I like classless and armor absorbs damage, it does not make you tougher to hit. Better fighters can take penalties for marked shots to head, limb, or going through armor. I have three systems for armor - the suit, the half suit (both easy simplifications) and piecemeal (minutiae - never use, but its there). On classes, i prefer my own system of aptitude (hey, be a magus/fighter but realize you will take a LONG time to be good at either, and never good as the guy who is pure archetype) along with skills (skills have attribute and aptitude requirements ensuring that those with higher aptitude and more suited attributes will have a better chance).
Incarna; Role-Playing Game System
Running: 3+ campaigns set in single custom milieu world.
The problem I have with D&D style is that your character is shoe-horned into a character class rather than being able to mold your character around your concept. I'm not exactly sure what 4th ed does (only read the rules once) but 3.x felt too restrictive.
Compare that to Warhammer FRPG and you have "occupations" that could either be seen as strict classes or loose guidelines depending on the GM/players. Effectively though, you could move between related occupations fluidly based on what your character ACTUALLY did during the last few adventures.
Even then I find strict adherance to templates too restrictive. A noble knight traveling with a sorcerer would have the oportunity to learn some magic skills - even though a majority of his time and energy would be spent on warrior skills. After all, when facing enemy sorcery it would be valuable for a knight to be able to recognize and translate magical runes or incantations.
---------- Post added at 11:05 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:36 AM ----------
The hard part is dealing with coverage... Most of our vital organs are in our head and body. We can survive without an arm or leg (if the bleeding is controlled), but piercing a lung, heart, kidney, or brain sack can be fatal.
I'm a fan of instant kills. If you roll enough damage and hit someone in the head or body, they should be killed instantly. Arms and legs would be crippled. For example, in Sundered Epoch optional rules, if your character takes more than 20% of their maximum damage (average peasant has a max damage of 100), then your hit location is "crippled". This translates to cuncussions, broken ribs, legs, arms, etc. Take more than 30% in one shot and its an amputation... Head and body shots kill instantly.
Now how do you do this much damage in one shot? Criticals, criticals, criticals... There are several ways to increase your damage (assuming you use the optional rules). First, the higher you roll for your attack, the bigger your damage bonus can be. A typical sword causes 3d5 +2 (1d5 = 1d6 -1... a roll of 6 = 0). If you beat the defender's roll by 5-9 you get +1d5. Beat it by 10-14 and get +2d5 etc. Then you can spend Merit Points (XP) to boost this up to another +2d5... Further, if you roll three 5's on the damage roll, you got a critical and get to roll all of those dice again! Lets just use an average here... I hit a troll and win by 5 so I would roll 3d5 +1d5 bonus + 2d5 Merit Points = 15 points damage. If I rolled three 5's, then I could roll an average of 30 points of damage in one hit with all those bonuses. A troll might have a max damage of 200 so 60 would be the magic number to amputate, a human would only need about 30...
I had a player roll 60 points of damage on a face shot... Description is key though. With one fell swing the blade cut the mercenary across the face, splitting his skull in half. Instantly he dropped as his blood and brains filled the street. Gruesome description sent it home just how vicious the attack was.
Another character gutted a goblin that was caught by surprise. The blade pierced deep, striking the goblin's spine. Pulling the blade his innards followed oozing onto the ground as the goblin groped to push them back in.
But I definately agree with you that armor absorbs damage, but sometimes fighters can use the armor to enhance their defense - making it harder to hit them... For example, a loose fitting chainmail skirt can be used to absorb a sword strike to the legs. A skilled fighter would fade away from the sword strike to allow the chainmail to "billow" and the chainmail would absorb the power before the leg is hit. I see this as a feat or heroic ability though...
Likewise if you are talking about D&D style games, AC doesn't make you harder to "hit" so much as it makes you harder to "wound". The problem is how inconsistent it is. Like you get no bonus to saving throws due to armor or shields.
Anyway... I could ramble on about armor and damage all fricken day.
Incarna; Role-Playing Game System
Running: 3+ campaigns set in single custom milieu world.
Feats, heroic abilities, advantages, etc. Do role-playing games need them to compete in today's market? Opinions?
Game over, man. Game over!
TPKs and the SEG system by Randal Snyder © 2011
As a Game Master (GM) and player I have been the victim of several Total Party Kills (TPKs). I say victim because it really is criminal! What I mean is that we spend all this time and effort to get a game going, to get our characters made and get comfortable with them and the GM spends his time getting the plot and setting all together and we spend literally HOURS of our lives preparing for a game and then it happens! Due to bad rolls, bad planning, or whatever the case may be, every member of the party dies. Game over!
