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Down the rabbit hole: design for high crunch, high complexity


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Sorry, I wanted to be part of this discussion, but unfortunately had to leave home for a couple of weeks due to wild fires, just returned today and after sorting through the coming home shit, I'll be back in a couple of days to join in for real :)


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With the linear vs non-linear (to keep it more general than bell curve) you have to look at the whole resolution mechanism and not separate out the dice roll and table lookup (if you use the latter).

For example, with THAC0 you have a non-linear progression because the table makes it non-linear even if the die roll is linear. (If it were completely linear you could get rid of the table like later editions of D&D did.)

I agree that the KotBL table isn't very non-linear - certainly less non-linear than 3d6, by the looks of it - and doesn't fully use the granularity of the d100 (unless there are also modifiers that apply directly to the roll other than shifts in the table), but it still allows you to have very low probability events on the extremes, like the 99-100 fumble risk for someone at 10. (As a sidenote, one thing I like about highly granular system is that it takes very little effort to bake in those rare-but-possible events.)

Now, if you're using a computer for the resolution, there's no reason to limit yourself to a d100 if you want something highly granular. You can just as easily use a d1000 or even higher (though I question the value of going beyond that).

As a sidenote, when we're talking about computerized or computer-aided resolution, many computer games use non-linear mechanisms both for to-hit chances and damage, where the comparison between the offensive and defensive values can involve calculations that would be intolerable at the tabletop.


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Hello again! As I said, this thread was supposed to exist for the longer term, but in the meantime I got down the rabbit hole and now I have an almost bottomless list of game systems that I want to analyze and distill. When I left I was planning to go to Against the Darkmaster next, but I took a wider detour and the more the days go by the more I get further away. (and I also plan to discuss what others have said, but not right now)

Yesterday's detour was about well known material: I looked into the various editions of RuneQuest.

One of the ideas that go into my planned frankenstein ruleset is about gluing together various parts that weren't already in the core (Harnmaster). More specifically two big areas:
- Success Levels
- Resource management

That's one of my planned detours, the "features" that seem more often tied to the choice of using "dice pools" is the possibility to deal directly with those two.

But here's the thing, classic RuneQuest already integrates some form of success levels, at least compared to Harnmaster. The standard Harnmaster matrix is four entries, hit/miss + crit hit/crit miss. RuneQuest instead adds a "special" entry. At least up to its 3rd edition.

Right now the system I was using took the actual hit roll (and the roll of the opponent) to "weigh" the success of an attack, and convert that result directly in the random part of the damage dealt. I basically took the classic damage roll and replaced it by converting the "success level" of the to-hit roll. Which creates an elegant system since not only you don't have to roll again, but the damage also becomes more directly tied to your skill level, while still retaining a random variable part.

That was my own solution, but I then discovered it was nothing new and there are plenty of systems that do just the same, implemented in slightly different ways.

...But, that solution is far from satisfying or complete. For example it only counts for to-hit rolls, and doesn't work in the other cases. So one of the things I was planning was to extend those Success Levels also to parries/blocks/dodges, and then also to normal misses, maybe by creating some sort of "momentum" concept that would carry over to the next turn, in some way.

The final step, for this system, would be to also integrate some sort of resource management, but I still haven't explored this area. And here's where I got back to RuneQuest...

Here's the breakdown of the various RQ editions:

