisfaction on the Fate Point Economy for the Fate system.

I was wondering if it would be interesting if instead of a certain number of Fate Points for each character, that players could invoke as many aspects as many times as they'd like, but each time they do, they throw a fate point into the "kitty."

The GM uses invokes from that kitty, so the more the players are using their aspects, the more the GM can amp up his own opposition.

Maybe there's a limit (probably on NPCs) for how much awesome a mook can be by invoking, so what was refresh before became an "invokes per scene" limit.

I've never played a real game of Fate, so I don't know if the point economy is the greatest thing ever or something that would make me run screaming. I've been intrigued by the system as a result of looking at it for Violent Resolution.

What alternatives, if any, to the Fate Point economy have you used? Where are people missing the point if they're complaining about it, or what concurring opinions exist?

As always, keep it polite. 

July 21, 2015

Increasing Dodge through skill

There's a pretty interesting thread over on the forums where someone was asking a bunch of questions about Martial Arts and Technical Grappling. So +Peter V. Dell'Orto and I are both happy.

But one point the author makes is that if you take two fighters, one ridiculously skilled and the other not-so-much, that as awesome as their parries get, their ability to make a non-contact avoidance move never goes up. 

Partly, this is my fault, in that in TG I clarified, and +Sean Punch either agreed or let stand, that if you want to avoid a blow and totally avoid all sorts of contact, you must dodge. In fact, we clarified the hell out of it in Technical Grappling, p. 22

Dodge (see pp. B374-375)
A successful dodge means the attack failed to connect at all.
Dodging is the only way to create a “clean” miss without contact,
important if you want to avoid effects transmitted by
touch, such as some spells, electrical attacks, or cooties.
With that, though, you get the situation that bugs the original poster:

. . . all other things being equal (Say DX 12, HT 12, BS 6, Dodge 9), both Boxers in the above example can dodge the punches from a JKD Guy (Karate-14) at the same exact chance for success:
Boxing-11 guy dodges on a 9 or lower (12 or lower on a retreat)
Boxing-20 guy dodges on a 9 or lower (12 or lower on a retreat)
 So DX 12 is 40 points, HT 12 is 20. Boxing 11 is DX-1, for 1 point. Boxing-20 is DX+8, for 32 points.

Just Buy Enhanced Dodge

There is, of course, Enhanced Dodge, for 15 points per +1. Exchanging some of that extra Boxing skill for dodge would get you (say) Dodge-10 and Boxing-16. Still not too shabby, and a good, balanced fighter.

You might be able to push it, though, and say that your training only gives enhanced Dodge versus melee attacks to the head and torso - the legal attacks in boxing. Bows and arrow, bullets, Muay Thai kicks to the legs? Nuh-uh. 

Maybe that's 8 per level instead of 15, which would mean that for a very specific set of attacks, you get +2 Dodge instead of +1 for 16 points. Now you're Boxing-16 and Dodge-11, Dodge-14 with a retreat.

That's not bad.

Trained . . . Dodge?

Getting a bonus to dodge due to combat skill isn't crazy talk. A precision eye for reach and distance is one of the trained skills of boxing. 

Hey, did I hear Trained Something?

Let's see. By the usual Trained ST progression, you get +5 to your ST if you have a skill of DX+10. That will usually cost around 40 points, which is good for +5 to Dodge using my limitations above, but about +2 if you buy enhanced Dodge straight-up. 

Maybe you wind up halving the Trained progression, drop fractions, and adding it to the Melee-only Dodge above, or quartering it for all dodge. So you need to get to DX+7 in Boxing (as an example) and you can pick up +2 to Melee-only Dodge, and (or?) +1 to all Dodge. That's a maximum of 15 or 16 points of benefit there, which isn't overpowering.

Non-Contact Parry

Perhaps the simplest way to do this would be to just assume or declare that no, Dodge is not the only way to do a non-contact Parry. Some possibilities would be:

  • If you make your Parry by 3 or more (the equivalent of a fancy retreat), then you have avoided contact on the blow. You still take no damage on a successful parry, but if your foe is throwing Deathtouch or something, you need to either be that good, or back up, or both.
  • All-Out Defense (Non-Contact Parry). If you go full-defensive, you don't get the +2, but your parries qualify as not making contact this exchange.
  • Telegraphic Defense - again, your parries don't count as making contact if successful, but your next attack is at -4 due to how much movement you're putting into your stance. This one's pretty weak, I admit.

Parting Shot

Well, for one, I'm trying to get back into actual GURPS content posts now that VR is winding down. 

But it struck me that the poster on the thread had a legit point, and telling a player what is basically "hey, for every point you spend in Boxing, reserve a point for Enhanced Dodge" might not be well received . . . even if it's accurate. 

GURPS already gives perhaps too little credit to overall spatial awareness for fighters crossing over disciplines. I could easily see using something like the Trained ST progression to give a skill-based bonus to Dodge, either from your best skill, or perhaps using the skill that's thrown at you. So boxers dodge punches with their Boxing Trained Dodge, but kicks using Brawling or Karate if they have it. You'd need some sort of weapon skill to get Trained Dodge from a weapon.

But the notion of having so many points dumped into a combat skill floating some of that bonus to Dodge? Not crazed. After all, the damage bonus one gets for Boxing or Karate is up to +2 points per die of damage - the equivalent of about a 60% boost to ST. Getting a defensive benefit either in addition to, or in lieu of, the offensive boost has a certain amount of logic to it.