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Author Topic: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System  (Read 771 times)

OtterGames

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Greetings, RPGSite! I've been lurking the forums for a while now and have since I got intrigued by OSR and their old-timey roots. With some experience under my belt in Tabletop RPGs that has been 90% as a Forever DM and extensive homebrewer for 5th edition D&D, I have the idea of one day forging a tabletop system that has classes, but the classes themselves not being the end-all-be-all of a character's progression.

While the discussion may get heated and crass sometimes, my overall impression is one of relative openness and good-natured interaction, with many individuals being of a creative bent and having published their own works. As such, I would love to hear thoughts on what I currently got.

What is Path of Heroes
Path of Heroes is intended to be a Skill-based dice-pool fantasy system inspired by some mechanical aspects of Shadowrun (dice pool with successes as well as attacking and defending being contests) and relative lightness and malleability of D&D 5e.

Conflicts are dubbed Tests and a character's dicepool must roll enough 5's or 6's (6's count as 2 successes) to pass. The system in of itself has a more heroic bent, and it makes use of a Momentum system dubbed a Potentia Pool. Whenever the character rolls a 6, they can stockpile the added success and use them at later tests to automatically add a success- The pool has a maximum of 3 that can be stockpiled. Using it on successful Tests adds Degrees of Success that cannot be gained in any other way.

It uses 4 Attributes (Might, Agility, Spirit, Knowledge), and each attribute governs a set number of skills, forming a dicepool of attribute and skill. Attributes have ranks from 1 to 10, Skills from 1 to 5, making a maximum dicepool of 15 at its highest. Each Attribute has one Magical skill, and the Magic system is going to be involved in all four attributes in some way, and as such. mages and casters will also be focused much like their 'mundane' counterparts rather than having all the power and flexibiltiy to boot.

The main aspect of the system is the Sliding Class system. A 5 x 5 Grid with 5 classes on either side and 5 total diagonally connecting opposite ends (an image will be provided down below). The cornerstone classes are your traditional 4: Warrior, Rogue, Priest, Mage, and between them are the hybrid classes that are a mix of both to degrees of 1/3 and 1/2 respectively. A prospective character gains levels and chooses to assign them to one of the four classes each time, thus sliding towards one of the corners with the caveat that their movement along the grid is limited by their position on it. For example: a Spellblade (class between Mage and Warrior) is limited to picking either Warrior or Mage as they are linked to them.

Classes have a starting package of one ability with a basic upgrade, proficiencies (weapons, armour, etc.), starting gear (Equipment, weapons, etc.), and Aseets (monetary abstraction). Additionally, a class has a trinket - a starting reusable item that is inspired by the League of Legends inventory system (The character also has 6 slots of 'active' items they occupy), and these trinkets range from the Warrior's Healing Flask, Rogue's Scrying Orb and so on.
Their abilities are extraordinary in nature, not limiting even the supposedly mundane classes like Rogue and Warrior to acts of fancy with the intent to provide a wide breadth of options for many character concepts.
A class also determines the character's base health and mana they have, multiplied by their respective attributes. Warriors have less Mana than Mages but more health, for example.

Mana also acts as fatigue (ala Arcanum), and being reduced to 0 knocks the character out. Armour acts as a buffer for damage rather than a constant Damage Reduction or a threshold the damage must go over. Instead, it is a separate health pool.

The magic system will be diverse with a Sphere-like system from D&D.


If this system intrigues folks to want to know more, I'll gladly add more, as I don't want to bog down you guys too much right off the bat.
Hope to hear from you guys soon, and thank you for giving the opportunity to post!


OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2022, 09:00:54 AM »
Forgot the grid image.


Trond

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2022, 09:26:52 AM »
I don’t know much about Shadowrun or any systems resembling this. But I just had a random thought about the dice pools. If 1s are successes 2s are double successes instead then you can just count the dots.

OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2022, 09:36:44 AM »
That's quite an interesting idea, haha. Makes it easy to read on e you get used to the reverse. Shadowrun has a system where combatants both roll their respe ti e dicepools. One rolls their attack, the other rolls their defense (dodge/Parry, etc.). Higher successes wins and the overflow adds additional damage.

