e20 Playtest Session #1

General topics such as design philosophy, style, tone, and the like.

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e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:34 pm

So we ran a brief playtest tonight. Here are the notes I jotted down and a few other observations by one of my other players. I am waiting for more notes from some of the others too.


Saves might be unnecessary
Saves same name as defenses is a bit cumbersome
Power attack working with melee attacks vs. the melee skill??
Knowledge (technology)??
Starting equipment?? How to determine the actual equipment a character starts with? Or should they just roll for everything they want?
Resources incredibly complex
Layout – difficult to find things in the book
Defense calculations should be in front of the book
Skills: when picking a skill and a specialization do you gain the +2 to the entire skill AND the specialization or just the specialization?
Increase base unarmed damage
Attaking with ranged weapons in melee penalty? mobile cover?
Hit points too high
No armor for dreadnaughts makes them useless?
Melee damage to low
Collision damage too low?

Notes from a player:
Savant Talent Tree
- Customized Modification seems way overpowered, customizing my ranged weapon essentically means that I am getting 2 attack rolls per round if I don't like the first one.
Dual Weapon Stance
- Need to explicitly state that the action must be declared before attempting, otherwise the player will only take the second shot if their first rolls high enough.
Waaay too many hitpoints, there is no sense of danger.

There were 4 PCs, 1 Dreadnaught, 1 Savant, 1 Envoy and 1 Corsair. I threw them in a field with 5 basic zombies, 1 standard zombie, and 1 elite zombie. Starting with character creation it seemed there was a lot of page flipping trying to find where certain things were listed like the break down of the Defenses. Secondly Resources was way complicated, there was no way to determine the actual starting gear for a character. So my quick fix was, choose a number of items equal to your Resources, no item may have a Resources check higher than 3x your Resource number. So a character with Resources 5 could choose 5 items that had a Resource Check DC of 15 or lower. This allowed them to pick whatever they wanted to start as starting gear instead of having to roll for pretty much anything and everything on the list.

The other thing we noticed is that the hit points do seem crazy high, at least in this scenario when faced with balanced enemies that deal small amounts of damage. However, I did note that the zombies rarely missed even with their +2-+4 bonuses to hit. I also was not using their core talent, which I think basic characters should be allowed to use at will instead of 1/encounter. Basic attacks from zombies over and over got old fast.

Another player, and I agree with him, said it was probably just this encounter; armed PCs vs. an average zombie encounter. I did remind them they were expected to survive.

The player of the Dreadnaught quit outright, said he just rather play Saga. He was the least pleased yet he did not fully utilize his character anyway. So I wouldn't count that.

After we ended, another player and I were brainstorming the encounter for the next game session and were looking over including a vehicle and got to reading the Collision damage, it seems too low vehicle speed/10 x size modifier of the target, for a huge truck going 30 mph vs. a stationary character on foot, that equates to only 3 points of damage. (30/10) x (1) = 3

Anyway, that is the initial thoughts. Our assumption is that the next encounter vs. armed opponents and set in a more dynamic environment will provide more insight that this encounter. They will be level 2 as well.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:33 am

I'm on my way out the door (another series of doctor's appointments, "woo!"), but I should be able to answer at least some the questions and address at least some of the concerns when I get back later this evening.

I've a feeling threads like this one are going to be relatively invaluable.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby DTemplar5 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:57 pm

I'm trying to get a group together for playtesting, but the holiday season being what it is... *shrug*
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMRob » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:01 am

My group will be getting together for our first playtest session sometime post holiday as well. And with any luck, I'll be able to get a couple of microphones into the room and get a live play recording going so that I can go back and pick out the details after the fact.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:12 pm

I had every intention of following up with this thread, but this week's been ... difficult -- with one or more health-related appointments just about ever day ... none of them going particularly well -- and I'm trying desperately not to fall further behind on any of my e20-related work....
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:19 pm

Session 2 will feature two PCs and a GMNPC at level 2 on a dark city side street, a truck load of thugs tries to run them over, they skid out and start shooting at the PCs. There will be a mounted gun on the truck and the PCs will have to fight to survive. We'll see how it goes.

I think I might bump up the difficulty to be a hard encounter. The first session was just an average encounter.

Just to note again, the small amount of melee damage from a basic to elite npc will take many many rounds to take down a PC, so much so that it seems kind of a waste to even use that as an attack.

I think I will make a melee focused Standard NPC for this next encounter, see if that changes anything.

Will post the results Tuesday night or Wednesday.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby DTemplar5 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:15 pm

Remember that an unarmed opponent can use any of the styles; perhaps have unarmed used the Dual Weapon style so they can get two attacks off.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:22 pm

I'll go through this in more detail in a bit, but I suspect you might have been leaving out some damage in a few places.

For weapons, make sure you're adding the skill and key ability modifier to damage, and don't forget that NPCs use fighting styles, too. A zombie's natural weapon (bite) should do 1d6 + Str weapon damage, and then you add the zombie's Unarmed (Str) and any modifier for its fighting style. You could go dual weapon or one-handed weapon, but I'd recommend two-handed weapon. (Yes, a "two-handed bite" sounds funny, but it's meant to cover any unarmed/natural attack where you're putting so much force into it that you can't make an off-hand attack [dual weapons] or protect yourself properly [one-handed weapon].)

