Complexity

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Complexity

Postby Zip » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:34 am

Has the Conan 2ed combat been streamlined?

I love the Conan setting but I'm a bit concerned that the combat system is a bit too involved. As I mentioned in another post, I would like to introduce my 8 year old to it.

D20 sounds relatively straight forward, roll over a DC. But how does the combat work?

Also, can AoO be dropped without upsetting game balace? And does combat suffer if you don't use minatures?

Thank you in advance
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Postby Oly » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:15 am

Conan D20 is a complicated system, that's not a criticism it's a fact.

True enough the core rules are relatively simple, roll over a DC.

However the complications begin with a large library of feats, many of which do something to alter the base rules, and even the skills can become quite complicated to cover a wide variety of situations. For example the tumble skill which has several different uses.

AoO can be dropped from the game but the problem is that many of the combat options, feats and some of the skills hinge upon AoOs being in use. For example one of the key uses of tumble is to move through, or over, enemies without triggering AoOs. Without AoOs being in use it becomes a lot less valuable.

I very rarely play with miniatures but again because AoOs are a pretty key part of the system and with my players buying the feats that latch in to them I find I often have to keep track of at least the 5 foot squares around a player. I also have to be pretty precise with what's going on movement wise otherwise the players who have put an effort into building their characters feel somewhat cheated that they're suddenly not able to use a key part of their abilities.

I think I'm with those who say that for an 8 year old I would pick a simpler game and a more child friendly setting. To me what makes Conan special is the grim mood, the gore, the horrors, the sex and the general level violence and cruelty of man to his fellow man. With all those taken out it becomes a pretty boring fantasy setting what with lacking high fantasy magic and monsters.

Years ago I cut my teeth with a high fantasy playing of the Warhammer RPG (less emphasis on the darkness and more on the goblins, orcs and treasure), the Star Wars D6 game (very simple system) and Call of Cthulhu played 1920s Indiana Jones style.

I think the key similarities of all those systems is that they were simple. Characters didn't have a whole lot of unique special abilities and combat was kinda skimpy in detail. You moved and attacked, you didn't have the choice of dozens of different kinds of attack actions all of which can be changed by feats.

As an older gamer I appreciate the level of detail in the Conan system.

However I see Conan as having two main pillars. One being the detailed combat, the other being the adult setting. Modifying both to make it child friendly just seems to bring the game down off of it's high level.
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Postby Zip » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:57 am

It's so frustrating, as it doesn't look like it's an option anymore.

Gutted.
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Postby Krushnak » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:22 pm

Has the Conan 2ed combat been streamlined?
It's the same as in normal d&d d20 except it allows further options and customisation with the combat procedures which are entirely optional.
Also, can AoO be dropped without upsetting game balace?
Yes it can you just have to watch out for a few feats that are based around AoO. Assuming your going to be assisting your son creating his character so it really should be nothing to worry about. One thing you should be pleased to know is that they have an option for simplifying AoO in 2nd ed, basically whenever someone tries to run from melee combat is when it comes into play.
And does combat suffer if you don't use minatures?
Not at all. Ive never used minis in my game and only on a couple of occasions have i scribbled something down on scrap paper because it involved over 30 combatants. I have played in other games which we did use minis, it really does help to provide a visual link with the action and is especially cool if you've got a good mini to represent your character.

The best thing to do if you get the book is sit down and make a character with your son and practice the combat rules with him to help both of you get a hang of it. Leave out all of the procedures at first and when you've got a hang of the basics start adding in all the extras.
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Postby Yogah of Yag » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:59 pm

AoO's can't be dropped because it will make combat much less realistic.
In the d20 system AoO's and grapple rules were the hardest to learn.

d20 is complicated. You'll figure out the Tax Code sooner. :lol:

Learn First Edition Dungeons & Dragons! :D

http://www.dragonsfoot.org
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Postby Zip » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:04 pm

Played 1st Ed, basic, the lot.

Can't be harder than MERP...surely?
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Postby Oly » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:17 pm

Zip wrote:Played 1st Ed, basic, the lot.

Can't be harder than MERP...surely?
MERP, as best as I can remember it, had some very simple mechanics (modified percentile rolls to attack) but a very complicated resolution system where you had to look all sorts of things up on tables.

Conan D20 has a very simple resolution system where you usually pass a difficulty or you don't but very complicated mechanics where all manner of feats and special abilities changes the rules for what different characters can actually do.

I hope I'm using the right terms.

By mechanics I mean what goes into making the roll and what sort of roll you're making.

By resolution I mean what happens after the dice have been rolled.

In MERP, as a player, I don't remember having to learn what all the abilities of my character could do. The GM then just used to have to do the table crunching behind the scenes.

In Conan D20 my players need special little cards detailing what each of their things can do.

In effect not only are the core rules of D20 really quite complicated (I mean look at the grapple rules) but feats and special abilities often modify those rules and introduce new ones of their own.

