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Author Topic: [Notebook] Reworking Action Dice  (Read 3530 times)
Morgenstern
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« on: November 07, 2012, 07:47:51 AM »

   Been mulling over a bunch of different facets of action dice, and have come up with a few ideas to make them more user friendly and less GM twitchy.

   One of the big issues with action dice is the weird (retrograde) math involved in exploding as the die size changes - and the near recursive exploding you can engineer on smaller dice. In waltzes the potential to get truely momumental results that have little impact on the skill system but blow the hell out of combat. Interconnected with that is the sudden death quality of combat crits which get used by players to make "boss fights" little more than a race to get a crit, while GMs get left out of the fun because one-shotting players makes you look like a prick. That in turn points to the issue of incredibly poor return on investment using action dice to refresh. Finally, the 14,000 pound elephant in the room is the Fortunate feat (and the half dozen other pachyderms hiding behind it in the form of about half the Chance tree...)

   Phew. Ok, here's the summ of my cogitating all as one big block of changes.

   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)

   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+).

   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.

   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.

   This is accompanied by 2 new tricks that may be bought with proficiences in the usual fashion for stand alone tricks.

   Go to Ground (Refresh trick): You may also make a standard move as part of this refresh action if that move ends with you in a location that grants at least 1/2 cover towards 1 or more adversaries.

   Take Stock, then Rock (Refresh trick): You may also take a use item action to ready, stow, or reload a weapon on you person during this refresh action.

   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.

   The intent being Fortunate characters will want to blow through their dice, hoarding no more than their (chance feats - 1) so that they can get a free refill going into the next scene. If they have more chance feats than starting feats (a true chance-monkey build) they get their dice at the outset, but even then the bonus dice are capped at 3.

   So... Thoughts?
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 06:05:22 PM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2012, 08:23:36 AM »

3. When you spend 1 action die to confirm a crit on an attack on a special character, roll the die and add it to the damage then stun the target for 1 round. Damage does NOT go directly to wounds. Crit immunity remains highly valuable. (GMs, you may now feel free to blast the hell out of players. Players, you may now lock down big bads with chain stuns, but not auto-slay them).

While I like the idea of "no auto-kills for specials" doesn't pretty much reduce the importance of their Wounds down to "extra Vitality"?
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2012, 08:33:34 AM »

While I like the idea of "no auto-kills for specials" doesn't pretty much reduce the importance of their Wounds down to "extra Vitality"?

For the first few levels it's still a big part of the road between full health and dead - that extra 13ish points has always had a substantial impact on the discusion of "how well does a 1st level mage fair against the typical housecat". There is also the grade of fatigue that triggers while you have 0 vitality. Wounds are also a LOT harder to get back than vitality, so I think the distinction (and the sense of urgency) will be palpable the first time a hit bites into them.
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2012, 08:36:06 AM »

One door closes, another opens. Now that we don't assume fights are ended by Crits, we can add additional options for targetting wounds.
At least in a system where this has been worked in initially I'd still expect to see options for circumventing some degree of Vitality to target wounds directly - just via a more limited scope than Crits.
Also you can have terminal situations work directly to wounds, makeing them (rarely) survivable but still a lot more scary than hitting the vitality cushion.

Also they are harder go get back (and could justifiably be made even harder to get back, if your limiting loss of them to a handful of effects and after beating down vitality.
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2012, 10:29:29 AM »

  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)

That works, and brings teh mechanic into a consistancy with a bunch of other systems

Quote
  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+).

Can't say I'm a fan of this. Cascading explosions are fun.

Quote
  3. When you spend 1 action die to confirm a crit on an attack on a special character, roll the die and add it to the damage then stun the target for 1 round. Damage does NOT go directly to wounds. Crit immunity remains highly valuable. (GMs, you may now feel free to blast the hell out of players. Players, you may now lock down big bads with chain stuns, but not auto-slay them).

Nor this. I'd much rather that it applies a grade of fatigued because otherwise it makes anyone else getting a crit in the same round as the first person meaningless.

Quote
  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.

