Strength, virtual size categories, and house rules

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
I've been thinking about changing the Str -> encumbrance chart for my game, and I wanted to know what changes, if any, I should make to the virtual size categories and so forth as a result. I'm especially interested in U_K's thoughts, but everyone is welcome to post.

In the current system, adding 10 to your Strength score multiplies your carrying capacity by a factor of 4. I would change this so multiplying your Strength score by 2 has the same effect:

Str 5: 25 lbs (instead of 50 lbs)
Str 10: 100 lbs
Str 20: 400 lbs
Str 40: 1600 lbs (instead of 6400 lbs)
Str 80: 3 tons (instead of 800 tons)
Str 160: 12 tons (instead of 50 million tons)

I would also normalize the size modifiers to carrying capacity, although I don't think these would change anything in the system.

Anabstercorian

First Post
It would be tricky to work out the math. Probably not too tricky.

It would certainly make Tensegrity more appealing.

Upper_Krust

Hero
Hi CRGreathouse mate!

CRGreathouse said:
I've been thinking about changing the Str -> encumbrance chart for my game,

The first question would be why?

Just curious.

...actually, scrap that question, I think I know why you are doing it. Its something I myself was thinking about a year or so ago.

CRGreathouse said:
and I wanted to know what changes, if any, I should make to the virtual size categories and so forth as a result. I'm especially interested in U_K's thoughts, but everyone is welcome to post.

In the current system, adding 10 to your Strength score multiplies your carrying capacity by a factor of 4. I would change this so multiplying your Strength score by 2 has the same effect:

Str 5: 25 lbs (instead of 50 lbs)
Str 10: 100 lbs
Str 20: 400 lbs
Str 40: 1600 lbs (instead of 6400 lbs)
Str 80: 3 tons (instead of 800 tons)
Str 160: 12 tons (instead of 50 million tons)

I would also normalize the size modifiers to carrying capacity, although I don't think these would change anything in the system.

The immediate problem is that you will have to rework pretty much every monster of large size or bigger. That would put me off right there. Although I suppose you could do that as and when it was necessary.

But if you want to toy about with things who am I to say no.

So, I think what I would do would add a virtual size category as follows.

x1.5 Str = +1 VSC
x2 Str = +2 VSC
x3 Str = +3 VSC
x4 Str = +4 VSC
x6 Str = +5 VSC
x8 Str = +6 VSC
x12 Str = +7 VSC
x16 Str = +8 VSC
etc.

But even that could be dodgy.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Anabstercorian said:
It would be tricky to work out the math. Probably not too tricky.

I thought you were a math (or physics, or something) guy! The data fit the unit parabola -- the carrying capacity in pounds is the square of the Strength score.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Upper_Krust said:
x1.5 Str = +1 VSC
x2 Str = +2 VSC
x3 Str = +3 VSC
x4 Str = +4 VSC
x6 Str = +5 VSC
x8 Str = +6 VSC
x12 Str = +7 VSC
x16 Str = +8 VSC
etc.

But even that could be dodgy.

Thanks, that sounds fine.

Anabstercorian

First Post
This place is draining my Int so fast, it'd make your head spin. All my mental realestate is getting taken up!

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Anabstercorian said:
This place is draining my Int so fast, it'd make your head spin. All my mental realestate is getting taken up!

Oh, we all have days like that. It happens to the best of us.

Upper_Krust said:
The first question would be why?

Just curious.

...actually, scrap that question, I think I know why you are doing it. Its something I myself was thinking about a year or so ago.

I suppose I really should have explained this at the start. I don't think that the current rules scale well. A creature can lift a dozen Earths but deals only +200 damage. There are plenty of nonepic characters that can survive a hit from such a creature!

Further, the current system breaks down at small numbers (specifically, below 10). Strength 0 'should' have a carrying capacity of 25 pounds (one-quarter that of Str 10), but instead the system is linear below 10 to force Str 0 to be 0 lbs.

The system I suggest is quite simple, almost the simplest possible. It scales well, doesn't have any 'breaks' like at Str 10, functions for 'micro-beings' with tiny Str, and allows creatures who can lift the Moon to deal much more than +175 damage.

