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Re: NPCs

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  • calbeck@goodnet.com
    ... I understand that, and as I was saying, I think it s excessive to count dies not provided strictly by Skill. Remember, this 2d12 & 2d8 character is a
    Message 1 of 16 , Aug 1, 2000
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      --- In ironclaw@egroups.com, "Charles Roe" <Foxiekins@a...> wrote:
      > For your example of 2d12 & 2d4, (the terminology corrected, as dice
      > don't normally add), that +4 is divided among the two d4, making
      > them d8's for that roll only, and you roll 2d12 & 2d8 for that
      > roll, instead of 2d12 & 2d4...

      I understand that, and as I was saying, I think it's excessive to
      count dies not provided strictly by Skill. Remember, this 2d12 & 2d8
      character is a *starting* PC or the NPC equivalent. By only counting
      the dies for the Skill, and not the associated Traits, the player
      still gets a useful advantage without "turbo-charging".
    • calbeck@goodnet.com
      ... As a matter of deus ex machina, I agree. However, the same was true of D&D with the common if at first you don t kill the PCs, use a bigger monster
      Message 2 of 16 , Aug 1, 2000
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        --- In ironclaw@egroups.com, "Ironclaw Gaming System" <ironclaw@o...>
        wrote:
        > > To put this in another light, remember that NPCs have access to
        > > the same rules. Do the PCs *really* like the idea of running
        > > into someone who, with a wheel-lock musket, can pick them off
        > > from 400 paces with a good chance of hitting? Especially when
        > > that NPC isn't much more advanced in actual Skill than a starting
        > > PC?

        > I don't think Bonuses have anything to do with this argument. The
        > Game Host can give NPCs any starting level of skill he wants

        As a matter of deus ex machina, I agree. However, the same was true
        of D&D with the common "if at first you don't kill the PCs, use a
        bigger monster" problem. The DM usually ran into this problem
        because in a dedicated D&D game, the PCs quickly began to outstrip
        the power value of a balanced campaign sometime after achieving level
        six or seven (sometimes only five). I rarely played (or DMed)
        campaigns beyond the seventh level, because by that time it was
        extremely difficult to challenge the players. Monty Haul Syndrome,
        if it hadn't set in already, usually did at about this point.

        >... and even as a "pathological" example, one could start the game
        >as a d12 Dragoon with 2d12 Prodigy in Guns anyway.

        To get 2d12 from Prodigy, a PC would have to sink their entire Gift
        of 10 into it --- leaving nothing for Belongings 1. Ergo, no
        starting Gun (expensive item). Of course, they could take d12 & d10,
        almost as nasty, and have 1 Gift left for Belongings to get the Gun.
        So you have a 2d12 & d10 Skill, counting the Career, and when
        Focusing you get +3 --- two for the two Skill dice and one for the
        Career --- 3d12 & d6.

        This is beaten by a multiclassed PC --- say, Dragoon(d12)/Mercenary
        (d10) with Prodigy 6 (Gift 6 + Gift 3 for Extra Trait, + Gift 1 for
        starting Belongings [Gun]).

        Prodigy 6 gives d12 & d4, for a starting total of 2d12 & d10 & d4.
        When Focusing, four "die bumps" accrue. Only one can go to the d10,
        making it a d12, with the other two bumping the d4 to a d8.

        Hence, the Dragoon/Mercenary PC gets 3d12 & d8, plus the benefit of
        starting with a Gun. Although the PC starts with a much lower
        Prodigy Gift (and Gifts can always be bought up, albeit with the GH's
        permission) than your "pathological" example, he nonetheless winds up
        with slightly better dice (plus the other other Skills accruing from
        the Merc Career).

        > No, the "rooftop sniper" syndrome is a whole other issue. ^.^ If
        > your Game Host is the type of person who thinks it's "fun" sniping
        > folks from that distance, then no amount of rules are gonna stop
        > them.

        The Game Host's idea of "fun" isn't at issue here. A balanced
        campaign is. Even if the GH doesn't engage in sniping, the PCs
        certainly may. Nor is it unreasonable that, when the PCs gain enough
        notoriety/experience/good rep/bad rep, they may find themselves under
        fire from a well-paid bounty hunter/assassin/personal foe/what have
        you. And unless the GH is of a mindset to "dumb down" the NPC just
        to give the PCs a higher chance of survival, then sniping may well
        occur as part of the natural flow of the campaign.