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.
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2012, 10:43:45 AM »

Interconnected with that is the sudden death quality of combat crits which get used by players to make "boss fights" little more than a race to get a crit, while GMs get left out of the fun because one-shotting players makes you look like a prick.

Someone suggested changing the rules so that instead of wound damage a roll could be made on the Table of Ouch. I always thought this did a nice job of letting the DM in on the crit fun.


   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)


   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+).

This makes me wary, off the top of my head this causes the Monster Slayer to gain a d6 AD at level 2, which remains a d6 AD at level 7. If the MS (and anything else like it) gets retooled it should be fine.

  3. When you spend 1 action die to confirm a crit on an attack on a special character, roll the die and add it to the damage then stun the target for 1 round. Damage does NOT go directly to wounds. Crit immunity remains highly valuable. (GMs, you may now feel free to blast the hell out of players. Players, you may now lock down big bads with chain stuns, but not auto-slay them).

How about when you confirm a crit weapon/unarmed/magic damage applies to Vit as normal and you roll the AD and apply to wounds?
 
I always liked the idea of a condition to go along with wound damage.


  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.

   This is accompanied by 2 new tricks that may be bought with proficiences in the usual fashion for stand alone tricks.

   Go to Ground (Refresh trick): You may also make a standard move as part of this refresh action if that move ends with you in a location that grants at least 1/2 cover towards 1 or more adversaries.

   Take Stock, then Rock (Refresh trick): You may also take a use item action to ready, stow, or reload a weapon on you person during this refresh action.

I like these.


   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.

   The intent being Fortunate characters will want to blow through their dice, hoarding no more than their (chance feats - 1) so that they can get a free refill going into the next scene. If they have more chance feats than starting feats (a true chance-monkey build) they get their dice at the outset, but even then the bonus dice are capped at 3.

   So... Thoughts?

I like this too.
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2012, 12:29:49 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)

This is fine although it has a bit of blowback in other parts of the system.  I'd prefer d8's as the average value is close to the step that crops up in a lot of rules.  I.E. If you beat the DC by 5 X happens.  Not a big deal.

Also, most tables have a ton of d6's.  That might encourage a healthy flow of dice to and from players.

  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+).

I have no problem with this.  It's along the track action dice have been travelling since Spycraft 1.0.

  3. When you spend 1 action die to confirm a crit on an attack on a special character, roll the die and add it to the damage then stun the target for 1 round. Damage does NOT go directly to wounds. Crit immunity remains highly valuable. (GMs, you may now feel free to blast the hell out of players. Players, you may now lock down big bads with chain stuns, but not auto-slay them).

A few months back you and I went a few rounds about lethal and non-lethal damage.  This is an extension of that.  As I understand what you're proposing, lethal damage no longer has a short cut around vitality.  non-lethal damage can still climb the condition chart.  The answer to that is fairly simple, massively reduce the amount of vitality specials get.

  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.

   This is accompanied by 2 new tricks that may be bought with proficiences in the usual fashion for stand alone tricks.

   Go to Ground (Refresh trick): You may also make a standard move as part of this refresh action if that move ends with you in a location that grants at least 1/2 cover towards 1 or more adversaries.

   Take Stock, then Rock (Refresh trick): You may also take a use item action to ready, stow, or reload a weapon on you person during this refresh action.

Like.

  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.

   The intent being Fortunate characters will want to blow through their dice, hoarding no more than their (chance feats - 1) so that they can get a free refill going into the next scene. If they have more chance feats than starting feats (a true chance-monkey build) they get their dice at the outset, but even then the bonus dice are capped at 3.

   So... Thoughts?

As I said before I am not a fan of the action die modifying chance feats.  Then again, I also don't like Basic Skill Mastery feats (I think they're boring) and the Wolf Pack tree (Way too easy to flank and sneak attack constantly) so take that for what it's worth.

This will not solve the problem with Fortunate.  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.  If the GM becomes uncomfortable with the way the players are using their action dice, he can choke off the flow and they run out.  Except the chance monkey who can continue poking the GM in the eye.  That is the problem with Fortunate. 

