by Chris Birch, Modiphius
@Chris Birch, the problem is Expertise & Focus aren't a 'dilemma', but (because of the way Momentum & Doom work) a confusing and unnecessary division which represents nothing in the fiction (let alone real world) and results in hidden optimizations (what is best in life is to raise Focus as high as possible). It doesn't even achieve the 'better odds = smaller result' vs 'worse odds = bigger result' difference it claims to, because Momentum is used to determine both sides of those equations.
I'm pulling my pledge for many reasons, some of which are outside of Modiphius' control, but this one isn't and should have been addressed after 3 versions of 2d20.
The direction of the Fort on p32 is given as both northward and southward.
Nice one, Steve. That really does the trick.
Here's a formatting input for Reach & Guard:
Write it to be focused on the attacker. The current language focuses on the defender. Something like:
"If the attacker has a weapon with less reach than a target who has guard, the difficulty of the attack is increased by one step per point of reach difference. This represents the defender's longer weapon keeping the attacker at bay.
Conversely, If the attacker has a weapon with less reach than a target who has lost guard, the attacker gains+1d20 per point of reach difference. This represents the attacker slipping inside reach of the defender."
This attacker-focused wording results in direct application for the acting character, rather than having to stop to assess the situation from another character's view.
@João - did you try running a battle yet? My players and I liked the extra opportunity for defense from some weapons. It really doesn't take that much more time to roll soak for Parry Quality, especially if you are already rolling Shield soak.
@Nathan Thanks for your reply!
I understand where your are coming from but nevertheless my arguments are maintained. Although english is not my natural language, I believe I explained my preference in favor of streamlining the dice rolling and the description of the fictional positioning in a decisive, meaningful manner. I think it would make the pace of the game at the table more visceral, more R.E.H. If decisive die rolls mapped something equally decisive in the fiction. I think it would be a wonderful thing if immediacy after rolling the damage die prompted some visceral and fictional scene from the GM/players, which can off course be subject to editing by things like the outcome shield die, or spending momentum, which is a fantastic mechanic to further player (and even character) agency.
I hope you take a hard look at the issue and wish you good luck coming forward.
@Many of You: On the Pregens, the TN column is Expertise and Attribute added together, rather than showing Expertise separately. Focus, in all cases for the pregens, is equal to Expertise.
@Mike Watts: That’ll be cleared up later – there’ve been very tight deadlines putting this together, and part of that has been importing rules text from other documents. Many of our older rules documents use [dice symbol] [number], rather than the other way around.
@João Talassa: It’ll be looked at, but I can’t really say more with regards to feedback because it requires some discussion amongst our development team to determine a way forward. It’s worth remembering that the Parry quality is a little extra defence from a weapon that can be used defensively quite easily, but it’s distinct from using the Parry skill to defend – you always get the Parry quality’s Soak dice (same with the Shield quality), and that’s separate from winning a Struggle when you use the Parry skill to defend (at which point, you prevented the attack entirely). Each attack roll isn’t a single swing of the sword, but a back-and-forth exchange, so the Parry and Shield qualities are part of that to-and-fro of battle, while the defence reaction is an all-or-nothing attempt to fend off the attack altogether. The matter of Momentum in Struggles has been raised, and your feedback’s helpful in making that decision.
@Douglas Justice: When the GM spends Doom to seize the initiative, that applies only to a single NPC (or group of NPCs), and only for that round.
Rules question: If the GM seizes initiative during one round does it revert back to the PCs the following round?
@David in this game of shared imagination I have difficulty seeing what the quality parry (whatever the name) means/represents and Therefore I have difficulty describing the action/fiction in a meaningful and decisive manner. I think that the rolling of the dice add nothing to the fiction, and if it is there for balance purposes I wish there is time to find other, better solutions. It is easier to incorporate the various instances of momentum in the ongoing narration than to justify the parry quality in weapons. And as long you are being nitpicky with names, I would call the shield quality block, but that's not really an big issue.
On a related note, I also think that the momentum in a parry struggle should be the difference of successes between the attacker and the defender. For fictional/narrative and balance/mechanics reasons.
I am only being this nitpicky because I think the game is shaping to be fantastic, mechanically and lore wise.
Trek = two
Really spellchecker... Trek???!
