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5e dnd vs 6e SR. Seeking simplicity and why edge failed,

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Marcus

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« on: <06-01-20/0514:19> »
Clearly the industry is following the success of 5e DnD and its simplified rules set. 6e SR was intended as a simpler cleaner version of SR. Now it's easy to understand the appeal of the concept, but it not always easy is to achieve simplicity. Doing that requires trade offs, in 5e it's stuff like simplified movement math (Moving diagonally is the same as moving straight on the grid, range doesn't care about elevation, the advantage/disadvantage system.) What 5e did best, was the bounded hit curve, which fixed the AC vs To Hit, scaling issue characteristic of previous editions.

6e SR wanted to do the same thing. Now a big part of 6e and the biggest part that failed imo is the edge system. While the edge system's goal was clearly to be simple and add some cool action movie options to the game, it failed to because it became the core problem. It simply became internal complex, pulled in too many direction and then ultimately pulled down by it's own weight. To many random options, to much internal restrictions, to much disconnect between stat and system outcome all feeding back to edge. AR/DR, Flaws, edge uses, restriction on edge generation, gear modification and worst of all cancellation all lead to this completely not simple core change to SR.

SR like DnD has a scaling issue, where in DnD it was AC vs to Hit going on forever, SR die pools scaling is fairly out of hand as well. So on the list of easy fixes should be a die pools. Next outcomes, 1/3 success rate on dice and glitch and critical glitches without balancing critical success. That math all is just awkward and unsatisfying.

But all we really need is a simple cleaner variant of SR. I would suggest starting with the most simple element of the game. you roll a D6, on 4+ you get a success. For spice you can add some number of 1's of ones gives you a worse failure and some number of 6's gives you a better success. 50% is easy, it makes the math cleaner and makes dice more valuable. Next Bound Curves, this can be used to fix scaling problems. So we can make the SR version of a bounded to Hit curve, with a bound success curve, SR5 limits attempted this, but the community didn't embrace it. This would entail fundamentally rebuilding the math around attribute and skill outputs and what tech and magic can give you. I'd put forward 20, but i could see 10 possibly working as well. Then you just need to add edge back to the game in some form that is meaningful but not overly complex. I would put forward combat pool, as a function of some attributes and linked to karma total.

Finally how to deal with circumstance modifiers, advantage/disadvantage is another of the great strength of 5e. To accomplish this in SR, on the face of it, straight pool modifiers are tempting, but they aren't actually simple b/c the are just to many place to look. I also considered just shifting success values up and down one, but once again this complicates things to much as well. So to keep it simple and fun, I recommend having it simply being a non exclusive increase/decrease the number of 1 or 6 needed to get a better success or a worse failure (IE Critical Success vs Critical Failure). Something mathematically very easy like 50%. To me this is cleaner outcome. We hate critical failures and we love critical successes. So pushing people to find these solutions seems easier and better to me.

I know there plenty on here who just won't or can't agree with my premise and that's fine. But I hope this can serve as constructive basis for a useful conversation on what we would all like to see in a simpler, cleaner version of SR.
« Last Edit: <06-01-20/0524:16> by Marcus »
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Jack Hooligan

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« Reply #1 on: <06-03-20/0959:01> »
Unfortunately, I can't speak to Edge or how 6e plays, but I do want to comment on the success of 5e besides it's simplicity.

From this outside observer to the SR rpg (though a long-time SR gamer through videogames, cardgames, etc), I wish SR would adopt the basic idea of the PHB. Let the core rules be core rules, not a big setting guide as well with a changing story. I understand the shift from 'pink mohawk' to 'black trenchcoat' that has happened over the years. And first, I was anti-black trenchcoat, but now I understand a little better why it fits the current narrative. But, even then, focusing on one or the other is too confining. its also too much. Far too much for a casual gamer to jump into. There's 30+ years of backstory...too much of a barrier. That needs to be reset.

