Passive Defense + Wounds system

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Passive Defense + Wounds system

Postby Anarak » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:40 pm

Hello! Long time Codex/Blade/Tros lurker. Kinda dusty in here huh?

So, i'm finally running a codex campaign on a pathfinder game, and i'm a little concerned as to how passive defense is handled. If my grasping is correct and i don't suffer from any reading disorder, you attack a passive defense (BAB + attribute Mod. + Shield bonus + 8) with a BAB + attribute mod. + reach or speed bonus + 1d20.

For the example part, lets take two relatively experienced soldiers that know what they are doing and are at +2 BAB and benefits from +1 STr and +1 Dex bonus:

Attacker has a longsword and so have 2 + 1 + 5 + 1d20 to attack at onset and 2 + 1 + 2 + 1d20 on melee
Defender is armed with the same weapon and has a passive defense of 2 + 1 + 0 + 8 = 11

So attacker can hit defender by rolling anything higher than 4 on a d20 at onset (20% to defend) and 7 for melee ( 35%). melee doesn't sound awful, but things get silly with the lvl 1 barbarian:
+4 StR + 1 BAB + axe +4 = +9 or + 11 if raging. He can hit anyone in the party- even the fighter - and most enemies (whose average PD is 10) with anything but a 1 or 2. Gods forbid a masterwork or magical weapon...

I understand and abide by the concept of how more effective shields are, or the importance of striking first, but instahits at lvl 1 seems a little bit off, it's like holding a sword and willing to fight barely (if at all) improves over just being a door or a wall.
In an ideal example match you'd have a passive defense of 8 (no bonuses) and no hit bonus, so you have a slighty extra chance(60%?) of hitting a passive defense than an active defense(50%). But with the addition of reach and speed bonus, that balance is thrown all around. All i can think of if always applying weapon defense to PD. Was there a reason why WD isn't normally applied, even at half capacity?


...
On a completely unrelated note, have you (Galloglaich) or anyone else played Codex with the Hit Points/vitality + Wounds system ala spycraft/unearthed arcana/star wars?
I'm currently applying it and it ran smoothly for the first adventure, it allows for a high-fantasy cinematic feeling (lots of hit points over the levels and dangers galore) while maintaining the gritty and dread possibility of instant death.

As a quickly explanation, it goes like this: Hit Points are the usual plot armor, light wounds and glance hits. Wound points OTOH are equal to Constitution score (not mod.) and represents dramatic wounds directly applied to your body. The way i run, once hit points are depleted all damage goes to wounds. The dread factor is that critical hits goes straight to Wounds, so no ammount of 100s of HPs can save from bad luck, forced or dynamic criticals. It can be se deadly that i modded dynamic criticals to only improve a dice cateogory instead of rolling extra dice.

I even home brewed a little something extra by having pain reductors from wound damage: If you have 12 WPs (12 CON) and take a 6 damage to wounds, you'd get a -6 pain penalty to rolls. Con modifier decreases pain (in this case it'd be a 5) and pain is only derived from the largest wound penalty, so if you were to be hit a second time for 3 WPs only the -6 would apply, not add. Yes, very Troish. Also very neat and evil ;)

I even threw in to the pot a lot of custom feats (that i further modded by using a point cost system); a traits system (from fallout); flaws and arcana (copied from 7th sea). Oh the fun of homebrewing
Anarak
 
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Re: Passive Defense + Wounds system

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:22 pm

Hi Anarak, welcome to the forum.

Yes you are right it has been a little 'dusty', I blame myself as promised updates (character generation and magic system) have languished due to my day job and other hobbies (fencing and real world historical research). But I do keep tinkering with them. Another of our old forum regulars has gone into the Peace Corps now and is having real-life adventures in Central Asia (or far Eastern Europe depending how you measure it). I still check the forum every few days though and there are a handful of other lurkers who chime in when it gets interesting.

Yes the way the system is set up, it's very risky for low level characters and passive defense doesn't work that well. The premise of Codex is that a 1st or even 2nd level character isn't necessarily a skilled fighter who 'knows what they are doing'. The baseline is 4th level when you have your full compliment of BaB. In the character generation system I use you can start 2nd or 3rd level. By then the passive defense is also of course a little bit better. But even at 2nd level you should have 2 martial feats which may assist in defense by giving you some circumstantial Free Dice. Passive defense is not a great way to stay alive, and if you are low-level, it's a very good idea to have a shield - the shield also enormously helps in that it gives you another free dice for defense. You can also count on armor to protect you since it's harder to get around it, (though if you are just standing there without actively defending, it's easier to get around it). So for example rather than a 4 to hit with medium armor it would require a 10 to hit.