@João - I totally understand what you are getting at. It is weird that Trek different mechanics are in play for one concept. In the playtest, the weapon Quality was related a little more to the Parry action.
Maybe now the Quality should be called "Defensive" to differentiate it from a standard Parry action. I think of the Quality as the weapon weaving a wall of defense, or acting as cover (which is the type of Soak it gives).
@Mike - Skill Expertise or Focus are two things to spend experience on, or gain during character creation Lifepath. Expertise adds to your Attribute so increases the target number TN, whilst Focus increases the range of your critical roll, so if your focus is 1, you get a second success if you roll a 1, if it's 2 you get a second success if you roll 2 or less and so on up to a max of 5 for Signature skills. The dilemma with experience is then do you make yourself better at succeeding, or get more accurate/more effective/more deadly with those rolls.
Cheers @David I read your playthrough - thanks for sharing, it was great!
Nonetheless, I can read the disconnect between the mechanic and fictional representation/narration/description in there too.
Actually, that Parry Quality and Shield Quality mechanic worked pretty good in my playthrough last night.
I Am not really sure you need to instances (2d20 struggle and xd6 damage reduction) to reflect the same fictional thing.
@ David Thomas
I think Expertise is the skill you train. Where Focus is awarded to you for experience in using the skill, maybe a GM award, who knows. But I am guessing that from the quick start.
I understand, but my concern was more the opposite: a successful parry resulting in a wound, as well as speeding combat and explaining the meaning of die rolls in combat, as a meaningful fraction of the narrative.
@Joao not sure if I'm up understanding your issue or not, but keep in mind, that lost Vigor doesn't mean you were hurt necessarily- since you recover it all back at the end of the scene.
I could imagine a partial parry from a weapon meaning you are being put on your heels and barely keeping your opponent at bay.
Errata: indecisive = decisive (3rd line).
@Nathan @Chris As you are still considering rules: re: Parry
I would really, really prefer to cut the parry die rolling from weapons.
That's because I prefer narrative in combat to be direct, swift and indecisive. You parry the attack or not, and as a GM I would describe imediately to the roll (momentum notwithstanding).
If you interpose a shield (block) I can imagine the outcome of said die roll to narrate how much of an effort you make on resistance, keeping the narrative tension. But not so much with weapons, where I feel that the attack is blocked altogether or not.
The thing is that I find it easier to keep the flow of the narration in the first instance while my imagination becomes stuck in the latter.
I would probably keep momentum as a difference in struggle, in order to compensate, considering that parry with a weapon normally costs doom anyways.
I could also consider other solutions like using the parry value (on weapons, not shields) as a straight cut on the damage dice the attacker is rolling or as a bonus success to the defender in a struggle.
I think this could be a long way to speed up combat and make its description more direct and decisive, while still keeping the momentum mechanics as a creative outlet of rich and diversified outcomes.
It would be nice if you give at least some consideration to these thoughts while you are still considering some issues in the rules that are not yet set in stone. As with you all I am really excited for this game, which I think it's a labor of love and will turn out the very best it can possibly be.
@Bill - we didn't get to see character creation in the playtest either. This is my first 2d20 system game, so I can't figure out how Focus is determined. Maybe it is your Expertise level? I don't remember it being that way in the playtest though.
Also, I remember they said that you would be able to create characters at different power/heroic levels. The pregens in the Quick Start seem a little less powerful than the ones we had in the playtest. Maybe that's why Focus & Expertise are the same for them?
@ David - Thanks for that input. I just seems odd to me that EVERY sample character would have a Focus value in EVERY Skill they have Expertise in and that the Focus value would be the same as that character's Expertise in each skill!
Intuitively, I would expect that characters would develop Expertise before Focus, and at different rates. However, I will admit to making assumptions, since I didn't see the playtest version, and have no clue how characters are generated or develop through play.
@Bill - disregard my parenthesis comment, I forgot that isn't how they are presented in to Quick Start. :P
@Mike - Confusingly, most of the Pregen's Expertise seems to equal their Focus. I'm fairly certain from Beta that they are different numbers, although when I was trying to reverse engineer character creation I could not figure out how Focus was derived.
