Author Topic: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?  (Read 13007 times)

wightbred

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2011, 09:37:06 PM »
Definitely more of a problem with the DW rules in January when I wrote this and less so now.

A trick is that when the escalation of damage is even remotely complicated (Wizards get 6d6 for fireballs and Fighters get +2 damage) there can be the perception of imbalance even if it doesn't exist. Go to any D&D forum and you'll see debates about from every edition how Swordmages or whatever class suck / rule as they advance. Without the unnecessary escalation the design is easier to do and tweak, and easier for players to see balance (if that's what they want).

But I don't expect to see these rules to make it into mainstream D&D. You don't sell books and online content with a set of rules you can fit into 20 pages and the majority of players expect to see numbers go up as proof their characters are getting better.

sage

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2011, 06:14:51 PM »
I'm really glad to see people still talking about and using this system. I don't think we'll ever remove escalating HP/damage from DW, but I'm not against it. I just don't think it's where DW is going.

Cneph

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2011, 10:02:00 PM »
Last night the players, with characters around 5th level, observed that fights were taking longer and becoming grind-it-out drags rather than tense, exciting affairs where you could go down at any point, but equally might take out the monster in a shot or two.  So D&D emulation is spot on.  ;)

However, the latter is what I want from Dungeon World, as well as the players.  It's a shame we seem to have lost it.  Combined with my difficulty making the Fronts relevant to campaign play, it makes me feel that DW at present is better suited to intense one-shots for me at present.

If you look at the monsters, they get more HP, armour and damage with level.  Characters get more HP, maybe another point of armour, but the feeling was that damage doesn't scale.  Characters (other than maybe the Fighter and Wizard) don't really get more, and monster damage doesn't seem to quite keep pace with character HPs (in terms of hits-to-last-breath).

Sure, there are a few options- the Bard actually used a cross-class advance to take Merciless (+1d4 damage) at 6th level when he's probably attempted four hack-and-slashes in the campaign.  And yes, the Fighter-Wizard was missing this dungeon, having some human orphanages to burn, or something.  But the game isn't just about that evil chick!  And should having to use up (what should be) cool level advances to keep up with the opposition damage-wise be required?

We were spitballing options, talking about things like Plus Level or Plus Half Level damage as you go up.  You'd need to look at the HPs of the monsters to measure the effects and consider class 'balance'.

Have any others found this to be a problem in campaigns, and if so what if anything has worked for you?  Should I be handing out +d6 magical hitting sticks?  I've been pretty reluctant to hand out numerically-enhanced magical loot.

(We're using a Hack/AG/RB mashup for the playbooks, 10 + Level XP required to go up, and the XP system Rob talks about http://ryanmacklin.com/2011/10/dw-xp-experiment. The players have repeatedly fed back that 10 x Level XP to go up would not be a game they want to play, unless- perhaps- a level Really Means Something but this is probably another thread).

wightbred

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2011, 11:19:15 PM »
I havenít actually observed this personally because Iíve been playing DW one-shots or with kids and other AW hacks where this is not a problem.

There are lots of parallels in what you are saying with what people have seen in D&D over the years such as ďwhy do I need to spend feats (moves) to keep parity?Ē So Iíd recommend looking at solutions (like the ones you were spitballing) people developed for D&D over the years. For example:
-   Limit the playerís HP like E6 (No HP after 6th level, but you do get powers). This has the advantage of keeping you in the fun zone indefinitely. But this does mean some work for the DM on monster HP and damage.
-   Halve monster HP and double damage like some people have done with 4e. Simple solution, but it may be even trickier to balance fights.
-   Add level damage like you suggested, but be careful to see if this affects spellcasters.
-   Give a kicker of 20 HP like Hackmaster or 4e and give a smaller bonus to HP each level. Would also mean some work on monsters.

But my personal favourite and I think the easiest is the one we used from D&D 2 to 3.5: make damage dice explode. So if you roll a 6 on a d6 roll again and add. And keep going if you roll another 6. This makes fights much swingier and therefore more tense but keeps the balance somewhat. I have seen people do 120+ damage on a hit, but only because we played this rule for years (and because of multiplying criticals). Note: We also exploded healing rolls as well when we used to play this, and I had to prove to the group mathematically that an exploding d4 was not better than an exploding d6 before we started using this.

