Do you go to the dungeon?

New system feedback

Fox said on 2019-05-15, 01:23

Alright, here's some thoughts on the new system!

First off, I like the fact that we're being more descriptive during fights! It creates immersion, which I enjoy. I also like what I think is the main goal for this: a back and forth chaotic feeling, I think it works.

As discussed on the table, I think some of the calls to describe can be skipped or auto-resolved, if they're trivial and/or not in our direct control (as a contrived example, if I shot an arrow at someone, the resolution is always going to be that it hits or doesn't hit them. I don't have much to add after the arrow has left my bow, etc.). I think DM agrees that some can be skipped (?).

Another point of feedback, which in my mind connects to the first one (but also has another dimension) is: the call for description after a failed defense roll doesn't work for me. Let me start by talking mechanically:

The system, as described today is equivalent to the previous one, with the exception of some edge cases. It adds one choice, namely that if I don't describe what my char does when they fail a defense roll, I immediately get a wound (let's call it that). However, as mentioned already, there is no reason to ever make that choice, except a bad one: I'm too tired to do it. Mechanically, it works exactly as before, except with a call to description that serves no mechanical purpose. Emotionally, that extra step also doesn't work for me: I failed a defense roll, so I expect to hear from the DM what happened. Adding an extra choice there, which is in all earnesy no real choice, felt unnatural. Since it's mechanically equivalent to the old system, I would propose removing that extra call for description.

What's more, personally I loved the abstraction of HPs being an arbitrary combination of wounds, getting more and more winded, fatigue, shock etc., and turning them into, perhaps, deflection/avoidance points also feels unnatural. Why do I stop being able to deflect/avoid after doing it a few times? Also, why call them Hit Points in that case? Finally, "you can pay for that with X HPs" felt a lot longer to hear than "X points of damage". Dunno, this last paragraph is more about style and language more than anything else.

All in all, it was a lot of fun, and to me it feels that if it's streamlined a bit, the new style is going to be a lot of fun.


Fox said on 2019-05-15, 01:27

One thing I forgot: the common element between the two points above, is, in my mind, the fact that we are being asked to make choices on things that we don't really control, because they are the resolutions of choices or checks already made.

One example is the one with the arrow from above. An example involving a failed defense roll: if a monster tried to scratch me and I failed my roll, I expect that what happens is it scratches me. I am being asked what I do, but I already said what I do: I try to avoid it, and I failed, so there is no time for me to do anything but receive the hit any more. Avoiding it feels like I get superspeed for a second, and after a few goes of this it disappears and I immediately fall unconscious (ie, after avoiding enough, I have no HPs left).

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:35

First of all CW violence in some examples.

Thank you Fox! Now, as I, uh, "argue" here, please don't take it as me being ungrateful for your feedback, I'm very happy that you care enough about this to write this much & help this much.

Please, I really need to talk about the three issues separately; I appreciate the insight that they have a common element from your perspective but the solutions might(or mightn't, but it's at least a possibility) have very very different solutions and the issues (this I know for sure) have very different, uh, mechanical origins.

For me to do meaningful design work, it's, YES, important to recognize when "hmm, could two of these things be the same" and "hmm can I fix both problems in the same way" but doing that prematurely is not possible at least in this specific situation.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:35

"Prompt" issue! That's something I agreed with during the skeleton fight and thought we should change and that change is already in the new draft of the rules.

The Skeleton Fight Change (I'm gonna call this change the SFC) is this:

DM can skip the "do you kill it" prompt when the action that a monster couldn't pay to negate was obviously lethal.

I.e. Before the SFC:

Hobo shoots arrow. Succeeds on attack roll. Monster can't spend HP either. "You can kill it." "Yeah I do!" (I forgot to say that a "yeah I do" is fine here.)

Post the SFC:

Hobo shoots arrow. Succeeds on attack roll. Monster can't spend HP either. DM describes monster death

Here is another exchange that could happen (both before or after the SFC):

Hobo draws back string, bow aimed at monster. Monster flubs defense roll. Monster can't spend HP either. "You can kill it." "I let loose my arrow!"

