Why I keep it low...

Discuss Mongoose RPGs here, such as the OGL rulebooks, Jeremiah, Armageddon 2089 and Macho Women with Guns
User avatar
Clovenhoof
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:32 am
Location: Germania Res Publica Foederalis

Postby Clovenhoof » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:40 pm

I read an article to the same effect about 8 years ago, and I more or less scanned this one. Didn't convince me then, doesn't convince me now, won't convince me in the next eight years either.

What can a level 9 character do that is so "superhuman"?
Sticking to Jump as an example for skills: Jump 12 ranks plus 2 or 3 ability mod - so with "Take 10" he can reliably jump maybe 25 feet. World Record is about 30 feet. And even if he rolls a 20 and makes a 35 ft jump, and crunching the numbers maybe up to 40' - so what? That's just a sign that D20 is. not. a. simulation. of. the. real. world. If it was, any olympic athlete would not reliably jump, say, 27 to 30 ft, but anywhere between 10 and 30 feet, and that is clearly not the case.

The system just doesn't WORK that way. You CANNOT simulate real world physics with D20. It's pointless. If you want to do that, and have PCs that can do no more, no less than real world persons, take a system like Gurps or suchlike. Really.

Trying to nerf a D20 game, whether Conan or not, to a "only what you can do in real life" level is TOTALLY beside the point of a heroic fantasy game.
Have I got a surprise for you. Come closer, I'll show you what it is.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:58 pm

Clovenhoof wrote:I read an article to the same effect about 8 years ago, and I more or less scanned this one. Didn't convince me then, doesn't convince me now, won't convince me in the next eight years either.
If you don't accept the article, then there's no point debating it here. I can't put it any better than Justin did.
What can a level 9 character do that is so "superhuman"?
Again, its in the article.
rabindranath72
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 781
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 2:48 pm
Contact:

Postby rabindranath72 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:42 pm

While you can't simulate the "real world" with d20 (nor with GURPS at that) you can surely put a cap to limit the "heroic-ness" of characters. This is a perfectly valid view (regardless of game system, actually) and in d20 it works quite well if you stop at around 7th level, or even 10th level if you want to be generous. My d20 Conan games capped at 10th level, and they worked very well (also because the returns past that level diminish quite drastically).
--------------------------------------------------
Williams and Holland law:
"Everything can be demonstrated by statistical methods if you have enough data"
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:50 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:While you can't simulate the "real world" with d20 (nor with GURPS at that) you can surely put a cap to limit the "heroic-ness" of characters. This is a perfectly valid view (regardless of game system, actually) and in d20 it works quite well if you stop at around 7th level, or even 10th level if you want to be generous. My d20 Conan games capped at 10th level, and they worked very well (also because the returns past that level diminish quite drastically).
I agree. Eventhough I think Justin has written a superb article, I don't think I'm going to do anything to change my game so that 9th level heroes aren't superhuman. I'm just going to live with it and ignore it and be happy that the same scale is used for all characters, both NPC and PC alike.

It's too much work to re-invent the game, and it works "well enough" as is.
User avatar
Clovenhoof
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:32 am
Location: Germania Res Publica Foederalis

Postby Clovenhoof » Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:13 pm

Supplement Four wrote:If you don't accept the article, then there's no point debating it here. I can't put it any better than Justin did.
What, we can only discuss things we all agree with now?

Then let's talk about hot brownies with ice cream, I think everybody loves these.
Again, its in the article.
Yeah, what's in the article is that D20 doesn't work to recreate real-wold situations. He writes it but fails to acknowledge it. When an athlete performs three long jumps in a row, his results WON'T be like 12, 19, and 27 feet. But that is the kind of result what you will get if you use the D20 system. Still, he fails to see the obvious consequence that his argumentation collapses like a house of cards.

btw, the reason why Gurps, although certainly not "perfect" (it is impossible to simulate physics with a handful of dice), delivers better results is because it uses 3d6, which creates a pretty nice normal distribution. The 1d20 has a way too large random element to simulate any consistency, which is the reason why the Take 10 rule was implemented. Be that as it may, I know enough players who got fed up with Gurps _because_ it keeps producing these "boring 10s".
Have I got a surprise for you. Come closer, I'll show you what it is.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:40 pm

Clovenhoof wrote:Yeah, what's in the article is that D20 doesn't work to recreate real-wold situations. He writes it but fails to acknowledge it.
Actually, he says the opposite--that's its a pretty good system for real-world situations at the lower levels. It's when character rise above 5th that they become super human.
Spectator
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 874
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:02 am
Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Postby Spectator » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:47 pm

C-hoof, I guess it really depends on your style of play. After reading this article and reading Rabinderath's and S4's viewpoints; I am going to adopt a 12th level cut-off.