- 1 and 2 go together as the 2nd doesn't stray away from the first in meaningful ways, and from what I read it only corrects errors.
- The 3rd was a mixed bag. Some things work better, some worse (everyone complains about fatigue/encumbrance), but it's generally considered as a "more detailed and complex" system, building on the 2nd edition. (then people argue about Glorantha, but we're dealing with rules-only here)
- The 4th is especially interesting for me, because it is described as an even more radical simulative and complex approach that was discarded also for that reason. It was never published and I was desperate specifically to read this one. But in the end it's fairly easy to find, so I'm very happy and this is what I'm going to read next. Although "complex" systems tend to be rather overhyped and exaggerated, in my experience.
- Then there are the two Mongoose editions (that can be confusing as the second is called RQ 2). The first that is not so well regarded, and the second that seems fine. Then I think rebranded and adapted under the name of "Legend." But it doesn't seem there's much rule-substance to dig out here.
- The 6th edition by Design Mechanism seems the one more noteworthy that, despite being still based on classic RQ, is introducing more ideas, and more complexity and choices to the combat. So this is considered the very "best" version of the rules, just as long you are looking for engaging, deep and demanding combat. If that's what you are looking for (I am), then RQ6 is the choice, if instead you want faster combat resolution, they send you back to a mix of RQ2 and 3. (there's also a Mythras edition along with RQ6, but I'm told they are mechanically identical)
- And then we get the recent 7th edition, again by Chaosium, back to Glorantha, that is supposed to deliver just that. An updated version of 2nd and 3rd editions, and offering a smoother, simpler system for those who think 6th edition is too cumbersome.

So, since I'm looking for complexity and specific mechanics, instead of a system to play, I was looking at some of the changes between 2nd and 3rd, and I was surprised to find a mechanic in the 2nd, removed from the 3rd, that is actually the very opposite of "smooth" and fast.

I wonder if it's one of those rules that exist but no one really takes into consideration, or that are nerfed from their intended use: I'm talking about "Defense".

If the 3rd edition is considered more complex and detailed, this surely is the exception. The "Defense" of 2nd edition is discarded and replaced by a "dodge" skill, whose use is fairly straightforward. It's a type of reactive roll that counts as an action. It works as you'd expect, and I'm not sure why everyone says it's meant to replace 2nd edition "defense", as they are functionally quite different.

The "Defense" rule is the kind of flavor rule I really enjoy digging from old systems, because it has a purpose and charm, but carries a certain clunkiness. Those are the interesting rules that are usually "smoothed away", and it's not a case that 3rd edition erased it from existence. And yet... no one pays tribute. No one remembers. Those who praise 2nd edition, praise its simplicity. The Defense rule not only is erased from recent rules, but from memory.

Let's remember then.

Nothing about "Defense" is smooth, and that's why I like it. The first aspect is that it's not an optional rule, but it might not exist. It's a value that can or cannot be there, as it depends on the bonuses of the other statistics. If you have an high enough value in some of those stats, then your character will also have a "defense" value, otherwise it simply doesn't exist until it spontaneously arises if those stats increase for other reasons.

It's unclear here, because the statistics also give penalties on lower values, but I doubt you could really have a negative defense value: it would work like an attack bonus and it doesn't make a lot of sense. So I supposed those negative values only matter as long Defense is >= 0, and are otherwise ignored. But the text doesn't explain anything about this.

Instead let's say the character calculates those bonuses and ends up even with a tiny 5% Defense value. This is the number that will be then be subtracted from attacks against that character. It's fairly clunky because even if it's a tiny penalty you have to remember to apply it for every attack (or once a turn, I guess). It's not a penalty that you handle yourself, but something that you have to remind to everyone attacking you. It adds one step to the combat "algorithm", and it's also going to be a constant.

Multiple opponents can complicate this, but creating the chance for some minimal resource management. If your Defense value is 10 or more, then you can distribute it freely among those that attack you, just as long it never goes below 5% versus a single opponent. You can use all of it against one opponent, or split it freely. Something that vaguely reminds me of RoleMaster as it creates a tiny tactical choice. It's cute.

Beside this quirky use, it's everything else that makes it much more convoluted. The rules say the player MUST roll for a Defense increase attempt, EVERY TIME the defense blocks the attack. For example if the guy attacking me has 50% sword skill, and my defense is 5%, then he has an effective 45%. If he rolls 46-50, then the Defense value blocked the attack, and the player MUST make the improvement roll. Every time this happens. Not at the end of the combat, not at the end of the adventure. Every time an attack is neutralized by defense an improvement roll must happen.

Of course you can still decide to delay that roll, but the rules make clear that for *every* successful "defense" you can make one roll.

