Saturday, July 11, 2015

Diceless Pathfinder: Example Combat

The following is an example combat between four iconics and an adult red dragon in the diceless system.  This combat could go down any number of ways depending on what the characters choose.  Here's one way.

Contestants

Adult Red Dragon: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/dragons/dragon/chromatic-red/adult-red-dragon  We are going to assume he has AC 33 with shield up.

Valeros Iconic Fighter: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/npc-classes/npc-codex-iconics/iconic-fighter/iconic-fighter-12

Seoni, Iconic Sorcerer: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/seoni---iconic-sorcerer/seoni-iconic-sorcerer-12 (Note that while the iconic wizard can pierce the dragon's SR, the iconic sorcerer cannot. So lets look at her for our example).

Lem, Iconic Bard: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/lem---iconic-bard/lem-iconic-bard-12

Kyra, Iconic Cleric: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/kyra---iconic-cleric/kyra-iconic-cleric-12

Pre-combat

Before battle, the Dragon casts haste and shield on himself.

Seoni casts overland flight on herself and both stoneskin and displacement Valeros, Kyra, and Lem.  She then hastes the group, and uses her scroll of protection from energy on herself.

Lem casts heroism on Valeros, Kyra, and himself.  He casts shield on himself.

Kyra casts fire shield and freedom of movement on herself.

Combat Starts

Lets assume the group is 30 feet south of the dragon.

Initiative is as follows: Valeros 19, Seoni 19, Lem 17, Dragon 15, Kyra 12

As soon as combat starts, everybody must make a save against frightful presence, but at DC 21 nobody fails (though Valeros is close - good thing for Bravery!)

Round 1

Valeros and Seoni delay, allowing Lem to start singing.

Lem starts singing Inspire Courage, giving everybody a +3 morale bonus on saves and a +3 competence bonus on attacks and damage.  He moves forward and to the right to make sure he's not caught in a fire cone, getting ready to get behind and flank the dragon.

Valeros runs up to engage.  With just a standard action vital strike he attacks at 40 vs the dragon's AC 33.  28 Damage.

Seoni casts chain lightning, which fizzles against the dragon's SR.  Damn!  Well, we won't be doing that again.  She flies up in the air to make sure she's not caught in a fire cone.

Dragon's turn! Valeros is dealt 4 fire damage from the aura. The party has already dispersed too much for fire breath.  At most, he can catch Valeros and Kyra, but Kyra clearly has some flaming aura already.  Full attack then!  He focuses on Valeros, his only target, and attacks at 37, 37, 37, 34, 34, 34.  - all above Valeros' AC.  Luckily displacement eats half of these and stones skin takes off a lot.  Only 21 damage!  The dragon starts sweating.  Firebreath next time.

Kyra, last of the lot, moves forward to attack.  She takes the opportunity attack, though displacement and stoneskin only bring it down to 6 damage.  She then swings her scimitar, now with +6 to attack and +5 to damage. Her attack is at 33, criting the dragon.  She deals 30 damage.  Now the PC's know the dragon's AC.

Round 1 HP:
Dragon: 154/212.  Valeros: 105/130. Seoni: 80/80.  Kyra: 99/105. Lem: 105/105

Round 2

Lem cast Grease on the ground beneath the dragon (now the dragon can't maneuver as well) and then moves around to flanking the dragon.  He takes the opportunity attack (with stoneskin and displacement, average 6 damage).

Valeros is now flanking.  With all of his buffs, he's got a mighty +8 to attack and +5 to damage.  He pulls out both his weapons and attacks at 40/40/35(crit)/30 with his long sword and 37/32 with his short sword.  That's a whopping 112 damage.  The maneuvering and buffs really paid off!

Seoni watches her buffs take their full effect, and she sees the dragon thinking about escaping. Not today.  She casts wall of force directly above the wyrm.  It's not flying anywhere without needing to get through her flankers.  She, in the meantime, flies out of the dragon's fire breath range.

