Author Topic: Probabilities and Balance  (Read 28522 times)

agony

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Probabilities and Balance
« on: May 18, 2011, 07:26:18 PM »
So balance isn't a big deal, I agree.  The only concern, and why I created this thread, is when balance tips into the player's scale so favorably that PC death is so very unlikely to occur that combat gets boring.  Part of the reason why I created this thread is that I feel like if I aggressively tried to kill our group's Fighter, I would have a tough time doing it unless I resulted to dickery.  This feels a bit wrong to me, but check the points made below.

So, yeah, probabilities.  Every Fighter is going to have +3 Strength by level 3, for sure.  Thus, he will score a partial success on a Hack and Slash move 91% of the time at level 3.  He will get a complete success 59% of the time (rounded up).  That means nearly 60% of the time the Fighter will receive no damage if fighting a single foe and he doesn't need to Defy Danger (roll Dex to avoid damage). 

The problem that is coming up in our group is that I have thrown level 6-7 monsters at a group of level 3 and 4 characters (at different points in the game) and at least twice I thought they were suicidal for attacking.  Nope - no one's had to roll on Death's Door yet except for one other encounter which doesn't have to do with this thread.

The issue is that the Fighter Attacks the NPC up close while the other characters stay back and support.  The bard will heal the Fighter 12 points of health (this is like all the Bard does, sing over and over again), The Thief sneaks around or runs away, and the Wizard will throw a fireball or two not caring if he hurts the Fighter.

I'm pretty sure our level 4 group could kill the level 10 Dragon in the monster section as the Fighter has like 40 hit points and does somewhere around 15 damage when buffed up (which he always is). 

I know statistically this is in a vacuum but it just feels wrong that the Fighter will only take damage 40% of the time all the while the Bard is healing him for nearly half to one-third the damage caused. 

I feel like I should be driving harder with my monsters and being more aggressive in combat but I find it difficult being a fan of the characters and appropriately challenging them at times. 

evilben

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2011, 08:20:04 PM »
i do agree that the chances of succeeding on a roll using the characters primary stat in DW is high. i do think this is balanced out by a lot of the penalties for failing. yes, my fighter has 40hp, but monsters often hit for around 20. even with armor that is still close to half my life in one go.

i really think the destabilizing presence in our group is a combination of fixed damage and bardic healing. with fixed damage it is easy to calculate exactly how long i can stay in the fight without having to worry and bardic healing offers a fixed amount of healing most rounds as a counter to incoming damage. (eg; you do 20 in a hit, armor reduces it by 2, making it 18, that round the bard sings and heals 12, ive taken a net 6 damage. with a cleric it would be healing probably 2d8+2 which on average is not only less than 12 it can easily result in much less than 12. one bad roll and the fighter drops)
the other issue with bardic healing is it doesnt decrease at all. the only option on failure is the bard gains unwanted attention. (i guess this means he gets attacked or something in a fight? or something else...?)

if healing was coming from magic spells it would not be nearly as easy to stand up to big baddies (at least at our level, im not sure about later ones...) due to random healing amounts and diminishing effectiveness of healing as the cleric missed hits. (taking -1 to cast will quickly diminish your chances of getting a heal off)

i think when i brought up bardic healing in another post sage might have taken it the wrong way. i feel that bardic healing is WAY too good and can easily supplant a cleric or other character with healing magic in any group.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 08:40:12 PM »
If it's the entire party against one monster, then yeah, that'll happen.  So throw three or four minions into the mix to harass the rest of the party.  Will the bard try to (Defy Danger) heal the fighter and get punched in the face for 8 damage + Saving Throw or will he fight back, or defend?

Or, barring that, have the dragon just push past the fighter and bite the wizard.  Will the fighter Defend the wizard, try to tackle the dragon (Defy Danger + possible Saving Throw!), or let the wizard die while he gets in a free hit?

Plus, the Fighter should be making some saving throws if he's getting hit at all.  At least by a dragon.  Knock him on his backside, and then it's more Defying Danger when he tries to get up.  Or just use it as an excuse to run over eat the rogue.

I'm probably oversimplifying, but I think there are ways to tweak this back into line.

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2011, 08:46:10 PM »
You make some good points Ludanto, but my players will make moves like "I swing hide, avoiding the monster and taking cover behind the rubble in the darkness."  I let them do this with a Defy Danger roll but that's pretty easy to make, especially if you're a Thief.  If their intent is to hide and or seek cover out of the monster's reach and they succeed, they should get their intent.  This is kind of routine for our group. 

