[D&D5e] Without the action economy?

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  • I once designed a "skirmish" system for 5E where players just spent resources to defeat a certain number of Hit Dice of monsters. It was to allow one-round resolution of combat for minor fights. This was actually designed for play-by-post! But I still think it's a decent idea overall, since 5E breaks so hard if you only have 1-2 combats before allowing a long rest.

    I seem to have lost it, but I think it went something like this (the numbers may not be right, but the ideas are basically correct*):

    Every HD of monster in a fight costs the party 5 HP. The party can simply pay the cost, apportioning the damage as desired, BUT expendable party resources can also help defray the cost of the encounter. A rough schema might be something like:

    5 HP per level of spell expended
    5 HP per character level for expending a Barbarian rage (which is really good, y'all)
    2 HP for spending a Bardic Inspiration d6 die, increased by 1 every time the die size goes up
    3 HP per character level for using an appropriate Channel Divinity

    Etc. Wouldn't cover everything, but could be nice.

    You could even do stuff like have the cost be decreased by 20% if the PCs set up an ambush with appropriate skill rolls, or decreased by some other factor if the PCs, e.g., know the monsters' elemental weaknesses.

    *Originally I had this weird blind bidding thing, but in hindsight I think it'd be better to just let them work it out at the table level.
  • What do I want combat in D&D to be? I want it to flow conversationally, like Dungeon World. I want it to be fast, intense, chaotic, first-person, and visceral, like the Middle Earth game Silmenume plays. And I want it to have all the mechanical and tactical richness provided by modern D&D.
    Mission accomplished♥♥♥♥

  • edited May 2019

    Oh, I missed this post! Sorry for posting a celebratory “mission accomplished” post before reading this!

    You and I share a lot of goals at the table, but also run D&D very differently; for instance like you’ve pointed out I tend to say “here’s a rules framework, interact with that please,” while you tend to say, “act only diageticaly, here’s the rules framework I’ll use to interpret your actions but you don’t need to pay attention to it during play.”

    Well…. we had a workshop before the session where we practiced the intented beats & prompts & how the new dice/clouds arrow were meant to flow. What “moves” you could make and how you need to lead with the fiction in order for me to even know what happens next.

    With that in mind. I’m reading your play descriptions and thinking, “This is awesome but it would never work at my table!”

    Thank you for reading it!♥

    I can’t identify points where all the additional diagetic steps (“I roll laterally, to the side!” “OK, you can spend 9 HP to do that”) feed back into the dice. The player could have said, “Kerfuffle, xylophone!” and you would have responded, “OK, you can spend 9 HP to do that.”

    No, the response then would’ve been “OK, make an injury roll!’ and the player would’ve been injured.

    This is how it works.

    1. I describe incoming monster attack! Four in the case of SLASHING ARMS!! What do you do?
    2. Hobo [in this case a one-legged gnome] describes defensive action! In this case “I roll away!”
    3. I say “Ok, make four defense rolls DC 18”
    4. Hobo says “I make three of them”
    5. I go “You roll away from three of the arms they KLONK KLONK KLONK in the ground behind you” (miming) “but the fourth arm manage to reach over you and is heading towards your face, what do you do?”
    6. Hobo says “I roll to the side!”
    7. I say “OK, spend 9 HP to do that!”

    Two lines of defense, both preceded by description of attack, what do you do, description of defense, dice-engagement.

    While you prob wouldn’t say “kerfuffle, xylophone”, there are situations where you might want to go “My own gnome mom is shooting me? I hang my arms down by my side. ‘Mom, why are you like this?’ I don’t defend myself, I just gonna make an injury roll right away.”

    You would get dive inspiration in that situation (especially if you had added a bond about your relationship with Gnome Mom – and you could write one in, then and there, if you hadn’t).

    In the case of garg fight you might go “I can’t get away because of my missing leg, I’m gonna take a dive inspiration and make an injury roll”.

    But 99.99999% of the time it’s not about whether you defend yourself, it’s how you defend yourself because that helps keep the rest of our imaginations alive and feeds into how we describe what happens next.

    About that dice engagement, players & DM both know that the first line is defense roll, the second is HP spend (using @lumpley 's wider definition of “dice” to include things such as HP spends). AC already was a mixture of armor, shields, dexterity. Not xylophones though. HP is the equiv of action surges for defending, kinda.

    You could cut it down to one line of defense by having the monsters roll their own attacks, instead of using defense rolls. In which case three of the arms would be hanging limp and only one arm would be reaching for the gnome. I’m currently not planning to make this change.

    Monsters have one line of defense because they have one “narrative beat window” of dice-engagement; that one beat covers the three gates of action econ (did the hobo speak out of turn), AC, and HP. This wasn’t by design but that’s the flow that emerged from this structure.

    The increased handling time! That’s hella big! I’d be worrying, hey, this is eating into the amount of stuff that happens in the session, the number of meaningful choices per human per hour. It’s reducing the total entropy of the product of all the choices made over the course of the entire campaign!

    Yes, our fight vs the skeletons took almost 12 minutes :bawling:
    Compared to the normal 2 minutes.

    Here is how a round of combat would go in our old system (retroactively named “Dungeon Yahtzee” in contrast to our new system “Oh, Injury!” — both are layers on top of Introducing late night fighting, which is still in place regardless of it’s Dungeon Yahtzee or Oh, Injury!):

    OK Alice you get five attacks on you DC 18, the mouth is 11 the claws are 9, meanwhile Bob what do you do? Dread ambush ok, they have AC 17, get back to me with how much damage, now Carol what do you do? Fireball ok, roll the saving throw checks, their dex defense is 14, Alice did you die? No? Ok, good. Bob? 49!?!?! Holy shit but ok yeah, recorded. Carol, ok, one half one full and the full is 36? Gotcha

    The point is: The number one reason for the increased handling time is going from parallel to serial!

    My plan is to keep Dungeon Yahtzee in my back pocket; it’s one option available when I want FAST fights. (Uh, kinda need to come up with a less trademarked name for it though. So I don’t get sued by Yahtzee.)

  • You could cut it down to one line of defense by having the monsters roll their own attacks, instead of using defense rolls. In which case three of the arms would be hanging limp and only one arm would be reaching for the gnome. I’m currently not planning to make this change.
    You could make it so that only successful attacks (from either party) are even "sent", non-successful attacks are just quickly ignored & action tallied. The ones that are "sent" leads into the full "attack described, defense described, ok that costs X hp" for hobos and "attack described, hp-spent-to-defend, which is described" for monsters.

    That'd cut down some. It becomes weird because what does your AC represent? Uh.

    But we did have one guy combining all of his multiattacks into one narrative strike and that was awesome!
  • Deliverator,

    Playing D&D5e by play by post? Dang! Wow. Hat’s off to you.
  • It was a terrible idea. But the skirmish rules are not, I think.
  • Regarding the skirmish rules, if I may - a few comments. As you may know, I use methods similar to Deliverator's postal play skirmish rules in my wargamey D&D to speed up play and deal with trivial encounters.

    Were I doing this, I would try to retain the fundamental Lanchester's Laws arrangement underlying the D&D combat model - it seems a shame to let go of that when it's basically the fundamental merit of D&D's combat model as inherited from wargaming. Whatever else one may say about D&D combat, at least it holds true that a group with double the firepower deals double the damage on the opposing side over a given time-frame (which is of course the combat round).

    To achieve this, though, we can't let players buy themselves out of an encounter with a static 5 HP per HD ratio; rather, you should calculate a force correlation factor based on the relative strengths of the sides, and use that to determine the price.

    In old school D&D you could generally sum up the HD on each side of the fight and use that as the force correlation: the game generally tends to be designed in such a way that a 5th level character is roughly as effective as five 1st level characters. (Specifically: the combat longevity, minor attack effectiveness bonuses and various hax that the higher-level character gains are supposed to roughly off-set the higher number of attacks and circumstance advantages that the larger group would have.) Whether this holds true for a given edition of the game depends on particulars, and I think it's pretty obvious that it doesn't apply to modern D&D for the most part, but it might still be a preferable simplification. Or maybe you should use the square of the average party HD multiplied by number of members, might be closer.

    But anyway, we produce some numbers that can be compared to each other, and then use that ratio to correct the pricing on what the adventuring party should pay to brush away a minor encounter. This could be as simple as multiplying the base cost by the force ratio: 4 goblins with 1 HD each would cost 20 HP for an equal-sized force, but if the adventuring party has 8 HD, they'll only pay 10 HP because they overpower the opposition by a 2:1 ratio. The stronger you are, the less you pay.

    Alternatively - and this is often enough exactly what I do - you could just run the game's own core process for a few cycles and let it grind out an outcome. This is what I often do for "large skirmishes" - those combats that have too many participants to be run comfortably with the normal swashbuckling combat rules with initiative and individual maneuvers and stuff, but that are too small to use proper mass combat procedures. 20-100 participants, for instance. No reason why you couldn't use the same principles with smaller skirmishes, too.

