Monday, May 21, 2012

Dungeons & Death: 4E encounters death mod (and another AD&D death idea)

It's interesting. In the local gaming store they run a D&D 4e encounters session each week, for people to drop into and try out the game. Encounters typically run from level 1 to level 3 and shortly after end. They are there to whet the appetite (and they do)

Previously what exactly happened when a PC died was kind of ... not talked about!

This time around though, actually there is a rule and...if you die, next session your down four healing surges. And that's it!

It's interesting to see an actual engagement of the scenario (a scenario one presumes is possible) and what they'd actually do with it (rather than just speculating what they'd do).

It kind of shows exactly how much death there is, rather than leaving an ambiguous mystery about the whole thing and leaving people to think their assumptions (like, maybe, that you just die and the characters gone) are true. When they aren't. But how can you prove that when you can only speculate what WOTC would do? So yeah, interesting to actually know.


I was thinking about the last post on risk of death in AD&D. And it just didn't quite satisfy me, on reflection. The reduction in max HP just wasn't an impact. So I thought about it more and have this idea, which both combines random risk and player choice.

Survival Potions
Some monsters attacks are more vicious than others. If they reduce you to negative hitpoints, you have a 1% chance of instantly dying from the extensive wounds delivered by the attack! This is a Survival Roll! But in town you can buy Survival Potions for 500 gold. Indeed, if you have some reputation as having done good deeds, the towns folk will even let you return unused potions and receive the 500 gold back (so it's like a deposit!). If a Survival Potion is fed to a character reduced to negatives, they do not have to make the Survival Roll.

So, make your choice - lose gold! Or take a risk!

Further, for each Survival Potion used or Survival Roll made, the GM secretly rolls percentile. There is a 10% chance that the character, unbeknown to the player, gains a survival point (the GM keeps a record of this). If they have a survival point and make a survival roll and fail, the survival point is used up and they instead pass! However, the chance of failure is increased from 1% to 10% (the GM does not tell the player this unless the roll is within that range)! A character can only have one survival point at a time.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No Challenge or low Risk?

I got a couple of long posts from Strain of Thought, in regards to "The honest 'No challenge' gamer".

I really can't 'profile' it - at one point it's team fortress with no consequence for failure along with not liking being squeezed out in civilisation. But the next it's a promotion of Hydorah, an incredibly tough shoot 'em up!

I can't really see any pattern! Except that Hydorah uses a checkpoint system (you do not have to play the whole game through fromt the start, you can start from a latter point), while in a game of civilisation, if you get beaten a certain way in - that's it! The whole thing is lost - you can't pick up from a little way back and keep plugging at it.

For that reason I'm imagining nethack would frustrate Strain of thought (you die, then you start over from the start), but Spelunky (another kinda rogue like) which has a checkpoint system (ie you die, you start again but can start in latter worlds you've unlocked), would suit.

Strain of thought may be more of a low risk gamer - he/she doesn't want to bank up a lot of progress then risk it all on play. Instead after a certain time, you can 'bank' your progress and start off from the banked amount.

But that's jumping to a conclusion and there's alot in the comments that I'm not sure what pattern the descriptions would fit into. We'll see if Strain returns with further comments! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AD&D idea: Long term damage.

I look at combat in AD&D now, at the level ~5 range and...I run into the problem I've talked about before. You cannot include a statistical chance of death, without instigating a certain death sentence. But without a chance of death, the thrill that you get at level one ("OMG am I gunna die!!?!?!") is absent.

I'm considering this idea now were at higher levels: Saying that various monsters attacks are so vicious that for some of them, if they drop you to the negatives you suffer a long term loss in the maximum number of hit points you have. When you go down, you make a system shock save. If you pass, you lose 5 hitpoints off your max, for this session and one future game session. If you fail, it's for this session and two future game sessions. You can gain this penalty twice and the HP penalty stacks, but no more than that.

The reason I say game sessions instead of just weeks is because if at the start of the session the players just go 'oh, we sit around in the tavern for two weeks - there, effects gone! Then we adventure!' it sucks. It's the most weak ass way of avoiding consequences - it's just a free get out of jail card. That sort of stuff is for pure simulationists who don't care if the game is challenging for players (they only care about playing out a world, no matter how easy or hard that makes gameplay).

So the idea is that it will definately affect future sessions. It may even bring about your demise! But since it doesn't kill you in itself, it gives some wiggle room for the players to avoid death (so it's not just a statistical implementation of a death chance).

Possibly at levels 10 to 15 it might become a 10 hit point penalty. 16 to 20, a 20 hitpoint penalty.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MMORPG's Gone Wild!

