Splitting up Hit Dice: Mass and Fighting Ability

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Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Splitting up Hit Dice: Mass and Fighting Ability

D&D, and through descent, ACKS, uses Hit Dice that combine both the actual capacity to take physical damage ("massd") and the ability to avoid taking physical damage ("fighting ability"). The proportion which HD represent for any given creature are not always self-evident, but, e.g. a 9th level fighter's HD surely represent fighting ability and a 9HD elephant's HD surely represent mass.

Hit Dice also determine a creature's accuracy in combat. Always keeping in mind that armor makes the target harder to hit, accuracy in combat represents both fighting ability (hitting the target) as well as armor-penetration (breaking through a target's armor) from mass. The proportion which HD represent are, again, not self-evident, but presumably a 9th level fighter's attack throws have improved by means of fighting ability, while a 9HD elephant's attack throws are superior due to its ability to smash through puny man-sized armor.

The fact that Hit Dice include both mass and fighting ability is a masterful simplification but it creates many oddities that have plagued all D&D-like games since inception.
1. High HD animals have Olympian accuracy, even when attacking unarmored targets whose AC is derived from high DEX.
2. Lost hit points on creatures where they represent physical injury (e.g. elephants) recuperate at the same rate as lost hit points on characters where they represent mere fatigue and erosion of fighting ability.
3. When attacked by surprise or back-stabbed, characters can absorb lethal blows through superior fighting ability, defending themselves (as it were) against attacks they were unaware of.
4. Curative magic will restore morale and fatigue when cast on some creatures, physical damage when cast on other creatures; small, weak creatures can never benefit from a cure of serious or critical wounds as they are incapable of being dealt such wounds (too few HP).

The following house rules are intended to differentiate Mass and Fighting Ability.

***Please let me know what you think! I have broken each section of the rules into its own post so that you can reply to the specific rules section that's relevant to you.**

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Calculation of Mass HP and Fighting Ability HP.
1. For man-sized creatures (including most PCs)
Mass HP = CON / 2

2. For creatures of varying size with a known CON score,
Mass HP = (0.2)*(weight^1/3)*CON

3. For creatures of varying size without a CON score,
Mass HP = 2*(weight^1/3)

4. All remaining HP are Fighting Ability HP.

5. If a character has more Mass HP than he has actual HP (as might be the case for a high-CON mage) then reduce Mass HP to his actual HP. He will accumulate his remaining Mass HP as he advances in level. This represents a character who is out-of-shape, unhardened to battle, fearful of pain, etc.

EXAMPLES:
1. Marcus is a 7th Fighter with 18 CON. He has 54hp. Marcus has (CON/2) 9 Mass HP. He has (54-9) 45 Fighting Ability HP.

2. Theog is an Ogre with 11 CON. A 4HD+1 monster, he has 22hp. He weighs 1,000lb. Theog has (0.2)*(1,000^1/3)*11 Mass HP, or 21 Mass HP. He has (22-21) 1 Fighting Ability HP.

3. Dumbo is an Elephant with 9HD and 40hp. He weighs 9,000lb. Dumbo has 2*(9,000^1/3) Mass HP, or 41 Mass HP. Dumbo has 40 Mass HP (using the lower of actual and mass) and no Fighting Ability HP.

4. Simba is a Lion with 5HD and 25 HP. He weighs 500lb. Simba has 2*(500^1/3) Mass HP, or 16 Mass HP. Simbas has 16 Mass HP and (25-16) 9 Fighting Ability HP.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Differentiating Dodge Class and Armor Class
1. Armor Class is sub-divided into Dodge Class (DC) and Armor Class (AC).

2. Armor Class is improved by armor, shields, magical adjustments to armor and shields, Weapon & Shield proficiency, magical items "of armor", and spells that create magical armor or shields or render the subject invulnerable.

3. Dodge Class is improved by DEX, Bladedancer's Graceful Fighting, Swashbuckling proficiency, magical items and spells "of protection", and spells that improve AC through luck, speed, or divine favor.

EXAMPLE: Aurelyn is a 7th level bladedancer (Graceful Fighting +2). She has DEX 16 (+2) and Swashbuckling proficiency (+2). She wears Bracers of Armor AC 3 and a Ring of Protection +1. Her AC is 3 (from the bracers). Her DC is (2+2+2+1) 7.

4. Armor Class: Well-armored targets are harder to hit than lightly-armored ones. The target’s Armor Class is added to the attack throw value necessary to hit it.

5. Dodge Class: Highly dexterous targets are harder to hit than sluggish ones. The target’s Dodge Class is added to the attack throw value necessary to hit it.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Attack Throw and Armor Penetration
1. Since armor makes a target harder to hit, some portion of a creature's improvement in its attack throw actually represents its ability to break through armor. This factor will now be separately represented as "Armor Penetration".

2. Find a monster's Attack Throw by dividing its Fighting Ability Hit Points by 4.5 and using that value as its HD on the "Monster Attack Throws table" in the How to Attack section of ACKS.
a. If the monster has 4 or fewer Fighting Ability Hit Points, it attacks as a "Less than 1HD" Creature.
b. If the monster has effectively negative Fighting Ability Hit Points (e.g. its Mass HP exceeded its base Hit Points), then it attacks as a "Normal Man".

3. Find a monster's Armor Penetration by first dividing its Mass Hit Points by 4.5 and using that value as its HD on the "Monster Attack Throws table" in the How to Attack section of ACKS. This will give an attack throw value. Armor Penetration is equal to 11 minus this value.

4. Armor Penetration: When attacking, a character may ignore a number of points of the target’s Armor Class equal to his Armor Penetration. Dodge Class is not affected by Armor Penetration.

