Pre-3e mechanics vs d20 system mechanics

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I'm fine with either. A percentile system is no less of a burden to handle than D20 beat a DC so it works fine at the table, even mixed with another mechanic.
 

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Shasarak

Banned
Banned
Unified mechanics all the way. It's ironic that grognards who dislike the complexity of 3.PF would want to retain the old mess that was pre-3,0:

It is not really that ironic once you have learnt all the old stuff then it is probably easier to keep going then relearning a different system.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Unified mechanics all the way. It's ironic that grognards who dislike the complexity of 3.PF would want to retain the old mess that was pre-3,0:

Low THAC0 is good, low save thresholds are good, high ability scores are good. Roll high when you swing your sword, roll low when you're picking a lock. Roll under your unmodified Dexterity score to catch the goblet that fell off the table (how the average DM would probably resolve something that wasn't covered by a non-weapon proficiency), roll under your ability score as if it was 3 lower than it actually is when trying to use this non-weapon proficiency, roll under your ability score as if it was 3 higher than it actually is for this other non-weapon proficiency. Roll a d20 when you swing your sword, resist the wizard's charm, or dodge the dragons's breath weapon. Roll % to disarm a trap or survive resurrection. Roll a d6 to notice secret doors. Roll a d10 to determine initiative.

For me the complexity was only from the shifting mods round by round due to feats and buffs. The core system was very simple.
 

Devil's advocate question: is that really harder to remember 3d6 for skill checks and 1d20 for combat than having different damage dice for different weapons? In other words, in D&D I know my sword does 1d8 and dagger does 1d4. So having 3d6 skill checks and 1d20 combat rolls would seem just as easy to remember(?)

I think it is harder, but I think that is mostly due to character sheets usually having an entry for the damage. For example, the character sheet will have a space for your equipped weapon that reads: 1d8+1 damage. So you know you need to roll a D8.

I suppose you could also list the dice needed for the check above the skill check, but that raises the question, why make it different in the first place?

This is a question that I kept asking myself as I was trying to wrap my head around the rules for the boardgame Lobotomy. In Lobotomy, every skill check is called an imagination check. The characters basically use their madness to imagine a solution. You roll a number of dice equal to your imagination score, and a result of 4 or higher counts as a success. Okay... makes sense. Ah, but unless you are doing a specific kind of imagination check, because then you need to roll 2D6 and roll lower or equal to your imagination stat. WTF?! But to make matters worse, combat also works differently. Your attack stat does not tell you how many dice to roll, like with the imagination stat, but what number to beat to achieve a hit. The number of dice you roll differs per weapon, unless it is an unarmed attack, then you always roll 3D6.

Now this is one ludicrous example, but it shows just how unplayable a game can get if the rules aren't consistent. It would have been very easy to just commit to one rule for all of these checks, and I really can't think of any compelling reason to do it different for each check. It makes it impossible to remember the rules.
 

Devil's advocate question: is that really harder to remember 3d6 for skill checks and 1d20 for combat than having different damage dice for different weapons? In other words, in D&D I know my sword does 1d8 and dagger does 1d4. So having 3d6 skill checks and 1d20 combat rolls would seem just as easy to remember(?)
It's not so much that it's more complicated, as it is that the complexity is less useful.

Rolling 1d20, or 3d6, is a way of getting a number between one and twenty (give or take) in order to determine binary pass/fail. Using 3d6 rather than 1d20 is slightly more complicated, and you have somewhat more control over the results. (Which is a perfectly reasonable trade-off, as far as game design decisions go.) If you're okay with using 3d6 for skill checks, though, then that's already a concession that you're fine with the 3d6 level of complexity. Using a piecewise system of 3d6 for some checks and 1d20 for other checks is more complicated than just using 3d6 for everything (since you have that extra step in determining which dice to roll, before actually rolling), but it gives you less control (since attack rolls still have the flat distribution). From a game design perspective, you could reduce complexity and increase control by just using 3d6 for everything.