All actions in pretty much all roleplaying games have an an initiation ("I lift my sword up"), an execution ("and bring it down on my enemy") and an effect ("and they are dead"). Arrows [bullets even more so] are weird because their execution is made by the tool, not by you, so you lose control.

Sometimes drawing back the string is enough of an initiation, is what I'm saying. That could also save you arrows. I've allowed you to let go of the arrow during initiation but that's what caused the weirdness. Which the SFC patched.


The SFC opened up a new problem, that didn't exist before the SFC.

And that is when you wound the enemy.

Two of the gargoyles were wounded by Ran's flames and we had to go back and RETROACTIVELY be "uh, by the way, where did you aim?" "In their stomachs!"

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:35

I can think of a couple of solutions to that, the harsh one obv being that you forgo your chance to wound the garg in that situation (it still has HP to spend to Not Die, it just crossed the WT; we could remove the whole monster wounded thing, or delay it to the next attack). The other one solution being partially undoing the SFC.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:35

Here's another exchange that could happen before the SFC, not after:

Hobo shoots arrow. Succeeds on attack roll. Monster can't spend HP either. "You can kill it." "Yeah, as it's distracted by the first arrow, I let loose a second arrow that twaaangs it"

Or aftershock from the spell etc. If you see your eldritch blasts & thunderwaves as more like a waterhose or flamethrower than as fire-and-forget bullets.

Hobo revs up a thunderwave and the wave starts flowing out. Succeeds on Saving Throw Checks. Spell effect [pushed] happens immediately. Monster can't spend HP either. "You kan kill it" "The final crest of my thunderwave smashes them!"

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:35

Before I get into the issue of 'non-choice of spending', I want to talk about the two lines of defense.

Monsters have one line of defense diegetically, but it's mechanically represented by three gates. Your action econ, your attack roll, their HP spend.

If you attack out of order, the DM most likely to say "just as you reach for the sword, " and shift the spotlight to another part of the fight. Not a big prob (and thinking of putting up a big board on the wall to track the action econ tally idk. Just for a few sessions until we build familiarity&trust with the system; also you guys could help me with mistakes until I get good at it.) So let's focus on the other two gates:

You attack, you flub the roll, they defend for free. You attack, you make the roll, they spend points to be able to defend anyway.

Hobos on the other hand have two lines of defense, both separate diegetical beats.

The defense roll, and the HP roll.

For me, Fox, the fact that you have these two lines is what lead to an awesome moment of the fight: you (one-legged gnome♥) rolling away with three arms KLONK KLONK KLONK behind you and then the fourth coming down in front grabbing for your face and you then rolling to the side.

Now to the non-choice.

The HP-spend line of defense is just as much of a non-choice as making defense rolls in the first place is.

You choose to defend yourself which lets you make defense roll. That is a choice.

That is a choice you would almost never ever ever get to use because the choice is so obvious, but:

You ARE allowed to go "My own gnome mom is shooting me? I hang my arms down by my side. 'Mom, why are you like this?' I don't defend myself, I just gonna make an injury roll right away."

You would get dive inspiration in that situation (especially if you had added a bond about your relationship with Gnome Mom – and you could write one in, then and there, if you hadn't).

99.999999 of the time it's pretty obv that you want to make that defense roll or spend those hit points.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:36

Onto the issue of 'Getting tired of being creative'.

Don't get me wrong, I loved that so many impromptu and unusual things (rolling around, stepping on the ledge, standing on the gargoyles head etc) happened!

That's grandpa's style, that's freaking awesome! That stuff was def welcome.

But don't feel forced to do it; this isn't about creativity or telling a cool story, it's about what happens in the diegesis [which in turn is what leads to cool description].

Please develop some standard tools to fallback on that you can use over and over again.

Some obv ideas:

• Deflecting with your shield • Parrying with your weapon • Positioning your armor • Shifting out of the way • If you have mage armor on: maybe doves come out and eat the bullets like in a John Woo film

"Skipping", no, I need to know what happens in the diegesis in order to be able to say what happens next. It doesn't have to be something cool & unique that happens, it just has to be clear.

