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Old 01-08-2018, 12:58 PM   #191
pyratejohn
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

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Originally Posted by Charles G. View Post
Ask him about "Vindicator" - if its the same fellow, he was the editor of the 'zine, as well.
Weird... he isn't that Michael Friend. That's a shame, but now I can introduce another one to Melee/Wizard/TFT.
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:49 PM   #192
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Re. the stat optimization issue raised above, and in the other major thread:

Melee presents players with a 'trade space' having several different axes. But the major two trades you can make are:

1) Exchange 1 point of DX for 1 point increase in the expected value of a successful attack + 1 point increase in your effective hit points.

2) Exchange 1 point of DX for 1 point of armor protection.

(I'm ignoring some little corners of the equipment table where these general rules break down).

There are then a couple of equipment-related trade offs you can make:

1) Decrease damage done by 1 in exchange for being able to use a weapon in HTH
2) Decrease damage done by 0.5 to 1 in exchange for being able to use a weapon either thrown or in melee
3) Choose between getting 1 free point of protection or a 1 point increase in damage done (i.e., shield vs. 2 handed weapon)
4) Decrease damage done by 1 in exchange for pole weapon properties

There are a few more narrower trade offs like those in this second list.

So, when you make optimization decisions, your primary thought should be the DX vs. damage done+HP vs. protection trades, and secondarily the narrower trade offs you make about weapon properties.

Part of the complexity of the game is that these trades are close to balanced within certain ranges in ST and DX, and the weapon trade offs have values that are situational and so depend on tactical decisions.

The main ST vs. DX trade off primarily depends on where you are on the DX scale. The easiest way to evaluate this is by calculating the expected value of the difference between the average number of turns it would take you to kill a foe vs. the number of turns he or she would take to kill you.

For reference, two combatants with ST 12, DX 12, no armor, a buckler and a broad sword (each, of course!). Each has a chance to hit of 0.74, an expected value for damage of 7, protection of 1 and 12 hit points. Thus, each will reduce the opponent's HP by [(0.74 x 7) -1] = 4.2 per turn (on average), meaning 2.8 turns are required to kill the foe (and, conversely, you yourself will survive for 2.8 turns, on average).

These sorts of calculations properly should consider the 'tails' to the distribution of outcomes (double and triple damage; odds of very high or low damage rolls; odds of broken or dropped weapons). It is actually quite easy to build Montecarlo models to simulate all this on a spread sheet, but it isn't really worth talking through the details so I won't.

Let's imagine you match one of the combatants described above vs. someone with ST 11, DX 13, a short sword and buckler. Now damage done per turn is [(0.838 x 6) -1] = 4.0. It will take 3.0 turns to kill your foe, whereas you will be killed in 11/4.2 = 2.6 turns. That was a bad trade. The reason why it was a bad trade is that an adjusted DX of 12 has higher odds of success than your intuition might suggest, and going up one more to 13 only increases your success chance by a little under 10 %. That is, you are already on the path of diminishing returns for raising DX, but traded away a significant fraction of your average damage done per turn.

As another example, consider someone with a cutlass, chainmail, large shield, ST 10 and DX 14 (adjusted to 10). This person has an expected damage done per turn of 5 x 0.5 = 2.5; if he fights the first sort of foe above, this is reduced to 1.5 points of damage taken by his foe per turn, meaning it will take 8 turns to kill him. But that foe will do you (on average) only 0.2 points of damage per turn, so it will take you basically forever to get killed. This would seem to indicate the heavily armored ST 10, DX 14 foe will always win. But this is because the simplest way of calculating expected value breaks down as average damage done approaches the value of protective armor. In reality, the broadsword wielding attacker will do 1 or more point of damage about every other turn, and has about a 1 in 4 chance of doing several points of damage (just combining the chance of success with the probability of each damage outcome). A case like this needs a full Montecarlo sort of model to describe correctly. If you do that, you find the combatants are actually still pretty closely matched.

Edit: the actual average damage done in excess of armor, per turn, by the broad sword wielder is something like 1.6-1.7 points (considering the chance of a hit and the chance of each damage outcome). So, the two combatants are chipping away at each other at a very similar rate, and our ST 12, DX 12 combatant is actually still pretty close to the peak statistical outcome, even when we consider trade offs of armor and 2 points worth of trade offs of ST for DX.

This rolls over pretty fast to higher ST because your chance to hit drops fast as DX goes below 10-11.

Last edited by larsdangly; 01-08-2018 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:21 PM   #193
tbeard1999
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

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Originally Posted by pyratejohn View Post
I believe it should be pretty obvious at this point that I'm 99% fine with the game as is.

As for armor and strength... realistically, I can't say that I've ever felt too weak to wear a particular type of armor, but I have felt slowed by it, sometimes considerably.
Yeah, presumably lower strength would generally equate to smaller size. Which would equate to lighter armor. I've never worn armor or engaged in swordfights (other than a few months of Kendo lessons in 1984), but I did spend 8 years learning Taekwondo (Moo Duk Kwan and Sang Moo Kwan, 1977-1985).

When I started, no one wore pads, cups or mouth guards, except in tournaments. But in 1982 or so, my instructor started requiring us to wear pads, including head gear. All of which he sold :) They were either dense foam or cloth covered bamboo.

I hated them.

It wasn't so much the weight, but rather that the leg pads slowed my kicks down enough to affect my sparring. Also, the headgear interfered with my peripheral vision just enough that my blocks were't quite as effective. I don't recall specifically, but I imagine that my head didn't turn quite as fast either. In general, I felt sluggish. The groin cup also slowed my kicks down slightly. I don't recall the gloves slowing my punches down interestingly. Oh, and the torso padding was hot, though in an air conditioned dojang, that was only an issue after you'd been going a long time.

So I complained and my instructor had us spar each other, 1 in pads, 1 not in pads. With me in pads, my unpadded opponent beat me pretty easily, and vice versa. The combination of my sluggishness, impairment of peripheral vision and heat was just enough that he could out fight me. Normally, we were about equal in ability.

Assuming armor is similar, it may not be the weight so much as it is the restricted movement and reduction in peripheral vision. So, based on my experiences, I never had a problem with the DX penalty for armor. And I really don't think that training would've made that much of a difference. If I got faster in pads, I'd also have gotten faster without pads.

Last edited by tbeard1999; 01-08-2018 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:48 PM   #194
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...but I did spend 8 years learning Taekwondo (Moo Duk Kwan and Sang Moo Kwan, 1977-1985)....
This statement just reminded me - with a certain amount of fondness, a martial arts supplement I wrote for TFT in the summer of 1981. It was designed for a martial arts only campaign modeled off the film "Circle of Iron." (Another reminder is my original black belt - it's on the credenza behind my desk. Strangely, however, it has shrunk a lot. :)

The supplement wasn't awful actually. I think I still have my notes; if so, I'll post them. But here's what I recall.

There was a list of techniques - punches, throws, kicks, takedowns, etc. Some had prerequisites. Each level of Unarmed Combat talent gave you so many techniques (2 or 3 probably) that you could learn.

The kick list looked something like this:

Front snap kick
Roundhouse kick
Side kick
Spinning back kick

Kicks did more damage than punches, but has DX penalties. You had to learn them in order. And each successive kick did more damage, at a higher DX penalty. Jump/Flying front, side and spinning back kicks required the figure to move at least 3 hexes in a line toward the enemy. They did a LOT more damage but had a high DX penalty.

The punches worked the same way - more advanced techniques did more damage, but at greater DX cost. The list looked something like this:

Straight jab
Hook
Backfist
Spinning backfist
Elbow strike (lots of damage, but high DX penalty as I recall).

The special techniques included:
Sweep/Takedown
Throw
Arm Lock
Nerve Strike (only available at UC 4)
Block (4d to hit in melee combat; UC 4 required I think)

There was more of course. I'm pretty sure specific blocks were included. I actually was an expert in this area (I was assistant instructor at age 15, which meant I was the highest ranked student), but only 15 years old and hardly an experienced game designer. So it was quite a detailed treatment. Too detailed of course. But it did work for that one campaign. All of my gaming buddies at the time were also in martial arts classes, so they were familiar with the subject.

I'll dig it out. I wonder how awful it really was...
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:55 PM   #195
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

One criticism of TFT was that it was usually better to increase DX rather than ST.

Not sure I totally agreed with that, but the idea was that if you took 2 points of ST, you could take two more points of damage, one time.

If you took 2 points of DX, you could then wear leather armor and take two more points of damage in every attack. (Or 3 if you took a tower shield).

Of course, you could do more damage with higher ST.

My groups always tended to have a couple of big strong fighters and a couple of quick smaller fighters, so I don't think they made that calculus. Plus, I made ST 12+ magic swords and axes a LOT more common than magic foils and cutlasses.

