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Thread: Headed for rune

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Headed for rune

    Updated first post as a table of contents for newcomers to the site. There is a smattering of additional content on the site but some of it is already obsolete due to the great feedback I've received so far. Current through 7/10/11.

    One-shot analyses of game design
    These articles are mostly one-off mathematical arguments for some specific topic that caught my fancy. They often include references of how it would apply to a specific game, but the main point of the article is neutral.


    Articles on general game design theory
    These are general opinion articles on the theory of game design. Lots of room for other opinions and discussion...


    Articles on zone combat
    Zone combat is probably the thing I've developed that people have taken the most interest in, so it gets its own section. It is an evolving rule set, but could be used in other systems with a little effort


    Articles specific to my game
    These are articles that take a lot of the lessons and theories discussed above and apply them to producing an alt-D&D game.


    Tools or utilities for GMs
    Some general resources for GMs of any game, setting, or campaign.


    Stuff unique to my campaign
    Samples from my own setting that I sometimes use to illustrate a point or just wanted to share. Be nice.
    Last edited by Runeward; 2011-07-10 at 01:15 PM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    This system was created for a thread on ENWorld to try and debate the balance of various 4e weapons but I've been thinking about how it could apply to 3e as well since they share a lot of similarities (i.e. three tiers, same range of damage dice, etc). The big change would have to be in "pricing" crit range and so far I haven't determined an elegant solution.

    At one point I thought I might just allow characters to design whatever weapon they wanted. This would go over well because I always have at least one guy at the table who wants some weird weapon. Ultimately, though, I decided to just use the system as a guide in balancing and building new weapons.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    This post is sort of the heart of the system: the class format. It introduces a simplified version of the barbarian class that hopefully illustrates how the other classes will be developed and how they multiclass together. It blends 4e math with 3e multi-classing really well (in my opinion) and also lets people easily add or modify a class.

    Feedback is appreciated. As I say, it is sort of the key development so far and so if it is broken or unintuitive I should probably spend some time fixing it.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Just a mini-update. Whenever I see a cool symbol or come up with an idea I try and recreate it in powerpoint. The great thing about .ppt is that it is a fairly widely supported format that can still be easily edited. Just about anyone can change shape, or scale, or color without too much trouble.

    The update is a .ppt file of a dozen-plus symbols that are all customizable. It will be updated from time to time as I create more and the update will always be posted back to this page.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Here is a more detailed explanation of the class template I introduced a few posts up. This is a generic format of the template and you can read a bit more about it here. Otherwise, this is the bulk of the text of the most recent article. There original link contains a table that helps clarify what follows and the link above to the barbarian sample also helps illustrate the what is below.

    [Edit-evidently the Action Point symbol is not supported and so it replaces it with a mu-symbol. Replace any instance of mu with the little circle-star from the pdf].