That said, you could make an argument that having a weapon does help with passive defense, this is how pikemen defended themselves. So since you are homebrewing anyway, you could either apply half of the defense bonus of the weapon to passive defense, or raise the default bonus from 8 to 10 for example.

Generally I advocate using what was used in real life though and that would mean shields especially for rank and file fighters and shields were almost universal for fighters with little to no armor.

I'd love to hear more about your campaign and how you are homebrewing. I haven't used 3rd party wound systems but I've been thinking about traits and flaws for the character generation system I've been working on, and I do have my own wound system I've used which is similar, once you go below zero hit points then you've got a "real" wound which results in long-lasting or permanent damage. We started a thread discussing adding it as a feature to the Codex system here.

G
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Re: Passive Defense + Wounds system

Postby Anarak » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:03 am

That said, you could make an argument that having a weapon does help with passive defense, this is how pikemen defended themselves. So since you are homebrewing anyway, you could either apply half of the defense bonus of the weapon to passive defense, or raise the default bonus from 8 to 10 for example.



Yes, that's what i had in mind. It's just that when attacking and defending, Bonus attack Base and Bonus Defense Base cancel each other, so that's a perfect escalation. The 8 from passive represents an 8 roll, which is the small tradeoff from the possibility of having 12 better numbers or 7 worse ones. But there's nothing to compare to equipment, unless you have shield or improvised defense or main gauche.
It gets worse if you have a magic weapon with a reach or speed bonus, because it applies to all attacks but it doens't to PD. No matter the BAB/level, hitting a simillarly skilled fighter means passive defense is not only bad, it's worthless. Which is my point: is PD supposed to be merelly nominal in most cases, as a feature?

I guess one can change the way it views how the fighting is done (as a d20 player does with hit points every once in a while). In tRoS we have more dice so every one counted, thus i can understand not commiting any dice to defense and being wooped, plus each round/exhange was shorter(1-2 seconds). But there's only a base of 4 in Codex and we have a 6 seconds round, so passive defense should - IMHO - account for more than being worthless, even if you don't attempt an AD, there is some back and forth of blows (unless, like above, you change how you view things). How often does active defense comes in your games, for someone with a lower initiative at least?

On the same topic, Improvised defense says it can use unusual objects to confer shield bonus, is that applicable to full martial weapons as well? Swords, daggers, etc ? Main Gauche MF applies to PD or AD only? What is the max +8 to defense? For magical bonuses or the combination of off-hand and primary hand WDB?

Generally I advocate using what was used in real life though and that would mean shields especially for rank and file fighters and shields were almost universal for fighters with little to no armor.


I follow such ideas, but my group is not so into historically accurate stuff, that's why i must keep it somewhat cinematic. I guess PD is more of an issue since i don't cap HPs and combat would take a lot longer if people would just active defense every time.

I'd love to hear more about your campaign and how you are homebrewing. I haven't used 3rd party wound systems but I've been thinking about traits and flaws for the character generation system I've been working on


It's quite a funny mess really. There's the pathfinder which i guess it can be considered a modification in itself, there's your Codex, there's a 7th Sea influence then there's my silly hand all over.

Dexterity became Finesse, and all attack bonus are made from it, unless you have a feat that i call Brute Strike (which is cheap) that allows you to apply STR bonus to attacks made with weapons size M+. Weapon Finesse (which is expensive) allows for 1/2 dex bonus to apply to damage.

Strenght bonus gives "soft" damage reduction, as it transfers HP damage to non-lethal damage, so burly folks don't feel as much but aren't reall impervious tanks either (as non-lethal still makes you drop).

Charisma became Presence, and it has nothing to do with appearance, as it became a feat option. I thought about changing INT or WIS but i got my hands full.

You can choose up to 2 traits. If you have ever played fallout, you know what kind of traits i'm talking about, not the bookeeping little hogs of +2 / -2...Well there are some, but its not a thing. I'm talking about Deals with the devil, exchanging wound points for powers, being jinxed and making everyone - friend or foe - miss more often, etc. You know, game changing stuff. I based on fallout but just expanded from there, i have about 84 traits up to now.

