Massive Damage...as a Reflex Check?

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Massive Damage...as a Reflex Check?

Postby Supplement Four » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:04 pm

Does it make sense that the check against Massive Damage is a Fortitude check? I see the angle, but doesn't it make more sense to go with a Reflex check since that would indicate that you've averted/dodged the most hurtful part of the blow?

About a decade ago, I was slicing the waves on a Jet Ski (acutally, they were Sea-Doo's) when this idiot hot dog ex-friend of mine was negligent and slammed into me. He almost killed me. Doc said my spine was almost severed, had it been about half an inch to the right.

I made my Massive Damage save, you could say. But, it wasn't about me and my body withstanding the damage because I'm so tough. It was the luck that the damage didn't hit where it could have done the most harm to me.

That's a Reflex Save.

Thoughts?
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Postby Spectator » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:29 pm

I guess playing devils advocate here, I'd say NO way for the Dex based save.
It opens up a can of worms because then the scholar who might have to save for MD then says {I want an INT based save!). GM inquires and PC says "Well I knew I going to get walloped, but using my knowledge of anatomy I tried to avoid the hit to artery by offering the attacker this body part, or whatever..."
Then the Wisdom based dude says well if he can do that with DEX, and he can do that with Int, why can't I be using my Wis bonus, after all isn't it wise to avoid stupid combat manuevers that may expose me to critical hits???

PERSONALLY I HATE MD. I think its a flawed rule, but if you do use it, then stick to the RAW.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:00 pm

Yeah, I think the point is that Soldiers and suchlike should be good at MD saves. If you replaced Fort with Ref for MD, it wouldn't hurt Barbarians and suchlike much, be beneficial for the Thief and Temptress, and shaft the Soldier.
If you said "Fort or Ref by player's choice" you'd do the Thief and Temptress a favour without harming anyone else, but then you'd soon get Nobles and Scholars asking for a Will save, and in the end everyone is good at MD saves.

Little anecdote:
I think in our last game it happened only once that a PC had to roll MD... and that was the Temptress. D'oh! Well, she made her save -- player has always been notoriously lucky with her dice. But even if she had failed it, she'd have had a pile of Fate Points to be Left for Dead.
(besides we always kept the AE rule for Massive Damage, i.e. on a failed save you aren't at -10 and dead, but -1 and dying)
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:02 am

Clovenhoof wrote:Yeah, I think the point is that Soldiers and suchlike should be good at MD saves.
That's a very good point, Clove.

Little anecdote:
I think in our last game it happened only once that a PC had to roll MD...
Yeah, I was looking at the rule and looking at damage the weapons distribute. 20 points is going to be hard to hit unless a Critical Hit is made.

This is another reason, btw, that I don't use heroic chargen and stick to default chargen. I wouldn't want my heroes doing massive damage every hit.

I think it's a good, balanced rule, that captures the Conan feel.

The way you keep the PCs alive, though, is to make sure they've got Fate Points.

Since I require a check to see how many Fate Points are spent, I decided today that, among other ways, I'm going to give 3 FPs to a character when he levels up. And, I'm going to give a FP to a character when a natural 20 is thrown in combat.

Plus, a character can get them for heroic actions--and I might even give them out for great in-game strategic ideas, maybe a good roleplayign session, or even for accomplishing a story goal.

My players won't be swimming in them, but I do want to keep the PCs alive while keeping the game deadly. FPs are certainly a way to do that. And, the way I make my players check to see if a FP can be used, it can cost 2 or 3 FPs for a single use.
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Postby strategos14 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:06 pm

i could see an argument for both ways but i wouldn't want to open a can of worms. basically i'd say that you already got hit. your defense didn't avoid it so now its up to your physical body and the Gods to see if you can survive it
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:21 pm

strategos14 wrote:i could see an argument for both ways but i wouldn't want to open a can of worms.
Yeah, I'm not going to change it in my game, either. Not because I don't think Reflex is a better option (acutally, something based on Luck or Fate would be ideal), but for the Rule of Unintended Consquences.

I never change an official rule unless its absolutley necessary. I've learned, though the years, that it's hard to think of every complication and impact a rule change can have on a game.

For example, I wasn't thinking what Clove brought up--the effect of changing Fort MD saves to Reflex on Soldiers.

