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Dice Pool Mechanics

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  • Eric Wall
    I want to add the management of dice pools to my homebrew scifi rpg that I m creating. I like the idea of splitting dice between attack and defense or for
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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      I want to add the management of dice pools to my homebrew scifi rpg
      that I'm creating. I like the idea of splitting dice between attack
      and defense or for multiple attacks. I'm thinking the revised
      storyteller used in trinity and World of Darkness is a good place to
      start. Does anyone have any opinions on this matter?

      Basically its a d10 dice pool where you add stats (1-5) + skill
      rating (1-5) for a total number of dice. Trgt number is 7, 1's cancel
      successes. At least 1 success to pass. Difficulty modifiers or
      defense subtract dice.

      I think the emphasis on stats is a little high and Im not sure how to
      define a critical success.

      I also want to move away from hit points to a system where you take
      stun or actual wounds and you need to make stat checks to stay on
      your feet Con or Will after a certain number has been taken. It would
      be quick for normal hits (non crits would be assumed to be grazes or
      superficial wounds), but crits you would compare damage with the
      maximum allowed to the critted area to see if the character suffers
      an injury.

      Anyway if any of that makes sense please let me know your thoughts.
    • Peter Knutsen
      ... Both my current homebrews are XdY (one is Xd6, the other is Xd12 - my very first homebrew was 3d6), what most people would call dice pool systems, but I
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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        Eric Wall wrote:
        > I want to add the management of dice pools to my homebrew scifi rpg
        > that I'm creating. I like the idea of splitting dice between attack
        > and defense or for multiple attacks. I'm thinking the revised
        > storyteller used in trinity and World of Darkness is a good place to
        > start. Does anyone have any opinions on this matter?

        Both my current homebrews are XdY (one is Xd6, the other is Xd12 - my
        very first homebrew was 3d6), what most people would call "dice pool"
        systems, but I really don't intend to let the players hurt themselves by
        splitting the dice into multiple rolls.

        I opted for XdY for completely differet reasons, and the Fumble
        mechanic, especially in Sagatafl, reflects this.

        > Basically its a d10 dice pool where you add stats (1-5) + skill
        > rating (1-5) for a total number of dice. Trgt number is 7, 1's cancel
        > successes. At least 1 success to pass. Difficulty modifiers or
        > defense subtract dice.

        Except for the pool-splitting thing, somewhat similar to Modern Action
        RPG, altough Successes are harder to get in MA RPG.

        > I think the emphasis on stats is a little high and Im not sure how to

        I think the posited relation between inborn talent and acquired ability
        is irrepairably broken.

        > define a critical success.

        One of the ideas with XdY is that you get *many* different degrees of
        success. So why do you want to "define" a critical?

        Neither of my current homebrews have such a definition. I wanted one for
        Multiclass, way back in 1998, but was unable to create a mechanic with
        appropriate probabilities - I only managed that a couple of years ago,
        out of the blue.

        > I also want to move away from hit points to a system where you take
        > stun or actual wounds and you need to make stat checks to stay on
        > your feet Con or Will after a certain number has been taken. It would
        > be quick for normal hits (non crits would be assumed to be grazes or
        > superficial wounds), but crits you would compare damage with the
        > maximum allowed to the critted area to see if the character suffers
        > an injury.

        I still don't see why you need to "define" a "critical" success.

        2 Successes are better than 1 Success, with 3 Successes being better
        than 2, and 4 Successes being better than 3, and so forth.

        You don't need to "define" how many Successes constitute a "critical".
        Instead, have damage done be proportional to the number of Successes.
        Both Sagatafl and Modern Action RPG does this.

        In Modern Action RPG, each weapon or unarmed strike has a damage
        multiplier, which you multiply by the number of un-countered Successes,
        and that's how many hitpoints the target loses.

        In Sagatafl, each weapon or unarmed strike has a damage dice, and for
        each un-countered Success, you roll one such dice, and then you subtract
        armour, and compare the final value to the target's Hardiness attribute,
        to see whether or not he is wounded, and if yes, how severely.

        Such an approach does require you to think about how armour works. I
        ended up making a reasonably good model for how different weapons have
        different armour-penetrationl capability for Sagatafl, whereas for
        Modern Action RPG the model says that wearing armour doesn't help you
        much (which is perfectly in genre).

        > Anyway if any of that makes sense please let me know your thoughts.

        If you insist upon having a Success Threshold for combat damage, so that
        a certain amount-or-more of (un-countered?) Successes constitues a
        critical hit, why not vary it from character to character?

        Why not make the threshold 3 for most characters, but allow playes,
        during character creation, to purchase an inborn Advantage or Gift, such
        as "Supreme Manly Toughness", which raises the threshold for that
        character to 4?

