Tuesday, 30 December 1997

Original Stats: Ranger

After Reading the Players Hand book on Rangers, AD&D, I thought that making a Hunter Profession was too specific.. By about now, I'd figured that while I liked the concept of Professions, like Warhammer, I also liked to group classes, like D&D.

Warrior was Obvious, Rogues too, One was the straight up fighter, in your face, strength, brawn, maybe leadership for the common good.. and Rogues were more about Self, sneaky, back handed, back stabbing, maybe stealing or conning, or just not giving two shits about another person..

D&D Rangers are/were warriors.. but there were so many aspects, hunters, travellers, herbalists, that didn't fit this concept.. so we though about the loner..

Warriors are about leading groups, and direct confrontation, and rogues, no confrontation, but maybe rangers were in between distanced.. ranged confrontation.. so anything archery based, scouting at a distance,. travelling distances.. became the rangers style.. Rogues were about people, rangers about places.. so Three (of my eventual eight) classes were forming.. but they were more than classes.. they were underlying themes.. lifestyles if you will.

Soon Enough we identified that while a Warrior was about power in combat, Mages were about Power in Magic.. or just power without punching.. maybe they should be rangers counter part, now that I think about it, Clerics and Priests are about people, but either by using them (for their god) or benefitting them (for the people).. is more the Rogues Priest vs the Warrior Priest.. Hmm, seems we're onto something here.. The Idea of Psionic was definately in my notes.. but it seemed that D&D had sewn up that in legal rights at the time, so I wanted to be clear of such things.. and we had Thaumaturge listed from the extended professions list that we created..

Oh the lists.. you should have seen them,,..

So, After some time we had 6 nice clean Classes, Warrior, Ranger, Rogue, Mage, Priest and Thaumaturge. something wasn't quite right.. and still today has been under the ringer... 

Sunday, 30 November 1997

The Original Stats: Warrior

For the Longest Time, The DW stats were just the same as Dragon Warrior Stats, with the addition of Ranged Attack...

But we had some problems..

Dragon Warriors Stats are: Attack, defence, Evasion, Stealth, Perception, Magical Attack, Magical Defence.

But how do you compare a Monks attack skill to a knights defence? Monks use Hand fighting.. so.. a knight has a defence modifier? or Monk has attack modifier?

Again I was kitting this wall of 'modifiers' Sure sure, it makes your charactersheet look cleaner to have one stat, then your GM has a table of modifiers to play with.. but either I was too lazy or my players wanted to have more information, we decided that this wasn't good enough..

So we had to have Melee Attack, Melee Defence, Weapon Attack and Weapon Defence.. which was sorta cool..

Then there were some great skills in Warhammer.. Strike Mighty blow, Strike to Stun, Strike to Injure. Some of the other game system had more skills of combat.. always there was a modifier.. -7, -5, -6.. when looking at what they did.. it seemed that they were just the same values, just different to what they actually did.. so why have 3 skills.. 5 skills.. 100 skills.. so we spoke to some Combat Simulations Experts, and for the most part what we got was, a strike, no matter what type.. was a kind of moment when you felt that your opponent had left themselves open, and you took advantage of that to get in a decent blow.. be it harder, faster, or to incapacitate.

So, this Damaging strike.. it was really a kind of regular skill, which in many systems were just Statistics..

Thats really what a Stat is.. its a skill thats used so regularly, by so many classes that you need its value on the front page. So thats where we put it..

Of course, the names needed a change.. Melee, Weapon Skill, Damage Strike, Block, Parry .. but sometimes you just need to get out of the way.. so.. Dodge.

Warrior Stats Down.. what next  Archer..

Monday, 30 June 1997

Health, Bruises, Bleeding and Tracking

Ever forgot to rub out the arrow box when you shoot off arrows? or had arguments with your GM about provisions or potions that you had or had not drunk?

I'm sure its staple roleplay, there are many small aspects of the game that you might forget.. If its in your favour, you turn a blind eye, but against you, well I've seen entire tables rage against the DM about whether a potion was drunk or not..

So Imagine a system, where you tick off XP bonuses for each and every stat.. I tried tick boxes, rising numbered boxes.. mathematical equations, all sorts of things.. the biggest problem was tracking.. and worse still for health..

We had introduced a kind of non-lethal damage, called Body Ready.. not sure where I got the name now.. but you had a set of boxes.. and to nominate if the physical damage you just took was light, you ticked the box.. you could 'take a breather' in combat and get back d4+ con bonus BR.. if you didn't each tick cost you a -1 to all skills & stats (out of breath) and if it was medium, you crossed the tick, you needed a full round of breathing to stop that one.. but was still only a -1  and the final heavy, circle that crossed tick.. this one need a nights rest (or at least an hour per circle)

Health was another matter, When you got cut, you got health damage and bleed damage (per 5 pts of health = 1 bleed), you needed to stauch the wound to stop it.. else you'd lose that much bleed as health per round.