Ltheb Silverfrond

Explorer
CRGreathouse said:
Oh, we all have days like that. It happens to the best of us.

I suppose I really should have explained this at the start. I don't think that the current rules scale well. A creature can lift a dozen Earths but deals only +200 damage. There are plenty of nonepic characters that can survive a hit from such a creature!

Further, the current system breaks down at small numbers (specifically, below 10). Strength 0 'should' have a carrying capacity of 25 pounds (one-quarter that of Str 10), but instead the system is linear below 10 to force Str 0 to be 0 lbs.

The system I suggest is quite simple, almost the simplest possible. It scales well, doesn't have any 'breaks' like at Str 10, functions for 'micro-beings' with tiny Str, and allows creatures who can lift the Moon to deal much more than +175 damage.

I like the line of thought here: It is funny some of the inter-system discrepencies d20 has.
And I love any house rule that "normalizes" or makes a part of the system less normal follow real-world guidelines.

Example: I found (Perhaps on enworld?) an attached file on a forum post about traps, and physics, and the falling damage rules and how terminal velocity wouldn't cap max damage on falling objects etc. (Just their speed.) And the article would make those oh so dangerous 10' cubed stone trap falling blocks do far, far more than the 8d6 the DMG says they should. (Like over 50d6! They would weigh tens of tons! If one fell on me, there is no chance I would survive, period. Nah, scratch that, I'd ninja-dodge. )

Perhaps I would suggest that if the system CRG proposed is used, some feat should be introduced to increase carrying capacity of a creature, like a stacking (with progressivly higher prerequisites) version of tensegrity. Reason: Strength doesn't = just lifting. It can also equivocate to swinging a weapon fast (and hard) thus the applying strength to attack rolls. (Where dex would make more sense under any other explination)
It could also be used to simulate Muscle-bound entities who can lift a whole lot more then their strength implies due to having too dense a muscle mass to attack fast (or hard, since blows tend to be glancing more often if they are slower) but has the "bulk strength" to do rediculous things, like those guys who pull freight-trains. I doubt they would make good boxers, despite D&D saying they should.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Ltheb Silverfrond said:
I like the line of thought here: It is funny some of the inter-system discrepencies d20 has.
And I love any house rule that "normalizes" or makes a part of the system less normal follow real-world guidelines.

Yes, that's essentially my reasoning.

To be clear, I don't really want to follow modern physics in my world -- and even less the kooky comic-book physics. I just want the system to make sense: internal consistency is my goal. I'm fine with many things that aren't possible by today's science, and I even move consciously away from it in many places (the earth is flat, for example, and the moon is only a few miles away).

The fact that this consistency helps the system make sense under modern sensibilities is just an added bonus for people who care about that kind of thing.

Ltheb Silverfrond said:
Example: I found (Perhaps on enworld?) an attached file on a forum post about traps, and physics, and the falling damage rules and how terminal velocity wouldn't cap max damage on falling objects etc. (Just their speed.) And the article would make those oh so dangerous 10' cubed stone trap falling blocks do far, far more than the 8d6 the DMG says they should.

I'm not sure I can go along with that. An object falling with a constant velocity and mass shouldn't do more damage regardless of how long it falls, at least under modern physics. It's KE isn't changing.

Ltheb Silverfrond said:
Perhaps I would suggest that if the system CRG proposed is used, some feat should be introduced to increase carrying capacity of a creature, like a stacking (with progressivly higher prerequisites) version of tensegrity.

That sounds like a fine idea. It would be like a Str-based version of Endurance.

WarDragon

First Post
Maybe a feat that lets your Virtual Size Categories, instead of actual size, determine lifting ability?

Upper_Krust

Hero
Hi CRGreathouse mate!

CRGreathouse said:
I suppose I really should have explained this at the start. I don't think that the current rules scale well. A creature can lift a dozen Earths but deals only +200 damage. There are plenty of nonepic characters that can survive a hit from such a creature!

I know. If I was any sort of competent designer I'd have included a way to increase the damage in the Immortals Handbook -Epic Bestiary: Volume One. I'd probably have called it something like Virtual Size Categories and based it on density.