The improvement roll is different from all other improvement rolls. Those are subject to diminishing returns, so that it's less probable to increase a skill the higher it gets, meaning that the growth becomes slower and slower. But this doesn't apply to Defense.

Defense will increase steadily and linearly, because the improvement roll is made on the INT value. Being stats on classic 3d6, it's a fairly small chance, but the important aspect here is that INT is decoupled from the Defense value. So that Defense can grow at will, INDEFINITELY. It has no cap, no limit, no diminishing returns if not the longevity of the character and the number of fights being survived.

Now imagine what could happen long term. Since it has no actual limits, the Defense could ideally grow to rather high values, and those are always applied as penalties to those who attack. This means that, over time, this character will build something like a defensive barrier, that becomes quite effective as it works outside the active defensive options like parry/dodge skills.

It's like having the classic D&D Armor Class (applied to the hit roll passively), plus active defense, plus armor absorption.

Actually: the more Defense grows, the faster it will develop, because the greater the bonus the greater the chance that it will be Defense preventing the attack. You still need to roll under an unchanging INT, but the number of attempts you get will keep growing.

Pull it all together: at the beginning Defense is going to be small. You have to remember (to remember, your opponent) to subtract the value. Then you have to remember to always evaluate whether the actual roll is within the defense protection. And every time it is, you have to make one improvement roll. Once Defense grows, you'll have to make improvement rolls almost constantly, creating an escalation. At some point you might have to make Defense improvement rolls almost every time someone rolls for an attack against you.

So............ This is quite the opposite of a streamlined, fast system, despite everyone seems to sell RQ 1 & 2 as the faster, smoother systems compared to all other editions.

Despite this clunkiness I rather like how Defense provides a form of resource management, and that over time develops in a way that can provide something like a form of "plot armor" for those characters that live long enough.

But I wonder: has anyone really used it accurately as it is described in the rules? How could have anyone forgotten the crazy increase of bookkeeping it adds on its own?

(in the future I'll be more concise, or try to)

RuneQuest doesn't stop at RuneQuest. So there's D100 Revolution, the already mentioned Legend, OpenQuest, BRP, Clockwork & Chivalry and more. Among these it's Revolution D100 that got my attention, so that one is added to the list as well.


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A few more quick notes.

One idea I had, as I said, was to create some sort of "momentum" that would create some conditions that carry over from one combat turn to the next (beside health), instead of resets. I want something that gives an idea of flow, and that opens some tactical options. Combat that buids its own flow and story, instead of being just attacks and parries on repeat (one might call this goal "cinematic", but even realistic combat follows this ideal). This also made me consider the option to move away from a D100 skill system, and instead use something more "open ended", something like a D20. Where instead of rolling under your skill value you just roll the d100 and add the result to the skill value. The higher the better. Mixing this to a system using prevalently "success levels" would open the way for a "flow", as the amount of success in the to-hit roll would carry over instead of being stuck in a hit/miss binary combination. But that's just one idea to consider later, and probably not easy to get right (or worthwhile to toss the intuitive d100 away).

Another idea was similar to the posture mechanic in the videogame Sekiro. That's a way to build on that idea of momentum, and have fights that are tactical at the beginning, trying to break a balance and gain an advantage. Thinking mechanically about this, I thought that Sekiro's posture might be similar to the concept of ablative armor, but applied to the hit roll. Essentially the "posture" is a type of barrier that gets eroded over time. And when your opponent loses that balance then the attacks become deadly.

Now let's go back to RuneQuest "Defense". That's a rule that increases the bookkeeping, while at the beginning the value is so small to be fairly pointless. But then it can grow to higher values to the point it breaks the game utterly. Now imagine of buffing it, instead of removing it. Make it more substantial and an active part of the combat. The idea is... to make Defense ablative.

In RuneQuest, as I examined above, the Defense value resets completely with every new combat turn. But what instead if it's changed to a bigger resource pool, but made so that it gets progressively depleted when you get hit? Outside of combat, when you rest, it would reset back to its standard value, but this opens option during combat to have more defensive "moves" that would let you regain a little bit of Defense by sacrificing your attacks.