    • Ten levels. All base classes are ten levels. It is challenging to make them longer than 10 but certainly easy to introduce less than 10-level classes (i.e. prestige classes would be incredibly simple to add).
    • [Class] prowess. All base classes have a [class] prowess that begins at +1 and increases every level thereafter. Prowess dictates the rate at which a lot of powers increase in power. Because prowess is correlated to how many levels of a particular class you have, a Fighter 8 is more powerful as a fighter than a Barbarian 4/Fighter 4. They may have access to the identical power, but the Fighter 8 is *better* at that power than the multi-class fighter. This rewards pure-class builds and ensures that level increases bring exciting improvements to the character *without* having to balloon the number of options so high as to become unwieldy.
    • Class abilities. At first *character* level, characters gain all the listed starting feats, three affinities, and several class powers. If a character later multi-classes, at first *class* level they gain a single starting feat and no additional affinities. If a starting feat grants an additional affinity, that affinity may be taken from any class list in which the character has levels. The first level of any class also confers several powers: a combat hook, a flavor hook, and a stock.
    • Combat hook. The combat hook is a significant power obtained at first level that remains relevant throughout play and helps define the class. The combat hook ensures that even at level one, the class feels like the class. Many powers available at later levels will expand upon or improve the combat hook. The combat hook typically costs an µ. This is to ensure not only that first level characters have interesting things to spend µ on, but also that multiclassing early on (since you accrue more µ as you increase in total level) spreads the character thin.
    • Flavor hook. The flavor hook is a secondary power that supports the feel of the class but doesn’t define it as readily as the combat hook. That isn’t to say that the flavor hook can’t be powerful, it is just less frequent.
    • Class score. The remaining powers, stocks and trades, can only be selected if the class score meets or exceeds the requisite level. A class score is equal to ˝ character level + class prowess. So our Ftr8 above has a class score of 8 and can take any stock or trade of 8 or lower. Our Barb4/Ftr4 has a class score of 6 and can take any stock or trade of 6 or lower. The class score, again, rewards pure classes with greater access but also recognizes that a Barb10 is not properly compensated by first level powers if he multiclasses.
    • Stocks. Stock powers are received at every odd class level and two are selected at 9th level as a sort of reward for sticking to the class throughout. Stock powers provide access to the sort of stock bonuses that the base math presumes: defenses, hit points, surges, and, to a lesser extent, attacks. The neat thing about stocks is that they let you customize your character. If you want to focus disproportionately on defense, go for it. Would rather be a hit point machine, the tools are there. You have to make tradeoffs and decide your vision for the character because you only improve in one area at a time.
    • Trades. Trades are powers received at every even character level. At level two, you gain only a single trade in part to balance the fact that classes are frontloaded but also to be a slight deterrent to multiclassing too heavily. At level four and beyond two trades are gained. Trades grant unique attacks (similar to 4e powers), improve existing attacks, improve or broaden the combat hook, or really do anything. They are the core method by which exciting actions are introduced to the game. Their closest analogue is probably a 3e class power—you can pretty much just write up whatever neat thing you want; it’ll work. One prevailing trend, though, is that trades confer bonuses at two general frequencies: the first is substantial bonuses that increase at class score 1, 7, 12, and 15. These correlate *character* levels 1, 7, 14, 20 for a pure class character. The second frequency is for lesser bonuses that increase by class prowess. “Lesser bonuses” refer to things like bonus damage. This has the interesting interplay that a Barbarian 14 could multiclass into fighter and begin play with a class score of 7+, thereby jumping to the second tier right away. However, his Fighter Prowess would still be +1 and so other abilities are powerful.
    • General notes on complexity. Most stocks are “static” meaning they are just recorded on the character sheet and don’t interfere with play. The character is better or has some new ability, but they aren’t triggered or difficult to remember. About 50% of trades are also static (although you could decide to select none). As a result, player can decide how many options they want to balance during play and customize the complexity of their play experience.


    That is the class format in a generic nutshell. Hopefully it is becoming easier to understand the underlying ideas and see how they interact with each other. As always, feedback is appreciated.
    Last edited by Runeward; 2011-06-08 at 07:06 PM.
    Always headed for rune.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Amechra's Avatar

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    Default Re: Headed for rune

    This looks incredibly excellent in conception; you are putting a lot of thought into this. I'll be watching.
    Quote Originally Posted by segtrfyhtfgj View Post
    door is a fake exterior wall
    Let's play a game, shall we? Current Game: END ROLL. Updates Mondays and Thursdays, 6PM EST. Currently on hiatus, because life sucks right now. Life has decided to suck less, so my hiatus is over.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    The first of many articles that intend to discuss how to speed up combat. This one discusses the narrow idea of damage expressions and how there is little point to them being more complex than two dice. Over the course of a campaign, a change as minute as this actually adds up to a significant amount of time.

    Something that I thought about after posting the article is about *how* we actually sum numbers. If I want to sum four dice (say, 1, 4, 4, 6) I don't just instantly sum them. I would take 1 and 4 is 5, plus 4 is 9, plus 6 is 15. More likely, I'd look for patterns and decide that 4 and 6 is 10 plus 4 is 14 plus 1 is 15. The takeaway here is that when I sum four dice, I'm not dealing with four numbers but with seven because I need to keep the running total throughout the process. That is, I hold in my head the numbers 4, 6, 10, 4, 14, 1, and 15.

    The formula for this is [2x dice]-1 and then all sources of modifiers (also numbers) would be added to this total. Each number represents an opportunity for an error to be introduced to the game and takes more time. Humans tend to take longer at tasks logarithmically; so most people can sum two numbers almost instantly but summing eight numbers is not 4x "almost instantly." Even if we put 8 into the formula and find out it is really 15 numbers that we are dealing with, summing eight numbers takes more than 15x "almost instantly."