With 5e, WotC gives you a solid set of simple rules in their corebooks, then Adventure Paths based on the type of game you want to run. Want gothic horror? Crawl in the underdark? a lighter jungle romp? adventure across the planes? Their adventure path books allow players to select a campaign style that interests them. All of the narrative necessary is also contained in that book. You don't need to know anything of D&D's 40+ year history.

It would be cool if SR was similar. With each edition, just update the rules and tech to better approximate the future. No need to have some big epic storyline explaining everything, just let the core book assume the tech as the current default for that edition. Then, provide adventures and supplements of different flavours to hit the different tastes of gamers.

« Last Edit: <06-03-20/1028:17> by Jack Hooligan »

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #2 on: <06-03-20/1052:15> »
Disagree with you on one thing: To GM D&D, I basically need to buy 3 books minimum. With Shadowrun, the CRB suffices. And the setting is one of Shadowrun's core strengths, cutting that out of the book leaves it rather bland.
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Jack Hooligan

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« Reply #3 on: <06-03-20/1057:04> »
Fair point on the 3 book issue. I've long felt the MM and DMG were a bit superfluous.
And I'm not saying the setting should go away, just don't move the plot along with each edition. Have the core book just include the basic tenets of the setting.

Marcus

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« Reply #4 on: <06-03-20/1228:34> »
I largely agree you want the three books, though the MM given online resources is probably unnecessary.

I do think modern SR is more setting independent then previous 5th even had the elf court book, which was effectively alternate setting for 5e. SR has the problem that what made it great largely precludes it’s setting independence.

There was late 2nd edition supplement called Sages and Specialists that largely reads like a contemporary SR supplement (circa 1996). While something like that theoretically shows you could run more settings independent SR, I think most of the Fanbase likes the forum simulation concept.

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Banshee

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« Reply #5 on: <06-03-20/1308:18> »
We actually talked about that during initial development.
Having 2 different but smaller books. A players guide (ie the core rules), a GMs guide (basic tenants of challenges and overall setting)
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Finstersang

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« Reply #6 on: <06-03-20/1446:55> »
First of all, I mostly agree with your assessments. It remains to be seen if and how long 6th Edition will manage to hold up against it´s own flaws and the soured community. Either way, props for thinking ahead, to an all-new and actually simplified SR  ;)

One paragraph stood out for me though, because it rubs against a few musings of my own lately.

SR like DnD has a scaling issue, where in DnD it was AC vs to Hit going on forever, SR die pools scaling is fairly out of hand as well. So on the list of easy fixes should be a die pools. Next outcomes, 1/3 success rate on dice and glitch and critical glitches without balancing critical success. That math all is just awkward and unsatisfying.

I keep on hearing that, and there´s also so many half-baked attempts to "fix" the supposed dice pool problem: The abysmal Limit mechani of 5th (Whenever I rant about Edge and AR/DR, I have to remind myself how much worse this mechanic was...), now there are voices in the community to restrict the +4 limit to Attribute bonuses to all bonus dice (as if there are that much left, will so many modifiers turned into various Edge mechanics)...

First: Are the "inflated" dice pools really that much of a problem to begin with? SR dice rolls are based on counting successes, which already has a much better scaling than 1D20, Percentiles etc., because the number of successes follow a standard distribution. IMO, the biggest problem with bloated dice pools is plain table space and tracking all the numerous little +1 / -1 modifiers when adding up.

Second: Where are these bloated dicepools coming from (at least in 5th and 4th Edition)? I think the main problem besides powergaming über alles is a general inflation of ingame gimmicks, gizmos, modifiers and perks that all somehow need to have some kind of "stat bonus" linked to them. So as a designer, you either have to go with more and more positive and negative dice pool modifiers or you "shunt" the bonuses away to some kind of auxilary stat - like the Limits in 5th Edition or the AR/DR values and Edge shenanigans in 6th. However, these auxilary mechanics need to be fun and meaningfull as well.

