Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

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Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby Ramnesis on Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:19 pm

This took longer than I thought to put together, and I hope I haven't missed anything obvious in my evaluation.

My initial reaction to the different XP requirements was one of alarm, but I quickly realized that higher XP characters have more skill points. It’s not a 1 for 1 ratio, but the increasing versatility will make up for that in both ability and in fun. I would, however, recommend that you say that explicitly. It took me a while to realize that. Perhaps a listing of the pros and cons of mystic and multi class characters would help.



Speaking of versatility, it does seem that the more physical characters have far fewer options in combat. While they shouldn’t have the same options as someone who has to earn much more experience, I’m not sure the basic moving about and attacking is enough for them.



One of the things I find striking is the exposition about your core world that you hid in the rules. Iron pieces, the adventurer’s guild, and brief mentions of the Elkron hint at a world already in place. It’s a very good hook into the rest of the world, and it puts me in mind of a land where fey and fell creatures are pervasive and iron is rare and to be kept close at all times.





The biggest thing that jumps out at me is the way level progression affects the time spent playing. Since the damage doesn’t increase proportional to level, the number of hits it takes to kill a equally leveled monster is going to rise. If a first level version of a monster takes around 2 hits to kill, a 6th level version will take 8 (and a 12th level version 14). Factoring in mystic weapons and powers could halve that, but that’s still a twofold (sixfold) increase in the length of a battle.



On the flip side, the amount of experience it takes to achieve the next level increases geometrically, the amount of experience earned for a skill check only changes with the degree of difficulty. It takes a fighter 2 even difficulty skill checks to rise from level 1 to level 2, around 40 to go from 6 to 7, and over 2700 to get from 11 to 12.



So what I see is a quick game with fast rewards in the beginning, giving way to more drawn out encounters with smaller rewards later. Is that the way you envision things happening too?
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby vbwyrde on Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:50 pm

Thanks for the Feeback Dave. Glad you had a chance to get around to it and I'm very appreciative of the thoughtful response. I'll address the various points inline...

Ramnesis wrote:This took longer than I thought to put together, and I hope I haven't missed anything obvious in my evaluation.

My initial reaction to the different XP requirements was one of alarm, but I quickly realized that higher XP characters have more skill points. It’s not a 1 for 1 ratio, but the increasing versatility will make up for that in both ability and in fun. I would, however, recommend that you say that explicitly. It took me a while to realize that. Perhaps a listing of the pros and cons of mystic and multi class characters would help.


Thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to add that point in the rules right now.

Speaking of versatility, it does seem that the more physical characters have far fewer options in combat. While they shouldn’t have the same options as someone who has to earn much more experience, I’m not sure the basic moving about and attacking is enough for them.


I'm curious to hear what you might have in mind. I'm wondering if that is not simply a matter of adding more physical skills to the list? Or so you mean something else?

One of the things I find striking is the exposition about your core world that you hid in the rules. Iron pieces, the adventurer’s guild, and brief mentions of the Elkron hint at a world already in place. It’s a very good hook into the rest of the world, and it puts me in mind of a land where fey and fell creatures are pervasive and iron is rare and to be kept close at all times.


I'm glad to hear that. There will be a supplimental World Weaver's Guide to Elthos where I will talk much more about the Setting. So yes, the hooks are there as a lead in.

The biggest thing that jumps out at me is the way level progression affects the time spent playing. Since the damage doesn’t increase proportional to level, the number of hits it takes to kill a equally leveled monster is going to rise. If a first level version of a monster takes around 2 hits to kill, a 6th level version will take 8 (and a 12th level version 14). Factoring in mystic weapons and powers could halve that, but that’s still a twofold (sixfold) increase in the length of a battle.


I did a pretty thorough anaysis of that exact question. The length of time it takes for characters to kill one another has a few variables that can be used to make the game softer or harder by the GM. Those factors are:
  • Base Hit Points for Characters (currently 1)
  • General Resolution Matrix Root (currently 4, which is "Average Difficulty", or Even)
  • Armor Class Bonus Per Levels (currently every 6 Levels characters get a +1AC)
  • Weapon Damage Bonus
  • Weapon Attack Level Modifier

I removed the additional damage for levels because that swung the system to far over and made the average combat too long, for my taste, and I think the math bore that out. I took into account the following factors in the analysis: Basic Physical Chance To Roll, % Chance To Hit, Avg Weapon Damage, Outflanked Bonus, Attack Level, Damage Bonus, Avg Weapon Damage / Melee, Avg Damage Total, % Chance Critical, Critical Dam Per Melee, Avg # Melees to Win Physical.

