ADnD vs. 3E

Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby drkguy3107 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:24 pm

Personally I have a huge issue with skills in my game. I think that 3e skills (which I still use) are too complicated and take too much time, however pathfinder/4e skills are way to brief for the amount of effort I try to put into them. For example, a player with a high disguise, forgery, bluff check, can make it through the entire adventure (of assassinating target npc) without ever getting into combat, and I absolutely love that. Making it just a +5 if trained makes it impossible to specialize if your thief is a lying disguise artist, or a cat burglar. Additionally, I have an artisan class that simply would not fly without an in depth skill system. I guess I am still looking for a good skill system.
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:07 pm

I thought Pathfinder had kind of simplified that, it sounds like they made it more complex. I hate the system of cross-class or class skills in 3.X because who the hell wants to deal with all those half points in this one or full points in that one. There has to be a better way to handle it than that.

I haven't really looked at Pathfinder since the beta first came out... What is the procedure in Pathfinder for skillsets for different classes, do they still have the rule that say a Fighter can't pick up a spot skill? (or it costs him twice as much?)

G.
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby drkguy3107 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:56 am

I don't know, I was under the impression they were just like 4e were it's it trained +5, if not then not.

However 3e doesn't have half points since you just round down.
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby JoseFreitas » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:25 am

I've been playing with the Pathfinder rules, and to be honest, I don't see much of a difference between them and 3e, but then again, I've never really looked at the skill rules with analytical eyes.

My primary problem with skills in RPGs is that real-life skills just don't seem to work anywhere close to whatever game systems seem to have as a set of rules. I like the way they are implemented in some systems - like GURPS with the various default levels - mostly because they're fairly easy to use and seem to work well within the confines of the game. But in real life, skills work in completely different ways, and it seems to me that, if there is no particular structure or overall-system to the way skills work in real life, why do we insist there should be one in an RPG? We all know that skills are all created differently: some are easy to teach and work fast, some cover a very, very limited set of abilities, while remaining very useful (for example CPR), others cover a tremendous amount of things which have bearing on a ton of other stuff, like medicine, and should perhaps be split into 40 different subskills, but then become unmanageable. Some really are hard to teach and require lots of innate abilities and experience and so on. I think it is very difficult to simulate this in a game, especially since a lot of these skills would rarely come into play.

Another innate problem of very detailed skill systems is that they tend to be grossly underpowered at low levels, to the point of being virtually unusable (ie. Open Locks at 15% for a 1st level Thief...). My solution has been easy to implement, and has worked well for our group but is not really workable for most parties, since it is essentially a set of house rules, and works under the assumption that there is NO UNDERLYING structure of game mechanics to address every skill, something which seems to go against the grain of most modern RPG design. Also, we only recognize two levels of proficiency for PCs. A PC can either do the skill (moderately well, or at a basic level of proficiency) or he can do it well. This is not to say that there aren't higher level of skills for NPCs, but for the most part, for PCs this level of granularity works well. There are assumptions: 1) most class specific skills will not be replicated by Skills, and if they are, it is at a much lower level of expertise (ie. Tracking for non-rangers is not very powerful), 2) most PCs are not interested in skills per se, they are adventurers and any additonal skill they have above their class skills is just a hobby or a minor interest, or something useful picked up during the course of their careers, 3) most skills are acquired "randomly" through the luck of the dice, depending on social class and background (another thing which goes against the trends in modern RPG design, where a lot of player choice is preferred when designing PCs), and 4) any other skills are acquired "in-game" and during "downtime", generally limiting the PC to simple, easy to learn, useful skills. There is generally no system, although there are trends in the way things are used (like the division into three levels of skill: No skill, Some Skill, Skilled).
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby JoseFreitas » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:21 pm

Going back to some of the discussion:

Galloglaich wrote:We will definitely have to discuss this in another thread but in a nutshell, my beef is that the spell list just needs to be re-organized, in the sense that what should be very powerful and dramatic spells like invisibility, instead of being nerfed in ridiculous ways, (you turn visible when you attack and all it amounts to is a -4 to AC anyway) just leave it powerful like in the Sinbad stories, like it would be in real life... but put it in its proper place as a 5th or 6th level spell. I hate nerfed spells.

I also don't like some of the detection and travelling spells (teleoprt! yargh!)

