Mechanics We Wish Had Worked Out Better (+thread)

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
All of use who tinker with mechanics have been there. You design a really cool thing for a game. Maybe it's a houserule, a race, a class, an alternate resolution system, a new way to track getting hurt, or a system of tables for determining what happens in the world while the PCs aren't around. It's really cool, elegant, slick, and you know it's gonna work. Because reasons. Maybe it isn't even clear why it doesn't work, it just doesn't.

My example that most rankles me is the original dice system for my WIP modern fantasy game. You roll d100, and then add d10 rank dice, against a target number. SImple stuff was around 45, moderate around 55 IIRC, etc. Success becomes great success if you get 3 or more 10s on the dice.
The probabilities are very clear, there is always a chance of failure and success regardless of ranks, and eyeballing success or failure is dirt simple and intuitive.

My players just...couldn't do it. These are smart people. One is a math doctorate now, and loves stats. But, things like rolling over 100 not being a great success kept cropping up as a wall they had to get over. People had different biases about whether the d100 should start at 0 or 1. It just didn't work.

What are some of your failed experiments that you still wish had worked out?

This is a + thread, so no negativity towards people or their ideas. Keep it positive and respectful, please.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I came up with an alternative to the standard 3.X undead/magical energy drain. My system worked by affecting your PC's energy by making a PC Fatigued => Exhausted => Staggered => Unconscious. All the fear & loathing with a fraction of the math.

To clarify- this doesn't happen on 4 consecutive hits. That would be too much, too fast. It needed to be conditional, especially considering the different ways energy drain can happen and how potent some are. Some will have it by touch, some by aura. And for some, the ED effect will be minor- only doing the Fatigue step, no more- and duration will vary.

And, of course, there are energy draining spells.

Overall, my system has 4 main advantages I could see: it used existing game mechanics without really creating much in the way of new substystems, just a new way to use them; the mechanics match the fluff; the danger is real for ALL classes; the bookkeeping is minimal.

The only trick was rewriting all attacks with ED type effects. That’s a big time suck.

I stopped working on it before I completed ironing out all of the details because 4Ed was announced shortly after I came up with it, and I was burned out on GMing at the time.
 
This was a few years ago using 5e. I had decided to run a pseudo-Victorian post-apocalyptic-fantasy-zombie campaign. A bit like Bloodborne, though I was unfamiliar with that game at the time, so I can't credit it as an inspiration. The game was meant to be towards the grittier end of things.

I included guns and chainsaws because zombies (obviously). I decided to make them significantly more powerful than ordinary weapons, but to make them noisy as a drawback. This effectively meant a chance, every round that such weapons were used in combat, for random reinforcements to show up. Unfortunately, in the first session they decided to use chainsaws and guns (because they're cool) and the dice were not in their favor. It was reinforcements after reinforcements, resulting in a TPK. I had intended for it to be more deadly than normal, but that was honestly much deadlier than I'd intended. It was bad luck, but also poor design because I hadn't taken "the statistically improbable scenario that was clearly guaranteed to happen" into account.

I probably could have gotten the balance right eventually with more testing (maybe limited it to one set of reinforcements per encounter or such), but I ended up scrapping the campaign as a result and starting from scratch.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Every attempt at mass combat in D&D, whether homebrewed or using existing rules. Whenever my players run into hordes of monsters now, I just rely on software to make lots of rolls, rather than calculate the number of auto hits based on stats.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
I'm trying to design a Solo BBEG who will be a challenge to a high-end group. He is turning into a group's worth of extra-actions / reactions / interrupts / lair actions. It might be easier to just design a well-integrated group of NPCs with BBEG in the "4e warlord" role.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Every attempt at mass combat in D&D, whether homebrewed or using existing rules. Whenever my players run into hordes of monsters now, I just rely on software to make lots of rolls, rather than calculate the number of auto hits based on stats.
Yeah, I’ve done a lot with hordes as AoE damagers, but mass combat is always a slog unless you turn it into a skill challenge and abandon the notion of running a “combat encounter”, as such.
I'm trying to design a Solo BBEG who will be a challenge to a high-end group. He is turning into a group's worth of extra-actions / reactions / interrupts / lair actions. It might be easier to just design a well-integrated group of NPCs with BBEG in the "4e warlord" role.
I’m not a huge Matt Colville fan, but he has a really good video on solo monsters in 5e.
 
In the AEG system for Legends of the Five Rings (L5R), characters had 5 rings, 4 of which were composed of 2 traits each (one physical and one mental), with the ring equaling the less trait. Thematically it was a great concept, helping to establish theme for the setting.

Unfortunately, some rings gave a direct benefit (Earth, Water, Void), so they were often balanced (void had no trait), while no one cared about fire and air. In addition, your insight, which determines your rank (level) was largely based on the value of the rings. This leads to strange builds (even NPCs), where courtiers would also have excellent reflexes and strength, while uneducated warriors would have high intelligence.
 

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