    In fact, I'll just lay out my "large skirmish" rules for old D&D here - might include something useful, and I think that it helps illustrate what I mean by "grinding the core process". I think it's quite beautiful how D&D manages the Lanchester's Laws, myself. It's essentially still a wargame when abstracted out to this level.

    How to resolve large skirmishes in old D&D

    At the start of the combat round talk about the fictional positioning however much you need to. Figure out which parts of the forces engage which other parts - there could be some bow-men, swordsmen or whatever involved. If you just want a result, then assume that all forces on both sides engage effectively, tactics be damned.

    For each combat-participant who manages to engage this round roll a d6. The default hit probability is 50%, so 4-6 hits and 1-3 misses. For forces that have an effectiveness disadvantage (skill, equipment, whatever) only 5-6 hits, and contrariwise for superior forces 3-6 hits. You might have PCs roll their actual d20 to-hit rolls, as players seem to enjoy that, but presumably the scale of the combat is so large that their individual performance only has a minor impact. Similarly, if the forces are too large to roll all the dice, scale the dice proportionally: e.g. roll 10d6 and have each die count for 10 combatants in a 100-man company.

    (You might notice that this is very roughly the same odds as basic D&D has for individual combat: armor class and hit bonuses come down to this same range for approximately real human combatants.)

    Because 50% casualties per round is a tad too quick of a round for tactical purposes, and because D&D does have the concept, you will probably want to do a "damage soak" stage next: for each hit of damage caused, roll the die again and discard the hit on a 1-3; this signifies a hit that was too minor to down a combatant. The remaining hits are all severe enough to put down a foe (assuming they're 1 HD, as all normal combatants are). You probably don't want to track actual HP for 50 separate combatants, but what I do is that I jot down the number of "soaked hits" and factor that into the next round of combat, if such is upcoming.

    After deducing casualties you're ready for another round! Do some more maneuvering to shift forces around and represent the tactical consequences of the round you just resolved, then continue on to dicing the second round. Don't forget morale checks where applicable. Assuming completely non-descript battle space, force quality and tactics, the combatants each cause 25% of their own strength in attrition to the opponent every round, with a binomial random distribution providing some excitement to the process. It's quick to do at the table, too, assuming you have enough dice.
  • The big virtue that I hope to illustrate by discussing this simplified form of D&D combat relates to the idea of proportionality: by rolling even simplified attack rolls for every combatant, the system automatically accounts for force parity. The force with double the number of combatants gets, on average, double the number of hits. And because more hits whittles down the enemy force quicker, the enemy has even less attack strength on its next round. The system very neatly, very succinctly respects Lanchester's square law without asking for the complex math that you'd require to do the same calculation without iteration. (The dicing process round by round is mathematically rather similar to running an iterative serial calculus on an abacus, except it also includes a stochastic variable.)

    We might utilize that same idea for "quick combat" in modern D&D context by saying that each combatant by default eliminates enemy HD equal to the square root of their own level each round. So a 1st level character deals 1 HD damage, and a 4th level character deals 2 HD. We could dice it out, too, but doing a static calculation might fit the modern spirit better - we want resource attrition, not an accidental TPK. Presumably any combat that would actually cause meaningful attrition by the quick combat formula should actually be played out blow by blow.

    On top of the default force-elimination potential PCs would then use their combat talents to speed up the process and therefore reduce the attrition to their own side. To simplify the issue I would just say that linear classes (fighters etc. with their powers always on) get to double their nominal HD for the damage calculation, while quadratic classes (wizards etc. with daily powers) may expend one daily power per round (random pick?) to do double damage for that round. Half-ass classes (which 5e does have, I understand) need to be dealt with somehow, too. Monsters and NPCs and other disinteresting critters just get the baseline unless the GM feels otherwise.

    The damage in this scheme would be distributed one half evenly (randomly) between the opponents, and another half evenly between the opponent "front line", however you want to define that. Individual combatants go down when they take damage equal to their HD, and thus do not contribute to the next round of quick combat. At the end of the combat you'd presumably convert the HD of damage into concrete HP damage for the player characters.

    Something like that, maybe. The disadvantage of this approach would be that you'd need to calculate multiple rounds of "quick combat" to figure out the final result. The advantage would be that it'd account for on-going force attrition during the combat, which would make the numbers of combatants count more for the final outcome: a superior force could indeed brush away a minor threat with minimal damage, but the amount of damage you take yourself would quickly go up against anything resembling an equal foe.

    Food for thought, anyway.
  • "each combatant by default eliminates enemy HD equal to the square root of their own level each round" that, adding a spell level factor, could give the "maneuvering" value of spells.
  • edited May 2019
    No, the response then would’ve been “OK, make an injury roll!’ and the player would’ve been injured.
    Aha! I see. Hmmmm. Hmm hm.

    Does what the player says here here flow into anything outside of determining whether the hobo spends HP to avoid the attack, or eats it and rolls on the injury table?

    As in, is it a single rules decision (dive or spend HP?) + mandatory color narration to help everyone visualize the fight? Or are you establishing fictional positioning that at some point feeds back into the dice?

    One thing I can see this back-and-forth establishing is who acts next. "I parry and block, falling back to Bob's position!" "Bob, Alice stumbles past you, a ghoul hot on her heals, what do you do?"

    DeReel / Deliverator / Eero, I think I'll spin the skirmish discussion off into another thread if ya'll don't mind. EDIT: It is here.
  • The old system created a situation where we make decisions on the dice level (character sheet, points, dice, abilities etc), execute them on the dice level, record their results on the dice level, and then go on to make new decisions on the dice level.

    Then we were simultaneously tasked with describing the “shadow” cast onto the diegesis by all of those dice-level events, post-hoc. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found performing that translation incredibly difficult, creatively, and most of the time, especially after those first three weeks or so back in 2014, I just gave up and only did the numbers and we had some sort of post-combat: “ok ok here is the XP anyone wanna short rest?”.

    By contrast, the new system is this eternal golden braid with specific points where the diegesis hands over to dice and the dice hands back to the diegesis. It feels like it lives in the diegesis and then the answers that the dice gives us, whenever they’re consulted, just make sense and are cool.

    The description isn’t color narration, it’s necessary because it feeds into other diegetical actions. It was immediately obvious when a descriptive beat was missed because it was such a “uh, wait, we can’t even resolve this action because we don’t know how to do that without you saying exactly how you defended against that bite attack”.

    Or are you establishing fictional positioning that at some point feeds back into the dice?

    To be completely honest, it’s true that very few of our “dice” mechanics take meaningful input from the diegesis. Our most recent mechanic, the “wounding monsters”, does. (A mechanic which owes more to Fate, than to Forged in the Dark or Powered by the Apocalypse.)

    Remember, we started with a very complete system, a system that answered questions that some systems don’t even know are being asked, such as “who does the monster attack?” and “who can I hit with this fireball”? etc. (Some, not all!)

    It’s not like Everway were it’s like “hmm, this card would usually mean death for the hero but since the hero dressed as a Scorpio last Tuesday…”

    But we’re just getting started. D&D does have the adv & disadv parameters to play with. I already proposed a new mechanic, that you can get insp if your traits, ideals, bonds and flaws prevent you from defending yourself. Not sure that’ll see a ton of use but it’s just an idea.

    I mean to what extent does Dungeon World really “feed back into the dice”? Diving to the left way of the arrow or diving under it or raising your shield—it’s all “defy danger”. DW has all the same DC (7/10) all the time and it’s pretty much just the stat choice, dex vs str or w/e.

    Does what the player says here here flow into anything outside of determining whether the hobo spends HP to avoid the attack, or eats it and rolls on the injury table?

    While it might not flow into dice level inputs particularly often (yet! or, ever, not sure it’s that desirable to lose the extreme objectivity of our current system), it sure as heckfire flows into other diegetical inputs.

    One thing I can see this back-and-forth establishing is who acts next. “I parry and block, falling back to Bob’s position!” “Bob, Alice stumbles past you, a ghoul hot on her heals, what do you do?”

    Yes this definitely happened!

    Yes, that’s a dice-level input but seldomly a meaningful one, since the only time that kinda order matters is for drawing aggro or applying buffs. There was actually a record scratch moment where the cleric got salty af [if you read this, Carol, talk to me when you have time] because she wanted to buff Ted’s sword. I had just turned to Ted, describing how the gargoy.. “No.” “Whaddayamean no, Carol?” “I wanted to do something.” (That sucked)

    At one point the gargoyle tried to grapple Alice [I mix these names up all the time, to protect the innocent those who already serving their hard time under my harsh rule. Sometimes Alice is our cleric, sometimes our wizard etc] and that was also something that just sort of, uh, flowed from the SIS.

