[Second Draft] Badass Kung-Fu Demigods

Beyond Reality

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#1
Around the start of the year I posted a quickly slapped together system for a high powered RPG called Badass Kung-Fu Demigods. Then I had to drop off the net for a while due to health issues in my family. Well, since then I've managed to put together a re-write of the system that's a bit more thought out and put together.

Here is the link for the latest version of the game

This is still not a final draft, I know for sure one thing I need to change is to include multiple dice to "smooth out" the probability a little...I want it to be fairly chaotic but not too chaotic. I'm just still undecided on how that should look. My two thoughts are:

1) Everyone rolls 2dx, where X is their relevant Trait and they keep the highest result. Otherwise rules remain basically unchanged.

or

2) Everyone rolls a number of dice based on their Power Level. Mortal characters roll 1dX, Heroic roll 2dX, Awakened 3dX and so on. Everyone still keeps the highest result.

I'm also pondering rule options for making combat slightly crunchier...but only a little bit...and I'm still not sure what form they should take.



Anyway, as before thoughts, input and critiques are welcome. I'm happy to see from the old thread that even after I dropped out of the forums for a while there were still a few people looking forward to seeing more.
 

Beyond Reality

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#2
No responses? I guess I got spoiled by the enthusiasm over the first draft :p


If anyone is up for checking it out one thing I'm really wavering on is how to make different characters "feel" different, especially in combat. One of the issues I see with it is almost everyone is likely to stick a combat Trait in the d10 slot and since everyone has basically the same Powers it seems like things can become a little...samey.

I'm trying to include options to mix things up like Seizing Control (to limit your opponent's Traits and maximize your own), Signature Powers, Knacks and Styles and I'd like to think that this is enough to make each character feel unique...but I'm unsure to be honest.


To try and illustrate what I'm talking about I'll use D&D as a comparison...when it comes to combat there are a lot of different options that very definitely "feel" different. You can wave around a big honking weapon and dish out tons of damage, you can wield two smaller weapons and make tons of attacks, "tank" with heavy armor and a shield, sneak around and rely on high damage precision attacks, fight unarmed, etc.

Now, I know in a practical sense that many of these options are illusions. They're either designed to balance against one another in such a way that everyone comes off fairly "even" in the end or (quite often) they may even be "trap" options that end up significantly inferior to more "vanilla" fighting styles. But they do give a definite sense that "my guy fights in this way" and "your guy fights in that way".

I'm just not certain if my system can really give that feeling. Hopefully that makes sense.
 

mats

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#3
Hey Beyond Reality,

some of us do read but it takes some time to read it all :) I guess you'd get better response with more focused questions. Also, my browser couldn't handle the whole document (probably because of its 60mb size) so I had to download it, which is where I draw the line usually but I started reading in browser before it crashed so it tricked me :) But that might be a reason why you're getting slow response. Anyway, I've read up to the "running the game chapter" (which should be the core) and here are my thoughts:

What does it really mean to be a BAKFDG should be somewhere closer to the start of the document. You start with a sentence or two that really doesn't suffice to prepare my expectations.

I'm not really a fan of exponential scale that you use, especially with damage where it's hard to quickly assess how many times more 26 is compared to 7. You have to subtract and divide to get a result that should then me compared to exponential scale... It's 2.71 which means 2 damage. Also, everything from 14 to 28 would inflict 2 damage, not really diverse. Another problem is if you get 1 (or anything low). In that case the opponent needs 8 to take you out.

How does difference in power levels influence the damage? If power level 3 attacks power level 0 is the damage different than levels 0 vs 0?

Side note, you should extract the scale into a table or somewhere more prominent so players can easily reference it.

Increasing power levels seems like a nice premise. I wish you'd showcase it earlier also (not necessarily all the rules but just to set expectations). Truth to be told, I almost stopped reading few times because I didn't have any clue why should I continue.