It would open the way to a system that carries over and influences the flow of combat turns, and offer potentially meaningful resource management.

But that's just another idea, and it will have to wait until I've studied more rulesets and solutions, to see if something better comes up, or if I get a new idea out of this process...


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Interesting ideas!

It sounds like you could have several values that imteract. Off the cuff:

  • Endurance: Degrades as the combat goes on, difficult to recover in combat but different actions cost more or less. Maybe Defense is linked to this in some fashion?
  • Posture (or stance or position): Goes up and down depending on actions and success rolls.
  • Injury: Foes up when you're wounded, negatively impacts the other two.
  • More?
Also, if you want ideas for a crunchier combat system, I believe Riddle of Steel is worth a look. You could also check out Schola Gladiatoria on YouTube.


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I'll once again write about some ideas I'm working with but then I plan going back to study other systems and see what they do best. Just before I was working with a really weird concept of (1d20 - 1d20), going from -19 to +19, but I couldn't get anything worthwhile out of it. Every time I try something outlandish it never seems to be worth the pain of doing something not intuitive, and I'm certainly not good enough to design a system that has an obscure nature. I don't have the skill to explore the high grass and expect to survive.

Same with that idea of having open ended high rolls, based on a d100 + skill value, instead of rolling under the skill. I feel like I'm going out of my depth without gaining anything out of it.

So I'm going back to the standard Harnmaster/RuneQuest, rolling under the skill value with a d100, but bringing a few safe adjustments to the system.

As I wrote above, one goal is to systematically incorporate Success Levels in all resolutions, instead of binary hit/misses. Right now the system I was using was simply calculating the "shift" between the number rolled on the dice and the skill value. So if you have 80% sword skill and roll a 30, that's a gap of 50, that might be converted to a Success Level of "5" (or whatever granularity you want VS the detail of the subtraction required). This works fine.

But I was also thinking I like the concept of "rolling high", and ended up realizing that doing so can actually offer two benefits at the same time, especially for adding Success Levels.

Instead of rolling low, the idea is to roll as high as possible, but under your skill value. Doing so will actually simplify the math for those Success Levels, because this time you only need to check if the roll is within the skill value, and then take its success level directly. If your sword skill is at 80%, you roll a 70, that's good. It's almost the maximum Success Level you can get, at 7. The number you roll is automatically your success level, just as long it's also under the skill value.

...Although this improvement is only apparent, since Success Levels reasonably need to be extended to include Failure Levels too. I cannot apply the same rule, because a guy with a sword skill at 80%, rolling a 90, would have a Failure Level of 9 (if I want to remove the subtraction). Doing so would penalize skilled characters, and it doesn't make sense. This means the subtraction is still necessary, at least in that upper half of the roll resolution.

Another consequence of this system is that you cannot roll criticals as before. Rolling a 1-5 critical success wouldn't work if I want the "roll high" concept. But this is easily fixed (it works like this in Harnmaster too), for example I can set critical rolls to be at all perfect 10 values. If the sword skill is at 80%, then a critical success is by rolling a 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80, or a cumulative 8%. If I want that rate. Otherwise in Harnmaster the critical roll is both ending in 0 and 5. So it becomes 20% of all the rolls, instead of 10% (counting all possible cases, both critical successes and failures).

But hey, something good comes out of this too: I can use Success Levels also within the critical rolls, so that rolling a 70 is again better than rolling a 20. Even if both happen to be Critical Successes.

That's where I'm at, and it's certainly nothing close to innovative. I was still thinking of resource management and the way dice pool let you use special dice to add some side effect. The idea is that while retaining all the system above, I could then give the numbers themselves some special values, the same as I've done with the criticals. So I could extend the system and add a layer of interpretation to the numbers. Maybe rolling doubles, 22, 33, 44, has a certain effect, or rolling units higher or lower than tens... Or maybe triggering a form of exploding die when a special combination happens. It still seems to me that most "features" of dice pools could be incorporated in a linear d100, with some creativity (with the added benefit that the d100 probabilities are immediately clear).

And finally I was toying with a "risk" mechanic.

