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Old 10-26-2009, 01:57 PM   #1
Nymdok
 
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Default [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

This is my attempt at seeking out the feel of the 1eAD&D combat balance and using the GURPS system to represent it. From here I hope to do the sum over the participants to get Encounter Balance, Sum over encounters to get Adventure/Campaign Balance and maybe even an expectation value over HP and HT to get life expectancy.

The Full Treatment and spreadsheet is Here
http://sites.google.com/site/nymdoks...d-game-balance

For those who DONT have Office, the spreadsheet is here as a google doc.
Spreadsheet Link


On to the Discussion...

Since Im awful at game balance issues, I figured Id aim double barrel math at the problem and see what I get for my trouble. The problem as it turns out is two fold.

What is balanced?
In an RPG sense, my definition for balanced meant that the players felt like they were making progress but were well challenged. I was unable to quantify that. Instead I trotted out the old DMs Guide (1st cover 1st edition with Efreeti on front) and used their balance poitns as a guidline.

In combat, for a player to feel like hes being successful, he needs to be damaging the opponent/monster.

In Gurps that means Attack succeed, Defense Fail and Damage is > DR.

In 1eAD&D it just meant attack roll beats AC in the combat matrix.

How do We translate that?

The equality is where the odds of damageing the Monster is the same in each system.

So the odds of a 7th level fighter damaging an AC6 opponent in 1eD&D is 65%.

TO get that in gurps we need to look at what the Skill of the attacker is versus the Active defense of the defender is and what the Damage likelihood versus DR is. Although not a complicated calcualtion, a tedious one.

Odds of landing a blow = Odds of a critical + (Odds of a noncrital Attack success X Odds of an Active Defense Failure by opponent).

(Odds of Landing a Blow)x(Odds of getting through DR) = Odds of Doing Damage.

SO, we dont have AC, but we do have DR, if that DR is (DR1) and we are only doing 1d of damage then our odds of doing more damage than the DR is .833. TO get to 65%, our Odds of landing a blow need to be 78%.

Skill - AD
16-8
14,15-7
13 - 6

12 or below and the best you can do is 73% if the defender has an Active defense of 3!

For skills over 16 apply Deceptive attack to equivalence. For example
16-8 is the same as
18-9
20-10
22-11
24-12

Using these handy tables, I feel like I can quantitatively balance melee combat in a way that will be challenging enough to feel rewarding but not so difficult as to be discouraging.

Nymdok
p.s. Id LOVE feedback.

p.p.s. Ed the Coastie and Nerdvna - THis is why I havent sent you the Thundarr stuff yet :)
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

I tried to understand the spreadsheet but gave up (I didn't try that hard I must admit).

Is this for DF?

Anyway, your goals is good, trying to make challenging encounters for your group. And using math and spreadsheets to get a feel for it is also great. However grouping people into "fighter/cleric/fighter" and so on and making asumptions of how often they should hit/damage I don't think is a good idea as AD&D and GURPS is so very different.

In AD&D getting hit doesn't mean anything until your dead. This is not the case in GURPS, as single hit can ofte drasticly reduce your combat effeciency. Also taking a penalty to hit to avoid some DR is often a valid option. not to mention hit locations such as vital and brain that gives a lot more damage but at a penalty to hit.
...and all the combat options such as feint, rapid strike, slam, disarm, All out attack and so on.

Also the clases are much more limiting in AD&D than in GURPS. A rogue in GURPS has to actually be BETTER at hitting than a fighter, in order to get his "sneak attack" (hit locations).
Clerics and other spell users can cast far more spells and different spells in GURPS as they just need an hour or two to be back up at full strength and do not need to memorise up front.

So, I support the idea of using spreadsheets to get a better understanding of balance, but you can't rely on it. There are far too many combat options in GURPS to do that. And trying to mimic how often one should hit with AD&D I doubt is a good idea.
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

No, this isnt for DF, this is for melee combat in general.

The Spreadsheet isnt that hard to understand.

If your using the Skill v skill/2+n sheet, then Attack skill is on the left side and n is across the top. So for Skill of 14 vs Active defense of 10 find the intersection of 14 and 10=14/2 +3 where the 3 is of course n.(9 columns over at 46.3).

If your using the Deceptive Attack Sheet, then just look at where 14 intersects with 10. (also 46.3%)

Thats my point, you cant look at Classes in GURPS cuz it dont have any. THerefore, we have to look at raw fighting ability (Combat skill) and Damage.
Likewise, Since there is no AC in gurps, you have to look at the Active Defense and DR.

I use the Combat Balance Points of AD&D because thats what I played when I was a kid and thats alot of what Ive been converting lately. If you knew the percentages, you could just as easily use Boot Hill, Top Secret, Star Frontiers or any other system you like.

I only use the classes as realtive points of success. I know there are no clases in GURPS and that a Rogue/Thief can Fight as well as a Warrior/FIghter, but for that to happen there needs to be some parity between Skill and Damgage on each side.

Therefore, the whole point of this exercise is that your Fighting like an AD&D fighter if your doing damge 50% of the time.

It doesnt matter if your doing damage through skill by targeting chinks in armor or your doing damage by brute force by wielding a 2 handed Axe (SWING DAMAGE IS NO JOKE!) or some combination. THis allows you a way to marry those concepts together into a way that translates to 1eAD&D

Its true that things like shock dont exist in the old AD&D, thats a concept that cant be translated. THer is simply no 'word' for shock in AD&D as we know it in gurps. I cannot treat that. I also cannot treat the fact taht the only real combat manuver in 1eAD&D was 'Hit it Again!'. Things like feint and Stop Hit dont translate into 1eAD&D. However, If they are balanced in GURPS, then they should still be balanced once we translate into GURPS.

In other words, that 50% to hit can be tweaked by evaluates, AOA and other methods, but the consequences to those manuvers keep them balanced so we stay at around 50% (Give or take).

Nymdok
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

The best way to learn to balance GURPS is to play it, and learn how easy or hard things are. I recently ran a trial game of Tales of the Solar Patrol, and although I wanted the pre-generated characters to be highly skilled, I gave them too much ability. The only time they were ever in any danger was when the players did really stupid things. Result: I learned that 250-point characters were too able for the game I was trying to run. I want to start a campaign, so I'll turn it down to 150-point Patrolmen, and they will be plenty capable. I also learned how level 15 in primary skills affected shipboard actions, and now I know how likely it is that they'll be able to handle things with skills that high (they can take insane risks and be nearly assured of success).
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
The best way to learn to balance GURPS is to play it, and learn how easy or hard things are. I recently ran a trial game of Tales of the Solar Patrol, and although I wanted the pre-generated characters to be highly skilled, I gave them too much ability. The only time they were ever in any danger was when the players did really stupid things. Result: I learned that 250-point characters were too able for the game I was trying to run. I want to start a campaign, so I'll turn it down to 150-point Patrolmen, and they will be plenty capable. I also learned how level 15 in primary skills affected shipboard actions, and now I know how likely it is that they'll be able to handle things with skills that high (they can take insane risks and be nearly assured of success).
Yeah, it all depends. I usually challenge my players in melee by giving them really odd tactical situations, like the time they had to fight it out standing in 6" deep tar. Or our last game, on the lip of an extinct volcano...the crumbling, icy lip of an extinct volcano. They took more damage from falling off the edge than from the enemies.

I'm not saying skip the spreadsheets; go for it. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to challenge them beyond just setting the numbers so the dice rolls stay relatively even.

Heck, put in some creature with a gazillion hit points that, in the first second of combat, starts to glow faintly. The second, more so. And so on. In turn 10, it gives off a pulse of devastating burning damage. Let Danger Sense, etc. warn the players they're in trouble. They need to kill or incapacitate this thing in time, or have gotten far enough away...
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
The best way to learn to balance GURPS is to play it, and learn how easy or hard things are. I recently ran a trial game of Tales of the Solar Patrol, and although I wanted the pre-generated characters to be highly skilled, I gave them too much ability. The only time they were ever in any danger was when the players did really stupid things. Result: I learned that 250-point characters were too able for the game I was trying to run. I want to start a campaign, so I'll turn it down to 150-point Patrolmen, and they will be plenty capable. I also learned how level 15 in primary skills affected shipboard actions, and now I know how likely it is that they'll be able to handle things with skills that high (they can take insane risks and be nearly assured of success).
For regular skills, that is handled with appropriate modifiers. For combat its a bit more complicated, and thats all Im really looking to do here. I believe that gurps can handle high skill levels pretty easily, Im just tryin got figure out what the Bad Guys Attack,defense, ST and DR should be if I know the charachters Attack, Defense, ST and DR and How tough I want the combat to be.

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Old 10-26-2009, 03:57 PM   #7
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Well that's something. Good thinking with the math and charts. I disagree about the fact, that the best way to learn is to play. Usualy GM has one or two tries to introduce GURPS to his friends. If he fails his reputation or the reputation of system is at stake.
And players get mad especialy about combat.

But I am more worried about the whole balance picture. I like high fantasy, but not exactly Dungeon fantasy-all the time.

So basicly I tend to have one or two characters in group that are exceptional at combat. And other that can do there part. (Lately I am using the factor than there is no character that can't score a hit against mook).
And of course out of combat those weak character get reasonable amount of screen time.

Screen time is my mesurment of balance. So this time around I have an alchemy/mana gadgeteer, enchanter, and two social types...three of them are combat specialist each in different way.

I don't know the math, but I work hard to make everyone of them to have same screen time. (Much like TV series characters have)
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Nightwatch View Post
Yeah, it all depends. I usually challenge my players in melee by giving them really odd tactical situations....
I agree and do the same, but it desnt help with how to translate/scale an encounter fro 100 point charachters with 14 in combat skills to an encounter for 200 or 1000 point charachters with 24 in combat skills, which is part of what Im looking to do with these.


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Old 10-26-2009, 04:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
I agree and do the same, but it desnt help with how to translate/scale an encounter fro 100 point charachters with 14 in combat skills to an encounter for 200 or 1000 point charachters with 24 in combat skills, which is part of what Im looking to do with these.


Nymdok
That is definitely challenging. Our characters are by now all in the 700+ character point range, and the only things keeping melee interesting are:

1) We're so multi-genre, I can put in darned near anything; the last enemies were ones that drained paranormal powers off people if they touched them, which made for a really interesting combat (the last time I got to play, we went a bit too far in the mysterious laboratory, and all the androids woke up and came after us while capture nets were being dropped from the ceiling and auto-stunners opened fire. Very challenging)

2) Everyone has tacitly agreed to forgo most movement powers, such as Flight or Walk on Air-type things, so that tar, ice, gopher holes, etc. remain legitimately challenging.

Those kinds of abilities aren't forbidden, but we've realized they take some of the fun out of the game. Your group might be willing to do something similar, whether it's maximum attack skill, defenses which above x take the challenge out of things...something like that.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Originally Posted by Randover View Post
....But I am more worried about the whole balance picture. I like high fantasy, but not exactly Dungeon fantasy-all the time...

This is exactly the purpose of these. You can now use the spreadsheet ot scale the combat to the percentage you decide. If you want AD&D type combat I recomend 40-50%, for cinematic Mook Mashing up it to 60% for pitched high suspense battles that require lots of tactics and teamwork, drop it to 20%. The point is that you noww have the tools to decide.

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