I'm not sure how much energy do players have and how do they replenish it? And I'm not sure I see the real downside of powering up to the max... But I'm probably missing something :)

As for your question of characters feeling same-y I'd expect, after reading the document, that your goal is to make difference through narrative means. So even though ray of fire and stabbing sword do the same thing (damage), they're naratively different... If you want more crunchy difference you could better define elements so that they're giving specific twist to each power as well. For example, frost could always slow down things, fire could expand and so on... So when you use frost with counterattack it also slows and when you use fire with counterattack it burns multiple enemies...

All in all I like the premise of the game and the power level increases (although I'd expect few more levels) but I'm not buying the mechanic. It seems to me that some kind of dice pool would fit better with what you want to achieve.
 

Beyond Reality

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Hey Beyond Reality,

some of us do read but it takes some time to read it all :) I guess you'd get better response with more focused questions. Also, my browser couldn't handle the whole document (probably because of its 60mb size) so I had to download it, which is where I draw the line usually but I started reading in browser before it crashed so it tricked me :) But that might be a reason why you're getting slow response. Anyway, I've read up to the "running the game chapter" (which should be the core) and here are my thoughts:
You're right, it is pretty bloated isn't it? I've uploaded a much more reasonably sized version. It should open easily in your browser now.

What does it really mean to be a BAKFDG should be somewhere closer to the start of the document. You start with a sentence or two that really doesn't suffice to prepare my expectations.
Good point, should have that in the character creation section.

I'm not really a fan of exponential scale that you use, especially with damage where it's hard to quickly assess how many times more 26 is compared to 7. You have to subtract and divide to get a result that should then me compared to exponential scale... It's 2.71 which means 2 damage. Also, everything from 14 to 28 would inflict 2 damage, not really diverse. Another problem is if you get 1 (or anything low). In that case the opponent needs 8 to take you out.
Hmm...I can see that it could be an issue but I'm not sure a better way to handle it. Let me break down the reasons why it fits what I'm looking for:

*It can be resolved via a single opposed roll (without a separate damage roll).

*It tends towards low damage (generally it'll be rare for someone to suffer more than 1 or two damage from an attack) but has the possibility of higher damage due to differences in skill/luck. Basically I want to avoid Scion or Exalted style "rocket tag" combat where you either do basically no damage or you kill your opponent in one hit. Fights between equal opponents should take a few hits to resolve.

*Despite the above point I don't want to have a lot of "hit points". 3-5 is ideal for me. I'm not interested in tracking-recovering a large number of hit points.

That said, I'm open to simpler forms of resolution.

How does difference in power levels influence the damage? If power level 3 attacks power level 0 is the damage different than levels 0 vs 0?
That's covered in the "Different Power Levels" sidebar on page 16. Essentially if there's a single power level difference then the more powerful character rolls twice as many dice and takes the highest, but otherwise things are resolved the same. Differences of more than one Power Level are too great for combat to actually take place...the higher powered character can simply declare victory in whatever way they wish.

Side note, you should extract the scale into a table or somewhere more prominent so players can easily reference it.
Increasing power levels seems like a nice premise. I wish you'd showcase it earlier also (not necessarily all the rules but just to set expectations). Truth to be told, I almost stopped reading few times because I didn't have any clue why should I continue.[/QUOTE]

Makes sense.

I'm not sure how much energy do players have and how do they replenish it? And I'm not sure I see the real downside of powering up to the max... But I'm probably missing something :)
Energy is listed on the upper right side of each Power Level Entry (so a Heroic character has 1 EP, Awakened has 2 EP, Unleashed has 4, and Limitless has 6). Your Energy is restored at the start of your turn every round.
 

ntharotep

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#5
I know you've had this up for a bit but I always end up seeing it at work where I don't have access to google docs.
I really like your layout and style in your game and I agree Battle Auras is just cool.
I was a little confused on traits but I think I got my head wrapped around it and it might be more me than your game on that one. I do have concerns with Traits on the Fly so to speak, though, having tried them myself and usually leading to confusion more than anything. Even in a practiced game like the LARP version of WoD, there would be arguments in game on whether being Solid was a strength or endurance related trait...sometimes it is better to avoid wasting of time on these arguments to have something like:
Strength Related Examples: Brawny, Diesel, Muscular, Piston, Strong Like Bull, Can Dish it Out, etc
Endurance Related Examples: Tough as Nails, Iron Hard, Solid, A Rock, etc.
Intellect Related Examples: Wise One, Scholarly, Street Smart, Book Smart, etc.