The plan is again to also layer, along with success levels, also a level of special moves. I'll see what RuneQuest 6 does with it, but I already have a number of other systems to study that handle these cases. The plan is to take the best parts out of all of them.

In general, for what I see, you usually go for some special effect by taking a penalty. So for example you could "aim" an attack at a specific (maybe unarmored) location by taking a 20% penalty to the skill. Or the even more common penalty to the hit roll but to gain more damage (the various versions of "power attack").

My idea is about a type of "risk" roll, that can be matched with the Success Levels mechanics. The concept is that, for example, you're forcing a good hit at the expense of the chance of it succeeding. Nothing new here. But instead of simply lowering the skill value, and so lowering your Success Level potential as consequence, I'd apply the penalty to the lower range.

You have the sword skill at 60%. You want to use a special risk move that gives a penalty of 20%. In the standard way now you'd have to roll under a skill value of 40%, also reducing your possible Success Levels to 0-4. Instead my idea is to invalidate (miss) the rolls within the 20% penalty, so rolling 1-20 is a failure, and rolling 21-60 is a success.

The consequence of this is a better simulation of risk, because it means you're rolling with a penalty (40% instead of 60%), but in the case you succeed then your success level is automatically higher (2 to 6), instead of becoming (0-4) if the penalty reduced the skill level normally.

Doing so would remove again the need for the subtraction (subtracting penalty from skill level), but once again opens the problem of Failure Levels. Because now the action fails going 1-20, and then again at 61-100. But maybe this is not too bad, and this split can create more complexity of resolution. I can resolve the 61-100 as normal failures, and treat instead the 1-20 as "special" failures, that maybe convert to a token for the opponent in the next turn, or the possibility for a counterattack.

It's not too bad, and we're still rooted in the d100 system with all its intuitive strengths.

Summary: a d100 with the following tweaks:
- inclusion of Success/Failure Levels, instead of a simple binary (or almost binary) matrix hit/miss.
- roll under the skill value, but trying to roll as high as possible to maximize the Success Level.
- critical rolls obtained by rolling a zero in the unit, immediately evident.
- "Risk" moves whose penalty/cost is applied to the lower range of the roll, instead of a penalty to subtract from the skill value.
- use of that lower "Risk" range to open a richer resolution/tactical matrix.


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I like it. There's some weirdness for bonuses (mirroring the penalties immediately opens up the top end of the range), but if you run high skill default you can remove that issue.


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While I obviously know about RoleMaster and is on my list of things to study and incorporate, I still never really got a good grasp of how it works (and I might as well be making mistakes here).

Jumping around, I noticed that the skill rank system table that I saw in "Against the Darkmaster" is identical to the one in HARP, and not so different from the one in RoleMaster, from 2nd edition to RMU. This means that when I'm going into this I'll have to look at all three at the same time. It is interesting because I want to see how these ranks can be purchased and how improvements are handled, and see if there are variations between these systems. I have my ideas but there's a good chance that what I plan to do isn't that different from how these systems already work (my goal is to have a class-less level-less system, skill based, but where basic statistics stay relevant instead of just background noise that produces tiny bonuses to the skill values).

The RoleMaster beta forums are full of very interesting and in-depth design discussions. RMU now uses a system of Action Points that is close to the one I also want to use, and I'm intrigued by open-ended skills/rolls.

But there's one aspect that is at the core of the system that I don't like at all, and so it goes right toward my goal of hybridizing Harnmaster/RuneQuest/RoleMaster/Dangerous Journey/Riddle of the Steel/Chivalry & Sorcery (and more).

The part of RoleMaster I don't like at all is how it abstracts the parries, and then the general resolution of the attacks. My goal is to do without lookup tables and instead achieve some similar complexity through the use of rules. The problem I have with tables is that they are a way to hardcode game design, but in order to understand what those table actually do, mechanically, you'd have to reverse engineer them. Tables are ways to "embed" mechanics and make them very opaque. What I want instead is explicit mechanics whose function is immediately available. Rules that are explicit and make immediate logical sense.

