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Author Topic: [Notebook] Reworking Action Dice  (Read 3546 times)
Agent 333
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« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2012, 09:40:55 PM »

Thanks Krensky. If I have to get my ass kicked, I prefer it to be by math. Math can kick my ass any day it likes.
Personally, I'd prefer Action Dice to explode on 1's instead of the highest result (wit no cap on exploding). There's nothing more disappointing than spending an AD and rolling a 1.
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« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2012, 09:49:48 PM »

   1. ALL action dice are d6s. Player dice at every level, and GM dice. Cubes. All of them. Every last one. (this makes writing rules about action dice way, way more consistent)

I'm ok with this, though some of the player options will have to be adjusted (that others have mentioned in this thread).

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  2. Action dice may explode only once. +12 is the most a single die is ever going to result in (before modifiers). (Triumphs are gone, we don't need to track rolls of 70+).

The only time I like this is for d4's, and even that's entirely due to the 3/4 explosion rate.  I'd personally rather put the kibosh on that shit then cap explosions.  Straight d6's fixes it a little, but I'd be happier if no feat changed the rate at which action dice exploded (keep it strictly highest and lowest).

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  3. When you spend 1 action die to confirm a crit on an attack on a special character, first roll the die and add it to the damage then either stun the target for 1 round or send them to the table of ouch.
   Damage does NOT go directly to wounds. Crit immunity remains highly valuable. GMs, you may now feel free to stun the hell out of players. Players, you may now potentially lock down big bads with chain stuns, but action dice as the window to auto-slaying specials is as dead for you as it has been for the GM.

Makes fights with high level NPCs extremely tedious.  500 vitality becomes a boring and gigantic sponge you have to chip away at.

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  4. The Refresh action reads as follows~

   Refresh (Full Initiative Action): You recover vitality points equal to half your Constitution score (round up). You may spend and roll exactly 1 action die and add the results to the number of vitality points recovered.

Weak use of a full action, especially in Fantasy / Super Science environments, but better then the existing action.

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  5. The Fortunate feat now reads as follows~

Fortunate
Benefit: At the begining of each scene, if you have fewer action dice than you have chance feats, you gain 3 action dice.

I hate it.  Sure, it encourages frequent AD flow, but not it becomes 100% must have.  It's anti-GM insurance, and that sets a bad precedent and tone.  I like the idea of capping the benefit, but that's it.


Funnily enough, the fact that I'm currently running a different system that I've added an action die like mechanic too has given me some real insights into how I can change the MC system.  It's interesting what you notice when the mechanics are removed / changed.
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Krensky
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« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2012, 09:51:23 PM »

Sorry, Math is a bit drunk on power and cheap booze after last night.

I'd have to double check how that effects the expected values. I think it could lower them a good bit.
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« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2012, 10:01:52 PM »

I have been wanting to post a thread like this for a while, but just can't find the hour or so it'll take me to put all of my thoughts down in a coherent fashion.

The current combat system has multiple shortcomings that all relate to the value of crits, rather than the action dice themselves, and the problem carries through the whole game.

What an action die is supposed to do, IMO, is enable coolness. If you come up with the perfect outcome for this scene, or a really cool action that would be a shame not to pull off, the action dice should let you buy your way to the result (if you have enough). What action dice do de facto, in many cases, is pay for the coolness once you've rolled the crit. I think the crit is too powerful, and too limited. I'd rather see all critical results toned down a bit, but give players the ability to roll AD's and add them to the original result til the dice total reaches the crit threshold.

In combat, the current incarnation of crits does two things, IMO:
1) it can lead to an anticlimactic combat result by seeing the main villain one-shotted
2) it makes it really hard to reach the value of a lethal attack with any other action, making the fights less interesting. Every roll for a lethal attack gives you a chance for a crit which can end the fight, and even if you don't meet crit value, you still take off hit points, bringing the fight closer to an end. Almost all other actions have less direct effects: either you deal alternative damage, you buff yourself (but only by a relative small bit), or you debuff the opponent or take away actions (grapple, trip, disarm). To most players, all of these are less powerful than the chance of killing something outright, so most turns go: step up, hack, hack.