    And that was it in terms of diegetics actually changing dice. Again, we already have an incredibly robust dice system with conditions such as prone, grappled etc and our monster-target-selection algorithm that uses (among other things) those conditions to decide how they act.

    But the narration flowed into other narration soooo much! Standing on the ledge stepping on the garg head, somersaults into each other, Ted luring one garg to swipe at him while Bob blasted it with Fear…

    Like, all of the richness of our dice-level mechanics aren’t obstacles at all, it’s nice AF that we have the grapple rules memorized or opportunity attacks or w/e.

    That said….

    ♫pom pom pom♫

    … one of the reasons why the diegetics is sooo dependent on what diegesis preceded it, is that fundamental vagueness of the core mechanic.

    A defense roll can mean

    • Deflecting with your shield
    • Parrying with your weapon
    • Positioning your armor
    • Shifting out of the way
    • If you have mage armor on: maybe doves come out and eat the bullets like in a John Woo film

    (Sidebar: Yes it’s weird AF that when defending vs spells there are seven different mods to choose from depending on the spell [the six save categories + defense rolls] while defending againts normal attacks can be done in a thousand ways but still use the same roll. Not saying I would want more detail, the other way around: a simple save vs spells would be pretty awesome instead of the six categories.)

    And then if that defense roll fails the monster attacks the second line of defense; so I need to know what that first line of defense was.

    For example “I use shield!” [defense roll] “OK you block three of the hydra heads, the fourth head slips past your shield, what do you do?” “I push it aside with my morning star!” [hp spend] or

    For example “I push the heads aside with my morning star!” [defense roll] “OK you push three of the hydra heads aside, the fourth head slips under your morningstar, what do you do?” “I use shield!” [hp spend]

    That’s why the diegesis is essential, it’s not painted on description, it’s needed to set up the next move.

    Is there a meaningful difference between those two situations on the dice level? No. They’re the exact same. But if the player just says “I defend!” I go “Sure! Go ahea… wait, how do you defend?” Because I need to know in order to continue playing the hydra. And isn’t that, after all, the goal of the IIEE designer since she first looked up on the starry night sky?

    So as far as I’m concerned, the answer to the “kerfuffle xylophone” question is definitely answered to my own satisfaction.

    And maybe future refinement of this game can lead into the diegesis causing meaningful difference on the dice level, or maybe it’s better to keep it all “purely objective”. Because the risk of the dice having diegetical inputs is that you get the way I first thought Blades in the Dark was, “Wait, it seems super fuzzy and BSy whether a sitch is risky or desperate?” [Sorry that was just my first impression I’m sure the game is great.]

    (PS big ups to Paul who did a lot of the work on this system.)

  • edited May 2019

    Silmenume I hope you don’t mind, I edited your example to show Jeph the similarities and differences between our two games! And you for that matter. I mean not saying our system is better but since we’re assembling it it layer by layer on top of our old rules [in true bricolage/palimpsest fashion], it is what it is…

    I added my comments in [like this] and deleted the things that aren’t applicable to “Oh, Injury!” like this

    Player - “I swing.”
    DM - “Roll.” [I would say the target AC. In my example let’s say it’s an AC 16, HP 93 Orc War Chief (MM p 246). So I would say “Make an attack roll vs AC 16”]
    Player - [Rolls attack, see’s that it’s a hit, and rolls the damage dice] “10…plus 5…15 total!”
    Not a bad roll. That’s what would traditionally be an AC 5 hit in a deterministic resolution system. Rather in Mythic Bricolage this is a starting point for interpretation for DM and player.
    DM - “He knocks your sword aside [, spending 15 hit points to do that]. Your sword is way out of position as he thrusts at you. Roll. [What do you do?]
    Player - “Oh crap! Avoid! I spin away!["
    DM - “Make a defense roll, DC 16.”
    Player - “]
    … uh…Natural 17!”
    DM - “The sword just skitters across your chest cutting a hole in your shirt! That would have been your death. [What do you do?]
    Player - “I try and trap his arm and break his elbow!”
    DM - “Dangerous. Dangerous. Add your hand to hand. Don’t roll poorly…” [“Roll Strength, DC 14”]
    Player - “uh….12….plus 6….18!”
    DM - “You’re in position…roll to hit.”
    [DM: “You’ve got him locked, what do you do?” Action econ principle; Alice has two attacks at her level and can turn one attack into ‘grapple’ and the other into, well… IDK!.]
    Player - “Weapon or hand to hand?”
    DM - “Hand to hand…Roll a natural 18, 19, or 20 and you break his arm outright”

    [Player - “I try to twist it!” Here is an example of diegesis leading into different dice engagement than if the player had tried to apply Restrained or Prone instead of applying pure damage.
    DM - “Make an attack roll, AC 16”
    Player - “With advantage, right?”
    DM - “Grappled doesn’t grant advantage…”
    Player - “Oh, ok!”]

    Player - “Oh man! 17 total!”
    DM - “Roll D4 for damage.”
    Player - “2…add Str Damage?” [Player obv has Tavern Brawler feat♥]
    DM - nods
    Player - “4 total!”
    DM - grunts, “The arm doesn’t yield. He spins to face you_[, spending 4 hit points to do that,]_ and you see his gauntleted fist coming straight at your face. [What do you do?]
    Player - “I release my lock and avoid the blow.”
    DM - “This is going to hit unless you roll something truly spectacular”
    DM - “Make a defense roll, DC 16” My system isn’t as spectacular as Sil’s :bawling:]
    Player - “NATURAL 20!
    DM -”He’s surprised by your maneuver and stumbles past…You’re in perfect position! [What do you do?]"

    Etc etc

  • When I quote & respond to one little part of your posts Sandra please know that I'm reading and digesting the whole thing! I'm just choosing the line of conversation that most catches my interest or where I've got something more solid to say.
    I mean to what extent does Dungeon World really “feed back into the dice”? Diving to the left way of the arrow or diving under it or raising your shield—it’s all “defy danger”. DW has all the same DC (7/10) all the time and it’s pretty much just the stat choice, dex vs str or w/e.
    Ah, see, I think this is actually really different!

    When a player in DW does something that triggers Defy Danger, what that something is—the fictional positioning—has huge impact, because the GM has to make a move that follows.

    That means that the player's utterance directly constrains the move the GM makes. And it also directly constrains what subsequent actions the player is in position to take. And depending on what the player says, it might not even count as Defy Danger.

    "Alice, the dragon turns towards you and spreads its jaws. Its gonna breathe fire! What do you do?"

    (A)

    • Alice: "I raise my shield to deflect the flames and charge forward!"
    • GM: "Defy danger +Str!" (Alice's player rolls an 8) "The heat is overwhelming. Do you stumble back, dazed, or power through while your shield melts around your arm?"
    • Alice: "I power through, toss aside the scraps of my shield, and drive my sword into its belly!"
    • GM: "Roll hack and slash!"

    (B)

    • Alice: "I interpose myself between the dragon and Bob and raise my shield to deflect the flames!"
    • GM: "You're standing in defense, roll +Con!" (Alice's player rolls an 8) "Hold 1, how do you use it?"
    • Alice: "I'll take the heat and give Bob +1 forward!"
    • GM: "Take 7 damage from the flames. Bob, you have an opening, what do you do?"

    (C)

    • Alice: "Turn tail and dive for cover!"
    • GM: (judges it's not even a move) Flames billow behind you! Bob, there's nobody between you and the dragon anymore. It's advancing on you. What do you do?
  • When I quote & respond to one little part of your posts Sandra please know that I’m reading and digesting the whole thing! I’m just choosing the line of conversation that most catches my interest or where I’ve got something more solid to say.

    Thank you for clarifying that, darling!

    When a player in DW does something that triggers Defy Danger, what that something is—the fictional positioning—has huge impact, because the GM has to make a move that follows.

    That means that the player’s utterance directly constrains the move the GM makes. And it also directly constrains what subsequent actions the player is in position to take.

    Yes, I know. And it works similarly in my system. Here I really need to pace myself and not over-reply since I know you’re still reading/replying to my full acid-fueled massive missive. That post better answers that particular comment than anything I could write here.

    Just for fun, gonna do the DW examples [not that I don’t understand DW, it’s just fun for peeps to see how they would work in OI].

    Alice: “I raise my shield to deflect the flames sword and charge forward!”

    Defense roll!

    Alice: “I interpose myself between the dragon and Bob and raise my shield to deflect the flames sword!”

    Defense roll! (Possibly also a rank switch if Alice was backrank & Bob was front rank!)

    Alice: “Turn tail and dive for cover!”

    Rank switch! Bob you’re getting burninated swordinated! (Or, well, you’re getting a burnination swordination threat initiated, followed by a “what do you do?”)

    I switched flames to sword because the flames in Introducing late night fighting can blast through to the back rank! I think that’s a difference between it and DW!

  • When a player in DW does something that triggers Defy Danger, what that something is—the fictional positioning—has huge impact, because the GM has to make a move that follows.