        But this is just an example. PCs/NPCs with any Skill that gets
        bonuses from Focusing, and who have multiple dies from multiple
        Careers and/or other Traits, will tend to unbalance a campaign (in my
        estimation).


        > As I see it, there are three major reasons to make Bonuses apply to
        > ALL dice:
        > * IT'S SIMPLER. These are role-playing games, emphasis
        > on "games". It's hard enuf to make the dice bigger, much less to
        > remember WHICH ones get bigger.

        If the increases are limited to the Skill column, that's not terribly
        complex.

        > * PEOPLE AREN'T GOING FOR THE BONUS MUCH ANYWAY. Few people I know
        of "Strike Sure". Most folks choose either "Strike First" or "Strike
        Hard." Honestly, the math just isn't in it.

        Unless the PCs outnumber the enemy, or enough enemies are Reeling for
        them to gang up on one (which happened in the very first combat I
        ran, though the PCs started outnumbered).

        > Speaking of math, I've run the math on it, and for the most part,
        making the bonus apply to ALL dice instead of just skill dice gives
        you about 10% more chance of success. Given that Bonuses aren't that
        common in IRONCLAW, I think making them add to all dice isn't out of
        the question. (Whether it "feels right" isn't really the important
        thing -- Joe Genero knows what 'is' right and what 'feels' right. -
        .o )

        Well, it's your game...but remember, that 10% is roughly equivalent
        to giving a D&D character +2 on their attack roll just for
        surrendering the initiative.
      • Charles Roe
        ... 2d4 turns into a 2d12 2d6 2d4. ... Page 120 of the Rulebook, just above Example 2... Since d12 s cannot increase in size, you carry over their size
        Message 3 of 16 , Aug 1, 2000
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          --- In ironclaw@egroups.com, noir_deSilhouette@i... wrote:
          > > you roll 2d12 & 2d8 for that roll, instead of 2d12 & 2d4...
          >
          > Actually... a d12 which is boosted turns into a d12 d4... so a 2d12
          2d4 turns into a 2d12 2d6 2d4.
          >
          > -Joe
          >
          > ---------------------------------------------------

          Page 120 of the Rulebook, just above Example 2...

          "Since d12's cannot increase in size, you 'carry over' their size
          increase to your next smallest die. If all your dice become d12's,
          you 'carry over' your bonuses to a new die, starting at d4."

          If bonuses apply to ALL the dice of a roll, as is being proposed for
          them to do, the smallest die would be the two d4's in your
          example... However, I would understand a ruling that only ONE of
          them would count as the next smallest, in which case a +1 bonus would
          change 2d12 & 2d4 into 2d12, 1d10 & 1d6... If not, they'll need to
          redefine how bonuses work if they change the rules for them to affect
          ALL the dice...
        • calbeck@goodnet.com
          ... Yes, applied to *each* die. I was speaking in terms of cumulative effect, not suggesting that a single die got four bump-ups. Sorry for the confusion. ...
          Message 4 of 16 , Aug 1, 2000
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            --- In ironclaw@egroups.com, noir_deSilhouette@i... wrote:
            > > > for instance, recieving a +1 bonus from 'Focus'... all dice
            > > > relavent to the skill you're using for that roll should be
            > > > bumped up.

            > > By putting his Mercenary weapon die into Gun, I get 2d12+2d4 ---
            > > that's four dice, only two of which actually come from his Gun
            > > Skill. What you're saying is that by Focusing for a turn, I
            > > should get +4.

            > HECK NO! I'm saying that by Focusing for a turn, you get +1!

            Yes, applied to *each* die. I was speaking in terms of cumulative
            effect, not suggesting that a single die got four bump-ups. Sorry for
            the confusion.

            > *yikes*.... Only *ONE* bonus for focusing for a turn... and it
            > makes the 2d12 + 2d4 into a 2d12 + 2d6 + 2d4.