"I just take it", ok, make an injury roll so I know how to describe the execution&effect of the monster's claw, if it's just a minor scar or if it's something more serious.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:36

What is hit points?

Changes always have two sides to them. Gaining a new meaning can be great, it's a new tool that you desperately needed. Losing the old meaning can be wistful, sad or nostalgic, it's an old tool that sometimes did great things.

New meaning:

In 'Oh, Injury!', which, by the way, is what I'm calling this new system; it is a layer on top of 'Introducing Late Night Fighting' which is my system for mêlée groups, ranks, action econ etc.

In 'Oh, Injury!', hit points are some sort of action points for defending. Similar to how the fighter has action surge for attacking.

'But, Sandra, why does the fighter only get a few action surge points but almost every creature gets a ton of hit points?'

My design goal was to not get into a slasher film style of bloody stab after bloody stab. Instead, I wanted a swashbuckler feel; clang-clang-clang-touché! In swashbuckler films, every 'clang' as the sword meets is a successful defense. Obv vs a horde of skeletons, each skeleton can't defend for very long before they have to go down.

In a movie every protag is a hero. But D&D is a game about going from zero to hero; you gradually gain more heroism as you level up and can survive more things.

What are they diegetically? Luck, fatigue, energy, destiny, death clock, Beshaba's blessing… You get them back as you rest and when you eat good food so obv there's some kind of fatigue component to them. Action surge is the flip side of the same thing.

Like when Laratha went down; blocking two of the arms with her shield, then trying to stave off the other two with her morningstar but they went right past it and slammed her ribcage craa-aa-aaha-ck.

You might as well ask 'what are dice diegetically?' "Help there are these giant icosahedrons tumbling around in the sky above us?"

In D&D there are these two lines of defense before you is dead. HP and AC. There are systems that only have one of those two things; either just a pool of points/tokens you spend to stay alive, or just rolls to stay alive. Some of those are cool and one day I might want to make such a game.

But A. Changing it would mean that every single class, weapon, spell etc would become completely incompatible, and B. Those two lines are a standard for a reason.

The AC part is your skill [in some games character skill, in some games player skill, in some games both]. The HP is your destiny ["jag är inte beredd att dö än"].

The original D&D took this system from a boat game (that's why AC means "pansarklass") even though they had tons and tons of infantry game experience. Just because this system worked so well and was so fun. It's in so many modern game, from Dead of Winter (rolling & wounds) to Street Fighter II (AC: press back to block; HP: lifebar).

Old meaning:

AC was a mix of armor, shield, dexterity and HP was a mix of fatigue, luck, minor bruises.

The old system created a situation where we make decisions on the dice level (character sheet, points, dice, abilities etc), execute them on the dice level, record their results on the dice level, and then go on to make new decisions on the dice level.

Then we were simultaneously tasked with describing the "shadow" cast onto the diegesis by all of those dice-level events, post-hoc. I don't know about you, but I've found performing that translation incredibly difficult, creatively, and most of the time, especially after those first three weeks or so back in 2014, I just gave up and only did the numbers and we had some sort of post-combat: "ok ok here is the XP anyone wanna short rest?".

With 'Oh, Injury', it felt incredibly easy and rewarding to describe, because what you said you were doing lead into what I said the monsters were doing and so on back & forth. And yes, there were some standard tools that I went back to again and again "they're flailing with their arms towards you" etc but you know what? I'm 100% ok with that because it's the tools those monsters use in the diegesis.

In order to describe we need clarity and this system gives us clarity.

Now, armor, shield, dexterity, fatigue and luck are still a part of it. It would be easy to add in "I just take a minor bruise to the forehead, and as the blood from that flows down my face, I lunge towards the monster screaming from the top of my lungs!" as an HP-spend option, but please don't do that, because I don't want a super brutal and bloody take on D&D like Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:36

About the wordiness

"OK, you can spend X hit points to do that" & "The monster spends X hit points to ROAR TEAR NEGATE SLAM"

Obv I need to be super explicit when the system is new!

