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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good AE Info

The below is a Q & A session that came out about AE when we were first proposing it to our fans.  I noticed it was lost at some point from the discussion board and not on the blog so I present it for your edification.


Understanding Skills and Skill Checks

Skill checks are a strong part of Arduin Eternal and are based on a d100 mechanic, with a possible modifier from attributes (depending on the skill), a modifier from your skill ranks in a skill and potential bonuses from talent, training or experience. Essentially a dice roll + skill + bonuses. What you make them against is just as simple, based on a target difficulty modified by the GM for environment, tactics or circumstance, as well as anything else the GM cares to use. A simple system to define target difficulties is provided as a part of the system and simplifies a lot of work for the GM. The target difficulty system acts like a very flexible form of a slide rule, where you can elevate or lower difficulties along a simple scale to accommodate potentially complicating factors. As a tool it allows a GM to quickly formulate a reasonable and logical target difficulty without bogging down game play.

Skill contests are just as simply handled and are a simple match of skill against skill. Want to find out how well you can hide against someone looking for you? Stealth past that guard? Simple contests of skill resolve the issue, with the highest skill check determining the outcome, though a chance of superior success or abysmal failure also exists. The chance of superior success (the archetypical critical) grows with basic skill advancement while the chance of failure (the archetypical fumble) draws down, but never truly withers away completely. These are important components that demonstrate the strength of a legendary skill user (150+) versus a proficient (1+) or untrained one. Both have a chance of superior success but the legendary skill user has a greater chance through sheer skill alone, not to mention a potential for even greater chances from experience. This creates a mathematical curve that helps reinforce the value of high skill, the value of experience and deters the atypical breakpoints that can arise with a constrained percentile system or a small dice pool. A constrained roll quickly gathers some problematic issues with high numbers, especially when comparing contrasted skill ranks, like proficient amateurs versus legendary masters or handling environmental or circumstantial factors. A smaller dice pool also runs into the same problems, since bonuses and modifiers can overwhelm the base randomness provided by the dice. If your random range is small, factors applied to it have to stay small as well or it overwhelms the value provided by rolling the dice in the first place. Let’s say you need to roll a 5 or 6 on a six-sided dice. How much value does the d6 maintain if you apply a +1 modifier? How about a +5 modifier?

What the skill secrets are all about

Not every skill user is capable to the same level of ability. The simplest demonstration of this in Arduin Eternal is via skill ranks. Difference in skill ranks show the distance that can exist. You can also show capability by highlighting certain uses or applications of a skill as well. Skills in Arduin Eternal are divided into plateaus or tiers that map directly to achievement, knowledge, experience and practice. At these plateaus are aspects of the skill or uses of the skill not available to someone without the same knowledge, experience and practice. The beginning math student can sharpen his skills to handle calculus but the student that has worked with calculus for years, specializes in it and has worked it time and time again has the potential to know aspects, shortcuts or uses of calculus that the beginning student does not and will not until they achieve the same or equivalent state. The beginning gymnast may know the same movements as a veteran Olympiad but the differences are vast in the ease of use, application and depth the veteran can achieve with the same maneuvers. Skill secrets are those aspects or applications you unlock when you gain the requisite skill ranks, experience and practice. They are outgrowths of the skill in question and not magikal or powers more in tune with the arcane than the skill.

Why armor resists or soaks damage instead of turning hits to misses

Armor is a passive coating that absorbs or soaks some or all of the damage from a successful hit. Which means a successful attack becomes a miss in practical terms if it cannot overcome the armor worn by an opponent. Some schools of thought believe allowing armor to absorb damage causes a rise in “instant death” situations because the GM and players find ways to spiral damage through the roof to hurt opponents and make it challenging. The same school of thought believes this kills both game play and role-play. In truth, neither of these two follow suit to armor absorbing damage as laid out in Arduin Eternal. Armor soaks or absorbs a percentage of the damage, given as damage resistance value. The armor in question, its composition, quality, your skill, and other factors can affect how well armor performs. Not to mention the curve in skills applies to combat as well and a critical success could easily negate some or all of armor’s protection. Sound complicated? Not really. Armor’s benefits are generally predictable though skills, maneuvers, actions and circumstances can change them.

Why not wear armor all the time?

Seeing the benefits of armor, you might have the same thing in mind. Well, while armor is good at what it does, it has a few problems. Armor is heavy, restricts your maneuverability and impedes your range of movement. Its hard to be nimble and do that triple somersault with an mass of steel wrapped around you or those fun chain links that poke, pinch and bunch in ungraceful and painful ways. For the protection it provides, armor lowers your movement, slows down your reaction times, decreases your ability to evade or dodge and penalizes skills. Ouch! Since Arduin Eternal is an active combat system, losing maneuverability like dodge or movement capability can be very disadvantageous. Using armor means making a tradeoff between the ability to resist some damage and the loss to speed, reaction times and maneuverability.

Difference between getting hit and taking damage

Arduin Eternal separates getting hit with taking damage. One does not necessarily follow suit to the other. You can hit a foe but if they parry or dodge the hit, you miss for all practical purposes. Or, you could do damage and have it absorbed by their armor or the shield or main gauche they used to block it. Remember that big lug in armor? You can probably hit him as easily as the broad side of a barn. Might not hurt him but you can still get the blow in. This is important when you need to determine whether you can hit someone, like say if you chose to wrestle our armored grunt. Maybe you can’t cut him to pieces with your knife but you can turn all that heavy armor against him when you cinch in and take him to the ground. Ever see a turtle on its back? Or, how about to smash a vial of acid on his armor or dump handfuls of itching powder, pepper or other fun concoctions on our armored friend? Each would require an attack roll against the Defense of the opponent (our hit roll).


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