So, let's say the basic and standard zombies had Str 15 and the elite had Str 17. (Highest stat is 13 by default, but you'll be adding +2 to at least one ability score from its race or template; elites add another +2 to all abilities.) They should also be trained and focused in Unarmed; a zombie's bite is its defining characteristic, so it should be maxed out. (Really, where else are they going to spend their skills? :) ) Given this, here are what their simple melee attacks would look like:
  • Basic/Standard: Attack +5 vs. Primary, Hit 1d6 + 9; with Power Attack, it would be Attack +3 vs. Primary, Hit 2d6 + 9.
  • Elite: Attack +6 vs. Primary, Hit 1d6 + 12; with Power Attack, it would be Attack +4 vs. Primary, Hit 2d6 + 12.
Again, this is just a simple melee attack; if you add in a core talent of some sort (say, Melee Smash), you might be adding another +2 to +3 damage.

Now, compare that to the Dreadnought, who presumably has a ton of hit points (120+ at 1st level); a basic or standard zombie that isn't even using a talent or Power Attack would burn through his hp in just 10 hits. If the Dreadnought were tackling the 5 basic zombies alone (which he should be able to do), he'll take out one almost every round, but about half of them will hit him each round, too; that means that even if he wins initiative over them, he could quite realistically lose about half his hit points before he finishes them off even if he kills one each round. (On average, he'd take 2 hits on round 1, 1.5 on round 2, 1 on round 3, and 0.5 on round 4, for an average total of 5 hits.)


As for collisions, you're definitely reading the rule incorrectly in a couple of places. When it says "other character's size multiplier," that means the other character in the collision. So, when a Huge truck hits a person on foot, the truck takes damage using the person's size multiplier (x1), but the person takes damage using the truck's size multiplier (x2). Second, when it says "current speed," that's speed in squares, not mph. So, a pedestrian hit by a Huge truck moving at 30 mph (52 squares/round) would take 10 damage on a hit and 5 on a miss.

That said, I see something here I missed in my last revision pass -- I'd wanted to bump all collision damage by a factor of two (matching the roughly doubled hp seen elsewhere), but I forgot to splice that in. In future versions, you will determine damage based on the moving character's current speed/5, not speed/10. In the example above, that would change the damage to 20 on a hit and 10 on a miss; more than enough to seriously injure or kill an ordinary (non-heroic) person, just as you would expect.


I'll go through more of your playtest report a bit later on, but this should give you at least a bit to chew on until then. :)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:46 pm

OK, I'm back. Let's go through a few more questions. :)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Saves might be unnecessary


How so? They're useful for handling any lasting condition without having to track durations.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Saves same name as defenses is a bit cumbersome


I can't think of a good alternative unless we had a single saving throw (a la D&D 4E), but I don't want to use something so similar to the 4E mechanic.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Power attack working with melee attacks vs. the melee skill??


It works with any melee attack, not just those made with the Melee skill. (You do have to be using two-handed weapon style, though.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Knowledge (technology)??


Use the most relevant skill to determine what you know about a given piece of technology (i.e. Mechanics for most mechanical devices and structures, Computers for electronics, Vehicles for vehicles, Medicine for medical equipment, Firearms for a 9mm pistol, etc.).

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Starting equipment?? How to determine the actual equipment a character starts with? Or should they just roll for everything they want?


Because they have as much time as they want to go shopping before play starts, they can take 20 on all Resources checks to buy starting equipment (at least until their Resources are reduced to +0). Your Resources modifier still decreases if you buy something with a purchase DC greater than your Resources modifier, as normal.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Resources incredibly complex


Observation incredibly vague. :)

Seriously, what specific things do you find complex? And are they the sorts of things that would be made clear with examples (which will obviously be in the actual rulebook, but not e20 Lite)?

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Layout – difficult to find things in the book


Again, e20 Lite isn't the actual rulebook, so things like indexes and such aren't there yet. At least give me credit for giving you a table of contents. :)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Defense calculations should be in front of the book


Noted. I'd planned to expand the character creation rules to walk you through each individual step (which would include defenses and everything else), including a detailed example that you can follow through the process to see how it works in practice.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Skills: when picking a skill and a specialization do you gain the +2 to the entire skill AND the specialization or just the specialization?


If a skill has specializations, your training bonus (+2 if trained, +3 to +5 if focused) applies only to those specializations you know. You can pick up additional specializations with the Specialized Experience feat or by training in your downtime. (Most characters would presumably prefer the latter unless they needed to pick up a specialization really quickly.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Increase base unarmed damage


See my earlier post; I'm almost certain you were missing several things that apply to damage.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Attaking with ranged weapons in melee penalty? mobile cover?


Yes, mobile cover is the only thing that applies there. (The "-5 for shooting into melee" rule is one of the more universally hated ones I've ever encountered.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Hit points too high


See my earlier post.

I bumped hit points up after running some mock battles, and I set them at their current levels on the assumption that you're likely to run several encounters in fairly quick succession (average difficulty standard). If you're running just one big encounter (as you did in your example), you'll almost certainly want to create a hard (or possibly overwhelming) encounter; bump up your XP target somewhere between 50% and 100% to get a good, solid fight.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:No armor for dreadnaughts makes them useless?


How so?

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Melee damage to low


See earlier post.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Collision damage too low?


See earlier post.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Notes from a player:
Savant Talent Tree
- Customized Modification seems way overpowered, customizing my ranged weapon essentically means that I am getting 2 attack rolls per round if I don't like the first one.