            Hm. As I understood it (and correct me if I'm wrong), if a dice is
            already d12 you can't bump it up and must put "its" bump into a non-
            d12 die, only creating new dice when existing dice are maxed out at
            d12. Hence, 2d12 & 2d4 becomes 2d12 & 2d8. I need to re-read the
            rules on that again...

            > however, when you have a negative situational bonus, you don't just
            > re-roll the 'only skill' dice... you also are re-rolling the career
            > and body dice.

            Again, I need to re-read that, because that's not the way I'm
            interpreting it (as far as I can tell, only Skill dies should take a
            hit during a negative situational bonus).

            > with positive bonuses, the same should happen.

            I agree, if the negatives are the case you present (just for the sake
            of being evenhanded).

            > And I argue against what you say. Focus has to do with how one
            > draws on their skill... body traits have to do with one's natural
            > ability in skills... and traits/careers have to do with what manner
            > of skills group with a job.

            Body Traits *affect* your skill, they do not give you a Skill by
            themselves. Being faster, stronger, smarter or willful does not
            grant you a Skill, it modifies your ability to use a Skill.

            Modifying a modifier is inherently twinkish.

            > If body traits had to do with a body's limit, then they wouldn't be
            > added to skills... instead, they'd limit the growth of skills...
            > So if you had a speed of d6, you couldn't get 'bow' above d6.

            Not at all. As I say, your mental and physical limits *modify* your
            Skill at something. Two people may be equally Skilled in the use of
            a Bow, but the one with faster Mind and Speed ratings will tend to
            get off the first shot and be more accurate.

            > And what do you call a skill if not 'experience'? That's why we
            > use experience points to buy them.

            A Skill certainly *is* experience. More to the point, it represents
            concentrated training in a single area. A Career is really just a
            grouping of Skills that the character has improved over the long
            term, through a way of life. They represent general training in a
            given area (IMHO), rather than the concentrated training represented
            by the Skill column itself.

            In my opinion, a Career as a Soldier would teach you the basic manual-
            at-arms of how to handle, say, a Spear in combat and in formations.
            The better-trained you are, the higher your Career die. Having Skill
            in Spear, however, represents going above and beyond training ---
            perhaps learning some special moves from a grizzled old veteran, or
            having served in the lines against a Rinaldi mounted charge.

            Training, as any soldier will tell you, doesn't help you benefit from
            the real-world version of Focus...actual combat experience does. Not
            being able to Focus in the first place is a trait common to real-
            world soldiers, even highly-trained ones, until they obtain
            experience in combat.

            I feel that limiting bonus bumps to Skill dice, in part, accurately
            reflects the difference between a well-trained greenie and a hard-
            boiled vet.
          • noir_deSilhouette@iname.com
            ... Oh... so you re right. Huh. Hrm. ... ... Don t blame me! I was just doing it the way Jason told me to when he GM d me! *giggle* -Joe ... Get free
            Message 5 of 16 , Aug 1, 2000
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              > > > you roll 2d12 & 2d8 for that roll, instead of 2d12 & 2d4...
              > >
              > > Actually... a d12 which is boosted turns into a d12 d4... so a 2d12
              > 2d4 turns into a 2d12 2d6 2d4.
              > >
              > > -Joe
              > >
              > > ---------------------------------------------------
              >
              > Page 120 of the Rulebook, just above Example 2...
              >
              > "Since d12's cannot increase in size, you 'carry over' their size
              > increase to your next smallest die. If all your dice become d12's,
              > you 'carry over' your bonuses to a new die, starting at d4."
              >
              > If bonuses apply to ALL the dice of a roll, as is being proposed for
              > them to do, the smallest die would be the two d4's in your
              > example... However, I would understand a ruling that only ONE of
              > them would count as the next smallest, in which case a +1 bonus would
              > change 2d12 & 2d4 into 2d12, 1d10 & 1d6... If not, they'll need to
              > redefine how bonuses work if they change the rules for them to affect
              > ALL the dice...