    That means that the player’s utterance directly constrains the move the GM makes. And it also directly constrains what subsequent actions the player is in position to take.
    Yes, I know. And it works similarly in my system. Here I really need to pace myself and not over-reply since I know you’re still reading/replying to my full acid-fueled massive missive. That post better answers that particular comment than anything I could write here.
    For example (but not limited to) this part:

    And then if that defense roll fails the monster attacks the second line of defense; so I need to know what that first line of defense was.

    For example “I use shield!” [defense roll] “OK you block three of the hydra heads, the fourth head slips past your shield, what do you do?” “I push it aside with my morning star!” [hp spend] orFor example “I push the heads aside with my morning star!” [defense roll] “OK you push three of the hydra heads aside, the fourth head slips under your morningstar, what do you do?” “I use shield!” [hp spend]That’s why the diegesis is essential, it’s not painted on description, it’s needed to set up the next move.Is there a meaningful difference between those two situations on the dice level? No. They’re the exact same. But if the player just says “I defend!” I go “Sure! Go ahea… wait, how do you defend?” Because I need to know in order to continue playing the hydra. And isn’t that, after all, the goal of the IIEE designer since she first looked up on the starry night sky?So as far as I’m concerned, the answer to the “kerfuffle xylophone” question is definitely answered to my own satisfaction.
  • Btw:

    Alice: “I power through, toss aside the scraps of my shield, and drive my sword into its belly!” […vs…] Alice: “I’ll take the heat and give Bob +1 forward!”

    Oh, do you count that as a diegesis level decision? I counted that kind of decisions as dice level decisions when I did my playtest report.

    If that counts (the reason I didn’t count similar inputs in my system is that Alice is obv aware that one decisions means to Inflict Dice Level Harm by herself, and the other means to Dice Level Buff Bob) then YES. I had a ton of those.

  • I guess the "Ill take the heat and give Bob +1 forward" is a dice decision that casts a diagetic shadow, in your phrasing.
  • I guess the “Ill take the heat and give Bob +1 forward” is a dice decision that casts a diagetic shadow, in your phrasing.

    It’s actually very close to what we have with “Oh, Injury!” which just is very similar to DW. Diegesis→dice→diegesis→dice in a braid. If a “diegesis” step is skipped then that’s instantly visible b/c the confusion & lack of ability to make next diegetic move.

    Wheres in our “Dungeon Yahtzee” system, it’d be more like

    dice→dice→dice→dice

    but all those actions, decisions, and fortune-mechanic-engagements on the dice level simultaneously, sort of, cast their reflections through a glass darkly. A world where that d8 means “sword” and that d4 means “dagger” and that AC 15 means “mage armor”.

    And for the first few sessions back in 2014 I did a good job describing that session vividly.

    Which was sort of like creating it all over again, except having to do it backwards and in heels since it had to match the dice action. The dice action didn’t really help that much in that creation process. Just a tiny bit.

  • The group I D&D with is typically operating in the dice→dice→dice→dice w/ diagetic shadow mode, too. We mostly don't even bother with verbalizing the diagetic bits! Just kinda assume everyone is putting on their own mental picture-show!

    I guess the point of the thread is to figure out a way my group to do the braided diegesis→dice→diegesis→dice mode.

    I'm still having trouble pinning down why I think your rules wouldn't be great at my table. Something about granularity of each engagement with dice or SIS? I want the narrative beats to be more like, "I charge to meet them!" [dice] "When you finally push away one of them is down and you're panting and bleeding" as opposed to thrust-by-thrust.

    Maybe the relative strength of the constraints that flow dice→diegesis, the relative laxness of the constraints that flow diegesis→dice?

    I think I need to regroup, identify my first principles, and go from there.
  • The group I D&D with is typically operating in the dice→dice→dice→dice w/ diagetic shadow mode, too.
    Thank you for understanding it right away♥
    We mostly don’t even bother with verbalizing the diagetic bits! Just kinda assume everyone is putting on their own mental picture-show!

    Oh same here! Which I thought was appropriate though. The “I live in a world where people have XP and HP” school of roleplaying. The “dice” bits are flavorfully named. It’s just like a game of Magic the Gathering; you play it all in dice mode and then it’s a super cool story (“and then jace and chandra teamed up and i had just enough cards in my library for both of their ults to win me the game”) afterwards.

    I’m still having trouble pinning down why I think your rules wouldn’t be great at my table. Something about granularity of each engagement with dice or SIS? I want the narrative beats to be more like, “I charge to meet them!” [dice] “When you finally push away one of them is down and you’re panting and bleeding” as opposed to thrust-by-thrust.

    A few years ago I was the exact same way; my reason for that was that I wanted the fighting to be a bit veiled.

    Combat dust

    But there was definitely fallout from those veiled combats:

    Our old system was more like “I charge to meet them!” [dice]→[dice]→[dice]→[dice]→[dice] “When you finally push away one of them is down and you’ve lost an arm, what do you do?”

    The new system is also veiled enough for me. It’s not any more gruesome than our old system since all bloody hits are negated by hp spends. I don’t have to be scared until the HP is running low. My darling pretty monsters♥. The players need to be scared though. They have the same HP fueled protection but “wow that was more than I could afford OUCH!”

    Maybe the relative strength of the constraints that flow dice→diegesis, the relative laxness of the constraints that flow diegesis→dice?

    I would’ve guessed that it’s the other way around?

    Since A. the dice don’t flow directly into new diegesis without me having to refer back to the preceding diegetic step (i.e. “dice→diegesis” is lax), and B. diegesis can trigger different “dice action” (i.e. “diegesis→dice” is strong—strong in the sense of which function to call, if not in having a big impact on the parameters to that function♥).

    I think I need to regroup, identify my first principles, and go from there.

    OK! I’m more of a “make a mess, the clean it up” type of designer♥
    BTW did you groove on the Silmenume inspired example upthread? Love Jay so much

  • edited May 2019
    The example you adapted from Jay was helpful!

    Dice→diegesis constraints are strong in that I'm usually trying to achieve a specific dice effect (roll an attack, roll defense, spend HP), and to do that, I need to say something very specific. The rules constrain what counts as a reasonable and valid fictional contribution, even though the fictional description happens first, temporally.

    This might be a mindset thing; one player might say "I said I spin away because Sandra said an orc was about to cut me!" another might say "I said I spin away because I need to roll defense." I'm probably not personally capable of adopting the former over the latter.

    Diegesis→dice constraints are weak in that the fictional position established in order to trigger attack rolls, defense rolls, and HP spends rarely opens up or closes off valid rules interactions beyond triggering the roll or HP spend.

    Maybe the word choice of "[strong|weak] constraint" was poor.

    EDIT: Another way of describing it... I feel like under these rules, I'd be making choices at the dice level, then coming up with supporting narration; as opposed to making choices at the diagetic level, then interpreting those choices through the lens of the dice.
  • What ended up happening is that the diegetical moves then often led into or reminded us of dice-level options that we might've otherwise overlooked.
    This might be a mindset thing; one player might say "I said I spin away because Sandra said an orc was about to cut me!" another might say "I said I spin away because I need to roll defense." I'm probably not personally capable of adopting the former over the latter.
    […]
    Another way of describing it... I feel like under these rules, I'd be making choices at the dice level, then coming up with supporting narration; as opposed to making choices at the diagetic level, then interpreting those choices through the lens of the dice.
    I believe that the situation was as you describe: different mindset for different participants. It is certainly the case that many people play DW and AW thinking about their moves and therefore saying things with the explicit intent of leading into one of those moves. Which is allowed & encouraged by @lumpley and by Cary for that matter (the "perception" and "insight" moves that they use). "Oh, Injury!" is absolutely similar in that regard.

    If that's not what I wanted, I would whip out my Everway set instead of creating the rules that I have here. Which, well, super nostalgic for it & great setting, so maybe that wouldn't be too bad... many of the problems I had with Everway back in the day could be addressed by making better (more Karma-supporting) prep, and relying heavily on the Finchian trap-finding and Lawsian emo-petitioning that I already do today.
  • For my own sake I got so swept up by the diegetical action that I sometimes forgot some of the dice-level restrictions that are in place!
  • Hey Eero, your simplified large skirmish D&D resolution?

    GW is thinking of suing over IP infringement. :smile:

    ( That's essentially the core rules of combat in most Games Workshop minis games for the last 30 years or so).
  • I think the difference between the DW action flow and the 2097e action flow is pretty simple:

    When the DW GM says that there is a sword or dragon breath incoming, and asks, “what do you do?”, it’s a genuine open-ended question.

    There are a variety of moves you can make, non-move actions, and so forth - perhaps you could try to cast a spell as you are engulfed in the flames, for instance. If you do defy danger, the description changes which stat you will roll, too (minor as that is). It’s genuinely your turn to act, though, in any case.