EXAMPLE:
Theog the Ogre has 21 Mass HP and 1 Fighting Ability HP. With 1 Fighting Ability HP, he attacks as a 1HD or Less monster. 21 Mass HP/4.5 = 4.67. Consulting the Monster Attack Throw table for "4+ to 5 HD" yields an attack throw of 6+. Theog's Armor Penetration is (11-6) 5 points. Theog is not very accurate (10+ attack throw), but he can smash through chainmail and shield (AC 5) like cloth.

Dumbo the Elephant has 40 Mass HP and no Fighting Ability HP. Dumbo attacks as a Normal Man, because his base HP were actually lower than his Mass! Dumbo's Armor Penetration is very good, though. 40/4.5 = 8.9, putting him on the 7+ to 9 HD line for a 3+. That yields (11-3) 8 points of Armor Penetration. Dumbo is something of a wild and imprecise attacker but no mundane armor or shield is going be useful against his titanic strength.

Simba the Lion has 16 Mass HP and 9 Fighting Ability HP. Simba attacks as a(9/4.5 = 2) 2HD monster, with an attack throw of 9+. Simba's Armor Penetration is (16/4.5 = 3.6; 3+ to 4HD attack throw 7+; 11-7=4) 4.

(The net effect of these rules is to make lightly-armored, dexterous heroes more advantaged versus slow-moving and clumsy monsters. A shirtless barbarian hero like Conan can actually fight a monster and win through virtue of his high DEX and Swashbuckling proficiency making him hard to hit. Armored characters are not worse off, of course.)

koewn
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Very interesting. Going to take me a couple reads to fully process this.

Given this reminds me of the same, did you get a chance to read through the Conan d20 you Ebay'd?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Yes, I did! I quite liked many of its rules. I also recently read MERP, Rolemaster, GURPS, and a bunch of other systems. I've been trying to parse through some of the assumptions of ACKS to get deeper insights into the structure of the game and work out how it might vary.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Combat, Mass HP, and Fighting Ability HP
1. Except where otherwise noted, damage is first dealt to Fighting Ability HP. When Fighting Ability HP are reduced to 0, remaining damage is dealt to Mass HP.
2. When a creature is reduced to 0 or fewer Mass HP, it is incapacitated and must roll on the Mortal Wounds table.
3. If a creature takes 1/4 its Mass HP in one attack, it suffers a -2 penalty on all attack throws next round due to pain. (?)
4. If a creature takes 1/2 its Mass HP in one attack, it must make a saving throw versus Death. If it fails, the creature collapses from shock. (?)

Critical Hits
1. An attack throw that exceeds the target value by 8 or more is a critical hit. The target must make a saving throw versus Death. On a failed saving throw, the attack deals double maximum damage to the target's Mass HP. On a successful saving throw, the attack deals maximum damage to the target's Fighting Ability HP.

EXAMPLE: Brad (10th level Explorer) is attacking Smog, a huge venerable dragon (65,000lb; Mass HP 40, Fighting Ability HP 50). Brad has 18 DEX and Missile Fighting proficiency, wields a +2 bow, and has been Blessed and Inspired with Courage. His attack throw is (4-3-1-1-2-1-1) -4. His +2 arrows will deal 1d6 (+1 +4 +1 +1) +8 damage. Smog has AC 12. Brad needs (-4+12) 8+ to hit and 16+ to critically hit. He rolls an 18, and critically hits! Smog must make a saving throw versus Death. Sadly Smog rolls a 2, and fails. Smog takes 6x2+8=20hp to his Mass Hp. This is 1/2 Smog's Mass HP in one attack. Smog must make a saving throw versus Death. He fails again! Smog collapses from shock. Brad calls his friend, the bard Talkin, to write this crazy outcome down.

Surprise, Ambush, and Back-stabbing
1a. Any attack by surprise deals damage to Mass HP. (Hardcore/Gritty)
or
1b. An attack by surprise deals 10% damage to Mass HP and 90% damage to Fighting Ability HP. If the character has Ambush or Backstab, he deals a greater percentage to Mass HP, equal to 10% times his multiplier. (Heroic)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Healing
1. Mass HP heals at a rate of 20% of maximum per week of rest. This rate can be increased by Healing proficiency.
2. Fighting Ability heals at a rate of 20% of maximum per turn of rest.
3. Cure Light Wounds and similar magic instantly heals 20% of Mass HP. It can also heal certain permanent wounds: 26/3, 21-25/4, 16-20/5, and 11-15/6.
4. Cure Moderate Wounds instantly heals 40% of Mass HP. It can also heal these permanent wounds: 26/2, 21-25/3, 16-20/4, 11-15/5, 6-10/6.
5. Cure Major Wounds instantly heals 60% of Mass HP. It can also heal these permanent wounds: 26/1, 21-25/2, 16-20/3, 11-15/4, 6-10/5, 1-5/6.
6. Cure Serious Wounds instantly heals 80% of Mass HP. It can also heal these permanent wounds: 21-25/1, 16-20/2, 11-15/3, 6-10/4, 1-5/5.
7. Cure Critical Wounds instantly heals 100% of Mass HP. It can also heal these permanent wounds: 16-20/1, 11-15/2, 6-10/3, 1-5/4.

Healing permanent wounds using cure spells takes time equal to that listed by the Condition on the Mortal Wounds table. If there has been a limb loss, the lost limb must be available as the spells cannot regenerate, merely re-stitch.

Using a higher-level spell than the permanent wound requires increases the rate of recovery by one condition level.

Healing proficiency can "surgically" repair permanent wounds at the appropriate level through successful proficiency throws. Only one throw is permitted per wound, and the surgery must take place within one hour of the wound.

