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[SWADE v4] Various small issues

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  • [SWADE v4] Various small issues

    I think SWADE is pretty much great for a release version—most of the small, minor issues are things that can be addressed with house rules and generally won't break the game if they're left in. There's a few things I do want to bring up here for consideration, though.

    Burrowing (Page 18): As a minor point, Burrowing seems like it should be a 2-point ability, rather than 1. It's almost like a really limited invisibility for closing the gap with an enemy, and while burrowed he cannot be attacked at all.

    Two-Fisted (Page 25): I know a lot of folks disagree with the split; I can see where some of its issues come into play, especially in pirate settings like 50 Fathoms. Since the split is here to stay, though, mymajor issue with it is that Two-Fisted doesn't cover thrown weapons—that's under Two-Gun Kid. I'll just quote my explanation of this point from another thread:
    Consider the classic dual-wielding rogue. Stabbing an enemy with one knife before chucking the other is a huge part of that trope, but with this change he would have to also be able to proficiently dual-wield flintlock pistols in order to perform that maneuver. It also means that any pirates that are good with flintlock pistols will also be trained in firing a pistol in one hand, then flinging a dagger (or maybe another pistol that was already fired) at a foe—so drawing a knife and pistol on your first round (shoot then throw), then the following round throwing the pistol, drawing two more pistols, and firing one of them with no MAP becomes a viable and efficient strategy. It's a weird kind of play that's encouraged by the Edge setup as-is.
    Rerolls (Page 89): The change to the reroll mechanic in keeping the best result regardless is a good Fast, Furious, Fun change. However, I think the other component of this change might be too much—all of the Edges that allow for a Reroll allow it to be used with every roll, not just when the character fails (as before). Rerolls being allowed under any circumstance and taking the best is insanely good—a d6 in Persuasion with Charismatic (94% success vs a TN of 4, 45% raise) mathematically becomes similar to a d12+1 (94% success, 58% raise); there’s little reason to increase Persuasion beyond a d6 without taking Charismatic first.

    Changing Charismatic, Killer Instinct, Soldier, Humiliate, and Reliable to only trigger when the character fails the initial roll (rather than a free benny on every roll) gives those effects a unique identity and weighs “failing very infrequently” (a reroll on failure) against “increasing average success/raise chances” (a Skill increase). (I think letting Acrobat keep the reroll even with successes makes sense, given how focused the application is, as opposed to the others with much more broad coverage.)

    Admittedly, this is more of a theory-crafting issue than the others where the problems are far more clear, but it's at least something to keep an eye on.

    Grappling (Page 101): Yup, still talking about grappling. The “dragon vs half-folk” grappling example is pretty silly; there’s no reason a dragon wouldn’t opt to Brute Strength his grappling roll—even at –6, a net d12+2 will consistently beat just about any Strength or Athletics the half-folk might have. My suggestion is to only allow an attacker to grapple with Brute Strength if his target is defending in kind (this was suggested before but appears not to have made it into the final cut)—that way the dragon is forced to use Athletics to begin the grapple, but can use Brute Strength to keep the half-folk pinned once he manages to snatch the poor sod up.

    As an aside, I think that having a Shaken character end their grapple immediately—or at least force the grappler to make an immediate Spirit roll to maintain the grapple—is a well-used trope in movies. If you're stuck in the grapple and aren't able to use technique or brute force to get yourself out of the pickle, then dealing damage to the grappler (biting, knives, headbutts, etc) or scoring a raise on a Test is a great and effective way to break yourself free and should be in core.

    Growth/Shrink (Page 162): It's not clear if a character gains additional Wound Levels when they reach larger Scales, or how those function when shrinking back to normal Size if so (see this thread).

    Shape Change (Page 166): Not a design issue but a question on clarification; Shape Change has a Range of Smarts. Should this be Range Self, or can this be cast on other characters (a la polymorph)? If it can be cast on an enemy, can they resist with a Spirit roll? I think that would be a great thing to include (SW has been missing a polymorph-style power) but the current wording is unclear.

    Infravision (Page 177 and everywhere else): At the moment, Infravision seems worse than Low Light Vision in most circumstances—LLV reduces illumination penalties from –2 or –4 to zero, while Infravision reduces –2/–4/–6 to –1/–2/–3. On top of that, Infravision can be negated entirely by a target who is masking his heat signature, compared to LLV which can only be negated by magic or complete and total darkness. It might be worth changing infravision to allow it to also pierce through obscurement in general—powers (including invisibility), fogs, and just about any visual obstruction short of a solid object—if the target emanates a heat source. That makes Infravision an interesting alternative to Low Light Vision with more powerful potential that can be actively negated, while LLV isn't as broadly useful but is more consistent and very difficult to overcome.
    Last edited by DoctorBoson; 01-17-2019, 06:08 PM.
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  • #2
    Yeah I agree with the Grappling especially. There's no way a Raging Gigantic Creature from RIFTS, for instance, would NEVER try to grab anything. With a Strength of d12+12, even at -2 there's nothing even a Normal-sized critter can do to avoid being grabbed (it ends up being d12+6 to grab a Normal critter, factoring in Scale). Then all the beastie needs to do is throw the person, or Bite it at d8-2 for wild attacking. Not sure if Brute Strength should factor into initiating a grapple, only maintaining or breaking it. As an aside, it almost feels as if the Brute Edge should play into this somehow, as it links Athletics to Strength.....