As I mentioned earlier I may have to jimmy jam some magic pre-requisites, but it should work out pretty well.

Its interesting to think of how this affects character development using the Conan method.

It also makes you think about the ADnD (1st ed) about dual classed characters (not the elven multi-class progression, but the Human dual class). For example a 5th level fighter could be a 1st level thief, but would not gain any HPs contrasted to the Conan method where a 5th level fighter going to be a 1st level thief essentially gains a new level/ hit points and the higher required EXPs to advance.

Neat stuff to wrap your head around if you care to.

I tend to follow your argument C-hoof about the lack of consistency (your long jump scenario pointed it out very well) but in the end I tend to agree that I don't want my spindly legged scholar to be a world class olympian just by his virtue of having 10 levels.

What they point out is just styles of play and for some it makes sense and for others it can be a bummer to encumber heroic fantasy w/ real world conventions.

I think with this regime in place it would be fair to allow a feat every 1 or 2 levels or whatever the current regime is.

OK second edit here: maybe I am trying to nerf things up by adjusting levels for FEAT accumulation or spell stuff.
kintire
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 967
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:48 pm

Postby kintire » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:44 pm

Actually, he says the opposite--that's its a pretty good system for real-world situations at the lower levels. It's when character rise above 5th that they become super human.
Yes, but he is only right for skills where everyone can take 10, like Craft. Any skill that must be rolled works almost exactly unlike real life, because of the huge distribution of the d20 vs the differences in skill levels.

Also, while interesting, i don't think this article supports what your OP says it supports. In particular, I see nothing here about random assignement vs Arrange to taste.

I do see his point about the levels thing, but he seems to be doing things the hard way. Wouldn't it be easier to rename what the DC levels mean?
User avatar
Clovenhoof
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:32 am
Location: Germania Res Publica Foederalis

Postby Clovenhoof » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:07 pm

kintire wrote:Yes, but he is only right for skills where everyone can take 10, like Craft. Any skill that must be rolled works almost exactly unlike real life, because of the huge distribution of the d20 vs the differences in skill levels.
Exactly. That's what I meant above: this Justin guy knows the system, but he ignores some aspects of it that don't support his argument -- the "cherry picking" fallacy -- and subsequently arrives at false conclusions.

To give him some credit, this "level 5 realism" theory has some support when you look at D&D again: due to the absence of a Defense progression by level, you are entirely reliant on magic items to increase your Armour class. Level 5 is pretty much the absolute, definite final point where you still, if barely, may get by without magical AC boosters (normally you get your first magic item around level 3). If you strip a level 20 D&D character of all his gear, he is right back to the Armour Class of a level 1 Freshman.

However, as Conan demonstrates, all you need to do is add a Defense progression to each class, ta-da! No more magic item dependency.
I do see his point about the levels thing, but he seems to be doing things the hard way. Wouldn't it be easier to rename what the DC levels mean?
That would certainly be an option, and one that would go down better with most players, as far as I can tell. Normally players like to be challenged and put their awesome highlevel skills to good use.

If you look at splats like Hyboria's Fiercest, Vince has taken up that approach and set the DCs for most skill checks very high. By his skill tables, you _have_ to be about level 10 to reliable solve (i.e. Take 10) most of these tasks. That kind of sucks for lowlevels, who now find they can't survive in the wilderness anymore, but that's the general problem of a system with such a steep power curve as D20.
No matter how you adjust task DCs - often it's impossible for lowlevels but trivial for highlevels. The core book DCs are adjusted to be possible for lowlevels, and accordingly trivial for midlevels.

The long and short of it is that one should simply pick a system that supports the desired playing style. As I keep saying, if you want realistic simulation, D20 is not for you.

Also, I think that the high levels in D20 are there for a _reason_. TBH I never played a D20 character, D&D or otherwise, higher than level 13 in a pen&paper game. So I can't really say how playable it is at high levels.(the other day I read about a D&D character concept that gets _11_ attacks per Full Attack action, plus whatever AoOs, Cleave or other extra attacks you might get. Rolling out combat with such a character must be pretty tedious.)
My only actual highlevel playing experience is with NWN, on a low-magic online RP server. Since the computer does all the die rolling for you, even epic levels are perfectly playable.
Have I got a surprise for you. Come closer, I'll show you what it is.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:12 pm

Spectator wrote:I am going to adopt a 12th level cut-off.
Which is what the writers of the rule book intended, anyway. Player characters can go their entire careers and never meet an NPC of a level higher than 12th.