CRGreathouse said:
Further, the current system breaks down at small numbers (specifically, below 10). Strength 0 'should' have a carrying capacity of 25 pounds (one-quarter that of Str 10), but instead the system is linear below 10 to force Str 0 to be 0 lbs.

The system I suggest is quite simple, almost the simplest possible. It scales well, doesn't have any 'breaks' like at Str 10, functions for 'micro-beings' with tiny Str, and allows creatures who can lift the Moon to deal much more than +175 damage.

It just seems like a lot of trouble to go to when I already have the VSC stuff done and dusted.

I don't think D&D scales well for 'micro-beings' at all. In fact there is a lot about D&D that could be done better.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Upper_Krust said:
I know. If I was any sort of competent designer I'd have included a way to increase the damage in the Immortals Handbook -Epic Bestiary: Volume One. I'd probably have called it something like Virtual Size Categories and based it on density.

Actually, I want to avoid density entirely. I don't like the idea that a denser material is stronger in combat (lead vs. steel), nor the comic-book feel of superheroes and supervillains who weigh tons despite being Medium. I don't want to rely on damage dice, either: a character who can lift the moon should deal many millions of points of damage with any weapon that can withstand the pressure -- and lesser materials should damage at least up to their breaking point.

Str 360 suffices to lift the Moon. Such a character has, under your rules, 17 VSC if Medium. It deals:
1d4+175 with a dagger, or
120d10+175 with an unarmed strike, or
240d10+175 with a bite, or
480d10+350 with a really, really heavy greatsword.

The last of these deals the most damage, maxing out at 5150. But even that isn't much -- not to mention how unlikely it is to roll max on that many dice.

Under my system, no character would ever reasonably be strong enough to lift the moon, because it would take 40 billion Strength. If you were that strong, though, you'd do substantially more than 5000 damage.

Upper_Krust said:
It just seems like a lot of trouble to go to when I already have the VSC stuff done and dusted.

Of course, you don't have to do any work -- I'll just rewrite my private copy of the Bestiary. I just happen not to like your approach to VSC (esp. the comic-y-ness), and coupled with my dislike for the exponential Str tables in base D&D I decided to just fix it.

Upper_Krust

Hero
Hiya mate!

CRGreathouse said:
Actually, I want to avoid density entirely. I don't like the idea that a denser material is stronger in combat (lead vs. steel),

The lead weapon or bullet would deal more damage, but it would have a lower hardness and be more susceptible to damage itself.

CRGreathouse said:
nor the comic-book feel of superheroes and supervillains who weigh tons despite being Medium.

I like that because it actually makes sense. The D&D alternative is that all supernatural strength cannot be inherent and would evaporate with anti-magic (or dead magic).

CRGreathouse said:
I don't want to rely on damage dice, either: a character who can lift the moon should deal many millions of points of damage

Not if the Moon itself only has 60,000 hit points (or thereabouts).

Not if a Kiloton only deals 160d10 damage (or whatever it was).

CRGreathouse said:
with any weapon that can withstand the pressure -- and lesser materials should damage at least up to their breaking point.

Okay, I sort of agree with you on this side of things.

CRGreathouse said:
Str 360 suffices to lift the Moon. Such a character has, under your rules, 17 VSC if Medium. It deals:
1d4+175 with a dagger, or
120d10+175 with an unarmed strike, or
240d10+175 with a bite, or
480d10+350 with a really, really heavy greatsword.

Surely Str 360 (for medium) is +23 VSC (each VSC is +15)

So it would deal

1d4+175 (although in retrospect that looks ludicrous. The chances are that if you used your full strength to deal a blow with a non-super tough/dense weapon that you would simply destroy the weapon and deal damage as if you were making an unarmed attack)

960d10+175 with an unarmed strike (avg. 5455)
1920d10+175 with a bite (avg. 10,735)
3840d10+175 with a very heavy greatsword (avg. 21,295)

CRGreathouse said:
The last of these deals the most damage, maxing out at 5150. But even that isn't much -- not to mention how unlikely it is to roll max on that many dice.

Well for the 3840d10, I would probably just roll 15 d10.

3d10 = 1000s
8d10 = 100s
4d10 = 10s

CRGreathouse said:
Under my system, no character would ever reasonably be strong enough to lift the moon,

Bah! Wheres the fun in that!