        Likewise you could have some sort of binary skill, to represent a
        character having much expetise in striking at vulnerable spots. Probably
        weapon-specific. This binary skill would lower the threshold, for any
        target, by 1. Which obviously would be extremely powerful. Probably more
        powerful even than the already very powerful idea for a "Supreme Manly
        Toughness" Gift.

        That's the problem with working with low numbers. Any tweaking of an
        individual's value is likely to have stark consequences. That's why it
        was such a relief for me, when I changed Sagatafl from using ten-siders
        to 12-siders. Suddenly the RD scale became a lot roomier.

        Likewise, Sagatafl at some point switched to allowing half-point
        Hardiness values, so that instead of the Human average of Hardiness 3,
        characters may have Hardiness of 3.5, or 4.0, or even the Human maximum
        of 4.5, or Hardiness of 2.5 or even 2.0 (lower is not impossible, but
        makes the character almost absurdly fragile). All in a much-needed
        effort to make the system more fine-grained.

        --
        Peter Knutsen
        sagatafl.org
      • Torben AEgidius Mogensen
        ... I never liked the ones cancel successes part. You get the same average (0.3 per dice) by letting the target number be 8, the main difference is that the
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 3, 2008
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          On Wed, 2 Jan 2008, Eric Wall wrote:

          > I want to add the management of dice pools to my homebrew scifi rpg
          > that I'm creating. I like the idea of splitting dice between attack
          > and defense or for multiple attacks. I'm thinking the revised
          > storyteller used in trinity and World of Darkness is a good place to
          > start. Does anyone have any opinions on this matter?
          >
          > Basically its a d10 dice pool where you add stats (1-5) + skill
          > rating (1-5) for a total number of dice. Trgt number is 7, 1's cancel
          > successes. At least 1 success to pass. Difficulty modifiers or
          > defense subtract dice.

          I never liked the "ones cancel successes" part. You get the same
          average (0.3 per dice) by letting the target number be 8, the main
          difference is that the spread gets lower and that you can't get
          negative results. The spread in still very high, so I see the lower
          spread as an advantage.

          This chance is basically what WW did for the new WoD rules, except
          that they also added accumulating rerolls (roll again if you roll 10),
          which increases the average to 1/3 per dice and gives an open-ended
          distribution. I'm not terribly fond of accumulating rerolls either,
          as they take time.

          You could consider using d6s instead of d10s, letting the target
          number be 5. This gives an average of 1/3 and a spread similar to a
          d10 with target number 8. And d6s are more common (and cheaper) than
          d10s, so for dice-pool games they are preferable.

          > I think the emphasis on stats is a little high and Im not sure how to
          > define a critical success.

          There are many ways to define criticals, one is to say that if you
          roll twice as many successes as required for a simple success, then it
          is critical.

          If you think the emphasis on stats is too high, increase the range of
          skills, so skills are rated 0-10 and stats are rated 1-5 and reduce
          the cost of skills so getting a skill of 10 on the new scale has the
          same cost as getting a skill of 5 on the old scale.

          > I also want to move away from hit points to a system where you take
          > stun or actual wounds and you need to make stat checks to stay on
          > your feet Con or Will after a certain number has been taken. It would
          > be quick for normal hits (non crits would be assumed to be grazes or
          > superficial wounds), but crits you would compare damage with the
          > maximum allowed to the critted area to see if the character suffers
          > an injury.

          It looks like you want to use a hit location system, which makes
          things somewhat more complicated. An easier approach is to consider
          locations only at critical hits and use a table to generate graphical
          descriptions of the locations and effects of critical hits, while
          non-critical hits only give temporary penalties. Or just drop the
          idea of hit locations. Most games do quite well without them.

          Torben
        • Chris Cooper
          ... I m thinking ... I think the new WOD Storytelling System is a great improvement over the last incarnation. I also suggest Shadowrun (of which WOD was based
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 3, 2008
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            > On Wed, 2 Jan 2008, Eric Wall wrote:
            I'm thinking
            > the revised
            > > storyteller used in trinity and World of Darkness
            > is a good place to
            > > start. Does anyone have any opinions on this
            > matter?

            I think the new WOD Storytelling System is a great
            improvement over the last incarnation. I also suggest
            Shadowrun (of which WOD was based off of) and Nemesis
            (ORE is based on the earlier oWOD system).

            Cheers,

            Chris.