This guides the players and GMs in a direction rather than leaving it completely up in the air. As I said, this is just from my experience and it may not be as big an issue for every player or GM.

If I'm not mistaken the exploding dice are from Savage Worlds? I have yet to play a SW game but if that is the inspiration I love it. It enables some ginormous results for a very lucky dice roller and matches the theme of your game nicely.

I like the Knack and Style relationship. Well done with that.

I like the range simplicity. I use a similar system with simple numbers (Range 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) not feet or meters etc. to keep it simple. Yours adds more description which I have to give as examples for narrative purposes as well. Nice.

I like your examples of antagonists and game genre/setting ideas as well. All in all this game is nicely laid out and a pleasure to read. Nice work and keep it up.
 

mats

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#6
Hmm...I can see that it could be an issue but I'm not sure a better way to handle it. Let me break down the reasons why it fits what I'm looking for:

*It can be resolved via a single opposed roll (without a separate damage roll).

*It tends towards low damage (generally it'll be rare for someone to suffer more than 1 or two damage from an attack) but has the possibility of higher damage due to differences in skill/luck. Basically I want to avoid Scion or Exalted style "rocket tag" combat where you either do basically no damage or you kill your opponent in one hit. Fights between equal opponents should take a few hits to resolve.

*Despite the above point I don't want to have a lot of "hit points". 3-5 is ideal for me. I'm not interested in tracking-recovering a large number of hit points.

That said, I'm open to simpler forms of resolution.
As I said it seems to me that dice pools would work great for all of this. Also I don't consider exploding dice to be single opposed roll as you may have roll several times quite often. You could make some interesting approaches with dice pools such as changing the number of dice in a pool for difference in power levels. Or changing target numbers, i.e. if the opponents are of the same power level their TN is 8, but if you're 1 power level above your opponent than your TN drops to 7 and his increases to 9... The normal distribution of dice pool is such that chances favor small numbers of successes (which satisfies your requirements). You'd need the complete overhaul of the system but it might be worth it :)

That's covered in the "Different Power Levels" sidebar on page 16. Essentially if there's a single power level difference then the more powerful character rolls twice as many dice and takes the highest, but otherwise things are resolved the same. Differences of more than one Power Level are too great for combat to actually take place...the higher powered character can simply declare victory in whatever way they wish.
Rolling twice the number of dice and picking the highest one doesn't really improve my power in the way I would expect power levels would. If I normally roll 2d10 I already have 50% chance to get 8 or higher. 4d10 would increase this to 75% chance of getting 8+, but in reality I'm still bound to my maximum of 10. The chance for the die to explode is higher also. And mathematically it does give significant benefit but I just don't feel it. I would expect that I could sum two dice or something like that, something that will increase my maximum, make me feel more powerful... Don't get me wrong, as I said it does make sense, mathematically. It's just a missed opportunity to make the roll feel badass, that's all that I'm saying ;)

Energy is listed on the upper right side of each Power Level Entry (so a Heroic character has 1 EP, Awakened has 2 EP, Unleashed has 4, and Limitless has 6). Your Energy is restored at the start of your turn every round.
Ok, I missed this part but this makes sense. Nice approach ;)
 

Beyond Reality

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As I said it seems to me that dice pools would work great for all of this. Also I don't consider exploding dice to be single opposed roll as you may have roll several times quite often. You could make some interesting approaches with dice pools such as changing the number of dice in a pool for difference in power levels. Or changing target numbers, i.e. if the opponents are of the same power level their TN is 8, but if you're 1 power level above your opponent than your TN drops to 7 and his increases to 9... The normal distribution of dice pool is such that chances favor small numbers of successes (which satisfies your requirements). You'd need the complete overhaul of the system but it might be worth it :)
One method I am considering is rolling a number of Trait die per Power Level (1 at Mortal, 2 at Heroic, 3 at Awakened) etc. In my current system it involves taking the highest result.