Here's some Average # Melees to Win Physical (not including magic, which I have in the analysis but would be cumbersome to include in this post):

Both Characters have Average Requisites:
  • Two 1st Fighters with Sword & Shield: 3.52 Melees
  • Two 2nd Fighters with Sword & Shield: 4.75 Melees
  • Two 3rd Fighters with Sword & Shield: 5.49 Melees
  • Two 4th Fighters with Sword & Shield: 5.99 Melees
  • Two 5th Fighters with Sword & Shield: 7.39 Melees
  • Two 6th Fighters with Sword & Shield: 8.80 Melees

Here's some spreads of 1st vs Levels 1 through 6 with Sword & Shield.
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 1st Level Fighter: 3.52 vs 3.52 Melees
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 2nd Level Fighter: 6.34 vs 2.64 Melees
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 3rd Level Fighter: 9.15 vs 2.11 Melees
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 4th Level Fighter: 11.97 vs 1.76 Melees
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 5th Level Fighter: 14.79 vs 1.76 Melees
  • 1st Level Fighter vs 6th Level Fighter: 26.41 vs 1.76 Melees

The way to read that is: 1st Level would take 6.34 Melees to win, while the 2nd Level would take 2.64. Also the 1.76 Melee minium is because the ODS bounds lower and upper Attack Levels at 1 and 6 respectively. The idea behind that is that no matter how offset the Levels the little guy should have *some* chance of getting lucky, small as it may be. So from this you can see that the 1st Level Fighter is going to statistically have a very very hard time against a 6th Level fighter. But also notice that due to the Experience Point calculations the 6th Level guy gets less and less experience per kill for fighting against lower level characters. Ultimately the math comes out that the 6th Level guy is more likely to die, in terms of probability, fighting as many low level characters as it would take to equal the experience gain of a high level character. So the system rewards fighting people your character's level or higher, and optimal is turns out to be 1 or two levels above you. Which is risky on a per combat basis, but over many combats less risky. I've also done an extensive analysis of the experience gains progression vs. chances to die in combat vs various levels. I'll be posting those analyses on the Elthos website under the "Mr. Spock" section for Gamesmasters.

On the flip side, the amount of experience it takes to achieve the next level increases geometrically, the amount of experience earned for a skill check only changes with the degree of difficulty. It takes a fighter 2 even difficulty skill checks to rise from level 1 to level 2, around 40 to go from 6 to 7, and over 2700 to get from 11 to 12.


I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're saying here. Could you reprhase that a bit? I don't want to take anything away mistakenly.

So what I see is a quick game with fast rewards in the beginning, giving way to more drawn out encounters with smaller rewards later. Is that the way you envision things happening too?


That's right. This way for low level games it's fast and furious, but also lends itself to what I consider to be Long Term games as well. I'm really not sure how this will play out in the long run, as the system is brand new, but that's the concept. I want the numbers to be small and easily worked with because I'm tired of huge mind numbing number crunching, but I don't want to lose any of the general characteristics of my traditional RPG.

Thanks again Dave! I very much appreciate the feedback!
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby Ramnesis on Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:15 pm

vbwyrde wrote: But also notice that due to the Experience Point calculations the 6th Level guy gets less and less experience per kill for fighting against lower level characters. Ultimately the math comes out that the 6th Level guy is more likely to die, in terms of probability, fighting as many low level characters as it would take to equal the experience gain of a high level character. So the system rewards fighting people your character's level or higher, and optimal is turns out to be 1 or two levels above you. Which is risky on a per combat basis, but over many combats less risky. I've also done an extensive analysis of the experience gains progression vs. chances to die in combat vs various levels. I'll be posting those analyses on the Elthos website under the "Mr. Spock" section for Gamesmasters.


