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derived stats: math too complex?

Willy Elektrix

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I’m creating an RPG with somewhat of an “traditional” feel. The game uses attributes, skills, and derived stats based on the PCs' attributes. Right now, the rules work pretty well and the game play is simple and fast. However, I’m a little worried that people will be intimidated by the math during character creation. Most of the math is easy addition, but calculating the derived stats takes some averaging. For example:

Melee Attack Modifier: average of strength and dexterity (round down) + melee skill + weapon rating + bonuses from any relevant feats


Ranged Attack Modifier: average of dexterity and perception (round down) + ranged skill + weapon rating + bonuses from any relevant feats


Armor Class: average of strength, dexterity, and perception (round down) + armor rating + shield rating + bonuses from any relevant feats


Is it too much to ask players to calculate averages? I don’t think so, and I never passed algebra in high school, but I don’t know how modern players will feel about this.
These three formulas represent the most complicated math in the entire game. All the other math is simple addition and subtraction. Opinions?
 
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Naeddyr

two
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You could try phrasing it differently, if it bothers you.

Instead of say "the average of X and Y" you could do "half of X + half of Y"

Only catch is the rounding can give different results if you round both halves before adding them, but it's simpler that way.
 

Heavy Arms

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Validated User
Derived stats, especially ones that generally only need to be calculated at creation/when advancing traits, usually have a high tolerance for math. Not everyone obviously, but in general resistance to math is if you have to do it a lot in play rather than something you can do ahead of time.

So, something to consider is: will players have access to powers that change the base traits in play? Something like Barbarian Rage in most D&D editions that boosts your stats, and will such powers increase derived stats or not?

If these traits are going to go up and down, and need recalculation, during play? Reduce math. If not? Averages are usually fine.
 

johnthedm7000

Social Justice Witch
Validated User
I agree with Heavy Arms somewhat in that if the numbers remain fairly static over time, that averaging them isn't a huge deal. With that being said, I would look for ways to have the same effect but without the need for math: every mathematical step in your game is one step between the player and the game experience. So minimizing the number of steps necessary to get to the depth you want is the ideal, which sounds obvious but I mention only because I think there's a way for you to cut out the division in character creation:

In the case of melee attacks, if you have a separate damage roll, have Dexterity apply to the attack, and strength to damage.

In the case of ranged attacks, have Perception apply to the attack roll, and dexterity to damage.

In the case of armor class, have a certain amount of strength as a requirement for wearing the better varieties of armor (which should be the main thing contributing to someone being difficult to hit-armor was a hell of an advantage on a medieval or Renaissance battlefield) and use Dexterity as the attribute for helping to determine armor class.

This would eliminate the extra math, remove a potential obstacle to players engaging with your game, and also give you some fun design space to further give the attributes unique roles in combat rather than just being another source of pluses that's added up once on your sheet and then forgotten about. For example, what if Perception also determined the range of range weapons, or gave you the option of asking a certain number of questions of the GM each scene, based on your perception modifier like "what do these guys want?" or "what is the mage hiding from me?" ? What if Dexterity let you move cover more ground in combat without using up your actions/resources, or gave you additional incidental actions, or was the attribute used for a high-stakes Riposte maneuver that where you could use up a resource (an action in a future turn, a reaction, a plot token, whatever) in order to make an attack to counter an opponent's strike? What if having a high strength score, instead of just adding to damage gave you additional benefits when using a weapon? Like a beefy champion with a greatsword who can cleave through one foe to strike a second, or a warhammer wielding brute whose warhammer knocks weaker foes to the ground with each blow?

There are a lot of potential options here that give you additional design space to play around with without cluttering the game with a bazillion feats. The first question I usually get when I run a fantasy game for someone new to RPGs is "hey can I do *cool thing*?"and I've found that the answer people least like to hear is "Yes, but you need feat x, feat y, and feat z in order to do it/in order to do it effectively". If you're going to use attributes, skills, and the like make them pull as much weight as you can.
 

cryptc

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Validated User
could you modify the system slightly to use sum of both stats instead of average, and just double everything else to keep the same balance? it should be the same effect then of having both stats apply equally, but without a clunky calculation. Might mean you need to adjust the rest of the system to match though.
 

baakyocalder

Member
RPGnet Member
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HackMaster uses a sum of several stats in combat (Intelligence and Dexerity for attacking and Wisdom and Dexterity for initiative and defense) and you need not recalculate it often. The instances where you do recalculations of stats are things such as critical hits and fumbles and fatigue; they are infrequent enough that they are less of a concern.

I don't think averaging two stats and adding in a few other things is not complex in my book, but then I do accounting. I'm fine adding up a bunch of items as long as the formulas are clear and I can punch things in on a calculator to double-check.

If there is prior preparation, players who lack strong skills in basic math can have the information on their sheet.
 

cloa513

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Validated User
Just direct players and have places on their character sheets. So at character creation and even major stat and skill change events (maybe leave out dynamic events like spells) they calculate Melee Attack Base (MAB) 1/2Dex+1/2Str+Melee Skill, Ranged Attack Base=1/2D+1/2P+Ranged skill, Armor Class Base= 1/3 Str+1/3Dex+1/3 Perc +Armor(maybe)+Shield(maybe) The maybes depend on how likely they are to remove and reequip then have them do calculations for modified Melee Attack Base (for each weapon)=MAB+weapon rating, modified Ranged Attack Base= RAB+weapon rating, Obviously Armor Class Modified could be ACB+armor rating+shield rating Then the players only need to do a much simpler add one number (Modified MAB or Mod RAB or Mod AC to another feat . I assume feats are dynamic- the players choose to use them. Don't assume they will think ahead.
 

Alban

Registered User
Validated User
You could try phrasing it differently, if it bothers you.

Instead of say "the average of X and Y" you could do "half of X + half of Y"

Only catch is the rounding can give different results if you round both halves before adding them, but it's simpler that way.
Which raises another question : are attributes ever used for their full value in the game ?
If not, why not use a scale that is half the original one and simply sum Attribute 1 + Attribute 2 ?
 

Ficino

Rascally Rabbit
Validated User
One difficulty is that armor class involves the average of three stats, so cutting each in half overall won't have the right effect.
 
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