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Author Topic: RP System: Under 100 - Starship Rules  (Read 1831 times)

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Offline LVT

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Re: RP System: Under 100 - Starship Rules
« Reply #15 on: 05/09/17, 02:30:39 PM »
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My last point will address combat length here, as an FYI. When I'm not a slave to work.
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Offline Niarra

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Re: RP System: Under 100 - Starship Rules
« Reply #16 on: 05/09/17, 06:56:56 PM »
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Okay, a few thoughts right off the bat. I think the system is good in general. There's no better system available to RPers here, and I think Niarra's done a great job.

You're very kind, thank you. This is nice to hear, since no matter how much of a GM/rules geek I may be (and I am, and thus generally perfectly capable of geeking out on my own steam), a rules set is nothing without people who actually want to play with it, and there's no point to GMs if no one wants to join in the story. Obviously I enjoy designing rules or I wouldn't have put the work into it that I did, but like any product, it doesn't matter how much work you put into it if it doesn't get used.

TL;DR Group one approaches expected balance as each session approaches infinity. Group two approaches expected balance as a campaign approaches infinity. Group one will probably give you the most total successful rolls over a long campaign more than two. Group two will blow out one in a small campaign. There are two conflicting designs here, and I can't see you ever achieving perfect parity between the groups. Hence why I suggested GM's being able to 'ban' array groups for certain events. This means that the chance to succeed will do the balancing for you.

I am so glad you wrote this post, because your perspective/paraphrasing here helped me to home in on exactly where the resistance I was feeling to banning an array was coming from, and I can now articulate it better.

I think your analysis here is completely right, about the two 'groups' of arrays and how they approach balance.

And I think the reason I was feeling resistant to banning an array is because my first inclination is to think on a campaign level. Even when I do an event (something that is meant to last only one session or two), I almost always try to design those events to have opportunities in them for all of the skill and character types there are (I build in opportunities for some successes to be achieved by either technical, social, or combat avenues), so in that way I approach each event as a mini-campaign in and of itself. (If I anticipate an event not having those opportunities, as with the Voss event which I postponed, then I make a point of saying so.) Because this is just how I instinctively operate and see things, it wasn't even occurring to me to think of it another way, and consequently I wasn't feeling the urgency of the Savant and Specialist arrays being unbalanced.

Now, that being said, and granted that I absolutely do see and agree with your analysis of how the two groups shake out over time, let me try to articulate why I am still struggling with the idea of banning those arrays, regardless of scenario.

The reason is actually nothing to do with rules, numbers, or probabilities at all. Rather, it's about the medium and the purpose of why we're here to begin with. The medium in this case being a MMO and/or a chatroom, and the purpose being role play. My gut feeling is that most people who come to a MMO or online community in order to RP aren't coming here specifically to look for RP rules or numbers; I think they come for story, and in fact many RPers in these mediums have no experience playing with a rules set at all. Now obviously I strongly feel that there's still a good use for a rules set even in these environments (or I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of designing and using one), but this harkens back to something I said in a reply here from yesterday:

I think part of this question is about an intersection between two approaches: a RP approach, and a game-balance approach. If it becomes a question of which aspect gets more weight, then for online RP I personally am likely give the greater weight to the RP, entirely because we do not have a comprehensive system of rules like you would in a pen and paper RPG (where the rules books are hundreds of pages long), nor do we have a game engine and myriad abilities coded to specific numbers.

If it comes down to a choice between A) banning an array that a player feels would be more representative of their character, and B) accepting that in some events some characters are going to have a significant advantage according to the numbers, then I am personally inclined to go with choice B. If this were a tabletop campaign with a more comprehensive rules set my choice would be different, as would it be if we were talking about the coding going into a video game. But this is just people coming together to tell a story, via a limited interface.

I also still have to come back to my feeling that this is only truly a problem in PVP scenarios not PVE, and my guess would be that the vast majority of GM-run RP events are PVE. If it's a normal GM-run "PVE" story then the expectation is that the players are going to win regardless, and it's just a matter of how much drama unfolds around achieving that aim, so in that scenario I really don't think any array needs to be banned. The GM prepares opposition accordingly, and the players get to feel like Big Damn Heroes. (Obviously I think a varied spectrum of heroes is more interesting, but that's ultimately not for me to decide.)