See pg. 11-12 of 2E: (This is what I used, along with other tid-bits in the rulebook, to come up with my 1-10 chart I posted earlier.)

1st level - Young, untried adventurers who have just completed "basic training". (In my description, this character is 15-16 years old.)

4th level - More established characters that are a cut above average men. (In my description, this character has 6-10 years experience and is 21-25 years old.)

8th level - Skilled adventurers, famed across the land. (In my descritption, this character is your clan chief, your army general, your local champion. He'll be up there in years, in his mid-40's to early 50's, with a 30+ year career behind him.)

12th level - Exceedingly rare, these are legendary figures whose deeds will be remembered for generations to come. Kings, infamous sorcerers and necromancers, knights of renown, ultimate weapon masters are around this level. (In my game, pick any well-known, well-remembered hero or villian. It is almost unthinkable that a character could reach this high a level of expertise.)

In my game, anything higher than 12th (13-20) is a true marvel, a legend, a myth, rivaling the tales of great heroes we hear today--Arthur pulling the sword from the stone; Robin of the Hood splitting an arrow above Marion's head with his own; David downing Goliath with his sling and stone; the battle between Achillies and Hector.


Neat stuff to wrap your head around if you care to.
I agree.
User avatar
Sting52jb
Mongoose
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:30 am
Location: Christmas Valley, OR

Postby Sting52jb » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:58 pm

Clovenhoof I would have to say if you've actually read though all of Justin's post this guy actually was one of the original playtesters and had the PHB over a full year before it's release. He had a lot of input into the skill system and leveling system so i would say he has a good idea of how it should work.
Vambelte
Stoat
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:33 pm
Location: Brasil

Postby Vambelte » Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:25 pm

Quote:
I do see his point about the levels thing, but he seems to be doing things the hard way. Wouldn't it be easier to rename what the DC levels mean?


That would certainly be an option, and one that would go down better with most players, as far as I can tell. Normally players like to be challenged and put their awesome highlevel skills to good use.

If you look at splats like Hyboria's Fiercest, Vince has taken up that approach and set the DCs for most skill checks very high. By his skill tables, you _have_ to be about level 10 to reliable solve (i.e. Take 10) most of these tasks. That kind of sucks for lowlevels, who now find they can't survive in the wilderness anymore, but that's the general problem of a system with such a steep power curve as D20.
No matter how you adjust task DCs - often it's impossible for lowlevels but trivial for highlevels. The core book DCs are adjusted to be possible for lowlevels, and accordingly trivial for midlevels.
I think it's very much easier to simply adjust the DC's instead of adjusting the whole system.
Fighting power attack since 2005
strategos14
Stoat
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:25 am

Postby strategos14 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:01 pm

absolutely great find Supp. I should make my players read this. those that feel they can't play a barbarian who doesn't start with an 18 strength. this also makes sense that level progression shouldn't be as easy as some people make it. a couple characters i am GM now are 6th level. there reps are high and they're well known because they've had to do a lot to get there. however the NPCs of the world don't increase in level just because they do, so it should be progressively MUCH harder to get from level 3 to 4 and from level 4 to 5 and so on. i though i was stingy with xp (the chart i use) yet now i think i may be not be at all.
i especially like Shamus the traveler. as soon as i started reading this i knew the man clearly had no knowledge of hiking or anything. iv'e done some rough hiking and a player in my group has done much more than i. ya strap 30 pounds of food and clothes and tent to your back in a good pack. tightly and securely. if you carried it stupidly (like Shamus) you wouldn't make it very far.
my cats name is conan
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:35 pm

strategos14 wrote:those that feel they can't play a barbarian who doesn't start with an 18 strength.
Yep. You've got to re-adjust their expectations. It was easy for me because my players were coming in from AD&D 2E, so I just told them that this is how it is in Conan. They don't even know that heroic chargen exists.

I also think that there is a reason that 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste, is the default method in Conan. If you use this default method, not every character is going to even have an 18. But, after racial adjustments, the character could get up there.

I'm playing with just two PCs in my game. I used default chargen, by the book: 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste. Then racial mods (Cimmerian) were applied.

