Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

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Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Fri May 25, 2012 1:56 am

Hi,

My players are asking me how the game is supposed to play out since you start off by hitting more often than not, and then you keep getting better at attacking (increased strength, better weapons, talents etc etc etc) but seemingly (almost) never gets to up your Defense.

Have I missed anything? What attack and defense values can a level 10 character expect to have? Won't he or she auto-hit him or herself (in the hypotethical but useful test scenario where you attack a copy of yourself)?

The real question, I guess, if you all feel this to be a problem or not?

Zapp

PS. Did a quick search but got so many "defense" results I gave up on finding prior discussion...
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Elfie » Fri May 25, 2012 3:05 am

You raise defense by raising Dex. You raise attack by raising Str or Dex or Mag, depending on what you're attacking with.

The difference is that you can add focuses to attack rolls, getting an average +2 attack over the target's defense. So yes, you hit more than you miss, but only by a small enough amount to make combat exciting.

That's just a base average of course. Talents and other effects can raise both attacks and defense. It all comes down to the GM making enemies that are appropriate for the PCs.

As for what can a level 10 character expect to have for attack and defense? Assuming they equally raise both and take the common route of not pushing any abilities passed 5 until everything else is where they want it... I'd say a level 10 can "expect" to have a +7 attack roll against a defense of 15, but that all depends on how the player chooses to raise their stats when leveling.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Hellebore » Fri May 25, 2012 5:26 am

While that's true for players, it's not for NPCs. They almost universally have relatively low defence scores, the majority of which (even in set 3) are 10-12. At level 10+ virtually all PCs are going to be rolling 3d6+7, +8 if they've doubled their attack focus. It makes it virtually impossible to miss.

This was something I raised in the playtest, because it makes attacks pretty ridiculous. Given also that base defence doesn't always correspond to 10+Dex for NPCs and it makes it hard to know if changing dex in a template actually changes the creature's defence as well. The same goes for con - which seems to be separate from health as that's added separetely in the template upgrades.

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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Admiral Yacob » Fri May 25, 2012 5:41 am

The one thing to add is humanoid opponents can be much higher than the monstrous defenses. For example, take my parties favorite enemy, Lord Forsard Malecot from the adventure in Set 2. His Defense is an 18 and he's able to be fought by level 6's (Mind you, he is higher than 6, but still). Many in my party have 15 or higher and they are all level 6 as well. It all matters on how Dex is and if you use either a magical enhancement or a shield.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Loswaith » Fri May 25, 2012 4:48 pm

Much of what others have said. Though just hitting isnt the whole story because you have to deal with armour too, so even if you do hit there is no guarentee you will do any significant damage.

That said for the most part Shields or the defencive boost from combat styles (more common than attack boosts) cover the focus bonus that is gained from attacks.

The successfully making hits has allot to do with the bell curve as well as the majority of rolls will end up around the average mark, rather than having the huge fluctuations a linear dice system would have. Along with that +7 to a roll is a sweet point, so to speak, because in most cases you can be successful on most of the time for target numbers of 15 or less. In most cases a charatcer thats focused on a specific role (in this case combat) can hit that point by levels 4 or 5 easily enough, while after that point each improvement doesnt offer as much benefit, so characters end up becoming more diverse as they increase levels (or so I've found).
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Sat May 26, 2012 5:37 am

Ok, thanks.

Yes, I noticed that even box set 2 monsters could have Defense 13 or some such comparatively low value. While even a weak monster could be attacking at +6 or +8 or thereabouts.

What you're telling me is that any monster (or even PC) that isn't focussing on his/her Dex will be easy to hit; only PCs that diligently strive to maximize their Dex will enjoy even a 40% miss chance from appropriate foes.