Obviously, it's harder to hide against a dragon but against most monsters I'm very hesitant to say, "No, you can't get out of danger."

evilben

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2011, 08:54:35 PM »
i think this specific post was about a giant scary monster that should twomp the party not really being that much of a threat. if its a lot of smaller groups that dont do as much damage the bard doesnt need to heal as much so he wont have to expose himself to danger that way. bard could soak a few rounds of minion damage without too much issue, and im sure the wizard and thief would be able to handle them while i stayed on the big baddie. even if the big baddie went after the others, a simple defend roll pretty much negates anything it can do (and even makes it easier for the party as you can take half damage instead of full)

i think one of the issues we have is, if you hack and slash a monster does it get to threaten people outside of that? if it does isnt that sort of a double jeopardy?

one thing that agony didnt really mention, is during all of these fights i am pretty much on the verge of death the entire time. if the bard missed one round of healing i probably wouldnt have made it out alive.

(also saving throws are pretty easy for a halfling fighter...)

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2011, 09:05:00 PM »
You are on the verge of death but statistically I think your chances of dying are somewhat small.

Here's another thing, say the big baddie goes after the rogue.  The rogue can still take two hits before he dies from even some of the toughest monsters in the game (we're talking a level 4 Thief here).  If the Thief defy's danger he will dodge damage 91% of the time.  The Fighter will easily kill the big bad before he kills the Thief or the bard or whoever. 

Even if the Bard is attacked and only dodges the big baddy 50% of the time that's 4 rolls before the Bard is dead with no healing involved.  The Fighter will deal damage each of those 4 rounds and will have dealt about 50-70 damage to the enemy in that time (The Fighter deals damage 91% of the time when he Hack and Slashes).  So still seems off.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2011, 09:13:10 PM »
This is kind of a lame answer, but I think there's some truth to it:

If the players are having fun, if you're giving them the "adventurer's life", if you're being a fan of the characters, then it's just not a problem.

If that's not the case, then remember that the "adventurer's life" is harrowing, dangerous and unpredictable, and that on a miss you get to make as hard a move as you like.  Go nuts.  Bring in bigger reinforcements.  Drop the floor out from under them.  Separate them.  Put someone in a spot between two bad choices.  Hit them with direct damage.  (Yes, they can Defy any Dangerous Doom that you've Shown Signs of, so if you need to, don't show signs.  Sneak attack!)

Don't do it all of the time, of course.  Just do it enough to keep them from being bored.

Eh.  Make of that what you will. 
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 09:22:03 PM by Ludanto »

evilben

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 09:25:22 PM »
i wont argue with you on that. especially on the survivability of everyone compared to the survivability of monsters. in reality the rest of the party (wizard not included) are not that much less durable than the fighter. i dont have the numbers in front of me but im pretty sure the thief has 13 fewer hp than i do and the bard has more than the thief. their armor is 1, which is only 1 less than mine so its not like being a fighter greatly reduced the amount of damage i take.

i know the thief has a dex of 18(+3) as you mentioned which means he will pass most of his defy danger rolls and im pretty sure the bard has a +2, but im not positive.

basically its not like threatening everyone else (wizard aside) is really that big of a threat.

i do think your damage estimates of the fighter are a bit high. the damage dropped significantly with the recent rules changes. normal i would do 10 points average (d10 + d4 +1 +1) (i have -1 weight and forceful/messy on my signature weapon and use an off hand war hammer which adds the +1 along with the warrior move for +1)
buffed i would do 2 more damage (magic weapon from the bard casting cleric spells) which is average 12 damage so for four rounds i would do about 48 buffed. but, if i am hack and slashing the monster, do they still get to attack someone else?)


(oh and my favorite exploit in this game so far, which we havent used or agony would have a stroke, is to enhance bull strength on a fighter(or anyone) with 18 strength gaining a total +5 to hack and slash. you cant miss outright and almost always will get a hit...)

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 09:32:16 PM »
(Wow.  Enhanced Bull's Strength is crazy!)

BTW, as I was told earlier usually Hack and Slashing won't stop a monster from doing anything (except possibly damaging you).  There might be exceptions, depending on the fiction, and if it dies before it can act that would do it, too.

I suppose if it bothers you having it fight back and still do whatever it was doing, then it just takes your damage and does whatever it does, no Hack and Slash roll needed.

wombatkombat

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 09:40:30 PM »
I want to point out that in our most recent set of combats I (the thief) was rendered useless via a series of follies and circumstances.  I'm not complaining at all but it was a way to reduce that party's effectiveness and still keep in the fiction.  Though, I nearly accidentally got out of the mummy's curse with a halfling snack unknowingly.  Even if I had I still would have been equally useless vs the big baddy since I had no inscribed weapon to fight with. 

We have no cleric and I was cursed (i guess) and I couldn't heal the damage it did to me.  Which was 20 of my 27hp.  So I had to wait until we got back to town to be healed up.  After this we had a huge battle with gnoll type men followed by the big scary bat lady.  This was all in a dream world where nothing was real.  While the other three were unaffected in they styles (for the most part) this knocked out 1/4 of the party.  Unless I wanted to risk dying on a flubbed roll trying to give someone a +1 on something.

