Game Design Sins

E-Rocker

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Well, I guess I'm glad that my own firearm knowledge is extremely basic. None of that stuff bothers me at all.

I also tend to use gear from the setting books, rather than the core book.
 

VisionStorm

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I'm not a gun nut, so a lot of this stuff flies pass me. But I do agree that weapon stats seem a bit arbitrary, even when you take into account that this is just a "fast and furious" minis game intended to emulate cinematic pulpy combat, rather than realistic fights.

Another issue I see is that even to the degree that these could be taken as ballpark figures intended to represent generic weapons of a similar type, it kinda fails at that given the degree of specificity that gets mixed in with all the generic stats. "Long Swords", for example, are intended to represent "Basic swords and scimitars", as in "swords in general", but katanas are given slightly lower damage (though, that's debatable given d6+1 and d8 are practically the same, and the first has lower base DMG) and Str requirement stats... because reasons?

Scimitars are no different than broad swords, but somehow different from katanas? WHY?!? They should've just made katanas a long sword and call it a day, cuz they essentially are. And the differences between a katana and a European long sword are basically academic and too minimal for most RPGs, specially one as coarse as Savage Worlds.

If it were up to me I'd basically divide weapons into Light, Medium or Heavy, give all weapons in the same category the same base stats, then modify them depending on any special properties a specific weapon may have. Like two-handed weapons would require two hands, but do extra damage. And futuristic weapons would cost more, but maybe get AP or whatever.

Another issue I see is Str requirements—they feel too high! Almost any adult human could pick up a long sword and swing it around IRL with no problem. But in SW they need d8 Str, which is supposed to be high? That's way too much of an investment, specially in a game that only gives you enough points to start out with d6 (which I believe is supposed to be "average") in all attributes if you spread them out evenly.
 

lategamer

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Well, I guess I'm glad that my own firearm knowledge is extremely basic. None of that stuff bothers me at all.

Any knowledge is bad, trust me.

I've had biologists and physicists ruin Star Trek (the FASA one) games. I mean, don't play Star Trek is you're going to sneer at "aliens with wrinkly foreheads" or think that warp drive allows you to warp out 1 light day and then focus your telescopes really hard to see the stuff that happened yesterday.
 

E-Rocker

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Yeah, there's a reason my games typically do not involve librarianship, Chicago, distance running, or Filipino martial arts. :smile:

Edit: but I will say that it's useful to have a real-life architect in my group. Whenever I'm struggling to find the term for a part of a building, he knows the answer off the top of his head.
 

Vile Traveller

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Back when I and my group were all gun freaks we swore by the Delta Force combat system. I even coverted the whole of Classic Traveller to it. After re-doing all the weapon stats, of course, because it made American guns (and special forces characters) twice as good as anything else.
 

Brand55

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Any knowledge is bad, trust me.

I've had biologists and physicists ruin Star Trek (the FASA one) games. I mean, don't play Star Trek is you're going to sneer at "aliens with wrinkly foreheads" or think that warp drive allows you to warp out 1 light day and then focus your telescopes really hard to see the stuff that happened yesterday.
So true. My inner biologist cries every time I read another nonsensical dungeon. But what's worse is that I'm almost always the GM and have a player who made his living as a car salesman for more than 20 years. He does more damage with haggling and persuasion than a barbarian with anger issues.
 

opaopajr

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The new rule in SWADE about how attributes and skills work is one of the major reasons I stayed with Deluxe instead. Strength got absolutely screwed because it's primarily used actively in real life, but all the stuff that people actually do in the game gets shoved into skills tied to agility instead. Want to pull off a feat of strength by toppling a statue over to slow down the bad guys chasing you? I hope your agility is high so that you can have a good athletics skill.

Then if you want to use the athletics skill tied to strength instead of agility, which is perfectly reasonable, you have to pay an Edge tax. No thank you. Boosting strength becomes an actual hindrance in modern and sci-fi games where you don't need to tote around heavy armor and a big weapon.

Dexterity/Agility/etc. as a catch-all attribute is a very annoying sin. It touches to-hit roll, to-dodge roll, to-save reflex roll, initiative roll, then it affects passives on all the previous, typically 20%+ of all known skills (in some games much higher), movement bonuses, multiactions, and on and on and on.

