Mechanical musings 3

If damage resolution is a (new) separate step, I can tweak it so that regular attacks (guns, fists) do more damage than exotic attacks (drains, mind powers). If I can make the initial task resolution simpler, I would feel better about adding damage resolution as a separate step.

GURPS works like this (X, Y, Z are static numbers):

  • Attacker: 3d6 vs skill X
  • Defender: 3d6 vs skill Y to avoid being hit
  • Attacker: xd6 for damage
  • Defender: subtracts defense Z
  • Defender: applies the difference as damage

Three sets of dice.

KM currently works like this:

  • Attacker: 2d6 + X vs …
  • Defender: 2d6 + Y
  • Defender: applies 1/3 difference as damage

I am contemplating making it this:

  • Attacker: 2d6 + X vs …
  • Defender: 7 + skill Y
  • Attacker: calculates the difference as Z
  • Attacker: 1d6 + Z vs …
  • Defender: subtracts defense A
  • Defender: applies the difference as damage

sigh … So much more complicated.

If I reduce the impact of Expertise (2d6, re-roll 1s, rather than 1s and 2s), and reducing the penalty of not having a skill (2d6, re-roll 6s, rather than rolling 1d6), that makes rolls less extreme all around. All else being equal, the best an attacker can roll would be 12, and the worst a defender can roll would be 2, a difference of 10.

If also I change it so that a bonus die is an additional die to roll, but you only count the two highest, that also puts a cap of 12 on rolls. But how would a penalty die be handled? Roll 3d6 and what, count one highest and one lowest? Two penalty dice would be … roll 4d6 and count the two lowest? Blarg. I don’t like that.

If I change expertise/unskilled as noted above, and change bonuses/penalties to being a flat +X/-X (2? 3?) each (stackable), then a character will always roll 2d6, and adding bonuses or subtracting penalties becomes trivial.

That would make Mind Blast a great deal less one-sided. With that, I might not need to make changes to how damage is resolved.

In the current version of Kalos Mechanism, I divide attacks into:

  • Normal attack: Combat skill (Agility or Brawn + Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn) plus armor, etc. (Power Level)
  • Mental attack: Mental Combat (Power Level) vs Target’s Mental Combat (Presence) plus Mental Resistance (Power Level)
  • Alteration attack: Combat skill (Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn) plus Alteration Resistance (Power Level)
  • Unusual attack: Combat skill (Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn)

I think that’s worked out pretty well in play.

So that all gives me this:

  • If unskilled, roll 2d6, re-roll 6s.
  • If has expertise, roll 2d6, re-roll 1s.
  • Each bonus is +3.
  • Each penalty is -3.
  • Normal attacks are (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level vs (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level
  • Mental attacks are Power Level vs Presence + Power Level (if has Mental Resistance)
  • Other attacks are Power Level vs (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level (if has Alteration Resistance)

If I still wanted to tinker with Mind Blast, I could modify the “margin of success” on a per-power basis, rather than it always being +1 damage for every 3 you succeed by. I’ll keep that in mind, but for now, I want to see how these changes work out in a game.

What do you think?

Mechanical musings 2

I have an idea to flatten the upper end of the dice rolls. Rather than each bonus adding another die and you add them all up, each bonus adds another die and you just count the two highest dice. So at a certain point, you are just as good as you can possibly get (12), rather than rolling 3 or even 4 dice and getting absurdly high numbers.

I am also considering making “expertise” give a flat +3 bonus, rather than having the player re-roll 1s and 2s (although that seemed like a neat idea at the time). Or maybe drop it to re-rolling 1s.

That doesn’t address the “I added 6 and you added 12” issue. In THEORY, it is supposed to work like this:

1) Unless one of us has some kind of advantage, or one of us doesn’t have that particular skill, we both roll 2d6. Level playing field, as it were.

2) We both add our relevant attribute. You might have 8 and I might have 2, which really sucks for me, but in that case you are an Olympic medalist and I’m, well, me, so you really ought to have the edge over me in that case. But in general, I assume that we’ll both be in the ballpark. Still a (mostly) level playing field.

3) We each add the PL of our equipment (gun vs armor, knife vs armor) or our Power Level if we have the appropriate power (Blast vs Damage Resistance, Mind Blast vs Mental Resistance).