Phoenix symbol means D6. On most pages it seems to suggest the form (Number of dice, Combat Dice) E.G. 4 Phoenix symbol damage. But on page 21 it says Hazards inflicts Phoenix symbol 3 physical damage. Would it not be better to keep the number of combat dice to the left? like in the other examples.
The pre-generated characters seem to have added their Attributes to their Expertise. Instead of giving the expertise as its own number. Which is confusing as focus seems to equal what you think expertise is. The value given for Expertise is what you think Target Number (TN) is. Page 12 rules say that focus does not get added to Attributes.
@Bill - Focus is the number in parenthesis.
Melee 13 (4)
4 is the Focus.
Sorry if I'm totally misunderstanding you.
The Skills area on the pre-gen character sheets have columns headed: Skill TN Focus. Shouldn’t Focus be Expertise, since values listed in this column are added to the Attribute (I.e. Agility) to arrive at the TN (as shown)? Also, If this is the case, am I right to assume that none of the pre-gens have Focus in any skill?
From the Quickstart rules p12:
Skill Expertise states: “A character’s Expertise in a skill is the character’s mastery of the subject. Expertise with a skill increases the likelihood of success. Expertise is added to the character’s Attribute to determine the chance of success. We call this the Target Number (or TN for short)."
...and Skill Focus states: "A character’s Focus in a skill is achieved through constant practice, superior discipline, and deeper insight. Focus with a skill improves the quality of success. Unlike Skill Expertise, it is not added to the Attribute."
Sorry if I missed this elsewhere. ; )
@Nathan: OK, that actually makes some sense.
@Nick: You're reading the stats that incorporate the characters' Bonus Damage. Adelstan the Young Knight gets a +2 dice to his melee, making the broadsword +7 damage. A broadsword is normally +5 damage, compared to the sword's +4 damage.
The damage for shields looks about 1 higher for each than I would give them. The broadsword's damage is surprisingly high at 7 against a normal sword's 4.
@Marius - Melee and Parry were separated during playtesting, because Agility was becoming the predominant combat stat. Separating them means that a decent melee character can't just focus on one thing.
@Nick - it's more straightforward to treat all damage the same with regards to recovery. Broadly, the "get it all back immediately" is there to keep play moving - if you only get some of it back, you end up with people just rolling skill tests until it's all back anyway, and as it's supposed to recover quickly, an all-or-nothing approach was deemed the cleanest.
The adventure, in this case, was written before the rules were applied in their final form, so the way it handles mental damage is a little off in places. With the full rules, I'd be inclined to throw in Fatigue and Despair (which reduce your maximum Vigour and Resolve, respectively, until you've had a few hours' rest) to cover things like that, but this is a demo rather than the full game.
Using Doom is a GM skill that does take a little practice. There should always be a trickle of them flowing back out, and if the players pay out loads of Doom, the GM should be willing to make use of it in return and keep the pressure on.
On p34 it says the GM starts with Doom points = sum of Fortune points. After playing a few scenarios at Conception, the players were hosing the GM with Doom, so not sure the GM needs to start with any!
Resolve can also be regained using Momentum spends and Fortune Points, so not having it return automatically after a rest is not a massive problem.
Recovering Resolve - I like that Vigor comes back after a fight, but should Resolve? (Recovery, p24.) Looking at the adventure, on p38 the characters might take mental damage - but unless a trauma is dealt, this Resolve damage can be shaken off with a few minutes' rest. So perhaps there should be some thought as to how much Resolve can be recovered per rest (using a Discipline roll, getting successes in Resolve back?).
The skills are pretty broad yet Parry and Melee are separate skills? That seems pretty weird.
The escalating cost for Reactions seems like a bad idea since that requires that you track exactly how many Reactions every PC and NPC have used since the previous round. It would be a lot simpler if the cost remained constant (I'd suggest 1 or 0).
(I'd also suggest using some kind of fatigue mechanic as the cost instead of Doom or perhaps using Stress for reactions but that's to do with my general dislike for the Doom/Dark Symmetry mechanic generally).
I definitely agree with Douglas.
Parry already had a cost and a risk. It should at least potentially decrease Momentum from the attack. Same with any Struggle really.
I can live with the other method, as it does speed up play and generate more fun Momentum, but it makes Parry even less useful.
@Nathan Dowdell - for Momentum in a Struggle, my group definitely thought it made more sense to subtract the loser's successes from the winner's.