            ____________________________________________________________________________________
            Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
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          • JAPartridge
            ... Since other s have commented on the die pool mechanic, I thought I d share what I m thinking of doing with wounds. I need some suggestions for
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 10, 2008
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              On Jan 2, 2008 4:06 PM, Eric Wall <ericandbecca@...> wrote:

              >
              > I also want to move away from hit points to a system where you take
              > stun or actual wounds and you need to make stat checks to stay on
              > your feet Con or Will after a certain number has been taken. It would
              > be quick for normal hits (non crits would be assumed to be grazes or
              > superficial wounds), but crits you would compare damage with the
              > maximum allowed to the critted area to see if the character suffers
              > an injury.
              >
              > Anyway if any of that makes sense please let me know your thoughts.
              >

              Since other's have commented on the die pool mechanic, I thought I'd share
              what I'm thinking of doing with wounds. I need some suggestions for
              falling/fire and other non-weapon damage. Following is a dump of what I'm
              working on. It's not quite complete so I'm open to suggestions. It might
              help to know that "Fitness" scores generally range from 4-10 points and that
              the die mechanic results in a range from -5 to +5.

              ~Talus
              --------------------------
              Wounds

              There are two ways of accounting for wounds: The Simplified Way and The
              Detailed Way.

              The Simplified Way
              All characters start at 0 wounds and are able to function until their Total
              Wound Level (TWL--see below) equals their fitness score. Once their TWL
              equals their fitness score, the player must make a fitness roll against
              their PC's current wound level. If they fail their roll, they cannot
              function because they are too hurt, unconscious or dead.

              The Detailed Way
              Roll on the Wound Location table for each wound. Make a fitness roll when
              the TWL for that specific body part equals or exceeds the PCs fitness score.


              The second method adds more realism at the cost of a little more
              book-keeping. Characters will tend to last longer, but they'll also tend to
              be more wounded. Both methods can be mixed, using the detailed method for
              both PCs and primary NPCs and using the simplified method for minor
              characters.

              -----------------------
              | 2d6 Wound Location |
              =======================
              | 2-3 | Head |
              | 4-5 | Sword Arm |
              | 6 | Sword Leg |
              | 7 | Shield Arm |
              | 8 | Shield Leg |
              | 9-12 | Torso |
              -----------------------


              Total Wound Level

              Each wound level is considered to be twice as hurtful as the prior wound
              level, so to calculate the TWL you cannot simply add them up, but must
              exchange two wounds at a given level for one wound of the next level.

              For example. Todd has 4 1-point wounds and 1 3-point wound. The 4 1-point
              wounds would convert to 2 2-point wounds which would, in turn, convert to 1
              3-point wound. Since he already has a 3-point wound, those two would
              combine for a TWL of 4. Even though his wounds are combined in this way to
              calculate his TWL and the penalties to his actions, his wounds are each
              treated individually and recover at their own rates.

              If his Fitness was only 4, he would have to start making Fitness rolls in
              order to stay conscious and functioning.

              Keeping Track of TWL
              Whenever a wound is suffered, record the amount of damage and the type in
              the wounds section of the character sheet. For example a sword slash for 3
              damage is recorded 3E. (B=Blunt, E=Edged, P=Pointed.) At the same time put a
              check in the third box of the TWL chart on the character sheet. If that box
              is already checked, erase the third box and put a check in the fourth box.
              If the fourth box already has a check, erase that one as well and put a
              check in the fifth box. If, on a subsequent attack, a 3-point damage is
              suffered, and the third box is now unchecked, then just check that one. By
              maintaining this process the player can easily keep track of the TWL for his
              character without having to stop and calculate all his wounds.

              Three Strikes And You Are Out!

              Once a character's TWL equals or exceeds Fitness level, he must make a
              fitness roll and exceed his TWL or collapses, unable to continue fighting.
              (If using the simplified method of tracking wounds, you can roll on the hit
              location chart to determine which part of the body has become too hurt to
              function properly.) Having failed the first roll, the player must
              immediately make a second fitness roll. A second failure means his
              character is unconscious and will remain so one minute for every point of
              failure times the number of points of stun. If the player fails the first
              two rolls, he must immediately make a third Fitness role. A third failure
              means that character is dead or dying.


              Stun and Wound Penalties

              All wounds taken during combat, except for disabling wounds, are ignored due
              to the adrenaline and rush of combat. Afterwards, or during a pause in the
              combat where the character has a chance to take stock of his condition, the
              penalties from wounds are calculated and applied to further actions. If TWL
              is tracked by hit location, the penalty is only applied if that part of the
              body is moved to perform the action. Only use the highest related penalty,
              do not combine them.

