Issue #1 – Wounds and Bleeding
Hit Points or Health Points in RPGs have always bothered me. In a way, they are poor abstractions of a person’s physical capacity in battle. In real life, one hit to the right spot is usually more than enough to incapacitate a person, and even after surviving such a wound, one wouldn’t be able to perform at full capacity at all.
In fact, in the real world, the moment you receive a serious wound, you’re disadvantaged. However, in RPGs, even when your 200 HP character is reduced to 2 HP, he can still fight, and even win a battle.
There are ways to justify such a system. However, regardless of what reasons, I still don’t think a person with 2 HP should function similarly to a person with 200 HP.
Therefore, I’ve added the element of wounding and tie it into morale.
Firstly, the amount of HP that a person has refers to his ability to absorb and endure injury. This can either be explained through adrenaline or sheer willpower. There are countless cases where a person keeps fighting even after sustaining supposedly incapacitating wounds, and most of these cases can be attributed to a combination of an iron will and adrenaline rush.
Experience levels also contribute to the total HP of a character. The reasoning is simple – the more experienced a person is, the more injuries the person would have sustained (and healed from), which reduces the psychological impact of the injuries in the first place. Note that having HP down to zero does NOT mean a character is dead. It merely means a character is incapacitated, which depending on the nature of the wounds may or may not also mean that the character is dying or dead.
Here’s how it works:
- 100% HP = 100% capacity
- 50% HP = 50 + (Level / 2 )% capacity
- 25% HP = 25 + (Level / 3)% capacity
- 10% HP = 10 + (Level / 3)% capacity
- 0% HP = incapacitated
Let’s test this with a “n00b” level 1 character with 1 Constitution and 1 Willpower:
HP = 30 + (CON x 2) + (WIL x 2) + (Level / 2)
HP = 30 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 35
- 35 HP (100%) = 100% capacity
- 17 HP (50%) = 51% capacity
- 8 HP (25%) = 26% capacity
- 3 HP (10%) = 11% capacity
- 0 HP = incapacitated
For a “normal” level 1 character with 5 Constitution and 5 Willpower:
HP = 30 + (CON x 2) + (WIL x 2) + (Level / 2)
HP = 30 + 10 + 10 + 1 = 51
- 51 HP (100%) = 100% capacity
- 25 HP (50%) = 51% capacity
- 12 HP (25%) = 26% capacity
- 5 HP (10%) = 11% capacity
- 0 HP = incapacitated
Let’s test the values again, this time assuming that both characters have gotten to level 30:
Character A (“noob”):
HP = 30 + (CON x 2) + (WIL x 2) + (Level / 2) = 30 + 2 + 2 + 15 = 49
- 49 HP (100%) = 100%
- 24 HP (50%) = 65%
- 12 HP (25%) = 30%
- 4 HP (10%) = 15%
Character B (“normal”):
HP = 30 + (CON x 2) + (WIL x 2) + (Level / 2) = 30 + 10 + 10 + 15 = 65
- 65 HP (100%) = 100%
- 32 HP (50%) = 65%
- 16 HP (25%) = 30%
- 6 HP (10%) = 15%
So as you can see here, an increase in experience levels mean a character will suffer less penalties when fighting wounded.
Of course, this is just the BASE efficiency. Morale needs to come into play here.
Morale is pretty basic. A character starts off at 100% morale, and depending on his actions he will either gain or lose morale. For example, if a character is wounded in combat, he loses morale. If a character scores a direct and verifiable hit on the enemy, he gains morale.
Here’s a table of what happens when a character’s MP is modified in combat:
- 101 – 200% – +1% efficiency per 2% morale gained
- 100% – no bonuses, no penalties
- 0 – 99% – -1% efficiency per 2% morale gained
- below 0 – willpower check every round. Panics if check fails
The efficiency is added to the base efficiency determined by the character’s current HP level. So, for example, the level 15 “normal” character is currently at 30HP, which gives him a base efficiency level of 65%. If the character’s current morale level is 120%, this gives an extra 10% to his efficiency level.
Note that efficiency has a range from 5 to 100. Anything below 5 will be capped at 5.
Issue #2 – Skill Challenges
How does the game handle skill challenges?
Challenges pit a skill/attribute against an attribute/resistance level. There is no such thing as a skill-to-skill challenge in the game mechanics.
Challenges are made when the player’s skill is required to overcome a difficulty that has the ability to resist the player’s attempt.
- Trying to pry open a lock with a crowbar pits the player’s strength attribute against the lock’s resistance level ( Strength vs Resistance )
- Trying to hit another character with a crowbar pits the player’s melee combat skill against the target’s agility ( Melee Combat vs Agility )
- Trying to hack into a computer is a skill challenge that pits the player’s thievery skill against the computer’s resistance level ( Thievery vs Resistance )
To perform a challenge, the following formulas are used:
Skill Challenge Success Probability = Skill – ( Attribute x 5 + Level )
Attribute Challenge Success Probability = ( Attribute * 5 + Level ) – ( Attribute x 5 + Level )
Normalized SP = 122 + SP
Success Rate = Normalized SP * 0.357
A note on resistance level though. Every item that offers a resistance level has two stats: resistance and level. Resistance refers to the TYPE of challenge in performing that task, while level refers to the actual difficulty of performing it.
Determining Resistance Levels
To determine how to assign resistance and levels, use this rule of thumb:
Resistance = Adjective (Range from 1-10)
Level = Object Type (Range from 1-60)
For example, a normal padlock would have a level of 1 (applies to all padlocks) and a resistance of 1 (“normal” padlock). A master-forged padlock would have a resistance of 2 (since it’s a well made padlock) and a level of 50 (“strong” master-forged padlock). Or, if the master-forged padlock had been left in the cellar for decades and have subsequently rusted internals (which makes it even harder to lockpick), it’ll instead of a resistance of 2 (it’s a master padlock all the same. The internals don’t change) and a level of 60 (since it takes more effort to pick the lock).
Here’s a handy example list:
- Comic Book – R1L1
- Frank Miller Comic – R1L20
- Comic Book with hidden messages – R1L60
- Chemistry for Dummis – R5L10
- Advanced Chemistry – R5L40
- Pre-Exodus Chemistry Secrets – R5L60
In short, resistance refer to how easy it is to perform the task, while level refers to the complexity of the task itself. Objects that have a high resistance but low level would be objects that are hard to understand but simple in nature (car engines, books, etc) while objects that have a low resistance but high level would be objects that are easy to understand but hard to manipulate (complex locks, disarming bombs, etc).
Personally, we can always change the resistance level to just range from 1-110, or even use a 10 + 1 point system to simplify matters. This would dramatically reduce the range of probabilities though, and make skill increments less meaningful too, so it’s a dangerous balance here.
I’ll change it in the future if this proves too much for game designers to implement in their world designs.
As with all formulas, we need to test it. First we find out the min, avg and max scenarios to get a feel of whether the formula is working the way we envision it to or not.
For example, a player fires a shot with his 9mm pistol against an enemy. Let’s calculate the min, avg and max SP possible in this scenario:
- Player has 1 point in sidearms
- Enemy has 10 agility and is level 60
Min SP = 1 – ( 50 + 60 ) = -109
- Player has 75 points in sidearms
- Enemy has 5 agility and is level 30
Avg SP = 75 – ( 25 + 30 ) = 15
- Player has 150 points in sidearms
- Enemy has 1 agility and is level 1
Max SP = 150 – ( 5 + 1 ) = 144
Therefore, using the above calculations as a base, we can conclude that SP always lie between -109 and 144. We normalize this by adding 122 to SP, giving it a new range of 13 to 266.
We then further normalize this to 1-100 by multiplying it by 0.357 and then round UP the result, giving it a range of 5-95.
If the SP is 15, the success rate would be:
Success Rate = ( 15 + 122 ) * 0.357 = 49 (rounded up)
Similarly, if the SP is -109, the success rate would be:
Success Rate = ( -109 + 122 ) * 0.357 = 5 (rounded up)
And finally, if the SP is 144: 122
Success Rate = ( 144 + 122 ) * 0.357 = 95 (rounded up)
Using the lock picking example from above, it should be noted that for the same object, many different kind of challenges can be made with different levels of resistance level. There are a few actions that can be applied to a lock:
- Lock pick = Thievery Challenge with R1L30 ( D35 )
- Lock pick with Toolset = Thievery Challenge with R1L15 ( D20 )
- Shoot/Attack the lock = Weapon Skill Challenge with R1L1 ( D6 ), damages lock HP
However, when dealing with an electronic lock:
- Lock pick = Thievery Challenge with R1L60 ( D65 )
- Lock pick with Hack Tool = Thievery Challenge with R1L30 ( D35 )
- Shoot/Attack the lock = Automatic Failure
The Actual Roll
Now we’ve determined the Success Rate (SR) of the task intended. What do we do? Simple. We roll a D100 die, which gives us a result ranging from 1 to 100. Now, the Success Rate is called a success rate because it shows the probability of your character succeeding in the task. Therefore:
If the result is LESSER than the SR ( Roll <= SR ), the task is successful.
If the result is MORE than the SR ( Roll > SR ), the task is unsuccessful.
Issue #3 – Effects of Efficiency on Skill Challenges
As mentioned in Issue #1, in combat a character’s efficiency drops when he takes either morale or HP damage. So how does this efficiency issue come into play in skill challenges?
The answer is surprisingly simple.
The skill challenge can be split into 3 steps:
- Calculate Base Success Probability ( BSP: -109 to 144 )
- Add 122 to the BSP to get the Normalized Success Probability ( NSP: 13 to 266 )
- Multiply it by 0.357 to get the Success Rate (SR: 5 to 95 )
To calculate the efficiency into the formula, simply take the SR and multiply it to the efficiency percentage. Remember to round UP the results.
SR = 65
EF = 100%
FSR = ( 65 x 100 / 100 ) = 65%
SR = 15
EF = 90%
FSR = ( 15 x 90 / 100 ) = 14%
SR = 95
EF = 5%
FSR = ( 95 x 5 / 100 ) = 5%
Therefore, efficiency is extremely important in a fight, which amplifies the impact of wounds and morale of a character.
Issue #4 – Name for Character System
This isn’t a big issue, but having a name for the mechanics is always good for branding (think Fallout’s SPECIAL system). I’ve decided to call this system the…
The Magnum System!
The name comes from the normalizer used in the challenge system: 0.357. For non-gun buffs, the 0.357 Magnum revolver caliber happens to be the one chambered for the Colt Python, which is one of my all-time favorite guns. A coincidence too, that the other normalizer, 122, coincides with Remington’s (one of my favorite shotgun maker) Golden Saber JHP 0.357 round, that boasts a muzzle velocity of 1220 feet per second with a One-Stop Shot rating of 81.7%.
Now that’s one hell of a magnum round that I won’t want to mess with!