Future Designers: when in doubt don't automatically dump new game elements on Dex/Agi -- do ANYTHING else, please. Too many games where I have to pencil out that bad design, including a majority of the famous big names. Every munchkin around knows to look for the stat that does the most, let alone nearly everything, and first check the game's Dex/Agi analog.
 

Baulderstone

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Dexterity/Agility/etc. as a catch-all attribute is a very annoying sin. It touches to-hit roll, to-dodge roll, to-save reflex roll, initiative roll, then it affects passives on all the previous, typically 20%+ of all known skills (in some games much higher), movement bonuses, multiactions, and on and on and on.

Future Designers: when in doubt don't automatically dump new game elements on Dex/Agi -- do ANYTHING else, please. Too many games where I have to pencil out that bad design, including a majority of the famous big names. Every munchkin around knows to look for the stat that does the most, let alone nearly everything, and first check the game's Dex/Agi analog.
That's one of the advantages of systems that ditch attributes and just use skills. You avoid the megastat that boosts all the most useful skills in the game.

That's also one of the reasons that I like Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill as main attributes in WFRP. It's one the things people often complain about, but it means that being an talented acrobat doesn't automatically make you an expert killer. It also has separate Initiative and Agility attributes, so you can be twitchy but clumsy or slow but steady.
 

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That's also one of the reasons that I like Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill as main attributes in WFRP. It's one the things people often complain about, but it means that being an talented acrobat doesn't automatically make you an expert killer. It also has separate Initiative and Agility attributes, so you can be twitchy but clumsy or slow but steady.
Rolemaster was often criticised for having too many stats in the day, one target being having Agility and Quickness. I always thought it was a perfectly reasonable distinction for the reason you give. Oddly almost nobody had a problem with the Memory/Reasoning split even though it's a distinction that comes up much less in most games.
 

TJS

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Dexterity/Agility/etc. as a catch-all attribute is a very annoying sin. It touches to-hit roll, to-dodge roll, to-save reflex roll, initiative roll, then it affects passives on all the previous, typically 20%+ of all known skills (in some games much higher), movement bonuses, multiactions, and on and on and on.

Future Designers: when in doubt don't automatically dump new game elements on Dex/Agi -- do ANYTHING else, please. Too many games where I have to pencil out that bad design, including a majority of the famous big names. Every munchkin around knows to look for the stat that does the most, let alone nearly everything, and first check the game's Dex/Agi analog.
I think I'm generally of the view that it's better to have a reflexes/coordination split (or if that's still not distinct enough Coordination and Speed).

I'm also generally in favour of combining strength + stamina into one stat (although this does depend on the rest of the system.
 

Sharrow

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I'm also generally in favour of combining strength + stamina into one stat (although this does depend on the rest of the system.
I'm not. I've seen too many super-fit gym-rat types (very strong) get run/walked into the ground by super-fit tramping types who were definitely far less strong.

Also, unless you have a whole separate system for resistance to poisons, diseases, and other forms of systemic abuse, small women will be dying more readily to these things than big strong men, and that's not how it works.
 

migo

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I'm not. I've seen too many super-fit gym-rat types (very strong) get run/walked into the ground by super-fit tramping types who were definitely far less strong.

Also, unless you have a whole separate system for resistance to poisons, diseases, and other forms of systemic abuse, small women will be dying more readily to these things than big strong men, and that's not how it works.

That depends on what your goal is. Do you want to have a system of modelling a character with objective attributes and having a degree of detail, or are you looking to bring a focus onto the gameplay? Combining the two works OK if it is the latter.
 

VisionStorm

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That depends on what your goal is. Do you want to have a system of modelling a character with objective attributes and having a degree of detail, or are you looking to bring a focus onto the gameplay? Combining the two works OK if it is the latter.

True. Though, I think that attempting to model object or "realistic" attributes is ultimately a fool's errant, because there are multiple layers to this and it's hard to tell where an "attribute" or presumably "innate" ability ends and skill, training or conditioning begins--or even separate "innate" traits that might be more specific vs general.

For example, small women IRL tend to be less resistant against physical injury and shock than men on average, but they also tend to be more resistant than men against sickness and such. Does that mean we have to split "Constitution" into toughness vs health? Or are toughness and health more like specialized expressions (Feats, Edges, whatever) of one general "Constitution" attribute? And do Strength and Constitution need to be separate attributes?