Keep in mind that you have to spend a standard action to gain this advantage, so you're giving up at least one attack right at the start. Also, don't forget its range; unless you use it against a very close target (within 5 squares), you're taking a range penalty to your attack roll to activate the talent. (If the target is that close, of course, there's a very good chance it will be able to make at least one attack against you while you're fiddling around with your weapon.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Dual Weapon Stance
- Need to explicitly state that the action must be declared before attempting, otherwise the player will only take the second shot if their first rolls high enough.


The rules do explicitly state this under Style Feats, but I apparently forgot to copy it into the Fighting Styles section. To be clear, you must declare that you're using a style before you gain its benefit; you can gain the benefit of only one style at a time, and you can change your style once per round as a free action during your turn.

In the case of Dual Weapon Style, you're taking a penalty to both your first and second attack rolls (and you get the second one only if you hit with the first), so you're making a specific trade-off to gain that benefit.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Waaay too many hitpoints, there is no sense of danger.


See earlier post as well as the point I made above; if you're just running one standalone encounter, you should kick up the difficulty a notch or two.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:There were 4 PCs, 1 Dreadnaught, 1 Savant, 1 Envoy and 1 Corsair. I threw them in a field with 5 basic zombies, 1 standard zombie, and 1 elite zombie.


In this specific example, the PCs probably could have handled 10 basic zombies, 2 standard zombies, and 1 elite zombie as a good, solid standalone encounter. (This would be exactly 150% of your XP target, right in the middle of the range for a hard encounter; you might add 5 more basic zombies or 1 more standard zombie if you want to push up to the edge of overwhelming.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Starting with character creation it seemed there was a lot of page flipping trying to find where certain things were listed like the break down of the Defenses.


See above; I think a detailed character creation walk-through will fix this.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Secondly Resources was way complicated, there was no way to determine the actual starting gear for a character. So my quick fix was, choose a number of items equal to your Resources, no item may have a Resources check higher than 3x your Resource number. So a character with Resources 5 could choose 5 items that had a Resource Check DC of 15 or lower. This allowed them to pick whatever they wanted to start as starting gear instead of having to roll for pretty much anything and everything on the list.


As I mentioned above, the rules were there, but I didn't think to spell out that you have to buy your starting gear just as you would any other time.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:The other thing we noticed is that the hit points do seem crazy high, at least in this scenario when faced with balanced enemies that deal small amounts of damage. However, I did note that the zombies rarely missed even with their +2-+4 bonuses to hit. I also was not using their core talent, which I think basic characters should be allowed to use at will instead of 1/encounter. Basic attacks from zombies over and over got old fast.


See my earlier post. If they were using a core talent every round, that would add quite a bit to their damage output (too much, in fact).

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Another player, and I agree with him, said it was probably just this encounter; armed PCs vs. an average zombie encounter. I did remind them they were expected to survive.


There are a lot of details that can make a big difference in this sort of fight; assuming all the zombies were making melee attacks, the PCs have an enormous edge if they're wielding ranged weapons. This is why I put this on p.83: "Feel free to adjust XP awards to reflect unusual circumstances (such as a substantial tactical advantage for one side), but such adjustments should almost never change the XP award by more than 50%."

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:The player of the Dreadnaught quit outright, said he just rather play Saga. He was the least pleased yet he did not fully utilize his character anyway. So I wouldn't count that.


Tell him that the Jedi Counselor hereby revokes his permission to play Saga. So there. :)

(Seriously, try to lure him back to try again after we've hammered out some of these details.)

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:After we ended, another player and I were brainstorming the encounter for the next game session and were looking over including a vehicle and got to reading the Collision damage, it seems too low vehicle speed/10 x size modifier of the target, for a huge truck going 30 mph vs. a stationary character on foot, that equates to only 3 points of damage. (30/10) x (1) = 3


See earlier post; as I noted there, I did make an error on collision damage (divide current speed by 5, not 10). Be sure to use the size multiplier of the other character in the collision to calculate damage: The moving character uses the struck character's size multiplier, and the struck character uses the moving character's size multiplier. Also, don't forget that speeds are measured in squares, not mph.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Anyway, that is the initial thoughts. Our assumption is that the next encounter vs. armed opponents and set in a more dynamic environment will provide more insight that this encounter. They will be level 2 as well.


I look forward to reading your report. :)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:07 pm

Sounds good! Thanks for the response. It is clear that I WAS handling the zombies incorrectly, I had their damage at 1d4 and did not give them power attack. I'm afb atm but I thought they had to have some sort of Martial Arts feat to bump up their unarmed damage, or does being trained in unarmed give them that next die step?

as far as everything else, this was a really quick thrown together sort of encounter and none of use really knew the rules so I am guessing most of it comes from that. I merely wanted to get the initial notes down before I forgot them. Hopefully this next encounter will provide more info and I will take better notes too!
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:55 pm

See, sometimes it's best if I step aside and give the "great bearded one" -- no, not Lucas, the other one -- a chance to reply. ;)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:22 pm

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Sounds good! Thanks for the response. It is clear that I WAS handling the zombies incorrectly, I had their damage at 1d4 and did not give them power attack. I'm afb atm but I thought they had to have some sort of Martial Arts feat to bump up their unarmed damage, or does being trained in unarmed give them that next die step?