(In the genres of fantasy which these rules are intended to emulate, Restore Life and Limb will be unavailable, and critical hits will make permanent wounds more likely. These rules offer an alternative means by which such damage can be repaired).

Healing Fighting Ability HP
Presumably spells might exist to restore lost Fighting Ability HP, perhaps representing inspirational morale. Perhaps Bards can restore FAHP through song. TBD.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

TBD
1. Poison, paralyzation, and energy drain - or "how are you suffering these consequences if you didn't actually get hit"
2. Smashing through armor, or "shouldn't two-handed swords get a bonus to hit"
3. Strength and attack throws, or "should strength apply to hit or to armor penetration"
4. Magic item bonus and attack throws, or "should magic weapons provide a bonus to hit or to armor penetration"

[NOTE: Due to the awkward acronym FAHP, I am changing the term Mass HP to Life Points and Fighting Ability Hit Points to Hero Points, or LP and HP].

ADVANCED/CRAZY/WEIRD IDEAS
1. Special Maneuvers: Special maneuvers (such as sunder or disarm) ignore Armor Class. Defense Class still applies. The target's Defense Class against the special maneuver is increased by +1 per 5 Hero Points [Fighting Ability HP] remaining. The target receives a saving throw v. Paralyzation to avoid the effect.

EXAMPLE: Marcus, a heroic warrior with AC 10, DC 0, 18 LP and 50 HP, is fighting a skilled duelist (attack throw 2+). The duelist decides to disarm Marcus. The duelist needs 2+, modified by 50HP/5, 10, or 12+. If the duelist hits, Marcus will have to make a save v. Paralyzation or be disarmed.

2. Smashing Through Armor: An attacker may reduce his weapon's damage dice by one die type to gain +1 to hit, or two dice type to gain +2 to hit. Weapons may not be reduced below 1d4.

EXAMPLE: Gallantine, a 1st level fighter (attack throw 10+) is wielding a two-handed sword (1d10 damage). He is fighting Morgex, in plate armor and shield (AC 7). He is having trouble hitting Morgex, so he decides to try to "smash through armor", reducing his weapon's damage by three die types (d10->d8->d6->d4) in exchange for a +3 to hit. Now he needs 14+ instead of 17+.

3. Poison, Paralyzation, and Energy Drain: A blow that misses due to DC has been dodged. A blow that misses due to AC has struck armor. A blow that hits and damages Hero Points has connected in some manner with the target, but it was parried or blocked. If the attacker's damage deals Poison, Paralyzation, or Energy Drain, the target must make the appropriate saving throw to see if he was knicked/touched in the course of his parry. [This is more-or-less how zombie movies work. The hero tends to make his saving throws and avoid being "bitten" even though he's clearly being beat-up during the fight.]

EXAMPLE: Lucas, an unarmored survivor of the ghoul-fever apocalypse (AC 0, DC 0, LP 5, HP 10) is attacked by a ghoul (attack throw 9+). The ghoul strikes and misses with two claws but hits with its bite. Lucas loses 4 HP. He must now save versus Paralyzation. If he succeeds, then the bite didn't break skin - e.g. he actually was hit by the creature's jaw bone slamming onto his forearm. If he fails, the bite broke skin and he is paralyzed.

4. Mage's Hero Points: A mage's hero points don't represent fighting ability so much as they represent the magical wards and enchantments that every mage of power surrounds himself with. Narration of the effects of hits versus the mage's Hero Points should describe sparks of magic, strange deflections in thin air, etc.

5. LP, HP, and Zero Level NPCs: Normal men have their Life Points. When they earn a level of experience, the hit die is gained as Hero Points. Starting PCs will thus have 1/2 CON LP and a die roll's worth of HP. Normal monsters have their Life Points and default Hero Points based on their innate ferocity (like lions). Monsters of above-average HD for their type, such as orc chieftains, gain their additional hit points as Hero Points. Heroic monsters (a dragon highly experienced in war, for instance) might also have additional HP in this manner.

6. Ability Score Bonuses to Life Points and Hero Points: Each level, up to 9th level, a character's Life Points are increased by 3 points, to a maximum of CON. Each level, up to 9th level, a character's Hero Points are increased by his WIS modifier. This (a) helps characters be a bit more survivable in the face of nasty critical hits, and (b) makes WIS an ability of more utility, and goes along with the idea that WIS improves saving throws.

EXAMPLE: Marcus has WIS 13 and CON 18. At 1st level he has 9 (one half CON) +3 (for one level) LP and 5 (roll of 1d8 +1 WIS modifier) HP. At 2nd level he gains 3 LP and (roll of 1d8+1 yielding a 6) 6 HP, for a total of 15 LP and 11 HP. At third level he reaches his maximum of 18 LP and gets another 1d8+1 HP, giving him (e.g.) 18 LP and 16 HP.

Rhynn
Joined: 2013-05-31 10:53

One of the reasons ACKS stands out to me is that there's obviously a lot of math going on behind the scenes, but the "end-user" doesn't have to deal with it directly, unless they want to.

I doubt I'll use these rules (I highly value ACKS' simplicity-in-play and how it contrasts with the depth-in-design), although I am a little tempted to. It would require going over every monster and explicitly listing their Atk Thr and APen, and maybe listing HD in a new form, with the prerequisite of knowing their weight...

But just the fact you can do the math to get these results is impressive.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thank you for the kind words!

If we were to ever publish these rules, I'd provide that data to the end-user, of course. I have all the weights of the monsters worked out in a spreadsheet so it's as easy as just entering the formula.

Heck, if there's interest, I could publish it on the forums or blog.