              ---------------------------------
              | TWL is... |
              =================================
              | Less than 1/2 Fitness | -1 |
              | Equal to Fitness | -2 |
              | Less than 1+1/2 Fitness | -3 |
              | Greater than 1+1/2 Fitness | -4 |
              | Greater than 2x Fitness | -5 |
              ---------------------------------

              Wound Recovery

              It is assumed that some of the damage is temporary stunning damage and that
              some of the damage is killing damage. As soon as the fighting stops, make a
              Fitness roll for each wound using the weapon type to determine the target
              number. This will determine what is stunning and what is killing damage.

              ------------- -------------------------------
              | Weapon TN || Results |
              ============= ===============================
              | Blunt | 6 || Great Success |3 Stun |
              | Edged | 7 || Good Success |2 Stun |
              | Pointed | 8 || Success |1 Stun |
              | | || Failure |0 Stun |
              | | || Complete Failure |+1 Bleed |
              | | || Disasterous Failure |Bleeding |
              ------------- -------------------------------

              A result of 1-3 Stun means that that much of the wound's damage was stunning
              damage rather than killing damage and will recover in minutes rather than
              days.

              A result of 0 Stun means that all of the damage is killing damage.

              +1 Bleed means that after 1 minute/point of Fitness, the wound will actually
              increase by one point before stopping unless the wound is treated before
              then.

              Bleeding means that the wound will continue to bleed at the same rate as
              above until it is treated.

              The normal recovery rate for wounds is one point for every X number of days
              where X equals the current points of wound damage. This means that a
              6-point wound will become a 5-point wound after 6 days. The actual length
              of time for each recovery period will vary according to a recovery roll.
              The player makes a normal VS6 roll and adds his Fitness score. The target
              number for the roll varies with the rest activity. A Successful medical aid
              roll will reduce the target number by 1. The GM may award an additional
              penalty for unsanitary conditions.

              --------------------------- -------------------------------------------
              | Rest Activity TN || Results |
              =========================== ===========================================
              | Strenuous Activity | 9 || Great Success | -1 Wound Point |
              | Moderate Activity | 8 || Good Success | 1/4 Recovery Time* |
              | Light Activity | 7 || Success | 1/2 Recovery Time |
              | No Activity | 6 || Failure | Normal Recovery Time |
              | | || Complete Failure | 1+1/2 Recovery Time |
              | | || Disasterous Failure| +1 Wound Level |
              --------------------------- -------------------------------------------

              (*Unless you really feel like keeping track of the hours, round up all
              fractions of days when calculating recovery time.)

              Rest Activity
              Strenuous Activity--The sick/injured person carries on normal activity as if
              he were not injured.

              Moderate Activity--The sick/injured person engages in normal day to day
              activity as long as it is not physically stressful. This may enclude travel
              by horse at a normal pace.

              Light Activity--The sick/injured person spends most of his time resting, but
              may engage in some non-strenuous activity.

              No Activity--This is complete bed rest. Other than occasionally creaping to
              the bathroom, the sick/injured person does not move.

              Results
              -1 Wound Point--The wound is immediately lowered by one point. Roll again
              for next recovery period.

              1/4 Recovery Time--The recovery time for that point (and that point only) is
              reduced to 1/4 its normal time.

              1/2 Recover Time--The recovery time for that point (and that point only) is
              reduced to 1/2 its normal time.

              Normal Recovery Time--The wound is reduced by one point after a number of
              days equal to the current wound.

              1+1/2 Recover Time--The recovery time is increased by 50%, after which the
              wound is reduced by one point.

              +1 Wound Level--The wound is actually increased by 1 whole level. The
              sick/injured person gets worse due to continued bleeding or infection.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Alan Kohler
              ... I recommend avoiding any take away successes type mechanics. Better RPGs don t do it any more. If you are going to use a die pool mechanic, keep it
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 28, 2008
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                --- In rpg-create@yahoogroups.com, "Eric Wall" <ericandbecca@...> wrote:
                >
                > I want to add the management of dice pools to my homebrew scifi rpg
                > that I'm creating. I like the idea of splitting dice between attack
                > and defense or for multiple attacks. I'm thinking the revised
                > storyteller used in trinity and World of Darkness is a good place to
                > start. Does anyone have any opinions on this matter?
                >
                > Basically its a d10 dice pool where you add stats (1-5) + skill
                > rating (1-5) for a total number of dice. Trgt number is 7, 1's cancel
                > successes. At least 1 success to pass. Difficulty modifiers or
                > defense subtract dice.

                I recommend avoiding any "take away successes" type mechanics. Better
                RPGs don't do it any more. If you are going to use a die pool
                mechanic, keep it simple.

                Oh, hi everyone. Just thought I'd pop in and see what's up on the list
                these days.

                -Alan
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