    In the D&D version - and I think this is what Jeph was getting at - you have a binary choice: roll to defend or go down. It’s not open-ended. And since you will very very rarely choose to “take the blow”, it’s ALMOST a forced choice.

    Then that happens again with the HP spend; same choice.

    It does seem like an improvement in some respects on normal D&D flow, but it’s very limited and there are several steps in the process which include very few choices. (You can see that from how the player simply repeats “I roll away/to the side” in the example Sandra wrote up earlier. This is why my original proposal, as clunky as it was in some ways, tried to add some real choice into that step (do you parry or fall back? Do you spend extra HP to get out of the way of the attack completely?). Since we don’t know what the next step will be, we have to actually listen to the player’s choice and narration. In this, we could have a player say, “I spend 10 HP to avoid, baking a soufflé,” and it still works with the action flow.
  • Hey Eero, your simplified large skirmish D&D resolution?

    GW is thinking of suing over IP infringement. :smile:

    ( That's essentially the core rules of combat in most Games Workshop minis games for the last 30 years or so).
    Ah, but it's also essentially how Chainmail runs. I'm no wargaming expert, but this kind of dice pool approach seems to have become common in the scene sometimes in the '70s. It's got a lot of advantages compared to table-based approaches, after all.
  • I believe that the situation was as you describe: different mindset for different participants. It is certainly the case that many people play DW and AW thinking about their moves and therefore saying things with the explicit intent of leading into one of those moves. Which is allowed & encouraged by @lumpley and by Cary for that matter (the "perception" and "insight" moves that they use). "Oh, Injury!" is absolutely similar in that regard.
    Yeah, it's probably a virtue when the structure of play works seamlessly when players don't have identical attitudes, way less brittle.

    What is it, exactly, that I want, anyway?
    “I spend 10 HP to avoid, baking a soufflé,” and it still works with the action flow.
    Not really; that's like saying "I hack and slash, baking a soufflé!". It's not a valid contribution; in the cold dark future of the year 2097 just as in DW to do it, do it, I believe.

    (This is just a rehash of the earlier kerfuffle xylophone example.)

    But I get your point that the number of valid dice-level choices is pretty limited, and depending on which of those choices you want, the space of valid fictional contributions is also relatively small.
  • I don’t follow why that would be the case. In DW, the player is making an open-ended choice - it’s their “turn”, and a theoretically unlimited number of actions is available to them.

    Under these rules, “take the hit” or “spend HP” are your only two options”, so once you declare that you’re spending HP, the subsequent narration is almost entirely superfluous.

    It sounds like the group is finding good ways to use that narration to flow into subsequent actions (by, for instance, leading Sandra to decide whose turn is next), but that’s a nice flourish, as opposed to being necessary in any way.

    (It’s worth remembering that that kind of flexibility can be a virtue, as well; like Sandra says, she can return to “dice only” mode to resolve a combat quickly, for example - but let’s not pretend something is doing something it’s not.)
  • When the DW GM says that there is a sword or dragon breath incoming, and asks, “what do you do?”, it’s a genuine open-ended question.

    There are a variety of moves you can make, non-move actions, and so forth - perhaps you could try to cast a spell as you are engulfed in the flames, for instance. If you do defy danger, the description changes which stat you will roll, too (minor as that is). It’s genuinely your turn to act, though, in any case.

    A lot of this has been discussed upthread.

    To repeat what is discussed in more detail there: It’s open-ended in “Oh, Injury!” too, secondarily because of the cornercases like the “Shield” spell or “Absorb Elements” spell or going for dive insp, but primarily it’s because the various diegetically different ways to defend yourself matter for the the diegetical follow up.

    you have a binary choice

    On the dice level (with a handful of exceptions). And that’s DAY ONE with this system. There can still be more design made now that this framework is in place.

    But even in the cases that it’s binary on the dice level, it’s not a binary choice on the diegetic level.

    You can see that from how the player simply repeats “I roll away/to the side” in the example Sandra wrote up earlier.

    I though that was cool :bawling:

    Since we don’t know what the next step will be, we have to actually listen to the player’s choice and narration. In this, we could have a player say, “I spend 10 HP to avoid, baking a soufflé,” and it still works with the action flow.

    You have it backwards. It’d be

    “The monster lashes at you with her tentacles, what do you do?”
    “I bake a soufflé”
    “OK roll with your proficiency with Cook’s Utensils. Also, make an injury roll and take a DSF.”

    It’s

    diegetic attack beat → diegetic defense beat→point cost.

    I don’t follow why that would be the case. In DW, the player is making an open-ended choice - it’s their “turn”, and a theoretically unlimited number of actions is available to them.

    And if they goof around the GM/MC can inflict harm as established.

    It sounds like the group is finding good ways to use that narration to flow into subsequent actions (by, for instance, leading Sandra to decide whose turn is next), but that’s a nice flourish, as opposed to being necessary in any way.

    A block is in the diegesis fundamentally different from a dodge and fundamentally different from a parry even though they all use the same mechanic, “AC”. Because how they interact with other diegetical actions around them.

    Monster attack incoming←necessary for player to hear so that they can describe defense
    Player defense←“for qualifying” + necessary for DM to hear so that she can describe second line attack if it fails
    Defense roll←let’s say it fails
    Second line attack incoming←necessary for player to hear so that they can describe defense
    Player defense←“for qualifying” + necessary for DM to hear so that she can describe followthrough if spend fails
    Spend←let’s say it fails [too expensive for poor hobo]
    Injury roll
    Monster follow through crrraasssh bleed slafffs

    There are a couple of other defensive actions like the monk’s Deflect Missiles class feature. And also plenty of monster actions that come with different followup move that changes the default flow.

    And again it’s day ONE. With this framework in place, new moves can evolve like maybe cook up rules where another hobo can rank switch and take the hit.

    So yeah. As discussed above, the diegetical beats are absolutely integral.

    And, I don’t want to undersell the value of defense having a similar flow to attacking, which is open-ended of course.

    but let’s not pretend something is doing something it’s not.

    I am not misrepresenting the system. I’ve answered honestly about the limited extent the diegesis currently has on the dice, but why the diegetical beats are still vital first-class ludemes. A lot of this is already discussed in detail upthread, scroll up♥

    Like, a guy was standing on the garg’s head and smashing down on it. A simple “with advantage since you’re on the garg’s head”—and in hindsight, I wish I had—would’ve radically changed things as far as the diegesis→dice coupling goes. I’m gonna start doing that.

    In Dungeon World you can’t say “I bake a soufflé” or “I Undertake A Perilous Journey” if the prompt is “you’re hanging on a rope over the abyss and you can’t see your friends anymore in the pitch black, their light far outpacing you and then going out, what do you do?”
    Same here.

    There are specific moves for specific situations.
    That’s a necessity of the initial restrictions on this project.
    And that’s also good. We don’t want abyss cake

  • the subsequent narration is almost entirely superfluous.
    It's not subsequent. Not in the monster attack flow.

    The monster attack flow and the hobo attack flow are different.

  • Well, you changed the player’s declaration in my example for your counterexample. :)

    So that hitch is still there - for example, the issue with “you can describe a new attack, or just describe the original attack again/more” shows how many of the descriptions aren’t semantically meaningful.

    But I dig how much you’re committing to this; if the group buys in and is disciplined about treating those mechanics as a “description -> dice” flow every time, I think you’ve got a really neat reconceptualization of D&D mechanics here, and it sounds like it’s working. I also like how “players roll all the dice” makes it even more natural.

    I think it sounds like a lot of fun, and I’d like to try it next time I play D&D. My house rules have armour subtracting from damage instead of the to hit roll, so that would work really nicely with this, too - armour effectively means that spending HP is easier/cheaper for you, and gives us another prompt for the descriptions that will vary from blow to blow.

    How hard do you think it is for the GM to track? Are you scratching your head and looking at your sheet all the time? Would it be really hard for someone trying it for the first time? Any tips for such a person?

    (I also have a follow up point, but I’ll have to figure which thread it’s best suited for first!)
  • edited May 2019

    Well, you changed the player’s declaration in my example for your counterexample. :)

    So that hitch is still there - for example, the issue with “you can describe a new attack, or just describe the original attack again/more” shows how many of the descriptions aren’t semantically meaningful.

    This is incorrect. (Btw, semantics degree here.)

    You need to defend to defend. Baking a soufflé is a codified move, XGE p 80-81. Also you can only do it during a short rest. Otherwise see “encrouching on a codified move” above.

    you can describe a new attack, or just describe the original attack again/more

    That is not allowed. Maybe you’re thinking of “the killing prompt”, where that’s the case.
    The killing / wounding prompts are kinda orthogonal to the HP spend prompt although both were big changes for us.
    The HP spend prompt was the awesome part, the killing/wounding prompt not so much. (So yeah, Paul, you contributed a pretty key piece!)

