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Name a RPG system you can't stand.

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Much better to write a computer program to handle the die rolling instead of doing it by hand.

 

Very first program I ever did write was to roll up Traveller subsectors, (1982 on a DEC PDP-7). Second one was to roll up characters :)

 

I had quite a good one done for the Commodore 64 for both tasks.

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Game balance is a very challenging design goal when the game mechanics are as complex as in a typical tabletop RPG.

 

In the early versions of (A)D&D, rarity was supposed to serve as a form of game balance, as if having fewer Paladins in a campaign was an effective way to make everyone in a party feel like equals. Instead of recognizing the intrinsically unbalancing effect of really high characteristics, the system worked such that players who happened to roll high were further rewarded with access to premium character classes with still more super powers. If you were to "price out" characters in D&D using a point-buy abstraction as an analysis tool, you'd very quickly expose the flaw in such a system. But rolling up characters like that is like winning the lottery, and deep down most players would rather have a chance at winning such a lottery than be forced to adhere to an intrinsically balancing framework like that imposed by the Hero System.

 

I'm not one of those. I'll take poi ts buy over ranDom roll anytime.

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I'm not one of those. I'll take poi ts buy over ranDom roll anytime.

Me too. this way you avoid the Lucky rollers over the unlucky ones.

 

So I invoke the newest Apple product... iConcur.

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Yeah some people just roll better.  I cannot explain why, nor can science, but I've seen it over and over again since I started playing in 1979.

 

I once rolled a Paladin (with the help of the more lenient later edition method of rolling).  Couldn't pass up up applying that "Charisma" roll.  So I dressed him in all in black and had him act all grim and cold-blooded.  He went around claiming to be in the pest control business.  Actually though the more the specialty classes proliferated the less I liked D&D, and I was only ever lukewarm toward class based systems in the first place.  

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Yeah some people just roll better.  I cannot explain why, nor can science, but I've seen it over and over again since I started playing in 1979.

 

Well, a few of them are just good at controlling the roll. Even then, not all of them are deliberate cheats. I've run across people who always start with the sixes uppermost "for luck" and just have a natural throw that tends to see the sixes land. Using a dice shaker or bouncing off a vertical (box lid, crap table wall) is reccommended to mitigate this effect.

 

Statistically, you will run across people who roll higher or lower than the mean. Otherwise random distribution wouldn't really be random.

 

Most of it is selection bias (remembering unusual runs) or cheating, though.

 

One nice thing about HERO (and GURPS) is that you're rolling low to hit and rolling high for damage, on the same type of dice. That has a certain built in limiter against dice bias.

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One nice thing about HERO (and GURPS) is that you're rolling low to hit and rolling high for damage, on the same type of dice. That has a certain built in limiter against dice bias.

Um...so am I the only one who rolls one set of dice when I want to roll low and another set when I want to roll high?  :whistle:  Pure gamer superstition on my part; nothing actually different about the dice, and I'm sure if I recorded enough rolls they would all even out.

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Well, I don't have dice superstition, but I do have dice fashion. I have three gold-colored dice for rolling Skill Rolls and To-Hit, and a mass of black dice for rolling damage, along with a small black die for rolling half die values, and a red die for rolling stun multipliers. Each subset of dice has a particular roll to play.

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I'm not immune to dice fashion, I'll admit, but for any system that only uses one type I'll always try to have a matching pool. My previous preference for d6 were the old Avalon Hill ones, but Games Workshop ones are nice.

 

And sometimes you do need different coloured dice to read off "d66", d100 or d1000. Read from the red is my habit, again from Avalon Hill days :)

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I think the game that frustrated me the most over the last 15 years or so was in one of my least-favorite settings, which means I might be letting one distaste (genre) plus some GM issues (hashed out tiresomely multiple times) contaminate my opinion of something else (system). But I really don't want to play in an Adventure! (pulp genre) game again.

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Well, I don't have dice superstition, but I do have dice fashion. I have three gold-colored dice for rolling Skill Rolls and To-Hit, and a mass of black dice for rolling damage, along with a small black die for rolling half die values, and a red die for rolling stun multipliers. Each subset of dice has a particular roll to play.

 

I like the pun, even if it was unintentional ;)

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Anyone remember TSR's Amazing Engine? It was their attempt at a multi-genre system (all the cool kids were doing it, so...).

 

You'd roll up a core character, who would then be used in every setting by applying genre-specific filters. I've got a pile of the books around here, mainly because the settings looked somewhat interesting, and I was getting them for a buck or two each on clearance.

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I have the AE version of Metamorphosis Alpha, but only because at one time I was on a quest to acquire every edition of it I could find, not because I was keen on AE itself.

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I have the AE version of Metamorphosis Alpha, but only because at one time I was on a quest to acquire every edition of it I could find, not because I was keen on AE itself.

 

That would be Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega, and was the first AE book I picked up for about $2 on a clearance rack.

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I like the concept of one character, multiple templates. I just don't know how well the Amazing Engine mechanics played. In fact, I don't really know much at all about the mechanics. I remember that there was a supplement called Bug Hunt (or something close) that I really wanted to try out. I just didn't have the money to shell out at the time and, well, was not fortunate (?) enough to find the books on clearance.

 

 

EDIT: Just read a review and well, no thanks. According to the review, the Core Rules are not enough to play. You need the genre books. I still like the concept of applying templates to a core character, based on the reality that they are engaged in, but it looks like Amazing Engine itself is not so amazing.

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Torg was another, more ambitious attempt at multi-genre play. It had some really innovative ideas, including one of the earliest forms of integrated card play in an RPG. Unfortunately, its rules systems for handling competing realities in the game world were too complex, leaving most players never really feeling like they were playing the game correctly. My favorite branch of the game was the New Nile, with its wonderful take on pulp adventure.

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Torg was another, more ambitious attempt at multi-genre play. It had some really innovative ideas, including one of the earliest forms of integrated card play in an RPG. Unfortunately, its rules systems for handling competing realities in the game world were too complex, leaving most players never really feeling like they were playing the game correctly. My favorite branch of the game was the New Nile, with its wonderful take on pulp adventure.

 

The Torg RPG was recently Kickstarted.   Looks like it is returning.

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Torg had problems with power creep ... later supplements were more potent than the initial ones, and some things were frustratingly incomplete. There weren't really a functional set of rules for the New Nile gadgets, for instance. OTOH, the spell design rules were more complex than anything ever seen in HERO System, and I say that as a Mage of the Seven Towers (I wrote most of the Water spells in their grimoire supplement.)

 

While I liked the logarithmic action value idea, the flat probability distribution function the d20 gave you was very frustrating.

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Ultimately, all randomizers simply yield a % chance to succeed at something. If you have are given a 65% chance to hit a target, it really doesn't matter whether you use a d20 (roll 8+), 3d6 (roll 11-), or d100 (65-) to resolve it. You have a 65% chance regardless of the method you choose.

 

Where bell-curve based dice rolling methods create problems is in the way modifiers impact the % chance to succeed. In a flat distribution system such as d20, every +1 or -1 has the same effect on the success percentage. It doesn't matter whether you start at 5% or 90%, that +1 is going to give you a consistent 5% bonus. But with a bell-curve based method, a +1 or -1 alters the % chance by a different amount depending on where you start from. A +1 gives you a meager +1.38% bonus if you start at 3-, but a whopping +12.5% if you start at 10-. I can't recall ever hearing a truly convincing argument for why that makes any sense.

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Ultimately, all randomizers simply yield a % chance to succeed at something. If you have are given a 65% chance to hit a target, it really doesn't matter whether you use a d20 (roll 8+), 3d6 (roll 11-), or d100 (65-) to resolve it. You have a 65% chance regardless of the method you choose.

 

Where bell-curve based dice rolling methods create problems is in the way modifiers impact the % chance to succeed. In a flat distribution system such as d20, every +1 or -1 has the same effect on the success percentage. It doesn't matter whether you start at 5% or 90%, that +1 is going to give you a consistent 5% bonus. But with a bell-curve based method, a +1 or -1 alters the % chance by a different amount depending on where you start from. A +1 gives you a meager +1.38% bonus if you start at 3-, but a whopping +12.5% if you start at 10-. I can't recall ever hearing a truly convincing argument for why that makes any sense.

 

It only makes sense from a purely game design theory. A bell curve, like Hero, tends to emphasize the middle ground and so most statistical movement is based around the middle of the road concept. Very low and high ranges are fringe and left outside the consideration of an "operational" range of successes. It is purposeful to keep most rolls towards the high end of the curve because most rolls will statistically fall in that range. It is designed to give a functional range at which most people succeed or fail, with statistical outliers occupying each of the bottom ends of the bell. The large percentage shifts in the middle are a by-product (perhaps intentionally) of that game design theory. It isn't about statistical consistency or fairness, it is about designing a system where most rolls fall with a range of x-y.

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