Monthly Archives: September 2016


The day after the last post was spent in the hospital, getting Mom’s transfusion. The day was pretty much wasted for any productivity. And apparently, I picked up something, as by the end of the week, I was sick. Last Sunday I spent making regular trips to the toilet between aches and pains, fever and chills. But by the time I got called to work Monday, I was feeling better and agreed to work. That was a mistake, as once I got off work, I spent the evening going to the bathroom in one night as much as I did all day Sunday. I continued to be sick until Wednesday morning, when things finally stabilized.

Feeling yucky, I did damned little with my week. By Thursday though, I’d managed to get some ideas down for new rules for armor, and to start a “playtest.”

The first idea was to simply eliminate the damage mitigation of armor. That’s simple and keeps to the original rules of Adventurers! I’m not really enthusiastic about this rule, as it’s basically D&D (armor preventing hits, as opposed to preventing damage), but this rules change allowed me to simply use my records of the original playtesting I’d done to test the idea. I simply ran the numbers a second time, without the armor saves. However, it made the greatsword power to reduce the target’s armor save (a power which seems to be common to all of the greatweapons) pretty useless, which I don’t consider a Bad Thing. I might run the numbers again with the greatweapon power reducing defense, but I haven’t decided for certain yet.

My initial impulse after writing these rules was that while it’s simple and actually works within the system, it just doesn’t feel right. Probably because in my mind, I’d rather have armor working as it does in reality, acting to prevent damage (“rhino-hiding” as it’s called in the SCA). Armor as hit prevention rankles me.

The other ideas I have are for an Apocalypse World style die-roll system (which is the basis of Dungeon World), but as I worked on it, I came to the conclusion that there would be additional systems I’d need. I’d have to start making decisions on how much damage weapons would generate, as well as how combat works in different situations, etc. I was starting to feel rules creep, I realize now. Again, it doesn’t feel right. A vague term, I know, but really the only way to describe how my mind is assessing the idea.

My last idea is based on the Cypher System, a series of games I’ve mentioned I really want to like, but can’t bring myself to like. The idea is dangers have a difficulty, and that determines the danger’s defense, attack, hit points, etc. Everything the danger does is a difficulty for the PCs to beat with dice rolls. That is essentially how DW works as well, so it’s a direction I kinda wanted to go anyway.

I realized as I built this rule that I’ll want to change skill resolution (which I’d originally written as DW-style), but I’m okay with that. While having a different resolution system for every aspect of the game is very D&D 1e, it’s definitely not the direction I want to go with my rules. I want a more standardized, unified set of systems.

I need to playtest the Cypher-style rules, and I’ll probably need to come up with a chart or something listing difficulties and what they mean. This was something I realized about both A! and DW: Both rely on bestiaries rather than give the DM rules for creating threats. On that level, they’re pretty opaque.

That’s pretty much all I have for now. I won’t be posting next week, as I’ll be taking a trip to the coast to see a reconstruction of one of the Spanish tall ships as it tours the Southern Coast of California.


Playtesting and Job Hunting

Where to begin…

Financial issues continue, as I only worked 5 hours last week. Basically, I never got called as work has dropped off and we now have a surplus of drivers.  Of course, the “feast and famine” effect kicked in, and I got nearly 30 hours this week. With the flakiness of my schedule, I’ve finally gotten off my ass and started looking for another job again. That’s pretty much a full-time job in and of itself.

On top of the in-flow issues, I paid my car registration online two weeks ago, and have yet to see the money taken from my account. I need to call the DMV, but I don’t know when I’ll get time for it, as tomorrow, I need to take Mom to the hospital for a transfusion, and that’s an all-day thing.

On the positive/gaming side, I managed to do some playtesting of Adventurers!, and I think the combat rules are a little broken. No, they’re a lot broken.