And that routinely having up towards 90%+ hit chance isn't an error in the system; it's supposed to work that way. Either you save your attack increases (Strength) for something else, and you will have difficulties against the odd hi-Dex opponent; or you diligently maximize your attack, even though it's overkill against most foes.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Disemvowel » Tue May 29, 2012 2:33 pm

Just about every rpg has this issue. Pretty unusual, especially for warrior-types, that through all of your training, you constantly fail to up your defense IQ as it were.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Woodclaw » Tue May 29, 2012 3:21 pm

I'm workig on a coupleof HR ttrying to fix this, I hope to be able to post something in the next few days.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Loswaith » Tue May 29, 2012 3:45 pm

One rule I'm considering playing with is similar to one used in rolemaster. Is that of employing parry rules, so that you can reduce your attack bonus to increase your defence by an equal number. For example a warrior can reduce their attack by 2 to gain +2 defence, though not limited to only 2 points either.

I'm not sure how well that would work but could work to give those trained in combat that added bit of difficulity.

An alternative is making defence an active roll (so a roll + bonuses as opposed to the static 10 + bonuses) or some kind of hybrid where entitites can have a defenceive roll after a hit is indicated to avoid it (in a similar manner to what Warhammer does).
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Wed May 30, 2012 5:09 am

Disemvowel wrote:Just about every rpg has this issue.
Sorry, what?

In my experience, DA is quite unusual in that you start the game and attack rolls feel almost like they could be done away with since everybody almost always hits anyway. Since even a lowly genlock sports a +5 or +6 attack bonus, you'd need a 16 Defense just to "break even" (make misses more common than hits). This is non-trivial to a beginning character and so you can understand the player who gives up on defense altogether.

Pretty unusual, especially for warrior-types, that through all of your training, you constantly fail to up your defense IQ as it were.

Not sure what you mean by this.

Most other games I've seen sports low-level monsters who can't even reliably hit the average level 1 adventurer: where are all the critters with +0 attack bonuses in DA?

More generally, it seems the DA mechanism puts too much weight on Dexterity. The difference between maxxing out Dex and letting it stay in the -1 to +1 range seems to become positively huge... Is is cause for concern?



Perhaps you were thinking about something else?
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Loswaith » Wed May 30, 2012 5:58 pm

Likely the biggest problem is just about everything has a focus for it's primary attack form, which is what is leading to the larger abundanace of attack making the 'norm' base +2 attack to 10 defence (before stats). This results in the average being 83.8% chance of a hit succeeding rather than the 62.5% that a base 0 attack would have.

Alternative solutions could be to have the base defence at 12, bringing the general 'norm' up to the 62.5% mark, or adding in focuses for defence (you could go a single one, though I'd likely break it into two; melee and ranged).

A third alternative is to strip away most of the attack focuses on creatures, and only use them on the variants that would be 'trained' or better skilled than their base stats would indicate.

I suspect that the intent behind AGE is that most things are competent when they start out and increase in power alot less over the course of development than for other systems.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:07 am

Loswaith wrote:I suspect that the intent behind AGE is that most things are competent when they start out and increase in power alot less over the course of development than for other systems.

The first part I agree to (I both share in your "suspicion" and agree to the intent), but the second part I don't understand: the game has levels; I don't see how this game could have smaller increase in power than common fantasy games (take RuneQuest as a single example). Sure you still get hit quite often (unless you max out Dexterity) but you have scores of hit points.

The big design issues, as I see them, is
1) how attack and defense values doesn't keep pace
2) how defense values are so tightly tied to Dexterity that you either maximise that Stat, or you get a hopeless Defense value (even vs entry-level monsters).

Combined with the propensity for high Armor Ratings to drag combat down to a crawl, something needs to be tweaked.

The ultimate issue is that combat rolls doesn't seem to fall with in the sweet range (of, say, 40% ~ 70% hit chance) very often: either you almost automatically hit, or you almost automatically miss.

In a level-based game (where the range of values; from starting to min-maxxed; is comparatively great), as a game designer you do need to design in checks and balances to ensure the values keep in step of each other. I see no such design here.