Viathis system, combat is slower for sure, but a well-praticed group can quickly get that down on lock as its just rolling, counting and comparing.

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2022, 10:56:23 AM »
Interesting! I'm a sucker for dice pool system and it does sound like you have a good idea going. I think the only thing I would need more info on is the "class" system. From my perspective, it's unnecessary - having freeform skills floating around is better.

Also, you might want to take a look at Earthdawn since they did some similar stuff as well. 4e would work fine.

OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2022, 11:56:52 AM »
Interesting! I'm a sucker for dice pool system and it does sound like you have a good idea going. I think the only thing I would need more info on is the "class" system. From my perspective, it's unnecessary - having freeform skills floating around is better.

Also, you might want to take a look at Earthdawn since they did some similar stuff as well. 4e would work fine.

I'll check it out when I got time to spare, thanks!

A 'class' is the most straightforward concept to use to deliver what I mean, but it is not your traditional class that boxes you in. Your 'current' class determines your base health, mana, with the class that you start with determining the bulk of your starting gear, equipment proficiencies and the like. An individual character can start as a Warrior, but over a long campaign may end up an Inquisitor (hybrid class of Rogue and Priest) as they organically got lured to those sets of abilities.
A class does not, in any way, limit a character's choice of skills, although it comes to reason that certain classes use certain skills more in their abilities than others.
The four core classes (Warrior, Mage, Priest, Rogue) are the base classes you can pick abilities from when you pick that class on your journey across the grid. Hybrid classes only grant access to their special abilities when you're that class, and you retain their abilities even after changing your class.

So flexibility and organic growth of one's character as they mature into a type of character the player wants is at the forefront of the system.

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2022, 12:02:29 PM »
Well, okay, maybe it looks better on paper. I just don't see the point, unless it adds some kind of mechanical advantage that isn't added otherwise.

I'd be thrilled to playtest this, if you ever do this. It sounds pretty good.

deadDMwalking

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2022, 12:07:19 PM »
I saw your post in the other forum so I wanted to read your post here and offer comments.

First off, whatever comments you receive, positive or negative, you should continue working on your project.  Making a game is a lot of work and it will be easier to abandon it, and there will be people who it doesn't appeal to and don't think you should spend your time working on it.  If you're enjoying working on it, keep working on it.  Even if nobody else likes it, you can be proud that it is your creation. 

With abilities granting up to 10 dice and skills granting up to 5 dice, it seems that abilities are more important.  How difficult is it to raise an ability versus raising a skill?  If raising an ability affects all tests for that ability, but raising a skill only affects tests for that skill, attribute increases are automatically worth more.  Ie, if I have attribute 10 and skill 0 I'm at the same chance of success versus someone that is Attribute 5 and Skill 5 - all else being equal I'd prefer to be Attribute 10 Skill 0 before I start increasing individual skills. 

Systems that reward you for saving up successes for later encourage you to participate in 'meaningless tasks' - things that you aren't doing EXCEPT to get a bonus you'll need for later.  Rules incentivize play - if you don't want players spending 10 minutes 'contesting' each other at dice games before breaking camp to store bonuses for fights against orcs, you have to adjust the rules.  It's not a good idea to just say 'those players would be assholes and they're NOT PLAYING RIGHT'.  Rules impact how the game is played; since you're creating the rules you SHOULD make sure they encourage players to play the way you think.  As a designer it's very easy to assume that people will value what you do, and play the way you think they should, but once they're interacting with your rules you'll find out otherwise.  Build the rules for the game you want to play, don't build the rules in such a way that you ignoring them isn't REQUIRED. 

Are there any contests that are NOT contested?  Contested rolls are going to take more time from a resolution stand-point.  If your orcs have to roll 5d6 defense while the players are rolling 7d6 attack, then you're looking at the 5/6s, that can be a lot happening. 

I used a dice roller to roll 5d6 for the theoretical orc and I rolled a single 6 (2 successes) and the player didn't roll a single 5/6 on 7d6.  Obviously the player failed, but what does that mean?  Does that mean that the orc did anything back to them?  Or do we roll the same dice for the orcs attack? 