    • DoctorBoson
      DoctorBoson commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think Brute needs to play much of a role in grappling; it only places emphasis that a character's athleticism is due to his fitness rather than acrobatic abilities (hence the increased throwing range and ability to resist Athletics Tests specifically with Strength), and the use of Strength in grappling has nothing to do with a Skill's linked Attribute. I think that's enough to warrant the Edge; if it did have a direct interaction with grapple, maybe being able to ignore the –2 to Strength when resisting grapples—but I think that's unnecessary since taking the Edge encourages the character to increase his Athletics along with his Strength anyways.

  • #3
    As for Shapeshifting, there needs to be a Enemy modifier for it like Teleport, so you can polymorph enemies into rabbits or something, agreed.


    • #4
      Heh, I don't interpret the reroll section in the way you do at all. I assumed that you would only be able to reroll if you failed the initial roll. Otherwise why would you ever not reroll? (Apart from the very slim possibility of getting a Crit Fail)


      • DoctorBoson
        DoctorBoson commented
        Editing a comment
        In every other printing of SWADE, you’d be right. They explicitly stated that Reroll’s only occured when failing the original attempt.

        As of v4, however, that explicit circumstance has been removed. Now, Rules as Written, rerolls occur automatically and even with a success or raise.

        That’s not just my interpretation, that’s exactly what the rules say—hence my criticism of the new wording of the mechanic.

    • #5
      Yeah, V4 is just near perfect. I agree grappling is still not quite there (though it's very close - your tweak would pretty much fix it).

      I could go either way on the reroll traits. I do think as-written they're pretty dang good, but it's hard to say without tons of playtesting whether they're a problem or not (unlike grappling where it's super obvious large vs small is broken).


      • #6
        Thanks as always for the feedback. Here are some replies:

        Burrowing: Gonna stick with 1 point because it can only be used outdoors, the opponent gets a roll to detect, etc. Certainly close though, I agree.

        Two-Fisted: Gonna leave that one too. Two-Gun Kid is ranged, Two-Fisted is melee. The thief you describe can still do all those things... he just has the standard MAP. If he wants to be really good at it, he'd have both edges. Remember that these Edges only make you can still do the action regardless.

        Rerolls: Leaving that one too. If you succeed and want to try for a raise, you get one free "dedicated Benny", essentially.

        Grappling: Honing in, considering, and playtesting. Will get back to you.

        Growth: They don't. Clarified in text now.

        Shape Change: Changed to Self. Look for "polymorph other" in the Fantasy Companion.

        Infravision: Added you can see invisible folks.



        • DoctorBoson
          DoctorBoson commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for the response! Glad to hear most of it. Still worried about rerolls—they seem too good—but it's certainly not setting off any alarms, I'll need to get a feel for it in play. Might make the argument that Burrowing's outdoor-only limitation isn't enough to offset that effective invulnerability it can grant, but that's a very campaign-dependent point of balance (it's less valuable in a sci-fi capital ship game than a fantasy wilderness game).

          Re: Two-Fisted, my biggest issue on that front isn't that users are restricted from the option—they're not, Multi-Actions are very flexible—it's that the tropes of two-handed fighting feel like they're divided mechanically instead of thematically. One's melee and one's ranged, which might be mechanically sound, but as you guys mentioned in your design paradigms it doesn't feel like it reinforces the tropes of the different styles.

          The big two-handed tropes are using pairs of guns (which Two-Gun Kid has full coverage over) or using melee weapons, even at range (where Two-Fisted covers half of the trope but not the other). You have the twin axe fighter, twin knife fighter, the improvisational fighter that jump back and forth between bashing and throwing the weapons in either hand... all of those characters focus on both melee and throwing, but have little to no skill in using pistols or SMGs in both hands. Conversely, the two-gun character tends to stick to a single melee or thrown weapon when they're forced to use them.

          Yeah, that's pretty much it. The twin dagger character won't be as good at throwing both of his daggers as a character who can shoot both of his guns and it feels incongruous.

      • #7
        One of the ideas we're considering is that initiating a grapple is always an Athletics roll (it takes some skill), but you can resist with Brute Strength by just breaking free.

        So it would change from:
        • Brute Strength: An attacker or defender can forgo holds and training for raw power. Either party may substitute Strength for Athletics at a −2 penalty.

        • Brute Strength: A defender may substitute Strength for Athletics at a −2 penalty.