PVP is instantly a different kettle of fish, however. I am going to touch on that in a minute. But to conclude thoughts about the arrays and LVT's analysis of probabilities:

As stated, I agree with LVT's perspective. And while I don't find the Savant or Specialist arrays to be an issue for me, in the types of events I know I am likely to run, what this discussion has helped me to realize is that my own tendencies are skewing my arguments (duh, I know). I think the "fix" as far as the Under 100 system is concerned is actually completely simple:

Event organizers should have the final say as to whether or not they wish to ban any given array for their event. End of story. Totally simple, totally painless, and totally customizable to each GM's style and plans for their event.

If a particular array being banned is a big enough issue for a player that it means they won't want to bring their character, then that's the player's choice, and a hazard both GM and players are aware of from the get-go.

So now, back to "PVP" events:

The other option I considered is to just do away with 'success' rolls in pvp environments. What does success even mean? Who cares what it means? To quote an old story "You never need to outrun a bear, you only need to outrun your friend". Success doesn't have to be measured by objective skill at a profession, but relative skill. You could be the worst TIE pilot in the academy, but as long as the guy your jousting is worse than you, who cares. Just make pure opposed rolls, and then assign weights to the rolls. I may be creeping into EOTE more than SAGA or whatever the base of this system was, but let's consider a system where the GM assigns "weight" based on the situation:

Seb and I joust in scouts. In a head to head with even stats, the roll is unaltered.
Seb has been dueling Saresh in her shuttle. I close into Saresh as her wingman and give her an assist. Saresh gains a "weight" of -10 to her roll.
Seb ambushes me from behind an asteroid. He's on my tail and gets his first salvo off before I can respond. "Weight" of -20 to him in the opposed check.
Seb ambushes me from behind an asteroid, but I had triggered afterburners in my action. Seb gains a "weight" of -20 and I gain a "weight" of -10 since I'm moving out of range quickly.

A simple chart with weights of very general actions could form a base, and an inventive GM could extend that to any situation. Edge of the Empire is built around this system. It works. In this way, each opposed roll is unique to the exact situation. I suppose you can add a general "success threshold" to this, like any roll above 70 in an asteroid field is a failure. This can further influence the rolls based on terrain or circumstance.

I think this sounds like an interesting system. You should build it. I'm totally serious.

I think it's fairly clear the Under 100 rules weren't really designed with a focus on PVP in mind, since the only reference to "player versus player" is a single line under an optional rules set. This is much in the same way that your average tabletop RPG is not designed with PVP in mind either (although in those cases the rules, being more comprehensive, can shift into that realm much easier, but not without a lot of the same gripes - players are just as likely to dispute not having anything more than their flat AC/Defense score to protect them, because for some reason defeat at the hands of a player rather than a NPC really does seem more offensive somehow). 

Your proposals for a PVP system are very interesting, but they are fundamentally totally different from anything Under 100 does. Under 100's main purpose was to allow people to have a means to present their character's objective strengths in order to create a customized RP experience, and stripping that out to make opposition entirely relative essentially bypasses the entire Skill Group core of the system by putting everyone on equal footing with everyone else.

It's true that you only have to run faster than your friend, but it's just as much if not more a question of whether you and your friend are equal in terms of running skill, or if you have a desk job and your friend is an Olympic sprinter. Straight rolls with situational bonuses presuppose that you are beginning at an equal level of skill, but that isn't always going to be the case, not if you are allowing room for the idea of character archetypes; Wedge Antilles is not starting at an equal piloting skill level as Mon Mothma.

Again, that's not to say that I don't think your brain-storming on a PVP system here is good, because I do think it's very interesting. It just really doesn't fit into Under 100... unless I'm maybe being totally blind to a simple solution staring me right in the face, which is certainly possible.

If the community here actually holds enough PVP RP events to warrant a PVP-focused system, someone should totally build one. That would be a great resource.