An ordinary human would need Advanced Weapons (Unarmed) to get their damage above 1d4, but zombies aren't ordinary humans; they're zombies, so they have a natural weapon -- the dreaded "om nom nom" attack. :)

Use 1d4 for light natural weapons (e.g. claws), 1d6 for normal natural weapons (e.g. bite), and 1d8 for heavy natural weapons (e.g. gore). The distinction of light, normal, or heavy determines which fighting styles the creature can use with those natural weapons. For example, a creature with a heavy natural weapon must use two-handed weapon style to attack with it, and a creature with light natural weapons has lower penalties when using dual weapon style (and some style feats).

If you want, you can also give a creature Advanced Weapons (Unarmed) to bump its natural weapon damage up by one die type (just as martial arts does for unarmed humans).
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:55 pm

Sounds good. I think I am missing something though, how does a character get "Advanced Weapons (unarmed)" or martial arts for that matter? The only place it is listed is on the equipment table.

So a character would choose the Advanced Weapons feat, select unarmed, then what? Martial Arts and unarmed strike are listed under brawling on the equipment table. Does a character need to be focused in unarmed brawling to select those subcategories?

So confused.

In addition, here is a standard street thug I am writing up for the next encounter, does it look right?


Standard Street thug
Race:
Human
Occupation: Thug
Class: Dreadnaught; Level : 1
Speed: 5 squares
Senses:
Immune:
Vulnerable
:
Hitpoints: 61; Reserves: 30; Recover: 1/day, +12
MDT: 19
Abilities: Str 12, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 10
Defenses: Primary 12, Fort 14, Ref 10, Will 12
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +2
Attacks:
Unarmed: (standard; at-will) +3 vs. Primary; Hit: 1d4+1 damage
Knife: (standard; at-will) +3 vs. Primary; Hit: 1d4+1 damage; Range 2
9mm Pistol: (standard; at-will) +3 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6 damage; Range 5
Hold the Line: (standard; at-will) +4 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6+4 damage, and the target is slowed until the start of your next turn; Range 5
Trap Enemy: (standard, 1/encounter) +4 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6+5 damage. If the target moves before the start of your next turn, make a secondary attack as an interruption. Attack: +4 vs. Primary; Hit: 2d6+5 damage, and your target’s movement ends immediately. AP: on hit, target is slowed until the end of its next turn.
Skills: +3/+2/+0; Athletics +2, Focus +2, Mechanics +2, Perception +2, Firearms +2, Firearms: Handguns +3, Unarmed +2
Feats: Dodge, Skill Focus (handguns)
Talent: Core: Hold the Line, Major: Trap enemy
Known Stunts: Bull Rush: +3 vs. Fortitude; Hit: target is pushed 1 square away plus 1 square per 5 points over target's Fort. May move with target up to max speed.
Action Points: 0
Possessions: street clothes, knife, 9mm pistol
Resources:
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:09 pm

In addition, a player of mine has a question about skill specialties, whats the purpose? I understand what they are meant to do, show specialization, but to use the example listed in the book, proficient with swords vs. proficient with hafted weapons. So if someone needs to make a hafted weapons skill check and don't have that specialization they are treated as if they are untrained (+0 bonus) even though they may be trained in swords? That kind of doesn't make sense. It would seem someone trained in swords would have at some point trained with hafted weapons and would have some sort of working knowledge about those weapons, not they aren't specialized with them but there is no mechanical benefit to being focused other than being penalized for not specializing... um yeah, I'm confused.

I understand the point of it, someone highly trained with pistols vs. someone that can use all firearms, but the execution of the mechanics doesn't make sense.

I hope we are over looking something. Cause as it stands you can just take Firearms and gain a +2 bonus to handguns, longarms, and shotguns. Right?
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:53 pm

Session report #2

Two 3rd level PCs - one Corsair one Envoy/Corsair I think.

vs.

1 level 3 elite – xp500 - rifleman
1 level 2 standard – xp150 – melee fighter
1 level 1 standard – xp100 - driver
5 level 1 basic – xp100 – street thugs
1 level 2 basic – xp30 - sniper

I originally designed the encounter for 3 PCs because I was going to make a GMNPC but ran out of time.

This went pretty well, the PCs were overwhelmed and ended up fleeing the scene. Major and Core talents were used, MDT and fatigue came into play.

The only thing to note is that attacks do seem to hit a lot more often than in any other d20 game. But it does take some time to widdle away hitpoints, but we discussed it and it seems to be a comparable rate to other RPGs, higher hit rate vs. more hp = less hits and lower hp = about the same combat time. We did note, however, that attacks from NPCs were no where near high enough to threaten a PCs MDT except for on a crit roll of high damage or if the NPC rolls max damage (and even then it wouldn't beat some of the tougher PCs). My PCs have a MDT of 21 and 23 and the Elite in the encounter maxed at 25 damage, or 50 on a crit. The one time the MDT came into play was from the Elite hitting the character with the 23 MDT, and that took a crit to pull off.

So while the widdling away of the hit points was fine, there was still little fatigue coming into play.

We then began to discuss levels of realism, and decided that lowering the MDT would be more realistic than the options presented in the Excessive Damage sidebar. Because that level of gritty realism means being fatigued more often, not taking harder hits. Currently the system seems to have Saga CT syndrome, where the CT rarely comes into play unless you have an insane amount of hitpoints and/or are being stunned. Usually one or two crits or massive damage and it is over for that character, seems to be the same case in e20.