I also really do like a spell failure / success system which was in my Dying Earth / D20 spell book and which I've introduced a little bit into the Codex. I hate automatic spells, especially for high-level spells. That kills a lot of the mystery for me. I also don't like spells which remind me of comic book superhero powers. I don't mind powerful ones but I like them a little weird, more Jack Vance style. I love the spells in Ars Magica and a few other games like the Dying Earth RPG which I contributed to a little. This is something I'm really interested in because I think it's one of the two most broken things in 3E.

I think this problem goes back to before AD&D, when there were only 3 levels of spells, and the list just grew when it should have been re-organized.

Although I've always liked the AD&D system, I agree that a lot more can be done with a magic system. AD&D is great because the vancian memorization system brings a certain tactical dimension of choice (and luck) which makes it a lot of fun.

On some of your specific details: I always thought that a more "realistic" penalty to fighting invisible opponents (or to fighting when totally blind, not just in darkness) should be -10! But note that there is an Improved Invisibility spell, as well as an Invisibility 10' radius spell (or are they the same?). Perhaps the way to go os to create just one spell, but have it vary in power accoding to the mage's 1) wishes or 2) level.

Even though I understand your dislike of comic book like spells, I have to say that having grown on the exploits of the Sorcerer Supreme, as drawn by Ditko and Brunner, I LOVE... some... of the comic book mages and spells. Eye of Agammotto anyone? :)

Some thoughts based on two different systems of magic I used in the past and liked a lot.

Chivalry & Sorcery 2nd edition had a pretty cool system. It wasn't based on memorization, rather on whether the Mage had Fully Learned or only Partially Learned a spell. The system used a set of rules for Enchanting items which was great. Pretty much every item or substance in the game world was assigned a Basic Magic Resistance (BMR), indicating how difficult it was to enchant. Bringing the item's BMR down to 0 was Enchanting: at 0 the item wouldn't offer any "resistance" to magic and could support spells and powers. Magic items were crafted out of combinations of materials enchanted down to 0. For example, simple items (basically "spell adders" containing x charges, sometimes self-recharging, or else simple items where some powers were "awakened" in the material due to it being enchanted) had to be made out of 7 different substances, a few of which had to be adequate to the item being made. For example, a simple wand capable of casting a certain number os spells could be fashioned out of three different types of wood, one type of bone, anointed with one herb essence and one magic oil, and bound together with rings made of one type of metal. All enchanted down to 0. You could get bonus powers by adding more substances etc... and for using the Astrological system of correspondences. Items of great Power HAD to be enchanted using the System: the Mage had to cast a Horoscope (or the GM would decide) to determine what Sign the item belonged to, and then the Metals, Woods, Gems etc... belonging to the Sign had to be enchanted and bound together to fashion it. And so on, with plenty of extra rules and add-ons, which made the rules fun, interesting, and "logical" in a weird way.

How did Mages enchant items? The game had an Enchantment Table, where you looked up your Mage's level (MKL) and read down the column to the BMR of whatever you wanted to enchant. For example, you were enchanting Gold (BMR5) and looking up the number you could see that it would take 70 days. If you read up one line, you'd find the number 56, and then one line further up 44. This meant that to enchant Gold down to BMR4 would take (70-56) 14 days, and then to enchant it further to BMR3 would take an extra (56-44) 12 days. And so on. Mages could interrupt enchantments, but only at "full BMR" numbers. When the Mage had reduced Gold to BMR4, he might add other materials of BMR4, up to a certain weight (determined by MKL). When he had spent all the required time (in this case 70 days) Gold would be at BMR0 and could be enchanted, perhaps to make a Magic Ring. Etc...

Spells were treated much the same way: each spell was assigned a BMR, which indicated how copmplex it was. Studying the spell took the same time as enchanting a substance of equivalent BMR. If the Mage reduced the spell to 0, it was Fully Learned. If he reduced it in complexity (perhaps from Complexity 5 to 3) it would count as Partially Learned, and the Mage would use it with the stats of a BMR3 spell.

Casting the spell then used the following rules, divided into three steps: first, Remembering the spell, second Casting the spell, third Targeting the spell. Remembering was a straight IQ test, modified by the spell's BMR and by any difference between the Mage's casting level and the Level of the spells (as in AD&D, spells were assigned a Level, from 1 to 10, but although it could be difficult, any Mage could attempt to learn any spell, regardless of level). Casters could spend additional time to remember (Contemplation) or spend fatigue to boost their chances (Furious Concentration!), in both cases gaining a bonus. Also, Remembering could be replaced by Reading, if the caster had access to the text of the spell. This generally had a better chance, but a longer time to do. If the spell was correctly Remembered, it could be cast on the next round (the rules were silent on how long the spell could be kept in the Mage's memory before having to be remembered again, or on how many spells could be held at the same time, each GM I know having houseruled this differently). Fully Learned spells could then be cast automatically, while Partially Learned spells required a roll on a spellcasting table, crossing the MKL for the Mage with the spells current BMR to determine % of casting.

Another fun thing was that the cost in Fatigue to cast a spell was expressed as a percentage of the Mage's total: 10% for a Fully Learned spell and 15% for Partially Learned one. So, one of the ways in which a Mage could increase his power was to move more spells from the Partially to the Fully Learned categories. Other ways were to enchant the personal Magic Focus: this was an item of power, enchanted of 7 correspondences from the Mage's Sign (ie. one wood, one gem, one metal, one herb, one animal's blood or skin, one oil, etc...), 7 correspondences each from the following and preceding Signs, and one Gem six signs removed (22 materials, a very difficult and lengthy enchantment!). A Focus brought a -5% cost to casting the spells, and also allowed casting three spells per day at no cost in Fatigue.

The Targeting rules were hopelessly confused, and in my opinion nerfed the
Mage a lot, since he was already going through all of these steps and then had to do a fairly difficult targeting roll. So we generally didn't use them instead using a simpliifed method. There were other fun things in the rules, one of them being Basic Magic, which was the name for Elemental magic. It was based on a system of various elemnts and then various "actions". For example, Earth included the elements of Rock, Dense Rock, Sand, Dust, Soft Earth, each a different "spell" that required learning. Next the Mage would Learn Create, Accelerate, Detach, Hold, etc... "actions" and he could then combine them, fist Creating Dense Rock, then Accelerating and ontroling to send a Ball of Rock flying to the opponent, etc...

More on other systems tommorow, food for thought when discussing magic rules!
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby Galloglaich » Sat May 01, 2010 7:24 pm

Jose sorry it took me so long to respond to these it's a subject that requires some thought and couldn't be quickly answered from my work computer.

JoseFreitas wrote:I've been playing with the Pathfinder rules, and to be honest, I don't see much of a difference between them and 3e, but then again, I've never really looked at the skill rules with analytical eyes.


They made them a bit more rational than the utterly dysfunctional system in 3E, but it's at best an incremental improvement.

My primary problem with skills in RPGs is that real-life skills just don't seem to work anywhere close to whatever game systems seem to have as a set of rules.


That is a valid, and interesting point.

I like the way they are implemented in some systems - like GURPS with the various default levels - mostly because they're fairly easy to use and seem to work well within the confines of the game. But in real life, skills work in completely different ways, and it seems to me that, if there is no particular structure or overall-system to the way skills work in real life, why do we insist there should be one in an RPG?


What makes you think there is no structure to how skills work in real life?

We all know that skills are all created differently: some are easy to teach and work fast, some cover a very, very limited set of abilities, while remaining very useful (for example CPR), others cover a tremendous amount of things which have bearing on a ton of other stuff, like medicine, and should perhaps be split into 40 different subskills, but then become unmanageable. Some really are hard to teach and require lots of innate abilities and experience and so on.


Well this does begin to sound like some kind of structure after all.

I think it is very difficult to simulate this in a game, especially since a lot of these skills would rarely come into play.


Difficult perhaps, but this actually reminds me a great deal of the arguments I heard against the idea of trying to have realistic combat in an RPG. I would approach solving this problem in the same way: define what I think is the reality, and then look at that 'real' system, with an eye toward simplifying it while keeping it's inherent structure intact. Maybe then something more fun and more functional could be created.

I like some of your ideas of acquiring skills, I also house rule the acquisition of or improvement of some skills 'on the fly' in game, like when somebody pulls off a tricky (lucky) maneuver of some kind, because I think sometimes you do learn this way (in sudden impulses).

You said you are satisfied with a lack of a skill system and / or houseruling your own. As a gamer and as a game designer, I'm not satisfied with that, really. I'd be interested in looking at how to make a more 'real' feeling skill system that was still fast and playable. Are you as well or do you think AD&D is already perfect?

G.
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Re: ADnD vs. 3E

Postby Arkon » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:54 am

One thing that I hate about 3E is moving away from any attempts at realism (at least attempting to have sensible weapons, nice paintings with realistic armour and costumes based on old Hollywood medieval movies, different armour protection from different weapon types) to dungeonpunk (ugly dungeonpunk art, weird weapons).
...
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