View Full Version : Hold it! Take that! OBJECTION!

2008-10-12, 09:28 AM
http://www.legaljuice.com/objection%20court%20out%20of%20order%20lawyer%20at torney%20object.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNwbkPtDUU0&feature=related)

Reminiscence (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j11Z-PURB60&feature=related)

So one of the earlier prototypes for social combat in The Anteheroes System (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90331) was ripped from the Fire Emblem weapon triangle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_Emblem#Basics). Dramatic beats precise beats blunt beats dramatic. In a playtest, it didn't make sense.

Talking about it with my girlfriend (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ25-glGRzI) (do not click the previous link!)
Anyway, later that night, she mentioned that it resembled the Psionic Combat Modes of 2-3.0E D&D, and she was surprised that I hadn't implemented such. I dismissed it, because it was an added layer of complexity I didn't want in my game.

Now, today, as I sit here waiting to go to church, 'watching' music from the Phoenix Wright series, inspiration hits me: the world of Phoenix Wright, with its extremely random judge (and his Canadian brother) does make perfect sense for that kind of a system.

Court Begins (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdnJ0j6-3V4&feature=related)

I don't have time to lay down more than the ground work here right now, but the basic gist of the system is that:

It is purely social combat.
Three main modes of speaking: Bluffing, Objecting, Presenting (Maybe needs more thought/reorganization)
Each will have maybe 3-4 attack modes each.
Much fewer defense modes.
Each attack mode will be catered towards responding against a certain type of other attack.
The tactics will be in guessing which mode of attack your opponent used and countering.
Differing lawyer 'classes' will have bonuses and penalties to these.
Morale life bar.

Turnabout Assistance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSmZt2mQSrI)

I was hoping to collect some ideas for what else would make sense in the system - dice size used, number of die, resolution method (comparison, dice pool, other?), collaborative systems (so it's not useful for only one-on-one PvP).

http://theanteheroes.com/AceAttorneys/KristophGavin.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdPHSQEzBg0&feature=related)

2008-10-12, 12:24 PM
...Man, tough crowd as always around here. I didn't think my threads were THAT uninteresting.


Resolution Mechanic
This is the most basic thing to decide first. Here's what we have available to us:

Comparison Mechanic
Roll a single dice, compare to a target number. Fast resolution, but wide variance. Very 'chancey' - can be alternately exciting or frustrating. Improvements come by adding flat modifiers.

Bell Curve Comparison
A variation on the prior - roll 2-3 dice, add up the numbers. Compare to a target number. Slower resolution, but steady variance. Leads to more expected results. Improvements come by adding flat modifiers.

Reroll Comparison
Roll at least one dice, compare to a target number. If any one succeeds, you succeed. Improvements come by rolling a set number of other dice. Longest resolution, limits 'rollercoaster' effect.

Dice Pool
Variation on the above. Roll multiple dice, compare to a target number. Should a minimum number of dice succeed (set by the task), you succeed. Improvements come by rolling a set number of other dice. Longest resolution.

I think Bell Curve is ideal here, and I'm tempted to stick with d6. The larger the die get, the more die you need to achieve a true bell, so... d12's probably not going to get used again. But I think d3 or d4 would be even better here, since something like 3d6 offers a range of 3-18, and I'm not convinced a d20-ish range is actually terribly useful for most games.

4d3 gets a range of 4 to 12, and here I'm essentially copying from Fudge to be honest. (Since Fudge uses d3s masquerading as d6s and 4dF is their preferred resolution). But I think it's a good range, we can move in eighths up and down the scale.

2008-10-12, 12:29 PM
I'd love to post an opinion, Astral, but I've never played a Phoenix Wright game.

2008-10-12, 12:49 PM
I'd love to post an opinion, Astral, but I've never played a Phoenix Wright game.

The game is pretty much a visual novel/Choose Your Own Adventure, so there's not much to know. It basically consists of hearing what someone has to say, pressing them for more details, and pointing out contradictions or noticing issues in their habits. It's very... zany, so a battle mechanic works fine to represent conversation, I think.

2008-10-12, 12:50 PM
I've been pondering a post, but not sure what I want to say yet. The frustrating thing is I know I've seen someone write up a Phoenix Wright esque system or a solid rough draft of a system before, but it was about two years ago, I've lost the bookmark, and I can't remember what it was called well enough to search the originating forum for it. (Oh, RPG.net, how your high creative output has come back to haunt me!). I've currently got a thread up asking for help and memory, but no bites yet.

That said, I totally dig this idea. I'd love a PW Tabletop game, because all the shouting and posturing would be a lot of fun with the right in-person gang.

