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What do you like to see in dice combat, and what do you hate?

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Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016

I'm still working to find a combat system that would work for my game, and dice do seem prefered for it.

It's mostly against the board, will allow players to team up which will likely be a must against some enemies too strong to beat alone or when outnumbered.

I like to keep the combat short so it won't keep other players waiting too long if they arent involved in it, but it should be a little more than a single skill check.

So what I am curious about is, would you prefer a system with many dice, or one that tries to keep the amount of dice limited?

Currently I'm thinking about using the D20 in the following way:

-Numbers 1 to 9 does no damage.
-Number 10 does 1 damage, 11 does 2 damage, up to 20 doing 11 damage.
-Defense reduces damage points. Defense of 3 subtracts 3 damage.
-Evasion increases the needed value to hit. 2 evasion means 12 is needed to do damage.
-Encumbrance reduces the needed value to hit. 1 encumbrance means 9 does 1 damage.

Typically the encumbered enemies would have armor. Harder to hit enemies would have little or no armor. Only some bosses might be an exeption to the rule.

Weapons and special abilities will have a little effect on it too.
A weapon is the choice you make of what to use for the battle if you have it with you, and the special abilities cost you stamina points.

A bow could not allow enemies a retaliation attack if you kill them with your first attack for example, but could make you a bit easier to hit to balance it out.
A sword on the other hand could add a point to defense due to its parrying potential.
And an axe could ignore a point of armor.

A special ability like for example, a wide swing could deal half damage to all enemies present, by default only one enemy is hit.
It would cost some stamina however.
Another special ability like an ice storm or such by the wizard could deal full damage to everyone present, but could drain all stamina.
Follow up strike could allow for a free second attack.
Brace yourself! Could increase defense for the next incomeing attack.
Devastating blow could add a set number of damage to the attack.
And there could also be abilities that allow for a guaranteed hit.

But all would cost a balanced amount of stamina, the stronger the ability, the more stamina it costs.

So for now I am mainly considering wether to stick with one dice or switching to multible dice.. or switching to a dice with more numbers.

I have a good idea of what I want to do, and now the tricky part is finding the RIGHT dice for that.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
Again, the system you're

Again, the system you're describing would probably fit in a D&D clone, or a Wargame.

Boardgame combat is usually simple and quick, because time is an essential attribute of your game and you can't waste it on combat calculation and rules cross-checking, as opposed to decision making and other cool stuff.

Try to avoid calculations as much as possible.
Here's how you can have a system very similar to what you've described, but with less calculations:

1. Roll below the target number, not above.
2. Amount rolled = damage.
3. Defense ignores rolls with values <= to the defense value.
4. Dodge decreases the target number.

So if your target number is 10 and you are attacking the target with defense of 3, if you roll a 2, you do no damage. If you roll a 4, you do 4 points of damage.

That being said, it's still unnecessarily convoluted for a boardgame.

I would suggest to think about the core of your game, and not bother with the intricacies of dice rolling yet.

You can return to it when you have the core of the game sorted. When you'll have a better idea of how it plays and how long it takes.

Until then, a system of "Roll a D6, on a 4+ you kill your enemy" would work just fine.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
I've already worked out most

I've already worked out most of the other things, I need to get the combat system sorted out at this point so that I can continue with working out the equipment and enemies.

Going the other way around with the dice could indeed make it a bit simpler, but might seem counter intuitive when rolling a 20 is actually bad.

Perhaps a multible dice system could work.. but I am not quite sure how to put those elements into it.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
Have you playtested it yet?

Have you playtested it yet?

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
I need to decide on the

I need to decide on the combat system first before I can test it.

So I figured to ask here first from thoughts of those more familiar with board games and/or designing board games.

Next few days will (finally) be quiet for me, allowing me to use the dinner table for keeping a boardgame up for more than a few hours so I will likely use that time to play the board games I have that are somewhat similar to my idea, and possibly use some of the components to test my own mechanics.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Mathematical speaking. I

Mathematical speaking. I could talk to you about this until je een ons weegt.

But I try to be short here.

If you are using 1 die. The possibilities are unlimited. But also unneeded to have a good good-game.
Keep it simple.

Instead of deciding what to roll for a hit.
How about, you first roll the die?

What happened?
You got a number.
Did you want to know what this number should have been? Or do you rather want to find out what this number will be?

If you use a D20 and you decide what each roll could mean. Than you are kinda "calculating" 20 possibilities.
If you roll first, then calculate. You have 1 outcome and can continue.

I hope that made some sense.

Now, the number that you get. You can do 2 things with it.
and subtract.

Don't add, then add some more, and add even more, then subtract, subtract some more, and subtract even more.

Instead, only add and/or subtract, only once.

You can leave the addition to the attacking player in a pretence of basic damage.
And you can leave the subtraction to the defending player in a pretence of basic armor.