How many times have you seen this at your game table? I’m betting the answer is “too often”. It’s tough for a GM to come up with a story that is both challenging and fun and yet gets the player’s hearts racing at the risk of virtual death for their character. But sooner or later fate will seal the deal and you are faced with the prospect of killing off your entire party or breaking the rules and looking “soft” by allowing the characters to survive.
If you think about it in pure economics, you printed out character sheets, bought the rule sets, spent hours preparing the back story, researching, and planning. Then you got your friends over for what was supposed to be long term campaign of fun and mayhem and now all that work is dashed. You might have spent money on a published module and done everything “right”, but now your plans for the next several weeks are dashed and your game, like the PCs, is dead.
Then there’s the intangible costs – feelings. How are you going to pick it up again? Will the group even stick around to wait for your next fiasco that leaves their much-loved characters rotting corpses on the field of battle? Gaming is as much about the story as it is about trust. Will your players trust you to run another game?
While there are some games out there that make character survival a low priority, and even try to make character death nearly inevitable, they are the minority. Most players want their characters to survive, to discover the secrets of the adventure and to reap the rewards.
This isn’t to say that we gamers don’t want a challenge. Far from it! If it looks like our GM is giving us a walk through Candy Land when what we wanted was something ripped from a Stephen King novel, we will likely revolt and cut down the Gum Drop Forrest and wreak horrors on the Candy Land villages out of shier spite!
But at the same time, we don’t want our characters – our alter egos and pieces of our own beings – to be killed in some meaningless death at the hands of some no-name mook. If I’m going to invest the kind of time and effort that is required of most RPGs, then my character’s death had better mean something!
I’ve had a few people ask me about how the Sundered Epoch: Generations differs from most other RPGs. One of my answers is survivability. When I explain to people that SEG’s default combat rules do not allow a character to die from combat, it breaks people. What? Then where is the challenge? Why would you remove death as an outcome of combat?
This is where I have to draw the line and explain the idea of the TPK and how it ends the game. Likewise, even without a TPK, if your character is dead then so is his story. Only a masochist would want to be subjected to that kind of disappointment time and time again.
So to ensure that there is a significant chance of survival we removed death as the default effect of damage and replaced it with unconsciousness.
Before I get ahead of myself, I should explain how SEG deals with injury and damage. Just like nearly every RPG out there, SEG tracks wound points. If a character is injured by an attack it causes X amount of damage. These wounds are treated like Hit Points are in any other game – Except that when the character is injured they must make a Stun Check, a saving throw of sorts vs. the amount of damage that they have received. If they fail by a little, then the character is only stunned. But if they fail by a lot, then the character is knocked unconscious and is helpless.
At this point a helpless character is in danger of instant death. All that is required is a reason to kill. But as we all know from the movies, the bad guys NEVER kill the hero! No, instead they capture him, tie him up in some elaborate contraption or set up a scheme that will eventually kill the character – BUT, there is a chance that the hero escapes!
So let’s go back to the TPK. Your group just raided the enemy stronghold and through a series of unfortunate rolls your last survivor is taken down! In a traditional RPG, the party is dead, game over! But using the SEG system there is a chance that they survive. Maybe the bad guys tie you up, take your stuff and interrogate you. “Who hired you? Why did you attack us? Talk or we kill you!”
But you are alive, the story continues and the game is NOT over. And now you have a chance to escape and rewrite the destiny that seemed so deathly clear only moments before.
But maybe you’ve made an enemy that wants you dead? You killed his father, and you should prepare to die! You count your moments on your six fingers as he walks over and takes his revenge. But that was only one member of your group. What about the others? What reason does he have to kill everyone? Maybe you can negotiate? Maybe you can bribe him? It’s worth a try right?
What we’ve found is that the SEG damage system allows us to reproduce movie-like combat, full of dramatic wins and losses, and still keep the story going – which we find superior to more traditional game systems. It provides the survivability that is needed in a long-term campaign yet allows for story elements that are often missing in other systems.
But what about massive damage? How is a character supposed to survive a cannon blast to the chest? And what if Godzilla steps on your character? That’s what the optional rules are for!
Recognizing that not everyone is trying to run a Hollywood movie where the heroes always survive, we have rules for things like instant death, crippling and amputation, massive damage, maximum damage and all those scenarios that make sense for more deadly games. And they’re easy to add.
Defeat is where so many games end. In the Sundered Epoch, defeat is only the beginning of another chapter. Bottom line, it comes down to personal preference. I just prefer for my game – and my character’s story – to continue.