There are ways around hurting the party and you've done them.

John Harper

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2011, 02:21:21 AM »
So... lemme see if I understand.

The Fighter is really good at fighting when:
- He's not overrun
- He doesn't have to defend anyone
- The Bard is healing him

I guess my question is: wouldn't it be weird if the Fighter wasn't awesome under those conditions? That's like Fighter heaven! So, yeah.

There's other stuff going on here. It's a mess to untangle over a forum, though. If I had to take a semi-blind guess, from way over here, I'd say that you're trying to "run fights" like you do in, say, 4th Ed. That'll get you less-than-optimal play in DW. I can say more about that if you think it's relevant.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2011, 03:22:06 AM »
I'd like to hear that, maybe in a new thread if necessary.  I'm doing ok, I think, but I can feel the 4e pushing in on the sides of my eyes like gloucoma.

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2011, 03:52:58 AM »
So... lemme see if I understand.

The Fighter is really good at fighting when:
- He's not overrun
- He doesn't have to defend anyone
- The Bard is healing him

I guess my question is: wouldn't it be weird if the Fighter wasn't awesome under those conditions? That's like Fighter heaven! So, yeah.

There's other stuff going on here. It's a mess to untangle over a forum, though. If I had to take a semi-blind guess, from way over here, I'd say that you're trying to "run fights" like you do in, say, 4th Ed. That'll get you less-than-optimal play in DW. I can say more about that if you think it's relevant.

You're not exactly right John as I haven't played D&D for about 9 years and have not played 4e.  We place the fiction at the forefront but the fact that Hack and Slash has an encoded enemy attack in its failure makes things very confusing.  I have a hard time determining how hard to press the attack in the fiction and what I'm allowed to do as a GM, does that make sense?  For what it's worth, I find it very easy to GM Apocalypse World. 

Also, overrunning the Fighter does nothing unless he's being overrun with Monsters higher than his level.  Groups do very little extra damage and the Fighter counts as a crowd.

He never has to defend anyone unless he's fighting like multiple level 6-10 monsters.  They all have decent health and can easily dodge incoming attacks.

The bard healing him thing is a legit point but he can still sing and heal and Defy Danger to avoid incoming attacks quite reasonably.  He has +2 dodge so he can easily roll a 5+ on 2d6 most of the time (that may lead to other problems but he only has to heal the Fighter once or twice).

Do you really think a party of level 4 adventurers should be able to realatively easily take out a level 7-8 monster?  Maybe that's ok, I dunno.  I just noticed that Sage and others have remarked that things aren't balanced in Dungeon World - sometimes the players have to know when to run away.  I have not seen this phenomenon becuase I've routinely thrown scary monsters (twice their level) at the party and we've never had a character reduced to 0 HP.   

 

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2011, 03:58:06 AM »
(With regard to overrunning the fighter, I don't think he means Groups.  If three individual monsters are hitting the fighter, he can only Hack and Slash one.  The other two get their licks in for free.)

John Harper

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2011, 04:38:45 AM »
Okay, my blind guess was off. Maybe I'll talk about the "running fights" problem in another thread.

I haven't seen a problem with the PCs being hard to threaten (quite the opposite) so I'm at a bit of a loss. You said you're having trouble knowing how to press the attack in the fiction, and what you're allowed to do as GM. Maybe say more about that? To me, it seems the same as in AW.

Do you do the thing where you scale the challenge of an NPC (or monster, in this case) by how their fictional attributes impact which moves the PCs make make (and how they make them) when they fight?

Like, the simplest example: when they fight a dragon with teeth as long as a sword and a great lashing tail, and foul breath that can stagger a horse, and the Fighter with the longsword says, "I hack and slash it!" I say, okay... uh... how? If he says, "With my sword!" then I laugh and laugh until he comes up with something remotely plausible.

Or if he glares and says, "No, seriously, I stab it." Then I'm like, "Okay! You rush closer to get into reach, and the dragon's tail lashes out, smashing the stone wall next to you to pebbles and arcing back toward your legs. What do you do?" That's, like, part one of getting close enough to a fire-breathing giant monster to stab it. Wish him luck with parts 2 and 3.

See how that makes the dragon a major challenge to the guy with the sword? Maybe you already do that -- it's a thing I do in AW, too. I'm just trying to get a gauge on how different our approaches are.

@Ludanto: Yeah, that's what I meant. Well, that, and also when 2 of the goblins attack the fighter, while the other 4 rush around in the shadows and try to stab the wizard in the back.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 04:43:56 AM by John Harper »