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whaddon View Drop Down
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William Haddon

Joined: 31 March 2009
Location: United States
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Posts: 793
Post Options Post Options   Quote whaddon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: AAP blog
    Posted: 28 August 2012 at 8:46pm
I thought I would make the process of fully playtesting the Ablative Armor Points system a little more transparent by putting my thoughts in here so that people could comment/argue/harangue/send hate mail in a central location.

After four years or so of relatively light playtesting, we had our first real AAP game this last weekend, called Tomb of Tempus.  It was a pretty short, being only 8 encounters.  Two teams of 4 PCs (levels 3-5) went through the game and I was lucky enough to GM one of them.

For the most part, in looked exactly like a 7.0 game.  The thing I most want to note is a failure in the previous playtesting that lead to an oversight in the rules system.  All of the playtests before had been pick-up-groups.  This means that teams were more built around who was there, or what people were excited to try, rather than trying to muscle through a (in this case) Fighting 7 game.  The fighting classes have little in the way of ability to mend their own armor, but this had always gone exactly the way it was meant to: a reliance on teamwork with the casting classes.  However, in Tomb of Tempus, we got something (on both teams) that we hadn't gotten ever in the playtests... combat heavy teams.

Team 1 was three knights and a cleric.  Team 2 was two knights and a thief and an MU.  This meant that on both teams, ALL of the mending was concentrated on one individual and this overwhelmed their ability to produce.  Team 1 was saved by God's Booning the ever-living c%*p out of it and the Cleric went through a good 60 spell-points (4th level Cleric - 40 max), most of which went to mending.  Team 2 had a transfer point item that let the MU suck points from the Knights to cast mends, and even then, they did not mend to full often.

That was the major issue, and one that is being addressed and addressed hard in AAP 6.1.  Other minor issues I noted: In AAP, you do not have to call damage if it is 1 point.  This was REALLY hard for 7.0-trained players to remember.  Both on the giving side ("One!  One!") and on the taking side ("I'm swinging 1 point of damage".   "Oh, right... sorry...*thump*").   I think this is a trivial issue that will solve itself with only minor practice.

Other than those, I was pleased at how much it looked like a 7.0 game.  I did notice something I liked a lot that was somewhat unlike 7.0.  The Knights on Team 1, when they took a beating, really did have to check in with the Cleric.  Knights in 7.0 are so self-sufficient, they rarely need team-work of any kind, and I was gratified to see this.

We will be running our next full AAP game (a bargame) coming up in October, so we'll get more data there, as well as a look at the Enhanced Classes.


If IFGS could just get rid of the games so it could focus on sustaining its own bureaucracy... we would finally be living the Dream.
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whaddon View Drop Down
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William Haddon

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Post Options Post Options   Quote whaddon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2012 at 7:48pm
So, after the results of Tomb of Tempus, I thought I'd better go back and look at my math.  The ideal had been to try and make sure that the number of hits needed to take a specific character down were about the same between 7.0 and AAP.  When I rebuilt my megalithic spreadsheet, though, it looked at first like I'd totally blown it.

I had tried to estimate the magic power of the various classes at various levels, figuring in +2 swords and +3 armors, along with exalts and exuberates and everything else.  The math got harder and harder, and I realized that there was no way of making it work out.  If I got the number of hits right between Fighter and Clerics, it would be off between Fighters and Knights.  If I compensated so that the MU had to hit the Knight the right number of times to knock him unconscious, the MU became brutal against the Druid.  etc. 

The problem came in the sudden switch that 7.0 makes between a multiple point subtractive system and what is essentially an Ablative Armor Points system once the "Threshold of One" is passed.  What I mean is that as long as the attacker was only "one pointing" his opponent, the number of blows needed between AAP and 7.0 were exactly the same.  As soon as the attacker was doing one point ABOVE that threshold, though, the opponent fell down twice as fast.   This seems intuitive if we are moving from 1 point of damage to 2, but it is more problematic when the damage is moving from 8 to 9 when this suddenly happens.  And, in that case, swinging 10 is three times as much as swinging 8.... which is terrible.  Especially when it is three times as much against a Cleric, but exactly the same damage against a Knight (because his armor is higher).  It made for some wild swings in the damage curves.

What did I do?  I went back to the simplest comparisons I could.   Rather than compare every class to every other, I compared them only to Fighter.  I did this for two reasons.  One, Fighter is likely to be the toughest opponent (statistically) and Fighter is often the most common NPC bad guy.

I ran the numbers again and suddenly I was WAY closer to my original figures, although higher by a significant degree in some cases.  Then I realized that I had included e-spells in my 7.0 numbers but not in my AAP numbers.  When I took them out, I was exactly back to my original numbers.  Hallelujah.  I wasn't crazy afterall.

And it seemed to make sense to base the numbers on "naked" combatants.  Making the rest of the balance happen would have to be taken care of by SAS and magic items.

It did, however, enlighten me about something.  E-spells matter a LOT.  Exalt in 7.0 grants only a +4 to armor, but in AAP, its basically the equivalent of 20 points of armor.  That is huge.  It more than doubles the amount of armor a fighter might have at that level.  But how is that possible?  In 7.0 it would be the difference between, say 10 points of armor and 14.  That isn't double.

It is.  In the same way that 10 is three times as much damage as 8.

Now, as Mike pointed out (and Jeff too, to be fair), it was a question of whether I really wanted magic to be that vital.  If Exalt gives out 20 points of protection, it is a necessary thing to have.  Clerics are back on the "must have" list.  However, if I make most of that into armor... the spell is nice, but not required.  Its a philosophical difference.

I think, in the end, I am going with higher numbers.  At low and mid levels they are barely noticeable.  At high levels, the curve gets very steep indeed.  But I think its the right answer.
If IFGS could just get rid of the games so it could focus on sustaining its own bureaucracy... we would finally be living the Dream.
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