Considering Different Mechanics:

I'd kind of like to go for a Comparison Mechanic, myself. Something about the Boom and Bust cycle of high and low rolls, and the way chance is just stupid like that seems like it might fit the feel of the Phoenix Wright games.

For purely selfish reasons, however, I'd sort of like to make this a game that 'Uses All the Funny Dice,' something more along the lines of Savage Worlds/Serenity/Ironclaw/Dogs in the Vineyard, where die size is more or less the indication of stat or ability strength. d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 is what I'm imagining as the set of 'hedrals used. Unsure if we want to have situations where two or three dice are rolled together, or represent multiple abilities coming into play, but it's an idea.

I suppose you could go all the way down to d2 if you want to base something silly on a coin flip.


On the other hand, there's something to be said for the Fudgelike bell curves. The end result of such a system is that you tend to perform at whatever your ability level is, with variation up and down as befits the luck of the die and the advantages and disadvantages of the situation.


Not super-keen on dicepool systems (though there's a visceral fun in rolling a whole bunch of die), can't actually think of a Reroll Comparsion system, don't know enough off the top of my head to talk about other variations like L5R's roll-and-keep, the River mechanic Weapons of the Gods uses, the One Roll Engine, or the super-hippy diceless resource management system that Nobilis uses.

Any particular reason why you favor a bell curve, or is it just preference for mechanical predictability?

What do you think better models the vagaries of fate in Ace Attorney games?

2008-10-12, 12:57 PM
I think your system AstralFire would work fine. Please post more details about this! I would love to play a game with this theme.

2008-10-12, 03:05 PM
On further consideration, I think a straight comparison system is the best basis; the Phoenix Wright world is pretty mercurial about what they accept and what they do not.

"Use all the funny dice" doesn't appeal to me, though, because it is mechanically slowing and on average there is no difference between d6 and d8-1. Let's go with d12, then, which gives us a wide array to play with, but without the truly massive range of the d20.

I think I'm going to stick with my TAS system of 'static damage, rolled accuracy', simply because you start getting an extreme variance when you're working with low numbers and only a few die at a time.

Some gameplay ideas that have occurred to me:

The Judge is the Game Master. Obvious.
All players will have a reserve of Turnabout Points. Turnabout points can be used to introduce new evidence, make up wild theories that turn out to be true (they must not conflict with known data) or block others' turnabouts.
By default, the Judge and the witnesses are performed by the same player, and only he knows the actual guilt or innocence of the defendants.
The opposing bench may be another player(s) or the Judge. The latter is not recommended for cooperative investigations.
All characters have a defining trait, tell and flavor. Turnabouts have to be related to the trait, but tells can be used by the opposition to counter your turnabouts. Flavors are generally things like obsessions, a desire for revenge, playing the oblivious straightman, the coward, the sex bomb, the bipolar freak, anachronisms... I'm nixing the 'attorney class' idea, but you should be able to strengthen your trait with time or add new ones.
If you can turnabout on someone and attack their tell at the same time, you can Corner them, which gives them penalties to everything. (This is going to need the most work, I can tell right now.)
When someone loses all morale, they breakdown, go crazy and start blabbering their innermost and tangentially related fears.
Each character can also choose from a set of special abilities to also use Turnabout Points on. You'll be able to get more of these with time.

2008-10-12, 03:47 PM
I'm thinking 25 is a good solid number to use for morale. It's only 5 or 6 in the real games, but the real games expect you to do save-restart loops.

Right now what I could use is a good list of example flavors, to help me build a trait list. Feel free to either pull from the pre-existing characters or anything you feel is appropriately zany. Going out for dinner, be back in a few hours.

2008-10-12, 04:12 PM
The Judge is the Game Master. Obvious.

Heh. (http://objection.mrdictionary.net/go.php?n=2778048)

Honestly Astral, I'd declare you my Patron-Deity-itP, but that would not bode well with the great cat lord. XD

Let's get some obvious in-game traits out of the way:
Chords of Steel,
Pretty in Pink,
(non-lethal?) Weapon of choice
Spirit Medium
Swimming, anyone?
For Science!
Dirt poor
Coffee Addict
It's gotta be...

Those all should be obvious who they correspond to, expect maybe the few who apply to multiple people, that WAS intentional.

2008-10-12, 10:25 PM
Objection.mrdictionary! I considered using a few links, but it moves so slow these days. XP

Thanks for the compliment and thanks for the list - it looks very solid :D. I got back a bit later than I expected tonight, but I'll begin making good use of it tomorrow. When tomorrow, I can't say... I have to go out for my morning run, wait on pins and needles about my dream job, hit the bank in a narrow space of time, order my computer, update my PbP, spontaneously create photons in a new multiversal void...