    The result is that as we add more dice to damage expressions, the number of numbers we need to hold in our head increases linearly at 2x but the complexity of the task increases logarithmically. Hence this takes a long time and has a high probability of errors. Since those extra dice often don't add to the fun (and note that if it *would* be fun to roll more dice I'm still all for it) then we should remove both of those negatives from the game.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Today's article is a more specific examination of affinities. Affinities are similar to 4e skills and operate seamlessly as a 4e house rule, but also serve to enhance the game as follows:

    • Encourages creativity. The argument is the same as in the last article, but in short it affirms that any character can try anything and do it in whatever manner their character might be good at it.
    • Puts more control in the hands of the players. Actions are no longer embedded in skills, so a player can try to succeed at some action however they want.
    • Puts more control in the hands of the GM. The GM quickly decides the extent to which the affinity applies to the task at hand.
    • Ability to add new skills or professions. Because actions are not embedded in skills, you can add new skills without diluting the action pool. This lets players customize their character or a GM customize their world without having to rebalance the number of skills given or what each skill does.
    • Standardization. Because affinities apply to a wide range of actions all following a standardized format, they get more familiar more quickly. Familiarity leads to quicker play and broad applicability leads to more opportunities for more creative play.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    I figured I should figure out how to create some tables... Here is the affinities house rule.
    -------------------------

    4.0 Actions
    Characters are constantly taking actions; every moment, every day. Most of those actions succeed without question to propel the story and adventure along. Some actions, however, are more heroic in nature and have a chance to fail. Heroic actions fall into one of three categories: skills, stunts, and strikes.

    4.0.1 Heroic actions
    Heroic actions are resolved by an ability check plus any applicable modifiers. Use the following table to help determine which ability governs a heroic action.

    {table]Ability|Actions
    Strength|Force or raw power
    Dexterity|Accuracy, speed, or poise
    Cunning|Knowledge, logic, or persuasion
    Vitality|Endurance, heartiness, or stamina[/table]

    Many actions feel like they fall into more than one category. The GM should determine which category best goes to the substance of the action. A simple test is to put the competing abilities to opposing extremes and consider who would best complete the action. For instance, if smithing a sword could fall under either Cunning or Strength, would a weak genius or a strong imbecile produce a better weapon? While Strength is important, Cunning is likely the best ability. If a tossup occurs, pick whichever ability the character is better at and move on. Try to be consistent; certainly ensuring you use the same ability for the remainder of the encounter and hopefully in subsequent situations throughout the campaign.

    4.1 Affinities
    Affinities are descriptive clusters such as the general sense of being athletic or persuasive. They describe a range of potential actions that the character is talented at and apply most often, although not exclusively, during skills. Characters select three affinities at character creation from a list provided by their character class. Some classes grant additional affinities as a starting feat. Characters may also gain affinities from stock skills or feats as they advance in level.

    Characters may often apply an affinity to an ability check. After the GM selects the governing ability, the player may describe how an affinity applies to the action. The GM will decide if the affinity is “spot on,” “related,” or if it doesn’t work. If the affinity doesn’t work, the player may attempt to use a different affinity and the process repeats. The idea is not to run through every affinity the player has, but for him or her to select the best affinity and attempt to incorporate it into the action. You may never apply more than one affinity to an action, so you are incented to go with the affinity that is most likely to be “spot on from the outset. It is not uncommon for an action to not have any affinities that are spot on or related.

    4.1.1 Determining affinity applicability
    An affinity is “spot on” if the heart of the affinity goes to the heart of the task. For instance, the Athletic affinity is “spot on” with regards to climbing a tree.

    {table]|Heart of the task|Part of the task
    Heart of the affinity|Spot on|Related
    Part of the affinity|Related|Not applicable or 'token'[/table]

    An affinity is “related” if some substantial part of the affinity goes to the heart of the task. For instance, the Nature savvy affinity used to identify a tree that will be easy to climb is related to climbing. This is because identifying trees is something a character with the Nature savvy affinity could do and having an easier tree to climb makes the task fundamentally simpler. An affinity is also “related” if the heart of the affinity goes to some substantial part of the task. For instance, the Perceptive affinity to identify the best route up a tree applies to climbing.

    The two routes to achieving a related affinity definitely blur. Fortunately, the distinctions are mechanically irrelevant so we never have to identify the line. The important things are being able to recognize spot on (“the heart of the affinity goes to the heart of the task”), does not work, and when anything falls between. When in doubt, call it related and keep the action going.
    If an affinity is spot on, add the full modifier to the ability check. If the affinity is only related, add half the modifier. Generically, an affinity provides a +5 (or +2 if related) modifier to the check. Many things (races, classes, feats, talents, situations, equipment) can increase this amount.

    An affinity may also be “token” applicable. If a player makes a great argument for why an affinity is applicable but no affinity ought to apply (i.e. on a straight ability check), the GM can award token applicability. Token applicability provides a +1 modifier no matter the affinity modifier. Token applicability can also be used to move the game forward if a player appears to be planning on arguing for why every single affinity he or she has is applicable.

    There are many scenarios where no affinity is applicable and a straight ability check is made. This shouldn’t be a rare occurrence.