Especially as the game uses 3d6 rolls: this means that the 40% to 70% range is represented by far fewer target values than for, say, d20 games: instead of this range covering seven values (8-14, inclusive) you only get three values at worst (rolling 9-11 or 10-12 accounts for 36.6% of all rolls). This means a 3d6 game needs to be even more well-oiled, balanced, and well-tested than a d20 one, since even a single +1 or -1 modifier could much more easily push us out of our desired "sweet range" (and into boring hit-fests and miss-fests).

Is there something I have missed, or is the game simply wide open in this regard?

To be clear: it would seem a game such as this would need to clamp down attack and defense values to dole them out in strictly controlled doses, to lessen or avoid cases where a character either lacks the 3 or 4 points needed to display a competitive defense, or where the character doubles down on the same bonuses, since even lying 3 or 4 points "ahead of the curve" will mean nearly automatic (> 80%) hits (if attack) or misses (if defense).
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:13 am

I believe I will try out one or two of the following houserule suggestions:

1) Accept Cunning as an alternate Defense-building ability score
2) Add defense focuses akin to what's been suggested above
3) Improve Weapon Style Talents (spells etc) to allow for a larger Defense increase

But the main problem persists: a large discrepance between low-Defense and hi-Defense characters. I don't think this issue will be fully resolved until the 1:1 ratio between Dexterity and Defense is broken up.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby MacGrein » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:08 am

Good Topic!
My contribution:

Defense: 10 + DEX (focus) + Shield Bonus (if any)

The Focus can be:
Shields: +2 Defense when using Shields
Avoid: +2 Defense when not using Shields
Parry: +2 Defense when using a secondary weapon (like daggers)

I'm thinking about a "Block" focus, for Two-Handed Weapons...

BTW: Those are DEX Focuses, since DEX is the attribute of Defense
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Loswaith » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:34 pm

I went with scale up more slowly is in general a starting charater has about 50% of their "power" when they start (presuming a character isnt looking to go past the +7/+8 mark), while health increases only about 10%-15% (of what they start with) more each level.

Where as if we take D&D (3.x or prior, I cant say for 4th ed) for example each level increases character "power" about the same as you begin the game with (or closer to the 80%+ mark, depending on starting stats).

While both systems have 20 levels the 'power' increase curve of Dragon Age is allot flatter and has a higher start point but a much lower peak point than that of D&D.

I'm not familur with Runequest so the power creep may be alot more like Dragon Age than D&D too.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Woodclaw » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:48 pm

Personally I was working on premises similar to Zapp's trying to find a way to fix the defense problems (aside from rebuilding some of the monsters).
On eof the best options I found is allowing Focuses as Defense Bonuses. In a way it makes sense, a focus represent a higher degree of skill with a given group of weapons so one might be able to use it better to parry instead of attacking, with ranged weapons this represent a better understanding of trajectories and cover use.

A character can reduce the focus bonus by one or more points and add the same number of points to his defense as long as he's fighting with that particular weapon. Dual weapon fighters can't apply this effect twice.

The ruling is a bit rough, but this was the best I could conceive in the last few days.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Koeran » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:42 am

I actually like the bias towards hitting. As a player it means I get to feel successful because my character hits more often. I also get to enjoy the drama as a see my characters health drop and feel the jeopardy of the situation.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:53 pm

Image
(To Koeran: I don't mind hitting, and I don't mind hitting often. I do mind making "I hit" a foregone conclusion)
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Tiger's Heart » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:47 pm

A hit doesn't always equal damage. Our group (level 7) took on a Revenant (from Esoterica Volume 3: Bestiary) and although they hit it quite a bit with a defence of 14 (as i forgot it had a shield) its armour of 11 meant it did not take much damage, if any. They did have flaming weapons which helped, but the fight was quite dramatic, especially with the use of Mass Pull and the Weakness aura.
it is also possible to have a PC almost impossible to hit - Hellebore has an Arcane Warrior with a shield who has a def of 16+ which makes for an annoying target from a Gm perspective.
I am discovering a few combinations of factors - spells, webs, poison etc which can effectively turn things around; either allowing hits on the otherwise unhittable, or stopping the beserk warrior from mincing up my npc enemies.
Numbers and remembering that NPCs can have healers too can make a huge difference in battle. :D

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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Deirain » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:32 pm

Loswaith wrote:An alternative is making defence an active roll (so a roll + bonuses as opposed to the static 10 + bonuses) or some kind of hybrid where entitites can have a defenceive roll after a hit is indicated to avoid it (in a similar manner to what Warhammer does).


