Two unrelated questions

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Slloyd14
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Two unrelated questions

Post by Slloyd14 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:04 am

1) can spellcasters cast spells in combat rather than making an attack?

2) When writing an adventure how do you quantify the power level of the players since they do not have levels? Skill can be misleading as you could have a skill 7 adventurer with 6 points in sword. The only thing I can think of is how many experience points the players have spent on their characters.

These wuestions are both in aid of me having another stab at an AFF2 solo (with the hope of making a series of them) for my blog.

Answers welcome!
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Post by AeonThePhoenix » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:46 pm

1) can spellcasters cast spells in combat rather than making an attack?
Yes, but I think they suffer a (-2?) penalty to the roll for being under attack while they're casting, though that's easily negated by spending one or more combat rounds in preparation for the cast which adds its own bonus.

My home-brew approach to that was to have the spell-caster roll SKILL (with Dodge added if taken) against the opposing SKILL to avoid being hit. If hit, then a test against their MAGIC + relevant Special Skill to avoid losing control of the magical energies built up so far, which would just amount to the spell failing and respective Magic Points being deducted.

Our sample spell-caster Magus has a SKILL 4, MAGIC 7, Dodge 1 & Wizardry 2.
- He's engaged in battle , so to successfully cast during combat he'd need to roll 7? or under.
- He tries to Dodge the attack, with a (SKILL+Dodge) of 6 and 2d6 vs the opponent's skill and 2d6.
- He fails and is hit, so has to now roll 6 or less (MAGIC+Wizardry) to avoid having his magic blow up in his face. He succeeds, and so can carry on casting the spell next round. As he was hit this round, it doesn't provide any bonus towards his overall casting of the spell.

2) When writing an adventure how do you quantify the power level of the players since they do not have levels? Skill can be misleading as you could have a skill 7 adventurer with 6 points in sword. The only thing I can think of is how many experience points the players have spent on their characters.
Yes, that seems the most likely way to do it, except I'd keep track of their total EXP earned so far and use that as a guideline for comparison instead. Seems a bit unfair to potentially compare a new player to an experienced one saving up their hard earned EXP for a Talent.

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Post by Slloyd14 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:44 am

Thanks for the answers and for clearing that up!
AeonThePhoenix wrote: Yes, that seems the most likely way to do it, except I'd keep track of their total EXP earned so far and use that as a guideline for comparison instead. Seems a bit unfair to potentially compare a new player to an experienced one saving up their hard earned EXP for a Talent.
That makes sense; it's just that my reservation with that system is that an experienced adventurer with 150XP who is saving up for a talent is no more proficient than a new adventurer. However, this system is far more simple.

Many thanks for your answer!
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A blog about writing gamebooks. My musings on how to write a gamebook and what makes a good gamebook.

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Post by bottg » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:37 am

Slloyd14 wrote:
That makes sense; it's just that my reservation with that system is that an experienced adventurer with 150XP who is saving up for a talent is no more proficient than a new adventurer. However, this system is far more simple.
This is of course absolutely right. But with XP also comes better equipment and maybe magical items. So someone with 500xp saved up and not spent will still be more effective than a brand new Hero, even though their characteristics may be exactly the same

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Post by Slloyd14 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:29 pm

parkusuk wrote:
Slloyd14 wrote:
That makes sense; it's just that my reservation with that system is that an experienced adventurer with 150XP who is saving up for a talent is no more proficient than a new adventurer. However, this system is far more simple.
This is of course absolutely right. But with XP also comes better equipment and maybe magical items. So someone with 500xp saved up and not spent will still be more effective than a brand new Hero, even though their characteristics may be exactly the same
Good point. :D :idea:
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Post by Bysshe » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:52 am

I was concerned about this as well, and while those solutions work, I think I may modify the rules a bit to allow for clearly defined levels. Fortunately the appeal of AFF rules is not only their simplicity but their flexibility.

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Post by torus » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:07 am

[quote="Bysshe"]I was concerned about this as well, and while those solutions work, I think I may modify the rules a bit to allow for clearly defined levels. Fortunately the appeal of AFF rules is not only their simplicity but their flexibility.[/quote

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on how that might be done. Levels can be a useful concept in some cases - though personally I'm happier without them. But being able to assess the capability level of a group is useful in planning encounters.

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Post by Bysshe » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:35 am

That's something I'm still working out. I've been weighing different options in my mind for how I could preserve the basic mechanics for gaining and spending XP as much as possible while still adding a progressive level system.

One idea I had was to synthesize elements of the default AFF rules with aspects of D&D 3/3.5E's level progression system. Perhaps have talents automatically improve with higher levels, allow players to select free talents at certain level marks, etc.

I was also considering designing custom versions of different character classes, complete with uniform skill and talent progressions, though that would take some freedom away from the PCs.