So, crazy idea: What about a return of target numbers? The standard target number for a success could be reduced to 3 as you suggested, and then certain effects can shift this up or down by 1 or (rarely) 2 Points. This could either happen directly (which should only be the case with high-impact modifiers - the kind that would grant Edge in 6th Edition) or via comparing other stats like Armor Piercing, Attack ratings, Ranges etc.

If done right, this could be a impactfull alternative to dice pool modifiers that can also easily bring more depth to the gameplay. The interesting part here is that the mechanical impact of a target number modificition scales with the actual dice pool.

Here´s one example on how this could be used to increase gameplay depth: The difference between Flechette or APDS Ammo. In 5th Edition, Flechette mostly increased the Damage Code and increased the Armor in the soak dice pool, while APDS decreased the Armor in the soak dice pool to model their "Armor Piercing" qualities. However: Statistically, increasing or decreasing the soak dice pool is pretty much the same as modifying the damage code. So in the end, APDS, Flechettes, Standard or explosive Ammo etc. mostly just affected the damage codes* with little consideration to the actual opponents you used these against. But what if, instead of Dice Pool modifiers, these Ammo types changed target numbers for certain tests - F.i., Flechettes increases the target number for the enemy defense test to reflect the "spread", while APDS increases the target number for the soak test? That would make Flechette the better option against quick and "dodgy" targets while APDS would have a bigger impact when used against "tanky" targets.   

*Yes, I know that Flechettes, APDS and Armor also had other effects in 5th...
« Last Edit: <06-03-20/1506:06> by Finstersang »
"Firing Line adds a ton of Perks that modify Attack and Defense ratings"

"Cool, does this mean that the whole AR/DR comparison has a bigger impact now?"

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« Reply #7 on: <06-03-20/1504:31> »
I saw 4e the way some of you see 6e.

Removing TN was one of the things that went too far for me to forgive... took another edition for me to come back to SR. Where TNs still weren't back anway, heh.

I wouldn't mind SR with TNs again.  My formative experiences with SR had that third dimension of dice pool modification, so if anything "static TNs of 5" still feels somewhat odd :D

Although I'm not sure if going back to three dimensions on dice pool manipulation is actually simplifying things.  I'd imagine the whole point of switching to "hits" rather than TN was simplification to begin with.
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Finstersang

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« Reply #8 on: <06-03-20/1513:46> »
Yep that´s what I thought when I had a first deeper look into the mechanics of Editions 1-3, after "growing up" with 4th and 5th - maybe they simplified the wrong parts out of the system?  ???

I wonder how well 6th Edition would play out if you just replaced most of the Edge Sources with Target Number modifiers (or dicepool modifiers in some cases) :P

Removing TN was one of the things that went too far for me to forgive... took another edition for me to come back to SR. Where TNs still weren't back anway, heh.

Well, there was limits. Golly gee, what a phun and impactfull mechanic that was  ::)
« Last Edit: <06-03-20/1518:52> by Finstersang »
"Firing Line adds a ton of Perks that modify Attack and Defense ratings"

"Cool, does this mean that the whole AR/DR comparison has a bigger impact now?"

"Haha No :D"

Reaver

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« Reply #9 on: <06-03-20/1756:12> »
I see the complaints about the "huge" dice pools all the time too... and for the most part, they are usually self inflicted.

For some reason, players have it in their heads that they need to throw 20+ dice "to be good" at something.. And the reason they always give is... "Because"
And GMs, they seem to have it in their heads they have to chase the dice pools of their players.... And the reason they usually give is... "Because"

In my opinion, the removal of target numbers are a step in the right direction for reducing dice pools.. at a TN of 5, you know you have a 1 in 3 chance of a success. which means a dice pool a 6 has a reasonable chance of gaining you that 1 hit you need to pass just about any test (but not opposed tests).

But with a floating target number... well... do I have a 1 in 2 chance? a 1 in 3 chance? a 1 in 28 chance??? The only way to "make sure" you succeed was to dice up....