Once again I leave a comment at someone elses blog and realise, hey, that'd make a moderately okay blog post!

The problem: I can't permanently kill NPCs in a MMO, much less depopulate entire towns because the gatekeeper gives me lip, as it will bork quests for other players.  I can't create spells or magic items that are stupidly overpowered  since they would throw off balance.

I thought about this awhile ago - basically I think it's doable, you simply have a 'balance' server and a 'gone wild' server. You can even migrate your character from one to the other (though when migrating from the gone wild server to balance, you will suffer huge nerfs no doubt).

In the gone wild server, you can kill NPC's and make wild weapons. This server might be reset ever three or six months.

In the balance server, it's pretty much the same deal as a regular MMO - can't kill NPC's, monsters respawn, balanced weapons, etc.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

(Evil and Quick!) Random Encounter set ups

The main goal of these random encounters is that they launch an attack, but combat does not continue for however long the dice decide to miss for! Also the monsters want to get away, rather than fight to the death! Basically it makes time matter in the dungeon, but since room encounters are (atleast in my case) the more carefully crafted ones, it makes sure that random encounters don't take too much time away from the crafted encounters.

The set up is that upon gaining line of sight, the intelligent monsters throw down oil and a torch to light it (1D6 damage to pass through) in the area in front of them, as well as setting down portable barricades of sharpened stakes, set in a spear vs charge arrangement (this isn't perfectly book legal - it essentially gives them a ranged attack AND a spear attack - it's up to you if you actually have a second squad of monsters manning the stake barricardes). They then launch ranged attacks. Typically on an NPC party the ranged attacks would probably kill one or several, so generally the monsters are horrified when it merely aggrivates the party! So the monsters run, counting on the flaming oil and barricade to to hold off the group from pursuit.

The ranged weapons vary, being mostly the cheapest kind. Generally Gnolls have darts or javalins - while the lesser intelligent monsters might only have javalins or only slings (with this influence in mind, choose as you see fit). Generally on the round after the darts or javalins are used up, the monsters will run. Otherwise they resort to using slings (but this is a rare case as these are supposed to be quick encounters).

1. Sling (1D4 damage, range: 5/10/20)
2. Javalins (1D6 damage, range, 2/4/6, ammo: 1 per ranged attack monster)
3. Darts (Three attacks per monster, 1D3 damage, range, 1.5/3/4.5, ammo: 3 per ranged attack monster)

Monsters (in numbers equal to the number of players, maximum: 5 (as this fills a ten foot corridor))
1. Giant Rats (magically controlled by some hidden monster who does not show themselves)
2. Stirges (if their attack hits, they will attach but only draw 1D4 the next round, then fly off. If they miss, they fly off)
3. Kobold
4. Brigand
5. Goblin
6. Beserker (they don't bother with the oil, barricades or ranged weapons! They just run in screaming!)
7. Orc
8. Gnoll

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

AD&D random map gen: Putting a focus on treasure

Currently I've been using a certain chart to outlay the basic contents of a dungeon (then I go and modify the overall result slightly, to fit how I see the creatures having gotten there and living there). The chart also determines treasure.

1-2 = Monster, 3 in 6 chance of treasure
3 = Trap, 2 in 6 chance of treasure
4 = Trick, 2 in 6 chance of treasure
5-6 = Empty, 1 in 6 chance of treasure

But I want to get the most out of each session in the time given. Granted, sometimes the players see a room with monsters in it, but no treasure - but rush them anyway! But really, I'm not quite interested in these sorts of rooms and the RL time it takes to run them.

So what if we assumed we skipped all the rooms that had no treasure in them?

Looking at the chart, you could take the odds of treasure and make a new chart - monsters having a 3 in 6 chance of treasure and there being a 1-2 chance of monsters, lets say 'monster with treasure' has a 2*3=6 point chance of occuring. Do that to the rest of the chart, then make it work on an appropriate die and you get...

1-6 = Monster with Treasure
7-8 = Trap with Treasure
9-10 = Trick with Treasure
11-12 = Empty with (hidden) Treasure

So roll 1D12 on that chart!

PS: Of course empty rooms aren't just empty - if something comes to mind for what could be in it (ie, maybe it stores food, or is a prayer room) then that's what's in it.

Edit: On reflection I would change the trap and trick to continue to be 2 in 6 chance of having treasure. Because while you might be able to see a room has a monster but no treasure, you can't exactly tell if a room with treasure is trapped or not, so you couldn't skip those. With the empty rooms, they continue to have hidden treasure, which isn't obvious because often trapped/tricked rooms without treasure look like empty rooms as well.