    4.1.2 Affinity descriptions
    Affinity descriptions are brief descriptions of the types of actions that are spot on or related to the affinity. The descriptions are intended as a guide and are not an exhaustive or definitive list. When deciding if something applies, defer towards encouraging success and keep the action moving.
    Acrobatic. Acrobatic encompasses graceful and precise movement, balance, and flexibility. Acrobatic is also useful in rapid reactions or timing.
    Athletic. Athletic encompasses powerful, raw forms of movement like climbing, jumping, and swimming. Although movement is a key part of the athletic affinity, it is not restricted to actions where you leave your square (i.e. athletic would be spot on for wrestling). Athletic presumes some level of finesse and is not intended to describe mere brute action.
    Deceptive. Deceptive deals with all manner of making the false seem true. A simple lie, an elaborate disguise, or forging documents are all examples of deceptions. Deceptive is distinct from Persuasive in that success is predicated on the target’s belief that what you are telling them is true.
    Cave savvy. Cave savvy refers to a range of knowledge and skills related to subterranean exploration, identification, and survival. While occasionally helpful in physical tasks, cave savvy generally applies more strongly to mental or knowledge based subterranean actions.
    Enduring. Enduring includes prolonged physical exertion, enduring harsh conditions, or pushing yourself beyond typical physical limits. Enduring involves exertion that could not be completed in a powerful burst, but rather takes continuous effort.
    Mystical. Mystical entails knowledge, familiarity, and ability in magic-related lore and powers. It is useful in using, identifying, or interacting with magic or arcane objects.
    Studious. Studious refers to a wide range of esoteric knowledge and facts about lands, leaders, laws, legends, and the like. Studious involves blending this knowledge into useful information to help instruct the task at hand.
    Insightful. Insightful entails identifying and deciphering subtle actions to better understand the motivations and intentions of others. Insightful is distinct from Perceptive in that it involves recognizing the significance of things and understanding why they are significant.
    Nature savvy. Nature savvy refers to a range of knowledge and skills related to outdoor exploration, identification, and survival. While occasionally helpful in physical tasks, nature savvy generally applies more strongly to mental or knowledge based outdoor actions.
    Perceptive. Perceptive involves hidden objects, spotting something in the distance, or hearing a floorboard creak. Perceptive is distinct from Insight in that it revolves around noticing that something is strange whether or not why it is strange is immediately apparent.
    Persuasive. Persuasive deals with influencing others through your words and actions. A rousing speech that rallies spirits, a reasoned debate that convinces the judge you weren’t the murderer, or a well placed glare that makes the brigands turn tail and run are all uses of persuasion. Persuasive does not necessarily deal with the truth, but success hangs on your ability to present yourself.
    Spiritual. Spiritual entails knowledge, familiarity, and ability in divine-related lore and powers. It is useful in using, identifying, or interacting with divine or religious objects.
    Tricksy. Tricksy involves acts of dexterity and legerdemain from disabling a delicate trap, picking a pocket, or opening a lock. Tricksy also includes a natural understanding of how to complete and best achieve those manual acts.
    Stealthy. Stealthy entails a concentrated set of routine actions done masterfully. Stealthy covers moving silently, disappearing into the terrain even with limited cover, and continuing to be unseen as you approach victims.
    Streetwise. Streetwise refers to a range of knowledge and skills related to urban exploration, identification, and survival. While occasionally helpful in physical tasks, streetwise generally applies more strongly to mental or knowledge based urban actions.

    {table]Sidebar: Deceptive vs. Persuasive
    The distinction between Deceptive and Persuasive can often blur because both can potentially involve mistruths. A useful distinction is to consider what motivates the target to act? If the target acts because of the truth or because of you, it was probably Persuasive. If the target acts because of some third party, it was Deceptive.
    For instance, imagine a character trying to convince a guard to let him into the castle. If he does it by presenting a forged invitation, the guard was motivated to act by his belief that entry was ordered by the king; the character was Deceptive. On the other hand, if the character has a real invitation but the guard was initially reluctant to believe it was real, the guard was motivated to act by the truth which the character persuaded him to believe.[/table]


    4.1.3 Creating new affinities
    The affinities listed in this chapter cover a wide range of actions, but are not exhaustive. Some campaigns may benefit from creating new affinities or some character builds might be better realized by introducing something new. The ease of adding new affinities without diminishing the overall pool of actions is one of the strengths of the affinity system. You will want to be careful, however, that you do not add an affinity that is too broad so as to be “spot on” more frequently than other affinities nor so specific that it doesn’t apply often enough. You should spend a few minutes thinking about how you envision the affinity playing and why it is necessary.