If you want more additions or subtraction. I think you need a pretty good dm reason for that.
A mechanical RPS is a reason for that.
But mechanical RPS are a decision for the designer. Some hate it, others like it.
As basic example: If weapon X goes against target armor Y, then add or subtract that much damage.


If you seek a natural RPS instead. Which everyone loves. Then you might want to go for multiple dice per weapon instead.

3D4, 2D6 and 1D12 can provide a lot of difference in a game. Yet keeping the illusion of being the same in maximum damage.

Not only can you add and subtract.
You can do this to only 1 die, or all dice.
And let's not forget, if you allow the attacker or defender to decide which die is altered, or you don't allow them to decide at all, you have plenty of differences in alterations.

There are plenty of possibilities here. And while I agree with Elkobold to play test first. I understand that you are searching a beginning in combat design, before you continue working on the other rules. Sometimes you hop from one part of the game to another to simply see if it could go together.
I remember that I designed an entire game around the combat mechanic after getting the combat done first.
Later on, I needed to go back to adjust little things. So keep track of what you do. And test each time, each part, when you change things.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
Willem Verheij wrote:I need

Willem Verheij wrote:
I need to decide on the combat system first before I can test it.

Not really. Unless your game IS the combat system.
It's a good idea to start play-testing extremely early, unless you want to risk wasting tons of time on polishing a prototype that doesn't work.

This is why I've suggested to temporarily use a simple role of d6. To make sure that the core of your game is working as you wanted/expected.

You don't need the whole game to be ready, before testing.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
Good point, it would become

Good point, it would become too much adding and substracting..

Different dice for each weapon might also be a good idea.

Alternatively I'm thinking that maybe a combination of two D6 could also be a possibility.

Of such a D6 the results could be:
-miss. (blank side)
-Hit limps. (shows a weapon hitting an arm or leg)
-Hit torso. (shows a weapon hitting chest)
-Hit head. (shows a weapon hitting the head.)
-Hit enemy. (shows a weapon only)
-Unique special. (Uses unique ability for weapon.)

And then a D6 for amount of damage could be rolled which could always be the same dice regardless of the used weapon.

Generally speaking, all hits would mean the same thing unless the enemy card says otherwise. An enemy with no limps would mean that hitting the limps counts as a miss. Other dodgy enemies could allow hits to another part to count as a miss. Hit enemy would always count.

This could also allow for defense to be more specific. On the enemy card it could display a chestplate, shield, helmet or multible of these little symbols to show they have armor for that part, and a number to indicate the defense value could be displayed on the symbol.

For player items it could show the same symbols somewhere on it, wether its a card or token. I'm leaning towards tokens since that would work easier for the inventory system that I like to have on the character card.

Maybe the damage dice could display:
-2 times light attack. (deals 1 damage)
-3 times medium attack. (deals 2 damage)
-1 time heavy attack. (deals 3 damage)

Would still allow to be combined with unique weapon characteristics, typically heavy weapons could deal extra damage on heavy attacks and light weapons could do a smaller amount of extra damage on light attacks.

I'd keep the amount of hitpoints quite low with this system, stalwart enemies could have three hitpoints and no armor. Hero hitpoints could range from 5-7 depending on class.

Joined: 06/30/2016
What I Prefer...

"So what I am curious about is, would you prefer a system with many dice, or one that tries to keep the amount of dice limited?"

Getting to the above question...

I find rolling "to hit" to be tiresome and would prefer to spend time and effort rolling for just the damage inflicted. I've played RPGs where I (and the DM) would roll over and over without any "hits" (just misses).

Why not skip the "to hit" misses, just roll the "hits", and let the amount of damage have a possibility of being minor. At least, in this way, **one can feel progress is being made in defeating the foe**.

Such a procedure would let any damage modifiers decrease or increase the number of rolls required to resolve the combat (produce a "kill").

Experimental Designs
Experimental Designs's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013
Olson185 wrote:"So what I am

Olson185 wrote:
"So what I am curious about is, would you prefer a system with many dice, or one that tries to keep the amount of dice limited?"

Getting to the above question...

I find rolling "to hit" to be tiresome and would prefer to spend time and effort rolling for just the damage inflicted. I've played RPGs where I (and the DM) would roll over and over without any "hits" (just misses).

Why not skip the "to hit" misses, just roll the "hits", and let the amount of damage have a possibility of being minor. At least, in this way, **one can feel progress is being made in defeating the foe**.

Such a procedure would let any damage modifiers decrease or increase the number of rolls required to resolve the combat (produce a "kill").