Also, I have to admit one issue with things like dice pools is a matter of personal preference. Although I would like the system to be as functional as possible there are a few goals I have that are more personal than practical. They're kind of summed up in the Intro section but basically:

I want to use more than one die type at a time. This is purely because I personally enjoy playing with lots of different dice as opposed to playing with all d6's or d10's or what have you. And I want to keep the exploding die mechanic which I find lots of fun.

I guess theoretically you could have a die-pool system tied to multiple dice (Target number would have to be 4 I suppose). But I bet it would come out pretty wacky.

Not to say I'm dismissing the idea out of hand because I do understand its advantages, I'm just also reluctant to abandon the current system. I think playtesting will probably help me make the decision on this one, seeing how easy a time people have with the "doubling" rules in play.


Rolling twice the number of dice and picking the highest one doesn't really improve my power in the way I would expect power levels would. If I normally roll 2d10 I already have 50% chance to get 8 or higher. 4d10 would increase this to 75% chance of getting 8+, but in reality I'm still bound to my maximum of 10. The chance for the die to explode is higher also. And mathematically it does give significant benefit but I just don't feel it. I would expect that I could sum two dice or something like that, something that will increase my maximum, make me feel more powerful... Don't get me wrong, as I said it does make sense, mathematically. It's just a missed opportunity to make the roll feel badass, that's all that I'm saying ;)
I actually totally understand what you mean. It's not quite as dramatic a difference as you would expect given the description. However, that is only part of the difference since you also have to consider the difference in the Powers and Energy Points available. Part of the idea is to keep things fairly sane so that you can have situations like multiple weaker fighters (say a group of PCs) teaming up against a higher Powered foe.

I wonder if doubling the result rather than doubling the number of dice rolled would be better. There'd be a somewhat higher "whiff" factor (since rolling multiple dice helps ensure higher power level characters are less likely to flub and end up with a 1), but that'd probably be taken care of if they can also double bonuses from things like the Excellence Power and Knacks/Styles. Also means that if you already roll well enough to inflict a point of damage you're automatically inflicting an extra point.

Ok, I missed this part but this makes sense. Nice approach ;)
Thanks for the input, it's good stuff to chew on.

By the way, you had asked about why people wouldn't just Power Up to the Max and I forgot to address that. In some games there'd be absolutely no problem with it and you're basically playing DBZ. But in more long-term or serious games the main reasons would be A) subtlety and B) casualties.

Basically, the more power you're pumping out the harder it is to both control and conceal. It's also worth noting that while you can Power Up freely it takes a full Scene to Power Down again. Powering Up involves a certain level of commitment and means that you almost certainly will start wrecking the place (or possibly the planet in the case of Limitless fights).
 

Beyond Reality

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#8
I know you've had this up for a bit but I always end up seeing it at work where I don't have access to google docs.
I really like your layout and style in your game and I agree Battle Auras is just cool.
I was a little confused on traits but I think I got my head wrapped around it and it might be more me than your game on that one. I do have concerns with Traits on the Fly so to speak, though, having tried them myself and usually leading to confusion more than anything. Even in a practiced game like the LARP version of WoD, there would be arguments in game on whether being Solid was a strength or endurance related trait...sometimes it is better to avoid wasting of time on these arguments to have something like:
Strength Related Examples: Brawny, Diesel, Muscular, Piston, Strong Like Bull, Can Dish it Out, etc
Endurance Related Examples: Tough as Nails, Iron Hard, Solid, A Rock, etc.
Intellect Related Examples: Wise One, Scholarly, Street Smart, Book Smart, etc.
Yeah, I'll probably expand the section on handling Traits a bit more. I've also considered including a "basic" Trait list that GMs can use if they don't feel comfortable messing around with player-generated traits.


If I'm not mistaken the exploding dice are from Savage Worlds? I have yet to play a SW game but if that is the inspiration I love it. It enables some ginormous results for a very lucky dice roller and matches the theme of your game nicely.
Yep, the basic system could really be described as a combination of Savage Worlds and PDQ.