    Adding new affinities also raises issues with which classes receive access to them on their class list. If the affinity is added to enhance the campaign, consider adding it to all lists. If it is added for a single character background, consider adding it to no lists and making it available through some other mechanism (like stocks or talents).

    Affinities can be a useful tool to introduce backgrounds. Generic affinities like sailor help flesh out character backgrounds and have a range of actions that can be spot on or related. Reading a map, navigating by stars, climbing ropes, balancing on a shifting surface, battling scurvy, or tying ropes are all actions that could arise in a myriad of situations and adventures. Background or professional affinities should be considered available to all classes
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Headed for rune

    Three new articles in three different areas of the game:
    (1) A description of all things hit points. Hit points, surges, healing, and a new take on a familiar concept of the damage threshold.
    (2) A discussion of the math that underlies combat (of most systems) and the various ways it can be approached.
    (3) An introduction to my favorite house rule of all time that allows variation amongst characters that is paid for by action and ill-luck.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Three linked articles that all discuss different aspects of the math of combat.
    (1) The interplay between attack and damage and which provides the greatest return at various points in the game.
    (2) By managing and accounting for the tradeoffs in the indifferent line discussed above, you can diminish the gap between power gamers and casual gamers.
    (3) A quick discussion of armor as DR using the lessons gleaned from the indifference line.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Two articles purely on game design:

    The first is about the different levels of "economies" of D&D. The highest level is the manner by which power is introduced to the game via things like feats and classes. The middle is how that power is manifested through things like standard actions. This is often referred to as the "economy of actions." The final level is the players' actual experience of the above--or the tradeoff between time and the output of the rules.

    The second article is about choosing words during game design and how different words can evoke different things or set you up for trouble later on.
    Always headed for rune.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Two follow up articles:

    A discussion of monsters and wounds that build on the general article on hit points. It discusses how monsters would act (and how they react) to damage throughout the battle and introduces a morale system.

    A discussion on how I'm planning to use the idea of Armor as DR in the system which follows up on the general article about armor as DR.
    Always headed for rune.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    A discussion about flattening the power curve by using re-rolls instead of numerical bonuses. I'm not sure all of the implications of it just yet, but I like the general results that it gives.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    One of the virtues of 3e class design (and 2e kits) is that they provided bundles of powers and within those bundles you could tuck little gems like "trackless step" or other features that players wouldn't necessarily go out and purchase with resources. I feel some of that was lost in 4e and this article discusses my working solution to bring it back.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Two quick posts soliciting feedback about game design issues. The first is trying to distill combat movement into its simplest forms as I try and develop tactical combat without being grid-reliant. The second is about different approaches on magic items.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    First update is a graphical whine about the compounding challenge of designing anything. Second update is an idea for narrowing the scope of what an action does with the hope that a narrower scope helps people choose more quickly while still being effective.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    First crack at zonal combat. A fairly big change from the standard D&D take on combat inspired by the folks who've been commenting on the site so far.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Another update about zones and how they can be used to turn the dial up or down on the complexity of battle.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    The first (of probably many) tweaks to the idea of zonal combat that addresses the issue of extreme movement.

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    Griffon

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    A follow up article on the fix presented yesterday that explains the design rationale and implications of the fix.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    After a few days worth of feedback and design, I'm cycling back to the start of zone combat. Today I explain the big picture and tomorrow I'll delve into a bit more specific.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Part II, the more specific stuff. Between this article and the previous, my vision for zones to date is pretty laid out. Assuming commenters don't find glaring issues, I think there is enough substance there to start designing class powers.

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Griffon

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    Inspired by Mearls' most recent post on WotC website, a change to stats that has a lot of potential to stop ability bloat, fix the problems with stat raises, and encourage players to build more well rounded characters.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    More discussion on ability scores and what they can provide beyond modifiers. Input is appreciated as the goal is to create a list of potential solutions. Brainstorm away!

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    A post about a simplified approach to encumbrance that also had a GitP thread touch on it here.

    A post soliciting ideas for how the rules about zones should be incorporated into class powers.

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    Griffon

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    This idea was originally posted by a different blogger but I decided to see how far I could run with it. The goal is to find ways to organize random generation tables such that a relatively small set of ideas can organically populate many random tables through their relationships.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Posted "the math." These are the numbers that I hope will drive the game. Embedded into it (and explained below in words!) are a lot of the design theories and goals and how I think they will interact to make a solid game.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    An update on "the math" that helps try and explain why I did things the way I did. The big takeaway is that I think it will take the simple and fun decisions from low levels and let you make those same types of decisions across levels of play.
    Always headed for rune.

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    Griffon

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    A return to puzzles with a focus on riddles!

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