I may be creeping into EOTE more than SAGA or whatever the base of this system was,

This is just a total side note, but actually, although I frequently mention SAGA Edition when talking past SW campaign experiences, the core Under 100 system wasn't based on it at all. If it could be said to have taken inspiration from anything it would be Palladium, but even that is a stretch since the only thing I took from Palladium was the idea of making skills a "percentage" of 100, and even that only happened because I wanted a system that could function within SWTOR itself where the only rolling option we have is an unmodifiable /roll (no XdWhatevers + Doohickey Bonus).

Now, the Starship Rules module here did take some inspiration from SAGA, but only in the idea that there could be multiple "roles" someone plays in a starship encounter, and specific special actions that fall under those roles - hence commander, gunner, technician, and pilot. Plenty of other systems allow actions that players other than the pilot can take, but they don't always break them out so clearly, and often those actions are much more limited. What I wanted to achieve with the Starship Rules was to make them flexible enough that they could be used equally as well in an event that was focused only on space combat or in an event where the action might shift between ground and space. The expectation, therefore, was that you would sometimes be seeing characters at the event whose specialties lay outside of piloting, and that those people would still need something to do.

Initiative was brought up, and then defended as a necessary evil. Why use it if that's the case? All you need is a start of a turn and an end of a turn. Have everyone describe their action and then execute them at the same time. There was a turn based strategy game that did something similar, as have some table top games. Any conflicting can be then sorted by an opposed or the fact that they simply both may succeed or fail regardless that they're opposed. X-Wing's rules on the subject: http://xwing-miniatures.wikia.com/wiki/Simultaneous_Attack_Rule

Example: Red Squadron Veteran (pilot skill "4") attacks Omega Squadron Pilot (pilot skill "4"). From this attack, Omega Squadron Pilot is dealt Damage cards equal to its hull value. Omega Squadron Pilot will be destroyed, but since it has the same pilot skill as Red Squadron Veteran, it first has the opportunity to perform its attack. After Omega Squadron Pilot resolves this opportunity to attack, it is destroyed and removed from the play area.

So why bother with initiative in the first place? It's pretty RNG, and if you MUST have a system like it, why not "weight" it off 'Character Skill' in the type of situation going on. Or better yet, just agree on a preassigned order based on skill or positioning?

I don't know if I'd call initiative a necessary evil, so much as a necessary tool to sustain game master sanity.  :grin:

Simultaneous attack rules like the ones you are describing are fantastic for a strategy game, where there is no story unfolding moment by moment and no game master who needs to keep track of everything. When the aim of the combat round is just to see how many of your pawns you've still got left standing in order to enter into the next round, then the order in which things happen doesn't really matter and you can certainly have everyone go at once and resolve all results in one fell swoop.

But I can immediately think of countless scenarios in which players might scream bloody murder about this, because it's their characters (with all the attached story and ego that comes with them) on the line. "Well, if I'd know that I was going to take 3 out of my 4 HP in damage from the guy on my left I would never have stayed in place for the guy on my right to hit me, I would totally have moved to safety!" Or, "If I'd known that both of those guys were going to attack me I would have chosen to go defend the helpless civilian instead and left the fighting to the burly dude!" Or, probably most likely, "Oh, well, I type really fast and got my action out there first, but now that Joe and Sally who both type slower than me have put in their actions and it turns out they're both going to attack my boo-bear over there, I now actually want to change my action and say that I go defend my boo-bear instead, I can totes do that right?"

And all of that is going to make a game master's head explode. It is hard enough to keep track of what people are saying they want to do in the chat scroll even when you're taking turns, because people are RPing and OOC chattering the whole time (which is totally fine), but if they can change course mid stream it would become impossible.

Now, I suppose the answer could be that you force people to tell you, one at a time in a given order, what their actions are going to be, and then execute them all at once... but then you would still get cases of people saying "If I'd known Joe was going to do X my choice would have been different" and so the order in which people get to tell what they want to do is still going to matter, with the person in last place being the most fortunate. (Unless you assume that you're just going to allow people to make infinite adjustments to their choice before hitting the execute button.)

However, shifting gears a little bit, even in the X-Wing example you cite, there is still an initiative order, it's just determined by a static skill value rather than a roll, with only equal skill values happening simultaneously. This is something I'm totally open to, for Under 100, in determining initiative order, even including simultaneous rounds for people with equal stats.