I didn't catch that nuance and I like it. Bullying isn't just less useful its more dangerous. Actually, if a 1st level character got lucky wouldn't he rapidly gain levels over the course of the battle?

One question that just occurred to me with this argument is, is skill check xp for melee actions based on skill/difficulty differences or is it based on differences in character level (and optionally skill/difficulty differences)? It's not immediately clear. I would assume it would have to be skill/difficulty because If its challenge levels, that hypothetically lucky fighter could earn hundreds of xp by the end. Indeed if he didn't level until combat was over, he'd earn thousands.

On the flip side, the amount of experience it takes to achieve the next level increases geometrically, the amount of experience earned for a skill check only changes with the degree of difficulty. It takes a fighter 2 even difficulty skill checks to rise from level 1 to level 2, around 40 to go from 6 to 7, and over 2700 to get from 11 to 12.


I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're saying here. Could you rephrase that a bit? I don't want to take anything away mistakenly.


I'm using skill check xp as a base because it appears to dwarf kill xp. Lets assume for the moment that every skill check a character does has a 1:1 ratio between skill and difficulty. That would mean the character gets 7.5 xp per skill check. That doesn't change with level, but the experience requirements do, so the higher your level the more skill checks you need to make to level further. At a low level its negligible, at a mid level its reasonable, and at a high level its extreme.
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby vbwyrde on Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:53 pm

Ramnesis wrote:I didn't catch that nuance and I like it. Bullying isn't just less useful its more dangerous. Actually, if a 1st level character got lucky wouldn't he rapidly gain levels over the course of the battle?


Yeah, it turns out that a 1st Level guy who is willing to take extreem risks (I have the percent chances of success in the analysis) he can potentially advance rapidly. The problem of course is that it's unlikely he will survive very long that way. Which is, as I think of things, how it should be.

One question that just occurred to me with this argument is, is skill check xp for melee actions based on skill/difficulty differences or is it based on differences in character level (and optionally skill/difficulty differences)? It's not immediately clear. I would assume it would have to be skill/difficulty because If its challenge levels, that hypothetically lucky fighter could earn hundreds of xp by the end. Indeed if he didn't level until combat was over, he'd earn thousands.


I'm not sure if you have the latest rules (v1.28), so here's the latest rules on Experience Gains:

Experience Gains Formula Calculations

COMBAT VICTORY
Exp Gain = (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))

PRIMARY SKILLS (Learned and Guild Class Specific)
Exp Gain = .75 * (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))

ELECTIVE SKILLS (Learned but not Guild Class Specific)
Exp Gain = .50 * (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))

UNLEARNED SKILLS
Exp Gain = .25 * (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))

Examples of Kill Experience Gains Formula, the first using only Character Level:

Using only Level: XP = Round(BKGM x (Vanquished (CL) / Victor (CL)))
Using attributes: XP = Round(BKGM x (Vanquished (CL + AL + AC) / Victor (CL + AL + AC)))

So to answer your question the Skills Experience would only involve Character Level vs. Character Level when the Skill is one that pits two characters against one another, such as in combat. In other cases, like basket weaving, it is Skill Level vs. Difficulty Level. Essentially the two work the same way. Also note that for Character vs. Character Experience Gains you don't have to just include Character Level, but can (and probably should) include anything that is relavent, such as Requisite Bonuses, Weapon Damage Bonuses, Armor Class, etc. The rule is that you must include for the Vanquished anything you include for the Victor in that calculation, so that it balances. I *think* that answers your question, yes?

On the flip side, the amount of experience it takes to achieve the next level increases geometrically, the amount of experience earned for a skill check only changes with the degree of difficulty. It takes a fighter 2 even difficulty skill checks to rise from level 1 to level 2, around 40 to go from 6 to 7, and over 2700 to get from 11 to 12.


I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're saying here. Could you rephrase that a bit? I don't want to take anything away mistakenly.


I'm using skill check xp as a base because it appears to dwarf kill xp. Lets assume for the moment that every skill check a character does has a 1:1 ratio between skill and difficulty. That would mean the character gets 7.5 xp per skill check. That doesn't change with level, but the experience requirements do, so the higher your level the more skill checks you need to make to level further. At a low level its negligible, at a mid level its reasonable, and at a high level its extreme.