On paper, that all looks reasonable to me. And I think it works for attacks that have relatively common weapons and defenses. It’s the weird shit that breaks it. If the character with Mind Blast has even relatively modest 5 Presence and 5 Power Level, that would be 2d6 + 10 vs a typical target’s 1d6 + 5 (no Mental Combat skill and no Mental Resistance). My worst roll is better than your best roll.

And this is where I start to vapour lock, because on the one hand, I think mental powers should wipe up the floor with a normal person. But on the other hand, I think a person with Agility 5, Power Level 5, and Blast should be more or less on par with a person who has Presence 5, Power Level 5, and Mind Blast.

Champions used to balance that by making Ego Attack (or whatever it was called) do half of the damage of the same cost Energy Blast.

I am open to splitting “to hit” and “damage”. That would allow me to stick the normal attributes on the “to hit”, and stick the Power Level on the “damage”. That would drop the “to hit” of the hypothetical mental attack above to 2d6 + 5 vs 1d6 + 5, which is not quite so grievous. Then damage and defenses would be… I’m not sure what, but something based on [equipment or Power Level].

Maybe damage/defenses could be … 2d6 + PL? No, the swing of that is way too high (you shoot me with a Derringer, I roll 2, you roll 12, and I have a hole in my chest the size of a grapefruit). 1d6 + PL?

Mechanical musings

I think I have the Bulletproof Blues game system, aka “Kalos Mechanism” (I like that name, but I doubt anyone else does), as refined as I can get it, in its current incarnation.

For the most part, Kalos Mechanism works the way I want a game system to work, but there are some edge cases that still annoy me. A big one is plain-vanilla mental attacks (and to a lesser extent, other attacks with rare defenses). Mind Blast is probably the best example.

Here are the steps for attacking someone with a Mind Blast, with my notes.

1) Attacker purchases “Mind Blast” for 1 point.

Note: I really want powers to cost a flat 1 point. I am currently balancing that a bit by some powers having prerequisites. For example, Mass Mind Blast has a prerequisite of having bought Mind Blast. Should Mind Blast have a prerequisite? Mental Resistance, for example? But I think most people with mental powers will buy Mental Resistance anyway, so why bother with a superfluous requirement? I am conflicted…

2) Attacker rolls 2d6 (1d6 if they don’t have the Mental Combat skill — but they probably will).

Note: I like rolling 2d6. It’s enough dice to be satisfying, but not so many that it’s tedious. And it works well with a 1-10 attribute range

3) Attacker adds their Power Level.

Note: Power Level is what it says on the tin: how potent the character’s powers are. Power Level should be relevant. But it seems wrong to me that the Presence of the attacker isn’t relevant. But if I add Presence to the attack roll, that makes the attack even more powerful, especially since…

4) Defender rolls 2d6 (1d6 if they don’t have the Mental Combat skill — which they probably won’t).

Note 1: I am not averse to setting the target number to be static, but in play, having the defender also roll has worked out well (and it makes some very difficult rolls possible, whereas they wouldn’t be if the target number were static). But…

Note 2: Mind Blast ignores conventional armor, and most people don’t have the Mental Combat skill, meaning they will only roll 1d6 to defend on top of their armor not being applied. Is that how it should be? It strikes me as overpowered, especially since ordinary Blast and Mind Blast have the exact same cost. Which again has me thinking about the 1 pt cost, and potential prerequisite(s).

5) Defender adds their Presence (and their Power Level, if they have Mental Resistance).

Note: This, at least, I am happy with.

6) If the attacker’s roll meets or exceeds the target number, the defender loses 1 Endurance (or 1 Endurance for every 3 the attacker rolled over the target number, if using “margin of success”).

Note: In principle, I like this. I like not having to roll yet more dice. I like that being more skilled with your weapon means your shots are more damaging.


Step 3 and Step 4 Note 2 are really what’s hanging me up. What to do about it, if anything?

On the one hand, I could separate the mechanics for “does the attack hit the target?” and “what is the effect of the attack?” (i.e., roll to hit, and then roll damage), which is what most games do. That would allow me to use Presence (or Agility, etc.) for the “to hit” step, and Power Level for the “damage” step. But I really like the “roll once and be done” aspect of Kalos Mechanism. But do I like it more than I dislike edge cases like Mind Blast?


Am I close to starting another new game system project?

If (if) I do start a new game system project, in which I make combat task resolution more complicated, I think I would want to streamline the power structure. Bulletproof Blues has always been more complicated than I really wanted it to be. But do I really want to do that? I thought I was about done with this sort of thing…