Zeta Kai
2008-10-13, 12:24 AM
Let's go with d12, then, which gives us a wide array to play with, but without the truly massive range of the d20.

This is the same reason why I'm using the d12 for my RPG-in-progress. Plus the d12 needs some love, as seen below:


2008-10-13, 08:32 AM
This is the same reason why I'm using the d12 for my RPG-in-progress. Plus the d12 needs some love, as seen below:


Heh, Zuki's been wanting me to use the d12 for a while now, for the same reason.

You're making an RPG too? It's not one of the ones in your project list, is it?

2008-10-13, 12:34 PM
Okay, I need to focus... traits will have to wait. I have the idea of what I want to do, so let's go back to the basics - attack and defense.

Timing: Your attack's accuracy. Each attack has a bonus or penalty to timing.
Risk: The cost in morale if the attack misses, or the cost to use a defense mode.
Drama: The amount of damage deal to the opponent's morale if it hits.
Presence: The defense statistic. Players have a presence of 6.
Morale: Health, 25 points, refreshes every time court enters recess or a new day begins. Only Take That or a Turnabout can reduce Morale to 0.

Attack Modes
Every attack made is a 'challenge' or a 'bluff'. Every time you make an attack, you may also change your defense mode.
Gotcha: T: -3, R: -10, D: 10. Against bluffs, T becomes +6. Can only try Gotcha once per questioning period.
Leading Them On: T: +2, R: -1, D: 0. If it hits, defense mode changes and cannot be used again this questioning period. Only one defense mode can be locked out at a time.
Press: T: +3, R: 0, D: 1. Elicits more information out of the subject. Using press more than a few times per questioning period may cause the Judge to get snappy. You may not use this attack in the Hold It! defense mode.
Take That: Uses evidence. Exact values should be assigned to the evidence by the judge prior to the session. (Will write up some stuff for evidence later.)
Turnabout: Can only be used in the Hold It! defense mode. After you have made a successful Take That! counter attack, you can use a turnabout point to attempt a Turnabout. Bypasses the Chewbacca defense. T: +3, R: -0, D: 10.

Defense Modes
Chewbacca: Talk about something irrelevant entirely. This defense mode always changes its attack type to a bluff. P: +5, R: -4.
Hold It: P: -2, R: 0. When attacked, immediately launch a counterattack at a -2 penalty (you may not change your defense mode at this time) - if the counter hits, you take no damage.
Egyptian River: Deny the opponent's allegations and insult them. P: +1, R: -2
Take a Beating: Don't use a defense mode.
Whip It Good: Haven't worked this one out... something about intimidating the opponent.

Numbers are going to be wonky, this is the messiest/hardest part of the system - making the framework. Comments still quite appreciated.


2008-10-14, 12:06 PM
Hmm. How many turnabouts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6_zQ2A7jyM&feature=related)do you think the players should have access to? 3 over a day, maybe?

2008-10-14, 12:29 PM
Honestly, I don't think a fixed number would work, in a short trial you might have too many, and while I definitely could also see going for a important resource management aspect, it seems more like they should be freely used when dramatically appropriate.

I'd go something along the lines of they get half of a point every recess, or the judge can give them one for good role-playing or some such, but give them a max, like 2 or 3, which encourages them to be used, but also lets them have some for the end game.

That's just me thinking off the top of my head.

2008-10-14, 12:33 PM
Oh man, you're my hero AstralFire. I'm not so good at devising systems, but I adore this idea.

I suppose limiting Turnabouts makes sense. They're your "finishing move" so to speak, so you want to have an incentive to save them.

So...modeling Phoenix Wright's screwed up court system, is the competition between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, or the defense attorney and the witness? It tends to vary between situations in the games, but if this is a competitive, player-vs-player social combat system, I guess attorney vs. attorney makes sense.

Whip it Good should apply some penalty to the opponent's attack rolls, I think, without actually doing any morale damage. Those beating hurt, but they're mostly distracting.

Thane of Fife
2008-10-14, 06:26 PM
I throw this out there because it might be of some vague semblance of a use:

Sissy Fight (http://www.sissyfight.com/)

Specifically, check out the Schoolyard section, where it explains the game's mechanics.

2008-10-14, 08:52 PM
Temporary hiatus for the next day as I play with my new toy computer and start updating PDFs for my billion other homebrews. Duly noted comments and links, though.

2008-10-15, 09:24 AM
I've been thinking about using 4E's skill challenges to do something similar to that. When I first read about it, it pretty much screamed "Phoenix Wright" at me.