Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Combat bonuses, forced marches, poison, psychic combat, thieves, and some typos

Jerry Stratton, August 13, 2004

I recently read through your G&M adventure guide. I’m really impressed. I was looking for a re-imagined version of AD&D and this is it. I have some questions about the rules if you don’t mind.

Rule questions

  • As I read it, in battle, a warrior cannot convert more than twice their level in combat bonuses which includes their personal attack bonuses and any bonuses (attack or damage or whatever) they receive from their situation, right? They can still receive more than twice their level in bonuses, they just can’t convert the leftovers, correct?
  • If I try to "force march" and I fail the check the text says that I am reduced to 1/2 movement until I rest (pg. 62). I don’t get this; what speed can you move at (explore, walk, jog, run, sprint, etc.)?
  • If you inject or imbibe an ailment, does the -4 penalty replace the penalty from the poison’s strength?
  • In the combat example with the yeti he sometimes takes both claw attacks at the same time and other times splits them up. Where are the rules for multiple actions? I didn’t read anywhere how to handle this.
  • Let me get this straight; in psychic combat you get 2 defenses per round but only 1 attack or escape attempt, correct?
  • On page 75 the rules for psychic combat say that movement is reduced to 1/4 and then says you move at 1/2 while in psychic combat. Which is correct?
  • On page 69 the text for immobilized opponents talks about maximum damage being 1 and 1 & 2. What does that mean?
  • Where are the rules for armor for different sized creatures? I mean, you have them for weapons.

Software question

  • I tried to download the rtf files to do some modding of my own. They’re in WinRAR format right? I don’t have access to that. Is there anyway I can get the unzipped rtf files or them zipped in another format.

Philosophy question

  • Why don’t thief skills like disguise, move silently, etc. use opposed rolls normally and instead have the target characters make checks with a penalty equal to half what the thief made it by? Why not just have it whoever succeeds by most or fails by least wins?

Typos

  • Your poison example on page 63 seems to be based on old rules with your sample character wanting to roll high instead of low.
  • In the mass combat examples the characters seem to be trying for high initiative rolls with highest going first. Shouldn’t that be changed?
  • In the mass combat section you talk about the modal number being the middle number. I think you mean median number since the mode in a data set is the most frequently occurring score, not the middle one.

Jerry, thanks for creating such a promising game. When 3E hit the market I experienced a mix of emotions. While it boasted a streamlined and tight system, it also became way too complex in all the wrong areas (AoO, miniature use, etc.). It also didn’t feel like D&D at all. It seemed too high powered. G&M is a better representation of the spirit of D&D than 3E in my opinion.

Thanks,

Nick

That’s a lot of questions, and not a few of them typos on my part. I apologize for that. I hope you don’t mind that I re-organized your questions by topic. I’m going to answer the rules questions and software questions first, then the philosophy, and then the typos last

Rules

Can a warrior make use of more attack bonuses than they can convert to combat bonuses?

Yes. In fact, it makes little sense to convert attack bonuses to combat bonuses and then back to attack bonuses, because this wastes combat bonus conversions.

So if I am playing a third level warrior, I can convert a maximum of six attack bonuses to combat bonuses. If I have managed somehow to have +8 to attack, I could convert only six of those attack bonuses to combat bonuses. Two of them would be left over as attack bonuses.

I don’t have to convert any of them if I don’t want to, though. I could leave them all on attack bonuses and get +8 to attack. This would save the option of combat bonus conversion for use with any additional attack bonuses that come up unexpectedly during the round--such as someone trying to run past me.

What movement is halved when a character moves too long without resting?

The movement score itself. A character who is at “half movement” could decide to continue walking, jogging, or even running, but they will do so as if their movement score were half what it normally is. A character with a ten movement score would move as if their movement score were five. And this is cumulative: if the character fails their next roll, their effective movement score will be two, and so on.

Does the -4 penalty for deliberately taking poison replace the poison’s strength?

No, it basically increases the poison’s strength. A poison’s strength is a combination of both the ease with which it enters the system and its deadliness once it has entered the system. In the original, more complicated poison rules, I separated those two out, so that a poison had both a strength (how deadly it was) and a virulence (how easily it entered the system). While possibly more realistic, it was also too complex, and I combined those two numbers for the current system.

So if a character deliberately ingests a poison of strength 3, their saving roll is at a penalty of 7.

Why do the Yeti’s attacks sometimes go simultaneously and sometimes not?

When a character or creature has more than one attack, the first attack occurs on their initiative roll, and succeeding attacks each occur five higher on the initiative roll. This is explained in “Number of Attacks” under “Hitting”.

So in round one of the example, the Guide rolled a 7 for the Yeti. Since the Yeti has two attacks, those two attacks will go on 7 and 7+5, or 12. In the first round, though, nobody else has an initiative roll between seven and twelve, so the Yeti’s attacks basically go at the same time. Initiative rolls don’t translate directly into time, except insofar as lower rolls happen before higher rolls.

