First gaming session and errata.

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EvilCat
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First gaming session and errata.

Post by EvilCat »

Hello.

I presented Eldritch at our recent city RPG event to create some opposition to overwhelming D&D4e. Skill tree and story focus - that's what I liked from the first sight %) Yet in actual play we encountered some bugs which beg to be fixed. I list them bellow, in hope that it will be useful for both system and me, as I want to keep using it for narrative fantasy adventures.

Firstly, the text. It's the only major issue.
Think I'm fine with the choice of words - I had to look up in dictionary "mitigate", "pugilism", "scrutiny" and some other, but I'm more used to American English and it's not mine nor my players' native language anyway.
But there are many descriptions in Eldritch that are hard to understand - and that comes from experienced D&D player and gamedesigner by trade. For example, whole Initiative Challenge and Simultaneous Attack sections. I cannot establish clear algorithm or logic from this text and have yet to guess what does "The GM may allow a Full-Fledged NPC or monster to force a Reflexes roll against a single PC whose action lands in the same subphase turn" mean - monsters and PCs always act in different subphase turns at diagram to the left (except when both PC and monster delayed their actions from previous phase).
I had to reread combat initiative rules several times before I could extract exact logic from them, but then I encountered gross error - "Each creature may take one action during each battle phase". You cleared it in errata, but still, the game at the RPG event was broken, and the first impression of Eldritch RPG was almost ruined. Movement rules leave some questions too - should the GM keep in mind gradual movement per phase or it can be assumed that makes whole move in his phase...
From all that, I conclude that the text wasn't checked and tended carefully enough.

Next, the rules access.
The game and preparations in Eldritch really _are_ fast-paced and straightforward. Yay! Like some other posters here, I was able to create required monsters from scratch in 5-10 minutes, with no math except for HP/CS formulas and TY suggestions. But before that, I had to create my own quick reference (now that I tried the game, I can even upgrade it). The game can benefit greatly from quick rules blocks in every section, and Quick Reference at last pages can be expanded to make rules access rocket-fast %) That way one won't have to remember or write down these few suggested monster creation formulas and such.

Skill tree.
Mm, gem of Eldritch system, the reason why it appealed to me. The players, even having different RPG tastes, all said the same. Yet this gem can be cut to better quality.
Some suggested skill trees seemed strange to me and to others. After successful roll of scrutiny %) I noticed that "players and GMs are encouraged to add to or alter the lists", but I feel there should be guidelines for it, as some questions arise. Suggested list is not that universally clear either.
For example, Climbing: are man-made and natural surfaces that different to require different specializations? What about Agility > Balance > Climbing? In my games, I usually divide climbing into rockclimbing and treeclimbing (think I'd add ropeclimbing and urban climbing a.k.a. parkour, too), but I'd had trouble adding masteries for that ones. In not climbing-heavy game I'd made climbing a specialization of Athletics (with treecliming etc. as masteries), but if not...
One idea is to add masteries "Hanging", "Ascending", "Pursuit", "Window leaps". This is where we encounter next issue. While "Window leaps" is clearly a specific mastery of parkour, "Hanging" is universal climbing skill. Should it apply to all climbing specializations (making it more advantageous) or even isn't it really a specializations by itself, with masteries like "Treehanging", "Cliffhanging"? And, similar situation, what if player has both "Stealth > Forest" and "Stealth > Hiding", does he roll all three dice when hiding in forest, even if "Forest Stealth" and "Hiding" are both specializations here?

I have enough GM experience to answer these questions: skill tree depends on character concept and setting; rolling Stealth, Forest Stealth and Hiding for hiding in forest is fine and fair, as long as there are no more than 3 dice rolled; applying "Hanging" for all appropriate climbing situations as mastery is fine too, as it's logical and doesn't create that much of advantage. I'm sure that the system was released with that answers in mind, but they are implied rather then described.

Character Sheets
Standard character sheets in the book use 6 pages - more than in rules-bend D&D. I decided to use one-page sheets from Quick Start, it suits fast-paced style of Eldritch much better, not to mention advantages of having whole character statistics before your eyes all the time. Wish I didn't have to craft it from filled sheets by painting pre-genned characters stats white in Paint.

Finally, I'd like to suggest an idea. I noticed some similarities between Eldritch and my favorite FUDGE. Rules of both easily adapt to any setting and situations, and it's easy to write down any creature you imagine or read about. I think that Eldritch has great potential to convert resources from other systems and even fiction. It makes system much more omnious and useful, so, I'd be good to see guidelines on it in Eldritch core book.

***

I know there was more ranting in this post that praise, but I think that good, unbiased critics has more value than same amount of praise. I wouldn't write all that if I haven't adored this system very much and wanted it to become better %)
Thanks for a good work, keep at it.
dancross
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dancross »

Thank you for your feedback! You've done the game a good service and I appreciate it. I'm glad to hear the end result was good.

First, the initiative system. I've heard over and over that it's too "out of place", and does not need to be so complicated. Luckily, you can switch to a simple Reflexes vs. Reflexes sort of thing, and just allow action in order of the results, with perhaps only monsters acting in their die-rank order. That is what many players seem to prefer.

