Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Questions Answered, Questions Asked

Looking over my last post, I can't help but wonder: Did I just discover a design flaw?

On the one hand, it does all hold to the same logic. Bigger things are easier to hit but harder to damage, and smaller things are harder to hit but easier to damage. But on the other hand, in order to apply that logic consistently, it makes the game rules inconsistent. Certain actions take size modifiers, but other, related actions do not.

I could ignore it. AiO has been on the market for 4 years now and it's only now that this has even come up. I've gotten stronger criticism regarding the magic system (which actually did have a flaw, which I have made the effort to fix). Perhaps all of the people running the game out there haven't done many adventures dealing with creatures and characters with vastly different Sizes. Or perhaps they ignored the rules, or at least their implications. It's a light, loose system, anyway. Ignoring one rule isn't going to break the whole thing.

But if I thought like that, I'd be no better than '90's era White Wolf.

Since 2 maneuvers are impacted and they each work differently, this is going to take 2 fixes.

The change I'm thinking of to fix Painful Strikes is a change I really don't want to make. I really wanted flat, non-twink-able damage values to break combat-focused players out of their comfort zone. Also, as a long-time Game Master, I've lived in fear of having my big bad boss monsters go down in a round or two thanks to lucky damage rolls and critical hits.

But I must be brave, because I must separate attack and damage to allow both of them to have separate influences from Size.

So when a larger character attacks a smaller character, they do Wits damage equal to the Size difference between the two characters (minimum 1). So Jim the Cab-horse (Size 4) would do 2 points of damage if he was kicking a wolf (Size 2), but only 1 point of damage if he was facing off against a Nome (Size 3) or if the Hungry Tiger (Size 4) got a little too hungry.

Optionally, an attack that did more Wits damage than the character had remaining Wits would convert the excess damage into bonuses on a Hit Location roll to see which limb got crushed in the assault. This would, naturally apply only to instances where the attack would do multiple points of Wits damage

Though when a smaller character attacks a larger character, there's a possibility that damage may not happen at all. If your foe is more than one Size larger than you (maybe 2. I haven't quite decided), you will only do your 1 point of Wits damage on a special success. Though since you will be getting a Size bonus to hit, that will increase your chance of special success. Just not as much as your basic chance of success.

In the case of Knockdown attacks, my thought is to have them resisted by Size rather than Athletics. No Size modifier to hit, but your challenge is not hitting, but moving him. I'm half tempted to find some way for Athletics to be a factor (so an Athletics 1, Size 5 giant is more of a pushover than an Athletics 5, Size 5 giant), but I'm not sure how to do it without adding more complicated math. And before you mention it, I don't see a problem with having giants roll against a 5 to Knockdown other giants. It's called the Cube-Square Law.

What do you think? Do you think these fixes would work? Are the problems worth fixing? Have you already fixed them yourself? Do you use any other house rules when playing AiO? Heck, is there something you've wanted to see in AiO that didn't make the cut?

With the combat fixes, as well as the Transmutation hack, I'm half wondering if an AiO Revised should be in the works. I don't think that enough changes really need to be made to make it a Second Edition. Just a Revised.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Size of the Dog in the Fight

Hello everyone. Yes, I'm still here and posting from time to time. And this time, I'm actually going to talk about Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

I recently had a conversation over Facebook with a fan of the game who wanted a little clarification on some things. It led to an interesting discussion and I'm going to share some of these clarifications with you all.

The big question that led to the most discussion was "Exactly what is the impact of Size on combat?"

It seems simple, right? Bigger things are easier to hit, so relative Size should add a bonus to hit the bigger thing, or a penalty to hit the smaller thing. I say something exactly like that in the book itself (the example on page 25 of the print version).

But then this fan pointed out that, due to the way the system handles damage, attack and damage are functionally tied together. So when you roll to make a Painful Strike, the roll not only determines whether or not you hit, but if your hit was hard enough to inflict the point of Wits damage. And while it may be easier to hit something that's bigger than you, the Size difference also means that you're going to have a harder time making that impact meaningful.

So Painful Strikes and Knockdowns do not receive modifiers based on the Size difference, but Grapples and Injuring Strikes do receive Size modifiers.

But why?

Because both maneuvers separate the linkage between attack and damage. When you attack with an Injuring Strike, you then make another roll on the Injury Table on page 30, much like making a damage roll in other RPGs. Since the damage roll is separate from the attack roll, and the damage roll receives Size modifiers, it makes sense that Injuring Strike attack rolls receive Size modifiers the other way around. Big things are easier to hit, but harder to damage, while smaller things are harder to hit and easier to damage.

The way grapples work, I think it's also fair to allow Size modifiers to apply to them. The roll to grapple is primarily a "to hit" roll. The primary effect of a grapple is Size-based. The grapple follow-up actions (Pin and Throw) are the "damage" effects.

To make things a little clearer, let's throw in some examples. Let's say that Toto (a very cute Size 1 dog) has discovered a Nome scout (Size 3) sizing up Oz for invasion. The Size difference between the two combatants is 2 (3-1).

Toto attempts a Painful Strike, chomping at the Nome's heel. The Nome is bigger than Toto, but Toto's small jaws mean that he'll have a hard time biting hard enough to make the Nome yelp. The two factors cancel out and there is no Size modifier to Toto's attack roll.

The Nome sees that he's been spotted and whips out his diamond-edged sword to chop poor Toto in half with an Injuring Strike! The Nome's attack roll is at -2 because of the relative Size difference, but if he were to hit, he would get +4 on his roll on the Injury Table.

Toto then tries a Knockdown maneuver, running around and between the Nome's legs to try and trip him. Reaching the Nome's legs is not a problem, but upsetting his balance is fairly tricky. No Size modifier.

Worrying that all of this scuffling is going to draw unwanted attention, the Nome then attempts to pick up Toto and run away with him. This is resolved as a grapple. The Nome suffers a -2 penalty to the attack roll due to Size difference. Once successful, the Nome inflicts a -3 penalty (equal to his Size) to all of Toto's Athletics rolls.

Do you have any questions about the setting or the system used in Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road?
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