In round two of the example, however, the Yeti’s attacks are going on 8 and 13, but Charlotte has an initiative roll of 10. So in this case, the one of the Yeti’s attacks goes before Charlotte’s attack, and the other goes after Charlotte’s attack.

In psychic combat, how many attacks and defenses do you get?

Ignoring the first round, in which engaging took up one action, you get two actions. Either of those actions may be an attack or a defense. So you may choose to attack twice, or to defend twice, or to do each once.

There is a benefit to defending both times: the defense only costs as if you did it once.

What you can only do once per round are use a psychic power, or attempt to escape psychic combat. A psychic power is a power such as telekinesis or dimensional shift. Those can normally only be used once per round, and entering psychic combat does not change this. If you use a power or attempt to escape, that is your only action for that round.

Is movement reduced to a quarter or to half when in psychic combat?

Both are correct. Normally, a character can physically move as if their movement were one quarter its normal value while in psychic combat. If they choose to divert some of their attention from psychic combat and back to the real world then they can move at half their normal movement. If they do this, however, they will have a penalty of three to their psychic defense and to their psychic attack.

Why is the maximum damage against immobilized opponents one or two?

Okay, that was an example of poor writing on my part. When I wrote that “damage rolls of 1 become the maximum” what I meant was that if a one is rolled, instead use the maximum number on the die. So if your character is attacking an immobilized opponent with a weapon that does d6, a roll of 1 becomes a damage roll of 6. If the opponent is unconscious, a roll of 1 or 2 becomes a 6.

In other words, if you are attacking an immobile opponent, a die roll of one is replaced with whatever the maximum die roll is. When attacking an unconscious opponent, a die roll of one or two is replaced with whatever the maximum die roll is.

What about armor for different-sized creatures?

Armor for different-sized creatures is likely to have the same effect (the same defense bonus) as armor for medium-sized creatures. The only changes will be of bulk and (in other-sized cultures) cost.

I’m still thinking about it, but for the moment you can use the bulk and cost rules for weapons to determine the bulk and cost of non-medium armor or other equipment.

How to decompress gzip files

The “.gz” suffix is for files compressed with gzip. Decompressers for gzip are available for free for most, if not all, platforms that can use RTF files. Because gzip is open source, many decompression tools support the format. Mac OS X comes with both a GUI gzip decompresser (Stuffit Expander) and a command-line gzip decompresser (gunzip). Linux should always come with gunzip, and I expect most Unices also come with it; if not, it can be downloaded and compiled. For Windows, Win-RAR is one software package that supports gzip, and this may be what your system is set to default .gz to. But you don’t need to use Win-RAR. You can download gzip itself to decompress gzip files, or you can use freeware that supports the gzip format, such as 7-Zip. Look on Open Directory’s Windows Freeware Data Compression listing for free compression utilities that support gzip.

Philosophy

Why not use opposed rolls for thief skills?

Opposed rolls are generally used when all opponents are competing at the same thing over a period of time. For example, in a chess match, both sides are competing at chess, and in a game of football both sides are competing football. Their relative skill at the same game is what will affect their success, and, as important, both parties know that they are in competition.

Opposed rolls are generally much less predictable than a success roll followed by a saving roll. For thief skills, I prefer the simpler, more predictable success roll. When a thief performs a thief skill, the question is, first, were they successful--which is generally dependent on the thief and not on their opponent--and then whether their opponent defends against their success.

So, for disguise, the thief’s success roll determines whether or not the thief has successfully disguised themself. A successful roll means that they have, and that a normal person would not see through their disguise. The saving roll is to determine whether or not the individual sees through the successful disguise.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that a disguise kill couldn’t be involved in an opposed roll. If two people happen to attempt to disguise themselves as the same person, it might be reasonable for the Guide to call for opposed disguise skill rolls until one of them fails and the other succeeds. That’s likely to be a rare occurence, however.

The same is true of move silently. On a successful move silently roll, the thief has “moved silently”. The question then becomes whether or not they have moved silently enough.

I also prefer the simpler success-defense mechanism where possible. The disguise rules, especially, are likely to be further simplified over time.

Typos

The poison example and the mass combat example appear to use high rolls instead of low rolls

Yes, that's a holdover from earlier rules. I thought I’d fixed all of those. The poison example has Charlotte trying for high rolls to make her saving roll against poison; the mass combat example has the leaders trying for high initiative rolls in order to go first. In both cases, these are wrong. You want to roll low to make saving rolls, and low initiative rolls go first.

When you say modal, don’t you mean median?

Yes, I do. It has been far too many years since college statistics. Professor Gilovich would not be pleased.

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