              Oh... so you're right. Huh. Hrm.
              ...
              ...
              Don't blame me! I was just doing it the way Jason told me to when he GM'd me! *giggle*

              -Joe

              ---------------------------------------------------
              Get free personalized email at http://www.iname.com
            • Sean L. McLane
              ... Our host has run into the same problem. I, and another player have both developed our characters significantly in the course of the campaign. We were doing
              Message 6 of 16 , Aug 3, 2000
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                > From: calbeck@...
                > Subject: [ironclaw] Re: Bonuses
                >
                > > I don't think Bonuses have anything to do with this argument. The
                > > Game Host can give NPCs any starting level of skill he wants
                >
                > As a matter of deus ex machina, I agree. However, the same was true
                > of D&D with the common "if at first you don't kill the PCs, use a
                > bigger monster" problem. The DM usually ran into this problem
                > because in a dedicated D&D game, the PCs quickly began to outstrip
                > the power value of a balanced campaign sometime after achieving level
                > six or seven (sometimes only five). I rarely played (or DMed)
                > campaigns beyond the seventh level, because by that time it was
                > extremely difficult to challenge the players. Monty Haul Syndrome,
                > if it hadn't set in already, usually did at about this point.
                >

                Our host has run into the same problem. I, and another player have both
                developed our characters significantly in the course of the campaign. We
                were doing some figuring the other night, and estimated that my character,
                who has been played in every session of the campaign since the start, has
                accrued somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 experience points. (I'm intending
                to figure out the actual number real soon.

                Needless to say, this has caused some frustration, as my character has
                become a bit formidable, but I point out that despite the fact that my
                character is hard to hit, he also doesn't do a lot of damage to the big
                bad guys (you just don't get that with fencing), and that G&P mages tend
                to have a field day with my character (who has d6 mind and d6 will).

                It was the other guy who was nasty... He had a monsterous horse, with a
                lift bonus of 9, a dash of 18 paces, and who was a Judicial champion. He
                was the one we sent to take on the Rhinos. Fortunately for the sanity of our
                host, that character was recently retired.

                Sean L. McLane | I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed,
                zodo@... | briefed, debriefed, or numbered.
                My life is my own!
                -The Prisoner
                Secretary for Lunar Exploration
                Cyber Yugoslavia: http://www.juga.com/
              • ZdeLameter@aol.com
                In a message dated 2000.08.02 16:20:05 Pacific Daylight Time, ... Perhaps you should try challenging the players with something other than fight scenes. In
                Message 7 of 16 , Aug 3, 2000
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                  In a message dated 2000.08.02 16:20:05 Pacific Daylight Time,
                  calbeck@... writes:

                  > As a matter of deus ex machina, I agree. However, the same was true
                  > of D&D with the common "if at first you don't kill the PCs, use a
                  > bigger monster" problem. The DM usually ran into this problem
                  > because in a dedicated D&D game, the PCs quickly began to outstrip
                  > the power value of a balanced campaign sometime after achieving level
                  > six or seven (sometimes only five). I rarely played (or DMed)
                  > campaigns beyond the seventh level, because by that time it was
                  > extremely difficult to challenge the players. Monty Haul Syndrome,
                  > if it hadn't set in already, usually did at about this point.

                  Perhaps you should try challenging the players with something other than
                  fight scenes.

                  In twenty-two years of gaming, the most interesting and successful
                  fantasy game was one in which I played Talmurion Seamist, a fire-breathing
                  dragon. I was physically formidable, and got more powerful as the game
                  progressed, though I was young and fairly small by draconic standards. I
                  could breathe fire, fly, had formidable claws and fangs and armored scales, I
                  had some command of the weather...

                  ...and had very little cause to use it. The game was primarily one of
                  court intrigue, mystery, exploration and social interaction. My ability to
                  fly was far more useful than my ability to fight. In the year and a half the
                  Velkor campaign ran -- and we often played several times a week, since three
                  of us lived in the same apartment -- there was perhaps a grand total of four
                  fight scenes. One of those was between two NPCs, with us on the sidelines
                  (though not merely as passive observers); another was a full-scale WAR, where
                  I was only one of many dragons -- and easily the smallest of the lot.

                  Being physically formidable wasn't all that meaningful in this game.
                  Whether I was establishing myself as the Draconic Ambassador to the land of
                  Velkor (much to the amusement of the older dragons), or assisting the King's
                  Spymaster as he gathered information about our neighbors to the North, or
                  bringing together two star-crossed lovers, or trying to establish a proper
                  lair and hoard and woo a mate, I was forced to rely on my wits, intellect,
                  and charm.