Skill Check should not dwarf Kill XP, but the opposite in terms of gains. But really, Kill Experience is more accurately (in the revised rules) defined as Primary Skill Usage (whether that be combat for Fighters, or magic for Spell Chanters, or Miracles for Clerics, or theft for Thieves, etc). So you gain the most if you successfully use your Primary Skills, and less for Elective Skills (basket weaving, etc), and less for Unlearned. The idea is that I don't want the system to encourage players to have their characters sit around basket weaving to gain levels. It should take far too long to gain that way. I may have to fiddle around with the percents (listed above) to make that work perfectly, but that's the idea. I chose the percents that I did simply to make the math easier, but those numbers could be changed. For example perhaps Unlearned Skills would be Exp Gain = .05 * (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))... though IIRC the percents I have worked out ok. I'll probably want to run another analysis on that to make sure.

:)
Mark
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby Ramnesis on Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:40 pm

vbwyrde wrote:So to answer your question the Skills Experience would only involve Character Level vs. Character Level when the Skill is one that pits two characters against one another, such as in combat. In other cases, like basket weaving, it is Skill Level vs. Difficulty Level. Essentially the two work the same way. Also note that for Character vs. Character Experience Gains you don't have to just include Character Level, but can (and probably should) include anything that is relavent, such as Requisite Bonuses, Weapon Damage Bonuses, Armor Class, etc. The rule is that you must include for the Vanquished anything you include for the Victor in that calculation, so that it balances. I *think* that answers your question, yes?


It does. That hypothetical lucky 1st level fighter will walk out at almost level eight, which seems a fair reward for someone so obviously chosen by the gods.

Skill Check should not dwarf Kill XP, but the opposite in terms of gains. But really, Kill Experience is more accurately (in the revised rules) defined as Primary Skill Usage (whether that be combat for Fighters, or magic for Spell Chanters, or Miracles for Clerics, or theft for Thieves, etc). So you gain the most if you successfully use your Primary Skills, and less for Elective Skills (basket weaving, etc), and less for Unlearned. The idea is that I don't want the system to encourage players to have their characters sit around basket weaving to gain levels. It should take far too long to gain that way. I may have to fiddle around with the percents (listed above) to make that work perfectly, but that's the idea. I chose the percents that I did simply to make the math easier, but those numbers could be changed. For example perhaps Unlearned Skills would be Exp Gain = .05 * (BKMG * (Difficulty Level / Skill Level))... though IIRC the percents I have worked out ok. I'll probably want to run another analysis on that to make sure.

:)
Mark


I think I was mixing terms by differentiating between primary skill experience and kill experience, yes primary skill usage is what I meant. Characters are going to get much more experience exercising their primary skills than they are going to by killing monsters, hence I was using primary skill usage as the measuring stick. I don't think there's much of a problem with your percentages, and I don't think you could drop things much lower anyways. Certainly 10% is the lowest you should bother going.

Anyways, my point was it will take hundreds of primary skill usages to gain a level once you get into the upper echelons, that was what I was saying earlier.
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby vbwyrde on Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:05 am

It does. That hypothetical lucky 1st level fighter will walk out at almost level eight, which seems a fair reward for someone so obviously chosen by the gods.


Lets try it out. Lets take a 1st Level Fighter vs. 6th Level Fighter. We'll give both of them the same requisites, armor and weapons so we don't need to account for them in the experience calculation since they're equal. Therefore we only need to compare their Attack Levels for the Experience Gain. The Base Kill Gain Multiplier is 10.

The odds of the 1st Level Fighter winning this combat:
The 6th Level Fighter will win, on average in 1.76 Melees
The 1st Level Fighter will win on Average in 26.41 Melees

Which, if I'm doing the math right, comes to about a 94% chance of losing.

The experience gain for the 1st Level guy when he kills the 6th Level is:
Exp Gain = 10 * (6 / 1) = 60 XP.