To contrast, damage dice don't measure numbers in a consistent range. Rolling 2d6 gives damage roughly in the range of 1d12, but rolling 1d4 or 1d8 would not even be close. There's no simple way that you could resolve damage, and get numbers in those various ranges, while using the same die for everything. (I've seen systems where you effectively roll percentile to determine what fraction of the weapon's maximum damage you deal, but that's not nearly as simple as just rolling different dice in the first place.)

Although, to be fair to the Devil in this example, the independent damage die is considered to be unnecessarily complex within certain circles of gaming. Many games try to simplify the whole process by using flat damage for each weapon, or by otherwise tying the damage roll into the attack check.
 

vivsavage

Explorer
It is not really that ironic once you have learnt all the old stuff then it is probably easier to keep going then relearning a different system.
I don't really have a preference between consistent & varied mechanics, but I must admit that, having learned RPGs with B/X and AD&D, I still think of things in those terms. You want to roll low for ability checks and high for combat. I still think of armor class as running from 10 to -10. It could be pure nostalgia as well, but I do think there is an undefinable flavor and character to those old messy mechanics. I don't recall having a hard time learning when to roll high or low, or that you use a d6 for surprise and a d20 for saves. But that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
 

houser2112

Explorer
Shasarak said:
It is not really that ironic once you have learnt all the old stuff then it is probably easier to keep going then relearning a different system.
I don't really have a preference between consistent & varied mechanics, but I must admit that, having learned RPGs with B/X and AD&D, I still think of things in those terms. You want to roll low for ability checks and high for combat. I still think of armor class as running from 10 to -10. It could be pure nostalgia as well, but I do think there is an undefinable flavor and character to those old messy mechanics. I don't recall having a hard time learning when to roll high or low, or that you use a d6 for surprise and a d20 for saves. But that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I didn't have a hard time learning them as well, but 3.0's unified mechanics were a breath of fresh air nonetheless and I didn't miss the old ways one bit.
 


KenNYC

Explorer
Rolling under your stat was the simplest of all. Your strength is a 14, roll under that on a d20. The End. No calculating proficiency or consulting a sheet to see what your modifier is, just roll the die and see the result. The problem is now having stats higher than 18 sort of kills the whole idea of that roll. However, it is far easier to just say your Dex is a 15 and you rolled a 12, therefore you passed, then as a DM wondering if this should be acrobatics or atheletics, what level you are and add the 2, did your character choose that at the start for extra proficiency, and so on.

The thief's progression table was slightly more complicated, but the trade off is the class got something unique just for them. They have a 59% chance of hiding in a shadow, well nobody else does, and that sort of implies their background as a sneaky thief and years of training. Now everyone can pick a lock or do whatever, so the thief lost some atmosphere and charm.

That is one thing I would say the new editions got wrong: vanillafying and making everything equal and fair. Everyone sort of lost a little something to make everything uniform. All they got to replace the missing theme was more dice damage and extra attacks of some sort.

I would say the best system would be to use both concepts at whim that serves the story best. For a simple dex check the roll under system works at lower levels. For grappling and whatnot, the new system works better. Plus, having no consistent system will keep the min maxers at bay.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Rolling under your stat was the simplest of all. Your strength is a 14, roll under that on a d20. The End. No calculating proficiency or consulting a sheet to see what your modifier is, just roll the die and see the result.
It runs aground on relative difficulty. Are you opening a stuck door, lifting a portculis, bending an iron bar, a bronze bar, an adamantine bar? Roll under with a bonus? Roll under by X, so rolling 1 is your best effort?

I settled on roll high w/o going over, so that a higher roll was a greater success, as long as it was w/in your abilities.

But, fun as it was to practically make up the game as we went along like that back in the day, it's convienent using a less baroque system that mostly sticks with one core resolution mechanic.
 

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