One of the pluses though is weapon ranges, A+! the ranges on all the weapons makes it a much more tactical game than Saga, one where moving, cover and what-not are utilized much more. Having to be up close and personal with pistols is great!

this encounter was by far better than the last and we really enjoyed it!
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Darthmoe » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:12 am

I think that was the intention for the default game setting. Grittier settings would probably have less forgiving MDTs. If it were me I'd take a page out of Star Wars and describe the PC as dodging every single attack except for the ones that actually cause him to suffer fatigue or injury. It gives the game a more realistic feeling, and it is definitely more cinematic as well.

The higher hit ratios make a lot of sense to me as well. A flat out miss is a failure on the part of the attacker, HP damage that fails to cause a significant injury is a success on the part of the defender's dodge ability.

Anyway what I am saying is it's good to hear what you reported because that means that so far the game is working as it designed to work.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:14 pm

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Sounds good. I think I am missing something though, how does a character get "Advanced Weapons (unarmed)" or martial arts for that matter? The only place it is listed is on the equipment table.

So a character would choose the Advanced Weapons feat, select unarmed, then what? Martial Arts and unarmed strike are listed under brawling on the equipment table. Does a character need to be focused in unarmed brawling to select those subcategories?

So confused.


When you take the Advanced Weapons feat, select one weapon skill; for example, Advanced Weapons (Unarmed) or Advanced Weapons (Firearms). You are now proficient with any advanced weapons whose specialties you know for that skill.

Example: You are trained with Firearms, and you select handguns as your specialty; therefore, you are considered trained with and apply your training bonus (+2) to attacks with handguns, but not with longarms or shotguns. If you take Advanced Weapons (Firearms), you are also considered trained with and apply your training bonus to attacks with any advanced weapons listed under handguns (e.g. 9mm submachine gun).

Later, you take Skill Focus (Firearms), improving your training bonus to +3 and allowing you to learn another specialty; you choose to learn longarms. You now apply your +3 training bonus to attacks with handguns and longarms, including any advanced weapons listed in these groups (e.g. 9mm submachine gun, 5.56mm assault rifle, etc.).


Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:In addition, here is a standard street thug I am writing up for the next encounter, does it look right?


I'll edit it to fix a few minor errors; changes are in red, and comments are in brackets.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Standard Street thug
Race:
Human
Occupation: Thug
Class: Dreadnought; Level : 1
Speed: 5 squares
Senses: +2 [defaults to Perception (Wis)]
Immune:
Vulnerable[/b]:
Hitpoints: 62; Reserves: 31; Recover: 1/encounter, +12
MDT: 20
Abilities: Str 12, Con 15, Dex 10, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 10 [Humans get +2 to one ability; since this is a dreadnought, I added it to Constitution; this changes hit points, reserves, Fortitude, MDT, and the attack bonus for both talents (which are Con-based)]
Defenses: Primary 12, Fort 15, Ref 10, Will 12
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +2
Attacks:
[One recurring error I see is that you're not adding the skill and ability modifier to damage. Don't miss that; it makes a big difference!]
Unarmed: (standard; at-will) +3 vs. Primary; Hit: 1d4+4 damage
Knife: (standard; at-will) +1 vs. Primary; Hit: 1d4+2 damage; Range 2 [not proficient with Melee]
9mm Pistol: (standard; at-will) +3 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6+3 damage; Range 5
Hold the Line: (standard; at-will) +5 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6+5 damage, and the target is slowed until the start of your next turn; Range 5
Trap Enemy: (standard, 1/encounter) +5 vs. Primary; Hit 2d6+6 damage. If the target moves before the start of your next turn, make a secondary attack as an interruption. Attack: +5 vs. Primary; Hit: 2d6+6 damage, and your target’s movement ends immediately. AP: on hit, target is slowed until the end of its next turn.
[I made a few changes to Skills and Feats; there's no real need to spend a feat on Skill Focus because you are allowed to allocate a second training slot to become focused, so I picked a different feat there and ditched Focus. You had one too many skills overall, so I also dropped Mechanics. Finally, I added specialties in parentheses after each skill.
Skills: +3/+2/+0; Athletics +2, Perception +2, Firearms (handguns, shotguns) +3 [Skill Focus applies to the whole skill, not one specialization], Unarmed (brawling) +2
Feats: Dodge, Relentless [I thought a Dreadnought class feat would be a good choice to go with Hold the Line and Trap Enemy]
Talent: Core: Hold the Line, Major: Trap enemy
Known Stunts: Bull Rush: +4 vs. Fortitude; Hit: target is pushed 1 square away plus 1 square per 5 points over target's Fort. May move with target up to max speed.
Action Points: 0
Possessions: street clothes, knife, 9mm pistol
Resources:
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:55 pm

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:In addition, a player of mine has a question about skill specialties, whats the purpose? I understand what they are meant to do, show specialization, but to use the example listed in the book, proficient with swords vs. proficient with hafted weapons. So if someone needs to make a hafted weapons skill check and don't have that specialization they are treated as if they are untrained (+0 bonus) even though they may be trained in swords? That kind of doesn't make sense. It would seem someone trained in swords would have at some point trained with hafted weapons and would have some sort of working knowledge about those weapons, not they aren't specialized with them but there is no mechanical benefit to being focused other than being penalized for not specializing... um yeah, I'm confused.

I understand the point of it, someone highly trained with pistols vs. someone that can use all firearms, but the execution of the mechanics doesn't make sense.