        Then Breaking Free from a Foe (page 98) would be tweaked to read:
        • Breaking Free from a Foe: Use the Grappling rules (page 101) in reverse to break free—the victim initiates an opposed Athletics roll with whoever’s holding him (either may roll Strength at −2 instead to maintain or break free of the hold). If the victim’s successful, she improves her status one level, or two with a raise.
        Whatcha think, friends?


        • mattprice516
          mattprice516 commented
          Editing a comment
          As mentioned, this brings back the issue where very strong things are incapable of grappling each other since Strength scales up so much while Athletics mostly doesn't. Thoughts on the below?

          "Brute Strength: The defender may substitute Strength for Athletics at a −2 penalty. If the defender does this, the attacker has the option to do the same."

          This preserves the ability for strong things to grapple each other, while also allowing the half-folk to still nimbly dodge out of the way if the Dragon tries to grab him.
          Last edited by mattprice516; 01-18-2019, 06:15 PM. Reason: Clarification

        • DoctorBoson
          DoctorBoson commented
          Editing a comment
          Breaking free is great—both parties can use their fullest potential to break/hold, which is great.

          I think the Brute Strength change is mostly good, but I would just add that if the defender opts for this, the attacker may do the same. This means that Skill is the focus unless the target opts for a Strength defense—in most human-sized cases Athletics is still smarter to grapple with but with high-powered games this allows the attacking party to overcome a target’s unreasonable Strength using his own. It also sidesteps the issue noted below; just restrict attacking with Brute Strength to only being an option against defenders resisting as such.

        • Philipp
          Philipp commented
          Editing a comment
          Here just a new idea to think about: Make breaking free a free action. It could end up be something like this:

          Make the initial Grappling Roll Athletics vs. Athletics only.

          Breaking free now is a free action. The victim can choose Strength or Athletics. The grappler has to roll the same. On a success, the victim is Entangled and looses all actions for this turn. On a raise, he is free and can act normally.

          The result is that you can grapple something really strong or really big (i.e. hold on to it and distract it in a way) but come its turn it will break free and not loose an action. If it is clear that the victim will break free, you can think of it as a special form of Test where the normal results is always Distracted (from the Entangled and only until the beginning of the next turn), on a raise it is Distracted and Vulnerable (from Bound) instead of Shaken.

          I would also say that Shaken should at least have a chance to break a grapple.

      • #8
        The only problem I see with that is really strong things with average athletics really can't grapple each other very well. For example an Ogre tries to Grapple another Ogre with d6 Athletics, the other Ogre resists with it's D12+2 Str so there's little chance one ogre can grapple another.


        • #9
          Locnar: Yeah..that was the issue. Still thinking. Thanks


          • #10
            Grappling is the hobgoblin of many RPGs.


            • #11
              Seems like DoctorBoson's proposed solution that the attacker can only choose to initiate a grapple with Brute Strength if the defender is using Brute Strength to defend covers all the corner cases. The only issue I see is slight additional rules crunch. And the fact the defender needs to decide how he is going to defend before the attacker rolls. But the question can be asked in a narrative way pretty easily:
              GM to player, "The Ogre is trying the grab you. Do you want to try and slip away from its grasp, or just try and shrug it off with your strength?"


              • #12
                I haven't seen a better fix yet.


                • #13
                  Both mechanically and logically, I don't like Strength being an option for resisting a grapple initiation. I'd submit that it also takes some skill to avoid being grappled. It's once you are that you can leverage your strength.

                  I think Breaking Free from a Foe is clear enough and should be left as is. But for Brute Strength, I'd go with:
                  • Brute Strength: An attacker or defender can forgo holds and training for raw power. Either party may substitute Strength for Athletics at a −2 penalty to maintain or break free of the grapple.


                  • DoctorBoson
                    DoctorBoson commented
                    Editing a comment
                    It's an important distinction in high-powered games. A d10 Athletics, d6 Strength character grappling a d6 Athletics character with d12+10 Strength feels weird, though it makes sense if the attacker also has an absurdly high d12+10 Strength. Since there is the malus, defending with Strength isn't going to be viable unless you're absurdly strong and I think that's totally reasonable.

                • #14
                  I like a lot of what Doc Boson has said, but this one feels off to me because the attacker has to wait and see what the defender is resisting with before he rolls.


                  • DoctorBoson
                    DoctorBoson commented
                    Editing a comment
                    That's the main hurdle I've had trouble overcoming as well, but I can't think of a clean way to cover the problematic cases otherwise, at least not without changing Opposed Rolls to start with the defender instead of the attacker (which is too much in my mind).

                • #15
                  Brainstorming here: It's always Athletics to start a grapple, resisted by Athletics. You can use strength to break out. The only problem with this is you can easily keep a foe locked down by continuing to grapple them even if you have very little chance of holding them. So....what if you got a free chance to break out using Str -2 right after the grapple is successful? That way if a house cat Grapples a Dragon the Dragon may immediately try to shrug it off for free? I haven't thought all of this through but I thought I'd throw it out there.