The floating target numbers also had "dead spots" in the testing... a TN of 12 was the same 13.... So was 6 and 7...  Which kind of lead to silly things...

They did try to do something about dice pools in 4e.. with their caps to skills and abilities... but then blew that out of the water with modifiers for everything down to your socks... And lets NOT talk about what they did to hacking in 4e.... (lets remove the character from hacking altogether!)

5e again tried to influence dice pools with Limits... and most people either hated it, or didn't understand the reason for it... Or ironically enough hated the limit system, AND complained about high dice pools...


So... I have come to the conclusion that really, Dice pools are not the problem.... Its people's expectations...
reading some people's complaints... they are filled with contradictions or misunderstandings, or just simply problems of their own creation....

   FOR EXAMPLE: There was a poster that came to this forum about 4 years ago to rail against the system, and how broken the system was with people throwing 40 dice all the time... yadda yadda yadda....
And after about 50 posts the community finally dragged the ENTIRE story out of him. He (The GM) never used social rolls, thus voiding characters taking any social skills, Never made use of knowledge skills..... He basically cut everything out of the game EXCEPT for combat skills... so his players just... invested ENTIRELY into combat skills and edge! (Seriously, I saw a character..... 3 fucking skills!!! Automatics, heavy weapons, long arms.... END OF FUCKING LIST!)




The other big issue I see is the big push for "Rules simple systems"... That's what I hear... everywhere... and yet.... And yet it just rings so hollow.
many of the "rules lite" game systems have very limited markets. And mostly seem to be competing with each other for their limited client base... MEANING... They build a hatchback car, and it appeals to people who want a hatchback car... and everyone else could care less.

Personally, I want a complex and in depth system.  Something with a lot of chunk to it, something that tries to cover as many bases as it can, while still leaving room for a GM. Now, I may not use all the rules presented (I have always made up, cut out, modified, or changed game rules to fit my table's needs. After all, It's my table, I know that they don't give a crap about Encumbrance  Rules, or how many copper coins they can carry in a sack at one time! - But its nice that the rules are there in case I need them for reference!) <And you can find how many coins a sack holds in Pathfinder!>


As to power scaling in SR...

This is mostly a GM created problem.
You can't really control your players in SR in terms of power. Yes you can limit money and karma, you can limit the gear they can buy, or whatever else... but you can't really dictate how they spend their karma..... And while their is an opportunity cost to each investment in a skill... The player is still free to raise his long arms skill to 12, while every other skill is a 1. 

The issue comes in when GMs start feeling the need to either increase the opposition or increase the dice pool of the opposition, for no other reason then "Because"...

And pretty soon, GM are describing scenes such as....

"As the doors to the elevator opens up to the lobby of the office, you see a typical security greeting area with a smiling receptionist in her Ares approved business suit. followed by a MAD scanner armed by 127 Ares Security guards, in their Ares approved uniforms and security gear."

OR

"As combat breaks out with the this gutterpunk gang, the First ganger pulls out his light pistol and shoots! he deflects the bullet of 13 surfaces, and lands the round directly into your ear cannal. Resist damage.. The Second ganger pulls out a shotgun, then doing a triple reverse backflip, blindfolded, shoots your drone that is 300 meters away! Teh Third ganger pulls out a knife, and while reciting the Iliad in greek, does a double forward flip into cartwheel stabbing attack!!!"

If this is a GMs idea of gutterpunks... RUNAWAY NOW!!!

They basically have to no internal consistency to their game world... Which I blame back on DnD and their power scaling worlds.....

(At level 1 in Dnd an Orc with a greataxe causes most players to shit themselves... At level 15, an Orc with a greataxe isn't worth putting on armor or even a weapon for.)