I hope we are over looking something. Cause as it stands you can just take Firearms and gain a +2 bonus to handguns, longarms, and shotguns. Right?


First, let me go over a few terms that you might be using incorrectly. (I, for one, have a bad habit of calling specialties "specializations," so let me make an effort to fix that here. :) )

Trained: When you are trained with a skill, you gain a +2 training bonus with it and you can use trained-only applications. If the skill has specialties, you learn one of them when you become trained; you are only considered trained with those specialties you know.

Focused: When you become focused in a trained skill, your training bonus improves to +3 (+4 at 9th level, +5 at 17th level). If the skill has specialties, you learn one additional specialty when you become focused. As before, you are only considered trained with those specialties you know.

Specialty: Each specialty is like a "sub-skill" that is related enough to use the same skill bonus, but different enough to require a bit of extra effort to use effectively. You automatically learn one specialty when you become trained and another one when you become focused. In addition, you gain extra specialties equal to your Intelligence bonus; if your Intelligence bonus increases during play, you learn another specialty from one of your trained skills. You can gain additional specialties either by training in your down time (p.23) or by taking the Specialized Experience feat.

The point of specialties is that you don't have to spend scarce character resources to learn them. Instead of making each Knowledge specialty a separate skill (as in 3.0/3.5), they're all aspects of one skill; as soon as you learn additional specialties, you immediately get to apply your entire training bonus (from Skill Training and Skill Focus) to those specialties. In other words, your number of trained and focused skills stays the same, but you learn to apply them in more situations.

In your example of someone who uses swords and tries to use a hafted weapon, the idea is that the weapons are sufficiently different that you won't automatically know how to do both equally well; however, they're just similar enough that you can practice with the new specialty and become good with it fairly easily. To use a D&D analogy, a typical dwarf might be highly skilled with hafted weapons such as axes ("I hit it with my axe!"), but he won't necessarily be very good with fencing weapons such as rapiers; however, because these specialties are part of the same skill (Melee), he can practice with fencing weapons and become just as good with them -- without having to spend a feat to learn a new skill.

Does that make more sense?
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:24 pm

Gary posted while I was still typing this up, but it seemed a shame to just "bin" the reply, so ... yeah. :)

Let me see if I can help to delineate skill specializations...

To quote from the post in which Gary first introduced e20's skill specialization mechanic, "Specializations are a place that [he] hopes to grant a little extra flexibility to e20 as a whole. They add a dimension of realism for skills that might have several related aspects that aren't sufficiently similar that you should automatically be skilled with all of them (e.g., being able to drive a car doesn't mean you can fly a plane). More importantly, it's a system that can very easily be removed for a simpler and more cinematic game." Depending on the situation, that last part may be of particular note.

Some other posts by Gary that relate to skill specializations:

(If e20 Lite clearly contradicts anything from Gary's posts predating its release, it's probably safe to assume the information in e20 Lite supersedes the contradictory information from those posts.)

If the skill specialization mechanic is in use, a character trained in the Melee skill with the "swords" specialization -- but not the "hafted weapons" specialization -- would be treated as "trained" (training bonus, access to trained only skill applications, etc.) when making an attack roll with a weapon that's part of the "swords" weapon group and "untrained" (no training bonus, no access to trained only skill applications, etc.) when making an attack roll with a weapon that's part of the "hafted weapons" weapon group. (If the mechanic isn't in use, a character trained in the Melee skill would be treated as "trained" when making an attack roll with any melee weapon.)

When the rules for specialties are being used, characters trained in skills that list specializations only receive the skill training benefits if they're attempting a task or challenge in which one of their chosen specialties applies.

Some additional pieces of potentially pertinent information:

  • The 1/2 level (bonus) portion of a skill modifier -- which applies even on checks with "untrained" skills -- represents overall experience with a skill, while the training bonus (if it applies) represents specific training.
  • The Skill Focus feat, other than allowing for the selection of an additional specialty, doesn't have anything to do with skill specialties.
  • There isn't really any relation between e20's skill specializations and the "weapon specialization" feats (or talents) found in other systems. (With e20's weapon skills and how skill modifiers can add to damage, such feats could be seen as unwarranted.)
I've a feeling I could've done a bit better with certain parts of this post, so if there's anything you think I could clarify, or if you have any specific questions, please let me know.

PS: In the interest of full disclosure, ... I'm still not completely "sold" on the current set of weapon groups (per e20 Lite 0.5); I'm holding out any real judgment until I at least ruminate on them a bit more, though.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:08 am

Thanks for the explanations guys! Yet, I am afraid I am still confused. So, in choosing the Firearms skill you "automatically" choose a specialization. Does "automatically" in this instance mean "must"? Because I interpret that to mean you do not have to, as in choosing a specialization is optional. With that line of thinking you simply choose the Firearm skill and thus gain a +2 training bonus to handguns, longarms, and shotguns. Because it would make no sense in my mind to choose a specialization because you are then only gaining one specific skill use instead of 3. Other than the fact that you are then considered untrained anytime you are required to make a skill check that requires a specific specialization... which would be... an actual weapon from a particular weapon group... ok, I think I am getting it now.

I think from here on out though I will tell my players that when choosing a skill that has specializations that they MUST choose one, it is not optional.