Feat points: Since a lot of feats are sucky, most actually, i made them cost points (FPs, usually 5 to 10. not exactly an original idea, but i made mine from scratch) or re-worked a lot of them, specially to work with the codex. I have a no no-support policy, i'll house rule every.single.feat in :evil:
Basically every time you would have received a feat you get 10 feat points. Career feat points are spread over every level, so instead of getting 10 FPs at every other level, you get 5 every level, just to keep the oil running. I made martial feats cost 5 points each and be buyable besides receiveing one for free for each BAB.

Flaws: Are, of course, the flip side of Feats. You "buy" up to 2 and get Feat Points to expend on extra stuff. Again, tried to let aside minor bookeeping bonuses and have game changing or challenging flaws.

Then there's Arcana's Virtues & Hubris. Which i copisously stole from 7th sea. The idea is that they are "Heroic Feats or Flaws"(about 21 of them) which means they either cost feat points or give FPs back, plus they are activated only by spending Action Points/Hero Points/Drama Dice (whatever you call them). Virtues are activated by players and gives specifics advantages, such as giving extra dice to allies, halving damage, protecting from fear, "producing" a hay cart to soften a jump, getting a hint from the DM, etc.
Hubris are activated by the DM, that also have Hero Dices (i call'em drama), and can force a player to do something such as craving power or money from someone else, falling in love with the villain's daughter, running from a fight or prevent running from a fight. The player can refuse, but must spend an action point of his on, if he has none, the DM gets one. You can only have a virtue or a hubris, or none if you don't wanna buy it.

It's all highly experimental, its not revolutionary but it has been funny until now, despite the added complexity at chargen. If you are interested i can translate the lists and send you, unless you happen to read portuguese, then i don't need to translate :P

...and I do have my own wound system I've used which is similar, once you go below zero hit points (...) We started a thread discussing adding it as a feature to the Codex system here.


Funny, i thought i had read this entire forum, but i missed that one.

I like it. I won't use as it is, because i use the Wounds system, but surprisingly enough it seems like an easy modding.

Actually, you should try a few sessions using a wounds system, see how it goes. It seems your own system can complement it very well. If you are into gritty but still wanna keep HPs in the game, with tangible boundaries, then Wounds is for you.

For example, when suffering a critical hit, your base damage is applied to Hit Points, then there's the critical damage that is a single die. You roll it, lets say a d10, and you simply add the result to your wound table roll. If you roll a 1 for critical damage, you are more likely to suffer a less critical injure, a 10 will mostly mean at least a chopped finger. To compensante, instead of rolling a d20 you roll a d10. It will both at the same time get easy with your players except it wont.

If you are low or out of HPs when you get a critical, then add both base damage + critical damage to the table roll and prepare another sheet. (you would die anyway)

Sorry for the long post, i get excited.

Juan


[edit] P.S.: One of the benefits of a Wounds system, is that it goes hand in hand with a low-magic game yet can still offer plenty of action without regular TPKs. Since Hit points are separated from "body points", because they represent plot armor, soft hits or endurance, they can be recovered withou magical healing. Have some kind of drug healing, or just having a nice rest or some carnal fun recover HPs more easily, even "second wind" concepts aren't that far-fetched anymore.
The "body" points on the other hand, ain't gonna be that easy.
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Re: Passive Defense + Wounds system

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:04 am

The body points thing does sound interesting and kind of elegant in how you can use it to diminish capacity. On the other hand that also leads to a 'death spiral' effect and sounds like more book-keeping. Like you I try to avoid all the -2's and +3's adding up. I try to keep Codex fast paced, and I designed it to resemble the HEMA fencing I do which I think is fun- but then that's why I do it! But I think you are dealing with wounds more realistically than I am with just the default hit points.

Since you are not capping levels and so on, maybe the thing should be to make the defensive bonus 8+ your level?

Or like I said before you can allow certain types of longer weapons to apply their defense to the passive defense, a staff or a spear can kind of act like that, maybe with a certain Feat, like perhaps combat expertise? From having fenced for 14 years, I feel kind of strongly that a sword doesn't do you much good for defense unless you are paying attention, but you can mutate the game however you like to fit your group and keep the pace going.

