Author Topic: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses  (Read 2935 times)

Offline Bronzebeard

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The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« on: June 29, 2015, 10:25:08 AM »
After reading SneeR's excellent theory thread with it's accompanied replies I fell enamored with the idea and wanted to come up with something of that sort. Unfortunately, I was prompted that the thread is old and to reply only if I'm absolutely sure. Hence the new thread.
I came to something close which I wanted to run by you all and hear your different opinions.

The basis is that each ability has a few stages a la StarWars saga condition meter.
There is one positive stage to represent temporary boons.
Three negative stages that are steps. First one is a minor case (-2), usually no special disadvantage. Secondary is slightly bigger negative (-4 or -5), maybe special ruling e.g. can't use full round action when Exhausted (-5 at constitution). After this, major penalty which makes the character nigh impossible to take action at certain aspects, like Paralyzed (-10) at dexterity. This would place more importance at working together and avoiding or helping inflicted teammates.
The last one is essentially "death" state. If you've been inflicted 4 times at the same ability then you're out. Attempting to mimic the Gradual Defense in SneeR's post.

Here are the conditions from the 3.5 edition arranged as described above. At this point I'm not sure whether it is relevant to keep the conditions as they are or change it to something new.

BonusMinor-PenaltyPenaltyMajor-PenaltyK/O
Strength (Weakness)**Weak*Helpless
Dexterity (Immobile)**EntangledPinnedParalyzed
Constitution (Fatigue)**FatiguedExhaustedUnconscious
Intelligence (comprehension)**DazedFascinatedConfused
Wisdom (Fear)**ShakenFrightenedPanicked
Charisma (Persuasion)****Dominated


One thing that is missing is the Hp row.
I think that it is possible to implement something similar for it, incorporating the 3 Death save rolls into the 4 condition steps and also creating new conditions, such as Bleeding, Wounded, Maimed and bloodied (from 4th edition). One thing different is that while the ability saves requires you to attack higher then the saves themselves (vs. ability score), the hp is a pool that usually drains away - you chip away at it until you reach zero and fell your foe. Can it exist within the condition meter? Does it needs to change? Not sure.


Your input greatly appreciated.

Offline Amechra

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2015, 12:41:07 PM »
I remember that someone did something kinda similar for M&M. At least, he organized the different conditions into 4 tiers, where the 4th Tier was a "death" condition. He included some stretching that let you incorporate 4 steps of mental control, for example.

Here it is.

EDIT: It was mostly a suggestion for names and such, though I do find the penalties he assigned more interesting than just a numeric penalty. Though I do notice that you accounted for that - good show.

I don't think implementing a death spiral for HP is a good idea, personally.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 12:45:32 PM by Amechra »
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2015, 09:12:09 AM »
I don't think implementing a death spiral for HP is a good idea, personally.

Please explain your reasoning?

Thank you,

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2015, 09:47:15 AM »
I don't think implementing a death spiral for HP is a good idea, personally.

Please explain your reasoning?

Thank you,
At a guess it encourages boosting initiative and ambush tactics even more than the current system.
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Offline Amechra

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 04:56:19 PM »
I don't think implementing a death spiral for HP is a good idea, personally.

Please explain your reasoning?

Thank you,

I chose the words "death spiral" for a very particular reason. Namely, having penalties for lost HP means that losing a few HP makes it easier to lose HP. If you get a hard hit in at the start of a fight, the other guy has lost.

For some games - horror games or gritty games, especially - that really works; it makes getting a good hit in a really important part of the game.

It doesn't work for heroic fantasy. And D&D is designed to emulate heroic fantasy.

A better model for HP, I would think, would be if the conditions carried no inherent penalties, but if there were abilities that triggered off them. Kinda like how Bloodied works in 4e.
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2015, 04:15:34 PM »
Oh. I see.

I know it more by "infinite Xp profit" where by in flash games you can buy talent with xp that gives you a percentage xp boost hereafter. Quite silly. Also known as unstable equilibrium.

 For starter don't know what the modifiers should be to any of the conditions. Giving a minus for checks in the field of that same field the character just failed seems a bit deterministic. If I was spooked once having another minus four against my next wisdom check is kinda harsh.

However, having this exact penalty would, hopefully, incentives the players to protect the characters that are just one step away from k/o. Maybe...

Taking the HP specifically - my thought was of not dividing the points pool to stages. Instead have the characters a multiplication of their HP as the steps. For example, misha is a second level wizard. She has rolled decently but has low constitution bringing her to seven points of health. In order to kill misha one would have to cause her 28 points of damage. Seven points to bloody her, seven more to wound her, another seven to get her dying and last seven to kill her. These phases replace the death saving rolls one is needed when out of hitpoins, or the use of negative points.
It is possible to enforce each step reduction to be affected by only one attack, safeguarding against one strike death but prolonging battles. Critical can play roles in shifting steps. The health steps could be with or without consequences. Affected (sneak attack) or affecting (rage) class abilities. Again - your input is greatly appreciated.

 I'd like to note two things:
A. Major goal is having a more engaging combat with more options.
B. Minor goal is keeping battle rules elegant, easy to remember and not overly number crunchy.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 04:18:01 PM by Bronzebeard »

Offline Unbeliever

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2015, 12:30:26 PM »
There's also a genre conceit question, too.  One of the staples of heroic fantasy is that being bloodied and ragged makes you look kinda awesome, but doesn't seem to be all that much of an impediment to doing things.