I dunno... I think first people have to realize what they want out of SR before you can even talk about "Fixing the Rules"


I will say this.. I miss the Dowd/Findley days...
« Last Edit: <06-03-20/1830:13> by Reaver »
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« Reply #10 on: <06-03-20/1919:04> »
So I agree that die pool issue is self inflicted it's also the product of power creep across the editions. I also agree GM could reign this in, but I also think the same can be said organized play, which does some effort to do so, but it still wildly variant.

I don't see going back to a TN based system as being bad or good, so long the as the statics are well understood. While I expect most of us understand that 16.7%^X is number that gets small really fast, I'm not sure your average player understands that.
 
I've been mathing out a 10 max pool concept but it required a totally re-write of the all game's systems, and complete re-scaling of the math and accept structures to an even greater extent then 6e does. Which once i got far enough in pretty much just was like it's an interesting concept but it's not really Shadowrun anymore. Regardless of that,  I do think there is considerable value in the concept of increasing the value of each die. Wild die are basically a move in that direction, but suffer from edge issues of 6e.


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« Reply #11 on: <06-03-20/2104:36> »
I'm not saying a cap on dice is bad. Just saying that context does matter.

For example  your 10 dice limit, that could work just fine in one ruleset, built around that max.... but you would have to build around that max from the ground up.
Having a 10 dice max for say melee combat, when the DP is STR+Skill  is a really shitty thing to do to trolls if they can max out their DP without a skill....("I don't care if your STR is 16 and you have 6 ranks in melee combat.... 10 is all you get!)...

Or  if you have so many modifiers as to push the skill to nothing. ("I buy this gun, add on a smartgun, laser site, led pimp lights, and gold plate for +12 dice! Now I don't need a skill  or attribute at all!!"


One house rule I played under, the GM allowed only a flat +4 max to any dice pool. No matter the source... took a little getting used to, but worked well enough.
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dezmont

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« Reply #12 on: <06-03-20/2106:18> »
I wouldn't even say that the large dicepools are in of themselves a big problem. Pool mechanics have a lot of benefits, and the fact someone 'good' at something in SR rolls a lot of dice creates a lot of statistical stability in a game setting where instability and risk tends to come from sources external to the actual rolls. With an app or other electronic assistance its pretty easy to roll them.

Ultimately, I find the idea of thinking of a dicepool of 20 as 'powergaming' kinda... silly? Forget about the fact that optimization isn't, in of itself, bad or a negative behavior but merely an example of a player preference. It isn't like people are hardcore minmaxing, you get to 20 dice in a skill naturally through relatively unoptimized play, it is literally an inevitable result that you hit these levels of dice because of how easy it is. A 10 dice max is comical, because you literally blow past that before even 'ware, it is a mystifyingly low number that even most PR 3 grunt corpsec will hit...

Take guns, for example. You are Billy Newplayer, no idea how Sr works in detail, but you can read alright. You know you wanna be good at shooting revolvers, so you take pistols 6. You then read you can be extra good at specifically revolvers and specialize. Because you wanna shoot you max out the 'shooty stat' at 6. You didn't pick an elf cuz they are lame. You then take a smartgun, because apparently that is the item that makes shooting better, and a smartgun system in your eyes, getting you to 16. Finally, you grab some muscle replacement or toner to help your shoot stat more.

Two bits of 'ware and the 'radical' optimziation technique of putting your best stats and skills in things you want to be good at put you in striking range of 19. A modifier, aim action, or being an elf gets you to 20. For 20 to not be a 'normal' PC pool in SR, either SR needs to take stats and skills off the 1-6 range, or needs to not feature superhuman augmentation. Neither of these seem likely, and we need room to go over for splatbooks and character customization to exist. Even in 1e a 20 pool wasn't that weird, and it certainly wasn't weird after (and because of TNs, it was stronger than a 'modern' 20 pool). The idea a PC's pools should be limited to 10, or 12, or 14, or 16, all things I heard, and that is where 'sr is meant to be' is just... false and its so transparently false because this complete scrub blew way past those breakpoints by just accidently combining the things the book effectively told him to combine. A 10 dicepool limit makes most of the 1e pregens illegal. I believe every single 3e pre-gen also has a dicepool over 10, and most actually have one over 16. It just in no way reflects the reality of SR to assume that superhuman dicepools are unintended in the system. Heck, I think lonestar statlines are above 10, you literally can't have the system cap at 10 without totally re-contextualizing 10 because 10, in SR, historically is 'NPC scrub pretending to be able to do this or a PC acting in a side role out of their comfort zone' tier. Like the 3e decker is literally rolling an effective 14 dice to shoot in that system, and 9 in reality, I don't think their relatively pathetic investment into shooting is intended to represent 1 off the peak of what can be mechanically accomplished.