+1, Loswaith. I remembered this rule as a variant from the 3.5 days of D&D and instituted it in my game. My players enjoy it quite a bit since they get to roll much more often and it helps with the cinematic qualities when they describe how they're trying to deflect or avoid an attack. It also helps with my characters paying more attention to their Defense values, knowing that at any given point, they could roll three ones and take a walloping to the face.

One of the things I've noticed concerning monsters that have low Defense is that they tend to have a pretty hefty armor rating. This isn't always the case, but it happens often enough for me to think it's intentional. The opposite is also true, it seems. Monsters with low armor ratings seem to have higher Defense scores and are missed more often. Warriors and Rogues should be built the same way, in my opinion. Warriors should clank around in fullplate and trust that their armor will see them through the fight, while Rogues should be spending much more time avoiding the hits that will cripple them.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:04 am

Hellebore wrote:Given also that base defence doesn't always correspond to 10+Dex for NPCs and it makes it hard to know if changing dex in a template actually changes the creature's defence as well. The same goes for con - which seems to be separate from health as that's added separately in the template upgrades.

Isn't it reasonable - not to mention most practical - to assume that any deviations are accidental instead of intentional? (In short, that they are wrong)

I see no particular value from ever deviating from the 10 + Dex "formula". In particular since it would be easy to just up the Dex of the monster... or even give it some half-phony Talent level explaining why it has a non-standard Defense value...

Thoughts?
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby RenoGM » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:59 pm

Just my 2 cents: if you make hitting the target less likely (or less frequent) you are going to reduce the number of Stunts that happen in combat; the coolest part of the system in my opinion. My group looks at the attack roll more as the roll to determine if a Stunt happens or not, then simply whether or not they hit; they know that they will usually "hit" a target. The most effective attacks are ones that result in Stunt points.

I think most games make the "hit roll" the element of the attack that may or may not result in success. In DA the hit happens more often then not so it is really the damage roll that becomes the gauge of how effective the attack was.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby ProfWizard » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:11 pm

I've found with my group that having most attacks hit makes for a more enjoyable session. Many times when playing D&D the players come across a string of bad rolls and the session grinds to a halt and player morale drops through the floor. The stunt system keeps things excited and random, but I find there's less frustration at the table when you have higher player accuracy.
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Loswaith » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:57 pm

If hitting allot is a concern you could always go a similar path to warhammer and introduce parrying. Basically if an attack will hit make a 'parry' (weapon based stat(parry) test) against a target number equal to the attack roll and if successful the attack is deflected.

Ways you can allow it are as a minor action, carrying a shield, and/or add it to some of the Weapon Styles. Though a limit of once per round is definatly advised.

Shields you could potentially have the base stat as dexterity for a light shield and strength (or even constitution) for the heavier ones rather than the weapon based stat
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Re: Low Defense / Attack Rolls made redundant?

Postby Zapp » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:24 am

RenoGM wrote:My group looks at the attack roll more as the roll to determine if a Stunt happens or not, then simply whether or not they hit; they know that they will usually "hit" a target.

In other words, you agree the check to see if you hit is nearly redundant, no...? :wink:

That said, if you consider Health to be more like "energy", and that a non-stunt hit to mean a "near-miss" (which depletes your energy but does not cripple you in any meaningful way), then the system makes much more sense.

Of course, then you'd need a critical hit system (like the one I added myself), but still.

Bottom line: Dragon Age reads beautifully, but my actual play experience isn't all that rosy. In fact, the system acts and looks wonky and weird in ways I couldn't predict by simply reading through the rules, since I naturally assumed the game would follow the same basic rules as most other games. Playing has revealed this to not always be the case, which is the reason for me starting this somewhat incredulous thread.
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