Which leads me to question the whole considered untrained line under specializations. I mean, it is rare that a character ever has to use a weapon they are not trained in and if it is that significant of a difference (trained vs. untrained) why not just require training? They can still try to use a weapon they are not trained in and they fall under the untrained rules, so it is covered. In addition, why would anyone choose just Firearms, for example, and then be considered untrained for all firearms? No one would, so just make choosing a specialization mandatory.

Yeesh, am I even making any sense anymore? So tired, must sleep.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:12 am

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:I interpret ["automatically"] to mean you do not have to, as in choosing a specialization is optional.

If the rules for specialties are in effect, training in a skill that has specializations means choosing one of them; it isn't optional.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Just make choosing a specialization mandatory.

As long as the GM is leveraging skill specializations, it is mandatory. (They can easily "handwave" specialties entirely, but unless that's the case, every character must take at least one specialization in every skill they're trained in that has them.)

PS: Sleep could be helpful. ;)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:42 pm

Cool. That is rather unclear in the text though. I know my players had the same line of thinking as I did.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Jatku » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:14 am

That may, at least in part, be due to certain preconceptions many gamers have developed about the word "specialization." Gary changing "specialization" and "specializations" to "specialty" and "specialties" (in the appropriate places) should go a long way towards helping avoid confusion. (In my initial e20 Lite 0.5 read-through, I'd actually noted a potential "disconnect," terminology-wise, between the Specialties section starting on page 22 and some other parts of the document.)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:32 pm

Wondering if Feint should be a stunt... just putting that out there.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Marcigny » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:42 pm

To Inquisitor Tremayne (or Jatku, or GMSarli):
Could it be possible for you to share one or two of your PC characters, as an example, and generic model to use in a playtest game (I do intend to make my players create their own PC, but after some discussions, they've explained their willingness to have some examples, which could clarify some misconceptions, as english isn't our primary language :? (we're french...).

Thanks in advance.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:14 pm

Here you go!

Father Eli
Race: Human
Occupation: Religious
Class: Corsair; Level : 6
Speed: 5 squares
Senses:
Immune:
Vulnerable:
Hitpoints: 141; Reserves: 141; Recover: 1/encounter, +28
MDT: 26
Abilities: Str 13, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10
Defenses: Primary 17, Fort 16, Ref 20, Will 15
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +0
Attacks:
Pistol, 9mm : (standard; at-will) +9 vs. Primary; Hit: 2d6 damage; Range: 5
Pistol, 9mm : (standard; at-will) +9 vs. Primary; Hit: 2d6 damage; Range: 5
Unseen Strike: (standard; 1/encounter) +9 vs. Primary and oppose sense (Wis); Hit: vs. opposed sense (Wis): You gain total concealment to the target.
vs. Primary: 2d6+9
Massive Damage: Target is stunned (Fortitude save ends) and takes additional -1 impairment penalty.
Hail of Fire: (standard; 1/encounter) Target: Area 3; +9 vs. Primary and Reflex of each target.
vs. Primary: 2d6+9
vs. Reflex: Target is disadvantaged until the start of your next turn.
Action Point: 2d6+10 on hit vs. Primary, and target is disadvantaged (Reflex save ends) on hit vs. Reflex.
Deadeye: (standard action; at-will) +10 vs. Primary; Hit: 2d6+11 damage; Stunt: Disarm
Skills: Acrobatics +5, Focus, Intuition +5, Knowledge (History, Religion) +5, Linguistics (language a, composition) +5, Perception (awareness) +5, Stealth +5, Firearms (handguns) +5, Melee (basic weapons) +5.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes, Improved Lightning Reflexes, Sneak Attack, Dual Mastery, Evasion, Uncanny Luck
Talent: Core: Fleeting Ghost, Deadeye, Major: Unseen Strike, Disappear, Hail of Fire
Known Stunts: Disarm, Riposte, Suppress, Trip
Action Points: 1
Possessions: Bag-o-stuff, Pistol 9mm, Pistol 9mm
Resources: Church
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Marcigny » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:49 pm

@Tremayne
You've been very helpful with the PC, thanks again.
___________________________

So, first session, played and discussed.
I won't discuss the criticism of said players about the layout of e20 0.5, because, well, it is not a finished work, so it's irrelevant.
Mostly, my players found the system quite balanced, the main concern being the Damage Threshold.
We've tried two different sorts of encounters:
-The first was placed in a relatively modern context (somewhere in the Thirties... Indiana Jones style...). This 1st level encounter opposed 3 PCs: a Corsair, a Vanguard & a Dreadnaught, against thugs: 3 basics & 3 standards NPCs. The encounter was intersting, the player discovering their characters abilities on the fly, but without much difficulty to adapt (the fact that we've played Star Wars Saga since the beginning helped a lot, I think). Actually, one of my player stated (and he dislikes by principle the d20 system with the exception of SWS), that the policy of repartition between static feats and active talents was a great improvement. On the other hand, stunts were limited in use (only once).
Considering the problem of the Damage Threshold, it was put in play only 2 times, and only because of near critical results on the damage roll. Not very useful as it is... (my players (in a rarely seen consensus...) suggested to diminish the MDT by 5.) If only to permit more "frequent" (but not too frequent) hits at this level.
Stunts were, to the admission of my Players, too few in this context, or mostly useless (in a gunfight, that is...)
Overall, a good experience.