This means we should expect a player's pools in things they care about to range from around 16-30 if they are really good at optimizing. But that is ok, because these pools functionally aren't very different vs grunts, and mostly exist to 'guild the lilly.' The exception is soak, but soak tanks work well if the game A: Focuses on the limitation of samurai to not be able to 'remotely' help like every other archetype (Hacking, leadership, drones, spirit aid, ect), B: That your runs aren't essentially D&D dungeons where you go in and fight room by room to the death, and C: The genre we are trying to emulate with SR literally includes people who are so tough that a giant mech suit couldn't crush their skull directly stepping on it, cyberpunk is an extremely high powered genre that includes characters who would make some superheroes blush. Like Molly Millions is... just objectively stronger than Lady Deathstrike, another cyborg with crazy deadly razor claws and an armored body who exists in the same universe as iron man.

TNs are weird in that it is a large increase in statistical complexity for pretty low gain in granularity when looking at TNs from 2-6, and then it is a dramatic increase in statistical complexity from 7+. Any SR that wants to be remotely accessible to a modern RPG market basically can't use TNs. Like for perspective, a TN of 7 is not a linear drop from TN 6 like almost every other TN, a TN of 7 only drops your percentage of hits by about 3%, rather than the 13% each TN gives you, so a TN modifier either is changing your pool by about 10%, or a much smaller direction in a super mathy non-intuitive way. Not really worth the effort, you would literally have a better result by adding in situational modifiers that just increase or decrease the pool by a percentage, because otherwise you have a weird system where when things get REALLY REALLY hard you don't care about TN, but when things are at the median stage you confusingly care way more.

Furthermore, TN is complicated by the fact it just is plain confusing to have two different 'targets' in both the actual 'target number' and the number of hits you need, and you need to re-calculate TN every time. Its only virtue is that it creates a lot of statistical uncertainty and confusion which may be good for a horror game, but not for a game about awesome career criminals pulling heists. It is like THAC0: I get that its what you were used too and you were devastated by its changes but, in the end, yeah no lets not go back, I like being able to quickly evaluate dicepools as both a GM and player.

Limits, while a bad system, are a non-invasive bad system. They rarely matter, which is a problem for rules bloat, but the way they don't matter also means you don't need to think about them often. New Edge is problematic because the stakes of getting edge wrong are way higher, and players have an incentive to care about it rather than not, which means players push for AR and DR to be tracked despite the vast majority of times it doing nothing. This isn't to say limit is good, but its mental cost is lower because no one is going to cry over Billy forgetting he had 1 fewer net hit to DV. Limits also had interesting design space potential, but clearly weren't worth it.

Edge also is trying to solve an already solved thing in the game industry, complex modifiers. This is where we run into the rub: Situational modifiers are intuitive and easy to understand. Pretty much every RPG has been using them for some odd... what 40 years? Nothing in the world could be more intuitive than 'its dark, take -2 to hit' besides maybe how 5e D&D had advantage (Which doesn't really work in SR and plays into making 5e's dice more like SR's rather than the reverse by increasing consistency as your reward rather than dramatically changing what you can do). SR's issue with supremely hard to understand combat modifier rules has nothing to do with how complex they are (ok... a little to do with how complex they are, there is room to make things easier like changing it so bullets fired=the penalty on autofire to defense, rather than bullets fired -1 for example, and a few things like knockdown while tactically interesting could be reserved for special attacks) and how... astoundingly poor the SR layout is. They aren't complicated, they are obfuscated.