I like the Knack and Style relationship. Well done with that.
Thanks. I'm considering whether or not to drop the bonus down to just +1 though. When I was creating the play examples Knacks had a bigger impact on things than I expected.

I like the range simplicity. I use a similar system with simple numbers (Range 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) not feet or meters etc. to keep it simple. Yours adds more description which I have to give as examples for narrative purposes as well. Nice.
glad they made sense. I figured it might be a bit confusing since they can change so drastically depending on Power Level.

I like your examples of antagonists and game genre/setting ideas as well. All in all this game is nicely laid out and a pleasure to read. Nice work and keep it up.
Thanks!
 

mats

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#9
Also, I have to admit one issue with things like dice pools is a matter of personal preference. Although I would like the system to be as functional as possible there are a few goals I have that are more personal than practical.
Of course, you should go with what you find interesting. That's perfectly valid reason as any in my book :)

By the way, you had asked about why people wouldn't just Power Up to the Max and I forgot to address that. In some games there'd be absolutely no problem with it and you're basically playing DBZ. But in more long-term or serious games the main reasons would be A) subtlety and B) casualties.

Basically, the more power you're pumping out the harder it is to both control and conceal. It's also worth noting that while you can Power Up freely it takes a full Scene to Power Down again. Powering Up involves a certain level of commitment and means that you almost certainly will start wrecking the place (or possibly the planet in the case of Limitless fights).
Oh yeah, I wanted to reflect on that. I did catch that control and conceal should be a problem but I didn't find it explained in enough detail. This goes against my standard preference but this seems like a place where some kind of meta GM currency could be employed :) I don't usually suggest such things but you might want to consider it. Either way I, personally, wish that this part was a bit more mechanically involved/explained and not just left to GM to settle.
 

Beyond Reality

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Oh yeah, I wanted to reflect on that. I did catch that control and conceal should be a problem but I didn't find it explained in enough detail. This goes against my standard preference but this seems like a place where some kind of meta GM currency could be employed :) I don't usually suggest such things but you might want to consider it. Either way I, personally, wish that this part was a bit more mechanically involved/explained and not just left to GM to settle.
A lot of it comes down to a matter of setting. At this time BAKFDG is both very general and very specific at the same time.

That was one of my goals with the various "one-page" settings, to try and make settings that played with different expectations regarding Power Level and what could be done.

Champions of the Universe is meant to encourage cutting loose. A lot of the action will take place in settings that have minimal "real world" impact and the Silly tone is meant to encourage GMs not to worry too much about the price tag (in dollars or lives) of a fight between high powered characters. It's sort of DBZ-style, it's basically meant to be a big cosmic tussle with interesting set pieces, characters and villians.

Return of the Old Gods is more about dealing with problems that can't simply be punched into oblivion. The primary antagonists are AI whose intellect is tucked away in backups distributed across the globe and no matter how powerful the PCs are they can't simply destroy them without ultimately dooming human society in the process. So, players must consider the need for secrecy (since displays of obvious power will likely attract stronger opposition from their enemies) and the consequences of their actions (is it worth provoking the AI-controlled military into breaking out ICBMs and Kill-Satellites in the middle of a city?).

Trenchcoats against the darkness is more about the responsibility of having power. The PCs are almost always going to be in a position of strength over their opponents and their opponents know this...but at the same time the PCs have a responsibility to keep humanity safe and a desire to keep their own existence (and that of other supernatural entities) a secret. What happens if you're in a situation where you have to make a choice between what's "right" and what's "prudent". Sure, you could go on a power-fueled rampage wiping out monsters like vampires but who knows what you'd do to modern civilization in the process? Is it better to let the dragon lairing under Seattle lure and eat the occasional college student or are you willing to risk collapsing the city to stop him?

Sword-Lords of the Apocalypse is about players choosing their own Power Level because the only thing to stop you from cutting loose is the knowledge that there's no going back to just dealing with small problems and helping people out. Once you take a step into the higher Power Levels then inevitably more threats of that Power Level will come for you.
 
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