                  And when the campaign finally ended, I was surprised to realize that
                  Talmurion, the friendly, open, thoughtful and empathetic dragon, was going to
                  be the true power behind the throne of Velkor in about two human
                  generations....

                  Zeke
                • Ironclaw Gaming System
                  IRONCLAW is a game all about personal development. As the characters get better, the challenges they face should improve. The ability they have to affect the
                  Message 8 of 16 , Aug 4, 2000
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                    IRONCLAW is a game all about personal development. As the characters get better, the challenges they face should improve. The ability they have to affect the world should improve. As designers, we've drawn quite a bit of inspiration from Japanese fantasy, which features characters who gradually improve in power level. RECORD OF LODOSS WARS is the prototypical example, as it follows a young warrior through a long saga of ever-escalating conflict until he eventually faces the greatest threat to the world. On a humorous note, the animation of SLAYERS has characters of immense power level -- some who can level entire cities! -- but still finds ways to challenge their abilities in episode after episode.

                    Closer to our purview, many fantasy video games also illustrate the growth-of-hero theme. The FINAL FANTASY series is famous for showing how a band of young adventurers gradually grow up into saviors of the world. I'm currently enjoying the SAGA FRONTIER 2 game, which follows Gustave XIII after his exile from his homeland and his personal growth from angry young punk, to right-hand man, to statesman and then to military general, with each phase of the game having its own challenges.

                    The IRONCLAW game was designed for scalability. Simply put, equal stats = equal skill. Two folks fighting with d6 skill vs. d6 skill have 50-50 odds of hurting each other ... and two folks fighting with 4d12 vs. 4d12 have 50-50 odds of hurting each other. ^.^ Few other games can compete with IRONCLAW in that regard.

                    There is also a point of diminishing returns. The IRONCLAW character sheet includes extra columns to learn new Careers for a reason. Players should think not only in terms of "height" but also "breadth" -- think of all the things there are to learn!

                    As Game Host, watch what your characters do and then escalate the challenge to meet them -- there aren't that many numbers to keep track of. Also, IRONCLAW makes it easy to host a large battle, since all NPCs have the same hit point total and can have similar abilities while still presenting a challenge. Or, if you're a Host who likes thinks simple, one or two "studly" bad guys such as the Supernaut (p. 288) can create a grim spectacle.

                    The real key to keeping a role-playing game interesting is to challenge the ROLE the characters fill in the world. There is far more to the game than just slaughtering folks and taking their money! ^.^ There is an entire world around the Player-Characters. The theme of the strong oppressing the weak is an easy one to play out -- making the Player-Character "protectors" instead of "destroyers" makes their role very different. Calabria is full of slavers, bandits, malcontents, and fiends who would take advantage of our hero's friends and loved ones.

                    To this end, our published adventures address the issue of "power level" by having dilemmas where the PCs must make opportunity costs. In the sample adventures in our IRONCLAW book, the players can choose whether to defend a criminal or not, and what to do about a mystery from hundreds of years ago. In the RINALDI book, the search for the lost heir will affect the day-to-day affairs of Triskellian for years to come, regardless of the combat skills. For the adventure in DOLOREAUX, more than one scheme is going on that will result in tragedy if the Player-Characters don't intervene -- or figure out a few things on their own! None of these adventures can be solved by throwing your 3d12 Axe dice around. ^.^

                    If the only way you can think of to "challenge" your Player-Characters is to have them constantly looking out for surprise snipers and wandering monsters around every corner ... then you should turn your thinking around and think of the rest of the world, with its criminals, nobles, guildsmen, charlatans, doctors, scholars, prophets, and agitators.

                    -- Jason Holmgren
                    Sanguine Productions Ltd.

                    P.S. As for the idea of "Monty Haul"... that catch-phrase usually refers to the sheer volume of "loot" that folks pick up in fantasy RPGs. Magic swords, wands of fireballs, portable holes, etc. are lying around for folks to pick up after they slaughter the keepers. If anything, IRONCLAW is currently "item-challenged" -- even the best gun isn't as good as a lightning-bolt, and there just aren't magic chests lying around. ^.^ And one earns Experience for the thrill of adventure, not for counting out 5,000 electrum pieces.
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