Skip to content

Rules Follow Up – Goblin Problem

March 5, 2012

Another game session Saturday – that’s three sessions into the new campaign with the new ruleset. At the end we had a conversation around various facets of the rules (the magic system, and the concept of Areas) and I’ve be thinking about it since. Here are some ideas for changes and updates:

1. Magic System – The current system is based, at least in part, on the system in Fantasy Craft. At the beginning of an encounter (or scene), a magic user semi-randomly determines how many spell points he has. The number of spell points determines how many spells can potentially be cast during that encounter. Spells are successfully cast on a successful Spellcraft roll. Some spells do allow for saves, but even on a successful save the spell generally has at least some effect (the idea being that once a spell is successfully cast there should be some ‘reward’).

Joe (who is playing a magic user named Arketh) doesn’t like the Spellcraft roll as he feels it makes magic users too weak. I looked at this last night and I have to respectfully disagree. During yesterday’s session, there were three combat related encounters. Arketh – a second level magic user – successfully threw (at least) 3 Magic Missiles, 2 Burning Hands, and 1 Sleep spell and could still continue to cast spells if the adventure continued. A D&D 3.5 wizard can cast four 0-level spells (cantrips) and two 1st-level spells per day(!).

0-level spells are basically old style cantrips, a magic user in Aspect of Fantasy has 2 of these cantrips already ‘built in”  and can use them anytime he wants (in the Arketh’s case, he has Mage Hand for having the Conjuror background while all magic users get Detect Magic).

The system in Aspects of Fantasy is designed to eliminate those situations where parties withdraw or encamp to wait until the next day when their magic users gets their spells back. It is also supposed to make a magic user more effective at lower levels. In fact, in reviewing this, I’m starting to think they might be too effective(!) though I haven’t necessarily seen this in practice. In any event, getting rid of the Spellcraft roll makes magic users WAY too powerful.

Another thing Joe brought up was the lack of Summoning spells. I have not been a big ‘Summoning Spell’ guy as I think another combatant can bog down games (look up the creatures stats, what are its feats, bring out a miniature, etc.) but since AoF is supposed to streamline things like stats and feats, and since I’m rethinking miniature use (see below), I’ve changed my mind and decided I’ll put them in the game.

2. Areas vs Grid  – While I’ve switched over to a more abstract ‘Area’ system – leaving the grid behind – I’m still using miniatures to represent what ‘Area’ monsters and characters are located. It’s not working. Both the players and myself naturally want to place a miniature relative to where it’s located in an ‘Area’, but by doing so we are taking something abstract and trying to make it ‘realistic’. This has just caused confusion.

Miniatures provide two advantages, imho. They provide a reference showing where everyone is located relative to everyone else, and they provide a nice visual…pre-painted miniatures with painted terrain pieces on a fully illustrated grid can look pretty cool. However, there are also disadvantages. Miniatures can put the focus of the game more on the tabletop, less on the story. It can be time consuming to pull out the right miniatures for a game; more importantly, it can add a lot of time to combat. Placing and positioning miniatures invariably takes time. Yesterday, we had one combat where 5 player characters took on 16 goblins, their hob leader, and two allied demons. Even with the miniatures on the table I felt that the combat resolved relatively quickly. If we had done that on a grid with square movement I guarantee it would have taken 30%- 40% longer. I’ve been looking for ways to quicken the pace of combat, not using miniatures might be  a good way to do this. So, I’m going to stop using miniatures. I’ll have miniatures for showing “order of march” and maybe will bring one out as a visual aid, but that’s about it. Oh, some day I may change my mind and move everything over to square based movement, but right now I’m sticking with ‘Areas’ and no miniatures.

Well, that’s it for now. Please provide any feedback you might have. Thanks to everyone who was there on Saturday!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 1:07 pm

    Oh, good God…I just noticed this…

    “I looked at this last night and I have to respectively disagree.”