The dragon bumps his head on the wall of force and realizes he can't fly away.  He can catch both Kyra and Valeros in his fire breath though. A DC 24 ball of fire rolls through the area.  Valeros only just saves due to his buffs, but he still gets hit for 36 damage.  Kyra just fails her saving throw, but her Chill Fire shield ensures she's only dealt 36 damage. His aura also deals his attackers 4 damage.

Kyra sees her chance!  Holy power floods the area, healing everybody 24 hit points. She then gets ready to start swinging if need be.

Round 2 HP:
Dragon: 50/212.  Valeros: 89/130. Seoni: 80/80.  Kyra: 83/105.  Lem: 101/105.


Round 3

Valeros obliterates the dragon.  The party celebrates their CR+2 victory and collects their rewards.

This seems like it would go down pretty much the same as a game with dice, except Seoni would probably keep trying (and likely failing) to break SR.  The result is much faster (I can see this combat taking maybe 15 minutes), and the results are based off of player and GM choices both before and during combat.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Diceless Pathfinder

Dice have long been a staple of roleplaying games, but there's a lot to be said for going diceless.  Combat moves much faster.  Calculations aren't needed, and math is significantly reduced.  Misses encourage strategy and variation.  Skill is more important than luck.

Going diceless is remarkably easy.  Any time you would roll a die, simply replace it with the number from the following chart.

D20: +11
D12: +7
D10: +6
D8: +5
D6: +4
D4: +3
D3: +2
D2: +1

Thus, if you have a Reflex save of +5, your Reflex save is now 16.  If you CMB is normally +18, it is now 29.  If your weapon normally deals 2d8 +3, it now deals 13 damage.  If your fireball normally deals 10d6, it now deals 40 damage. You should feel free to precalculate and write these numbers on your character sheet to save time.

Example Combat


Blur, Displacement, and Random Tables

Rolls for which there are no possible modifiers should still use the appropriate die. This includes most random encounters tables, random loot tables, random weather tables, displacement, and the confusion effect.

"Roll Twice and Take the Higher Number"

There are a few effects that allow you to roll twice and take the higher number.  For d20's, add +3 to the standard result (14).  For d12 - d10, add +2.  for d8 - d2, add +1.

There are a few effects that allow you to roll twice and take the lower number.  For d20's, subtract -3 to the standard result (8).  For d12 - d10, subtract -2.  for d8 - d3, subtract 1.  d2 has no difference.

There are a few effects that allow you to reroll a die.  If you are trying to get a higher result, for d20's, add +2 to the standard result (13).  For d12 - d8, add +1.  For d6 - d2, there is no difference.

There are a few effects that allow you to reroll a die.  If you are trying to get a lower result, for d20's, subtract -2 to the standard result (9).  For d12 - d8, subtract -1.  For d6 - d2, there is no difference.


Optional Rule: Similar Subsequent Saves

There are a few effects which require the same subsequent save to be made over the course of several rounds.  The most obvious example is poisons, which you must make the same DC save against until you succeed, but there are also many spells such as hideous laughter (for which you get a second attempt to save) and suffocation.  In Pathfinder with dice, these effects often rely on luck to get the weak out.

In these cases, each subsequent save is made at a cumulative +1 bonus to a maximum of 19.  Thus, a rogue suffering from a deadly poison would "roll" an 11 on the first round, a 12 on the second round, a 13 on the third round, etc...


Criticals

No dice means no luck, and no luck means no criticals.  If you aren't rolling, you obviously can't roll a 20 or a 1.  So how do we determine criticals on attacks?  There are three methods to consider.  My personal recommendation is #2.


Critical Method 1: No Criticals

There aren't any criticals.  This goes in line with the general philosophy, but changes the balance of the game a bit.  To accommodate for this weapons that have a crit range of 20/x3 or 19-20/x2 gain a +1 bonus to attack.  Weapons that have a crit range of 20/x4 or 18-20/x2 gain a +2 to attack.  Improved Critical, keen, and similar effects double this.

Unfortunately, effects that occur on criticals just won't happen.


