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

Jon Lambert tychomud at ix.netcom.com
Fri Aug 17 23:03:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

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.

I use hit points to measure the amount of structural damage that 
can be done to a critter (or PC) before it falls unconscious.  

A short example.... 

  species base hit points (average)

    rat   -   5
    elf   -  50
    dwarf -  50
    human -  60
    deer  - 130   
    hill giant - 200
    cyclops - 450
    mature red dragon - 600
    leviathon - 1300

This base can range up or down based on age or stamina.  In the case
of player characters they must spend points in conditioning their
body.  In any case it can't exceed it by 2x regardless of normal
conditioning.  Thus the 120 "natural" limit for a human PC.  Also
I'm profession based.  A soldier would be able to condition their
body at roughly 4 times faster than a mystic because of differing
development costs.

> I've not thought about it too much, but it seems to me that by
> putting a limit in you are setting yourself up for difficulty in
> the future. Of course if you don't have it, then as people level,
> the chances of David get vanishingly slim against Goliath.

Ah but levels play no direct role in combat.  Only skills do.  So a
60th level mystic with a 40 dagger skill is in fact the combat
inferior to a 20th level soldier with a 50 sword skill.  Assuming of
course, the mystic happens to have been caught with all his power
(mana) tapped out.  Because of different training rates there's no
way a mystic can keep up with the soldier in the various combat
skills, including defensive ones.

The other thing is all weapons of a given class do roughly the same
damage.  Magical adders are limited (+10 to +15).  Stats do
influence the damage for a given class of weapon as does armor.
Bonuses for Strength and Dexterity to attacks vary by class of

The above soldier with a broadsword could do up to 38 points maximum
damage on a hit, while the mystic with the dagger could ony do a
maximum of 18 damage.  Now I also have a locational critical hit
system which could pile on up to 25 points more of damage along with
various types of wounding from making limbs useless to regular blood
loss all the way up to instadeath.  And just for giggles, a .50
caliber machine gun could do up to 220 max damage per shot.
Obviously a beefed up 120 hit point human (level 100) can be capped
in one shot by a 10 hit point level 1 child.

A handy side effect is I can use very similar tables for damaging
objects like chests, doors, trees, walls, equipment, etc.  That is
all objects have an average base hit points.  Objects vary based on
material instead of stamina.

>  This goes > against my instincts though in that I think continual
>  character > improvement is key to this type of game.

Continual character improvement in what though?  Aren't skills,
position and wealth enough?  *grin*

The D&D/Diku leveling system has a power curve where a character's
power = level to the nth power, where n is some constant greater
than 1.  The system I describe above is actually more like power =
level ~log level because skill gains actually decrease as one rises
in levels.

For example:

  skill  rank adder  
  sword    1   3
  sword    5  15
  sword   10  30
  sword   20  50
  sword   30  60
  sword   40  65
  sword   50  70

As you may have noticed the level abstraction isn't gone it's merely
been moved to a finer level of granularity, skill ranks or levels.

The system is also set up for ever increasing experience point cost
for progressive levels.  Levels just buy you a chance to earn more
points to spedn on skills and other things.  While I've capped the
levels, in theory, one could leave it open ended.

Another side effect is that high-level characters have reason to
interact with lower level characters since a particular skill level
is really the determinant.  For example a level 50 soldier can group
with a level 15 healer since the healer is likely going to be a
sufficient help to them (goes back to hit points).

> 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 ;)

I handle armor almost completely opposite to D&D and Diku.  Armor in
my world lessens damage only.  And the less armored a target is the
better chance a character has to hit it.  Meaning the naked Tarzan
is harder to hit than the fully armored Lancelot.  But if one does
hit the damage to the plate armored target will be far less than the
damage to the unarmored target.  In addition the attacker wearing
armor also incurs a penalty in their chance to hit against an
unarmored (unencubered) target.
Ideally this encourages highly dexterous characters to go with the
loin cloth look or with the lightly leathered Xena look.  I've
always thought it rather disturbing for everyone on a fantasy mud to
run around buttoned up like an armored T-34.

> Another thing I've been thinking off is how to efficiently model
> dmg curves for a weapon if I don't want to stick with a linear
> probability or standard bell curve. I think it would be nice to
> literally drag points on a graph.  You could then have weapons
> with a mean dmg of 20 but a potential dmg of 200 every 1 in 200
> blows. In fact if you had weapons that had negative points on the
> graph, they could even dmg the user at times (well its a dangerous
> weapon /shrug - hell I've smacked myself with a pair of nun-chucks
> :). With that weapon that randomly does 200 dmg, you are also
> helping out the low level player who wields it - if he gets lucky
> there, then he could indeed take out a high level.

Exactly.  I index weapon/attack types to armor types and that
determines the mean damage.  Fumbles and critical hits provide for
the unlucky or lucky shots.

> This all takes me back to the difficulty of working out all the
> compound probabilities of success - especially as I don't want to
> sledge hammer the problem by capping things at given levels.

The aforementioned system is a modified for mud version of my home
rules for the Rolemaster P&P FRPG.  RM as it stands is far too
complex and cumbersome to play using all the core rules.  Thus most
people who play it have adopted shortcuts and drop certain high
maintenance portions of the rules.

> P.S. As an aside I really like it when people link to previous
> discussions as there is great info there some of which could be
> further explored.  Otherwise we tend to get the problem whereby
> the old hands have no interest in covering old ground again and
> again for relatively new people like myself. Whilst the new people
> just go round in circles

So do I.  I would have provide links but the kanga.nu search engine
is really a dog now. [list owner alert] :-(

--* Jon A. Lambert - TychoMUD        Email:jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com *--
--* Mud Server Developer's Page <http://tychomud.home.netcom.com> *--
--* If I had known it was harmless, I would have killed it myself.*--

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