Anyhow...was this a real problem for anyone?
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:58 PM   #196
Steve Jackson
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The armor I wore in the SCA was heavy leather. I found chain let alone plate, tooo heavy. I am 5 feet 8, average to light build, and back then I was in good condition but probably never more than average strength.

I wore leather body armor that was light and well fitted enough that I could run, jump, and do a handstand. Even did it in my helm once, on a dare, though the helm was heavy metal and really messed with my balance. So that armor, at least, was not destroying my DX completely.

Point is, I owned a chain shirt but did not fight in it - too heavy, and all the blows striking me were crushing anyway so something solid was better protection. Plate would have protected against those blows but was too heavy even to be considered. Thinking back on the few who wore plate, they were either big, or built like a Tolkien dwarf, or, in one case, just a little taller than average but in superb training.

I can absolutely see the argument in favor of extra DX (and MA!) penalties for a weak fighter in heavy armor. I have added it to my list of things to think seriously about.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:18 PM   #197
JLV
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

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Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
Re. the stat optimization issue raised above, and in the other major thread:

...
I seem to vaguely recall that someone actually DID a monte carlo run of some kind waaaay back when and even published the results somewhere. I know it wasn't the Space Gamer, because I have the complete set, and I'm not seeing it there, but somewhere... As I recall, it had multiple iterations of different weapons systems and ST/DX combos in it. Dammit, I really want to see those numbers. I think something like that would be a GREAT tool for Steve Jackson when he's seriously starting to look at the game for re-write/re-pub.

I'm betting though, at the end of the day, that it would show that there mostly aren't many changes needed! ;-) Steve always seemed to have a good feel for the way the numbers would crunch, even including the outliers...
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:25 PM   #198
tbeard1999
 
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The armor I wore in the SCA was heavy leather...
I can absolutely see the argument in favor of extra DX (and MA!) penalties for a weak fighter in heavy armor. I have added it to my list of things to think seriously about.
Yeah, my experience wasn't terribly relevant to melee fighting.

And having ST affect armor might help mitigate the ST vs DX problem I mentioned earlier. (I.e., it's generally better to take two points of DX and leather armor than to add two points of ST. Armor lets you take two extra hit on every attack; ST does it only once.)

Assuming of course that you agree that it's a concern.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:50 PM   #199
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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
One criticism of TFT was that it was usually better to increase DX rather than ST.

Not sure I totally agreed with that, but the idea was that if you took 2 points of ST, you could take two more points of damage, one time.

If you took 2 points of DX, you could then wear leather armor and take two more points of damage in every attack. (Or 3 if you took a tower shield).

Of course, you could do more damage with higher ST.

My groups always tended to have a couple of big strong fighters and a couple of quick smaller fighters, so I don't think they made that calculus. Plus, I made ST 12+ magic swords and axes a LOT more common than magic foils and cutlasses.

Anyhow...was this a real problem for anyone?
I'm wondering, though, if that isn't too narrow an observation (not by you, but by the folks that said "it's better to take 2 pts of DX..."). ST does not purely equate to extra HITS -- I mean that's part of it, but not all of it. ST also equates to what weapons you can wield -- which in turn increases your ability to inflict damage. (And I'm not even addressing the "Advantages of Great Strength.") And if we look at it in the wider scope of the campaign, it also increases the load you can carry (extra food, extra arrows for the wimpy (but high DX) archer fella, and so on. So the trade-off is actually a bit more complex than a straight either/or question. In the long run, in a campaign, the extra ST might actually have more utility as an early choice, than the extra DX.

Still, I still think it really comes down to player's style in a lot of cases -- I had players that preferred high DX because they wanted to fight in certain ways, and others that preferred high ST because they wanted to something different from the high DX guys. And each type swore by their preferred techniques and thought the other guy was just plain wrong. From everything I could see, there was no special advantage to either choice -- except in so far as one or the other worked better with the player's chosen play style.
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:48 PM   #200
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I'm wondering, though, if that isn't too narrow an observation (not by you, but by the folks that said "it's better to take 2 pts of DX..."). ...From everything I could see, there was no special advantage to either choice -- except in so far as one or the other worked better with the player's chosen play style.
It may well have been more of a theoretical issue. And GMs could certainly find ways to emphasize ST. As I noted, magic weapons mostly tended to be bigger weapons in my campaigns.

Last edited by tbeard1999; 01-08-2018 at 05:03 PM.
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