Generally, I think giving mundane types ways to affect things other than hit points -- so that they can participate in wearing down other defenses (e.g., being prone hurts your AC, stat drain, intimidate, and so on) -- and perhaps streamlining the proliferation of modifiers that exist in D&D would be nice things.

The original motivator, I think, was to put hit points and save or suck effects on a more level, or at least consistent, playing field.

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2015, 01:12:39 PM »
There's also a genre conceit question, too.  One of the staples of heroic fantasy is that being bloodied and ragged makes you look kinda awesome, but doesn't seem to be all that much of an impediment to doing things.
In fact there's some precedent for it making you even more of a badass, as long as you aren't missing limbs, etc, given the adrenaline and endorphin surge you get. :P

Quote
Generally, I think giving mundane types ways to affect things other than hit points -- so that they can participate in wearing down other defenses (e.g., being prone hurts your AC, stat drain, intimidate, and so on) -- and perhaps streamlining the proliferation of modifiers that exist in D&D would be nice things.
I like the idea of being able to combine damaging attacks with status effects (exhausted, entangled, etc) for "mundanes", as special attacks of some kind, rather than having loss of hit points itself inflict some kind of penalties.

I do agree that if you're going for a "gritty" and more "realistic" game, then having loss of hit points inflict penalties might be appealing, but it will absolutely make the problem of "rocket launcher tag" even worse than it already is in D&D, especially at the higher levels.
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Offline Amechra

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2015, 05:10:53 PM »
"Gritty" and "realistic" don't belong in the same game asBears that summon other bears while riding on bears. Did I mention the bears? There's a whole sleuth of them!"
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2015, 03:23:45 AM »
There's also a genre conceit question, too.  One of the staples of heroic fantasy is that being bloodied and ragged makes you look kinda awesome, but doesn't seem to be all that much of an impediment to doing things.

Generally, I think giving mundane types ways to affect things other than hit points -- so that they can participate in wearing down other defenses (e.g., being prone hurts your AC, stat drain, intimidate, and so on) -- and perhaps streamlining the proliferation of modifiers that exist in D&D would be nice things.

The original motivator, I think, was to put hit points and save or suck effects on a more level, or at least consistent, playing field.

Well, I can say that I'm not intending on changing the way d&d is played and thought of. I'm not going for ragged. But if I could use the bloodied and wounded modifiers to key off front liners abilities (think about rage getting stronger) and having it hinders squishies (having penalties to magical skills before dropping would give an incentive to keeping yourself to the back row, I hope). Maybe this will give a bit of a tactical volume?
The conditions thing are a major problem for pen and paper. I'm not a machine...  :-\


I like the idea of being able to combine damaging attacks with status effects (exhausted, entangled, etc) for "mundanes", as special attacks of some kind, rather than having loss of hit points itself inflict some kind of penalties.
Well... yeah... otherwise the game is quite... linear?

"Gritty" and "realistic" don't belong in the same game asBears that summon other bears while riding on bears. Did I mention the bears? There's a whole sleuth of them!"

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2015, 01:36:51 PM »
But if I could use the bloodied and wounded modifiers to key off front liners abilities (think about rage getting stronger) and having it hinders squishies (having penalties to magical skills before dropping would give an incentive to keeping yourself to the back row, I hope).
That's an interesting idea. Pathfinder's approach of making concentration checks actually relevant/difficult again helps somewhat with this, also. And then of course you could just drop the whole casting defensively mechanic (and Shielded Casting, etc) entirely, and go back to the way things worked in 1st and 2nd edition D&D.
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: The return to Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2015, 10:25:04 AM »
I went back and forth on the table and, eventually, came up with the following.
Again, nothing is set in stone and your contribution and criticism is very much encouraged.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Each condition is in addition to penalties from earlier in the same row.

I tried to avoid using absolutist terms and give options where I could (for example, in the fear row:  Don't attack the fear source --> -2 penalty against attacking fear source.)


BonusMinor-PenaltyPenaltyMajor-PenaltyK/O
Strength (Brawn)***Halve movement speed.Helpless. Cannot stand. Cannot Carry items.
Dexterity (Agility)**Halve movements speed.Stays in place. Cannot AoO.Paralyzed. Cannot act. Standing motionless.
Constitution (Fatigue)**Can't run or charge.Halve movement speed.Unconscious / Fainted. Cannot act.
Intelligence (Clarity)**Must use 1 actions less out of the possible actions during a player's turn (player's choice). Can't Full round action. Cannot concentrate. Can act only as a response to other's action.Standing confused. Cannot act.
Wisdom (Fright)**Additional -2 penalties for all actions against source of fear. Cannot act against source of fear.Panicked. Use all actions to increase distance from source of fear.
Charisma (Compulsion)**Additional +2 bonus for specific action chosen by charm source.Additional -2 penalties for all actions that contradict the suggestion of the charm source.Dominated. Actions decided by controller.

Each column gives the following modifier for active actions (ability check, skill check, attack, etc.), but does not change defensive rolls such as Saving throws (to avoid the spiral as mentioned above):
Bonus: +2
Minor-Penalty: -1
Penalty: -2
Major-Penalty: -5
K/O: -10

Major-Penalty end at the end of encounter.
Penalty and former penalties end after a full night's rest.
Magical healing comes into effect when applied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's an interesting idea. Pathfinder's approach of making concentration checks actually relevant/difficult again helps somewhat with this, also. And then of course you could just drop the whole casting defensively mechanic (and Shielded Casting, etc) entirely, and go back to the way things worked in 1st and 2nd edition D&D.

There's a possibility that I never played with them, because I'm not sure what you mean.