But using tables is just a style for doing things, my actual problem is the way those tables take away the "feel" of combat. Using a table in the way it's built into RM feels like you are imputing all the data in a computer, and the computer returns the result. It's detached and hands off. It feels like the player is removed from the actual combat. As if you're shouting some general directions instead of being in the fight.

This is true especially for those parries. RoleMaster doesn't seem to be discrete at all, even if it's, in theory, conceived to be so. You have your single or multiple attacks, and RMU seems to move away from the idea that those sword-swings are abstracted (seemingly having faster phases). I like the idea of a discrete swing of the sword, maybe modified so you have an actual tactical control of it, and then have the opponent react through active defense. RuneQuest is overall simpler, but it allows this. An attack goes against an active defense, both parties make their action and roll the dice. In RoleMaster instead the "parry" is just allocation of points to a sort of passive defense, so that the attack isn't directly "blocked", by a discrete reactive action, but merely de-powered, by simply subtracting the value from the roll, and so stay lower on the resolution table.

There is no match between what is happening in the idea of simulated combat, and what's happening on that table.

So once again my goal here is to preserve the things that RoleMaster does well, and shove them back into Harnmaster/RuneQuest general system, and keep those discrete parries/dodges (that I then also want to modify to incorporate success levels instead of hit/miss).

I may have missed the statement in you're OP, but is there a reason you appear to be married to traditional dice mechanics? Don't get me wrong, the bell curve is a beautiful thing, and your ideas to play with it are intriguing, but again, I wonder if it's necessary. If one were to design a crunchy game in this day and age, with smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops, why do we really need dice at the table (aside from the fun of rolling)?
Well, it depends the style of game.

For example Morrowind was terrible because it was a first-person action RPG where you had direct control of the weapon in your hands... and yet it used some sort of random hit-roll. So gameplay was about swinging your weapon and see not-hitting even if it definitely connected with the body of the enemy.

Instead, top down tactical view, and you don't control directly the arms and weapon of your character, so you need rules to simulate all that. You need those hit-rolls.

The reason to use traditional rules is that they are (can be) both transparent and explicit. It's a style of game. You can keep it simulative but opaque, and make the player simply roleplay, or you can expose those mechanics so that they are directly managed and controlled by the player. Dice mechanics help to keep the math immediate and readable, most of the times. So you know what you're working with, and the tactical/simulative depth is immediately accessible. You know what's happening and you can think about it.

In fact my preference is still about expanding a traditional d100 system rather than using bell curves. Both bell curves and dice pools make the probabilities of the rolls much more opaque. Some games help understanding by providing the math already solved

(this one is almost RoleMaster-y, it grows fairly quickly to 50%, then progressively slows down, same as RM's skill ranks)

some other just don't care and emphasize players doing the roleplay rather than really knowing what they are doing mechanically.

That's why we have narrative games. Because they don't want you to play the system, they want you to play the story. If the system is opaque it's not a problem.

(But instead I come from the spirit of the dark side of OSR, that is the grognard wargaming side. Hexes, miniatures. Systems, mechanics. Hard rules.)

My focus is really on the character generation side, with a system of packages representing periods of time that are translated into increases or decreases in various metrics including natural attributes, skills, relationships and reputation, wealth and so on. The packages provides a timepath for the character career which hides nitty-gritty choices while allowing a player to create a character they want.
Yeah, I'm trying to do several things at the same time. In the computer game the character has no background whatsoever. Blank for a reason.

But for a standard tabletop I'd have a more complex generation (the problem is that this aspect is necessarily tied to the setting). I think the latest version of RuneQuest by Chaosium has a pretty detailed system. But also The Burning Wheel works like this, I think. (and Ars Magica. and Traveller? And probably a bunch more)

I wouldn't say OSR is just the retroclones and minimalist designs.
Yeah, I know OSR. But the idea of OSR is about going "old-school" and make it relevant again. My point is that the "true" old school was about the wargaming complex ancestors of RPGs, not their "storytelling" side that is much more a modern bent. Even the simplification trends came after the 80s.