In time we can find shorthands. The former can become just "X hitpoints" and the latter can become just "ROAR TEAR NEGATE SLAM". I don't want to do that for at least a couple of sessions. I want you to be sure about what's going on and the connection between diegesis to dice/points and back to diegesis. The other main point of negative feedback from Laratha was about LACK of clarity [around the action econ] so obv I don't want to start using shorthand too quickly.

That said, those extra five words or whatever is not why this system takes more time. That's being pennywise.

The reason the system takes more time is that A. there's more of a back & forth for every attack, and B, the biggest reason, is that it's not as parallelizable. Old system: I could deal with two, sometimes up to five, attacks at the same time. Tallying up fireball damage from evoker at the same time as I'm tallying up dread ambusher damage from gloom stalker. With 'Oh, Injury', events have to be dealt with more serially. I mean yes we can still cut away when there's a large damage tallying going on (not that Ran or Samo [our two big damage dealers in this party] are slow at adding up dice, they're way faster at it than I am).

Like, old system:

OK Fox you get five attacks on you DC 18, the mouth is 11 the claws are 9, meanwhile Samo what do you do? Dread ambush ok, they have AC 17, get back to me with how much damage, now Ran what do you do? Fireball ok, roll the saving throw checks, their dex defense is 14, Fox did you die? No ok good. Samo? 49!?!?! Holy shit but ok yeah, recorded. Ran ok one half one full and the full is 36? Gotcha

Nothing can or will even come close to that and it's around six times (or more) slower now. Obv we can still keep old "numbers only" system in our back pockets for when we don't want to see the battle but we do want to see the outcome. Or, when a battle is incredibly stale and it's obv that an enemy is gonna die but it has so many AC and HP that it's gonna be round after round of same old same old. Yeah, yeah, the old system isn't just numbers, it still has decisions, priorities, can end in lingering injuries etc. But old system is fought purely on the mechanics level. I'm gonna come up with a name for the old system to distinguish it from "Oh, Injury!": the name for the old system is going to be Dungeon Yahtzee.

San said on 2019-05-15, 09:53

Obv one way to bring it back to hobos having one line of defense if the monsters go back to making their own rolls vs AC instead of you being allowed to make defense rolls. But that's gonna make the monsters look stupid. "The gargoyle lashes at you with one arm. The other three arms hang limp because they flubbed their attack rolls. What do you do about the one half-hearted arm coming your way?" This way you can actively engage your defenses, your chainmail, your dexterity, your shield, your parrying etc.

San said on 2019-05-15, 12:40

Gnome Mom example

It doesn't have to be a Bond that you use to get dive inspiration, it could also be a physical injury or a psychological hangup etc. If you didn't have it listed you can just add it then-and-there (the new character sheets have lots of room for the traits, ideals, bonds and flaws).

While this doesn't (in the long run) let you prevent hp loss or death, it can still be a legit tactical choice; risking a serious injury but getting insp that you can use for crit fishing or sneak attack etc.

San said on 2019-05-15, 13:30

(That first link to "dive inspiration" is wrong, this forum is held together with hanger wires & chewing gum)

Mikael E said on 2019-05-15, 17:05

I think the big thing is we need to get back to serial organisation instead of parallel that we use to. A big way to make that simpler is to take 1 persons attack/def at the time, wile the others decide what there gonna do. Might be a bit of strategy like im gonna do this to help you, or can someone heal me and so on. And whit big monsters where you can not really kill them whit your blows you can do the tally up on the dices wile its the next persons turn to speed it up. If you have AOE effects it might be hard to say where it hits as its all around, not as much a specific spot but the caster can still simply decides what dissadvantage the monster gets. Like dissadvantage whit attack, defence and movement can all be cuse of burning from a fireball that needs to be put out fast, or lightning where they are blinded for a split second. But i guess this new system is gonna be really hard in fights like where minions and summons are involved, so we will see how that would work later on i guess.

San said on 2019-05-15, 18:12

Today I bought a board to put on the wall to track action econ, when I got home I saw that it might've been a little small

Halo said on 2019-05-15, 22:07

I was thinking if we could mash the AC roll and the HP payment together? So that we only have to describe our action of defence once. Maybe it would speed things up although it might be less interesting?

Another benefit would be that we dont have to use hp to dodge attacks which I find a bit out of place considering Hp being based on Con and not Dex

San said on 2019-05-15, 22:19

Oh wow I forgot that HP was based on con when working on this. Hahaha the saga of the increasingly misnamed stats♥

San said on 2019-05-15, 22:20

You're free to skip the defense rolls if you want to jump directly to spending HP♥

San said on 2019-05-15, 22:35

You're free to skip the HP spend if you want to jump directly to rolling injuries & making death saves♥

San said on 2019-05-15, 22:35

Kidding aside (although both of those things are true, they're probably pretty dangerous things to do),

The problem with mashing those two steps up, which you can do for monsters, is how would it flow in practice for hobos?

It so easily reverts back to "OK you get five attacks on ya, DC 18, the mouth is 11 and the claws are 9" and then we're back in Yahtzee land, right? Or how do you mean that it should flow?

The reason description started "working" isn't "Sandra started trying harder", it's that the flow back & forth between diegesis & dice is set up to depend on description. If I don't know what you used for first line of defense I can't describe the monster's follow up move. And when every move depends on description it's easy to keep the description going because it flows into each other.

San said on 2019-05-15, 22:37

Oh I came up with a reasoning for why it does makes sense for it to be con based. (This is sort of a back-explanation…)

You use con to keep composed right? Concentration and such. Isn't it then the perfect stat for "Acting Under Fire"♥

Fox said on 2019-05-16, 01:45

Okay, this was really long but I'll try to make one more stab at a proposal.

I still think we should go directly from failure to HP spend. Like you said, we want to do that 99.99999 of the time. It's not worth it to have a stutter point 99.99999 of the time, for the one time we might want to consider foregoing it. It's too much overhead, for very little return. As a comparative example, the defense roll is also overhead, but it is useful, it adds tension, variety between characters, progression as it gets better etc., so it's worth it. The extra call after defense fails feels like 99.99999 of the time it provides only a diegetic prompt which is not necessary, the diegesis works without it too (see below).

On the style: you said you want swashbuckling rather than brutal and bloody. That's fine, we can still do that. Too much swashbuckling, though, I think, is the difference between the Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit movies: having us avoid hits all of the time feels unnatural. I think it makes a lot of sense for us to get hit when we fail, and how we portray it is completely in our hands, so it doesn't have to get bloody. It's not one or the other!

The way it will flow in practice for us, is:

"It tries to bite ya! What do you do?"

"I put my shield up and threateningly stab my sword in its direction!"

"Okay! Roll defense against 16"

"I failed!"

"Aw! As you thrust your sword threateningly, it avoids it and bites your arm for 8 damage!"

So, once we fail, we automatically pay the HP for the hit, and get a response to our defense description. If we succeed, we can also get a response:

"It tried to get around your shield, but your sword jabs discouraged it!"

Perhaps we can just try it?

Hslo said on 2019-05-16, 06:47

Yes someting like that Alex but I want a description of the damage that is not actually damage. Like what is 8 HP to a char with 60 HP? If a gargoyle really bites you wouldnt you rather end up with some serious damage like lingering wounds or even death?

Halo said on 2019-05-16, 07:06

Therefore I think spent HP should count as you really succeeded you AC roll, but barely! We could describe how the gargoyle fangs almost hit you troat or "whew I managed to avoid the claws but that was to close!"

Halo said on 2019-05-16, 07:34

Sandra I'm not talking about going back to yatsee land. You still need do describe your defence before your AC roll and eventually the result of failing that roll

San said on 2019-05-16, 07:48

"Aw! As you thrust your sword threateningly, it avoids it and bites your arm for 8 damage!"

At this point it's pretty clear that you're not getting why the new system worked and it's making me kinda upset.

Angry San said on 2019-05-16, 08:09

Guys, the reason why there were description now wasn't that I was "just trying harder".

It was because I had designed an IIEE flow that depended on narration to even work; in order for me to make the monster's next move I need to know how you defend yourself. Adding and removing and consolidating prompts isn't "this is easy let's just try it".

