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Alternatives to Die Modifiers

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Alternatives to Die Modifiers

Postby Draz » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:25 am

First and foremost among my Design Initiatives is to drastically reduce the number of plusses and minuses a player has to keep track of when they roll dice.

However, situational advantages and disadvantages are an important part of a rules-heavy game. So instead of plusses and minuses, there are three other ways the system can modify die rolls, which hopefully won't slow the game down.

The simplest option is to simply re-roll a d20 result that you don't like. You must keep the new result, even if it's worse than the original result.

The trigger for being allowed to take a Reroll can be situational; for example, Dwarves might have an ability that lets them Reroll Fortitude saves vs. poison, but not other Fortitude saves.

Only one Reroll is allowed on any die roll, even if multiple sources that allow Rerolls apply in the same situation.

Greater Rerolls: a Greater-Reroll is identical to a Reroll, except the original result does not have to be discarded in favor of the new result. The player may take the better of the two rolls. (Statistically, this is actually not very different, but for peace of mind of the player it's a nice boost.)

Roll Replacement
Inspired by various abilities from the Tome of Battle that, for example, let you replace your AC or Save against an attack with the result of a skill check. Roll Replacement is basically the same idea, and is probably the most important of the three die roll improvement methods in CRE8. It lets you replace one roll from your character's stat block with another, which (hopefully) will be better.

For example, the Furious Rage feat (a signature ability of barbarian/berserker types), instead of giving you a +2 bonus to your Willpower Save while in a Rage, simply lets you make Fortitude Saves in place of Willpower Saves while in a rage. For the type of characters who should be taking Furious Rage, this is an improvement.

The system even includes one character statistic that mostly exists just to be used in Roll Replacement, the "Awesome Check." Anytime your character should be able to do particularly well at a specific task, they may be allowed to Replace the usual roll with a roll modified by their Awesome Check modifier. For example, a Dwarven Paragon may be allowed to use his Awesome Check instead of his Fortitude Save when determining his ability to handle alcohol.

Inspired by the regular "Take 10" mechanic in 3.5e, Coasting allows you to avoid ever rolling really low on certain checks that your character is very confident with.

"Taking 10" is too generic and universal, though. Inspired by the Savvy Rogue feat and its option to let you "Take 12" on skill checks, I've introduced "Coast Number." This is like "Caster Level" for a spellcaster, only for skill-using characters. A high-level rogue-style character can be better at using skills in general, even if she has no more Skill Ranks than her warrior friend, just because she has a higher Coast Number.

Coast Numbers start at 6 and increase as your character goes up in level. Because 6 is lower than an average d20 roll, though, you are always allowed to roll a die even if you are planning to Coast. Then, if your natural die roll is lower than your Coast Number, you can simply pretend the natural die roll was equal to your Coast Number. So:

Player: "I roll Athletics to climb this cliff." *rolls* "Aw, natural 1. That's low enough to fall off and take fall damage. Fortunately, I have a Talent that lets me Coast when I'm climbing, and I have a Coast Number of 8, so I'll just pretend I rolled an 8. Adding my +4 Athletics modifier, my check result is 12."

Only, you know, hopefully players won't actually have to go through that whole process verbally. The player would just roll the natural 1, then say, "Coast. Check result 12."

Skill rules will detail which tasks can be Coasted by default (e.g. tying your shoes), and which tasks can only be Coasted if you have an applicable Talent. Also, while Coasting is normally only possible if your character is in a non-stressful situation, there may be special abilities that let you Coast certain tasks even while under pressure.
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Re: Alternatives to Die Modifiers

Postby Draz » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Discussion Questions

How overwhelming is it to include all three of these in the system?
Bear in mind that using all of these actually obviates the need for a LOT of rules bloat in the form of ubiquitous +2 bonuses. But if one of these methods really just doesn't seem intuitive, I can look at cutting it out.

Penalizing Die Rolls
All three roll-improvement methods are basically bonuses, not penalties. Bonuses tend to be a lot more important to the game system than penalties, since players tend to avoid picking character abilities that grant penalties. Still, there are plenty of situations where penalties would be appropriate.

A lot of these situations are places where it would simply be appropriate for the DM to order up a -2 or -5 circumstance penalty on a die roll. However, sometimes they shouldn't just be DM fiat, especially when they involve two foes interacting.

