Sunday, March 22, 2015

Players Roll All The Dice: Hazard and Defense


The one thing that I don't  necessarily like about judging a game is the dice.

I know, I know. That's the game. But, in the thick of a game, in combat or elsewhere, when I'm concentrating fully on getting the scene and action across to the players, I hate breaking stride to roll dice.

Put me on the player side of the screen and I love to do no more than to roll the bones and inflict my will upon the imaginary world.

When I am the world, though? Different story. In some future world maybe there's some Siri or Cortana analogue that listens to the game and offers roll results when required. (patent pending! You heard it here first!)

I may be the only person afflicted with this problem, but, hey. Maybe not. So, I've been an off-and-on proponent of Players Roll All The Dice.

Since I'm running a younger population, it would be helpful if it was never not their turns, so they're consistently acting and reacting to what's going on. I can keep things like reaction rolls and thief skills on my side of the table, and let them deal with combat.

On top of that, since Roll20 is the thing now, it'd be even better to reduce my number of die rolls down to a number smaller than the amount of macros it'll place across the screen, for if I get an adults online campaign off the ground.

Saving Throws

This is an odd duck. Unlike d20, we can't just move a variable to the other side of an equation and come out even - the target has a specific number based on it's own HD that it must roll higher than. Any inversion of that requires the player to have to roll low, in this specific case, and that's a bummer.

Let's look at the Fighter saves, since a whole lot of monsters save as a Fighter:

Fighter Saving Throws
LevelPetrification & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpells
11530.00%1435.00%1625.00%1625.00%1720.00%
21435.00%1340.00%1530.00%1530.00%1625.00%
31435.00%1340.00%1530.00%1530.00%1625.00%
41340.00%1245.00%1435.00%1435.00%1530.00%
51245.00%1150.00%1340.00%1340.00%1435.00%
61245.00%1150.00%1340.00%1340.00%1435.00%
71150.00%1055.00%1245.00%1245.00%1340.00%
81055.00%960.00%1150.00%1150.00%1245.00%
91055.00%960.00%1150.00%1150.00%1245.00%
10960.00%865.00%1055.00%1055.00%1150.00%
11865.00%770.00%960.00%960.00%1055.00%
12865.00%770.00%960.00%960.00%1055.00%
13770.00%675.00%865.00%865.00%960.00%
14675.00%580.00%770.00%770.00%865.00%


Added here is the percentage chance of saving. What the player cares about is the percent chance that they will fail. What does it look like if we invert the table?
LevelPetrification & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpells
1670.00%765.00%575.00%575.00%480.00%
2765.00%860.00%670.00%670.00%575.00%
3765.00%860.00%670.00%670.00%575.00%
4860.00%955.00%765.00%765.00%670.00%
5955.00%1050.00%860.00%860.00%765.00%
6955.00%1050.00%860.00%860.00%765.00%
71050.00%1145.00%955.00%955.00%860.00%
81145.00%1240.00%1050.00%1050.00%955.00%
91145.00%1240.00%1050.00%1050.00%955.00%
101240.00%1335.00%1145.00%1145.00%1050.00%
111335.00%1430.00%1240.00%1240.00%1145.00%
121335.00%1430.00%1240.00%1240.00%1145.00%
131430.00%1525.00%1335.00%1335.00%1240.00%
141525.00%1620.00%1430.00%1430.00%1335.00%

There we are - the Judge now knows that a player casting a spell against a 1HD creature that saves as a fighter has to roll a 6+ for the spell to have full effect.

I even came up with a name for this that I think is fun, being the opposite of "safe":

The Hazard Throw

The player rolls a hazard throw to impose on a creature a condition, spell, or other effect. This throw is based on the HD and type of the creature. The player rolls 1d20, adds any modifiers, and if the result meets or beats the creature's hazard score, the effect takes place. A failure indicates there is half or no effect, depending on the spell/hazard.

Proficiencies, auras, spells, or other effects that would have previously given the creature a penalty to it's saving throw (Elementalism, Combat Trickery) now give the player a bonus to his or her hazard throw.