It all depends on how you're setting up the rest of the system and what sort of option you're gonna have available. So there's no one-size-fits-all way. Though, I am more inclined to prefer broad general core abilities, with specializations or specific traits handled as some type of advantage, like Feats and such. But even there it's not always a given, which specific combination of attributes or core abilities is ideal, and it depends a lot on what you want to do with the game.
 

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The difficulty with a Con or Stamina ability is that it very rarely sees active use. It's sort of a boring tax on the player so that they don't die.

If you have a lot of poison and disease in a game, then it makes some sense to have it be seperate, but in my experience these things are pretty rare. (They could be covered with an advantage "Hardy").

Mingling it with Strength I find often makes sense because 1: Strength doesn't see a lot active use: and 2: in the area where Stamina most frequently sees use, resisting damage, they're related.

Of course even Strength doesn't always need to be an ability score. I think sometimes it is just out of habit.

In a modern game with guns and the like and little melee combat does it see enough use?

I could see using "Fitness" instead. Then make "Very Strong" an Advantage of some sort like "Attractive" usually is, that can give you a bonus on your Fitness roll to bash a door down or something (and also to a Presence roll to physically intimidate someone).
 
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VisionStorm

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The difficulty with a Con or Stamina ability is that it very rarely sees active use. It's sort of a boring tax on the player so that they don't die.

If you have a lot of poison and disease in a game, then it makes some sense to have it be seperate, but in my experience these things are pretty rare. (They could be covered with an advantage "Hardy").

Mingling it with Strength I find often makes sense because 1: Strength doesn't see a lot active use: and 2: in the area where Stamina most frequently sees use, resisting damage, they're related.

Even in D&D Strength has become less useful over the years, particularly now that Dex even gives damage bonuses as well. Plus truth is, Strength doesn't really have a lot of stuff going for it since it's already a pretty specialized attribute in what it does compared to Dexterity or similar attributes in other games. There's a LOT of activities that are arguably linked to an "agility" type attribute, but Strength is pretty much about applying physical pressure or doing melee damage, and not much else.

Of course even Strength doesn't always need to be an ability score. I think sometimes it is just out of habit.
In a modern game with guns and the like and little melee combat does it see enough use?

I could see using "Fitness" instead. Then make "Very Strong" and Advantage of some sort like "Attractive" usually is, that can give you a bonus on your Fitness roll to bash a door down or something (and also to a Presence roll to physically intimidate someone).

This is what I ultimately ended up doing in a game I'm currently working on, which is intended to be a "universal" multi-genre action system. I folded Strength and "Constitution" into a single "Fitness" ability to serve as the core function for stuff like physical power or resilience in general (including derived stats like HP and such, as well as muscle powered damage), then handled stuff like "Strength" and "Health" as specialties or "skills" within that ability used to apply physical force (Strength) or resist drugs, poisons or sickness (Health). This allows that core ability to be more useful overall compared to other more active abilities, without having to break every other ability apart into a bunch of more specialized abilities (like the oft proposed Agility/Reflexes split) just because Strength and Constitution can't hold their own in terms of giving you stuff to do.
 
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dragoner

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I think one thing I find is that it is hard for a system to do guns or melee without nerfing one or the other, not even getting into maps between the two, like 800m in 1.5m squares ...
 

sharps54

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I think one thing I find is that it is hard for a system to do guns or melee without nerfing one or the other, not even getting into maps between the two, like 800m in 1.5m squares ...
I think trying to do a real life simulator is doomed to failure but Cyberpunk 2020 does a decent balance between “realism” “playability” and “cinematic enough to be fun”
 

DeadBob

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I think one thing I find is that it is hard for a system to do guns or melee without nerfing one or the other, not even getting into maps between the two, like 800m in 1.5m squares ...
Especially when most kitchen tables that people game at may have about 20" x 30" of space free of books, dice, character sheets, and snacks at most.
 

Fenris-77

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I think one thing I find is that it is hard for a system to do guns or melee without nerfing one or the other, not even getting into maps between the two, like 800m in 1.5m squares ...
In this vein I have played 40K in a school gym with more appropriate ranges for stuff. It was glorious.
 

Baulderstone

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I think one thing I find is that it is hard for a system to do guns or melee without nerfing one or the other, not even getting into maps between the two, like 800m in 1.5m squares ...
If you are designing a game and you want people with melee weapons and people with guns to have balanced fights, you've already decided to make an action movie RPG. Don't worry about realism.
 

dragoner

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I played Jutland on a gym floor. Usually I am good to go just modelling guns, though it is always odd when playing D&D or some derivation, and people notice that often guns are nerfed, or just straight up kind of weird like Starfinder.
 