    I probably read that 4-5 times and didn’t notice it, that should be:

    “I looked at this last night and I have to respectfully disagree.”


  2. March 5, 2012 2:49 pm

    OK, poor english aside… 🙂

    It’s not necessarily the Spellcraft roll, it’s the low succes rate of the roll. It’s slightly better than 50% currently. Not sure how that will change as I level and the spells I throw are higher levels. it just seems that the succes rate should be a bit higher. Poor rolling Saturday didn’t help. 🙂

    As far as area vs grid, I’m firmly in the grid camp. I really dig minis on grids. To me it makes combat more tactical. And I dig that. You’re right though, if you’re going to use area like you want to you’re going to have to get rid of the minis. I can’t believe with everything you have invested in minis you’re not going to use them though. 🙂

    Looking forward to playing in April!!!

    • March 5, 2012 11:20 pm

      Yeah, I was figuring it was slightly better than 50% as well, though if you throw in a fate point that ups it considerably. I think for your second level trait I would take Skill Focus (Spellcraft) instead. This gives you a permanent +4 bonus to all of your Spellcraft rolls.

      As for the poor rolling, you were right, I should have stopped pointing out that it seemed like you made EVERY Spellcraft roll. At least you weren’t rolling as bad as Jeremie, that was downright brutal.

      I hear you about the miniatures. I’ll see how it goes. I can guarantee you though that there will be no trips to Crazy Igor’s with my miniature collection! 🙂

      I’m with you on April. See you then!

  3. Mike Mossbarger permalink
    March 5, 2012 10:57 pm

    No miniatures? Sounds like we have to get together with a few beers and have a discussion

    • March 5, 2012 11:35 pm

      Yeah, we’ll see. I don’t even want to know how much I have invested in D&D pre-paints, much less terrain and grid maps.

      It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a bunch of money invested in some facet of the hobby only to give it up. I have a bunch of painted GW and Privateer Press miniatures that haven’t been used in 7+ years. I’ve completely abandoned the painted miniature hobby and have slowly started selling off my unpainted collection (haven’t sold any painted yet). Don’t get me wrong, I love that part of the hobby, but lack of time (and my failing eyesight!) have sort of forced me to abandon that part of the hobby.

      That said, I could easily change my mind regarding the use of minis in D&D – this is more of an experiment than a total change in philosophy. 🙂

  4. March 7, 2012 11:10 am

    I won’t comment too much on the casting. I thought Arketh seemed broken during the previous adventure. It was actually pretty gruesome the way we were slaughtering sleeping or blinded orcs at every turn. It seems like those are the winds of magic (or rather dice rolling) really impact things. I’ve been thinking about the D20 lately; I’ve always been a fan of it – the wild variance – but I am definitely understanding why many people like a bell curve.

    Grids and minis… I think people forget that I’m not a hater of grids/minis. Savage Worlds is one of my go to games, and when/if I ever run it it will be with a grid and minis. I’m a hater of D&D 3.x and D&D 4E combat systems. For many and various reasons, they bog down. To me a RPG session isn’t a mini session interrupted by story elements… It’s a story that sometimes zooms in on combat. The thing that’s going to stick in my head from current adventure is the Witch which had zero combat.

    [I’m not real happy with the paragraph above. I’ve tried to revise it about a million times and gave up. I always enjoying playing… that’s not conveyed above.]

    The second part, and I’ve said this before, is that I think Steve is particularly gifted in setting a scene with his words. I’m pretty sure that I don’t have this skill. He can set up a nice looking battlefield with minis and a grid… but to me it pales in comparison with some of the combats from the old AD&D days. Those were all happening in my head and have stayed with me all these years.

    Okay, to the question at hand, I found the use of the minis and the area sheet to be the worst of both worlds even though I understood the intent. I wasn’t getting the picture in my head (or maybe I lost it focusing on the minis), and I wasn’t getting it on the table either. That said, it was a very worthy experiment. I’ve seen several games use this type of thing; maybe I just don’t like it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: