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Brewing My House Rules for Combat - Heresy!?

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This may be a failing on my part, I'll readily admit!

Try as I might, I just can't "get" the roll-under approach to combat. However I look at the math, I can't see a story; I can't explain how the math relates to "real" life. Human beings have an innate sense for math, patterns and want information to make sense. The HERO-standard equation just doesn't make sense to this human being (i.e., me).

• Attacker's OCV + 11 - 3d6 = the DCV the Attacker Can Hit - I'm lost.

• I believe I can rewrite the above as OCV + 11 - 3d6  DCV. Playing around with the equation, I get: 11 + OCV  DCV + 3d6 - the story is even more confounding to me this way though.

I understand the below equation is not mathematically equivalent to the HERO-standard, but I'm playing a game not building a bridge or sending a satellite into orbit. It makes sense to me.

• OCV + X   DCV + 11

"Hi, new player, this is how combat works. You have a certain acumen for attacking (OCV), but there's always going to be variability in how you perform. That variability is represented by the results of a 3d6 roll. Without training, armor or abilities, your opponent has an innate ability to avoid your attack. In the game that's represented by a fixed '11,' a baseline for anyone. Your opponent has additional defensive capabilities to defend themselves (DCV), which are additive to the 11. So, to hit your opponent, you add a 3d6 roll to your OCV and hit them if that exceeds their DCV plus 11."

I'm not an Engineer, etc. but I believe the alternative equation (OCV + X   DCV + 11) may result in slightly fewer hits than the HERO-standard equation, which I may adjust for by changing the "11" to a "10."

There's still time to pull me back from the edge of this heresy if someone can explain to me what the heck OCV + 11 - 3d6  DCV is supposed to mean along the lines of my pretend dialog above. Help me, before it's too late.

p.s. I'm going to stick with roll under for skill checks.... "Hi, new player, skills are a bit different than combat, but I think you'll find this makes sense. The more skill you have, the higher the skill number. Someone with 15 in a skill is more skilled than someone with 5. When you perform a skill, you need to perform within your capabilities. In other words, you need to roll your skill number or less. If you roll really low, it means you nailed it! If you roll high but still make it, it means you just squeaked by."

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Think of 11+OCV as (11+OCV)-, then think of DCV as a penalty.  Thus 6 OCV guy has a 17- "Hit things".  A 5 DCV foe applies a -5 penalty to that.  End result is that this character has a 12- to hit this foe.

In fact, you can just bake the 11 in.  6 OCV guy should just write 17- as his OCV.  Then, to borrow your wording for skills:

"The more OCV you have, the higher the OCV number. Someone with 17- in OCV is more skilled than someone with 15-. When you perform an attack, you need to perform within your capabilities. In other words, you need to roll your OCV number or less. If you roll really low, it means you nailed it! If you roll high but still make it, it means you just squeaked by.  But the other guy is trying to not get hit, so they apply their DCV as a penalty to your OCV number."

Alternatively, flip to a roll-over system like you described.  There's no rules police who will kick down your door for having fun the wrong way.

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Look at it as OCV -DCV >= 3D6 -11. That is your character has an ability to attack of 'OCV', the defender has an ability to defend of 'DCV'. You want to perform within your capabilities, just like a skill, but if the opponents are equally capable you want to succeed approximately half the time, so we bias the roll to zero with its average of 10.5 rounded to 11 giving a slight benefit to the attacker.

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8 hours ago, jfg17 said:

Try as I might, I just can't "get" the roll-under approach to combat. However I look at the math, I can't see a story; I can't explain how the math relates to "real" life. Human beings have an innate sense for math, patterns and want information to make sense. The HERO-standard equation just doesn't make sense to this human being (i.e., me).

Have you played Runequest, Call of Cthulhu etc?  In those games you have a skill percentage - e.g., Rapier 76%.  If you roll under the number then you hit, if you roll over it, you miss.  This is a roll under approach which is actually quite similar to HERO (except using 3D6 rather than 1D100).

So.  In HERO, the base chance in combat is 11 or less.  Using 3D6 that equates to 62.5% chance of success.  Everything else is modifiers to that.  You add benefits to the target number (which makes it easier to roll under) and you subtract things that make it harder to hit.

Your percentage chance to hit improves using your OCV.

Your percentage chance to hit gets worse as your opponents uses their DCV.

If you think of 11 as the base target number for success and everything else as a modifier to that target number then you are simply rolling 3D6 to roll under the number.

It is essentially the same as a skill roll which you seem to have no problem with.  Skills tend to be 9+(CHA/5).  As most characteristics default to 10, most skills default to 11 or less.  You then add levels bought for the skill - either directly or through additional characteristics (equivalent to OCV) - and subtract difficulty factors (equivalent to an opponents DCV) and you have a number to roll under.  🙂

Does that make sense?  There IS a core mechanic beneath it all.

Doc

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13 hours ago, jfg17 said:

This may be a failing on my part, I'll readily admit!

Try as I might, I just can't "get" the roll-under approach to combat. However I look at the math, I can't see a story; I can't explain how the math relates to "real" life. Human beings have an innate sense for math, patterns and want information to make sense. The HERO-standard equation just doesn't make sense to this human being (i.e., me).

• Attacker's OCV + 11 - 3d6 = the DCV the Attacker Can Hit - I'm lost.

• I believe I can rewrite the above as OCV + 11 - 3d6  DCV. Playing around with the equation, I get: 11 + OCV  DCV + 3d6 - the story is even more confounding to me this way though.

It's best to think of it like others have suggested: Roll under a Skill (your "Attack Skill" of 11) on 3d6, with OCV acting like Skill Levels and DCV acting like penalties. Roll under that number.

In older editions of Champions the formula used to be shown as this: 11 + OCV - DCV = target roll or less. Basically it looks like a Skill Roll. The main problem is that a GM may not want you do know your opponent's DCV, so in later editions they moved things around to keep the DCV secret. I'll show my work in steps like we used to do in math class (I'm trying to remember how to do that now!), not to be condescending, just to make sure you're following (and to check that I'm actually doing it right!):

11 + OCV - DCV = 3d6 or less

+ (DCV) 11 + OCV - DCV = 3d6 + (DCV)

- (3d6) 11 + OCV = 3d6 + DCV - (3d6)

11 + OCV - 3d6 =  DCV you can hit

Another way to look at it is this: Think of 11+OCV as your Skill Roll, rolled at or under on 3d6. The margin of success ("I made my roll by 5") that you use on some Skill Rolls is equivalent to the DCV you can hit ("I can hit a DCV 5"). Again, the reason why in some games we announce how much we exceeded the roll, especially things like Perception rolls, is because there may be modifiers and stuff the GM is tracking that we don't know about. Easiest solution is to just roll and announce how much we made it by. In combat, that's the DCV we can hit.

I hope I didn't just make things worse, or ridiculous with my math. But it was only recently, after more than 30 years of playing, that someone on these forums showed me how combat is actually a Skill Roll! Seriously, it's never really stated in the rules, but as Doc says, it's the same mechanic tacitly built into it. It was a mind-bending moment for me to suddenly see it so clearly after simply missing it for so long!

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11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

I hope I didn't just make things worse, or ridiculous with my math.

No, this helps a ton--

What you wrote makes sense. I get your point about comparing Attacks to the Skills Roll....

I checked out the original Champions as well:

"The basic chance to make an attack role is 11 or less. If the character rolls 11 or less on 3d6, [their] attack has hit the target. If the character rolls 12 or more, [their] attack has missed. This Attack Roll varies according to circumstances. There are a number of modifiers to a character's attack roll...." The character modifies their chance to hit by their attacking skill (OCV) less their target's defending skill (DCV) and other modifiers. Wow. Of course. This is well explained, to my mind.

• 11 + OCV - DCV = 3d6 or less

And the related equation makes sense.

Then there's this ...

• 11 + OCV - 3d6 =  DCV you can hit.

Hurts my head.

I understand how these equations are the same with a bit of algebra. The problem is that written in the altered form, it loses its explainability to me. It's just a formula without any meaning.

My new and improved, proposed plan:

I explain the Attack Roll exactly as it was explained in Champions v1.

Combat flows like this, where OCV = 5, DCV = 7, as an example:

I say: What's your OCV, Joe?

Joe: 5 [assume no modifiers applied on his end]

Me: Great. Roll, Joe!

Joe: 9 (with a hopeful tone) ...

Me: You hit her [after doing the math using whatever equation works the best for me]

- Versus D&D 5e, this is nearly the same combat experience for the player.

- Versus D&D 5e, the GM needs to do a few seconds of additional work:

• Ask Joe his OCV. GM may know what this is without asking in some cases ...
• GM does a calc that's slightly more complicated than, "Is X greater or equal to Y?"

Feasible? A terrible idea? Feedback is welcome.

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Somewhere there is a chart for comparing OCV to DCV that when you cross-index the numbers it gives you the target number you need to roll.

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39 minutes ago, jfg17 said:
• 11 + OCV - DCV = 3d6 or less

And the related equation makes sense.

Then there's this ...

• 11 + OCV - 3d6 =  DCV you can hit.

39 minutes ago, jfg17 said:

- Versus D&D 5e, this is nearly the same combat experience for the player.

- Versus D&D 5e, the GM needs to do a few seconds of additional work:

• Ask Joe his OCV. GM may know what this is without asking in some cases ...
• GM does a calc that's slightly more complicated than, "Is X greater or equal to Y?"

Feasible? A terrible idea? Feedback is welcome.

So if you don't care if your players know their opponents' DCV, just use the first formula. As @Gnome BODY (important!) said, just have them write down their basic attack roll of 11 + their OCV and focus on that number as a Skill roll (an Attack Skill or something), subtract the DCV (which is really just a penalty to the success of the Skill roll) and roll that target number or less.

The second formula is really doing the same thing, with little more work for the GM but keeps everything secret if you don't want the players to know all the variables. If they just roll against their Attack Skill (11 + OCV) and tell you how much they made it by, you as the GM can modify that number with bonuses and penalties, and come up with the DCV they can hit. You'll know these numbers, and can determine the result. It's second nature once you do it a few times. Keeping track of all the modifiers is the problematic part, but if everyone keeps track of them for you from phase to phase, you'll do just fine.

As @Greywind just wrote, here's a download that shows the OCV cross-referenced with the roll to show the DCV that you can hit. There is another version of this on 6e2, p. 36 which basically shows the same thing but more related to the first formula.

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Just to recap: just think of an attack as a Skill roll. The degree of a Skill roll often determines how much success you have, so if you make it by a lot it is better than making it by a little. The lower you roll, the more you make the Skill roll by, and for an attack that difference is how good of an opponent you can hit. The lower the roll, the more DCV you can hit.

Keep coming back to that. Make up a couple of sample combats for your own practice. Create some environmental conditions (darkness, terrain, whatever) and use a few of the maneuvers that modify OCV and DCV, and run a few rounds of combat. It'll get you used to the basic formula plus adding modifiers and stuff as you calculate.

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16 hours ago, jfg17 said:

Feasible? A terrible idea? Feedback is welcome.

It's worked for me for forty years.  I can't find any reason to change it.

15 hours ago, Greywind said:

Somewhere there is a chart for comparing OCV to DCV that when you cross-index the numbers it gives you the target number you need to roll.

I will have to double-check (still at work), but I think there is one on the 5e GM screen, and there were dozens when the Web Ring of Heroes was still a thing...

Jfg17:

Doc explained it perfectly:

It's just like any other 11 or less skill roll.

To simply further:

It is possible to see this as 2 skill rolls:

The attacker makes an attack roll; the Defender makes a defend roll.

Both rolls have a base value of 11 of less.

Whoever succeeds by the most wins.  If the attacker rolls a 9 and the Defender rolls a 7, then the Defender has succeeded by 5, while the attacker has succeeded by only 2.  The Defender wins, and the attack misses.

Like any other skill roll, there are modifiers.  Start with how good you are at the skill.  Suppose you have a skill with a base of 11 or less, but you've invested a few extra points to demonstrate a deeper study or better understanding that a lot of folks might have.  Your roll might be 14 or less instead of 11 or less.

Another way to look at that is to consider that you have an 11 less and a +3 bonus to you ability with that skill.  In combat, that bonus is your CV.

So in the above example, let's say the atttacker has an OCV of 8 while the Defender has a DCV of 5.

The attacker needs to roll his base 11 or less, but he gets his 8 OCV bonus.  He know has to roll a 19 or less to succeed.

The Defender, with his DCV bonus of 5, has to roll a 16 or less to successfully defend.

So the attacker rolls a 9, as before, which means he succeeded by 10.  The Defender rolls a 7, as before, and succeeds by 9.  The attacker wins, as he has won by the greatest margin.

And just like any other skill roll, there are other modifiers where appropriate: range, weather, bad footing--whatever might be appropriate.

If you've ever played a game (including HERO, in some cases) where skills are directly opposed like this, you are familiar with the problems, not the least of which is we are now rolling dice twice to resolve one thing.  Another problem is the arguments like "how did he hit me if I successfully defended?  What do you mean, 'succeeded more?'. That makes no sense!" and things like that.

So how do we resolve that?  Make one roll.

They both have a base chance of 11.  We understand that OCV is a positive modifier to that.  We understand that DCV can be considered a negative modifier (from the attacker's point of view) to that same roll.  So we know how to reduce the time wasted rolling dice: make one roll that includes both sets of modifiers.

(11 + OCV) - (Defender's DCV) = target number.  Roll that number or less.

(I don't want to confuse things, but I handle all my opposed roll situations, like Concealment VS Concealment, this exact same way.  It's fast and it's clean).

Best of all, it eliminates the problem with ties (in terms of how  much you succeeded.  If your wondering, though, ties go to the attacker) and "but I successfully defended!" by not having separate rolls for these two aspects of combat.

There is no _real_ downside, but for some reason, some people are really bothered by the fact that telling a player "you need an eight or less" tells the player something he shouldn't know.  Here's why that's not really true:  the play has no idea what his oppenents skill levels are, how many are allocated, where they are allocated, or what other situational bonuses are in play.  You might need an eight this time, even the next five times, but then you might need a thirteen, followed by a six!  You're not giving away what they claim you are giving away.  Unless, of course, the groups in question use no situational modifiers at all, ever, in which case, yea: your player might figure out his opponent's DCV.  To which I say "so what?"

I say that, because the "solution" to this "problem" is the roll-high option.  Ultimately, this is touted as hiding all the stuff that you are allegedly giving away with roll low.

The problem is that you are _still_ giving it away.  It's not calculus.  It's math like you picked up in first and second grade:

I rolled an eleven.

You hit!

I rolled a twelve.

I'm sorry, you missed.

Egad!  If only there was some way I could use this information to determine what his DCV is!

Obviously, in this case, his total DCV (that would be his DCV, plus and skill levels he has allocated to defense plus any Maneuver or situational DCV bonuses he has) exactly equals your total OCV-  which is, as I said, the _total_ of everything in play that's working toward increasing your OCV.

You still don't really know what his precise DCV is any more than he knows your precise OCV.  The best part is that you have that same conundrum with roll-under to hit: you know the total, that one time, after resolution, and have no way of knowing exactly _why_ that is the total, or if it is always that total.

Roll-over is a non-solution to a not problem.

However, it is just as valid as roll-under.  Pick the one you like and stick with it, as changing up or using both is the only _real_ problem you are going to have teaching the attack mechanic.

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So, I have a plan!

• For me and my brain, the original Champions Attack equation and explanation of the Attack equation is more intuitive than that in in later editions, so I'm going to stick with the original.

Thanks, all.

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I once toyed in having active defences, so instead of just an attack roll during combat there is also a defence roll (was planning a Fantasy Hero game).

As such, the attacker would roll 3D6 and add OCV, the defender would roll 3D6 and add DCV.  Attacker's total would need to exceed defender's to succeed.

It had the advantage of making combat more dynamic, the disadvantages of making it take longer!  I did not do it, meaning I was quite content for all defender's to "take 11" on their defence roll.

It did make me consider removing the need to roll at all.  If you OCV is higher than the defender's DCV then you hit.  Your combat options would then be about seeking advantages or trying manoeuvres that enhanced OCV rather than simply hoping to roll low enough.

That crashed and burned because my players are HIGHLY committed to having dice in their hands, even when they routinely roll poorly.  🙂

Doc

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10 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

11 + DCV - Defender's OCV = target number.  Roll that number or less.

Duke! I think you’ve been working too much this week! Hopefully you get some time off for Independence Day so your brain can recuperate.

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I got that edited, but evidently you were quoting while I was editing.

At any rate, it reads correctly now.

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13 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

(11 + OCV) - (Defender's OCV) = target number.  Roll that number or less.

Duke?  You want to look and edit again?  I think Brian is right, you are in dire need of a rest.  😄

Doc

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You know what they say:

Eighth time's the charm.....

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Hey, this new "Dump on Duke" game is kinda fun!

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