I also agree with the text. I plan on streamlining the language, cutting out a bunch of acronyms. For example, why say "ADC" when I can just say ability tree, or ability branch? I already had the language for it in the text. I think I introduced phrases like ADC because I have a tenancy to over explain, which in turn creates more confusion for what should be a simple concept. Live and learn right?

I am working on a master generic conversion document (non system specific for conversion purposes) for monsters right now, that ought to help. It will become the groundwork for forthcoming, more fleshed out bestiary entries.

Also, I can submit our master skills trees to some good folks who've been working with me since release and see if we can't get these tightened up a bit. We will work on polishing that some more (and here I assume we're talking about the sample skill successions. The base ability descriptions should be working fine).

There is a new character sheet made "official" as well. I'll have to find the current link for that in another thread...goodman should post news of the updated official sheet (much shorter and nicer looking) soon.

It's because of people like you that this system will excel, grow into its own, and become one of the best narrative, action-oriented dungeon crawl one-shot to campaign systems ever! 8)
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dunbruha
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dunbruha »

EvilCat wrote:But before that, I had to create my own quick reference (now that I tried the game, I can even upgrade it).
Would you consider posting this? I would love to see what you came up with.
Banesfinger
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by Banesfinger »

EvilCat wrote: Some suggested skill trees seemed strange to me and to others. After successful roll of scrutiny %) I noticed that "players and GMs are encouraged to add to or alter the lists", but I feel there should be guidelines for it, as some questions arise. Suggested list is not that universally clear either.
Yes, when we first started ERP, many of our players had only ever been exposed to D&D. So I rearranged the skill list into terms they would understand and be familiar with. The first tier of ADC mimicked the D&D stats (e.g. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, etc). Then linked skills were on the second and third tier (e.g. Dexterity > Acrobatics > Tumbling, etc).

This sped-up the understanding of the game, and minimized questions by the players. However, changing the skill trees was not without issues:

In adding the D&D stat tier, I had to remove a tier for some skill trees. In addition, everyone starts with all of the stats (Str, Dex, Int) to at least d4 level. This somewhat broke the “specializations are applicable to 10% of the situations, while masteries are only applicable to 10% of the uses of a specialization”.

I don’t know how all this will affect long-term play, but our group has not shown any desire for the additional detail (e.g. no one has asked if they can be a Master animal handler of domesticated cats). However, for some skills, I knew they would want additional detail (combat oriented skills – an undesirable effect of D&D), so I removed the basic tier and kept the specialization/mastery tiers (e.g. Strength > Axes > Great Axe, NOT Strength > Melee > Axes).
dancross
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dancross »

Banesfinger wrote:
EvilCat wrote: Some suggested skill trees seemed strange to me and to others. After successful roll of scrutiny %) I noticed that "players and GMs are encouraged to add to or alter the lists", but I feel there should be guidelines for it, as some questions arise. Suggested list is not that universally clear either.
Yes, when we first started ERP, many of our players had only ever been exposed to D&D. So I rearranged the skill list into terms they would understand and be familiar with. The first tier of ADC mimicked the D&D stats (e.g. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, etc). Then linked skills were on the second and third tier (e.g. Dexterity > Acrobatics > Tumbling, etc).

This sped-up the understanding of the game, and minimized questions by the players. However, changing the skill trees was not without issues:

In adding the D&D stat tier, I had to remove a tier for some skill trees. In addition, everyone starts with all of the stats (Str, Dex, Int) to at least d4 level. This somewhat broke the “specializations are applicable to 10% of the situations, while masteries are only applicable to 10% of the uses of a specialization”.

I don’t know how all this will affect long-term play, but our group has not shown any desire for the additional detail (e.g. no one has asked if they can be a Master animal handler of domesticated cats). However, for some skills, I knew they would want additional detail (combat oriented skills – an undesirable effect of D&D), so I removed the basic tier and kept the specialization/mastery tiers (e.g. Strength > Axes > Great Axe, NOT Strength > Melee > Axes).
Interesting customization. And doing so has no "real" effect on how the dice mechanics work too, so isn't that cool?

How did your modifications for combat go for you?
dancross
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dancross »

Evilcat: Initiative Challenge and Simultaneous Attack sections.

I realized I didn't answer your questions, at least not dealing with the original text as written. So now I'll do so.

Each creature gets one action per round, and each creature acts according to their Reflexes ability rank, in descending order. Each rank of Reflexes corresponds to a "phase" within the combat round. If two creatures have the same Reflexes die-rank (i.e acting in the same phase of a round), then there is an order of precedence: the PCs act first in such a tie, then "full-fledged NPCs" then extraordinary creatures, then standard, and then fodder.

The GM can allow a creature to "challenge" the automatic advantage of a PC sharing the same combat phase (corresponding to Reflexes Die-rank) by forcing an opposed roll. So two creatures with D8 reflexes can each roll 1D8 and whoever gets the higher number wins. This is called an initiative challenge, and is usually only used for full-fledged NPCs.

