Experimenting with Level less Resistance Rolls

At this risk of opening the door to more blogs about rules (which I try to avoid) I wanted to post about my current experiments with level less resistance rolls. It’s important to understand that my current gaming group has accepted the fact that I frequently change rules from session to session. Sometimes dramatically. They take it in stride and certainly provide an instant feedback loop. They are also pretty good distinguishing between what might be a good system rule and what may benefit or hard their character and note their own biases.

For a primer on previous blogs and VERY good comments I would suggest the following:

Generally we’ve been testing Resistance Rolls in our repeated playing of Legends of Shadow World, so the gameplay is very high level. So where are we right now?

  1. We use “Stats as Skills”. So the actual Stat(or a average of several) is used as the modifier. This works best when stats are actually the product of random generation or has a normal variation. Not every stat for a PC should be 75+.
  2. Resistance falls into 4 categories: Fear, Poison/Disease, Mental Attacks, Essaence/Magic.
  3. RR’s use a Success 100+ so it works the same way as all other skills.
  4. Fear. There were good arguments as to why Fear should have a factor of level since it reflects experience and maturity so I keep playing around with it. Natural Fear effects (ie from a Dragon, Undead or Demon) is given a Difficulty modifier like an MM/SM. I generally use a Difficulty modifier range of +100 to -150 rather than Difficulty labels like “Routine”, “Hard”, “Absurd” etc. For cast spells that create a Fear effect I use the resolution for Essaence/Magic below in #7.
  5. Poison/Disease. Same as Fear. Poisons and Disease are given a Difficulty level/modifier. For example, Jeggarukh (level 6 circulatory) has a -40 severity modifier. A target with a 80 Constitution would need to roll over a 60 to resist. The level of failure determines the effects of the poison.
  6. Mental Attacks. We use the SD stat as the primary modifier PLUS the # of skill ranks in Mental Focus (a developable skill).
  7. Essaence/Magic. We use the average of Re/In/Em stat to resist Essaence/Magic. We don’t distinguish between “Realms”–it’s all just Essaence. In our game, Realms are just the way magic is manipulated and shaped. There aren’t three types of power (plus the 3 mixed hybrid). I always thought that silly.

So for #6 and #7 what is the target resisting in a level less system? Again, we use a Success 100+ for a spell casting roll. The amount over 100 is applied against the target. So let’s say Barry the Mage casts Fear at Selma the Simperer. Barry rolls a 55 on his spellcasting roll, adds his skill bonus and modifiers of 75 for a total of 130. The excess of 30 is used against Selma in her RR. Selma has a SD of 70. She needs to roll at at least a 60 to resist the spell.

One option that I use with the above system is using the # of Power Points in both the spellcasting roll (a negative to the caster to represent the dangers of using power) and the # of Power Points as a negative to the target as a proxy for the potency of the spell. So more dangerous for the caster to cast, but more potent for the target to resist. This is similar to using the PP’s as the level of attack versus just the level of the spell.

Finally I’m still playing around with a RR versus Stun/Surprise. I like it, but don’t want to add more RR rolls to combat. That’s the gist of it, and it has worked. I play around with bonuses, modifiers and various options but always try to keep to the 100+ success so almost all resolutions are unified.

One Reply to “Experimenting with Level less Resistance Rolls”

  1. Interesting stuff. So you kind of mix and match how RRs work … static vs dynamic? Looks like Fear is static and not an attack with RNG. Then Poison/Disease is static vs some fixed thing and not a skill to be trained (a la Princess Bride’s Main in Black). Then Mental I assume is skill based and the same as vs Magic with a roll for attack AND defense?

    One question I had about pass/fail on a cast is: In your example, if Barry rolled a total of 80 (after adding all mods) does the spell “fail”, or does the defender get a bonus of +20 to their roll?

    Not accounting for level is a bit odd, although your ranks in the skill by their very nature are indeed level gated so perhaps it works out. Having a “defense” skill is a nice balance too.

    The one thing I battle with is “feel” in three situations: (1) low level play, (2) high level play, and (3) lower level vs higher level combat. For low level play, what is an acceptable RNG for pass/fail? Is 50-50 OK? Does that feel good for a player? Likewise in high level play does it max out at say 90-10 for pass/fail chance? Or stay 50-50? And for a low level vs high level player (in the case where that matters like a spell cast/resist) is there a certain odds one would expect?

    For sure the old RMC system for Base Spells is a complete mess with huge non-linearities and odds against the player. It seems like your system is much better.

    I have been leaning towards a “partial success” type system … spells do “something” (they resist your sleep but cause them to hesitate while shaking it off and suffer -25 on their next init roll), poison has “some” effect (ex: you resist but are fatigued a bit as your body fights it off and are at -10 for N rounds), etc. Mainly to keep things “dangerous” but also to let players feel like they are not blowing their turn when it finally comes around. Nothing worse than a huge battle and you “miss” and have 0 effect.

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