I rolled a new attack for the orc and a new defense for the player.  The orc got 0 successes, the player got 5 successes (5, 6, 6).  That could lead to a lot of rolling if nothing happens on a successful defense. 

How do contests work with multiple people involved?  If two orcs are both attacking one person, do they each roll and the defender rolls against both of them without penalty?  Or do they combine their successes?  Does it matter if the two people attacking are different (ie, the warrior and the rogue are both attacking the same orc)? 
When I say objectively, I mean 'subjectively'.  When I say literally, I mean 'figuratively'.  
And when I say that you are a horse's ass, I mean that the objective truth is that you are a literal horse's ass.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2022, 01:24:41 PM »
Well, okay, maybe it looks better on paper. I just don't see the point, unless it adds some kind of mechanical advantage that isn't added otherwise.

I'd be thrilled to playtest this, if you ever do this. It sounds pretty good.

Glad to hear you're nevertheless interested.

Do you mind elaborating what you would consider a mechanical advantage in this regard?

I saw your post in the other forum so I wanted to read your post here and offer comments.

First off, whatever comments you receive, positive or negative, you should continue working on your project.  Making a game is a lot of work and it will be easier to abandon it, and there will be people who it doesn't appeal to and don't think you should spend your time working on it.  If you're enjoying working on it, keep working on it.  Even if nobody else likes it, you can be proud that it is your creation. 

I'm glad to have piqued your interest, and thank you for the advice. I always have that in the back of my mind, to make it for myself and not caring what other folks think, but that's something I'm yet to fully get down on lock :P

With abilities granting up to 10 dice and skills granting up to 5 dice, it seems that abilities are more important.  How difficult is it to raise an ability versus raising a skill?  If raising an ability affects all tests for that ability, but raising a skill only affects tests for that skill, attribute increases are automatically worth more.  Ie, if I have attribute 10 and skill 0 I'm at the same chance of success versus someone that is Attribute 5 and Skill 5 - all else being equal I'd prefer to be Attribute 10 Skill 0 before I start increasing individual skills.

Systems that reward you for saving up successes for later encourage you to participate in 'meaningless tasks' - things that you aren't doing EXCEPT to get a bonus you'll need for later.  Rules incentivize play - if you don't want players spending 10 minutes 'contesting' each other at dice games before breaking camp to store bonuses for fights against orcs, you have to adjust the rules.  It's not a good idea to just say 'those players would be assholes and they're NOT PLAYING RIGHT'.  Rules impact how the game is played; since you're creating the rules you SHOULD make sure they encourage players to play the way you think.  As a designer it's very easy to assume that people will value what you do, and play the way you think they should, but once they're interacting with your rules you'll find out otherwise.  Build the rules for the game you want to play, don't build the rules in such a way that you ignoring them isn't REQUIRED.

Attributes are much harder to upgrade and share a resource that is also used to upgrade class abilities further, and said resource is gained every third level (not set in stone). Skills are bought with skill points instead which are meant to be easier to come by with 1 per level and spend so a character is sooner to reach max skill rather than max attribute albeit not super rapidly either. It is a good question, though, and thank you for giving me the perspective on it!

This is also something I hadn't considered, and my jerk reaction was very much like you said 'it's not meant to be played that way'. That, I agree, is a copout and will ensure to list under what conditions these can be saved and used.

Are there any contests that are NOT contested?  Contested rolls are going to take more time from a resolution stand-point.  If your orcs have to roll 5d6 defense while the players are rolling 7d6 attack, then you're looking at the 5/6s, that can be a lot happening.

I used a dice roller to roll 5d6 for the theoretical orc and I rolled a single 6 (2 successes) and the player didn't roll a single 5/6 on 7d6.  Obviously the player failed, but what does that mean?  Does that mean that the orc did anything back to them?  Or do we roll the same dice for the orcs attack?

I rolled a new attack for the orc and a new defense for the player.  The orc got 0 successes, the player got 5 successes (5, 6, 6).  That could lead to a lot of rolling if nothing happens on a successful defense.

How do contests work with multiple people involved?  If two orcs are both attacking one person, do they each roll and the defender rolls against both of them without penalty?  Or do they combine their successes?  Does it matter if the two people attacking are different (ie, the warrior and the rogue are both attacking the same orc)?