I'll add my usual note that I'm not knocking Conan D20 in any of this, to me it all seems to be just statements of fact. That of all the systems I own, and I own a lot, I run Conan using the Conan D20 system the most says an awful lot.
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Re: Complexity

Postby sgstyrsky » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:36 pm

Zip wrote: And does combat suffer if you don't use minatures?
Heck no. Everyone who played 1st ed D&D as a kid knows that miniatures are not nearly as important as people might think. Sure, you get crazy situations where 10 guys are swinging swords in a 10x10 room but who cares. You're having fun, defeating bad guys, and finding loot. Your 8 year old won't care if combat suffers. He won't even know.

I have a son too (although I waited until he was 12 to introduce him to D&D and Conan) and we play without miniatures. I thought the lack of miniatures would hamper us, but I realized that a child's imagination makes up for this. He has fun, just like I did with that basic set more than two decades (!) ago.

Also, when I introduced my son to RPGs we didn't worry about AoO or grappling. He was more interested in feats such as Stealthy or Weapon Focus than Combat Reflexes in any case so it wasn't a loss. But now that we've been playing for a bit our character generation has gotten more sophisticated and so has our combat.

I say go for it. Ease yourself into the complexities of the game. Don't worry about learning it all at once.
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Postby Zip » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:39 pm

All good advice, but it sounds to me like it is still a rather complex game, without having the usual suspects involved.

Guess I'll just go with my gut feeling and give it a go.

How would the new 4ed affect Conan 2ed? If at all
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Postby Strom » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:12 am

Zip wrote:

How would the new 4ed affect Conan 2ed? If at all
You might want to checkout some topics below this one discussing that very issue.
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Postby Azgulor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:34 am

Zip wrote:All good advice, but it sounds to me like it is still a rather complex game, without having the usual suspects involved.

Guess I'll just go with my gut feeling and give it a go.

How would the new 4ed affect Conan 2ed? If at all
You can also save yourself some time - NO.

(For a longer answer...)
The 4e OGL by all available indicators will be more restrictive. Conan OGL, as it exists today, couldn't be created from the 4e OGL. The PHB would be a requirement, so no 1 and done RPG book. It remains to be seen if other elements will be restricted as well.

4e is upping the character power level even further into the high fantasy realm. By forcing it to be part of any OGL product/game, it may not be possible to strip out the high fantasy aspects enough to still call it Conan.

Also, with 2e just having been released, it seems rather silly to convert Conan. Especially when the RPGs current fanbase are not clamoring for such a conversion.
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Postby Azgulor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:46 am

Zip wrote:All good advice, but it sounds to me like it is still a rather complex game, without having the usual suspects involved.

Guess I'll just go with my gut feeling and give it a go.

How would the new 4ed affect Conan 2ed? If at all
If you feel you MUST play 100% rules-as-written, then yeah the complexity might be on the high side for a new player, especially an 8 year old.

I'm 37 and when I introduced Conan to my RPG group (all 30-somethings), I didn't try to account for 100% of the rules out of the gate. AoO came later. Combat Maneuvers came later. House rules for campaign particulars came later.

Sometimes we use miniatures. Sometimes we don't.

While removing some elements might "water down" the Conan experience, your child won't know it b/c there's nothing to compare it to. You're ok with removing the adult material - you have to as a responsible parent. But I'm sure some purists would argue you aren't playing Conan by doing so. I disagree. It's YOUR game. If you and your child are having fun, who cares?

As you and your child grow more comfortable with the rules, you can add additional elements back in.

As someone who frequently does this himself, I think perhaps you're overanalyzing a bit. People can say Combat Maneuvers are essential to the "essence" of the Conan RPG. I say they're an ingredient. I mean, are you really going to introduce "Decapitating Slash" to an 8-year old or are you more likely to focus on Power Attack?

But when you're kid's 12, Decapitating Slash is going to seem pretty damn cool...
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Postby sgstyrsky » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:29 pm

Azgulor wrote:But when you're kid's 12, Decapitating Slash is going to seem pretty damn cool...
Speaking from experience, I second that.
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Postby Timestheus » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:49 pm

If you want simple and a setting that is appropriate for a kid them definitely go with the Weg D6 system for StarWars.

As fasr as I know WEG put the system out for free fairly recently. Also being Star Wars makes it easy for your kid to know the setting right off the back.

A further bonus is that the style of the Weg system means with very little work you can convert it to any genre you want by just emphasizing different skills and adding a few new ones.
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Postby Sutek » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:17 pm

WEG d6 Star Wars is long out of print, unfortunately. Now it's all WotC d20.

Still, that set is a great intro to RPGing and is simpler, but still evokes the feel of the films.