The two heroes turned out like this (1st level).

Thrallan
---------

STR 16
DEX 13
CON 13
INT 10
WIS 12
CHA 10

Caelis
--------

STR 19
DEX 9
CON 13
INT 12
WIS 7
CHA 6



These are much more in-line with what the article says. Poor Caelis has some sub-par stats, but he makes up for it with his STR.

Caelis is basically a normal person blessed with incredible strength. The normal-man array equals 63 points. Caelis has 66.

Thrallan has 74 points which puts him a few points above the elite array of 72 points.
User avatar
Clovenhoof
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:32 am
Location: Germania Res Publica Foederalis

Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:54 am

Hint, adding up the stat scores doesn't get you anywhere. (I also used to do that when I was new to the d20 system, it's a common mistake.)
What's a bit more useful is to add up the Ability Modifiers instead, and that gives us a total of +6 for Thrallan, which is alright for a potential hero, and a total of +1 for Caelis, which is nothing to write home about.

BTW, recently I missed a question of yours, after I said that if Caelis had rolled one point worse he would have gotten to re-roll. Actually I'm not sure if that's in the Conan core book, but it's been in the D&D rules ever since 3E came out on 2000, so it's become kind of natural for me. The rule says, if a character does not have even one score above 13, or a modifier total less than +1, the player gets to re-roll. And Caelis would only have had to roll 1 point worse in Int or Cha to be at a modifier sum of 0 and qualify for a reroll by the D&D rules.
Have I got a surprise for you. Come closer, I'll show you what it is.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:59 am

Clovenhoof wrote:Hint, adding up the stat scores doesn't get you anywhere. (I also used to do that when I was new to the d20 system, it's a common mistake.)
Why not? What's the difference?

What will be skipped if total stat is summed instead of total modifier?

Actually I'm not sure if that's in the Conan core book, but it's been in the D&D rules ever since 3E came out on 2000, so it's become kind of natural for me.
It's not in the Conan 2E book, so that makes the rule optional, at best. I do remember it from 3.0 D&D PHB, though.
And Caelis would only have had to roll 1 point worse in Int or Cha to be at a modifier sum of 0 and qualify for a reroll by the D&D rules.
But, even with the rule, Caelis is an acceptible character.
User avatar
Clovenhoof
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:32 am
Location: Germania Res Publica Foederalis

Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:13 am

Supplement Four wrote:Why not? What's the difference?

What will be skipped if total stat is summed instead of total modifier?
Just the sense of perspective. When you see 63 and 72 points, you think "Ah well, 9 points is not the world, that's just 15% better". But if you compare the modifiers, you might realize "Holy crap, +6 vs. +1, that's 500% better!"
Have I got a surprise for you. Come closer, I'll show you what it is.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:42 pm

Clovenhoof wrote:Just the sense of perspective. When you see 63 and 72 points, you think "Ah well, 9 points is not the world, that's just 15% better". But if you compare the modifiers, you might realize "Holy crap, +6 vs. +1, that's 500% better!"
Ah, that makes sense. It is a better way to compare.

I think both probably have their place: Your method compares relative power; My method compares the PC to the common man or the elite man.
Ichabod
Banded Mongoose
Posts: 355
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 6:42 pm

Postby Ichabod » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:32 pm

In our gaming, if one character has a lot of advantage over another in attributes, people bitch ... like they have forever over one of the characters in our campaign. So, a "+6" character vs. a "+1" character is antifun. If someone really wants to be a sidekick, that's one thing. I find that most people like to be on a level playing field.

On the other hand, I despise point buy in d20. It's kind of funny because I consider it entirely appropriate to buy up attributes for RPGs in general. I just don't like similar attributes, and point buy makes them too similar in a "3-18" system.
Supplement Four
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:28 am

Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:44 pm

Ichabod wrote:In our gaming, if one character has a lot of advantage over another in attributes, people bitch ... like they have forever over one of the characters in our campaign. So, a "+6" character vs. a "+1" character is antifun.
My group is definitely anti-point-buy. And, although they'd prefer to roll a bad-ass character, the thing they like is that they rolled it. For us, it's special if someone rolls an 18 stat (my normal gaming group is bigger than just the two players I have in my Conan game).

So, I guess I'm lucky that they prefer what I prefer.

I really don't like the level playing field at all. What we do is roll the character and then try to play to that character's strengths, whatever they may be.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests