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RPG system from scratch, ideas

Cognisant

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Armour class is damage reduction.
Everything that can be dodged gets something like a reflex save.

In Pathfinder having 20AC is pretty much the same no matter how you got it, now I'm not saying that's wrong, just that making armor equate to a number of points of damage reduction makes it more armor-like.

The whole point of armor is that its a passive defense, always there, always on, before a battle even starts you know roughly what percentage of damage it's going to block and thus can make tactical decisions regarding your durability. The definition of "roughly" is what I don't like about the armor check, as many have encountered with critical focused pathfinder builds a high attack score doesn't guarantee anything, dice don't give a shit about averages, in the short term things can go amazing or absolutely terrible.

From a design standpoint a balance has to be struck between the player not knowing enough to turn every decision into a calculation, but at the same time the player needs to know enough for their decisions to be meaningful. Having armor closer to the calculation side of things makes sense because the whole point of armor is that you rely on it, armor is meant to be dependable.

Which is not to say everyone prefers it this way, someone might instead prefer to rely more on dodging which upon a successful save either negates damage entirely or partially (if applicable). Essentially the player is choosing different stakes on the same gamble, with full armor there's no possibility of failure but damage will be received, with partial armor there's a fair possibility of dodging but the consequences of failure aren't too high, and with no armor there's a high probability of avoiding damage entirely but failure will be costly.

Some players want the thrill of the gamble, others don't, this way they get a choice, also having armor be a number of points of damage reduction also makes it much easier to implement things like armor penetrating weapons, because they ignore a given number of armor points it's irrelevant if you're not wearing any.
 

Cognisant

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Something that sounds really cool to me is calling attacks but there's really no mechanic for this in Pathfinder as far as I know, however with the armor system mentioned above it could become a vital tactic.

Say you're facing off against an opponent in really good armor, your weapon simply isn't damaging enough to penetrate it, but what's to stop you stabbing through the visor?

In the typical system I suppose this is what a critical represents and you do get situations where a critical hit may be required to surpass an enemy's armor class but few people make critical focused builds for this reason, the circumstances don't come up and even when they do it's usually a bad idea.

In fact this reminds me with another thing I don't like about the pathfinder system, a fighter wielding a longsword has exactly the same chance to hit as one wielding a dagger or claymore, anyone who has ever wielded any kind melee weapon knows that's absolutely not how it works.

Instead I propose light weapons have higher attack score bonuses than heavier ones, this way the rouge with a dagger who can't get through an enemy's armor may still reasonably attempt to circumvent it with a called attack to the visor gap.

In this way being heavily armor focused could become a liability, the party tank may be able to hold off a toothy beast or another large weapon wielding fighter but would vulnerable to enemies with more precise attacks, in this scenario the party's rouge may have to step up to the tank role (relying on finesse rather than durability) while the former tank flanks and plays the damage dealing role.

Edit: This also explains why people who aren't proficient with melee weapons (like spell casters) tend to prefer light weapons, it's not simply a matter of weight, the light weapon confers a bonus to hit which a non-proficient user may require.

On the other hand if you see someone walking around with a Zweihander you know they must be a skilled fighter and if they use it to attack specific parts of an enemy then you know they're really really dangerous.
 

Blarraun

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In Pathfinder having 20AC is pretty much the same no matter how you got it, now I'm not saying that's wrong, just that making armor equate to a number of points of damage reduction makes it more armor-like.
There is a number of abilities that ignore on or another kind of armor. For example your touch ac and flat footed ac scores are relevant because of that.
The whole point of armor is that its a passive defense, always there, always on, before a battle even starts you know roughly what percentage of damage it's going to block and thus can make tactical decisions regarding your durability. The definition of "roughly" is what I don't like about the armor check, as many have encountered with critical focused pathfinder builds a high attack score doesn't guarantee anything, dice don't give a shit about averages, in the short term things can go amazing or absolutely terrible.
Averages and probability are viable means of estimating success, it's fallacious to rely on them to make precise decisions of fact.
Some players want the thrill of the gamble, others don't, this way they get a choice, also having armor be a number of points of damage reduction also makes it much easier to implement things like armor penetrating weapons, because they ignore a given number of armor points it's irrelevant if you're not wearing any.
Correct, some RPG systems have explored using one or both, I'd like to mention parrying blows in melee as a viable opposed check for the defending player and attacks instead of being random, having precise effects depending on the hit location, while the hit location has a difficulty level and a dice roll to overcome. Hit location systems are interesting and I'd also mention armor making certain body parts invulnerable or giving them damage reduction instead of it contributing to the dodge chance.

More visually put an attack can be:

-Blocked or Dodged (opposite check based on fighting skill)
Block can have different consequences from a dodge.
A successful block could mean disarming the opponent or putting them off balance for the duration of your counter and a succesful dodge would move the defender a tile to the side or back, which may be advantageous or not. On the other hand, parrying could be more risky and could put the defender at risk of being wounded or disarmed, while a dodge would be safer but would have other mentioned and else disadvantages. This and many more features may be expanded on.