One of my simplest suggestions were:

Campaign qualities:

Action dice are for actions!
Action dice may only be used to increase skill checks, attack rolls, and saving throws, but cannot be used to boost damage rolls. Likely has to go with an overall decrease in vitality.

Reliable villains
An activated crit doubles the damage done by the attack. The doubling only applies to weapon damage and strength and magical bonuses, but not to sneak attack damage.

Buy your way to success
AD spent on an attack check or skill check are added to the d20 result when determining if a threat is scored.

I think vitality should always be matched to the desired combat length. It would now be a more reliable timer and gives a better control. I do like having both vitality and wounds: a set of hit points that regenerate quickly and one set that regenerates slowly. It allows heroes to get back into the action quicker, rather than having to sit around and heal, and I've never been a fan of the D&D "grind your characters down with warm-up encounters so they have fewer resources for the final fight" deal.

I think I'd like an SIFRP kind of wound even better: instead of taking the damage, you take a wound, which gives a penalty to your rolls. You can either, like SIFRP, say the character is out of the fight when his active score drops to 0 from the cumulative penalties, or you assign a capacity to each character based on class and CON. That way, you can start each fight with full hp (or vitality), but still have the lingering effects of a more serious injury.
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Krensky
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2012, 10:12:39 PM »

Sorry, Math is a bit drunk on power and cheap booze after last night.

I'd have to double check how that effects the expected values. I think it could lower them a good bit.

Hmm… After double checking it seems expected value isn't effected by which value the die explodes on much as how many values it explodes on.

House rule away Agent133.
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« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2012, 10:45:54 PM »

5. The Fortunate feat now reads as follows~

Fortunate
Benefit: At the begining of each scene, if you have fewer action dice than you have chance feats, you gain 3 action dice.

I hate it.  Sure, it encourages frequent AD flow, but not it becomes 100% must have.  It's anti-GM insurance, and that sets a bad precedent and tone.  I like the idea of capping the benefit, but that's it.

I just got home from driving my housemate somewhere and had a think about this on the drive.  I realised that I hate it even more then I had initially realised.  I have two primary reasons:

Adversarial Gaming:
This feat's flavour text might as well be "I'm not gonna roleplay or come up with cool stuff, but I'll still get more action dice then the others.  Suck it."  The benefits are the definition of a great campaign quality - at the end of every scene, everyone gets a bag o' dice and the action continues.  It's something I'd use in my more action packed games because I sometimes get caught up in the action and forget to hand out as many dice as I should.  As a feat though, it's terrible - those who do take it will make sure they're 1 die below their threshold (no matter how many they get given) to get the benefits.  Because otherwise it's benefits becomes "Wastes a feat".  Either possible scenario is awful - it either does too much, and sets a "you against the GM environment" or it does nothing and you should have taken something else.  Either way, you really should have taken something else...

Balance:
The balance is terrible.  Fortunate abuse can get a high level player an extra 10 odd action dice - my witnessed record of an actual in-play character was 9.  That cost the player their origin choice and 7 feats.  This single feat gives them 3 a scene (in addition to what their GM may give them).  On average, my sessions will have 3 new scenes, so that's 9 dice.  One feat, at any level, has the potential to give a player the same number of dice at took 7 feats an an origin.  At least the original chance whore committed resources to their build.  You also can't say "well you might not get 3 every scene" - because if I had this feat, I'd blow all my dice every scene to keep the benefits active (even if just to avoid it's benefit becoming "Wasted a feat").

You want a balanced Fortunate rewrite?  It'd look more like this:

Fortunate
Benefit: At the beginning of each session, you gain an action die.

Yup - it's More Then Luck in feat form.  It also lets you rewrite some chance feats (because half of them suck due to their "hidden" benefit of "This is also a chance feat that buffs fortunate").