Critical Method 2: Lucky Hits are Criticals

Critical Failure: Missing the target number by one (an attack of 29 against an AC of 30) results in a critical failure (unless you use crit cards or similar, there's no difference between a miss and a critical failure).

Critical Success (20): Hitting the target number on the nose (an attack of 30 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 20.

Critical Success (19-20):Hitting the target number on the nose or one above (an attack of 30 or 31 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 19-20.

Critical Success (18-20):Hitting the target number on the nose or one or two above (an attack of 30, 31, or 32 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 18-20.

In this option, a target cannot be subject to a critical hit more than once a round - all subsequent criticals are just hits.  Creatures may choose to forgo their critical for a hit if they think a stronger critical is coming up.

There is  some gaming that can be done here.  For example, if a barbarian with a crit range 20 weapon is attacking at 32 against AC 30, he can ask his buddy to move out of flanking to get that sweet spot.  However, this requires planning, strategy, and knowledge, which should all be rewarded.


Critical Method 3: Powerful Hits are Criticals

Critical Failure: Missing the target number by ten or more results in a critical failure (an attack of 20 or less against AC 30) (unless you use crit cards or similar, there's no difference between a miss and a critical failure).

Critical Success (20): Getting ten or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 40 or more against AC 30).

Critical Success (19 - 20): Getting nine or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 39 or more against AC 30).

Critical Success (18 - 20): Getting eight or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 38 or more against AC 30). 

In this option, a target cannot be subject to a critical hit more than once a round - all subsequent criticals are just hits.  Creatures may choose to forgo their critical for a hit if they think a stronger critical is coming up.

Whereas criticals are usually an equalizing agent, this places even more power in the hands of those who can hit well, and even less power in the hands of those who can't.  It also encourages people not to use the lowest parts of their iterative attacks.


Effects of Going Diceless

Increased Strategy and Teamwork: Consider a game of Pathfinder with dice.  Your barbarian moves up to attack the orc.  He rolls an 11, adds his attack bonus (+6) for a 17 ... and misses the orc.  What does he do next?

If you are like virtually every other player out there, your next turn is going to be the exact same.  You've invested into hitting things after all. Maybe it was the roll.  You'll stand in about the same spot, roll the same die, and hope for a higher number.  Not much strategy there.

With diceless Pathfinder, you know that unless the situation changes, you won't hit the orc.  You won't just stand there like a numbskull and swing away again.  Instead, you'll look around and try to think of something new and creative.

Perhaps you'll move into flanking for next turn.  Perhaps you'll try to trip him.  Perhaps you'll make an intimidate check to lower his saves.  Perhaps you'll grab a handful of sand and try to blind him. Perhaps you'll convince the bard to aid another and help you get a hit.  Perhaps you'll beat a hasty retreat.  Whatever you do, it won't be just another swing (and possible miss).

Faster Combat: No dice means combat will go incredibly quickly.  There is no calculation to do, and no time spent rolling dice.  Turns can be as short as "24 to attack," "That's a hit," "18 damage," with no calculation or dice rolling to slow things down.

Reduced Math: Math is reduced to small modifiers, subtracting damage, and determining whether one number is bigger than another.  Gone are the days of 24 + 17 attack rolls, or adding together 13 d8s for a dragon's breath.  All of these numbers should be pre-calculated. Going diceless is perfect for those who really hate the math aspects of the game.

No More Eventual Criticals: You'll never hit an enemy with an AC of 100, no matter how much you roll.  Likewise, a character attacking at a +100 will never miss.  This is not only realistic, it also encourages strategy.  You've got to find another way of dealing with the problem than throwing dice at it.

Decreased Chance: Combat will be based entirely on skill, and not on luck.  It becomes impossible to blame or credit the die with a loss or a win.  Victories are that much more satisfying knowing that they were earned.

On the flip side, chance can be fun, and rolling high is enjoyable.  However, by keeping criticals we can keep most of the thrill of the seemingly random failure or success.