For example, I can imagine combat maneuvers that should make a single attack significantly more accurate. However, since it's always the target of an attack that rolls a die in CRE8, I'm not sure how to do that ... somehow the attacker has to be able to force the defender to roll worse-than-usual on their Save.

The obvious method of doing this is the opposite of a Greater-Reroll: roll 2d20 and take the worse result. I know 3.5e uses this in a couple odd places (a spell and a power, IIRC, which represent cursing your opponent with negative fate). Is this a good mechanic? How would it interact with an opponent who can use a Reroll -- would the two effects simply cancel each other out?

Stacking Roll Replacements?
Let's say I have an ability that lets me Replace Spellcraft checks with Knowledge checks, and another ability that lets me Replace Knowledge Checks with Awesome Checks. Should I then be allowed to Replace a Spellcraft check with an Awesome check?

Coasting: just for skills, or broader?
Originally I was thinking that a number of mechanics in the game could use the same idea as Coasting. For example, I was thinking a Paladin's Aura of Courage could let his allies Coast(12) on saves vs. fear. (It seemed more in line with the Paladin's "lawful" archetype than, say, allowing a Reroll.)

But now I'm leaning towards simplifying the Coasting rules by saying they only apply to Skill Checks, and always use your Coast Number. Thoughts?
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Re: Alternatives to Die Modifiers

Postby Draz » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:01 pm

Hmmm, I've been meaning to respond to this feedback for a while ... Obviously I haven't had lots of time for working on CRE8 lately.

Ilklr wrote:I do like all 3. They all both streamline the game, and are logical.

Good, because I like all three too, and I don't want to have to take one away in the name of streamlining. :)

I've been up for quite a while, so perhaps I'm missing something, but unless there is some sort of sliding scale of failure it seems that there is no difference between a reroll and a greater reroll. If you succeed on the first roll, you wouldn't reroll it. If you fail the first roll, then the worst that could possibly happen on the second roll is you still failed. Perhaps there could be some sort of "tempting fate" possibility on a reroll. Say, if you roll a natural 1 on the second roll, you're actually worse off in some way than if you had simply failed. Then, Greater Reroll removed that aspect of danger.

Well, you're making a dangerous assumption in your argument: that a player knows after rolling a die whether it is a success or a failure. Rerolls must be claimed before the success or failure of a roll is announced. If you roll a 12 on your Defense Save, and you're not sure whether that's good enough, then you have a tough choice to make about whether to Reroll.

Even if you know for sure that your initial roll is a failure, yes, I agree that in some cases there should be worse possibilities than merely "failing." In the Vitality/Injury system thread, one example should already be clear: if you fail a Defense Save (but don't roll low enough to trigger Peril) and Reroll it, you risk rolling low enough for Peril on your second roll.

I imagine I'm going to use the same mechanic (i.e. if you fail AND your natural roll is very low, then something bad happens) for other rolls that carry special risks. For example, if you fail an Athletics check to climb a cliff AND your natural roll was a 5 or lower, you fall, rather than just failing to make progress. When this mechanic is applied to skill checks, it also makes Coasting more important, since Coasting a skill check prevents any of these hazardous extra-failures.

Without having a firmer grasp on all of the possible roll replacements (and the rolls being replaced), it's difficult to address the issue of stacking them. Tentatively, I'm inclined to instinctively shy away from it. First, I'm not convinced of any "this becomes that" logic. Second, I could definitely see this being broken. Perhaps there would be a special ability that could allow you to do this?

Fair enough. I move we table this discussion until enough Feat/Kit/Talent descriptions have been made public to let you make informed feedback. :)

On another note, I really do LOVE the idea of roll replacement. DDO actually implemented it in a limited sense. (Such as the Insightful Reflexes feat, allowing you to use your int mod on reflex saves).

Eh, for my money, that's totally different. Not the same thing as roll replacement at all.

I'm not sure if D&D made it simplistic for streamlining purposes, but it's logical that, for example, thinking quickly is as much of a benefit to determining initiative as moving quickly. I don't care if you can do a standing quadruple backflip. If you can't mentally react fast enough, it won't help you :D

Agreed ... thing is, though, D&D is inconsistent with its portrayal of which mental ability score (if any) represents "quick" thinking. That always bothered me whenever I thought about adding a mental mod instead of Dexterity to Initiative.

Moot point in CRE8, of course, with ability scores taken out of the picture ...
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