Rhynn
Joined: 2013-05-31 10:53

There's a tiny accountant trapped inside me, desperate for that data! I'd love to see it (with the pre-worked-out split HD, etc., if possible).

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

OK. I'll post it at some point, after more folks have given feedback on the thread.

Tywyll
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This is one of those rare issues where 3rd ed did a slightly better job I thought (with touch ac and such). I am very interested in these rules but would need the monsters all updated before I could use it.

How would oozes and undead work?

golan2072
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I like the Mass HP/Fighting HP rules.

Does the Dodge/Penetration system require two rolls to hit (one to defeat the dodge, another to penetrate the armour)?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

No, it's one attack throw. Here's an example. An ogre (attack throw 10+, armor penetration 4, damage 1d12) is attacking Aurelyn, a bladedancer (AC 2, DC 7, MHP 5, FAHP 15).

The ogre's attack throw target value is increased by 7 due to her DC. It is increased by (2-2) 0 from her armor. The ogre needs a 17+ to hit Aurelyn (20%).

Under traditional ACKS rules, the ogre would have had an attack throw of 6+ versus Aurelyn's AC of 9, and would have needed 15+ to hit her (30%). So the chances of Aurelyn being hit have been reduced by about 1/3.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I didn't mean to add the acronym "FAP" to the game.

Mass HP shall henceforth be called "Damage Points" (DP)
Fighting Ability HP shall henceforth be called "Hero Points" (HP)

jedavis
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I've seen Wound Points / Stamina for similar splits in other games (Traveller d20, SWd20, probably others). I like the idea here, but keeping armor penetration separate runs into the same issue it does in other systems where armor remains AC - limited conditional addition. Determining whether an attack hits now involves a roll, a subtract from Fighting to-hit, a query regarding value of armor worn by target, a subtraction / min / max operation (armor pen - armor value, min 0), an addition (of AP-AV to roll-THAC0), and another comparison with AC. That's a lot of extra work compared to the basic roll, subtract, report AC hit!

I actually like Golan's idea regarding separating to-hit and pen rolls. Two rolls is much easier to handle numerically - you roll 2d20 at the same time (in different, predesignated colors), perform two subtractions (your THAC0 and TPAC0), and then report a tuple "Hit AC n and penetrate armor m". The trick here is getting the constants right to keep the probabilities about the same as they originally were (or to ensure other intended outcomes).

As for TBDs:
* One could assume scratches and glancing blows; perhaps save at +4 if no body damage was inflicted?
* This is one place where separating hit and pen rolls makes life easier. Some weapons might have +hit (daggers, fast weapons), some might have +pen (warpicks, pikes).
* Seems to me that Str should apply to pen rather than hit, but that's a raw deal for fighters.
* This is the easy one - all of the above, in various combinations! It's magic, man. Some magic swords cut through armor like butter, some guide their wielder's hands. Plenty of room for variety in effects.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I am not a fan of splitting attacks into 2 rolls; largely because of the unexpected impact it has on the GM. For instance, when the GM is rolling for 5 orcs to attack a PC, he needs to only do the math once, but he has to roll 2 dice 5 times. Using multiple dice is faster in 1-on-1 situations where the odds are recalculated frequently but much slower as soon as you get into instances of multiple attacks under the same mathematical circumstances. My fights, at least, have a lot of the latter and not much of the former.

(I also don't think one can get the mathematics to work out the same very easily...or at least I've not been able to. The corner cases get weird).

In any event, I think the process would work as:
1. Player declares attack.
2. Judge indicates AC and DC.
3. Player reduces AC by his AP, adds remaining AC and DC to target value and rolls.
4. Player announces hit or miss.

It would NOT work well if AC is kept hidden, but perhaps that's a worthwhile trade-off for other interesting game mechanical benefits.

jedavis
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Very fair points. I guess I care more about the player-side complexity, though; I can script up "roll me z attacks with to-hit x and pen y against AC n and armor m, and group the rolls into whiffs, glances, hits, and crits", for either alternative, so I'm relatively ambivalent. I can't count on all of my players to do the same, though, and we already roll to-hit at the same time as damage, so one more die isn't a huge deal to us. Maybe a parameterized roll20 macro would solve this problem...

koewn
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#3 is the thing I don't like about this. I really want to move that part of the equation over to the player side (as a bonus to their roll) but cannot because it's not always applicable since their AP value may exceed the value of the target's AC and thus not be required.

It feels like the damage avoidance variable is being overloaded by being both avoidance through dodge *and* ablation through armor, rather than the ablation being part of the damage resolution after hit success is decided.

It's three operations (subtract, add, roll) rather than two (add, roll)

The second thing you posted further down having opponents being able to parry/dodge in turn and then using plain Armor as DR feels cleaner, though I'd probably defer to having static dodge/parry values to throw against, rather than opposed rolls, again to reduce the number of operations involved.

I'll admit being biased towards the latter, however, despite having no idea how to make it work with ACKS' combat math.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Here's a tough mathematical problem I'm wrestling with when it comes to static dodge/parry values.

Assume a 1st level fighter with sword and shield (AC 1, 5hp, attack throw 10+) is attacking a 1st level fighter, similarly equipped. The fighter will hit his foe 50% of the time. On a successful hit, he will deal 1d6+1 damage, with 50% of the blows being enough to kill (and 2 hits will almost certainly kill). It will therefore take 4 rounds, on average, for one fighter to slay the other.

Now assume that the foe is a 2nd level fighter with 10hp. Now it will take, on average, 8 rounds for the fighter to slay his foe.

Now assume that the foe is a 3rd level fighter with 15hp. Now it take, on average, 12 rounds for the fighter to slay his foe.