Other than that, going by my normal basis of basing combat on real stuff, I tend to rely on active defense- it's kind of circumstantial. If the guy has a dangerous weapon and it's a long weapon to boot (meaning, big reach to hit bonus) you try to stay away, use active defense, or close to grapple, depending on what you are good at. Last campaign we ran we had a guy who had developed very good grappling skills, wore pretty good armor, but was mostly a (low level) magic user and a marksman with this big crossbow he had. In hand to hand fights though he would basically rush to grapple. It was a good survival strategy.

If your characters are getting as many feats as it sounds like they have, I would think having a ton of extra defensive dice wouldn't be too hard to engineer. If they want to use passive defense a lot anyway then ... it's kind of doing something other than the system was intended for, which again is fine and frankly, typically necessary (as I think everyone including myself makes all kinds of house rules when using codex) but it distorts the balance of the system.

I'm interested in 7 seas, never played it, but I've been reading a bunch of historical chronicles lately with a ton, I mean a ton of really cool medieval pirate stories, and I'd love to make a codex module for that. Ah pipe dreams I've got enough half-finished codex projects already.

G
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Re: Passive Defense + Wounds system

Postby Anarak » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:10 pm

The diminish bit is optional, if anything the system increases your life expectancy, at least at lower levels. In core, at level 1, you get your max hit dice worth of HP+mod and nothing else, so that's an average of 10 Hit points. With the "body" system, you get the hit dice plus your CON worth of wound points (and die at -CON). But it does get nasty at higher levels as wounds don't go up with level, also it gives more uses for CON. I consider it a grimmy feature.

The pain thing i ruled in was to give players something small to worry about. Since it's high-magic (with a few rulings in itself), healing is a given, even so because there's a cleric in the group. Anyways, it ain't more complex than the Severe and Critical injure system (as far as minuses and pluses & bookeeping go). The effects will, generally, come up as often in both systems, with the added benefit that it's more linear in a body system (requiring a critical hit), instead of high damage (which gets easier as level progresses and friends & foes become more dangerous), thus less bookeeping or needlework. But i liked the injure table, i'll mod in into my game in place of Pain, it adds more flavor than just - to roll stuff.
...
Hmm, as far as PD goes, i've ruled for now that WDB grants full bonuses to both PD and AD. Now shield proficiency reverts to giving it's standard bonuses, as per core. The plus dice to active defense is an inherent shield bonus, i.e.: you don't need a proficiency for that. Being skilled at defending with shields is represented by the also core feats Shield Focus & Greater Shield Focus. WDB, IMO, isn't all about defending but also making your own threats or just putting a sharp end denying one attack venue, effectively keeping you from getting hit as often, which can explain why you can have a higher PD using a weapon than with a shield, although that quickly changes on an AD.

PD as 8+level should be unnecessary, mainly because lower BAB classes already got magic, so i won't enable them with more advantage. Balancing melee classes with magic is one of the reasons one plays the Codex anyways. Other than that i'll try to keep PD at the 30-40% defense chance for similarly skilled/equipped people.

My reasoning is that in a 6 second round there's a bit of everything in a combat scene, at least in a high-fantasy cinematic one. Just as Hit points are an abstraction, so is PD (IMHO). So one can say there's a bit of "active defenses" on a PD, randomized/abstracted in the attack roll of the enemy. The active defense is a more conscious effort, taking it to your hands, and since it gives your another chance it still is an advantage despite the results. Does this sounds reasonably?

Yet, i don't know how i would rule using two weapons, or weapon and shield. Maybe add and divide, or combine up to +5 or just choose one/better of them. Perhaps a long weapon could give a defense bonus equal to its reach at onset, to exemplify your pike example (requiring a feat?). Dunno, maybe i'm opening a can here.
...
They do get more feats, although there IS a list with over a 100 custom feats i've add so it kinda evens out. But my main reason to handle PD this way is to keep a better flow at higher levels -by having less active defenses, specially against mobs - but still allowing for a decent amount of survivability. So, in the end, i guess both approaches have their own inner purposes, balancing and accuracy, depending on the mindset you give to it.
...
There's a lot of piratey goodies in 7th sea material, it comes with its own alternate fantasy europeanish terra, really a love or hate it setting. The fantasy bit can be as subtle as you want, but sorcery certainly isn't as flashy as d&d. The roll & keep is also pretty cool.

Juan
Anarak
 
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