-The second encounter took place in a "medieval" context with roughly the same disposition, with only weapon's skills, and any relevant feats & talents replaced. In this instance, Stunts were used, as were most of talents. As for the DMT, not once did it came into play, because even with max damage with average melee or ranged weapons, it was impossible to pass said threshold...
As for the question of the Hit Points, is was nicely counterbalanced by more frequent, so in this instance, no problems noted.
Two of my players found the Ressource system to be too number heavy... too "crunchy", if I may say so.

This is it for this week. Another session will took place before the end of the month, more commentaries are to come after that.
Hope this will help.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:44 pm

Session #3

Starting to like the system but still have a few issues and need some clarifications:

Choosing talents – core before major in a talent tree?
Aim – ignore cover
Death and dying
Fleeting ghost? – how work?

When choosing talents you have to have the core talent from that tree before taking a major talent from that tree right?

Aim seems kinda pointless, yeah you can use a combat style but there is very little benefit. i suggest reducing the targets cover by one step or in half.

It seems incredibly difficult for a character to die. You essentially have to burn through all hitpoints AND reserves THEN roll poorly on your saves, or suffer massive damage. Either allowing for a larger increase of hitpoints from recovering or allowing multiple recoveries per round would make more sense.

However, I did lower the MDT for this encounter by 5 for PCs and Elites and gave Basics and Standards no increase. Which made things MUCH more interesting and "realistic", MDT came into play much more often. However, it also added too much tracking to the game. Now you had to track multiple conditions, remember your saving throws. It IS very similar to the CT in Saga but I still think Saga handles it better.

The talent Fleeting Ghost, how is this intended to work? Do you have to have concealment BEFORE activating the talent or does it give you concealment? Because there is no prereq listed.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:49 am

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Session #3

Starting to like the system but still have a few issues and need some clarifications:

...

When choosing talents you have to have the core talent from that tree before taking a major talent from that tree right?


No. If you want, you could take a core from one tree and a major from a different one. At higher levels, talents eventually have prerequisites (e.g. "at least one core talent from this tree") that make core talents more important, but it's not an issue for low-level talents.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:Aim seems kinda pointless, yeah you can use a combat style but there is very little benefit. i suggest reducing the targets cover by one step or in half.


At minimum, you gain a +1 to damage from aiming, and you might gain a lot more if you have a high ability score. I think that's a fair benefit for only spending a swift action.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:It seems incredibly difficult for a character to die. You essentially have to burn through all hitpoints AND reserves THEN roll poorly on your saves, or suffer massive damage. Either allowing for a larger increase of hitpoints from recovering or allowing multiple recoveries per round would make more sense.


In the default rules (essentially modeling "cinematic heroism"), I don't want it to be particularly easy for a hero to die in their first couple of fights. After they've gone through a few fights, though, their reserves are exhausted and death becomes a real possibility.

BTW, don't forget that your fatigue and impairment penalties apply to saves; if you're weakening (i.e. dying), you're automatically at least at a -1 impairment penalty, and if you don't make the save it gets progressively harder because your impairment penalty increases by 1 with every failure. You still have a reasonable chance to stabilize, but it's definitely not certain.

That said, I'm open to adjusting how we handle this, and I'm hoping that playtesting will help us determine the best approach.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:However, I did lower the MDT for this encounter by 5 for PCs and Elites and gave Basics and Standards no increase. Which made things MUCH more interesting and "realistic", MDT came into play much more often. However, it also added too much tracking to the game. Now you had to track multiple conditions, remember your saving throws. It IS very similar to the CT in Saga but I still think Saga handles it better.


I've already been giving really serious thought to making this change; I'd say I'm about 50% likely to do so, but my biggest concern about it is what you describe -- if it's too easy to hit MDT, it can come into play on almost every attack, and that's a bit much. If we don't do this for the default rules, I would definitely work it into the "realistic heroism" and "gritty realism" options.

This is one of those places where things interact with overall hit point levels. Hypothetically, let's say we cut base hit points in half; hero/elite reserves = 2x hp, standard/basic reserves = 1x hp. Fights would become shorter (fewer hits needed to take a target down) but also more volatile (outcomes are more random as the average number of rolls are reduced). In this situation, reducing MDTs by 5 would cause less of a burden during play; because the fights are shorter, you'd have fewer fatigue/impairment penalties to track. Of course, this would further increase the volatility of each fight; this might be exactly what we need, or it might be a little too much randomness to give PCs a good chance to live through 20 levels.

Inquisitor Tremayne wrote:The talent Fleeting Ghost, how is this intended to work? Do you have to have concealment BEFORE activating the talent or does it give you concealment? Because there is no prereq listed.


Meh ... this one needs some work. I'll get back to you when I get the normal Stealth rules finished. :)
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:34 pm

I am going to be thinking this next thought through out-loud, so forgive me it is seems random and all over the place...

One of the things about the MDT, fatigue, and high points that I keep thinking about is the Dreadnaught and their crazy high hitpoints and thus never seeming to ever face death, especially when compiled with others in the party that have fewer hitpoints. It seems to follow that they would need to rest far sooner than the dreadnaught would, thus the dn would rarely be depleted of hitpoints or reserves. In addition, you don't start actually dying until you are at 0 hitpoints and 0 reserves and the only hit that can kill is a massive damage hit.

I think I wanted to try and make some more points but my brain is mush.
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Re: e20 Playtest Session #1

Postby GMSarli » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:41 am

For what it's worth, the reports of this and other playtest sessions have me considering reduced hit point totals and lower massive damage thresholds -- I'll have some specific proposals up in the next few days, so keep an eye out for it. :)
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