Leave the rules as they are, is my mantra, unless they absolutely have to be changed.
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Postby strategos14 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:27 pm

yep. you can make an "argument" for a lot of little changes here and there but if it's not NECESSARY than i say by the book. in fact i've always been a "by the book" guy. sometimes to a fault.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:36 am

Supplement Four wrote:Yeah, I was looking at the rule and looking at damage the weapons distribute. 20 points is going to be hard to hit unless a Critical Hit is made.
Or unless one uses Two-Handed Power Attack with a Bardiche (or Greatsword). You don't even need excessive Strength when you can trade 5 Attack for 10 Damage. A mid-level fighter (Barbarian or whatever) will cause MD on practically every single hit.

For this reason, in our last game we used a more generous point buy, but agreed on not doubling the bonus damage for two-handed Power Attack, and that there were no Bardiches or Greatsword in the game, neither for us not for NPCs. (We called this the Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Ban.) My own character used a War Sword, two handed at most times but it was good to be able to go back to sword&board in a tight spot.
MD was also pretty scarce in that game; theoretically possible on a good damage roll with some PA, in practice usually only on a critical hit.
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:53 am

Clovenhoof wrote:Or unless one uses Two-Handed Power Attack with a Bardiche (or Greatsword). You don't even need excessive Strength when you can trade 5 Attack for 10 Damage. A mid-level fighter (Barbarian or whatever) will cause MD on practically every single hit.
It sounds like that Feat is the problem, not the MD rule. First, I'd drop the two-handed bonus to 1.5 x damage instead of double, just like a regular two-handed attack.

Next, maybe cap the Power Attack to -4/+4? That way, with a two handed weapon, it would be -4/+6.

Or, maybe just drop the "Special" section of the Power Attack Feat all-together.

Then, you're back in business*.

I'd definitely keep the stats lower, using default chargen, though.





*What I might do in my game is rule some weapons as too heavy and slow to make Power Attack effective. Bardiche and greatsword would fall into these categories so that Power Attack cannot be used with those particlar weapons.

Or--

What about reversing the Special rule. Make it -2 to hit for each extra +1 of damage.

There's lots of ways you can adjust that rule to make it viable with Massive Damage.



EDIT: The bardiche/warsword thing is an excellent argument, btw, of having weapon speed factors in the game. Those big-ass, heavy weapons, like the great warsword, should be a bitch to carry. Any character using a big, mean, damage dealing weapon should also be skewed to going last in the round.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:09 am

Yeah, the problem is an unlucky synergy between standard D&D 3.5 rules (the two-handed power attack didn't give double bonus in 3.0) and special Conan rules like HP cap and Massive Damage.

Another such anti-synergy is Two-weapon Fighting versus Damage-Reducing Armour. What DR practically means is that a few hits with high damage are better than many hits with low damage, even if the damage total is the same. In D&D, Armour does not provide DR, and even there TWF is a sub-par fighting style for most characters (pretty much anyone except Rogues and Epic Rangers). In Conan, it is even worse because you need to use at least one Light Weapon, which can't benefit from Power Attack, and most of the damage will get soaked up by the armour, whereas a power-attacking two-hander will just cleave right through.

If you cap the maximum Power Attack, I'd set it at -5/+5, as it used to be in D&D 3.0 as well. In 3.0, PA was a sub-par feat because it _reduced_ your average damage output, but again this is different in a scenario where opponents have Damage Reduction.

However, Power Attack _especially_ makes sense with heavy weapons, may they be slow or not. That's the idea behind it; mighty swings that may be too clumsy to find their target, but really hurt when they do.
Note, again, how you can't use PA with Light Weapons as per rules as written - they simply don't have enough momentum to make use of the extra force you lay into the blow.
(That rule may or may not make sense, but it's there.)
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:31 pm

Clovenhoof wrote:Yeah, the problem is an unlucky synergy between standard D&D 3.5 rules (the two-handed power attack didn't give double bonus in 3.0) and special Conan rules like HP cap and Massive Damage.
Ah, that makes sense. I think the solution is clear, then. Simply go back to the 3.0 version of the Feat. Don't allow the doubling. That should balance it out.

I still think speed factors should be in the game, though. Those were a strength of AD&D 2E. (Although I like initiative without them--I'd like to find a way to employ speed factors without modifying the nish roll.)