Will go as the questions appear.

1. There are just simple tests, a character rolls attribute and skill to do something, like lift a boulder, discern the meaning of an ancient language, etc. that is against a GM-decided DR (Difficulty Rating) which decides how many successes the character must get to pass. Contest resolution speed is a factor that I understand can be a dealbreaker for some people, but I see that Shadowrun has gotten more editions than it probably should have with this mode of resolution alive and well.

2. If the orc is the attacker and player the defender, the orc hits his target and deals increased damage based on the successes left (in your example he has 2 successes while player has none). The net successes serve as a crit mechanic as well. A really good dice pool roll of the attacker and poor defense roll of the defender is essentially like rolling a nat 20 in D&D.

3. The defender successfully blocks or dodges, the attack whiffing. Much like rolling under AC in D&D, the attack does nothing. A caveat does exist, however, that if the attacker and defender match each other, the attacker deals a glancing blow which can still apply poisons, elemental damage or other effects that don't need a full blow to deal.

4. In terms of attacks, the defender rolls against each individual attack. They may manage to block the axe of one of the orcs, but are they skilled or lucky enough to divert the first and block the second soon after? For the purposes of making an easy system of bonuses and penalties due to circumstance, I have made a Condition table which adds or deducts dice based on what is happening for the GM to use. If a third orc comes from behind, they can be granted by the GM a bonus for ganging up on the defender for example.

If I'm not making enough sense, please say so.

deadDMwalking

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2022, 11:46:17 AM »
Your answers make sense, and it's good that you have answers.  Not everyone does! 

I do think a situation where five or six orcs all attack the same player sounds like a slog.  I don't know if 7d6 is a reasonable number of dice, but needing to roll that 5 times in a row can be a lot to keep track of.  The more dice you have the more likely one is to fall off the table and these things can get annoying (and time consuming) fast. 

You could potentially try to simplify the number of rolls by having the defender roll once for the round; then every attacker needs to beat that static defense.   I don't know if the players will feel good or bad about rolling 7d6 and 'keeping that' versus all attackers, but less rolling definitely will translate into less time spent resolving actions.  Different groups handle things like dice rolling better or worse than others and time to resolution, so it's not always bad that this resolution mechanic is probably on the 'takes more time' side; but whenever you can get the same RESULTS with fewer rolls, that's usually a good thing. 

Risk is a good boardgame in a lot of ways, but even if you like the game, there comes a point when the rolling gets tedious. 
When I say objectively, I mean 'subjectively'.  When I say literally, I mean 'figuratively'.  
And when I say that you are a horse's ass, I mean that the objective truth is that you are a literal horse's ass.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2022, 05:31:23 PM »
Your answers make sense, and it's good that you have answers.  Not everyone does! 

I do think a situation where five or six orcs all attack the same player sounds like a slog.  I don't know if 7d6 is a reasonable number of dice, but needing to roll that 5 times in a row can be a lot to keep track of.  The more dice you have the more likely one is to fall off the table and these things can get annoying (and time consuming) fast. 

You could potentially try to simplify the number of rolls by having the defender roll once for the round; then every attacker needs to beat that static defense.   I don't know if the players will feel good or bad about rolling 7d6 and 'keeping that' versus all attackers, but less rolling definitely will translate into less time spent resolving actions.  Different groups handle things like dice rolling better or worse than others and time to resolution, so it's not always bad that this resolution mechanic is probably on the 'takes more time' side; but whenever you can get the same RESULTS with fewer rolls, that's usually a good thing. 

Risk is a good boardgame in a lot of ways, but even if you like the game, there comes a point when the rolling gets tedious.

It is a big thing to consider, and I wholeheartedly agree that at some point rolling just feels meaningless even if it serves to resolve a conflict.

An idea that comes to mind on mitigating that is making a 'minion' system of weaker creatures swarming together into a single functional 'unit' that the players will engage with their dice pools, giving the number's appearance but simplify it down to make the resolution easier and faster. This minion system would also allow merging of these minions into bigger menaces of small gangs and platoons. As a consequence, individual enemies that roll their own pools with just themselves would serve for the more heroic and cinematic feel to combats.
I am in no way suggesting this is an idea I came up on my own, and I know Savage Worlds and some other TTRPGs use rules similar like this.