Example: A attacks B and B chooses to Defend. A gets 5 successes; B gets 4 successes. As the rules are written, A therefore hits B and has 5 Momentum to spend on extra damage or other effects. If B hadn't bothered to Defend, A's attack would have had difficulty 1 and A would only get 4 Momentum. So B gets hit *harder* because of the attempt to Defend.
I prefer the subtraction approach whereby A only gets 1 Momentum, so that B's Defense action has some effect even if it isn't sufficient to stop the attack altogether. This may slow fights a bit, since attackers will get less Momentum.
Another option might be to say that the attack's difficulty is always D1, even if the target chooses to Defend. Haven't tested this out.
@David - Momentum in a Struggle... rules-as-written, you compare both sides, the higher is the winner, and gets to keep all Momentum generated. That's currently being discussed internally, however.
Parry and Shield (or two weapons with Parry) do stack - sword and shield is better for defending yourself than sword by itself, or sword and axe.
@Chris - You're welcome! Thanks for the game. :)
@Nathan - Thanks for finally clearing up Guard & Reach! I like that rule, elegant and effective.
Can you clarify how to figure Momentum in a Struggle? Also, can you stack weapon Parry & Shield qualities? (ie, if your sword has Parry 2 and your shield has Shield 2, do you have 4 cover soak vs a Melee attack?)
@Nick Riggs - yes; Opposed Tests is our setting-neutral term. Struggles is the Conan term (more evocative - similarly, they're called Face-to-Face tests in Infinity, to match the equivalent rule in the wargame).
p25/26 talks about Opposed tests: I assume this means Struggles
@David thanks so much for the example of play it's awesome!
Thanks everyone for the feedback we'll be doing an updated version on monday based on all the comments and will make further clarifications of the rules. Keep 'em coming! We've had over 2000 downloads so far!
@David Thomas - only the first five damage inflicts harm; the only way to get a second harm from a single damage roll is to reduce the target to 0 stress. We had some issues in testing allowing too many harm to be inflicted in one go.
Reach and Guard. We were in the awkward situation yesterday of trying to clean up the quickstart while I was on a succession of trains - I was posting from my phone while moving from train to train, because deadlines are deadlines and don't care where you are at the time. I thought we'd managed to sort it out, but apparently not - I wasn't in a position to put the new text together myself.
If the defender has Guard, then each point by which the defender's weapon is longer than the attacker's increases the difficulty of the attack by one step. If the defender has lost Guard, then each point by which the attacker's weapon is shorter than the defender's adds +1d20 to the attacker's test.
Douglas and Reaper Steve...thank you! The key really was understanding that this rule is for long weapons in defense. I get it!
Alright, thanks to Douglas and several rereadings, here's where I think Guard and Reach stand:
- If a defender has greater reach and Guard, the attacker's difficulty increases one step per point of difference of reach. (Defender keeps attacker at bay.)
- If a defender has greater reach but lost Guard, the attacker gets +1d20 per point of difference (less) of reach. (Attacker slips inside of reach to a range where the defender's weapon is less effective.)
That construct works (see Douglas's great examples) you just need to tighten the language.
-- Both of these rules only come into play if the defender has greater reach, so that should be clearly stated early in this section.
-- The last two sentences of this section say 'point of guard' when they should say 'point of reach.' But really the whole section needs better language. However, I think solid design is there and doesn't need to change!
If you can confirm this is the intent, I'm happy to take a stab at rewriting the section. (I have several published game authorship credits.)
Here's the example of play I wrote up from a quick, and really fun, session tonight!
@Douglas: I'm inclined to agree after rereading it through your lens. They should change "the shorter weapon has an advantage" to "the ATTACKER'S weapon." The biggest confusion is the language keeps switching from attacker/defender and long/short. I think they are trying to write what I suggested several comments ago; they just need to tighten it up.
Looking at Reach and Guard again, it seems that it only really is intended to come into effect if the Defender has the longer weapon.
If the defender has GUARD attacker's difficulty goes up by the difference in reach. If the defender doesn't have GUARD then the attacker slips into the reach of a longer weapon and gets bonus dice equal to the difference in Reach.
I like it!
Another Rules Question!
Does each increment of 5 damage cause a Wound, or only the first 5 damage?