Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Good Timing!

Yowza!  Nice to read a much more comprehensive and well-thought out post on the structure of skills and skill tests than I had.

This mostly addresses the issue I have of slipperier slime at higher levels.  The conclusion that Mike makes is that slime is indeed slipperier, but not necessarily for higher level characters, but in fact for 2 different characters.

So my mutant skink with PP 30 and athletics and acrobatics will find the slime less slippery than your mutant buffalo with hooves and enormous size?  Not a bad solution, but it makes me do a lot of math on the fly, since I pretty much have to calculate where on the difficulty curve I want the roll to be for each roll.  But on the other hand, I could just use the number of ranks/bonus points that a character has in a skill as a general guide to how good they are at it, and use that to determine what their difficulty is as a flat d20 roll.

Actually, I like that, let's run with it.

And speaking of running with it, let's steal some more - this time from Vampire 2nd Edition.

I always liked how you combined 2 things, attributes and skills, to determine how good the character was at a given task.  So I will be asking characters for 2 numbers, attribute bonus and skill score, adding them together and using that number to determine how good the character is at the skill in question.  Based on that, I will determine what the player needs to roll on the d20 to succeed at the task.  Potentially the overall difficulty would also be modified by people helping and other factors (like, is somebody shooting at you).

Let's try an example and see if it works in concept.

Slinky the aforementioned Mutant Skink has a score of 4 in athletics (3 starting plus 1 bought with skills) and a modifier of +6 for PP, giving him a total of 10.  10 I would rank as pretty fracking great at a given skill, so to run across the slimy slime, he needs to roll a 7 or higher, giving him about a 70% chance of success.

Herbi the Buffalo, though - he has an athletics score of 4 as well (starting 3 plus 1 bought with skills), but only has a PP of 16, for a +1 modifer, plus he has a -2 because he has hooves.  Total score 3.  Which I would rank as intensely mediocre, but not pitiful, so he needs a 15 or better to run across the slimy slime.  About a 20% chance of success.

I think I like the basic idea.  It means that characters who are exceptional can have a reasonable chance of success at something even if they have no specialized skills in that regard, and characters who have such skills AND exceptional attributes have a very good chance of success at something, which is as it should be.

But this means that I have to rebuild the TMNT character sheet.  Which I was pretty much going to do anyways.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skills in TMNT

OK.  I've decided I want to run a TMNT game.  But there are a few things about the Palladium system that I'm not in love with, and one of them is the whole % skill business.  I like a skill-based game, mind you.  I've kicked around with non class-based systems, and I tend to like them, but there are some issues with them.

The biggest ones, to my mind, are avoiding dead ends or useless skills, and maintaining a reasonable difficulty curve while leveling.

By the first I mean, there should be no useless skills.  And by the second I mean, you shouldn't have to have slipperier slime at higher levels.  You should just be better at dealing with slime.  But not so good that you never slip on slime - it's still more hazardous than dry floor.

I have also decided that I will make no major effort to address these potential issues of a skill-based system while reworking TMNT/Palladium.

Sooooo... how to deal with skills, if I'm not going to use a %-based system.  I want to use the existing body of TMNT skills, it represents a significant resource, and one that I'm not willing to throw out.  My inclination is to go with a difficulty-based d20 system. TMNT uses d20 rules already, so we're not that far off, and d20 is easy to convert into percentile chances, so it should be relatively easy to convert from a % system to a d20-based system.

I also want to rework the skill bonus structure, and the leveling structure to streamline things and hopefully build a reasonable difficulty curve.  I'd thought of using a "Target 20" idea for the rolling system, but I'm not sure it gives me enough flex on the math.  I'll be making a lot of decisions on the fly during the game, so I want a system that gives me lots of options.  I can do % chance converted to d20 in my head, and d20 is simpler for players.

My first thought on converting the TMNT skills to a base d20 system is to take the starting % chance on the skill, divide by 10 and round up.  That's the starting bonus for the skill.  Add a stat-based modifier and a dice roll and you should have a workable system...

But.  Doing that actually makes success in the skills much harder.  If you assume that 20 is the base difficulty, then each +1 on a roll represents a base 5% chance to succeed.  So taking a base 30% skill, making it a +3 modifier means that the player has to roll, theoretically, a 17 to succeed.  Which is really only a 15% chance of success.  Setting a base difficulty of 15 means that a +3 bonus represents a 40% chance of success.  A little closer to the starting point.  But it makes the math on the conversion harder.

Setting the base difficulty for most tasks at 15 works for me, the more that I think about it.  I expect characters at first level to have modifiers on most skills of between 2 (low) and 10 (high and/or exceptional stats).  I'm not sure yet if I want to have penalties on the roll, or higher difficulties for difficult tasks/conditions. Bears more thinking.  And I need to consider how I'm dealing with leveling.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On to TMNT

I'm trying to start a new IRL game, as my online game kinda fizzled, largely due to the fact that I have a 1-year old and not enough time to do all the things I want. And I'm lazy and hate network engineering, which is what I have to do to get Maptools running. So on to something different!

I want to try a TMNT After the Bomb sandbox. Inspired by the redoubtable Zak S. Who is purely the best gaming blogger working right now, in my opinion. I am always challenged and interested by his material. And always inspired as well, which is the important part.

So, TMNT... but. but, but, but. The Palladium system kinda blows. So I'm going to take a page from Mr Zak and beat on the rules a bit, and see if I can come up with something better.

First things first. Steal from Zak.

SCD. Out the Window. Just HP from here on out.

Stats - I like 4d6 drop the lowest. Stick with the extra d6 for 16 and over, and roll once more if you get a 6.

All stats will be capped at 30.

Initial skills - I like the roll d12 idea. I'm also going to allow players to have 2 wps, which can also include hand to hand skills. I'll also allow a bonus number of skills based on the character's IQ.

I'm going to keep the whole Bi0-E/Mutation system unchanged from the 2nd Edition of After the Bomb - it's the part of the system I like the most.

Next time - dealing with combat and leveling.