On the idea of a singular roll for the defender that the attackers must then match could result in a swingy aspect where one round everything hits, and the next they are unhittable. So I think it wouldn't serve the game as well. One other time-saving mechanic is also based on the enemy in that they just have an average number of successes on attacks so instead the defender just rolls and has to go over to beat their assault. A mechanic used by swarm-like and low-Health opponents that are dangerous in number than stats.

deadDMwalking

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2022, 10:01:43 AM »
A minion system is probably good, at least for 'broadly similar' enemies.  So if you have four orcs and 2 ogres, they probably shouldn't all work as a single group, but the four orcs could make one group and the two ogres could make another. 

It could be as simple as adding +1 dice for each additional enemy; if number of successes matters, more chances to roll should organically make groups of small, relatively weak creatures more dangerous when working together.  There's a lot of assumptions about underlying math; in a perfect world two attackers should be able to score the equivalent of 'two hits', the same as if they attacked individually.  If more attackers just means better chance of scoring one hit, but not ANY CHANCE of dealing the equivalent of 2 hits damage, I don't know if that emulates the genre conventions appropriately. 
When I say objectively, I mean 'subjectively'.  When I say literally, I mean 'figuratively'.  
And when I say that you are a horse's ass, I mean that the objective truth is that you are a literal horse's ass.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2022, 09:41:11 AM »
A mechanical advantage would be like when you "enter" a class fully, you get a small ability that increases that class's skills or something like that, that's unique to the class. So once you're fully a fighter, you get +1 to damage soak rolls, when you're a paladin, your healing spells are empowered, when you're a mage, you get +1 Resource pool, etc. It would reward people for specializing, but also allow for someone to do an off-beat "custom" class. Especially if you make the bonus be on a spectrum as well - so if you're 3 steps away from warrior, you only get a +1. 1-2 steps is +2, and then at full fighter, it's a +3.

Might introduce some complexities, but you're going for a crunchy system anyway, so I could see it work.

OtterGames

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Re: Path of Heroes- a WIP Dicepool game with a Sliding Class System
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2022, 03:56:52 PM »
A minion system is probably good, at least for 'broadly similar' enemies.  So if you have four orcs and 2 ogres, they probably shouldn't all work as a single group, but the four orcs could make one group and the two ogres could make another. 

It could be as simple as adding +1 dice for each additional enemy; if number of successes matters, more chances to roll should organically make groups of small, relatively weak creatures more dangerous when working together.  There's a lot of assumptions about underlying math; in a perfect world two attackers should be able to score the equivalent of 'two hits', the same as if they attacked individually.  If more attackers just means better chance of scoring one hit, but not ANY CHANCE of dealing the equivalent of 2 hits damage, I don't know if that emulates the genre conventions appropriately.

That'd be kinda silly for them to have an easier time hitting you but not also doing extra damage.  I will look into making the minion rules and see what I can come up with. Thank you a lot!

A mechanical advantage would be like when you "enter" a class fully, you get a small ability that increases that class's skills or something like that, that's unique to the class. So once you're fully a fighter, you get +1 to damage soak rolls, when you're a paladin, your healing spells are empowered, when you're a mage, you get +1 Resource pool, etc. It would reward people for specializing, but also allow for someone to do an off-beat "custom" class. Especially if you make the bonus be on a spectrum as well - so if you're 3 steps away from warrior, you only get a +1. 1-2 steps is +2, and then at full fighter, it's a +3.

Might introduce some complexities, but you're going for a crunchy system anyway, so I could see it work.

Aaah. I see what you mean. It is not something I'm looking to implement, having in mind a more horizontal balance rather than vertical or mono. There's already an aspect of lost opportunity based on where the character starts on the class grid and which path they take. A character that starts as a Warrior and takes the path towards the mage is unlikely to ever reach the Rogue-Priest stretch of hybrid classes, focusing on combining abilities of the classes they became rather than choosing 'one or the other' like you'd have in D&D which is either monoclass or multiclass.