Just to test a combat, I ran a pair of characters with the same stats, same armor (heavy), but with different kit. One character had a one-handed sword and shield, one had a greatsword. I ran the combat three times, twice without skills, once with skills. I never used the game’s “Heroism Points,” as the way the characters were built, they wouldn’t have any. Basically, these were just exercises in how the system works, so I used no minis or tactics. It was two characters wailing on each other until one or the other fell. What I noticed was as follows:

  • Armor works okay, but it seems very flawed. Greatweaponss reduce armor rolls and add to damage when they hit, which pretty much made the armor of the shieldbearer useless, as he kept failing the reduction rolls and taking additional damage. However, the Armor Mastery skill was amazing, enabling the greatswordsman to prevent all the damage dealt by the shieldbearer on most hits. Only a couple of really bad defense rolls on the greatswordsman’s part, along with good rolls on the shieldbearer’s attacks, enabled the shieldbearer to do any damage in the final combat.
  • Shields are virtually worthless. It only activated once in about 20 rounds (when the skill was present, but had no impact), and didn’t prevent enough damage to be worth using. As expected, the shield is too passive for my tastes.
  • The greatsword seems like a superweapon, and since there are few differences between it and other greatweapons, I think it’s just a side effect of the combat rules. The flat bonus to damage and penalty to armor rolls is mentioned above. While the one-handed sword gave a bonus to hit (due to the character builds), the plus one to hit really didn’t sway the math enough to be as valuable as the flat damage bonus.
  • Crits can be devastating. Each character had nine hit points, and crits typically scored about 4 hit points, even more with the greatweapon, upwards of six hit points. The shieldbearer only one once, in the protracted twelve round combat, but lost the other two times. I don’t think a fourth combat is necessary: the math indicates the shieldbearer will likely lose.

I’m thinking I need to go to flat damage for weapons, with crits adding a small amount and no other damage, and armor changing to a flat damage reduction. I’ll need to figure out a new way to do defense as well, working on a way to include shields as an effective defense.

It’s late and I need to be up in the morning, so…


Researching Adventurers! and Armor

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had some financial issues, but I managed to pick up a number of the Adventurers! supplements/setting expansions and read them. I’ve enjoyed them, particularly their willingness to write new systems to fit the setting in question. However, I finally found some stuff I’m not real crazy about.

Armor and shields.

In A!, combat is handled as opposed rolls of 2d6 plus derived bonuses. Attack bonus is based on either Strength or Agility, and Defense is based on either Armor or Agility. Armor heavier than light armor has either option, but penalties based on weight. (See below.) If you roll doubles on your defense roll, your shield activates and you get to ignore one point of damage.

Further, depending on the weight of the armor, you can ignore a measure of damage. Damage absorption is handled kind of like armor in Warhammer minis games: roll a certain number or higher to reduce the damage by a certain amount. The armor chart gives stats as follows (AR means “Armor Rating”):

  • Light Armor     DEF Agl     AR: 5
  • Medium Armor     DEF 3/Agl-1     AR: 4
  • Heavy Armor     DEF 4/Agl-2     AR: 3-4: -1, 5-6: -2

So, armor both keeps you from getting hit as well as mitigating damage, and a shield is a very passive defense. The thing is, damage from an attack is determined from the attack roll, based on half the excess over the defense roll (rounded down) plus 1.

For example, an attacker with a +3 ATT rolls a total of 11, and the defender in medium armor rolls a total of 8, which means the attacker succeeds by three, so the damage is 2. If the defender had been wearing light or no armor, his defense roll might have been higher and prevented more damage. The defender now gets (basically) an armor save, and with medium armor, he can reduce the damage one point. If he had heavy armor, he could potentially reduce the damage to zero. Also, if he got lucky and rolled doubles on his defense roll (a one in six proposition, which isn’t really bad), his shield would activate, which also would prevent one damage.

(In fact, as I look at this, I’m realizing just how oddball this system is in this regard, as all light armor gets you is a very feeble armor save.)

I don’t like this much at all. The armor affects how much damage results from the single attack roll twice (once by affecting the attack roll difference, once by affecting the damage), and a shield is only moderately useful and totally passive. While in history, the armor mechanics make a certain sense, the shield rules aren’t very realistic or heroic. All the rolling, it seems to me, would totally bog down play.

Now, there are a couple of ways damage can be increased, such as critical hits (boxcars, which nets one additional point of damage), penetrating weapons (which work like shields, giving one additional point of damage on doubles), and great weapons (plus 1 damage and -1 AR), but these don’t really generate that much extra damage (2, as the two weapon specific rules are mutually exclusive). Now, you don’t have a crazy lot of hit points to begin with, usually in the ballpark of 7 at character creation, but the mechanics seem to favor the defender, a lot.

I think I need to take this on a test run before I make a final judgement, but these mechanics seem broken to me, and something I’m going to have to tinker with to correct.

Anyway, it’s Labor Day and I have other things to do today, like enjoying the holiday.