    But I dig how much you’re committing to this; if the group buys in

    We’ll see if they buy in; they were standing on their chairs and cheering Tuesday night but this morning they were confused as to why it worked.

    and is disciplined about treating those mechanics as a “description -> dice” flow every time,

    I saw a YouTube game of some DW players once and the GM says “OK all four of you guys need to Roll Defy danger because there an ogre enters the room and starts swinging around a maul”. :bawling: A game only work when it works.

    That said, the diegesis is necessary because other diegesis depends on it.

    I think you’ve got a really neat reconceptualization of D&D mechanics here, and it sounds like it’s working. I also like how “players roll all the dice” makes it even more natural.

    I realized that it was kind of why it worked; otherwise it’d be “the garg sends one arm flying half-heartedly your way. The other three arms flubbed their rolls and are hanging limp by it’s side.”

    I introduced “players make all rolls” because I wanted this. It still didn’t happen (mostly because I didn’t know what hitpoints were) but now it can.

    I think it sounds like a lot of fun, and I’d like to try it next time I play D&D. My house rules have armour subtracting from damage instead of the to hit roll, so that would work really nicely with this, too - armour effectively means that spending HP is easier/cheaper for you, and gives us another prompt for the descriptions that will vary from blow to blow.

    Well, one thing that one of the dorx said was that “isn’t it weird that HP is constitution based?” I said “your

    How hard do you think it is for the GM to track? Are you scratching your head and looking at your sheet all the time? Would it be really hard for someone trying it for the first time? Any tips for such a person?

    I’m already very practiced with the sheet and keep it mostly in my head [keeping the sheet up to date ofc but not really looking at it that often; I referenced it once to see who a Fireball could hit, and I had one head scratchy moment where I was confused about the garg’s primary target until I double-checked with the cheat]. I had to go “wait, you used a hunter’s mark earlier, right?”

    The tip for new GMs is to practice it with yourself? Make hobos & monsters, and play. Since the monsters have a mind of their own, it can be a fun solo challenge to try to win with the hobos.

    One of the biggest weirdness is to see who are in a big mêlée group. It’s easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it, but it’s weird.
    Felix, Doris, the wight and one skeleton in this example are in the same group. I’ve learned to see that instantly. Let’s say Wendy joined that group [leaving back rank to do so]. She’d gain Xs in those two columns. Or let’s say Wendy didn’t do that, but one of the skeletons did (in flagrant violation of the “limit on ganging up”). It’d get Xs in those two rows.

    I got so swept up in the diegetics!
    I’m gonna use a big blackboard for a few sessions. If the other players pick up on the system maybe we can keep turns maintaining the sheet. There’s nothing secret on there.

    Otoh, I’m very scared of the “dungeon for ants” phenomena where they think too much of the spreadsheet & not enough of the Full Metal Frankenstein slamming their face.

  • Yeah, excellent. Sounds like we're basically in agreement (although I still disagree about the example - I could explain why if you want) - so long as discipline is remembered and enforced, it should continue to work well (and, yeah, sorry, I jumped to "the killing prompt" rather abruptly there!).

    I really like the way all the 2097e rules are coming together to create a new game. I think that at this point, many other people would be publishing their own RPG, rather than calling it D&D, but I don't think you're interested in that (I could be wrong!).

    (I should perhaps clarify that what I mean is that you have enough inspired, original, and unique material here to distinguish "your game" from anything else on the market, which is pretty cool.)

    Well, one thing that one of the dorx said was that "isn't it weird that HP is constitution based?" I said "your [????????]

    > How hard do you think it is for the GM to track? Are you scratching your head and looking at your sheet all the time? Would it be really hard for someone trying it for the first time? Any tips for such a person?
    (Have I mentioned how much I love your "dungeons for ants" line? Makes me laugh every time.)

    Anyway: very curious as to what you accidentally omitted up there in the quote!

    And thank you for breaking down the challenges and advantages of using your combat sheet. I agree that some practice would be necessary, but the algorithm is limited enough that you'd probably become fluent with it fairly quickly. I like it!

    What about tracking the diegetics vs. action economy? Who goes when, and that kind of thing? How do you make that smooth and easy? Or is that still a work in progress? I'd be worried about tracking all that in the heat of battle, and the action economy is so key to D&D.
  • What about HP being CON based ? I believe the line was cut.
  • and, yeah, sorry, I jumped to “the killing prompt” rather abruptly there!

    Yeah the whole killing prompt / wounding prompt is not working well.

    Yeah, excellent. Sounds like we’re basically in agreement (although I still disagree about the example - I could explain why if you want) - so long as discipline is remembered and enforced, it should continue to work well

    Well, more testing upcoming, but even in our first session: every time the diegetic beat was elided was immediately and painfully obvious; just as obvious as it is when you forget to say the AC. “Yeah, but… what am I rolling against?” “Yeah, but… what type of defense am I attacking against?”

    Just as how on the dice level an attack roll is fundamentally the same action (roll a d20 and add 7) regardless of what number you’re atttacking, and on the diegetic level a defensive diegetic action has fundamentally the same intent (don’t die) regardless of how you’re executing the move, in both cases there are detail necessary to hear in order to do your action properly.

    I really like the way all the 2097e rules are coming together to create a new game. I think that at this point, many other people would be publishing their own RPG, rather than calling it D&D, but I don’t think you’re interested in that (I could be wrong!).

    Haha yeah. We still use pretty much everything from PHB/MM/DMG/XGE and a smattering of things from Volo’s & MoFo.

    And a lot of the stuff I use for darkness & climbing was adapted from Veins of the Earth (which isn’t open source); frustrating because it’s changed enough that I can’t just go “go look at Veins of the Earth” but it’s close enough that I can’t just paste it in.

    D&D is open source and I’m happy to just be improving it. I wouldn’t mind getting write access to the main repo (figuratively speaking) but I don’t want to move to Seattle (or to the US at all for that matter) and I also think my history of having a temper online isn’t a great look for WotC.

    I should perhaps clarify that what I mean is that you have enough inspired, original, and unique material here to distinguish “your game” from anything else on the market, which is pretty cool.

    Yeah… the key technique being the three tiers of truth but that’s applicable to almost any trad game.

    Well, one thing that one of the dorx said was that “isn’t it weird that HP is constitution based?” I said “your [????????]

    Oh, I meant to delete that line. I said “you’re absolutely right, haha, I hadn’t thought of that” and then a little bit later “but wizards make concentration checks based on con so maybe it’s some sort of keeping-your-cool stat”.

    Have I mentioned how much I love your “dungeons for ants” line? Makes me laugh every time.


    But you know what I mean, right? The map vs the territory.

    What about tracking the diegetics vs. action economy? Who goes when, and that kind of thing? How do you make that smooth and easy? Or is that still a work in progress? I’d be worried about tracking all that in the heat of battle, and the action economy is so key to D&D.

    Doing it in a way that I’m satisfied is easy. One of our players is unsatisfied which is why I’m looking to make changes.

    Here’s how the current system satisfies me ← don’t take that in a creepy way

    When someone does something that costs an action, a tally mark is added.
    Spotlight is directed to those who have fewer tally marks.
    If someone would speak out of order there are several techniques to use; dismissing the action diegetically (“he just catches your arrow without rolling”) is kinda a last resort compared to something like “but at the same time”, or “just as that happens”, or “before you even”.

    Ideas I’m thinking of for alternate: people having playing cards or Othello/Reversi pieces in front of them that they flip over as they spend actions, or a big blackboard to keep track of the tally marks.

    Our table, we only have a 1600 by 800 table (in inches that’s around 63 by 31) for six people and it’s usually covered with junk such as char sheets, books, handouts, cryptical messages from Acererak, love notes between the characters, grapes & cherries, bread, bowls of soup, dice, insp tokens etc. So I’m not even sure I could add something to it.

  • edited May 2019
    I like the idea of the Othello pieces, although there's some danger of that controlling the conversation too much, perhaps.

    Did using a blackboard (or whatever you were doing to make it visible to everyone) help or slow down the process? How focused were people on it in play, as opposed to just playing freely? Was the overall impact positive or negative? (I understand that it might desired and necessary for some players, but that's not what I'm asking about - I might want or need certain assurances to feel good about playing, but they could still, say, slow down or otherwise hold back play.)

    Basically, I'm curious as to how easy/challenging this is to pull off, and what some of the snags might be. (Reassuring players and the need for transparency is an important one; what about the actual flow at the table? Do you feel like you're working hard to put your skills to work - nothing wrong with that! - or that it flows smoothly and easily, and, if so, what makes the difference between the two?

    On paper, narrating exciting combat choreography and tracking an action economy seamlessly behind it all sounds pretty daunting.
    [1]

    Yeah the whole killing prompt / wounding prompt is not working well.