CRGreathouse said:
because it would take 40 billion Strength.

I just see those big numbers as unnecessary.

CRGreathouse said:
If you were that strong, though, you'd do substantially more than 5000 damage.

Well given that the planet Earth would have slightly less than 100,000 hit points under my system, being able to deal 5000, 10,000 or 20,0000 damage with a single hit is nothing to sniff about.

CRGreathouse said:
Of course, you don't have to do any work -- I'll just rewrite my private copy of the Bestiary.

I wasn't offering.

I was just pointing out that it seems like a lot of work for you.

CRGreathouse said:
I just happen not to like your approach to VSC (esp. the comic-y-ness),

Once campaigns get to that level of power they are inherantly 'comic-y'.

CRGreathouse said:
and coupled with my dislike for the exponential Str tables in base D&D I decided to just fix it.

Well, whatever you think mate.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Upper_Krust said:
I just see those big numbers as unnecessary.

Let's take it down a notch, then. A character with Str 99 can lift Mt. Everest, after chiseling its base from the earth. A Medium character this strong, in your system, has 5 VSCs:
1d4+44 with a dagger, or
2d8+44 with an unarmed strike, or
4d8+44 with a bite, or
8d8+88 with a 332-ton greatsword

Does it seem right to you that this Atlas deals only 124 damage per hit? Figures for comparison:

Damage from Mt. Everest falling 10 ft onto someone: 33,000,000,000,000d6
Damage from the greatsword falling 10 ft onto someone: 3,321d6

The character deals almost 100 times as much damage to someone by dropping the sword than by hitting with it!

First Post
As a slight tangent, I've never accepted the idea that entire planets should only have on the order of 100K hit points. That's absurdly low, to my view. I'm thinking more on the order of quadrillions (i.e. multiples of 1015). Of course, this throws your assumptions about what kinds of damage beings at the Sidereal or Eternal level can deal out the window, but it does make creatures like A'Tuin the Star Turtle less silly by comparison. Plus, it makes a Draeden (as I've been statting one) a lot less fearsome in comparison to a planet, since an average Draeden at the weakest level of hit dice has 4.2 million hit points (which would be 42 times the number of hit points of the Earth itself in UK's estimation).

CRG, I like your idea; if you want to pawn off some calculations or something let me know.

I do, however, like VSCs being determined by density, and if a Neutronium Golem (for example) under this new system happens to come out with a STR score in the billions or trillions, then so be it. It makes sense to me that an animated neutron star- which, with its gravity well, would be absorbing and annihilating any piece of the planet that happened to get close enough- should be able to push something as titchy as a moon or planet around at will.

Upper_Krust

Hero
Hi CRGreathouse!

CRGreathouse said:
Let's take it down a notch, then. A character with Str 99 can lift Mt. Everest, after chiseling its base from the earth.

No they can't.

Everest must weigh 1 trillion tons+

With Strength 102 you could lift 16,384 tons.

You would need strength 232 (or thereabouts) to lift Everest.

Str 232 for a Medium Sized creature would be +14 VSC.

Thats a x128 base damage modifier.

256d6+222 with a greatsword of sufficient weight (avg. 1118)

CRGreathouse said:
A Medium character this strong, in your system, has 5 VSCs:
1d4+44 with a dagger, or
2d8+44 with an unarmed strike, or
4d8+44 with a bite, or
8d8+88 with a 332-ton greatsword

Does it seem right to you that this Atlas deals only 124 damage per hit? Figures for comparison:

Assuming Atlas was Titanic and had 232 Strength and the Improved Natural Attack feat, he would deal:

384d6+111 with a typical slam (avg. 1455)

CRGreathouse said:
Damage from Mt. Everest falling 10 ft onto someone: 33,000,000,000,000d6
Damage from the greatsword falling 10 ft onto someone: 3,321d6

The character deals almost 100 times as much damage to someone by dropping the sword than by hitting with it!

I already explained in the Bestiary that those figures for falling and throwing objects in the DMG are utter nonsense.

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Upper_Krust said:
Assuming Atlas was Titanic and had 232 Strength and the Improved Natural Attack feat, he would deal:

384d6+111 with a typical slam (avg. 1455)

Of course, if you're Titanic you lift 1024 as much, so the Str score could drop (taking 2 VSC with it).

