F Is for Fiddling with the Rules

In a couple of previous posts, I talk about giving players narrative control and using defense checks. Since those posts, I’ve acquired and read Dungeon World. It’s a nifty game, and I’m hankering to glom some of it for use in my upcoming Stars Without Number campaign. At the same time, Dungeon World has made me rethink the ideas I’ve had in those aforelinked posts.

How Dungeon World Does Combat

Whenever a character attempts anything in Dungeon World, the player rolls 2d6 and adds whatever ability score modifier applies. The basic outcomes are always these: 10+, you succeed; 7-9, you succeed, “but with complications or trouble”; and 6 or less, the “GM says what happens and you mark XP”.

The most common actions a character are likely to attempt are laid out in basic moves. For example, there is a basic move for melee combat called Hack and Slash. Here’s the text:

“When you attack an enemy in melee, roll+STR *One a 10+, you deal your damage to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d6 damage but expose yourself to the enemy’s attack. *On a 7-9, you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you.”

Notice, please, that this combines the character’s attack roll, defense roll, and the enemy’s attack roll all in one.

Let the Glomming Begin!

Like Dungeon World, in Stars Without Number attack rolls have a uniform target number for success, namely any modified attack roll that equals or exceeds 20 is a hit. It’s not hard to adapt the former to the latter.

Ignoring ability score modifiers, a Hack and Slash move in Dungeon World has a 16.65% chance of being an outright success (the 10+ result) and a 41.65% chance of being a qualified success (the 7-9 result). The latter range is what I’m concerned with. Let’s round it down to 40% since that’ll fit a d20 better.

What we end with is this for Stars Without Number: A modified melee attack roll of 20+ is a hit, and the character deals damage. A modified melee attack roll in the 13-19 range is also a hit, but the enemy also makes a successful attack against that character.

So far, I’m liking this idea a lot, but it does require some further tweaking. It doesn’t take into account a monster’s attack bonus, but I’m not convinced that’s a problem. It doesn’t take into account the character’s Armor Class, and this is a problem. Dungeon World doesn’t have Armor Class; instead, armor soaks damage. This system also doesn’t account for multiple monster attacks, such as a xenobeast with a claw/claw/bite attack routine. I’m sure these issues can be compensated for with a few simple tweaks.

The same idea of full success on a 20+ and limited success on a 13-19 can be applied to any d20 roll, such as saving throws. Stars Without Number uses 2d6 plus ability score modifier for skill checks, which matches Dungeon World‘s dice conventions perfectly.

But, But!

Lastly, I know what some of you might be thinking: Why don’t I just play Dungeon World? Well, the basic answer is, “Just because.” I’m an admitted inveterate rules-tinkerer. I have been as long as I can remember. It’s worked for the past 30 or so years, and I don’t see why I should stop now.

April 7th, 2013  in Product Development, RPG 2 Comments »

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