The option I'm leaning towards at the moment is a simpler one: leave the mechanics mostly unchanged, but delineate levels based on XP spent. For example, perhaps I might require a PC to spend 50 XP to get from LV 1 to 2, 100 more XP spent to get from 2 to 3, 150 more spent on top of that to get from 3 to 4, etc. I'm just not sure about the specific values and curve, but since I'm in control of XP distribution, as long as I take that into account, it shouldn't matter too much how I break it down.

I might also add in bonus talents at certain points as I stated above, just to give the levels some more meaning and to make it a bit easier for the PCs to acquire new powers. I'm definitely removing the stat caps, as I think they are too low, especially for longer campaigns. I understand that they exist for balance with existing enemies, etc, but that really doesn't matter too much as long as you scale the challenges appropriately. Levels would further help with that.

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Post by torus » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:22 pm

XP totals are clearly the most consistent way to do this, since Arion have worked out the XP costs for advancement, but in lieu of that how about just adding everything up, which doesn't require having a tally of XP gained (which might be unavailable for NPCs).

For example take the sum of Characteristics + all Skill scores + points cost of all Wizardry spells known. Maybe also plus 5 * number of talents?

On this score, starting characters are at around 50-60, and go up by about 5 for each 100 XP (though this varies a lot). Not sure what the significance of this score would be but it's easy to calculate.

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Post by Bysshe » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:30 pm

Hmm... you might be on to something there. Of course I'd have to determine some sort of mark to represent each level, which I'd rather tie to actual advancement rather than potential XP which haven't been spent yet. The variation in how the XP can be spent does make determining a level mark more tricky. If I just set it as a 5-point spread across the board, for example, it would be far easier to advance in level by increasing skill values than characteristic values, and if I add in a bonus talent or some other reward, so much the easier to get it, though there are downsides to this approach, as the book itself points out.

I'm also thinking of removing the "once per adventure" caveat to advancement. Once per session might be more appropriate, though I'm also tempted to allow the PCs to advance whenever they have the points, spending them on as many advancements as they can afford. That would make for faster advancement, but all I'd need to do is scale to match it. I'll have a think about this. Thanks for your input.

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Post by Bysshe » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:14 am

I think I'll skip using levels for now, actually. It's a bit more trouble than it's worth when there are plenty of things to design and tinker with already. I still prefer the concept of levels, but I'll just think of characters in terms of, "Bob is a X-point character," like GURPS or something. I'm still removing the caps, though. Scaling is easy.

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Post by torus » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:50 pm

Bysshe wrote: I'm still removing the caps, though. Scaling is easy.
Just wondering, if you allow abilities to increase substantially, how do you handle skill checks? Does a skill 12 hero automatically succeed at everything? Seems to me that the 2d6 nature of the system places severe limits on stat improvement. Essentially it's the same as Traveller in this regard.

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Post by Bysshe » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:33 am

torus wrote:
Bysshe wrote: I'm still removing the caps, though. Scaling is easy.
Just wondering, if you allow abilities to increase substantially, how do you handle skill checks? Does a skill 12 hero automatically succeed at everything? Seems to me that the 2d6 nature of the system places severe limits on stat improvement. Essentially it's the same as Traveller in this regard.
Another issue of scale. When the PCs' stats get high enough, the number of dice rolled for skill checks could increase accordingly. In the event of low-level PCs and NPCs mixing amongst a group of high-level PCs, the high-level PCs (and NPCs) would have to roll an increased number of dice, while the low-level ones would use the standard 2d6 mechanic.

I've already experimented with this concept when designing custom mechanics for one of my PCs with an unusual character concept. Essentially, once certain thresholds are hit, (in this particular example, based on the PC's current maximum stamina value) the number of dice rolls required to deal with certain events automatically advances appropriately. As long as the number of dice rolled is scaled properly and consistently, it shouldn't be an issue.

Modifiers could also be applied as an alternative to increasing the number of dice rolled. For example, having a PC with a skill of 13 roll 2d6 is almost pointless, but having them roll 3d6 might be a bit too punitive, though not really beyond reason; after all, a skill 7 PC has 5 chances to fail a check as well (assuming no modifiers). But if the idea is that high-level characters should remain slightly better at what they are doing than low-level characters, it might be prudent to have them roll 2d6 + x, where x is dependent on how many points above 12 a PC's skill is. Furthermore, it might be even simpler to just have a rule that high-level PCs always have to make opposed checks against predetermined numbers based on their current stat values. Really, any of those ways could work, but it should be a while yet before I have to decide how I want to handle it.

Does it complicate matters? Yes, slightly, but I think it's worth it when you consider some of the plans I have for the campaign and the nature of the challenges within it. It also provides an essentially unlimited motivation for character advancement, so if this campaign should run for years, there will still be room for the PCs to improve their characters. I like the idea of limitless vistas, and having my PCs able to improve themselves to demigod level and beyond. My favorite D&D campaign was one in which I got to play a level 40+ character - the DM just gave us ludicrous challenges to compensate. In a game which only uses d6s, it should be even easier to scale, and again, as long as I provide encounters which are tailored to the party at hand, it's all gravy and proportions.

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