COMBAT Simple Dice System Development

Tiger Dragon

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Hello all! I'm looking for someone who is familiar with dice systems. Systems that I am personally adept at are Pathfinder and a D6 system.

What I am trying to do: I want to just make a super basic system for simple character chance to randomize the success or failure in a roleplay. Basically to help keep god-modding and powerplay to a minimum.

The gist of the story is 5-6 characters from a world of their own creation (be advanced or medieval, magic or no magic), are sent to a modern world that was destroyed and all that is left are a lot of mutant creatures and tribal species. They were brought to this world by a god named Ione who will make them go through 25 different challenges while they try and survive this new world.


The system I am thinking so far:

Strength = Making Attacks, Moving Heavy Things, this includes magic.
Dexterity = Defense, Dodging, Evading, Reflexes, Includes shields and shield spells.
Constitution = Ability to Resist Effects, Mind, Physical, Staying Conscious
Intelligence = Quick to Figure things out, Get extra tips if Intelegce rolls are made
Charisma = Ability to talk to others, Convince to help or of certain things.

Everyone gets 18 points to spend any way they like. 4 extra given out by me depending on how I read backstories, home planet information or race information:

Testing Characters:
I've written many variations for this one to try and mentally prepare for a few different types of point distributions by players. Despite the self-given points in the testing not changing, I think I would give points to help balance a character in sensible ways.


  • Name: Tester
    Gender: Male
    Age: 4 seconds
    Race: Robot
    Skills:
    • STR 5+2
    • DEX 5
    • CON 3+1
    • INT 3+1
    • CHA 2
    Robots are strong: 2 Extra points in Strength. Robots are Intelligent, Extra points in Int. Robots are Hardy, extra points in Con

  • Name: Tester
    Gender: Male
    Age: 4 seconds
    Race: Robot
    Skills:
    • STR 10+2
    • DEX 5
    • CON 1+1
    • INT 1+1
    • CHA 1
    Robots are strong: 2 Extra points in Strength. Robots are Intelligent, Extra points in Int. Robots are Hardy, extra points in Con.

  • Name: Tester
    Gender: Male
    Age: 4 seconds
    Race: Robot
    Skills:
    • STR 18+2
    • DEX 0
    • CON 0+1
    • INT 0+1
    • CHA 0
    Robots are strong: 2 Extra points in Strength. Robots are Intelligent, Extra points in Int. Robots are Hardy, extra points in Con.


My questions:
What Dice should I use?
I was thinking either 1D20 or 2D12 or 2D8?
So each would look a something like this: 1-20 or 2-24 or 2-16

I suppose also what kind of DCs should I set?
I assume easy would be maybe 5-6. Then intermediate 13-15. Would difficult DCs being in the 20s be too much?
 
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Jorick

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Hard to give answers when there are a lot of questions this has raised for me.

What modifiers are you giving to rolls based on those character stats? If it's just the number of stat points is added to a roll for anything pertaining to that skill, then you're giving them a loooooooooooooooot of points. If that's how it works then I highly suggest putting a cap on how many they can put into a single category while your extra points can push them above that level if desired.

Also, are these stat points going to be the only thing that applies modifiers to rolls, or are you going to let them have gear that does this sort of thing too? Whether or not gear matters for rolls will do a lot to determine how high their modifiers from stats ought to be. If they can have gear, keep that stuff lower and allow specialization through gear. If it's just stats then yeah, higher numbers make sense.

A further question: how strong are these people supposed to be and what levels of challenges are they intended to face? To compare it to tabletop games like Pathfinder and such, if you were planning this game to be done in such a system what level characters would you have players make? I'm not familiar with Pathfinder, but pulling from D&D 5th Edition there's a general breakdown of what kind of threats suit characters of certain levels, listed below.

1-4: Relatively minor threats, pose a danger to villages or farmsteads.
5-10: Threats that pose a danger to cities or kingdoms.
11-16: Threats that pose a danger to whole regions or continents.
17-20: Threats to the whole world and more.

The reason I ask is because tabletop systems tend to be pretty nice places to draw inspiration from for custom dice systems. I'd suggest deciding what sort of character level you'd want these player characters to be in a tabletop system you know, then go poke around looking at what kind of modifiers created characters of that level tend to have for doing things, and then look at monsters and such meant to challenge that level of character to see what kind of DCs you ought to throw at them given the dice system of that game and adjust accordingly if you want to use something else.

Or, alternatively, just pick something like level 5 and make all the numbers suitable for that level but throw whatever kind of threats you want at them with numbers adjusted, because big numbers are less important than proper balancing to give a reasonable challenge. Either way would work. If you're having the players roll or you're rolling and actually showing them the numbers, then probably aim for larger numbers since that makes things feel more powerful and epic. If it's going to be a behind the scenes thing then keeping numbers low to make your life easier is a good idea.

And now to finally get around to answering your questions as best I can with the information available, dice choice is all about how much variance you want. This site called AnyDice is lovely for getting a good visualization of that variance. A 1d20 has high variance because it's a 5% chance to hit any number on it. 2d12 has less variance: just under 50% of the time the roll will give something in the 10 to 16 range. 2d8 is even lower variance: a little over 50% of the time a roll will land in the 7 to 11 range. Simply speaking, the higher the variance then the more important modifiers will be to allow characters to feel powerful. It sucks when characters are supposed to be good at something but constantly fail because of the dice, so high modifiers to counter high variability is nice and makes low rolls less painful because they can often still succeed. However, with low variance comes higher reliability, so it's fine to leave modifiers smaller.

The DCs should sort of be the very last thing you decide on. They are going to be the crux of how challenging everything is, and even if the rest of your dice system is awesome it'll end up feeling like crap if your DC choices are bad. The way I've done it in the past was to figure out what sort of modifiers the player characters will have for certain actions, then used that AnyDice site to put in something like 3d6+5 to see what the probability of certain rolls are and based DCs on that. Say the action is something simple, something they ought to have a 95% chance to succeed in doing. For 3d6+5 rolls, that would mean the DC should be 11 for that action because there's combined probability of 4.63% to roll 8, 9, or 10. If it should be a 50/50 thing, then the DC would be 16 because there's a 50% chance to roll 15 or lower. If it's almost impossible, say 1% or less chance to succeed, then the DC is 23 and requires a perfect roll by someone with a +5 modifier.

Now consider what those DCs would be like for a 1d20+10 roll instead. DC 11 means they ought to succeed even if they roll a natural 1, which in most systems is an auto fail. DC 16 would actually be a 75% chance to roll that high, so pretty easily accomplished. That "almost impossible" DC of 23 would be merely a 40% chance to succeed for this roll. That's part of the insanity of variance, but it's also why DCs should be the last thing decided on. If you set your DCs in stone before you know what numbers to expect from rolls, then things aren't going to work out very well in the end.
 
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Tiger Dragon

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Wow! This sure gave me a lot to think about and chew on! I really appreciate all the detail! Let me answer a few questions for you.

What modifiers are you giving to rolls based on those character stats? If it's just the number of stat points is added to a roll for anything pertaining to that skill, then you're giving them a loooooooooooooooot of points. If that's how it works then I highly suggest putting a cap on how many they can put into a single category while your extra points can push them above that level if desired.
The numbers are the modifiers. I was thinking it was a lot of points, but it leads me to think that because the dice chance was 1-20 (in essence if I picked D20). I suppose, in reality, modifiers rarely went past 7, especially in lower levels when modifiers were rarely above 3. While looking at "how can players distribute their points?" I was thinking going over 10 would be a bit ridiculous.

Also, are these stat points going to be the only thing that applies modifiers to rolls, or are you going to let them have gear that does this sort of thing too? Whether or not gear matters for rolls will do a lot to determine how high their modifiers from stats ought to be. If they can have gear, keep that stuff lower and allow specialization through gear. If it's just stats then yeah, higher numbers make sense.
I had no intention of having anything external effect the modifiers, as I was just trying to keep it as simple as I possibly can. If anything, any gear they might have on them when they arrive at the start of the roleplay could already be explained in as part of the reason they divided their points as so.

question: how strong are these people supposed to be and what levels of challenges are they intended to face?
1-4: Relatively minor threats, pose a danger to villages or farmsteads.
5-10: Threats that pose a danger to cities or kingdoms.
11-16: Threats that pose a danger to whole regions or continents.
17-20: Threats to the whole world and more.
How strong and what levels of challenge is something I can't really answer since I haven't planned or can't plan it now. I'll tackle challenge first: In a sense, the levels of challenge is varying. For the characters, the stakes are high. It is their lives on the line. However, on the scale you provided me, they likely would never really range away from 1-4 unless I decided to throw some natural disaster their way.

How strong is the character supposed to be? That is harder to answer because I suppose the player can make the characters however they like. This is why I wanted to put the system in the first place. I could have a variety of characters from Demi-gods to high school girls. When I put it in that perspective, it's really hard to make a high school girl as "strong" or "even" as a Demi-god. I guess the term I would aim for is "As Useful."

Now consider what those DCs would be like for a 1d20+10 roll instead. DC 11 means they ought to succeed even if they roll a natural 1, which in most systems is an auto fail.
I won't be doing an Auto-Fail system, but I will be considering a Crit system. Mostly because I don't want to punish for bad roles but reward. Getting punished for bad luck is never fun.


With this explanation, and me already leaning for it, a 1d20 system sounds like the way I would like to go.

Though it leaves me the question if I want to lessen the points I give too. Something like 10, but give out 5. Making 15 instead of 22. Although that isn't a drastic change, I don't really want to limit them to so few points. Though I guess that would make the DC easier to set later because they can't really reach much higher then 25 is they roll a 20 and put a full 5/10 points into one skill.
 
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Jorick

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Yeah, lower numbers for the modifiers/stats will definitely make it easier to gauge the DCs you should be using. Really the core of the issue is deciding on what kind of numbers and limitations you want to give to characters, and then decide on the DCs from there. I sort of rambled on a bit about different considerations before getting to that core point when talking about DCs. Literally any dice system can work alright if you're careful about setting your challenge levels to make sense with the roll modifiers players are gonna have.
 
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Tiger Dragon

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Its ok! Train of thought writing is often pretty useful for me and it really helped me think about other aspects about my game I had put off thinking about yet.

Thanks so much for your help!
 
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One Who Tames

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Yeah, I don't even use D20 systems for my games anymore. I've always been in it more for the story but I do enjoy some aspects of dice. I can share with you a bit of a system I've been developing. It is my own take on some table top wargaming systems. My players on Discord seem to enjoy it and it makes fights hectic and gritty without becoming overly complicated.

At its core, it is a d6 system. Here is a character sheet with a normal ol' fight-worthy guard on it.


Character Name: NPC
Grapple: Basic
Unarmed: 3
Melee Skill: 3
Ranged Skill: 3
Strength: 3
Toughness: 3
Wounds: 1
Initiative: 3
Will Power: 3
Morale: 6
Combat Sense: None
Attacks:
Weapons: Sword
Armor: Chain and Medium Shield

Special Rules:

Shieldbearer - No penalty for using a shield in the off-hand.


As you can see, it is pretty basic. Some of you may even recognize where I was inspired (who I ripped off) in order to put this together.

As for the numbers...



1 Helpless: Just as it sounds.
2 Inept: Quite bad in this area.
3 Competent: Trained, practiced or otherwise experienced.
4 Elite: Formally trained, extremely well practiced and/or simply better. At this level, you are known in your community as an expert in this area.
5 Master: You are known regionally for your immense skill and/or capability in this area. You are a master of technique, form and/or fitness and are capable of training others.
6 Legendary: You are known throughout the land at this point. Your skill and knowledge eclipse all but the greatest heroes of legend. Masters come to you for guidance in these fields and you will be recognized in the streets.


For ranged combat, you subtract the character skill from 7. 7-3+4. If they were at a 4, then the target would be 3. So 4 is this player's target on a d6 to hit. If the thing they're shooting at has cover, I just add a point or two to the target number depending on how good the cover is.

In Melee, if the two combatants are evenly matched (ie. 3 against a 3) then they will hit on a 4+. If one has the advantage (4 against 3) then they hit on a 3+. If the attacker's skill is double that of the defender's skill, the attacker hits on a 2+ while the defender ends up hitting on a 5+.

Once you hit the target, you roll attacker's strength (or weapon's strength in the case of ranged attacks) against the target's toughness. If the strength matches the toughness, the attacker wounds on a 4+. The target to wound decreases for every point the attacker's strength is above the defender's toughness, to a minimum of 2. In the other direction, if the attacker's strength is not high enough to at least wound on a 6, then they simply can't wound the target. Imagine punching a tank. It just doesn't work.

3 vs 5 or 6 Wounds on 6+
3 vs 4 Wounds on 5+
3 vs 3 Wounds on 4+
4 vs 3 Wounds on 3+
5 vs 3 Wounds on 2+

The smaller numbers help me to keep a better track on the difficulty of a fight. And you can give the players some saves to protect them while still making combat feel pretty tense. Number of attacks depends on the weapons, with most of them getting 2d6. I may give a player an extra d6 to show their increased skill. I also work with them to make special rules that help them meet their desired fantasy.

Seeing as most of us are writers and role players, I wanted a system that was simple for me to roll while at the same time minimizing the amount of number crunching my players have to do. So I basically run the system while they play. I use the dice to decide who gets hit and who doesn't and describe the outcomes to them. They seem to love it.
 
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Tiger Dragon

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This actually looks like a pretty manageable system. Since it does work with a smaller dice. To bad my game long died from inactiveness haha. However, this looks like something I would love to look into. Though I've moved on to starting a full blown dice game on Roll20. My first game is actually this Saturday. I'm very excited.

Side note: I didn't really know who you might have gotten inspiration off of, but this is a system in a game called 100% Orange Juice. I hate that game and only play it because my best friend loves it. None the less, the system they had seemed like a pretty decent one. Though I think there are some differences.

I love it! Thanks for your input!
 

One Who Tames

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I took inspiration from what little I know about Warhammer 40k. It is a table top war game that tends to involve a LOT of models. It is a little confusing at first but it dies well with resolving a lit of actions quickly. So I figured it could be used to resolve fewer actions even quicker.

It has been great for my style so far. Super flexible. The only thing my players really needed to do was be mindful of how many actions they have per combat post. It is mostly free form outside of that.

The link in my signature leads to a RO I’m trying to start on this site. It goes into more detail, if you are ever curious. I also love be chatting about this stuff if you ever want to trade stories or whatever.

Congratulations on your new role play amd best of luck.
 
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