Note that the increase from level 1 to level 2 is a doubling of survivability, but from level 2 to level 3 is only a 50% increase. From level 3 to 4 is only a 25% increase, etc.

Assume that we want to switch to a system where HP are static and improved odds of survival are based on an increase parry/dodge value ("defense class").

In order to simulate this, we'd have to give the 2nd level fighter a defense bonus that halves his chance of being hit - roughly along the lines of a +5 bonus, so that it goes from 11+ to 16+. Then from level 2 to level 3 would be a further increase to halve it again, so from 16+ to 18+.

BUT the mathematics are difficult because when armor changes the mathematics change. If the same fighters are in plate (AC6), they need 16+ to hit each other. That means that to double survivability a parry bonus of +2 is all that's needed.

So to offer our 2nd level fighter the equivalent of "another hit die" what should his increase in defense bonus be...+5 or +2?

Very tricky...

koewn
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Ah. OK. Yea, I don't see that necessarily working out without a complex dance between upper AC limits and attack throws, perhaps determined by the comparative hit die of the combatants, else combatants correctly armored or leveled will be unhittable but on a natural 20.

That's still doubling up on armor as avoidance rather than ablation, however. You'd think there'd be a system somewhere that's figured this one out.

Randomly, Mutants & Masterminds 3E (SRD available here: http://www.d20herosrd.com/) abstracts Hit Points completely away. An attack throw is made much like normal d20 (Fighting is a ability score here, much like the old FASERIP system) The roll must beat the target's Dodge or Parry, depending on the attack type/capabilities of the defender.

If the hit is successful, the target must make a 'Toughness' saving throw against 15 + the rank of the Damage effect - a sword is Damage 3, so the save is DC 18.

Toughness is modified by your Stamina(Constitution) and armor. Plate is +5 to your Toughness, for example.

M&M isn't level-based, but I could see wanting to increase Toughness based on level.

Failed Toughness saves (they fail by degrees) start stacking on each other. Eventually you're just killing yourself with penalties to that save - Back when it first came out there was a bit of concern over a 'Toughness Death Spiral', since then I'm not sure if that concern has lessened, but there were several ways to ameliorate that a bit, one of which I used (http://crowbarandbrick.blogspot.com/2012/11/true20mm-static-toughness-ro...)

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The M&M damage system is great! I actually borrowed it for an ACKS-Cyberpunk rules hack I was working on. But I encountered some outrage from players who felt that the game no longer was "D&Dish" without the hit points.

Interestingly, from the point of view of realism, damage saves are much more reflective of how injuries impact the human body. The wound is either slight, and irrelevant; disabling; or mortal. The historical records of duels are full of tales of men who took 5-20 wounds and lived, and then slew their enemies with 1 wound. Since the enemy was often a great duelist himself it's hard to argue this was "hit points".

Rhynn
Joined: 2013-05-31 10:53

The same goes for gunfights, which is why that seems especially appropriate for Cyberpunk games. Sometimes, some people take 10 or more gunshot wounds without apparent effect, some people are killed or disabled by 1...

Of course, in both cases there's the chance that one of the wounds that didn't incapacitate you is bad enough to kill you minutes, hours, or days after the fight.

jedavis
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One could make the long-term consequences bit a part of the healing subsystem; when you go to heal off a significant wound level (I'm thinking Wounded or worse in True20 terminology), you have a small chance of instead dying, developing an infection, or some other complication.

jedavis
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I liked True20's damage system (basically the same as M&M's) on the occasions when we played it, and my groups mostly did not object except for the occasional critical failure resulting in sudden PC death. Might have to go cook up an ACKS hack (hACKS?) with it now. Seems quite appropriate for cyberpunk, and I've been meaning to build a sort of ACKS-40k sci-fi variant, for which this seems a very reasonable damage system. I'm curious - did you integrate these mechanics into the Death and Dismemberment table rolls?

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Saving at +4 if no Life Points dealt is a great idea! That really helps reduce the absurd deadliness of low-level poisonous critters and ghouls.

I agree that STR probably should apply to penetration rather than to hit. I also agree it's a raw deal for fighters. On the other hand, in the context of applying these rules to a swords & sorcery world, mages and clerics would also be reduced in power, as are monster's attack throws, so maybe it makes sense.

It does lead to an odd anomaly in that DEX contributes to DC and missile attacks but not melee attacks. Maybe the solution is that DEX contributes to attack throws, initiative, and dodge class; STR contributes to damage and armor penetration.

jedavis
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We had one guy's whole henchman group and PC all fail their poison saves against giant black widows last session... it was bad. Moral of the story: diversity your personal retinue, don't play all front-liners.

And yeah, dex to hit in melee is the logical follow-on. Sort of troubling from a inter-stat balance perspective, since Dex is already great for everyone, but at least it's consistent.

I did suspect there was a bit of swords-and-sorcery influence here. I like the idea of separating armor and mobility defenses from a simulationist perspective, rather than a thematic one, which may account for some differences in opinion :P

Alex
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If I were to move further towards a simulationist perspective, I'd do it as follows.

1. Remove "Hero Points" or "Fighting Ability Points entirely" and simply track "Life Points" or Mass. Life Points would be equal to CON (or 2x the values in
the earlier example).

2. Increase all damage by 1 die.

3. Characters have an Attack Throw and a Defense Throw. Attack Throw is as normal. Defense Throw is equal to Attack Throw +7. Reduce the target value by 1 for a shield (more if magical); by 1 for Weapon & Shield proficiency; by DEX mod; by Swashbuckling bonus; and by Graceful Fighting bonus.

4. To hit, a character must roll greater than his attack throw. A roll 8 or more points greater than his target value is a critical hit.