This is why I went with an effect threshold roll to eliminate the need to hit roll. If you roll too low you had no effect which can mean a miss or you hit somewhere that wasn't vital or maybe the armor was too thick there, whatever justifies it, let your imagination do the work. Alternatively if you roll high enough or get a critical threshold it can be an outright kill (like hitting an ammo bin) or you inflicted enough damage it renders the target combat ineffective to be much of use except as cover or in the case of infantry a meat shield.

Joined: 01/06/2009
Hitting yourself

I've been tinkering with a WIP solo dungeon crawl type dice game on and off.

The way I've approached hits vs misses is on the one character die.

IN a party of 4 characters, all using a D6 as their unique dice, some faces have varied strength hits/attacks or other special abilities, but on some die faces are ENEMY STRIKE.

The idea behind this to resolves combat with a single die, rather than one roll for the hero followed by an alternate roll by the enemy.

So a mighty Barbarian may have on his/her die;

3 x Hits with varying value/strength
1 x Critical Hit

Depending on what enemy he/she is facing, along with whatever modifiers (armour / skills) may be added...the two ENEMY STRIKES count as a miss and counter attack.

The Warlock may have on his/her die:

3 x spells
1 x special skill

etc etc. It really hasn't advanced too far along but it helps keep the combat resolution quick and easy!

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
good points

Good point about eliminating the misses from combat and focusing more on hits.

Having the enemy strikes on the same dice might be a good thing too, to move it along faster.

As it is I am considering to keep combat ability tied to the weapons instead of the character. So I could see how this could actually work for my game, giving each weapon its own dice.

But then it is still important to find the balance. I want all weapons to be equally usefull in general, but have their own advantages.

Each hero won't have all weapons available to them, they all get a selection. Special abilities and such would differ however, but otherwise the use of the weapon could be the same.

Maybe it would be a good idea to give each hero a single special ability for each weapon they have? That might keep it simple.

The palladin for example could have:
-A mace.
-A crossbow.
-a sword.

The mace could do a great amount of extra damage to undead when the special ability is rolled.

The Crossbow could instantly kill dragons when rolling the special ability.

The sword could recover some of your health when you roll the special ability.

But for the assasin, that same crossbow would have a different special ability. It could be a crippling shot for example, that deals regular damage but allows you to escape the battle if you wish it.

And wether the Palladin or the Assasin uses the crossbow, one of its sides could be an attack that deals regular damage but ignores armor.

While another weapon could have a more powerfull attack in its stead that does not ignore armor.

We might be on to something here yes.

I'm also planning for the possibility to become unarmed, which means you cant fight. When you lose a fight to a thief for example, they take your stuff which you can then buy back at the pawnshop. You'd respawn at your starting space however, where your other gear is kept so you could rearm yourself the next turn. Unless all your weapons where stolen, then you'd need gold to get them back.
You could make gold without fighting if need be, so its not game over when all are lost.

I do plan to give each character one skill that allows them to do something against combatants if they do encounter them while unarmed however. A chance to escape, persuade them, hide, knock the enemy out and stuff like that.
For some enemy types succes would be automatic, for some succes would be impossible, and in the rest a skill roll would need to be made.

You can't exactly knock a giant out after all, persuasion could need a skill roll and hiding could be automatic succes.

And this non-combat alternative would also be available when armed of course! so you can avoid combat if you wish. Only when armed you'd fight on faillure of this skill, while unarmed you would instantly lose the fight when failing the skill.

This should help flesh out the different heroes more I think, make them more their own person with their own strategy.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
available weapons.

Alright, I'm now trying to decide on the list of weapons.. each weapon means a unique dice so I wouldn't want to overdo it.

For now I consider the following:
-Crossbow. (has a side that ignores armor.)
-Maul. (has a side that deals great damage.)
-Greatsword. (has a side that deals damage to two enemies)

Still working on the special trait for each, which should always be something generally and equally usefull while the class specific special will always be something thats not usefull against all enemies.

Also still in doubt about possibly replacing the spear with a mace. But a spear might be easier to come up with a unique trait for since its the only polearm. Or I might replace it with a halberd.

The wizard will get the staff multible times, each with a different unique ability. It's likely that some others will get one of their weapons twice as well if its strongly associated with them.

Number of weapons they get will probably not be equal, having increased variety can actually be the strenght of some classes. If they have less weapons, they will have more other items to balance it out.

Experimental Designs
Experimental Designs's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013
My thought process on this is

My thought process on this is a weapon is only good as the hand that wields it, but this works better for you if you're using unique dice and special abilities per weapon.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
Other stuff does make

Other stuff does make characters different, like how they all get a special ability with each of their weapons.
But also having different items available aside weapons that can help them.

All nine of them are also talented, the king calls on them to save his kingdom after all. They will only get the weapons that suit them.
Some will get more than others, but that is going to be a matter of balance with their other skills and abilities.