Eh, somehow I just don't think that Cherubim needs to be lifting 429,496,730 tons over its head (or 3,435,973,837 with righteous might and divine power).

Upper_Krust said:
I already explained in the Bestiary that those figures for falling and throwing objects in the DMG are utter nonsense.

Interesting, considering that Ltheb Silverfrond was just talking about *increasing* falling object damage.

Upper_Krust

Hero
Hi CRGreathouse mate!

CRGreathouse said:
Of course, if you're Titanic you lift 1024 as much, so the Str score could drop (taking 2 VSC with it).

Of course, but I just didn't want to have to work that out again after I had done it the first time.

CRGreathouse said:
Eh, somehow I just don't think that Cherubim needs to be lifting 429,496,730 tons over its head (or 3,435,973,837 with righteous might and divine power).

Why not? Its meant to be the representation of a planar layer. Its meant to be powerful.

CRGreathouse said:
Interesting, considering that Ltheb Silverfrond was just talking about *increasing* falling object damage.

Heres the thing. The current rules for falling objects don't gel with the rules for dealing damage.

So you either have two options. Change the damage rules or change the falling object rules (the latter being the lesser of two evils as I see it).

Now the problem with changing the damage rules is that its a disaster spiral waiting to happen. Then you'll need to rework the amount of hit dice/hit points everything has. Which will just get ugly real quick.

Ltheb Silverfrond

Explorer
CRGreathouse said:
...
Interesting, considering that Ltheb Silverfrond was just talking about *increasing* falling object damage.
I think U_K meant that it was illogical for a GW Red dragon to deal 4d6 damage with its crush when a Stone block 1/10th the weight deals 8d6...

My arguement was that falling damage is weaker than it should be. Now alot of people bring up terminal velocity saying that 20d6 is an appropriate cap. Well, I seem to think they have it reversed: Instead of thinking of it as the objects act of falling is generating the energy that in turn translates to damage, that it instead "enables" the normally static object to cause the damage.

Think of it this way: A 10'x10'x10' Granite block weighs 137,000 lbs. (Average based on some density calculations) Just touching that block won't hurt you. But it it is moving, and it collides with you, that energy has to be transfered to you.
A falling block goes faster the longer it falls until it reaches terminal velocity. Instead of looking at the falling itself as the source of the damage, physics should say that since accelleration multiplies the inherrent energy of the object due to it's mass.
So I look at terminal velocity and falling damage like this: A multiplier. At rest, and objects falling multiplier is 0. Little energy, asside from electron movement. But if it starts to fall, the thing gains energy. A stone of that size will have much more energy that a feather, despite having fallen the same distance. Thusly, the falling cannot be anything more than a multiplier.
(Lets say for arguements sake that each 10' fallen = an increase in the multiplier by .05 for now)
So after an object reaches it's "terminal velocity" (200' fallen in d20 if I recall) it should output the maximum amount of energy (d6's of damage) possible for it's mass. Likewise, the damage multiplier I proposed is something along the lines of x1.0 at this point. (100%)
So falling damage rules would need to be slightly restructured. Weight needs to be more important than distance fallen. A certain ammount of weight would have to equivocate to 1d6 damage at terminal velocity. (100-500 lbs perhaps?)
So if we use the higher end suggested base, that 10'x10'x10' Granite block that weighs 137,000 lbs would deal 274d6 at terminal velocity. If it just fell 10', it would only deal 13d6 damage. Survivable if it only clips you, but 99% lethal if caught directly under it.

Now these numbers assume the math for terminal velocity being reached after 200' is correct. I don't know what terminal velocity is in Mph, and if you wanted as accurate damage ammounts as possible, you would have to factor in accelleration, and the time it takes a falling, accellerating object to reach terminal velocity. Terminal velocity I believe* (Can't back this up) is different for every object. A feather will never fall very fast because it is not very dense and very air-resistant.

Last edited:

Fieari

Explorer
Terminal velocity varies by surface area exposed to the direction of movement... which is why parachutes work in the first place. They decrease "terminal velocity" to a safe, survivable level.

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