Take a look at 5e and count how many pages the modifier rules are spread over, what order they are in, and how many pages are between all the modifiers to get what I am talking about: Lets see what I need to go between in order calculate up a ranged attack roll, assuming I already know what action it takes and that I am using a gun and might or might not want to called shot.

  • Accuracy rules on 168, before I even know how attack rolls work
  • Armor and Encumbrance on 169, not located on any tables
  • Wound penalties on 169, not located on any tables
  • Electrical damage on 170-171, not located on any tables
  • Combat resolution mechanics on 173, a full 15 pages into the combat chapter well after esoteric nonsense like armor stacking and elemental damage
  • Enviromental mods starting on 173-175 with extremely detailed rundowns on them as a seperate subheader with lore and worldbuilding about sensors and the like, squished under a super large example of ranged attacks in the MIDDLE of the ranged attack section, before I finally get to the actual table for 175 that runs down what counts as what and how to combine it and what the actual penalties are. This all should have been on 1-2 pages tops with details later on
  • Rules for how range affects ranged combat on 175... seperated by 10. Entire. Pages. from the actual table that shows range modifiers.
  • Recoil rules separated by 4 pages from the actual rules that utilize recoil on page 175.
  • A situational modifiers table, again squished under a sidebar example that takes up half the page, followed by details of the situational modifiers, again squished under a sidebar.
  • The actual rules for autofire and recoil on page 179. Finally no massive overwritten example crushing me under its weight, on page 178-179. Lets be generous and count shotguns in here too and take it to 181 because they are thematically linked and it makes intuitive sense to combine these rulesets.
  • A big fat melee combat header on a page break BEFORE the ranged table on 185.
  • Defense modifiers on 189, mercifully actually relatively well laid out and concise with a table on one page, so I can at a glance get the mods and go over the next 1-3 pages to find details if needed, which means that it really isn't as 'big' as it seems!
  • 2 pages of active defense rules on 190 with no quick glance table and again crushed by a giant example of defenses BEFORE defenses are actually explained, so back to having to read an entire section of stuff very much not relevant to find out its all not relevant.
  • 3 entire pages on surprise rules when surprise rules could literally fit in 4 sentences from 192-194
  • Knockdown rules on 194 that again make combat crazy interesting but everyone forgets
  • Called shots on 195-196.



So we need to skim or read around 30 pages of material for relatively basic information. To resolve a ranged attack in SR, I need to read 20 more pages than the ENTIRE combat section of D&D's core book, including flippin underwater combat! Now SR's combat naturally has a few rules D&D doesn't, like autofire, and D&D has smaller font it isn't so complex that the rules for a basic gun attack are spread over 3 times as many pages as the entire D&D combat chapter, or that the entire combat rules (not including long term healing which is more just a structural difference) have to be about 5 times as long. In fact, considering D&D has complicated maneuvering rules while SR doesn't, it sorta is weird its so much bigger. Even 3.5's combat section is only around 30 pages long, and 3.5 REALLY got into the weeds of tactical combat.

It is a case of over-explaining and over-detailing things, bad layout, way too many longwinded explanations, and poor formatting in general. Ultimately SR's combat system can be explained as "Roll an attack pool vs defense pool, here is a list of modifiers that could apply that would fit on two tables over two pages in the important tables section in the back but mysteriously they spread them out THERE too, choose a defense option."