What's considered old-school is not quite old-school, or at least only the trait that prevailed later on, but not representing everything that was there. Those were also the years of Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles. Those players who first got into RPGs came from tabletop wargaming. All this stuff was blended together and not as clear cut as today.

If you look at Arneson "First Fantasy Campaign" you can see traces of crunchy wargame, stuff that was then removed. Gygax too from Chainmail, to Greyhawk, to AD&D 1st, moved toward complexity.
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This is true especially for those parries. RoleMaster doesn't seem to be discrete at all, even if it's, in theory, conceived to be so. You have your single or multiple attacks, and RMU seems to move away from the idea that those sword-swings are abstracted (seemingly having faster phases). I like the idea of a discrete swing of the sword, maybe modified so you have an actual tactical control of it, and then have the opponent react through active defense. RuneQuest is overall simpler, but it allows this. An attack goes against an active defense, both parties make their action and roll the dice. In RoleMaster instead the "parry" is just allocation of points to a sort of passive defense, so that the attack isn't directly "blocked", by a discrete reactive action, but merely de-powered, by simply subtracting the value from the roll, and so stay lower on the resolution table.

There is no match between what is happening in the idea of simulated combat, and what's happening on that table.
Sword's Path: Glory does at least some of what you want.

Attackers can choose quick, normal, or long strokes, which affect damage and time to strike (measured in ticks).

Defenders can then attempt to defend. As each maneuver takes so many ticks to execute, the rules also incorporate partial parry attempts when the defender hasn't had enough time to reset for a full parry.


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Sword's Path: Glory does at least some of what you want.

Yeah, it's on my list, but at a superficial glance of it and Phoenix Command it looks like most of the design was built on pre-generated tables whose complexity is all implicit and "burned-in".

Of the LE guys, he said they (and he) were JPL geeks in Pasadena who bashed orc heads on weekends, and had access to computer number-crunching back when mainframes were leet.

SP:G is what you get when five off-duty engineers lock themselves in a room and they want some realism. It models able-bodied, right-handed humanoids (he said it scaled down to dwarves really well, 4’2" guys with 40" vertical leaps in armor) down to 1/10 second impulses, with linear and rotational acceleration rates, and every single swing. For damage, they modeled weapon tip shapes, body target areas, and the volumetric intersections thereof, and assigned hit point density values based on things like muscles/nerves/brains.
I cannot find the exact quote, but the idea is that they built this system because they had access to those mainframes. The formulas they used to build the tables were extremely complex. They put the data in a computer and the computer produced those tables. But we have none of that stuff that was the input, we only have the tables themselves as the output, we don't have the formulas.

I guess it's possible to reverse engineer some sense out of those table and figure out the logic, but this is the type of stuff I want to avoid. I want to retain that detail and complexity, but I want all of this explicit, not hidden in a table.

What I have to do is study the system and see how much can be taken out and reshaped.

And of course my most coveted thing is that 300 pages rules supplement that was never made...

The Riddle of the Steel has swing directions, RoleMaster allows to split attacks, and Song of Swords/Band of Bastards/Blade of the Iron Throne have maneuvers/fighting styles layered on top.

My goal is precisely trying to pull this stuff together.

...And I also wonder what happen to the mysterious complex systems. It almost feels as if something's missing from our history. I was reading the wikipedia yesterday about RoleMaster, and found this:

"Although the physical size of the game is rather imposing, the actual mechanics run rather smoothly and simply. "

"Walker had quibbles over the combat system, which seemed to generalize rather than individualize weapons."

Today we consider RoleMaster as the apex of complexity. Yet at the time no one was as impressed. As if there were much more complex systems to compare to. There are millions of systems out there who boast about their simple and streamlined rules. There's not a single one that's actually proud of being detailed. There's an obvious reason for that, but it's absurd that there's NOTHING as an alternative.

I mean, you'd need at least a model in order to claim that some system is simpler and straightforward. Something ELSE to compare it to. But there's nothing. We only have some systems like RoleMaster or RuneQuest that do a little bit of this and that, but not quite the real counterpart.
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