Further deconstruction of Resistance Rolls/Saving Throws.

I wanted to touch upon the subject of Resistance Rolls again, after a couple of discussion HERE & HERE and over at the FORUMS.

To start off, my “Deconstruction” articles are about stepping outside the box, and YOUR mental model built over 30+ years (based on the average age of the blog participants).

The basis for RR/Saving Throws were built out out of early war game mechanics. But even now they are so built into RPG systems that it’s hard not to use them in any future iteration. Let’s try?

Unless you want a early rpg “hand wave” mechanism to allow a player to avoid a mortal result (which can be dealt with via fate points) than we should apply a realistic approach to saving throws? ie verisimilitude.

So what should a character be allowed to save against? Should RR/ST be level based? Can we identify what certain types of attacks would require a “save”?

Physical biological attacks. Poison/disease/nano-particles/etc. Obviously this is a real, physical attack. It seems clear that a “constitution”, “hardiness”, “toughness” factor be applied to that.

Surprise/Dis-orientation. Most RPG’s treat these differently, but the ability to maintain clarity in quick, off-setting, or dis-orienting circumstances are separate from other abilities. Should there be a RR vs. Stun or other dis-orienting factors? Rolemaster places importance on stuns in it’s critical results; but it also can be a game changer. Should there be a RR vs. Stun given it’s impact on combat?

Physical Trauma. If you want a less specific game play, than a roll vs. shock might work. Is that constitution, endurance, will power or something else?

Mind Manipulation. Whether a sleep spell, mind reading or other than “will” comes into play. I think its reasonable to set up a “war of wills” for mind intrusion whether that is mind reading, patterning, charm or other types of personality or mental influence.

Unwanted physical manipulation. Do you “resist” spells or other actions that change your body or physical being? Is that the same as a mind/will resistance or should it be a physical or physical trauma attack?

These are the basic “resistance” situations in my game. Make an argument for more other others!

9 Replies to “Further deconstruction of Resistance Rolls/Saving Throws.”

  1. I happen to be in the midst of designing a d100 emulation of a Viking fantasy game. Here’s what I’ve done, so far, with this consideration.

    Two resistances. One is based chiefly on body, the other mind. So far I’ve only been using these as “passive” in that they modify attacks or skill rolls, such as poison use or magic, from other agencies attempting something on the character.

    Resist stun? Certainly! I brought this up to the designers of VsD. They said they had considered it. For my own use, I guess this is an “active” use of an RR, but on a normal Skill table. It allows me to add another feature to the Critical tables I’m writing: some Stuns can be resisted, others can’t.

    My RRs aren’t keyed to Level at all, but each is built out of the combined bonuses of two attributes. (I’m using fixed hp, too, incidentally.).

    Writing one’s own rules really opens one’s eyes to what you suggested about these mechanistic assumptions about game design.

  2. If you’re talking about resisting shock, I’d say it’s a combination of willpower and constitution, with willpower making up the bulk of it. Treatment can also modify the RR for shock, so you’ve got an external component to consider as well. I never liked having resist stun or whatever as a skill, so I’ve been house-ruling willpower/SD rolls for this for years now.

    Shock in particular is an interesting design concept simply because so many games seem to fold it into the concept of HPs and thus to an extent fixed healing. As I’ve mentioned in other places I’ve come to view RM’s “bleeding” as incorporating the effects of shock to at least some degree, and that’s changed how I implement non-magical healing. If you bother to step out of the “bleeding has to equal blood loss” box it makes healing more flexible without degrading the potential lethality of RM’s combat system.

      1. More or less, yes. Bleeding is still included, but shock also tends to increase over time in terms of its effects. So, for example, -6 hits per round might actually be -3 from actual bleeding and another -3 from the effects of shock. Under that model you’d be treating shock first, so if First Aid takes care of 3 hits it would be stabilizing the character and preventing more damage from shock. 4 hits would be shock plus stopping some of the bleeding, and so on. This would all be “behind the curtain” in terms of mechanics, but it does provide a solid rationale for making First Aid more effective and could allow for some wounds to be adjusted to reflect shock (burns, for example, could have a ‘hits per round’ component they might have lacked earlier). You could also take a look at some of the higher-end crits with their automatic “dies of shock and blood loss” results and do some adjusting.

  3. I was part of a discussion about realistic wounds in RPGs recently and apparently there was a study by the US military that tried to work out what killed people. One wounded soldier could walk into a field hospital carrying their own decapitated arm but otherwise functioning normally whereas in another case a minor wound that should have has little or no lasting effect killed the victim outright.

    The conclusion of the study was that it was probably random chance. In RPGs the most realistic mechanic was most likely something like the D&D save vs death but for every time you got hit.

    That obviously not very satisfying as a game mechanic.

    For even greater realism, in melee we could get rid of to hit rolls as well. I think roll not to fumble is all that the attacker need do. The defender would then use skill not to be hit with the attackers skill as a penalty.

    If there was a man sized target in front of you and you had a sword, who would not hit it 99 times out of 100 if it wasn’t trying to avoid you.

    The point is that realistic combat is basically save vs being hit followed by save vs death.

    Ranged combat would be a different beast mind you.

    1. I’m fascinated by your more realistic design considerations. Now, are you absolutely SURE you don’t have a d100 game in you?

      I suspect if you started writing from the beginning, incorporating all of your knowledge and experience, you’ll develop something quite a bit more than a Frankengame. I expect I’ll be writing with some detail about global considerations of d100 game design at some point here.

    2. Part of what you’re looking at there is shock. Shock is very hard to quantify, and it also seems to vary from individual to individual.

      The melee mechanic you’re discussing bears some passing similarity to how Top Secret used to handle HTH combat. Combatants picked attacks and defenses, and then cross-referenced them to see what attacks got through and which ones were blocked. It was possible to go full attack or full defense, with the attendant issues (full defense makes you very hard to hit, but you’re going to do NO damage, while all-out attack has the most possibilities for damage but leaves you open to any attack).

      And yes, ranged combat is a very different beast. That’s where I devote the bulk of my design stuff, honestly.

  4. Great questions. Been thinking and reading about this post for a good day, and still not up to any hard conclusions except the following:

    I like that in some systems (i.e. 1st Ed AD&D) the save was vs a type of threat, not vs a stat. I.e. leaving “Poison Resistance” generic allows for all kinds of ways for the threat to be avoided (at the last minute Intuition stops the PC b4 drinking, the PC avoided the needle at the last moment due to her finger flicking out of the way, etc…). Gets it awful close to a ‘Fate’ idea though (a last chance before death kinda thing). That said, _I_ have a hard time letting go of ST/RR’s correlated to Stats as it makes intuitive sense to me.

    As far as levels vs St/RR’s: Assuming a ST/RR tied to stat system, and the PC’s can improve stats, then I’d say no to directly tying St/Rrs’ to level improvements.

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