You don't need paragraphs and paragraphs on every specific option, one of the big sins of the combat chapter looking over it is subdividing information too much: Fire rate and recoil rules being seperate despite them existing only with each other, melee mods and ranged mods being entirely seperate sections of the book rather than just together but seperated by a single header, interrupt actions each getting their own major header rather than all being explained together, ect. You could easily condense down the combat chapter to maybe half its length, re-order things so information is more centralized, and make it clearer despite removing information. Most fan made player aides basically can contain all the information in that section on 3-4 pages, 6 if they want to add some clarifying detail. Obviously the full book needs more than that, but it is clear how absurdly decompressed combat's rules are. Why are situational and environmental modifiers separate? Just put em on one table and have the headers be different. Why is melee combat its own section when most of the rules are the same? Ect ect.

For real, I doubt SR's combat complexity would ever be a complaint if they just put the electricity, recoil, and pain mods on a table with the situational mods for both melee and ranged, and the environmental mods, all on one page, explained them all together with a paragraph at most, maybe 2 for really weird stuff, and re-organized things. Again, the mechanics for ranged penalties and the table for ranged penalties are separated by 10 pages of nonsense for... no reason. It just hurts to see that layout.

And SR6 didn't solve this, by the way. Information is still weirdly spread, over-explained, and crowded out by so many example sidebars. A good example should be shorter than the rules explanation, not 5 times longer! Even ignoring the world-building of Wombat punching
 out Ken and Ryu, you want the explination to be a snappy line or three that makes it super clear how things work, rather than re-explaining every rule in the explanation, because the point is to let the reader piece together the information compared to what they read before.

For example, a good explanation for making a combat pool:
Wombat wants to shoot Ken in his ugly smug face. His agility is 5, and his automatics are 4, and he is hurt with a -1 wound modifier. He rolls 8 dice to shoot at that dumb karate expert.

And, again, this isn't saying SR's core combat rules couldn't do with some simplifying. Its just that it doesn't matter how much you chop away if at the end of the day the reason your rules are so confusing to new players is that they are edited terribly.
« Last Edit: <06-03-20/2114:32> by dezmont »

Hobbes

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« Reply #13 on: <06-03-20/2136:19> »
I never got the THAC0 hate.  I liked THAC0.

As always an informative read, thanks Dez!

dezmont

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« Reply #14 on: <06-03-20/2214:44> »
I never got the THAC0 hate.  I liked THAC0.

I get why people like THAC0 personally. It just also is really understandable why it isn't something they kept on: it isn't intuitive that this is the only place in the system where you want a low number on your sheet, and it is more intiutive to roll a number and add something to it on your sheet, and being told if it is higher or lower than a number someone else is looking at, than to roll a number, add something from another sheet, and then compare it to a static number on your sheet. What makes this especially annoying is that despite being about hitting AC0, AC0 was extremely rare, and AC varied a lot target to target, but your actual THAC0 remained static, meaning that the number you were modifying your roll with needed to change constantly. With BAB instead of having to exchange info in the middle of the math problem, you just exchange it at the end once you already tallied everything up.

It sincerely isn't that much more complex or less intuitive, but even small complexity changes have big effects on retention due to how perception and motivation affects learning. Even SWN, which tried really hard to bring a THAC0 like system back with low armor being good, just gave up with 2e. Tiny asks turn into big asks!

Also I didn't get into it in the big post, but I do think that edge being more dynamic and a resource for all PCs to have 'powers' to an extent is a good idea 6e had, as is the idea of things awarding edge (It increases the diversity of bonuses things can grant without increasing dice to 4e levels of gear bonuses). I just think replacing the core modifier rules with edge was a big mistake because you basically need to constantly compare two shifting values every attack in a way that is unlikely to affect the game but which is important. Edge would work way better if it wasn't a function of armor but instead a reward for doing things you might not normally do, or for using certain types of equipment.

For example, if I were to port 6e edge into 5e without porting new armor, a good way to make flechettes work the way they are intended to vs low armor targets is to give a bonus edge for shooting someone with armor 8 or lower with them, allowing them to be 'good' vs low armor targets without affecting how damage works and making them just blow away anyone with low armor with a conditional DV bonus or whatever.
« Last Edit: <06-03-20/2223:48> by dezmont »