Note that I think these changes are good, capable of streamlining the rules.  But I still think if these changes were implemented across every table it would be less than a month before we get our first thread complaining that players are stun-locking the big bad and they didn't hand out as many action dice but that guy with Fortunate just keeps doing it!
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2012, 02:56:33 PM »

  One of the big issues with action dice is the weird (retrograde) math involved in exploding as the die size changes - and the near recursive exploding you can engineer on smaller dice.
...
   So... Thoughts?

Yeah. The math is neither weird nor retrograde. Larger dice are better, period.
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2012, 05:10:44 PM »

  One of the big issues with action dice is the weird (retrograde) math involved in exploding as the die size changes - and the near recursive exploding you can engineer on smaller dice.
...
   So... Thoughts?

Yeah. The math is neither weird nor retrograde. Larger dice are better, period.


Sure, as long as you don't have a feat or class ability that increases threat range. Increase it to the top two and d4's explode frequently enough that they're distinctly better than d6's. Throw in the ability to get them to explode on 1's and they're flat out the best AD you can get.
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2012, 05:34:56 PM »

  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+).

Can't say I'm a fan of this. Cascading explosions are fun.

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

Quote
....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.

Quote
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...
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 05:37:24 PM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2012, 06:01:44 PM »

Someone suggested changing the rules so that instead of wound damage a roll could be made on the Table of Ouch. I always thought this did a nice job of letting the DM in on the crit fun.

Send to the table of ouch was always there for GMs - because inflicting long term penalties like that are largely meaningless to players who typically are going to kill the opponent, not maim it. Biggest problem I was trying to address there was the number of situations where sending to the table of ouch is a better of dice than just spending them to boost damage is vanishingly small. Now a threat lets you use a die to do both.

The fix I tucked in there was if you spend a die to confirm crit, the die gets used to boost damage AND imposes annother effct. Given Mr. A's concerns about rapidly scoring several crits, and questions about duration stacking, I think I'll just fold in the very common house rule of table of ouch costing only 1 die...

Quote
This makes me wary, off the top of my head this causes the Monster Slayer to gain a d6 AD at level 2, which remains a d6 AD at level 7. If the MS (and anything else like it) gets retooled it should be fine.


Ooo. Good catch Smiley. Not a difficult thing to correct, but a consequnce that would have to be addressed.

Quote
How about when you confirm a crit weapon/unarmed/magic damage applies to Vit as normal and you roll the AD and apply to wounds?


That's still likely to result in 1 hit kills (or maybe 2), and that's something I'm trying to move away from in an effort to devalue the action dice. End game onthis is getting the value of any single die lower, so GMs are more likely to give them and less alarmed by the basic premise of Fortunate - give up a feat worth of constant benefit to get X more action dice.

Quote
I like these.


They seem promising to me Smiley
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 06:33:29 PM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2012, 06:21:21 PM »

This is fine although it has a bit of blowback in other parts of the system.  I'd prefer d8's as the average value is close to the step that crops up in a lot of rules.  I.E. If you beat the DC by 5 X happens.  Not a big deal.

Actually, I'd say most important threshold in Mastercraft is 4. The penalties are written a -2/-4/-10 and a lot of tricks check for did you beat the neccessary roll by 4. Spending a die to adding +4.08 (average of a d6 tht can explode only once) matches up pretty tightly with the guts of the system.

Quote
Also, most tables have a ton of d6's.  That might encourage a healthy flow of dice to and from players.

That's really the critical goal here. If the dice are individually smaller units of currency then giving them out can be done on a finer scale.

Quote
A few months back you and I went a few rounds about lethal and non-lethal damage.  This is an extension of that.  As I understand what you're proposing, lethal damage no longer has a short cut around vitality.  non-lethal damage can still climb the condition chart.  The answer to that is fairly simple, massively reduce the amount of vitality specials get.

I'd like to think its more as "GMs can feel less need to spend massively on their Special characters' vitality/toughness grades to keep the fight from being a cakewalk."

What's there now just works harder for the GM.

  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.