And, I always liked the 1E AD&D rule where, on the first round of combat, the longer weapon struck first, but on round two and later, the shorter weapon struck first. That allowed the reach (or just longer) weapon to get in heavy damage on the first round but then allow for the opponent with the shorter weapon to get inside and have the upper hand starting on round two.

And if tie was a result of nish (a simple d6 is thrown with no modifiers, so ties are fairly common), the speed factors of the weapons were compared. If the SF for the smaller weapon was at least half or less than half the SF of the larger weapon, then the character with the smaller weapon got a freebie attack.

So, that made for some structured, but logical and interesting, fights.

If you had a longsword (1d8 damage) and you fought someone using a shortsword (1d6) damage, then longsword would attack first on the first round, but the shortsword would attack first starting on round 2 until the end of the fight. IIRC, the SF of the shortsword is too high to get the extra attack if a tie on the d6 nish roll occurs.

Of course, weapon length is addressed using the optional rule in Conan. Of course, this is just another bonus to having a longer weapon, and there should be some benefit in the game for using a lighter, quicker weapon.


What DR practically means is that a few hits with high damage are better than many hits with low damage, even if the damage total is the same.
That doesn't look like an issue to me. One blow of 20 points damage is worse than receiving two blows of 10 points each. Looks like the rules reflect that.

If you cap the maximum Power Attack, I'd set it at -5/+5, as it used to be in D&D 3.0 as well.
I thought I'd seen the -5/+5 cap on Power Attack, but when I re-read it, it wasn't there. (I default to the 2E book.)
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Postby Ichabod » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:22 pm

Few things:

We rarely have attacks against us that force MDSs. In any fight where we can force MDSs on the opponents, however, not achieving one basically means doing nothing.

Forcing MDSs is ludicrously easy with either one of two builds. See any thief for cases where it isn't just Power Attack. Then, crits with high damage weapons, Mighty Blow, and the like can sub for Power Attack to where high STR and high damage weapons rule even without it.

Is it good or bad that MDSs are common? It's really annoying when coming up with challenges for parties that the party can just effortlessly wipe stuff. But, what about when dealing damage to the party? It's not terribly good to the party at lower levels where saves aren't good enough to consistently make the rolls. It's not fun, nor seemingly fair, when you lose over a hundred HP because the first hit you take results in one missed roll. But, if you take it away, combat becomes a war of attrition every single time. All of the sudden, my 131 HP is just a tedious grind time after time.

Fair number of things we fight can't be MDSed out of existence to provide a real challenge (barbarian averages 40+ damage per hit, former party member thief is going to one shot everything susceptible to Sneak Attack). It's occasionally interesting and occasionally a grind when the barbarian isn't in involved. When he is, it's even less interesting because while he won't MDS something, he is still doing twice as much damage with every hit, so you don't even get to kill anything while you watch the killing machine pound on stuff. (Of course, there are tons of ways to fix these sorts of problems with characters horribly overshadowing others, but they require effort on the GM's part.)

Let's say it is a good thing that MDSs are a significant part of combat. There's still the obvious problem that you either go high STR with high damage weapon or you go massive Sneak Attack. Most folks seem to want to nerf one or both, but that just leads to fewer MDSs. I find that the greater frustration isn't that someone else forces one every hit, but that other builds can't.

In other words, if MDSs are good, they should be way easier for everyone to achieve. Critting with a dagger is meaningless, yet killing someone with a lucky knifing seems entirely appropriate. 20th level characters not built for combat can be utterly ineffectual even against 5th level characters designed for combat. For the former, can change crits to not use damage multiples, but crits are highly random, generally bad for the party, and the math becomes messy on what the real impact is. For the latter, I'm inclined to believe that the Saga system of adding damage based on level makes sense. Though, while it makes higher level NPCs more dangerous to parties, it also exacerbates the effect of level difference in the game. Still, the less effort it requires to deal lethal damage, the less combat feats and less focus on STR characters need, so they can branch out into more interesting areas.
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:38 pm

Ichabod wrote:For the latter, I'm inclined to believe that the Saga system of adding damage based on level makes sense.
I've heard a lot of positive things about Star Wars Saga. I'm going to have to check it out.

