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WOIN On degrees of success and failure


An interesting mechanic in the new WFRP 4e is how you use the difference in rolls for opposed checks. Basically, if you roll really well against an NPC and they roll atrociously, you gain more than if you only barely beat their score. WFRP uses this in combat to determine damage - whoever rolls better does damage to whoever rolls worse, and the amount of damage depends on the degree of success (or failure, depending on which way you're looking). I think this is a nice crunchy mechanic and I was pondering how it could be included in WOIN. A brief gander through the EONS articles didn't turn anything up, so maybe I missed it.

Here are some thoughts. This would probably work better in melee combat than ranged. There's only so much you can do if someone is pointing a laser rifle at you, but if someone swings an improvised club at a skilled swordsman, it's probably going to go very badly for someone.

If you ran combat encounters as opposed checks (ie, your attack pool against my defense pool rather than your attack pool against my defense stat), you could gain bonus damage if your attack exceeds the defense by a specified amount. Ideally one would want this bonus damage to be less than what you would gain by trading attack die for damage die (after all, that's the point of that mechanic), so the trick then becomes figuring out how many points of difference give you an extra damage die.

I wrote a short python script to roll dice by the hundreds of thousands and looked at how your chances change between opposed rolls and rolling against a stat. The overall trend is that an opposed check is slightly less likely to succeed if the attacker has a larger pool than the defender (for instance, for 5 attack dice attacking 14-DEF/4 defense dice, you succeed 85% against the stat and 78% against the roll). The major change is if the defender has a larger pool/stat than the attacker. Using the above numbers, if you have 4 dice attacking 18 DEF/5 defense dice, your chances are 16% against the stat and 28% against the roll. If the pools are of equal size the difference is 2 or 3 percentage points.

Let's look into a 6 attack pool vs 4 defense pool case with a bit more depth. For simplicity we'll look at the number of additional damage die you get rather than your actual damage output (as that requires assumptions about what weapon you're using which I'd rather not make at this point). If you trade 2 attack die for a damage die, you get 1 damage die, but your chance of hitting drop from very good (in the 90% range) to about 50%. If you get 1 extra damage die for every full 6 points you exceed the defense roll (ie, 5 gets you nothing but 6 gets you one), about 40% of the time you'd get 1 extra, 18% of the time you'd get 2 extra, and about 3% of the time you'd get 3 extra. If we raise the threshold to 7 points from 6, your chance of getting 1 extra doesn't really change, but 2 extra dice drops to 12%, and 3 to about 1%.

So I'm not quite sure how well this idea would work without rendering the trade-attack-for-damage mechanic useless. What do other people think? Is this an interesting idea or did I waste the last half hour running numbers?

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Well, that was fun
Staff member
The DEFENSE scores actually were opposed checks at one point in the playtest process. They got changed to static average rolls because opposed checks slowed down combat too much. Instead, the system kinda does the same thing with the critical system (i.e. if you roll three sixes you get an extra effect).

Swapping out damage dice for attack dice already benefits the more accurate combatant, but you do it in advance rather than after the fact. So again, it's another way of approaching "the more accurate guy can do more damage" themes.

TL'DR -- It's be interesting to see in play. I would worry it would slow things down.

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