Personally, the feats list is the most daunting thing about d20, and Star Wars is no exception. However, the game can totally be played without ever involving feates. Or, as an option, you can give them out as GM as if they were awards. Kids love getting cool stunts and powers for free, and it means a lot more to them that EXP depending on thier age. Older kids get the EXP awards system and aren't usually disappointed that they still ahve furtther to go. Young kids rolling dice, adding up bonuses and getting to rescue people from vicious monsters don't need the feats or all the skills. And, the beauty of the d20 system is that you don't need them to play. You only really need what's in the race and class profile; AC, BAB, Parry/Dodge, REF, FORT, WILL, HP....that's about it.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:10 pm

If you remove attacks of opportunity (retaining just attacks when someone flees a combat at full speed), you can get rid of many feats (which is a VERY GOOD THING). You end up with something which resembles d20 Call of Cthulhu, which is quite manageable, despite being d20.

You also may want to remove all those feats which simply add bonuses to skills. I could never see the point of these, since skills are bought with skill points so their advancement is free-form anyway.

Other feats you could remove are all those "Improved this, improved that". They are quite lame.

The really useful feats are those in the 3.0 SRD (NOT the recent SRD), plus the Sorcery feats.

Also combat maneuvers are quite time-consuming, and do not add much to the game.

Overall, you should strive for a level of complexity between D&D 3.0 and d20 Call of Cthulhu. I tried it with my Conan games, and things worked very well. Much better than the standard d20 Conan system.
Besides, you do not even need miniatures to play in this way, whereas the 3.5 (and Conan) systems practically require miniatures (at least if you want to play BtB).
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Postby Krushnak » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:45 pm

Other feats you could remove are all those "Improved this, improved that". They are quite lame. Also combat maneuvers are quite time-consuming, and do not add much to the game.
Myself and my players would have to disagree with you on both statements, They use the improved feats and combat maneuvers alot in combat and we find it doesnt slow anything down but does make the fights more dynamic. Also its nice to gain some benefits to your character without having to spend your precious feats on them. To each his own i guess.
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Postby LilithsThrall » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:51 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:If you remove attacks of opportunity (retaining just attacks when someone flees a combat at full speed), you can get rid of many feats (which is a VERY GOOD THING). You end up with something which resembles d20 Call of Cthulhu, which is quite manageable, despite being d20.

You also may want to remove all those feats which simply add bonuses to skills. I could never see the point of these, since skills are bought with skill points so their advancement is free-form anyway.

Other feats you could remove are all those "Improved this, improved that". They are quite lame.

The really useful feats are those in the 3.0 SRD (NOT the recent SRD), plus the Sorcery feats.

Also combat maneuvers are quite time-consuming, and do not add much to the game.

Overall, you should strive for a level of complexity between D&D 3.0 and d20 Call of Cthulhu. I tried it with my Conan games, and things worked very well. Much better than the standard d20 Conan system.
Besides, you do not even need miniatures to play in this way, whereas the 3.5 (and Conan) systems practically require miniatures (at least if you want to play BtB).
I like the way you're thinking, but I don't think you're taking it far enough. Feats add complexity because they allow characters to be customized towards a concept. Because they add complexity, they slow down the game. So, you argue to remove them. But why just specific feats and not others? That seems awfully arbitrary to me (and all the more arbitrary because you haven't explained -why- you advocate for only some feats to be removed and not others).
So, rather than stop at some arbitrary point, why not go all the way? Remove all feats. Remove all but one spell (call it "Doom", but it shouldn't be a spell cast very often, once in the lifetime of the campaign should be sufficient, if it can only be cast once, though, it should be a doozy, so "cast this spell and you win the game" should be sufficient). Remove all classes, but one. Remove all saving throws, but one (call it "resist doom"). Make all weapons do 1d6 damage.
There's a lot of things that can be done to speed up the game.

Or, you could try to maximize fun rather than how quickly and easily actions are resolved..-nah, who'd want that?
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Postby Sutek » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:39 am

Iagree. To streamline d20, it's best to remove all Feats or none. There's not much point to them unless you intend to really get into customizing a path for your character. The original idea was to take complexity out of the game enough for a young novice player (at least that's how I interpreted the question), and since Feats aren't necessary they can easily be ignored. Pretty much anything after the Character chapter can be ignored, really.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:24 pm

1) I would remove feats that give bonuses to skills. There are skill points for this, so there is no point in adding still other bonuses.
2) Feats which depend on skills ranks, levels, other feats etc. pose a serious problem when creating high level characters, since they introduce cross dependencies that make character creation slow and error prone.
3) Many feats are simply "improved X". Thematically they do not add much to a character, just a larger bonus. I can easily do without these, too.
4) NO AOO-related feats IN WHATEVER FORM!

Essentially, I would aim for a feat set that is close to D&D 3.0. Therein, you only found feats which could mostly be seen as "special abilities".

AOO are the worst offenders w.r.t the slowness of combats, due to the need to use maps to adjudicate them correctly. Since I do not like using maps, I remove them.

Finally, I simplify the grappling rules to those used in C&C.
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