Do TTRPGs Need to "Modernize?"

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I don't know. I'm just sort of rambling here. Do you think RPGs need to modernize like we've seen in the boardgame hobby?

We might consider that D&D was an original leader of modernization. #6 and #1 are core to D&D. When you realize that in this sense "conflict" is really "conflict between players", then D&D was a leader in cooperative games, and #7, #3, and #2 are central to D&D - that's half this modernization list right there.

D&D has not been so much a leader on the other half the list - but in the broader RPG smace, indie games and smaller publishers are moving in such directions, with D&D being a little late to the party to include them as design considerations.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Again, the problem that I have with the OP is the idea that there is a single "best" way to design a game.

Well... I don't know that we have to take it that way. We talk about "modern" art, "modern" music, "modern" architecture, and so on, but still recognize classics as amazing. Some elements of the modern are outright improvements, others are merely different ways of doing things that may be more a matter of taste or current fashion.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Agreed on your latter two here but I've never used weapon-v-armour-type and probably never will. Just not enough return for the added complexity; and far too many corner cases.

A close reading of the 1e AD&D rules finds that it was always intended that your armor class was composed of two things - your armor class (AC) and your bonus to your armor class (hereby called AB). To make the weapon vs. AC tables work, you have to start strictly separating AC from AB and recording the two separately - which 3e D&D pretty much does and in fact makes use of in its own way (touch AC versus flat-footed AC, for example). Unfortunately, the 1e MM got published I think before Gygax really worked out this idea, but you can see hints of it even in the MM where Gygax mentions that the monsters hide should be equivalent to a certain type of armor. That detail is only really useful if you are thinking about AC being made up of two different things. So step one of integrating the weapon vs. AC tables is every time you use a monster, make a note of what portion of their AC you think is strictly AC and what part is strictly AB. So you might have AC: 10 (+4) and AC: 4 (-2) and those are going to be from here on out different than AC 6 (+0).

Now that you've set up the game to use the table, the second thing you have to do to make it playable is precompute a PC's to hit AC tables using their class, weapon, and standard modifiers (strength bonus, magical bonus, etc.). Write this down for every PC and weapon they typically use and pin it to your DM screen.

What I discovered is that after I did that second step, my games actually sped up rather than slowed down. Players could just flat report the number that they rolled on a D20 to hit, and they wouldn't waste time doing the math in their head to do something like 14+2+3 = 19 every single attack. It saved seconds on every attack roll and that added up big time over the course of a combat and a session.

It was a slight effort to work up tables for what a monster needed to hit the PCs, but you could do it once on the fly with just a few moments of setting up or if you knew the encounter was going to happen ahead of time you could work it out in prep, or in a pinch if you were in a rush you could just assume the monsters natural weaponry was such that it had no modifiers versus AC. I've never been one to sweat +1/-1 either way because there is a small chance it even comes up, and remember even if you do quickly precompute those numbers this is still going to be more efficient than looking it up in the to hit table every roll.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
why? Progress from level 1 to 12 or so is plenty, I see no reason to go all the way to 20. Even you were ok with a campaign from 1 to 5, so why does it have to go to 20?

Because I'm not that fond of much of the D&D design paradigm. One of its few virtues is that it handles higher-powered zones better than most other fantasy games. I didn't mind the 1-5 level game, but I'd have enjoyed it as much or more with other systems I can name.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
What if I'm not trying to tell just one story?

Hard-coded end points fight all of these, and all of these are things I want from any not-one-off game in which I'm involved.

Dude, you asked why "anyone" would want to mess with it. You most specifically did not ask why Lanefan would want to mess with it. This is not about you, personally.

An approach to games should not have to pass your personal gauntlet of "what ifs" to be considered valid. They can exist for those who want them, and not for those for whom they don't fit.
 

A close reading of the 1e AD&D rules finds that it was always intended that your armor class was composed of two things - your armor class (AC) and your bonus to your armor class (hereby called AB). To make the weapon vs. AC tables work, you have to start strictly separating AC from AB and recording the two separately - which 3e D&D pretty much does and in fact makes use of in its own way (touch AC versus flat-footed AC, for example). Unfortunately, the 1e MM got published I think before Gygax really worked out this idea, but you can see hints of it even in the MM where Gygax mentions that the monsters hide should be equivalent to a certain type of armor. That detail is only really useful if you are thinking about AC being made up of two different things. So step one of integrating the weapon vs. AC tables is every time you use a monster, make a note of what portion of their AC you think is strictly AC and what part is strictly AB. So you might have AC: 10 (+4) and AC: 4 (-2) and those are going to be from here on out different than AC 6 (+0).

Now that you've set up the game to use the table, the second thing you have to do to make it playable is precompute a PC's to hit AC tables using their class, weapon, and standard modifiers (strength bonus, magical bonus, etc.). Write this down for every PC and weapon they typically use and pin it to your DM screen.

What I discovered is that after I did that second step, my games actually sped up rather than slowed down. Players could just flat report the number that they rolled on a D20 to hit, and they wouldn't waste time doing the math in their head to do something like 14+2+3 = 19 every single attack. It saved seconds on every attack roll and that added up big time over the course of a combat and a session.

It was a slight effort to work up tables for what a monster needed to hit the PCs, but you could do it once on the fly with just a few moments of setting up or if you knew the encounter was going to happen ahead of time you could work it out in prep, or in a pinch if you were in a rush you could just assume the monsters natural weaponry was such that it had no modifiers versus AC. I've never been one to sweat +1/-1 either way because there is a small chance it even comes up, and remember even if you do quickly precompute those numbers this is still going to be more efficient than looking it up in the to hit table every roll.
Now here is where I much prefer the RQ/BRP model of armor that absorbs damage when hit rather than determine the actual chance to hit.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Now here is where I much prefer the RQ/BRP model of armor that absorbs damage when hit rather than determine the actual chance to hit.

There are other models that can work too--separate penetration rolls for example--but rolling penetration into the basic to-hit is a big old high end abstraction that's created problems almost from day one.
 



Thomas Shey

Legend
I like BRP/Pendragon, but that model has problems as well.

Any model of weapons and armor is going to have some, because how that actually works is complex and to represent it well requires a level of detail virtually no game wants to engage with. I'll stand by the idea damage absorbing armor as a model has less problems that to-hit-reducing armor the moment you're anything but zoomed way out, though.
 

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