    [2]Well, more testing upcoming, but even in our first session: every time the diegetic beat was elided was immediately and painfully obvious; just as obvious as it is when you forget to say the AC. “Yeah, but… what am I rolling against?” “Yeah, but… what type of defense am I attacking against?”Just as how on the dice level an attack roll is fundamentally the same action (roll a d20 and add 7) regardless of what number you’re atttacking, and on the diegetic level a defensive diegetic action has fundamentally the same intent (don’t die) regardless of how you’re executing the move, in both cases there are detail necessary to hear in order to do your action properly.
    [3]Yeah… the key technique being the three tiers of truth but that’s applicable to almost any trad game.
    [4]♥
    But you know what I mean, right? The map vs the territory.
    1. I had a feeling it was going to feel awkward. Why do people dislike this one, and why does it fall flat in play? After all, in Critical Role seem to enjoy the "HDYWTDT?" prompt (even though Mercer usually narrates it himself in the end, anyway). What do you think the difference is?

    Here, a(nother) reframing of the "mapping" between mechanics and dialogue could actually fix it, I think.

    2. I still find this hard to imagine/understand. Can you give an example of what that breakdown looks like, in practice?

    After all, you're quite capable of doing "Dungeons & Yahtzee" (or whatever hilarious term you had used!), so why doesn't that work here?

    3. That's a really good technique and mindset, but not unique to you, I think. Lots of people play in that way, whether they consciously think that way or not.

    But all these other details you've put together are starting to form a really unique game and game experience, to the point that it's as (or more) distinct from D&D than many other games out there.

    4. Absolutely! :D

    (That's part of what makes it so good!)
  • I understand that [using a blackboard] might desired and necessary for some players, but that’s not what I’m asking about - I might want or need certain assurances to feel good about playing, but they could still, say, slow down or otherwise hold back play.

    Great distinction. So what I thought beforehand was that it might make some players a little more comfortable, and in the interest of maintaining buy-in, it was worth a little bit of diminishing the quality of play.

    So let’s look at the quality of play separately from the assurance factor. The quality of play was diminished in some ways that I had to try to keep in check. Them: “Hmm, let me carefully study their hit points level and whether or not my att..” Me: “You don’t know which! Just go!”

    But overall the quality of play was increased; faster, clearer, fewer DM mistakes [because they could help correct mistakes I was making], better understanding of the rules & rank system, more options being used that were always available but that they weren’t really into using. This sort of braids into the assurance factor a bit I guess;

    and the assurance factor was through the roof! The one player who was the reason for me getting this board couldn’t make it today [so we had 4 players + 1 DM] but a specific other player’s quality of play increased AF!!! Going from “I’ll throw a fireball… I guess…” to making really informed and tactical decisions. They came up to me afterwards and asked if we please could continue using this board.

    So now I’m in a bind, since the pen kept borking out. :bawling:
    I’m thinking of using pencil directly on the wall tbh.
    Gonna do some tests to see how it washes off.

    Are there, like, carpenter’s pencils or w/e that makes a thicker line?

    One of the design goals when creating this specific tracking sheet was to not make it spatial [for “map ≠ territory” purps). And that tentatively seems to have worked; there was some usages of “the left one” [meaning the left column] but it was more common to say “the one I’ve Hunter’s Marked” etc.

    Since we were larping the fights out to such a degree and each room in the dungeon is described in terms of our game room. Like, this game-room wall is where the balcony ledge is in the dungeon etc. “So they roll down here… and then they” etc etc.

    Did using a blackboard (or whatever you were doing to make it visible to everyone) help or slow down the process? How focused were people on it in play, as opposed to just playing freely? Was the overall impact positive or negative?

    Summary: overall but not wholly positive! Tilting pretty far to the “positive” side.

    Do you feel like you’re working hard to put your skills to work - nothing wrong with that! - or that it flows smoothly and easily, and, if so, what makes the difference between the two?

    On paper, narrating exciting combat choreography and tracking an action economy seamlessly behind it all sounds pretty daunting.

    I thought it was difficult. I am very comfortable with a pencil & paper #artist2097 so when the pen started borking out while I was already juggling these two things almost caused me to panic.

    And of course Alice in the middle of combat starts going on about [hold on… taking a break from writing comment to emailing “That Guy” player about being less disruptive… ok now back to Story Games]

    I had a feeling it was going to feel awkward. Why do people dislike this one, and why does it fall flat in play? After all, in Critical Role seem to enjoy the “HDYWTDT?” prompt (even though Mercer usually narrates it himself in the end, anyway). What do you think the difference is?

    Because it invalidates their original swing.

    I still find this hard to imagine/understand. Can you give an example of what that breakdown looks like, in practice?

    “I reach up and try to slam my morningstar down on your head”
    “I uses my stone horns to trap and turn the morningstar aside.”

    vs

    “I try to Sweep the Leg™ with my morningstar” “I uses my stone horns to trap and turn the morningstar aside.” ← bad

    “I try to step back to avoid your arms” “OK, her arms clonk your shield” ← bad

    I am thinking in terms of ‘What do they do’ diegetically, with their options limited both by the diegesis and the dice, and then making my move which includes a diegetical component and a dice component.

    If “limited by the dice” sounds like making decisions from dice then let me tell you that I consider things like “this creature can fly” to be a dice component. I wouldn’t say “I fly out of there!” if a creature has no Flying Speed™ (dice level).

    As I told Jeph, I certainly wasn’t overestimating what decisions were diegetical level decisions.

    Paul, you kind of always do this; I ask you to scroll up and read my discussion with Jeph and then you rope me into givig you a full replay of everything anyway. Just scroll up, it’s all there.

  • Sandra,

    Ok, ok! I read all that, but I can leave it be - I’m not trying to annoy anyone. I suppose, “it doesn’t affect the dice, but we still enjoy passing the description back and forth and it’s working great” might be good enough. I should try it sometime, perhaps. (Besides, if you’re starting to hand out adv/disadvantage based on those descriptions, that’s going to matter a lot, too.)

    For the killing blow, have you tried, “it can’t dodge this one... what happens?”

    Then again, having the GM narrate the killing blow isn’t a problem either - it’s a nice reward/surprise.

    Thanks for answering my questions about combat flow. I’ll have to try all this sometime, I think, after all these conversations about it. :)

    Also, on the issue of maneuvering vs attacking, I’ll start a new thread. (It sounds like you’ve mostly dropped the maneuvering idea, right?)
  • I suppose, “it doesn’t affect the dice, but we still enjoy passing the description back and forth and it’s working great” might be good enough.

    Paul, you’re driving me crazy… :bawling:

    @Jeph asked if the diegetics were direct inputs to dice. (in programming terms: arguments [and environmental variables, or dynamically-scoped variables] to function call) I said honestly? not often; and

    1. listed some of the rare exceptions where they do (shield spell, monk missile ability, absorb elements spell—starting second session it became a lot more common because adv and disadv started pouring out like candy). Note that DW has zero of this because it’s always 2d6+stat vs 7/10. Blades in the Dark has a lot more of it where position/effect are two “inputs” to the dice engagement.
    2. gave myself a pretty darn good excuse: this system worked perfectly in dice-only mode for 5 years so ofc the “dice engagements” are set up to not rely on diegetics. I had previously deliberately decoupled the dice engagements from being too dependent on diegetic specifics, including things that almost every other DM on Earth rely on the diegetics to determine, such as “who are hit by the fireball” or “who does the monster attack” and that’s not undone in a day.
    3. explained that the even though they [during first session, before the adv/disadv change for second session] didn’t affect the inputs to the dice, we found that they affected the choice of dice engagement very often. (In programming terms: dispatching which function was being called.) For example increased use of grapple, disarm, shove from both hobos and monsters, and a whole new set of lesser-used spells and moves from the hobos, including rank switching a lot more. Similar to Jeph’s example from DW where Alice chooses between defending herself or defending Bob based on the diegetics.
    4. (and this is one I’m getting the most frustrated with you denying, and this is the one where we’re repeating ourselves / talking past each other to an embarrassing degree): Just as how in DW, there are several diegetic circumstances that are all resolved with Defy Danger, here there are several diegetic moves that are all resolved with a defense roll or a hit point spend. The choice of diegetic move still matters because it affects the diegetic response. Now, to the counter argument that “well it’s all the same on the dice level in the end”, see points 1 through 3 above. As I said, ironically, the killing blow is the only skippable diegetic move [I just need discipline for it]; if the monster can defend, I need to say how it does that so I can explain to the player why their diegetic position was compromised; and in order to defend I need to know from the player the diegetic specifics of the attack etc.

    Straw doll version of Paul “Now, what does that matter, in the end the monster lives or dies depending on dice alone”; well, that’s if it’s just one hobo & one monster. But there’s often multiple on both sides and what happened was that trap-finding and monster-fighting were a lot more integrated seamlessly. Even though one monster dies, maybe others are still alive and your fictional positioning still matters when fighting with them [for reasons 1,2,3 and 4] or dealing with traps or social fallout from defending/abandoning each other.

    For the killing blow, have you tried, “it can’t dodge this one… what happens?”

