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Best Mechanics to Steal from Non-D&D Games

Kuildeous

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Now that Pathfinder 2 is live, I feel it’s worth mentioning the one novel concept I’ve found in that rules system: Situational initiative modifier. Maybe something else came up with it first, but for now I’m going to credit PF2.

Basically, your Initiative is not modified strictly by Dexterity. By default, it’s modified by Perception, which makes sense in that aware people are going to detect danger sooner than the oblivious. But you could use a different skill depending on what prompts the combat. So if you’re sneaking into position, you would roll Stealth for your initiative. If you were bullshitting the guard while your buddies get in position, you would roll Deception for your initiative. In the playtest we had some pretty fluid methods of determining the initiative modifier: Arcana when detecting magic, Survival when tracking your foe, and Acrobatics when diving through a window from outside the tavern. I like how flexible that is.

This works best with the bounded accuracy you can find in PF2, D&D4, and 13th Age. It would be terrible in D&D3 the skill gap could easily see someone with +20 always beating out the guy with -1. Yeah, it makes sense, but it’s also boring.
 

Kuildeous

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Perhaps bounded accuracy isn't the correct phrase for those. Scalability may be a better term.
 

Sage Genesis

Two
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Frankly I don't think "bounded accuracy" is the correct phrase for any D&D or D&D-alike, save perhaps for Dungeon World. Which is only D&D-alike in terms of themes, not mechanics.
 

Bomberg

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I think about integrating the Ressource Dice mechanic from Forgotten Lands in my 2e Dragonlance campaign. Problem is, there are long stretches were the PCs couldn't really acquire new arrows, bolts, or stuff like that.
 

Kuildeous

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Okay, in an effort to make sure I'm using the correct terminology, I read this site: https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Understanding_Bounded_Accuracy_(5e_Guideline)

I rather enjoyed reading it. Since this was terminology invented for D&D5, I see why people were confused with my applying this to 13th Age and PF2. Based on how the term was used, I took it to mean that the game was set so that you have a limited range of useful numbers, not just limited to the range of the d20. It was my belief that both types of games had bounded accuracy, but they approached them differently.

In D&D5, bounded accuracy was achieved by capping the maximum attack bonus, defense bonus, and situational bonus. You're expected to have a situation where a low number will pretty much fail and a high number will pretty much succeed.

While this philosophy was not applied to 13th Age, D&D4, and PF2, it struck me as being very similar with a different take. You didn't have capped maximums; theoretically you could have a 40th-level character with +40 from level alone. Instead, the world (mainly in the form of opponents) leveled with you. Whether you're 2nd level or 17th level, you can expect to fight foes where—just like in D&D5—a low number will pretty much fail and a high number will pretty much succeed.

Now where the bounded accuracy is a lot more rigid in D&D5, a GM could jack with the other systems and throw AC 40 against PCs with only +8 attacks. I suppose that alone makes bounded accuracy an inappropriate term, but I also aver that such situations are not ideal for those types of games. You could choose not to have an appropriate level for your PCs, but is the group having fun with foes they curb stomp without effort or with foes that are unkillable (barring frantic horror survival tropes which are indeed a fun genre to explore)?

So all that to say that I probably am better off not referring to anything with accuracy bounding. I've learned some lessons. I still feel that 13th Age and its ilk accomplish the same thing as D&D5 but with a wildly differing approach.

So when I talk about the flexible initiative system of PF2, I say that this should work pretty well with any flavor of D&D that is not 3e. The reason being that 3e can allow for huge skill gaps at the same level (-1 vs +25, for example) whereas the 13th Age family has a much smaller gap and makes the flexible initiative system more appealing.
 

DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
One mechanic I am thinking about inflicting on my current D&D 5e group is the "push" mechanic from CoC and like games. Where the player can choose to reroll for the risk of greater failure.

My 5e campaign is pretty light hearted, and run as a de-stresser of adult life. Where my friends and I get together, chat, drink whiskey, and roll some dice for a few hours once a week.

I think the push mechanic could be really fun, especially if I, as the DM, outline the consequences of failure before the risk roll is made. Like "Do you want to risk roll? If you fail then your intimidate check on this guard turns into 'I draw my sword to intimidate, but oops I stabbed him on accident.'" or "If you push this acrobatics roll and fail you'll land on your dagger taking 1d4 damage in addition to fall damage, and land prone."
 

Bira

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D&D 5 accuracy is "bounded" in the sense that modifiers and DCs are never supposed to get very high. An elder red dragon has an AC of 19, for example. PCs who really care about AC can start with a 20, but it's not going to go up by a lot over the next 20 levels. You're never going to meet someone with AC in the 40s. Attack and save bonuses scale similarly. The bonus for your attacks and the skills/saves you're good at will increase by +4 over 20 levels (from level alone). Stuff like magic items or attribute increases will provide a few more points, but you're probably not going to see someone with a +30 attack bonus.

The effect here is that level matters less than the d20 roll. Monsters and other challenges whose level is wildly different from your own should never become utterly trivial or utterly impossible to survive. It's a good fit for people who think monster stat blocks are absolute statements, since it allows goblins to always use the same "goblin" stat block while allowing enough goblins to present a threat to higher-level characters.

D&D 4 accuracy is "bounded" in the sense that every modifier is going to increase with level in a more or less uniform fashion. All of your attacks, skills, and defenses get a bonus equal to half your current level, and other sources of bonuses end up making the effective increase something close to +1/level. Your "worst" skills will still have a lower bonus than your "best" ones, but they'll grow together as you level up.

Under this system, level is the most important number. If you're always facing level-appropriate opposition, your chances of success remain roughly the same. Enemies that are much lower level than you become trivial challenges, since they can never hit you and you can always hit them. Enemies that are much higher level become impossible for the same reason.

This is a good fit for people who think monster stat blocks should reflect the monster's narrative role. The accepted way to keep a monster threatening throughout a character's career is to give it multiple stat blocks of increasing level but decreasing status ("Level 5 Elite" -> "Level 10 Regular" -> "Level 15 Minion").
 

MacBalance

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Validated User
The GUMSHOE principle of always giving core clues with no rolling works for everything.
I've been making some notes about handing 'investigation checks' as:
  • Fail and you get the key clue(s).
  • Pass and you get the key clue(s) plus a bonus of some kind. Treasure, extra knowledge about a quarry, etc... Whatever makes sense for the game.
 
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