Iím interested in hacking my original idea of static HP back over DW, but Iím waiting for the definitive version of DW because I donít want to have to keep fiddling with it based on changes to come. If someone else wants to take the lead on doing it now, Iíd be happy to help out.

Cneph

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2011, 12:44:12 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions.  Some would be easier to apply mid-campaign than others- the characters already arguably have too many HP.  I've also run into these issues from 3.x (and other editions) of D&D.  (And you can work around them- in a 3.0 Against the Giants campaign, the heavily-optimised Barbarian had a decent chance to take a Giant down in one round, but if they got a full attack back, he'd be toast.  Most of my Clerics time was spent move-and-healing him...)

Exploding dice do add swinginess, but don't on their own scale damage with level.  Nonetheless, for healing it is also an option and one I might introduce.  I now have characters repeatedly singing and praying for spells after every fight as the 1d8 or 2d8 slowly fills the health meters, while I occasionally have to think of more unwanted attention...

I mentioned your static-HP hack and the players were interested, but I confess I haven't taken the time to really grok the mechanics of the approach.

What the Ranger did (once) was Defend, then spend the three hold to do 5 damage three times to the monster.  They felt this was much better value than a Volley...  though I did make them cross off ammo because of the fiction.

Cneph

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2011, 12:48:45 AM »
Hmm, thought- rather than an increasing +damage with level (where the difference between the Fighter and the Cleric erodes with level), could we use 4E style Tiers?

Get an extra damage dice at say 6th level?  I realise that this just resets the balance at some point before escalation kicks it out of the sweet spot again.

wightbred

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2011, 01:08:05 AM »
Damage increase from "tiers" seems like a great idea for an ongoing game. You can add a bump now and see how it goes and add another at a higher level if you need more.

The static HP approach is that you have set HP that never go up (and neither does damage), much like standard AW. Monsters slide along a HP scale in comparison to the PCs, so a monster 4 levels above the PCs is always a clear challenge. Lots of advantages for the listed in my first post in this thread, but the thing I love most about the static HP approach is it means you'd never have to worry about balancing combat to avoid grind again: all your prior DM experience helps you balance every fight to this particular group.

But a static HP hack won't help you in an ongoing campaign, unless they are prepared to remake their characters with a different approach to HP.

Cneph

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2011, 02:08:07 AM »
Rough outline of the Hack, Tiers for PCs and monster guidelines.

How many hits to take out a monster in a tense, exciting fight that doesn't drag?  Maybe for a fighter, up to one lucky shot or two good ones, others characters no more than two to three hits? So,
 
Tier One:
Levels 1-4, One Damage Dice, Monsters 1-10 HP, ~1 Armour
Tier Two:
Levels 5-8, Two Damage Dice, Monsters 11-20 HP, ~2 Armour
Tier Three ":
Levels 9+, Three Damage Dice, Monsters 21-30 HP , ~3 Armour

ToDo:
Cool Tier names
Monster damage to character HP.  Grab the AW concept of 'first bullet is free'?  So characters can take 3-4 hits?  2 seems too few except perhaps for the Wizard.
Effect on spell damage- do they double/triple as well?  Get the bonus die?

sage

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2011, 06:06:40 PM »
Monsters at higher levels need some rebalancing. The idea is currently a lot like tiers: you'll notice there's only so many +damage moves in the 1-5th moves, and only a few more in 6-10th. Monsters should be designed with that in mind: HP doesn't actually rise much between levels, it's more about the fictional effectiveness.

That said, we probably need to go through and check the numbers again. We did some last minute changes as the Red Book was headed out the door that aren't reflected elsewhere.

wightbred

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Re: Removing the last unnecessary escalation?
« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2011, 11:39:20 PM »
Cool Sage. As I said I haven't played DW lately in a way that I've seen this, but good to see you are aware of this. Fiddling with the balance like this must get annoying, but as I've said before I think you are making the right choice in escalating HP as it is the only approach to get DW as popular as it deserves to be.

Are you worried that the damage increasing moves will become like the balance requiring feats of D&D 4e?