    Yes, tried it (I do pretty diligent testing of variant phrases & discoursive sequences), ran into stance issue right away.

    Also, on the issue of maneuvering vs attacking, I’ll start a new thread. (It sounds like you’ve mostly dropped the maneuvering idea, right?)

    Yes; I might’ve reacted negatively to your original idea that every parried blow was a failed murder attempt, but after thinking about it for a few hours I bought into that idea and then rebuilt the entire system around this and around your HP spend idea. (So you’re trying to tear down your own idea ♥.) The stare-stare-stare-chop Yojimbo think can’t work, but the clang-clang-clang-touché most certainly can, albeit with a little bit more weight behind the clangs than I’d like. Swashbuckling yes, chambara no. One out of two ain’t that bad. If someone maneuvers, and they happen to kill the foe, then I’ll open a killing prompt just for that special (maybe never) case.

  • Oh, no! I'm not trying to tear anything down. Clearly it's working for you - and I've repeatedly said that I want to try it myself.

    What you're saying about stance issues makes instant sense to me, for instance.

    I'm just having trouble visualizing your particular arguments(?)/statements(?) here. For instance, what I take from your #1 is that having a more vivid, descriptive fiction is reminding people to use other combat options more often. Is that right? That's a useful thing, no doubt. I've always tried to make D&D combat feel more dynamic than "people standing still, whacking at each other", and describing the ebb and flow of battle is a huge part of that. Agreed.

    That covers #3, as well, right? I'm not disagreeing with any of this - not sure why I'm coming across as being adversarial here. That's not my intention.

    (#3, though, is the thing I'm most curious about, and I've never seen you actually explain what that looks like. That's what I was hoping for an example of. But I think, if I got it in the long paragraph above, then it makes sense to me.)

    #4 is the one I simply don't understand. In both DW and 2097e, the dice (in the literal sense) aren't directly affected by the narration: we still roll the same dice and add the same numbers. However, in DW, we don't know what rule or move is getting engaged until we hear the player's decision/description/narration. Is it Hack and Slash? Defy Danger? Defend? Just trade harm for harm? It seems to me that in 2097e, it's either "I suffer the attack", or "I roll defense", and, on a failed defense, it's always "I spend HP" - no way around that. But perhaps adding the option of "I suffer the attack" at each of those points has dramatically changed the flow of battle? (I find that hard to imagine, because I can't see players doing that very often unless the action economy also changes, such that forfeiting defense would grant an extra chance to do something, but perhaps that's what's happening.)

    Does that help clarify, or just make it more confusing for you? I'm willing to drop this, too; it's not really a super important point. I'm just curious, because your statements about increased diegetic meaningfulness in combat description doesn't seem to flow naturally from the rules being used. I'd ask you to be patient with me, since you made the same assumptions until you actually tried it. :) I'm basically in your shoes a week ago (or whenever that actually was).
  • edited May 2019

    For instance, what I take from your #1 is that having a more vivid, descriptive fiction is reminding people to use other combat options more often. Is that right? That’s a useful thing, no doubt. I’ve always tried to make D&D combat feel more dynamic than “people standing still, whacking at each other”, and describing the ebb and flow of battle is a huge part of that. Agreed.

    That covers #3, as well, right? I’m not disagreeing with any of this - not sure why I’m coming across as being adversarial here. That’s not my intention.

    That covers only #3, not #1.

    By #1, I instead meant something similar to Blades in the Darks’ position and effect, and to traditional “sloppy/fuzzy” D&D (i.e. not using my underlying Introducing late night fighting) that relies on the diegesis to anwer things like “sure, you can hit the four orcs on the left with your fireball”. In other words:

    #1: the diegesis changes some quality about the dice move, rather than selecting a different dice move
    #3: the diegesis leads into a different dice move being selected altogether

    Side note: Weird that just a few weeks ago I was so gungho about finally achieving the @Ben_Robbins inspired “Every square is 5 foot” strict clarity from West Marches, but this week it’s @Silmenume’s game that’s the new hotness for me :bawling:

    #4 is the one I simply don’t understand.

    I think you don’t understand the flow and how moves are selected.

    To my surprise I found that the flow… that the only way the flow could work, settled very quickly after a few awkward rounds in the ‘dream fight’.

    I documented it here.

    In both DW and [the “Oh, Injury!” subsystem for] 2097e, the dice (in the literal sense) aren’t directly affected by the narration: we still roll the same dice and add the same numbers.

    Yes, this was true for first session of “Oh, Injury!”, changed for second session and ongoing. A lot of these posts were made during first session though so that change isn’t the linchpin of what I’m trying to explain.

    However, in DW, we don’t know what rule or move is getting engaged until we hear the player’s decision/description/narration. Is it Hack and Slash? Defy Danger? Defend? Just trade harm for harm?

    This is similar in “Oh, Injury!” and DW.

    BTW this can sometimes be one of the most bullshit parts of both DW and OI;
    in the situation of a monster move has just been iniated, which is the exact kind of move you are talking about, Paul:
    “All four arms hurl forward towards atcha!”
    I have to narrate / fictionally position myself in a way to make sure the GM lets me “hack and slash” since “defy danger” or pure harm would suck.

    With Hack and Slash as well as with Defy Danger, I get to avoid harm on a 10+ but with the former I also get to deal some harm myself too.
    With Hack and Slash as well as with Defy Danger, it really really sucks on a 7-9+ but with the former I also get to deal some harm myself too.

    We had a similar moment yesterday; Alice tried to avoid getting grappled [and dropped into a lethal trap] and made the diegetic move to try to dodge away. I said “sure, roll a dexterity check”. Alice then said “oh, is that how it works? can I have a do-over since this is early days with the new system” and I said yes and then Alice changed her description to “I try to yank myself loose” and I said “sure, roll a strength check”. A difference of +6 or so!

    It seems to me that in 2097e, it’s either “I suffer the attack”, or “I roll defense”, and, on a failed defense, it’s always “I spend HP” - no way around that. But perhaps adding the option of “I suffer the attack” at each of those points has dramatically changed the flow of battle?

    So two distinct answers:

    You have zoomed in on one very specific interaction. Those interactions are not the only “[diegetic move]→[dice engagement],[diegetic move]→[dice engagement],[diegetic move]→[dice engagement]” sequences in Oh, Injury. That’s part of the big hangup.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s look at that interaction, one where the player wishes to narrate themselves into an “I roll defense” (or into an “I spend hit points”) because that’s their only way to avoid Harm Inflicted [LIs and DSFs]. That, or they need to think very outside the box. Dungeon World has similar specific moments. “Rocks fall, what do you do?” You need to stand and take it, or “narrate avoiding it”.

    For the thousandth time:

    Even if it’s clear whether you want to avoid, the specific way you avoid is necessary for the DM/GM to know so she can make follow-up moves.

    I find that hard to imagine, because I can’t see players doing that very often unless the action economy also changes, such that forfeiting defense would grant an extra chance to do something, but perhaps that’s what’s happening.

    Well, it’s a niche case but taking dive inspiration can be a good call tactically; if you’re willing to take on injury in order to later get advantage or impose disadv. That’s an option DW doesn’t even give you. The other niche case is when you don’t know how to narrate your way out of the pinch you’re in. However, I’m not primarily arguing from either of those two niche cases; the situation proposed was one where the player did want to avoid harm. And, for the thousandth-and-first time:

    Even if it’s clear whether you want to avoid, the specific way you avoid is necessary for the DM/GM to know so she can make follow-up moves.

  • I’m just curious, because your statements about increased diegetic meaningfulness in combat description doesn’t seem to flow naturally from the rules being used. I’d ask you to be patient with me, since you made the same assumptions until you actually tried it. :) I’m basically in your shoes a week ago (or whenever that actually was).

    Right, last Tuesday.
    So the new thing I learned when these wheels hit the actual asphalt was that the flow needs to be

    Uh, the flow, I’m trying to document it

    Monster attack flowYou see a maw full of teeth flying towards you, what do you do?I try to duck under it!Roll a defense roll DC 18!Fail!It bobs down, following you down doing kind of a somersault, gnashing&gnawing at you, what do you do?I slam it’s face with my shield!OK, spend 11 hit points to do that!Player attack flowI try to push its arms aside & smash its head with a morning star!Make an attack roll AC 17!Succeed! 14 damage! [note to self: that’s how I remember it; that they roll attack and damage in quick succession / one beat]It spends 14 hit points to push your morningstar aside and slash you with its claws, what do you do?

    It’s inherently assymmetrical because monsters don’t need to justify their dice engagements with diegetical moves; they make their moves as one (“It spends 14 hit points to push your morningstar aside”). That’s a perfect fit with the “Players make all rolls” UA that we’ve used for many years; since that UA means that the monsters can’t use dice engagement to attack, they have to make diegetical moves. I hope this is the missing puzzle piece :bawling:

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