The Levels Chart shows for Base 20:
Level Experience
1 ... 0
2 ... 20
3 ... 40
4 ... 80
5 ... 160

So when he is at a total of 60 points, which he is after this combat since we start the 1st Level fighter with 0 XP, then he is 3rd Level. Perhaps that does not seem like reward enough compared with your projection of 8 Levels, but 8 Levels would put him off the charts. I feel that this Levels advancement is acceptable. He takes a roughly 94% chance of dying to gain 2 Levels. Of course no right minded fighter would take tha risk, which is why it is more likely than not that a 1st Level Fighter will run away from a 6th Level, or die fighting him. Which is as it should be, I think.

Please do me a favor if you will and double check my math and compare to the rules book I'd appreciate it. I want to make sure that I'm reading my rules correctly (of course I *should* be but then again, I might be a little snow blind) and that my calculations are correct.

Conversely, how did you come to the 8 Levels gain? Maybe I missed something? It seems to my general sense of things that jumping 8 Levels from one combat would be way too much.

Also, note that the GM can adjust the Base Kill Gains Multiplier to suit his or her own tastes in terms of Levels advancement rates. A 20 would make the characters advance more quickly:

Exp Gain = 20 * (6 / 1) = 120 XP.

This would make him 4th Level (to get to 6th requires 160 XP).

Conversely, the GM if he or she wanted to could adjust the Levels Gains Multiplier which is currently set at 2.0, which makes the required XP double at each Level. I've experimented with 1.5 and 1.75, but have found that for simplicity sake 2.0 works best for me since multiplying by 2 is something I can easily do in my head, whereas 1.5 or 1.75 is more difficult. One of my design objectives for the ODS was to make it so that we can do all the calcs in our heads without too much trouble, and at the same time give the GM the flexibility to change key variables in the system to suit their own preferences of play. Try the other values and see if you like them better. The lower the Levels Gains Mutliplier the faster the Characters advance as the amount needed to achieve next level is lowered.

http://www.elthos.com/aspx/images/charts/levelgainsmult_comparison.jpg

Thanks again!

:)
Mark
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby Ramnesis on Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:34 pm

Well since fighters have combat skills as primary skills that would mean that each successful attack is a successful primary skill check. Now I did miscalculate earlier because I assumed that each of the 26.41 melees would include a successful attack when only 11 or so actually would (assuming the 6th level fighter has an hp of 37). Nevertheless that would be 11 * (7.5 * (6/1)) = 495, or with the 60 xp for winning, 555 xp total. That would take a fighter to level 6.

That's how I calculate it. Unless I've missed something I can't see a reason why attacking isn't the use of a combat skill.
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Re: Dave's Impression of Elthos and the ODS

Postby vbwyrde on Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:47 pm

Ramnesis wrote:Well since fighters have combat skills as primary skills that would mean that each successful attack is a successful primary skill check. Now I did miscalculate earlier because I assumed that each of the 26.41 melees would include a successful attack when only 11 or so actually would (assuming the 6th level fighter has an hp of 37). Nevertheless that would be 11 * (7.5 * (6/1)) = 495, or with the 60 xp for winning, 555 xp total. That would take a fighter to level 6.

That's how I calculate it. Unless I've missed something I can't see a reason why attacking isn't the use of a combat skill.


Ahhh.. now I understand. I should be more clear in the rules about this. Lets see if I can clarify this as simply as possible. Let me know how this explaination works for you.

The successful use of a skill means that whatever end to which the skill is deployed is accomplished. In the case of Combat it is to vanquish the enemy. Each enemy vanquished counts as a successful use of the weapon skill. In the course of using this skill many individual attacks may be made, each one requiring a successful die roll, however it is not until the skill has been used to completion does it count as a successful use in terms of experience gains. The same holds true for a Magic User who is trying to subdue a foe with Fire Bolts. In the case of basket weaving, however, the GM might roll once and it either is successful or not. In the case of lockpicking the he might role two or three times (though I put a limit on how many times a skill such as this can be tried before the GM should say, "Phineas can not open this particular lock" (usually 3)). Gamesmasters should use discretion when awarding experience.

Does that read reasonably well? Can I shorten that without it losing the meaning? I need to make the statement as short, yet understandable as possible.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

:)
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