Like I said earlier, initiative is the only fully random element in the system right now, and I would love a way to make even this feel more customized to each individual character. I just need some help in figuring out how to do that!  :umm:

Or better yet, just agree on a preassigned order based on skill or positioning?

Something along these lines is, I think, best. So what I'm thinking right now is that maybe we can still use the Skill Threshold, except that rather than rolling to see if you succeed or fail (because again, as mentioned, you don't "fail" at initiative), your actual threshold value could determine your initiative score, with the higher thresholds going first. And if you end up having people with equal thresholds, then they go simultaneously.

But the sticking point there becomes - which skill? I don't really want to create an 11th Skill Group just for initiative to be honest. I'm not forever opposed to the idea, but I think that's a cumbersome addition for what is ultimately a pretty small need.

Using the skills that already exist, I would be tempted to say your initiative would be based on either Agility (for how quickly you physically react) or Perception (for how well you notice and anticipate the need for action). Of course, thematically, Force would be the best of all fits, but not all characters have this skill.

I would actually feel comfortable saying that players can choose Agility or Perception to be the skill they want to use for initiative, and just need to state their selection as part of their character sheet.

If choice is allowed, Force could be a choice as well, although obviously that puts Force-users at an instant advantage because that's also a direct combat skill and Force-users are likely to have that stat prioritized. That may be true to the universe, but I don't know if players would think it unfair. I'm OK with it, but would want player thoughts. Anyone have thoughts?

Now that I'm done with the system, specifically for space combat:

I'd like to see weapon types and ranges. Keep it simple, like EOTE; Scouts have range short, and their guns do damage 2. Ships with lower hull shields may be threatened, but larger ships may not be as a whole. Strike fighters have medium range, and their guns do 3 damage, but they move slower and have less of a "weight" when opposing someone firing on them. Capital ships have laser cannons and turbolasers, of which they can only use one per firing round. Turbolasers are long and do 3 damage but give fighters a -20 to dodge. Laser cannons do 2 and are short. All players have to do is keep an idea of their relative distance to everyone else in circular bands. Most players do this naturally anyway, I think. I think it's best to abstain from putting hard numbers on range though.

I have no strong objections to creating ranges, though I think it ought to be tied to the starship stat block and not a weapon type, for ease.

In the same way that the core Under 100 system says "all attacks do a flat value of 1 damage" I feel the starship system should say X starship does a flat value according to the starship type - and what specific fancy weapon you want your character or ship to use is purely a matter of color. (Again, this is a lightweight system. The moment you start saying different weapons have different damage ratings you have added an enormous amount of complexity because I promise you there will be players who show up with a "super amazing unique!!!!!" weapon or starship modification that they will want to insist should be an exception to your rule.) 

My only hesitation about creating starship weapon ranges would be that it gives a GM more to manage, in terms of what they need to communicate to their players and what they need to keep track of. What do people who feel they are likely to GM space battle events think? Because ultimately it's all abstract, and you will only be "in range" when the GM agrees that you are (since we don't have a grid to show movement in set values).

But as far as specifically this Under 100 starship module rules set is concerned, assigning ranges is simple. As in your example, LVT: scouts could have short range, strike fighters and small transports medium range, large transports and destroyers long range, and capital ships... uh... mega-long range? "Orbital" range? Whatever you want to call it.

In fact, I think assigning ranges like this would allow enough differentiation between ship types that WR values wouldn't need to be changed, because then even though a scout and strike both have a WR of 1, the strike can hit from longer range, and might therefore be able to get two attacks in within the same amount of time that a scout would have to close distance and get one attack in.

But again... all of that requires a GM now keeping a map in their head as the event progresses, to keep track of how far away all ships are from each other at any given time. That's not easy. So again, I'd really love feedback from folks who think they might ever GM space battles.
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Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
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Online Noth

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Re: RP System: Under 100 - Starship Rules
« Reply #17 on: 05/09/17, 07:58:36 PM »
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The other option I considered is to just do away with 'success' rolls in pvp environments. What does success even mean? Who cares what it means? To quote an old story "You never need to outrun a bear, you only need to outrun your friend". Success doesn't have to be measured by objective skill at a profession, but relative skill. You could be the worst TIE pilot in the academy, but as long as the guy your jousting is worse than you, who cares. Just make pure opposed rolls, and then assign weights to the rolls. I may be creeping into EOTE more than SAGA or whatever the base of this system was, but let's consider a system where the GM assigns "weight" based on the situation:

Seb and I joust in scouts. In a head to head with even stats, the roll is unaltered.
Seb has been dueling Saresh in her shuttle. I close into Saresh as her wingman and give her an assist. Saresh gains a "weight" of -10 to her roll.
Seb ambushes me from behind an asteroid. He's on my tail and gets his first salvo off before I can respond. "Weight" of -20 to him in the opposed check.
Seb ambushes me from behind an asteroid, but I had triggered afterburners in my action. Seb gains a "weight" of -20 and I gain a "weight" of -10 since I'm moving out of range quickly.

A simple chart with weights of very general actions could form a base, and an inventive GM could extend that to any situation. Edge of the Empire is built around this system. It works. In this way, each opposed roll is unique to the exact situation. I suppose you can add a general "success threshold" to this, like any roll above 70 in an asteroid field is a failure. This can further influence the rolls based on terrain or circumstance.

I think this sounds like an interesting system. You should build it. I'm totally serious.

I think it's fairly clear the Under 100 rules weren't really designed with a focus on PVP in mind, since the only reference to "player versus player" is a single line under an optional rules set. This is much in the same way that your average tabletop RPG is not designed with PVP in mind either (although in those cases the rules, being more comprehensive, can shift into that realm much easier, but not without a lot of the same gripes - players are just as likely to dispute not having anything more than their flat AC/Defense score to protect them, because for some reason defeat at the hands of a player rather than a NPC really does seem more offensive somehow). 

Your proposals for a PVP system are very interesting, but they are fundamentally totally different from anything Under 100 does. Under 100's main purpose was to allow people to have a means to present their character's objective strengths in order to create a customized RP experience, and stripping that out to make opposition entirely relative essentially bypasses the entire Skill Group core of the system by putting everyone on equal footing with everyone else.

It's true that you only have to run faster than your friend, but it's just as much if not more a question of whether you and your friend are equal in terms of running skill, or if you have a desk job and your friend is an Olympic sprinter. Straight rolls with situational bonuses presuppose that you are beginning at an equal level of skill, but that isn't always going to be the case, not if you are allowing room for the idea of character archetypes; Wedge Antilles is not starting at an equal piloting skill level as Mon Mothma.

Again, that's not to say that I don't think your brain-storming on a PVP system here is good, because I do think it's very interesting. It just really doesn't fit into Under 100... unless I'm maybe being totally blind to a simple solution staring me right in the face, which is certainly possible.

If the community here actually holds enough PVP RP events to warrant a PVP-focused system, someone should totally build one. That would be a great resource.

Just pitching in to say that, especially if it's based off the Roll100 as its base, a community PVP rules module for the system would be awesome. It would be interesting to adopt the system as a sort of community thing to tweak as needed. But obviously it's your brainchild, and up to you ultimately!
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Offline Niarra

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Re: RP System: Under 100 - Starship Rules
« Reply #18 on: 05/13/17, 03:50:51 PM »
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Just pitching in to say that, especially if it's based off the Roll100 as its base, a community PVP rules module for the system would be awesome. It would be interesting to adopt the system as a sort of community thing to tweak as needed. But obviously it's your brainchild, and up to you ultimately!

Well, you may get your wish! The conversation around this has gotten me thinking, and my recent discovery that even the in-game chat window permits you to roll on XdX configurations (which I didn't know, and I wish someone had toooolllllddddd me) has given me some thoughts for a PVP system that would still allow people to use their Under100 character stats while also allowing opposed checks that are more robust (and a little less random) than the base optional rules I already put in the system. I'm working on it now, along with other revisions to the starship rules, and will be getting a post up soon.
Niarra Reymark, Jedi Master and Diplomat // Derrad Reymark, Starfighter Ace and Softie // Jheva, Padawan and Pattern Reader // Yatei, Jedi Knight // Zelek Arr, Corn Grower
Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
Erran Veshkgalaar, Mandalorian Accountant // Caustrin Neyvor, Dangerous Puppeteer // Ariza Fey, Psycho and Pyro // Kettur Vaen, Semi-Spook