-Doesn't connect (based on attacker skill and defender passive stats)
May damage armor only, may damage another item in possession of the defending player, simply not damage, etc.

If a system relies on hit locations, it's very simple to adjust it to allocate wounds to body parts, which can affect certain conditions on the wounded player. For example, having their head struck a player cannot concentrate, has blood cover their eyes, loses consciousness, etc. Depending on the severity of the hit.

This way critical hits are not simply increases of damage, but increases of effectiveness and skill as well which adds both flavour, freedom and realism.
 

Cognisant

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More visually put an attack can be:
Blocked or Dodged (opposite check based on fighting skill)
Block can have different consequences from a dodge.
A successful block could mean disarming the opponent or putting them off balance for the duration of your counter and a succesful dodge would move the defender a tile to the side or back, which may be advantageous or not. This and many more features may be expanded on.
Yes I love this.

May damage armor only, may damage another item in possession of the defending player, simply not damage, etc.
Not a fan of items being damaged unless that's what the attacker was trying to do and giving armor a durability rating/score so it wears down with use makes sense although it seems like an unnecessary pain for everyone involved, unless players can repair their own armor with a feat or something.

If a system relies on hit locations, it's very simple to adjust it to allocate wounds to body parts, which can affect certain conditions on the wounded player. For example, having their head struck a player cannot concentrate, has blood cover their eyes, loses consciousness, etc. Depending on the severity of the hit.

This way critical hits are not simply increases of damage, but increases of effectiveness and skill as well which adds both flavour, freedom and realism.
The problem is that's very complicated, I like it but still it would be so hard to DM.

I'd also mention armor making certain body parts invulnerable or giving them damage reduction instead of it contributing to the dodge chance.
The problem with partial armor is that if it's only giving partial protection why wouldn't an enemy just hit you where you're not protected?

Practically speaking a chest plate works this way but in fantasy people want to wear armor in less practical & more stylish ways, for the sake of that I reckon partial armor should contribute to an overall damage reduction score or perhaps to the parry chance as that's how partial armor would realistically be used, you don't expect the enemy to attack the armor, rather it's shield you put in their way.

The parry chance makes the most sense imo.
 

Blarraun

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The problem is that's very complicated, I like it but still it would be so hard to DM.
Not really :), it's a matter of getting players used to the new system and then everyone knows what happens and do it seamlessly.
Systems with complex mechanics are a problem for new players and people that are not expected to play your game for medium-long.

It mostly depends on how much you intend to add.

Admittedly, I used to play a complicated system with new players and a 5 minute battle took 2 real hours to calculate, at which point I let my players storytell combat until I came up with a way to streamline and explain mechanics. (The way we had to verse and search for clues and numbers in a handbook was a source of amusement for the remainder of the time, so it wasn't that failed)

So obviously there are limits.
Another thing is that's what computers are for, there are spreadsheets and calculations that you can write so that the player only inputs their initial data and they get their result instantly.
 

Cognisant

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There's also the problem of how this applies to the players themselves, it may be more realistic for someone to get a broken leg but it wouldn't be fun to play and if the DM planned to have the party chased later on in the dungeon or climb something or swim or whatever that crippled character could really get in the way.

Also with the blood in the eyes example how long does that last?
Does it matter if you're upside down?
Can undead be blinded by a slash to the face if they have no eyes?

I'm sure all manner of things will come up, now I'm not saying this shouldn't be a mechanic but perhaps to make things simpler anyone can attack through the visor but only someone with the appropriate ability or feat can target the eyes, normally you just do HP damage and that's it.

"Go for the Eyes" makes perfect sense as a combat feat, causing blindness is a serious debuff and not something you want the average mob to be capable of but would make a great trick for the reoccurring villain, imagine if your character lost an eye and your party had to pay a necromancer to replace it so now your character has two different coloured eyes, that's awesome :D

Likewise there would be called attack feats for all manner of human and non-human body parts like "Knee in the Nuts", "Kick in the Clit" (because equality) or "Slash Wing" for when you cut the tendons of a flying creature's wing this rendering it unable to fly.
 

Blarraun

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I'm not a fan of feats and special attacks so I won't comment on that.
I'm sure all manner of things will come up
How much does the blood last? Say a standard action to wipe it, or a full action to patch your head. These are still very simple additions that don't have to get any more complex than you let them. You can always control the complexity of your game as you find desirable.
There's also the problem of how this applies to the players themselves, it may be more realistic for someone to get a broken leg but it wouldn't be fun to play and if the DM planned to have the party chased later on in the dungeon or climb something or swim or whatever that crippled character could really get in the way.
Sure, that's why you don't bore them and either only use what they like or give them interesting solutions to their new problems which makes them involved in the world and more tolerant of mechanics.

Broken leg? Now they have an excellent quest to carry their comrade out of the wilderness to the nearest healer, protecting them on their way, maybe feeding them or changing their bandage. This also introduces a feeling of gratitude and helplessness to the wounded player, builds trust and common memories in the group, or maybe causes conflicts, personal grudges or debts because others refused to lend aid for free. Maybe that character was a complete badass and has to step down their pride in this situation, that's a great opportunity for character development.
 
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