I'll be pretty liberal with the weapons though, wether its a rapier, scimitar, longsword or short sword, it would all use the sword dice.
The alchemist will likely get a firearm of sorts that would use the crossbow dice.

Still working on the background of these heroes too since thats also something that can tie into abilities.
An alchemist can be feeble old greybeard, but I have in mind some sort of hispanic or italian guy of around fifty who is also good with a rapier.

My plan is to have the items that each hero has listed on their sheet including what it does, and presented as a token that displays the hero's color. On the sheet under the hero's stats there would be his inventory slots, and the tokens can be put there to display whats in the inventory.

The remaining items would be either put on another designated pile on the sheet, or on the hero's starting location on the board if there is room for that since that's where they can be exchanged gameplay wise.

The knight's color is red, so his swords, shields, and other item tokens could have a red circle outline around them.
This should also help when items are lost through gameplay and end up in the pawnshop.

I'm considering giving some hero's multible variations of one weapon type. The wizard clearly should get multible staves. All with a different token and special ability.
Like a staff of fire, staff of lightning and staff of ice, which could all give advantages to different types of enemies.

But I dont want to go into immunities and such though, that gets too complicated. Weapons always do their regular damage, and the special ability of the hero will deal bonus damage to some enemy types.

I'm still thinking about what rolling the special ability should do when NOT facing the enemy type its strong against though.
It could count as an enemy hit, as a miss. Or it would deal less damage than what it would do with that bonus damage, but that might get more complicated so I am leaning in favor towards this counting as a miss.

Since it should be the same for all special abilities after all, wether its smiting with holy damage, poison damage or fire damage.
None of which might work against a stone golem.

This single miss chance could also encourage use of special abilities that cost stamina or carrying a back up weapon to lower chances of having to use a weapon with a miss chance. It would be just 1 miss chance, 3 hit chances and 2 enemy attack chances instead of 4 hit chances and 2 enemy attack chances.

Experimental Designs
Experimental Designs's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013
I hope this won't derail the

I hope this won't derail the subject matter too far but I was thinking since you have special dice for each weapon why not have it color coded for the hero, monster and minion classes? I mean if you’re having a dice for each weapon then you got a rendition of dice masters. But I digress.

I like the idea of the knight having a preference to weapons and armor marked with red symbols and the like. I was thinking why not let color be an indicator of attack and defense quality for not only weapons but the characters too?

For example the color represents a sided dice from lowest to greatest. Yellow dice are D4s, Green dice are D6s, Blue dice are D8s, Red dice are D10s and Purple dice are D20s.

Since you're focused on the amount of stats between heroes, minions and monsters why not have 3 stats for everyone with heroes having a special 4th stat for customization purposes. Every hero has their own stat in the amount of dice rolled versus an opposing stat and the amount they roll higher than the opposing roll determines the damage factor. So if the Knight normally has an attack of 3 and his strength is red meaning he rolls D10s for an attack, if he is also equipped with a broadsword and its stat requirement is strength and adds +1 to the attack meaning you roll 4 D10s. The opposing stat is a minion which its stats across the board use yellow D4s. So a small chance that a minion’s defense will ever roll equal to or higher than the knight’s attack. Even if a minion’s defense is 5, it still has a slim chance to fully deflect a knight’s attack. Knights ought to have tanky hit points versus a minion’s diminutive hit points so in the event if the minions do get lucky they won’t get too lucky. I leave that to you. Plus if you really want to get fancy there can be special rolls for dodging, toughness, magic resistance, critical effects and etc. The basic principle here is having successes versus failures. I figured going this route would be easier by reducing or increasing the dice count or dice quality.

Just thinking out loud.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
The color is not a

The color is not a preference, but it indicates what they start the game with, all heroes come prepared when summoned by the king.
To eliminate that grinding for gear part that similar games often have. :)

I am not sure yet if I will allow other players to use gear of other heroes by buying it in the pawnshop. I think not since that might be ripe for abuse.

I'm linking a color to each hero so that its easy to find their gear and servants when setting the game up.
Red - Knight.
Blue - Wizard.
Yellow - Adventurer.
Green - Elf druid.
Slate blue - Dwarf.
Brown - Spy.
Black - Assasin.
Purple - Alchemist.
White - Palladin.

There will be a select few powerfull items that the heroes can obtain, like legendary treasures of sorts that are a real game changer. I'm stil deciding on how they can get them but it wont be easy.
Some will have a drawback too. Like an evil sword.
I'd really want to tie these treasures into the lore and keep it special.

I'll try to not make it too complicated with the dice, so am trying to eliminate the adding and substracting of damage.

But I will put on the enemy cards what their attack does and how it differs.
Currently I plan on each dice having 2 sides that cause an enemy attack, but I could make this different symbols that could for most enemies do both the same damage while for stronger ones one of those attacks could have a special effect or deal different amounts of damage.

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