Simultaneous Attack sections occurs when two creatures of the same phase (i.e. same Reflexes die-rank) act at the same time and get a tie during an initiative challenge. This means both combatants lose use of any Weaponry, Dodge, Evade, or Deflect defenses. All Potential Harm affects armor and then Toughness. A defending creature will realize he is being forced into a simultaneous attack and may delay his action, dropping down a phase.

As for "Each creature may take one action during each battle phase," yes, that was misworded. It should be "Each creature may take one action per round, each according to it's Reflexes rank (battle phase)".
Banesfinger
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by Banesfinger »

dancross wrote:Interesting customization. And doing so has no "real" effect on how the dice mechanics work too, so isn't that cool?
As EvilCat pointed out: the skill mechanics are the "gem" of ERP - so I didn't want to spoil that. :D
dancross wrote:How did your modifications for combat go for you?
Just changing the skill names/definitions had little effect on combat (we picked skills to ensure that defense pools remained mathematically correct).
However, we are still fooling-around with "opposed" combat rolls.

(I am finding that one of the strengths of ERP is that it is so easy to customize, without breaking the game. All the rules are transparent. - However, I am always afraid I will go so far that I will create a Frankenstein).
EvilCat
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by EvilCat »

dunbruha wrote:
EvilCat wrote:But before that, I had to create my own quick reference (now that I tried the game, I can even upgrade it).
Would you consider posting this? I would love to see what you came up with.
Here, I even upgraded it. I would've post sooner, but I had problems with my ISP -_-

This reference contains no houserules and is sufficient (for me) to play without magic delving. I guess magic section should be expanded, but... some other time.
Banesfinger wrote:Yes, when we first started ERP, many of our players had only ever been exposed to D&D. So I rearranged the skill list into terms they would understand and be familiar with. The first tier of ADC mimicked the D&D stats (e.g. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, etc). Then linked skills were on the second and third tier (e.g. Dexterity > Acrobatics > Tumbling, etc).
Yeah, I wanted to make D&D4e-like skill tree for the first session, so the players would feel more comfortable... Ironic enough, omitted in D&D 3.5 skills fit well into Eldritch action system: Survival > Intuit Direction, Sense Motive > Read Lips... But then I thought that skill tree should rely on character concept, to outline his or her unique style and focus.

Currently I write some "talking animals" races, and their skill trees emerge as I add details to their description... I'll post them to this forum as I'll finish.

(Is it ok that I call ability trees "skill trees"?)
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dancross
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dancross »

EvilCat wrote: Here, I even upgraded it. I would've post sooner, but I had problems with my ISP -_- This reference contains no houserules and is sufficient (for me) to play without magic delving. I guess magic section should be expanded, but... some other time.
This is an excellent distillation of the rules. Something like this would make a good appendix addition to the core rules.
[Yeah, I wanted to make D&D4e-like skill tree for the first session, so the players would feel more comfortable... Ironic enough, omitted in D&D 3.5 skills fit well into Eldritch action system: Survival > Intuit Direction, Sense Motive > Read Lips... But then I thought that skill tree should rely on character concept, to outline his or her unique style and focus.
As you were to correct to point out in your distilled rules guide, there are few skills/capacities that are tied to game mechanics beyond the basic action resolution system. This does make it easy to reword and rearrange the ability trees. This was a deliberate design decision, and perhaps should be called out even more of a strength.

"Statistics" like Strength, Dexterity, Charisma, etc, were avoided so that character concepts are easier to build. I consider "feats of strength" to be something of an oddball ability in the game, but that's a topic for another day. Right now the only abilities that are close to classic "statistics" are the following...

[Physical] Agility, Endurance, Reflexes, Resistance, Speed

[Mental & Spiritual] Willpower

Those abilities shouldn't be changed or reworded without watching for consequences.
(Is it ok that I call ability trees "skill trees"?)
It's okay, although some abilities are more like natural inborn capacities than skills. That's why I call all skills and capacities "abilities" because it seemed the broader term.
dancross
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dancross »

skill tree depends on character concept and setting; rolling Stealth, Forest Stealth and Hiding for hiding in forest is fine and fair, as long as there are no more than 3 dice rolled; applying "Hanging" for all appropriate climbing situations as mastery is fine too, as it's logical and doesn't create that much of advantage. I'm sure that the system was released with that answers in mind, but they are implied rather then described.
You're exactly right in both instances. I will add a section about rolling two specializations with the basic rank, up to three dice, so long as everything is related. So far I've ruled one must roll at least the basic rank, no matter what the combination. I've discussed some optional rules where you can pick specializations used in other ability trees, so long as you pick one basic rank as the basis of the roll. In all cases, 3 dice is the max.

I also think the 20% of instances (with specializations) and 10% of instances (with mastery) is misleading. It certainly is not true with combat skills. In all, the frequency of use depends on the adventure material.
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dunbruha
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Re: First gaming session and errata.

Post by dunbruha »

EvilCat wrote:Here, I even upgraded it.
Wow, that is extensive! I'll give it a read tonight. Thanks!
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