Wasn't it a pre-cursor to 4E, though?
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Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:42 pm

Note how other systems like for example Savage Worlds (to which we switched our campaign earlier this year) simulate combat. In SW, the key feature is that the system discriminates between "Wild Cards" (PCs and important NPCs) and "Extras" (unimportant NPCs).
Extras have pretty much the same damage potential as Wild Cards - i.e. it doesn't take too odd a roll to dish out really heavy damage. The difference is that Extras go down from their first wound, while Wild Cards can take up to three wounds and still keep going. Also Wild Cards have a kind of Fate Points (called Bennies in SW) that can be used to Soak, i.e. negate wounds.

The best thing about this system is that fights really go frickin fast; we often start out with an opposition of ~30 NPCs (usually mostly Extras with one or two WCs), and it never seems to take very long - it doesn't get boring, as there is no attrition factor.
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:49 pm

Clovenhoof wrote:The difference is that Extras go down from their first wound, while Wild Cards can take up to three wounds and still keep going.
I don't think I'd like that at all. I can buy that some races aren't as strong as others--reflected in HD in D&D (kobolds, for example, vs hobgoblins). But, that's because it's believeable because of the racial difference. I can't see it with humans, even humans of different cultures. Wouldn't work for me at all in the Conan game.

Heck, I don't think I'd like that approach in any game. It makes the NPCs too "card board, 2-dimensional". They're just red shirts waiting to die. "Hey! What's my name, man! Do I have a name?"

OTOH, I do see the benefit to game play having a quick system to resolve NPC fights. I developed one for Conan just recently for my own game.
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Postby Ichabod » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:07 pm

Supplement Four wrote:Heck, I don't think I'd like that approach in any game. It makes the NPCs too "card board, 2-dimensional". They're just red shirts waiting to die. "Hey! What's my name, man! Do I have a name?"
This is what the rule is intended to simulate - the extras. Feng Shui, 4e D&D, and others all have mook rules to have PCs be able to wade through a bunch of extras without getting bogged down in endless combats. Specifically, in Feng Shui, if someone has a name, then the character uses the named characters rules for combat.

As for switching systems, as I have been running a Solomon Kane game, I'm familiar enough with Savage Worlds. My Conan GM seems to prefer it, having gotten generally tired of d20. So, if we start up another Conan game, I can see a reasonable chance of switching systems.

It does handle extras better. I can't really argue against the system as it works well enough, but for whatever reason, it just doesn't thrill me. I'd much rather use L5R. I don't really have an opinion on 4e, but the only problem I had with 3e was how accidentally lethal it could be, which I think can be solved with some sort of additional death check rules.
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:55 pm

Ichabod wrote:I can't really argue against the system as it works well enough, but for whatever reason, it just doesn't thrill me.
I'm with ya. I see the "why" of it, but I don't like it. Personal taste. I want the NPCs to have more of a chance. That rule makes the game world less believeable to me--like the mooks are going to die no matter what. They don't even have a 1% chance.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:49 pm

Don't be so sure about that, especially before you try it. Actually we had several Near-Wipes just from fights with a bunch of Extras. Yes, they don't take much damage (but not every Hit automatically results in a wound; Toughness (=CON) and Armour also play a role there. But they dish out pretty much just like PCs. In fact, many SW players feel the Extras have _too much_ Hurt potential and use various house or optional rules to make them less lethal.

What SW conveys very well is a feeling of "Battletide". Initiative is very important. (Ini cards are dealt every round, but that's nothing new for us, we also rolled Ini every round in D20.) The dealing of a Joker can turn pretty much any fight around, since the character / Ini group gets to act first and receives +2 to all attack, damage and any other rolls. Since the deck is reshuffled only after a Joker was dealt, the odds of a Joker coming into play rise with every round.
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Postby strategos14 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:33 pm

i bit off subject but every time i think about a smaller weapons maybe having greater speed, i remind myself that any speed advantage that weapon by itself may have is offset by the reach of a larger weapon. look up real replicas and swordfighting of the middle ages. a bastard sword, a claymore, a one or two handed axe. none of these weapons were as heavy or wielded as slowly as one might think.
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Postby Supplement Four » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:30 pm

strategos14 wrote:i bit off subject but every time i think about a smaller weapons maybe having greater speed, i remind myself that any speed advantage that weapon by itself may have is offset by the reach of a larger weapon. look up real replicas and swordfighting of the middle ages. a bastard sword, a claymore, a one or two handed axe. none of these weapons were as heavy or wielded as slowly as one might think.
That's an interesting point to consider.

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