Then we also had a problem, If I smacked you over the head.. how could I knock you out? most systems had a rule about, if you're at 0 HP, you're unconcious... but as often as not, you were also bleeding to death too.. we had to lower death down to -15 to be able to counter that.. but what if you were poisoned, ok so now poisons had to have more damage to match the sword + bleed numbers.. ok so what about if you fall off a cliff? slam into the ground, maybe you break your legs.. do you pass out? walk away?

Health has always had a problem in Roleplay Games, its dumbed down to make it a game.. there we are again, referring to it as a game.. well I'm sorry, but by this stage this was no longer a game, this was a way of representing reality within a game system.. its called gamification..

Yes, some of my players riled against this attitude that I had (I've changed a bit since.. but I used to be very sheldon about it)

I was slowly developing something that was no longer a roleplay game, I was trying to understand how we represent ourselves as a set of statistics... why? because that has to be the basis to things.. a solid foundation, before making things playable.. and I think its become one of the reasons why alot of players actually like my game, because they can see themselves doing things, rather than a list of actions in a choice menu.

But I digress (I'll write more about this later) At this stage of development, we had Health, Body Ready, Knockout and Death.. you could get values of up to 100 Health as a moderate 7th level character.. but to get to 120, took an extraordinary ammount of bonuses, skills and game events.. 20th level characters might get 125... but We forgot healing..

The first iteration of the game, was WHFRP, health was out of 10, starting around 3... Dragon Warriors has something similar.. starting around 8 and sometimes getting to 25.. both systems had a fairly even idea that you'd wait a few days to get back 1 point, then 1 point per day after that.. seemed ok..

.. but after we added in bleeding, we needed to multiple everyones health by 5, (so that 1-3 points of bleeding per round, was less problematic), which meant all weapons x5, ok, so that made healing easier.. you started healing 1 point on day 1, and rose by 1 per day.. by 10 days, if you were still damaged, you healed by 10 that night..

Damage dice for weapons was now broken, poisons and spells broken.. everything was broken from this bleeding rule. So we scrapped it. I had to think of something new, something that worked.. infact the whole Body ready system was flawed, but for the longest time, I had no other solution..

But we did add all the Rolemaster Criticals in.. that made things fun. 

Wednesday, 30 April 1997

Initiative and All the Other Numbers

So Characteristics and Statistics were in.. but we still had a lot of little left over numbers. Days until starvation? ABR bonuses? Initiative? For the bulk of it, it was values that got listed on the back of your character. Your "background".

Height, weight, hair colour, all part n parcel of your character..

well that changes quickly as we needed Initiative & ABR on the front page, for combat.

So what was needed? Initiative was a value that has gone up and down over time, most games have some value of Initiative, Actions from Warhammer, Armour Bypass Rolls (ABR) from Dragon Warriors, Punch Damage was needed, Study & Crafting base abilities were added, as players would need a quick reference for 'deciphering manuscripts' or 'researching information' or just plain old 'make rope bridge'

Later, Some of these become core Statistics, or even reverted back to Skills. What is Crafting? at its core, its some level of mechanical reasoning and dexterity to perform the task, well thats just a WIS + DEX roll if you don't have any associated skills.

ABR was and still is, a nice clever way to increase damage, based on your characters strength (to puncture armour) and dexterity ( to aim for the weak spots) with a dash of wisdom (plain ole smarts) plus players could improve this value over time with skills, spells and attributes.

But Initiative.. well this was one of my crowning joys


In the beginning, Initiative was based on Speed, and that meant reflexes. But also wisdom, because you had to be able to think quickly. But what was Initiative?

So, with a lot of research..  Initiative is: your ability to swing a weapon fast (strength & dexterity) your ability to act quickly under stress (courage) your ability to take a blow (constitution) and recover from the pain (willpower), Your speed of though and wit (Intelligence and Wisdom) your attunement to the external forces (psychic), how quickly you can word your speech (charisma) and any distraction bonuses from your (Looks) and of course if your (Luck)y, Oh did I forget.. Reflexes? Speed? the Initiative starter.. lets include that twice for good measure.

Actually the inclusion of all the numbers didn't happen until later in '97, according to older charactersheets, it'd have been a set of bonuses from the above stats, to make a number to match a dice, then you rolled that dice. But for some insane reason, we abandoned that, in favour for something that was far more like D&D.. until years later when I was compiling version #3 and thought long and hard and said.. you know what? this makes more sense.. and put it back in.

But back in 97-00, it was something along the lines of Initiative of around 150. which divided by 10 into a combat Initiative of 15, which was your turn order & told you how many times you could swing a sword. and still works, mostly, like that today (except + a dice like as above)