Quote
As I said before I am not a fan of the action die modifying chance feats.  Then again, I also don't like Basic Skill Mastery feats (I think they're boring) and the Wolf Pack tree (Way too easy to flank and sneak attack constantly) so take that for what it's worth.

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.

Quote
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?

Quote
If the GM becomes uncomfortable with the way the players are using their action dice, he can choke off the flow and they run out.  Except the chance monkey who can continue poking the GM in the eye.  That is the problem with Fortunate.

And hence this post - can action dice still be fun while removing some of the ways those dice make GMs uncomfortable?

Quote
Note that I think these changes are good, capable of streamlining the rules.  But I still think if these changes were implemented across every table it would be less than a month before we get our first thread complaining that players are stun-locking the big bad and they didn't hand out as many action dice but that guy with Fortunate just keeps doing it!

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.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 06:29:38 PM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2012, 06:25:32 PM »

  One of the big issues with action dice is the weird (retrograde) math involved in exploding as the die size changes - and the near recursive exploding you can engineer on smaller dice.
...
   So... Thoughts?

Yeah. The math is neither weird nor retrograde. Larger dice are better, period.

A 25% chance to add 2.5 is better than a 16 1/3% chance to add 3.5 is better than a 12.5% chance to add 4.5, is better than a 10% chance to add 5.5. and thats just allowing a single explosion. With multiple explosions and/or multiple bonuses of that nature those losses compound rapidly...

Its not that the dice run retrograde - its that certain character options that manipulate the dice get worse and worse as the career level goes up.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 06:31:24 PM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2012, 06:35:13 PM »

   One of the big issues with action dice is the weird (retrograde) math involved in exploding as the die size changes - and the near recursive exploding you can engineer on smaller dice.
...
   So... Thoughts?

Yeah. The math is neither weird nor retrograde. Larger dice are better, period.


Sure, as long as you don't have a feat or class ability that increases threat range. Increase it to the top two and d4's explode frequently enough that they're distinctly better than d6's.

Math does not agree with you. In fact math says you're flat out wrong. It went on to say some off color remarks before I popped it in the mouth for you.

d4s explode more often, but d6s roll higher. Whether normal or under the influence of Lady Luck's Smile.


Throw in the ability to get them to explode on 1's and they're flat out the best AD you can get.

This is true, as far as it goes, and further proof that it's not singular rules, or even two rules that lead to unexpected results. It's usually three things.

It can be argued that the wording of that clause in Bold Heroes or Tales of the Rascal don't actually stack with Lady Luck's Smile. That's a bit rules lawyer nitpicky for me though.

The issue with Bold Heroes comes from it's changes from Spirited. Either cross out the explode with a one clause or restore the clause that boosts PC action die sizes so that there are no d4 Action Dice again. Solved.

Tales of the Rascal doesn't have a real equivalent in SC2.0, but the closest I can recall is the Highroller's core ability which let you and your adjacent teammates reroll (not explode) ADs that rolled a 1 on the first throw. Change Tales's explode on a 1 to that and you fix that problem.
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2012, 07:02:35 PM »

A 25% chance to add 2.5 is better than a 16 1/3% chance to add 3.5 is better than a 12.5% chance to add 4.5, is better than a 10% chance to add 5.5. and thats just allowing a single explosion. With multiple explosions and/or multiple bonuses of that nature those losses compound rapidly...

Please don't get math going on it's rant about gambler's fallacies. It always turns out bad.

Expected action die rolls, without LLS:

d4   3.33   
d6   4.20   
d8   5.14   
d10   6.11   
d12   7.09   

Expected action die rolls, with LLS:

d4   5.00   
d6   5.25   
d8   6.00   
d10   6.87   
d12   7.80

Expected action die rolls, with LLS and explode on 1s:

d4   9.44   
d6   6.99   
d8   7.20   
d10   7.86   
d12   8.67

The problem is with the specific case of exploding on three results on a d4. I showed you how to fix both examples I can think of in FC. I can't think of any in SC2.0. Spirited doesn't have d4s and the third exploding value feat specifies that they explode on a 5 so is ineffective on d4s.
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