5. The target may then attempt to parry/dodge by rolling greater than its defend throw.

6. An unblocked hit deals damage to Life Points. But damage is reduced by the value of its Armor Class.

7. An unblocked critical hit does double damage and allows an additional attack against the target (if it is still alive). A critical hit blocked by a normal parry does normal damage but allows an additional attack. A critical hit blocked by a critical parry is blocked. A normal hit blocked by a critical parry results in a riposte from the defender (free attack). The riposte cannot be blocked.

8. The maximum number of cleaves, dodges, and ripostes a character may make per round is equal to level for fighters, 1/2 level for clerics/thieves, and 1 for mages.

EXAMPLE: A 5th level Bladedancer (DEX 16, CON 9, Leather Armor +1, 2 swords +1, Swashbuckling, Weapon Finesse) has Attack Throw (8-1-1-2-1-1) 2+, Defense Throw (8+7 - 2-1-1) 11+, Life Points 9, Armor Class 3. She has Swift Sword (2 attacks per round) and Striking, so she deals 3d6 damage per attack.

Her 5th level Fighter opponent (STR 16, CON 14 Plate +1, Shield +1, Sword +1, Weapon & Shield Proficiency) has Attack Throw (7-2-1) 4+, Defense Throw (7+7 - 1-1-1) 11+, Life Points 14, Armor Class 7. He deals 1d6+5 damage per attack.

They engage with Bladedancer winning the initiative. The Bladedancer makes her first attack, needing 2+ to hit and 10+ to crit. A roll of 6 is a hit. The Fighter parries, needing 11+. He rolls an 11 and parries. The Bladedancer makes her second attack and rolls a 9, a hit. The Fighter rolls a 9 to parry and fails. The Bladedancer rolls 3d6 for damage, yielding an 8; Subtracting 6 armor, the Fighter takes 2 HP of damage, and is down to 12.

It's now the Fighter's turn. He needs a 4+ to hit and 12+ to crit. He rolls an 8, a hit. The Bladedancer needs 11+ to parry, and rolls a 12. It's now the next round.

The Bladedancer wins the initiative and attacks. Her first attack throw is a 7, a hit. The Fighter's parry roll is a 20, a critical parry! This triggers a riposte. The Fighter's riposte is a 3, however, so he misses. The Bladedancer now makes her second attack. Her roll is a 9, so she hits. Incredibly, the Fighter rolls a 19, a critical parry, and ripostes again! His attack roll of 8 hits. The Bladedancer now parries, and rolls an 18--a parry, but not a critical one.

It's now the Fighter's turn. He rolls a 16, scoring a critical hit. The Bladedancer attempts to parry, but rolls a 9. She therefore takes double damage of 4+2+5+5=16 points. Even reduced by her armor of 3 points, she is taken to -4 HP. The fight is over.

koewn
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Dipping a bit into the later Weapon Vs Armor table discussion, the ability of creatures to show a Dodge or Parry stance based off of capabilities or armaments can also add in what you've built with attack capability due to mass.

If creatures can show a Parry or Dodge stance, their attackers can choose versus an Overwhelm or Finesse stance.

The Ogre, let's say, has a strong Overwhelm stance due to his mass. The plate-armored fighter, who normally relies on a Parry stance, may want to Dodge in this case, as parrying (putting shield, weapon, or armor inbetween the attack and his soft bits) lets too much damage through due to the Ogre's strong Overwhelm.

In turn, that fighter, who usually wields a greatsword, and relies on his own Overwhelm stance versus regular human opponents (he either relies on putting Finesse opponents out quickly, or assumes a long slugfest with other highly armored Parry/Overwhelm masters), may have to switch to a spear or something else that grants him a better Finesse stance - the Ogre's mass also allows him a strong Parry defense, so Overwhelm attacks are less effective. His Dodge stance, however, is weak.

And to drag that back out into magic, perhaps some spells improve Dodge, and other spells (like the classical Mage Armor/Shield) provide Parry. And by extension, things like Haste add Finesse, and Gauntlets of Ogre Power provide Overwhelm.

golan2072
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This isn't D&D by any means, and I'm not sure I'll be able to win my D&D-playing friends to play this, but otherwise I LOVE this. Much simpler than the above solution! And makes combat interesting to boot.

What it needs is very rigorous playtest, as I fear it might have unintended consequences.

golan2072
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Three more notes:

1) The main thing which worries me about armour-as-damage-reduction rules is that it might cause grind, as fights between armoured oppponents do relatively little damage. How do you intend to solve this?

2) How do ranged attacks work, such as missiles and especially bullets, can they be dodged?

3) I wonder how lethal adventuring play would be. As lethal as vanilla ACKS? More lethal? Less?

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

1) Armor as damage reduction can make games quite a grind, if weapon damage is close to damage reduction. If damage greatly exceeds damage reduction then it is moot.

One problem with armor as damage reduction is that historically, armor worked. That is to say, attacks which hit armor were misses; and successful attacks were those that found gaps in the armor, not those that got through the armor.

From Sumer to Ancient Rome has fascinating information on this. A typical melee weapon would generate 70-100 joules of KE. To penetrate 2mm of bronze on leather took in excess of 120+ joules. "Oh, but the bludgeon force will still kill you". No, in fact, a 110-joule blow from a mace gets distributed by the armor, such that it is reduced to about a 15-joule blow.

If one wanted to be realistic, you would need a system where:
1) armor serves as a divisor (e.g. 1/2, 1/3/, 1/4), rounding down so some blows deal no damage, for attacks hacking through armor
2) armor serves as a penalty to hit for attackers who are avoiding armor

2) Yes, I think so.

3) Don't know... I think it would be very easy to screw up the game!

koewn
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Oh, that's interesting - that does shift my view on avoidance vs. ablation. I'd figured there was some distribution, no idea how much.