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That depends on what your goal is. Do you want to have a system of modelling a character with objective attributes and having a degree of detail, or are you looking to bring a focus onto the gameplay? Combining the two works OK if it is the latter.
I just don't like systems that conflate being a marathon runner, being someone blessed with an amazing immune system, and being a big guy who can lift a ton but has no stamina. Strength and health/constitution being one stat does this unless you then have traits that modify it, and unless they're quite coarse you rapidly end up at the point where having them split to start with would've been simpler.

It's also messy when you move outside the human scale.

So about the only time I'd expect it to not annoy me would be in a game where it's never used and could just be part of the character's 'fluff' description anyway.
 

TJS

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I just don't like systems that conflate being a marathon runner, being someone blessed with an amazing immune system, and being a big guy who can lift a ton but has no stamina. Strength and health/constitution being one stat does this unless you then have traits that modify it, and unless they're quite coarse you rapidly end up at the point where having them split to start with would've been simpler.

It's also messy when you move outside the human scale.

So about the only time I'd expect it to not annoy me would be in a game where it's never used and could just be part of the character's 'fluff' description anyway.
I think one of the big issues game systems have is trying to model things in the abstract rather than when they hit the game table.

Because the point is not to have a set of numbers that represent something, it's to have a character that actually feels in play like what the player wanted to create.

The question then is does your system incentivise everyone who is strong to also have a good stamina? In which case could they be combined?*. Does it make it too punishing to have a low stamina? And not really cost effective to make it really high either, (because it doesn't do enough?). In which case if everyone has basically the same number anyway - You may not really need it to be an abilty at all and could just use some kind of flat roll.

I'm not saying they should never be separate.

*And is having to buy two abilities scores having the knock on effect that every warrior character has average to low mental stats - is the system basically ruling out certain kinds of character from a practical perspective in service of abstract modelling?
 

Fenris-77

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Modeling things in the abstract, IMO, tends toward what I would call simulation. In my experience that's almost always a terrible idea. Very few people actually want complete simulation in their RPGs even when they say they do.
 

TJS

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The above makes me think of what I have come to think is another game design sin:

Every roll a player makes should be basic on a characters level of skill or ability.

Some things are just dumb luck.
 

Fenris-77

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Every roll a player makes should be basic on a characters level of skill or ability.
Could you expand? I feel like there's a word missing or transposed or something...
 

TJS

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Could you expand? I feel like there's a word missing or transposed or something...
Just basically some things can just function on pure probability.

For example, you don't necessarily need a measure of how disease resistant a person is to influence the roll. You could just make it a flat percentage.

Sure some people may be more resistant to disease than others, but the spread of results over time would model that anyway.

I had a fun session where my players crossed a high pass in my silk road game and I made them roll percentage to see if they were vulnerable to altitude sickness. This definitely added a lot more tension and made the session work better than if I had just made it based on Constitution rolls alone (which wouldn't represent reality either - some extremely fit people are vulnerable to altitude sickness).

13th Age uses a flat roll for a lot of things (Even things which could technically be influenced by skill) and I found it a bit of a revelation in how natural it felt, and how it went against the grain of so much game design.
 

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I'd say most systems already have scope for dumb luck or misfortune in the form of encounter tables and such. I wouldn't want too many "pure chance" rolls for much the same reason I don't like Snakes and Ladders. Too much of that and I think I'd feel like a spectator rather than a participant.
 

Fenris-77

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There's some room in most systems for a 'luck' roll for things that escape the mechanics as written, and some systems even manage to write useful mechanics for luck, but I'd agree that it need to be handled delicately.
 

Telok

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I've manage several hundred meter firefights plus melee badassery on the same table. Basically you have a sub-map in one corner. It works better with games that can deal with having an 'engaged in melee' range instead of worrying about exact placement.

Much of the time, any area you're running long range firefights will have mostly open terrain. At that point the melee is likely to be around a simple shape of cover or in the open terrain and precise mapping isn't needed. Environments cluttered enough for complicated melee maps are probably tight enough for gun combat to be about the same scale.
 

dragoner

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Most of the time with open range firefights, melee hasn't been a thing, unless one counts hand grenades.
 
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