EDIT:  You could also add a "take it more then once" (perhaps a cap of 3?) on the end of my Fortunate.  Shouldn't affect balance and kinda keeps chance whore builds happy - they only took those other Chance feats for the Fortunate dice after all.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 10:55:51 PM by Sletchman » Logged
Krensky
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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2012, 10:56:46 PM »

The old form of fortunate works too. At least at my table it did.
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« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2012, 10:59:06 PM »

The old form of fortunate works too. At least at my table it did.

SC2.0's?  If so yeah, I agree.

Also, has anyone considered the ramifications of Action Dice refreshing by Adventure?  I haven't mulled it out much, but it seems in keeping with other ability timers (which are all X/Scene, X/Adventure).
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2012, 11:11:29 PM »

Fun, but also near-irrelevant to all but 1 situation... damage rolls.

No, attacks, saves, and pretty much every other form of opposed check all benefit from unlimited explosions. Frex, assuming 2 opposed characters have the same ranks+bonuses going against each other, and one rolls a 3 and the other an 18, a xap of +12 is a waste of an action die and removes the tension of a hail mary as well as the exultation of the possibility of that prayer being answered.

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....it makes anyone else getting a crit in the same round as the first person meaningless.

I can see multiple crits stacking duration. I can also see people with fast chains of crits just wanting to send opponents to the table of ouch another time.

What then is the difference between this approach and RAW? Stunning a character leaves them helpless -- if you cannot take any actions you are by definition unable to protect yourself -- which means that the next PC down the initiative list simply coup de graces them -- damage straight to wounds without spending any AD or arguably even an attack check -- which has the added benefit of forcing a save or die if that damage doesn't outright kill them.

Stacking stunned simply exacerbates the problem.

Similarly, the vast majority of damage isn't going to get higher than bleeding on the ToO, and bleeding doesn't stack.

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As mentioned previously, the refresh action shouldn't feel like it works against the brickier characters who at a conceptual level should be more able to recover and collect themselves than more squishy ones. Keying it to your average vitality/morale per level sems a more appropriate mechanic.

Well if you define "brickier" as high Con score rather than by class...

It really does need to factor class into it. A soldier and a burglar with an identical Con really shouldn't be recharging at an identical rate
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2012, 11:31:59 PM »

The old form of fortunate works too. At least at my table it did.

SC2.0's?  If so yeah, I agree.

Also, has anyone considered the ramifications of Action Dice refreshing by Adventure?  I haven't mulled it out much, but it seems in keeping with other ability timers (which are all X/Scene, X/Adventure).

Per adventure is pretty much the same as the worthless implementation of Action Points that WotC went with and more than anything else would encourage hoarding while reducing "spend an AD abilities" to virtual uselessness.
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2012, 11:49:10 PM »

For reference, more mathy talk on this subject can be found here.

Stunning a character leaves them helpless

Partly agree.

According to the rules, stunned does not make a character helpless nor make them vulnerable to Coup de Grace.  Per the RAW, stunned causes the character to become flat-footed and to lose their actions.

But, in any kind of 1 vs many challenge, as many boss fights end up being, there's a pretty high likelihood that the 1 is going to be stunned every round and may just as well be helpless.

5 PCs, each with 2 half actions, attacking with a threat range of 20 should see at least 1 threat in roughly 40% of the rounds.  Increases in number of attacks or threat ranges would increase that accordingly.
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« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2012, 12:11:14 AM »

I can provide the AnyDice code for anyone who wants to try it themselves.
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« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2012, 01:29:44 AM »

Per adventure is pretty much the same as the worthless implementation of Action Points that WotC went with and more than anything else would encourage hoarding while reducing "spend an AD abilities" to virtual uselessness.