Google Books has the ToC and an index of tables/illustrations....

Table 4.7: Wound Lethality in the Iliad by Area of Body

That...that might be too much for me :) May have to see if I can get it via the library - even the e-book version is college textbook priced.

Given two plate-mailed combatants of equal capability having at each other, you'd think just standing there hacking away just ringing blows off their armor would fatigue one sooner than the other. That's not exciting DND combat though.

Tywyll
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I don't think it's too raw of a deal for Str to be reduced in effectiveness. Str as is is far more mathimatically effective in combat than dexterity or con so actually it's good if it were downgraded a bit.

I read a post or blog somewhere where someone compared a Str 18 fighter vs a dexterity 18 one and the advantage of dpr is far in the favor of the Str character.

koewn
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Since we're calling out armor/shields as a distinct object getting hit now, what about armor degradation? Give those Craft proficiencies something to do in the field.

In theory, the Ogre with crossbow will be at a larger disadvantage than expected due to his mass not being able to contribute to his attack throw in this case? His strength contributes nothing to the crossbow's operation, though he can wield a larger one. Spears would be better, as they're thrown, perhaps slings and giant high-pull bows...

Would certain ranged weapons due to design, quality, or size add their own Armor Penetration values to use in lieu of the attacking creatures?

jedavis
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Firearms spring to mind...

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Definitely. Every 10 hits stopped by armor reduces its AC by 1, starting with the shield. Multiply ## of hits required by the magic bonus (e.g. +1 shield takes 100 hits).

I do think various weapons would have an armor penetration. In fact, judging from my reading of "From Sumer to Rome" and similar books, I'd imagine something like this:

Shortbow: Short Range 1d6, AP 1; Medium Range 1d6, AP 0; Long Range 1d4, AP 0
Longbow: Short Range 1d10, AP 2; Medium Range 1d8, AP 1; Long Range 1d6, AP 0
Crossbow: Short Range 1d10, AP 2; Medium Range 1d8, AP 1; Long Range 1d6, AP 0
Arbalest: Short Range 1d12, AP 3; Medium Range 1d10, AP 2; Long Range 1d8, AP 1

The Guns of War rules I'm working on actually inspired the idea of armor penetration as its absolutely essential for making sense of guns. In general it's quite helpful in making sense of A LOT of middle ages combat and weapons. D&D lost a lot when it forgot about Weapon v. Armor Class modifiers derived from Chainmail.

bobloblah
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Alex said: D&D lost a lot when it forgot about Weapon v. Armor Class modifiers derived from Chainmail.

That's an interesting assertion. Why do you say that? It's obviously subjective, and varies by one's preferences, but in practice (in both AD&D and AD&D 2nd, which differ slightly) I never found their impact to be that meaningful, and considered it to be far outweighed by the additional overhead and kludgey feel when it came to monster AC, which were the majority of opponents, anyway. It's particularly funny to hear you say that when ACKS has adopted nearly the lightest version of the D&D combat system ever published. To me, that's no bad thing, as it's immensely playable, and that outweighs any lack of simulation-ism. If it didn't, I'd be playing RuneQuest, Rolemaster, or (God forbid!) Phoenix Command.

The Dark
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It makes sense of the transition of weapons as armor got heavier, and gives players a reason to not always take the most damaging weapon. On the face of things, a battle axe (1d8/1d8) is a better weapon to carry than a horseman's mace (1d6/1d4). But if a target's wearing plate and carrying a shield, the axe is -3 to hit, while the mace is +1, so there's a 20% shift in the odds of striking the target. Likewise, the club (1d6/1d3) often looks like a better choice than the horseman's mace, because it's cheaper (free compared to 4 gold) and lighter (3 pounds compared to 5 pounds), but it's an inferior weapon against armors of AC 7 or better.
It can also justify the existence of some of the excessive variety of pole arms - the bardiche is good against unarmored soldiers, the bec-de-corbin against plate, and the guisarme-voulge against ring and chain.
With the loss of the weapon vs armor table, the weapons of choice were bastard sword for a fighter, long sword for a thief, and footman's mace for a cleric (mage players would argue between the staff for damage and the dagger for flexibility). That blend of weapons would tend to get chewed up by heavily armored opponents, since the bastard sword is 0 against plate if used two-handed and -1 or -2 if used one-handed, the long sword is -1 or -2 against plate, and the mace is only +1. Better would be a bec-de-corbin (+2 against plate), a long sword (thieves are hosed against heavy armor in 1e), and a footman's flail (+2), while the mage should go dagger (-3, compared to -7 for a staff or -5 for darts).

Note also that the Armor Class Adjustment table was only for actual armor, not for "natural" ACs - i.e. attacking a character in chain mail (AC 5) used the table, but attacking a lizard man (AC 5) did not.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The Dark explained it as best anyone could.

I'm not saying that the game isn't more fun or more playable without Weapon v. Armor Class modifiers, but it's combat system no longer makes as much sense.

D&D's combat system was built on a foundation of historical medieval combat. Then the foundation was removed. The house still stood and was beautiful but the foundation wasn't there. Here's what I mean.