Next, hazard score progressions for each type of class. You'd use these by referencing the correct table for the monster's indicated save type, just as you do now.
FighterPetrif. & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpellsMagePetrif. & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpells
16+7+5+5+4+1-38+8+6+10+9+
2-37+8+6+6+5+4-69+9+7+11+10+
48+9+7+7+6+7-910+10+8+12+11+
5-69+10+8+8+7+10-1211+11+9+13+12+
710+11+9+9+8+13-1412+12+10+14+13+
8-911+12+10+10+9+
1012+13+11+11+10+
11-1213+14+12+12+11+
1314+15+13+13+12+
1415+16+14+14+13+
ThiefPetrif. & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpellsClericPetrif. & ParalysisPoison & DeathBlast & BreathStaffs & WandsSpells
1-28+8+5+7+6+1-28+11+5+8+6+
3-49+9+6+8+7+3-49+12+6+9+7+
5-610+10+7+9+8+5-610+13+7+10+8+
7-811+11+8+10+9+7-811+14+8+11+9+
9-1012+12+9+11+10+9-1012+15+9+12+10+
11-1213+13+10+12+11+11-1213+16+10+13+11+
13-1414+14+11+13+12+13-1414+17+11+14+12+

Below, a single save version.

It's very likely I've forgotten to make a post on that; I'd long ago averaged everyone's saving throws into a single score for each class, Swords & Wizardry style.

In the kid's game if I go with this I'll use the table below, and allow them to roll for the opponent's save using the below Hazard Scores.

LevelFighterMageClericThief
16+8+7+6+
27+8+7+6+
37+8+8+7+
48+9+8+7+
59+9+9+8+
69+9+9+8+
710+10+10+9+
811+10+10+9+
911+10+11+10+
1012+11+11+10+
1113+11+12+11+
1213+11+12+11+
1314+12+13+12+
1415+12+13+12+

Attack Throws

The opposite of attack, then, is defense. We invert the Attack Throw into a Defense Score, on the somewhat awkward table below.

ATTACK THROWDEFENSE SCORE
HD or LevelMonsterFighterCleric & ThiefMageHD or LevelMonsterFighterCleric & ThiefMage
0-11+11+11+0-10+10+10+
1-10+10+10+10+1-11+11+11+11+
1+, 29+9+10+10+1+, 212+12+11+11+
2+, 38+9+9+10+2+, 313+12+12+11+
3+, 47+8+9+9+3+, 414+13+12+12+
4+, 56+7+8+9+4+, 515+14+13+12+
5+, 65+7+8+9+5+, 616+14+13+12+
6+, 74+6+7+8+6+, 717+15+14+13+
83+5+7+8+818+16+14+13+
93+5+6+8+918+16+15+13+
9+, 102+4+6+7+9+, 1019+17+15+14+
112+3+5+7+1119+18+16+14+
11+, 121+3+5+7+11+, 1220+18+16+14+
131+2+4+6+1320+19+17+15+
13+, 140+1+4+6+13+, 1421+20+17+15+
150+---1521+---
15+ - 17-1+---15+ - 1722+---
17+ - 19-2+---17+ - 1923+---
19+ - 20-3+---19+ - 2024+---
21+-4+---21+25+---

Defense Throws

The mechanic for the defense throw, then, is {d20} + AC >= Target DS

The nice thing about this is that it will still work with the same combat modifications - a bonus is a bonus and a penalty is a penalty on both sides of the combat; we haven't inverted out of rolling high.

You'd use this by replacing the monster Attack Throw with it's Defense Score - an Ogre Champion with HD 5+1 would have a score of 16+ - the player rolls a d20, adds their AC, and hopes to beat 16.



Converting

Converting the base numbers is as easy as 21 - {value}, where {value} is the save or attack throw you wish to convert.

Higher is still always better, so if you're converting an NPC, convert the base throw first, then just add STR mod, magical weapon modifiers, proficiency modifiers, whatever. Else, if you've already gotten that taken into account, and modified the base attack throw, subtract it from 21.

Felmir, Spellsword 5, is at 5+ with a magic longsword; or, 7+ from class, -1 STR, -1 magic.

21 - 7 = 14, +1 STR, +1 Magic = 16+. Or, converting the 5+ directly, 21 - 5 = 16+

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Playing


How did it work out in actual play?

Just fine.

When a monster took a swing at a character, I'd tell them they were being attacked (with a slightly more florid description than that) and ask them to defend themselves. The spellcasters rolled their hazard throws, and I'd wing a description based on how the roll went.

I barely looked at dice (I use a computer program to roll my Judge-side rolls and per-round initative for everyone) and I was able to keep my right-brain visualization of the combat situation in play the whole time without stuttering out to add or subtract a die roll.

If anything, the main problem with that first play was that the player's dice were hot - I barely got anything to go my way the whole night.

But, so it goes.















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