Monday, May 25, 2015

I am obsessed with Blanchehammer

Blanchehammer. Mr. Shea wrote it. You should read it.

I don't know why I am so thoroughly obsessed with it. It isn't entirely intuitive how things would work. If the players do all the rolling, for instance, and I have some rulings from Pearce about how to attack, I don't know how they roll to defend. Attacking isn't just 'here is the attack roll' - attacking someone defending herself requires, for success, an 11 or 12 rolled on a d12. If you're proficient in attacking with your weapon, you add your proficiency bonus to what you roll, so non-fighters are winning that one on a 10, 11, or 12 at first level.

Actually, fighters (and protagonists) would reduce the difficulty by one die size first, so they're rolling a d10 and succeeding on a raw roll of 9, or 10 at first level; 8-10 if proficient in their weapon, if we define proficiency narrowly. If someone is proficient in 'attacking,' sure, 8-10 with whatever is at hand.

Attacks, Hitting to Wound, Hitting to Kill Speedily

Rulings drill down from there in interesting ways. So wounding someone with a sword is simple - roll a d4, succeed on a 3 or 4, or a 2 through 4 if proficient. Fighters would reduce the die size and basically get that for free. Killing a wounded person is likewise simple. Killing someone with a single blow is only a little tricky - so roll a d8. Fighters, assassins not in a stand-up fight, roll a d6, add proficiency. (Ha, re-reading the proficiency bit at the end of Blanchehammer makes me think it is applied much more narrowly than this.)

So it seems like no one would ever 'just' attack, right? The attack roll is a d10 for fighters, single-blow kills are a d6. Unless the 'one die, one roll per turn rule' makes such necessary - the fighter is trying to kill two people in one turn, so by interpretation 1, she could roll a d6 and a d8 to do so.

I'd probably want it such that wounded people can still fight back - it's easy to wound someone, it's trickier to kill them outright, and defense from a wounded attacker is probably a die step easier. But 'attacking is a base d12, killing someone outright is a d8' doesn't make sense to me, unless either the killing outright at d8 assumes a defenseless person, or we're talking about attacking something that can't be killed in one sword swing or so. Bears, manticores, et cetera.

How to think someone else's idea to death. Also, defense

I dunno, at this point I'm probably overthinking it. Pearce seems to have wanted to show that some things are significantly harder than others, and didn't expect some idiot otaku to take things into the Math Lands. Which will be a new Blanchehammer class at the bottom of the post.

So an untrained attacker can land an attack about 16% of the time, a 11-12 on a d12. So defending yourself works rather well - people should be able to do it rather handily. Perhaps it's simple (d4) or average (d6) - though this means adventurers will land attacks 16% of the time, if not combat-focused, and get injured something like half the time, with a d4, or 2/3 of the time, with a d6. I'd probably go with a d6, just so fighters still have a chance of getting injured in a round of fighting.

Let the DM Roll

How do things change if the DM rolls attack rolls? I'm going to use the 'simple to wound, tricky to kill outright' and just ignore generic attack rolls because why would you do that. If I roll to wound as a fighter, I auto-hit, if we reduce d4 to 'success.' My opponent, a fellow fighter, wounds me. I can automatically finish my opponent off (because I won initiative), but I am still wounded. Any fighter-equivalent or assassin or protagonist can finish me off quickly, easily, automatically. I could mayhap win initiative and go for broke, go for a quick one-hit kill, but if I lose initiative I am dead.

This sounds like a grim system built for players controlling more than one character, or having a posse, or both.

Having played systems where the DM doesn't roll, and systems where the DM rolls, I like the latter better. The former tends towards two simultaneous systems, one set of rules for what the players do, and anther for how the DM's world works. If you give a player an NPC to play for a bit, the NPCs stats are written in a completely foreign language, at least from when I've played Numenera. An NPC doesn't roll to get things done and could only auto-succeed or fail in that system, with ties determined randomly. I'd rather have NPCs that can be elevated to PC status without an act of translation, personally. I also think this dual track creates PCs that are more complicated than NPCs, which I don't love.

I like PCs that aren't terribly special. Other than their amoral penchant for clever ways of dumping on their enemies.

On the other hand, if a PC wants to run away from someone else, who rolls what? There is no DEX in Blanchehammer. This is just a matter of on-the-spot rulings based on what the players have been led to expect, which may be the whole point of Blanchehammer. I'd probably let the PCs roll and see what happens, and not worry about rolling for the NPCs here. NPCs flee, I'd probably let the PCs roll to pursue. There are some neat ways of resolving chases that are more complex, but this game can probably roll with a simpler setup.


Idiot Otaku of the Math Lands

A Blanchehammer class:

Idiot Otaku of the Math Lands have an easier time boring people into semi-magical slumber or confusing people with half-sensible verbal logic flowcharts, and escaping from them thereby (and by running). So producing a semi-magical slumber is only tricky for them, as is their fast-talk confusion logorrhea.

Idiot Otaku comb the deserts known as the Math Lands for bunkers of illicit, collector-quality hats of the 2nd Imperium of Man. These hats are, of course, outlawed by the Emperor, but the idiot otaku are adept at avoiding capture. They are not adept at desert survival. Their posse consists of pupils, as per the sage, or stoned chaos monks who are armored if showing off their abs, and adept at nonlethal combat maneuvers and finding devices that play Death Metal. 

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