[MUD-Dev] Chances of success (was d20 system)

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 17 15:41:14 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Friday, August 17, 2001, 6:43:33 AM, Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
> Travis Casey on 16 August 2001 20:10 wrote:
>> Thursday, August 16, 2001, 8:35:05 AM,
>> Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
>>> I do have one issue with the system proposed in the linked post
>>> however, and that is with having the arbitrary hit point cap of
>>> 120.
>> It's in how you define "hit points".  The D&D-style definition
>> includes not just how much damage you can take, but also your
>> ability to *avoid* damage.  That's why a D&D character's armor
>> class doesn't generally get better with higher levels -- the
>> increased hit points reflect improved defensive ability.

> Doesn't this system take some of the drama out of combat? As I
> level a character, I like to see bigger numbers not more 'You
> dodged the blow' messages. Thus if I was in a fight with a dragon
> that could hit hard, for the fight to be viable, he'd have to miss
> an awful lot if I want him to be able to hit as hard as I'd
> like. Sad I know, but it makes it more visceral for me to see
> bigger numbers and I can't be alone. If after two years playing
> and 100 levels, monsters still on average hit me for 10 hit points
> dmg where is the progress?

> Perhaps I'm just over conditioned by games I've played so far.

Personally, I think it's *more* dramatic.  With a D&D-style system,
a 20th-level paladin fighting a dragon can say something like, "Ok,
I know that I can take at least six blows before the dragon will
have any chance at all of killing me, and on average I can take
twelve hits before then.  So I can stay in the fight until he's hit
me five times, then retreat, go use my healing stuff, and come

With this sort of system, though, any blow *could* be one that can
end the fight, if your opponent is lucky enough, or you're unlucky
enough.  To me, to have that constant risk is more dramatic than
being able to count blows.

Further, such systems tend to have something else different from D&D
-- instead of making you harder to hit, armor usually absorbs
damage.  Since more experienced characters will tend to have better
armor, stronger monsters can do more damage on average -- the amount
that *gets through* might not change, but you can still have numbers
that go up.

And, for that matter, if you just really like big numbers, there are
other ways to get the same effect.  The paper RPGs Villains &
Vigilantes, Palladium, and Star Wars (WotC's version, not the old
one) all use a system like this:

 - Characters have an amount of "hit points", which does not go up
 (or goes up very slowly) as they go up in levels.  These represent
 physical ability to take damage.

 - Characters have a second pool of points, called by another name
 (Fatigue in V&V, SDC in Palladium, Vitality in Star Wars).  These
 points represent some or all of the "other factors" in D&D hit
 points.  This pool grows steadily as a character advances.

Here, you still have a large total pool of points.  Combat hits come
first from the second pool, then from hit points once the second
pool is exhausted -- thus, you can have large amounts of damage
thrown around in combat.  However, you also have the option of
having some things bypass the second pool and go straight to hit
points -- e.g., falling damage, pools of lava, critical hits, and
other such things.

> I think I'm going to set up a spreadsheet to model this system
> we've been discussing to try and get a better feel. I definitely
> like it in principle if I can get over a few stumbling blocks.

>>> Of course better armor will factor into the original hp limited
>>> equation too I guess.  Balancing these multidimensional curves
>>> is truly a nightmare. Just because computers allow you to make
>>> complex systems doesn't make us any better at concieving and
>>> understanding the full ramifications of our design decisions ;)

>> It's more difficulty, but I'd hardly call it a nightmare.  Pencil
>> & paper RPGers have been managing to successfully create and use
>> more complex systems than the typical mud game system for more
>> than twenty years now.  Of course, it's possible to go too
>> complicated -- but I think there's a lot of room between a
>> D&D-style system and one that's too complicated to be
>> usable/understandable.

> I'd contend that P&P systems don't need to be as robust as a
> massively multiplayer system for obvious reasons.

Possibly not.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that D&D-style
systems are the only ones that can work for massively multiplayer
games.  And, for that matter, I'll note that not everyone wants to
create a *massively* multiplayer game -- there are a lot of people
on this list, with a lot of different goals.

Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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