Unlike your example, Alex, where's nothing about this exchange:

"It tries to bite ya! What do you do?" "I put my shield up and threateningly stab my sword in its direction!" "Okay! Roll defense against 16" "I failed!"

that mechanically depends on me saying "Aw! As you thrust your sword threateningly, it avoids it and bites your arm for 8 damage!"

rather than "ok 8 damage".

And then, once that has started happening, there's nothing that makes me say "It tries to bite ya! What do you do?". And soon enough it has all unraveled and we're back to "you get an attack at ya, roll defense DC 16" […] "Ok 8 damage!"

With the new system, in order to spend the HP you need to describe your second-line defense; which means you need to know how the attack was incoming; which means means I need to know how you defended in the first place, which means you need to know how the attack was originally incoming. "Oh, Injury!" is set up so that description can't fall away because it's not just flavor text, it's a first-class ludeme.

I'm not saying the system is perfect right now, we've only had two playtests, or that the amount of prompts are perfect or it's final. But changing it requires a lot of work and it's not just a surface-level "let's just try it" thing.

Re lack of blood: An 8-damage is just as dangerous as a 43-damage, it's just cheaper to negate.

If you want to get your arm bit, RAISE YOUR WOUND THRESHOLD. And/or start taking more dive inspiration.

Angry San said on 2019-05-16, 08:17

This system didn't come about by me thinking "ho ho ho, I think two lines of defense would be cooler than one", it came about by me trying to create a stronger bidirectional mapping between diegetical and dice-level interactions.

San said on 2019-05-16, 08:59

Ska försöka tänka vidare på hur vi kan göra det bättre

Halo said on 2019-05-16, 09:26

Det är mycket möjligt att systemet redan är perfekt men att vi kan behöva se över vad HP egentligen representerar flavormässigt i förhållande till detta system.

Sen måste jag erkänna att jag mycket riktigt inte förstod att det är mer än bara flavor och ännu inte förstår allt men det kommer säkert några aha upplevelser efter att vi testat några fler ggr

San said on 2019-05-16, 10:33

If I ask for feedback,

and then when you folks point out problems (which is great!!!),

it's not fair of me to get angry because your proposed solutions don't work with other parts of the system that you had no way of knowing about.

All kinds of feedback should just make me feel grateful & happy, not get angry. I am being unfair.

That said, I got angry AFTER I spent so much time explaining in this thread and then I still felt misunderstood.

There are two kinds of "meat points" in "Oh, Injury!"; they are Death Save Failures & Lingering Injuries. If you start racking up DSFs you're in trouble since you die when you get your third.

Halo said on 2019-05-16, 11:56

I just reread the whole tread and I think I get it now even though I will probably need a few session to get into the flow. Let's countinue to test this system as is. It's a completley new way to play but I'm sure it will eventually click for everyone

San said on 2019-05-16, 12:47

Fox wrote: "Like you said, we want to do that 99.99999 of the time. It's not worth it to have a stutter point 99.99999 of the time, for the one time we might want to consider foregoing it." ← calling it a stutter point was also kinda upsetting, and it made me miss the fundamental misunderstanding Fox is having here.

The HP spend is (dive insp examples aside) not about whether you defend yourself, it's about how you defend yourself. Again, feel free develop a standard toolset (shield, weaving away, parrying with weapon, active use of armor), that's fine. And in time that description might get shorthanded, as all communication gets; the necessary bits remain.

It's just that I need to know the specifics of how you defend yourself, other rules rely on that.

Angry San said on 2019-05-16, 12:47

Whoops I got re-angry after re-reading that "stutter point" quote. Gonna take another break

Sandra said on 2019-05-27, 10:20

Thinking about this:

"On the style: you said you want swashbuckling rather than brutal and bloody. That's fine, we can still do that. Too much swashbuckling, though, I think, is the difference between the Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit movies: having us avoid hits all of the time feels unnatural. I think it makes a lot of sense for us to get hit when we fail, and how we portray it is completely in our hands, so it doesn't have to get bloody. It's not one or the other!"

Last session was plenty bloody T_T Poor Samo, Zasheir and Drooma