It's not even close to the same thing.  They're stupid system was cycled on level up, and even then not properly cycled since you just gained X at level and could hoard them from level to level IIRC.  Totally different things.
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« Reply #28 on: November 08, 2012, 02:11:27 AM »

Context noted Smiley. I beleive that while the current Fortunate has proven too powerful in the quest for simplicty (there are previous editions of the feat to contrast to....) there is a balance point somewhere that is a fair exchange between "I have less feats than all my comrades/I have more action dice than my comrades". The Fortunate feat is (in whatever form) meant to mediate that exchange.

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The problem is not simply that a chance monkey has more dice than any one else but that they have dice when no one else does.

And other players have more feats when the Fortunate character is out of dice. Those dice didn't materialize from the ether - they were bought and paid for. The question is was the price appropriate?

Oh no, you don't get off that easy!  Grin Look, I've been paying attention to you and the Crafty guys long enough to have developed the trust that you guys are going to answer that question appropriately.  In fact I'm going on the assumption that for whatever version of Fortunate we're talking about the answer to that question is Yes.  Here's why there's still a problem:

Having most feats will never ruin a GM's plot.  Sure, Aggro Supremacy might let you enrage a villain who would otherwise escape and that might screw things up for a GM.  You can probably find a corner case where feat X destroys plot Y but for the most part having Sword Mastery will never ruin the GM's plan.

Fortunate is different not because it foils more plots but because it foils the GM in a specific situation where the GM is already frustrated.  A problem has arisen with the way action dice are being spent by players.  The GM has reacted, in my opinion poorly, by shutting off action dice.  Just when the GM thinks he can relax, along comes Mr Fortunate peeing in his cereal.

So even if Fortunate is balanced against other feats it's still going to be more annoying than most of them.  At least to GMs who go down the road of shutting off action dice.  

That's the problem with Fortunate but the real problem is that the GM shut off the action die economy.

When that's contrasted with "my players keep killing the climax opponent with a single crit" I'd take tales of the occassional perfect storm of 1+ crits per round for 3-4 rounds as a HUGE improvment on the war stories being told. One took 1 die and one good d20 roll - it borders on inevitable. The other took some actual luck and likely a team effort and multiple dice.

Stunlock is going to be trivial to achieve and will simply drive players towards subdual/stress damage that already have the stunlock ability *and* have a condition track to force the boss up.  It takes on average, assuming a 10% crit chance, 7 or 8 hits to score a crit.  Expect that a group of four will keep a boss stunned most rounds and that a smaller combat focused group can do it better. Stack on top of that the one or two grades of fatigued/shaken the boss is suffering each round.  I seriously doubt if the average fight lasts more than two rounds.

The old form of fortunate works too. At least at my table it did.

SC2.0's?  If so yeah, I agree.

Also, has anyone considered the ramifications of Action Dice refreshing by Adventure?  I haven't mulled it out much, but it seems in keeping with other ability timers (which are all X/Scene, X/Adventure).

As a campaign quality, sure.  I'd hate to see that as the baseline though.  I find per session abilities help minimize bookkeeping and allow the use of abilities that otherwise would get old far too quick.  I'm fairly concerned we're going to end up with action points per level and essentially useless anyway.

And it may be falling on deaf ears at this point but the problem isn't Fortunate.  The problem is when the chance monkey can get action dice at a rate that no one else can match.  If you have action dice flowing, the chance monkey build has significant downsides.  It's only when they dry up that those builds shine.  
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ludomastro
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« Reply #29 on: November 08, 2012, 02:31:57 AM »

@ Blankbeard

Doesn't arguing that the problem ultimately lies with the GM undermine your own argument that the system needs to be fixed?

I've rarely had people hoard AD, but then again I try to hand out one every 15 minutes just because I like to see the crazy.  I usually hand them out just as someone is about to attempt something cool/difficult.  They almost always use the "free" die and very often they succeed (sometimes after spending more AD).  Thus, I've never had a character want to take Fortunate because the dice flow.

Do you see a problem with Fortunate at the table where the GM lets the dice flow?  If so, why?  If not, aren't we trying to fix a problem that ultimately can't be fixed unless the GM changes his style?
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