Steps of D&D Combat
1. To determine if your attack hits, compare Weapon Type to Armor Type. Any hit is a kill against its target. All combatants are assumed to be of equal skill, so we don't worry about differences in accuracy. And we don't worry about the weapon's damage, because any hit is a kill; all that matters is whether the weapon penetrates the armor.
2. Certain figures, being heroic, fight as if they are more than one figure. They can take more than one hit before they are killed. They can also make more than one attack.
3. It doesn't seem realistic that every attack always kills. Let's replace each kill with "1d6 damage" and allow a creature to take "1d6 hit points" for every man it represents.
4. It doesn't seem realistic that superior combatants aren't more likely to hit than normal combatants. Let's increase accuracy of attacks for high level combatants.
5. This is getting complex. Let's stop worrying about which weapons are better than which weapons against which armor.
6. Now that we're stopped worrying weapons v. armor, it doesn't seem realistic that a dagger is just as effective as a two-handed sword. Let's make daggers deal less and two-handed swords deal more.
7. If two-handed swords deal more, shouldn't an ogre's club and a giant's boulder deal a LOT more? Totally should!
8. This is a lot of attacks dealing a lot of damage at high accuracy. Everybody should just get one attack per round, not one attack per hit die.
9. How come a giant still has trouble hitting a man in a plate armor even though he could just smash through the armor?
10a. I don't know, who cares, game on.
10b. You are totally right. Let's invent Runequest/Rolemaster/GURPS.

The Dark
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I think this is one of the areas where I like the Conan d20 method of having armor provide DR and limit Dex modifiers to AC, rather than providing AC. With the damage inflation in 3.x and the removal of weapon vs armor adjustments, it's the best system I've seen to handle armor in a 3.x rule set. I'm less fond of the Armour Piercing system, which adds complexity ("if my STR mod plus the weapon's AP mod exceed the armor's DR, halve the DR, unless the weapon has AP 0 in which case it never halves DR" has one or two too many clauses in there).

I've seen three ways to address the issue:
AD&D1e used the weapon vs armor table, so certain weapons were better against particular types of armor.
RC-era Basic had weapon mastery change the characteristics of weapons as users got better - it didn't change how weapons interacted with armor, but it changed damage and some weapons provided offensive or defensive abilities.
Conan D20 has armor provide DR instead of AC, so it's no harder (and sometimes easier) to hit an armored target, but harder to hurt them.

The first or a simplified version of the third are my favorites. They both reflect that certain weapons are designed to fight particular types of armor. The third does a better job of reflecting that armor makes you harder to hurt rather than harder to hit, but in my experience the extra maths can slow down play more than looking at a chart. The second can be fun for players, but doesn't have any interaction between weapon type and armor type.

koewn
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What they said.

The weird thing is it's exactly the sort of system-mastery complexity that 3E could have brought back - all that emphasis on tactical movement, AC types and situational combat occurances, AOOs and reach and etc, and I bet a double-digit percentage of corner-case feats introduced in the end of the product line could have been replaced with a Weapons vs AC table with a few additional descriptive entries.

bobloblah
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I don't think I was entirely clear. I've played with these rules, and I am familiar with what they do. My question is: why is that of value to you? Saying, for example, that they make sense of the progression of weapons as armour got heavier, or that they force/encourage players to choose different weapons is fine, but doesn't tell me why you see value in this where I see none (or so little it isn't worth the effort). Having players juggle weapons because of this just becomes a mini-game in and of itself, and I see no more value in it than I do in clever grid tricks in 3.x or 4E, not to mention that it gets particularly strange with monster ACs. As far as a realism angle, the rest of the system is so far from that that the introduction of Weapon vs. AC isn't nearly enough to scratch that itch for me.

Also, just to be crystal clear, I am not trying to slag anyone for liking these rules. I want to understand what the underlying motivation for adopting them is. Verisimilitude or realism? A style of "tactics" that requires the right weapon for the right job? Something else?

Alex
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In my particular case I just like verisimilitude. Thomas Weigel has often said that ACKS reminds him of GURPS, in that I take a very reality- and physics-based approach to my designs. So I sometimes wrestle with the fact that the combat is based on such a complete abstraction. Which is not to say that ACKS combat isn't *fun* -- in fact, pound for pound, I reckon it has the best example of D&D-style combat, and in particular, the best balance between fighting and magery -- but that doesn't mean I don't occasionally grimace at the abstract nature of it all.

Also, I don't think that AD&D with Weapons v. Armor rules was a fun or playable system. But I do acknowledge that the system made much less "sense" in terms of world-coherence when those were removed.

bobloblah
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Ah, okay. Fair enough. I agree with you, generally - that's why I tried to adopt those rules several times myself. I think I've finally (mostly*) given up on "realism" in D&D; the system just isn't built for it, but it's plenty fun and playable.

*I say "mostly" because part of the attraction of ACKS is its somewhat simulationist bent which extrapolates the rules to their logical, in-game conclusion. In spite of that, it still maintains the best of the playable core of the game.

Rhynn
Joined: 2013-05-31 10:53

Probably one of the main reasons I ended up choosing ACKS as "my D&D" is the combat system: it strikes the perfect balance, for me, and the simplicity and quickness of the rules is a major part of that. I've got The Riddle of Steel and HarnMaster for when I feel like having realistic simulationist combat (TROS having the single best pre-modern hand-to-hand combat system there is in terms of realism, while still being among the most playable ones I know), but if you have a liking for D&D, that's an itch that has to be scratched, and I find that doing it with simple rules is what works best.

... it certainly doesn't hurt when you find a game that incorporates or makes unnecessary/extraneous all your houserules for AD&D.

I can't help being interested in the split HD and HD-by-mass etc., but ultimately, for a D&D system, I was looking for something simpler than AD&D and something with more depth than BECM, and I got it.

Alex
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I've heard such good things about Riddle of Steel; I'll have to check it out.

In any event, I hope none of our ACKS loyalists get alarmed by this thread. There's a reason its just a forum post under "House Rules"!

jedavis
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Wait, I thought this was all part of the run up to Advanced Adventurer Conqueror King, to be kickstarted in 2015 :P

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Maybe.

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