Brian Ashford @ 2019-05-19 21:10:04
I'm posting this here in response to a short conversation on Twitter with Andrew Bartlett. It's too big for a tweet chain and a bit random for my blog. If you like reading about game mechanics and Fighting Fantasy though, you are in luck. Years ago I helped playtest Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition. 1st ed had some definite issues but I didn't think 2nd went far enough in fixing them. What follows is my solution for making AFF fun, while keeping it compatible with all the old gamebooks and Out of The Pit. The biggest problem I had with the multiplayer implementations of Fighting Fantasy is the Skill stat. Small differences in Skill make massive differences in character capabilities. A single stat rateing ability in all task worked fine for a solo gamebook but when one member of a group has a Skill of 8 and another has a Skill of 11, the latter character is literally better at everything, leaving the former player feeling pretty hard done by. AFF 2nd tried to fix this by taking away the random nature of character generation and limiting the possible range of the Skill stat, giving everyone a Skill of 7 or 8 to start (IIRC). This left characters feeling a little samey and still the 8s were better than the 7s. I couldn’t help but think though, is there maybe a tidier, more interesting way of doing this? One of the suggestions which came up during the playtest, was to simply give every character a fixed Skill score of 7, but this would make the Skill stat redundant. Maybe though, if Skill is the problem, making it redundant is a step in the right direction? Put it another way; if Skill is always set at a certain value then it might as well be a target number for tests. So let’s try that, and remove the stat altogether. Instead of trying to roll under Skill +Special Skill on 2d6, lets roll 2d6 + Special Skill and pass on an 8 or higher. This would also let us dump the confusing nomenclature of having a stat called Skill and skills called Special Skills. Now we have gotten rid of the stat and we can call skills, Skills. *2D6+Skill, a roll of 8+ passes.* So that fixes Skill rolls, but that Skill stat was needed for combat too. As written both combatants roll 2d6 + Skill + Special Skill to find their Combat Strength, and the higher CS wins the round and causes damage. If we are now just rolling 2d6+Special Skill then the PC's Combat Strength will be about 9.5 points too low. It turns out that's pretty easy to fix too... 2d6 + Skill vs 2d6 + Skill was the system written for the gamebooks, before Fighting Fantasy had Special Skills, so Advanced Fighting Fantasy PCs were already rolling about 2 points too high in combat thanks to those couple points they put into Sword or whatever. So if they were already rolling a bit high, removing the Skill stat actually only leaves then about 7.5 points low. Next, lets remove the GM's, sorry, the Director's, requirement to roll 2d6 and instead just use the opposition's Skill score as their Combat Strength. This will speed combat up a bit and the player's 2d6 is brings enough of a random element that the GM's dice won't be missed. So now the player will only be rolling, on average 0.5 too high, you could say that's negligible and just start playing, but there a simple fix for that too. In AFF if both combatants roll the same it is considered a draw and no-one takes any damage, if we just swap that to monsters win ties, that accounts for the last 0.5 and we are done. So, - Drop the Skill stat for PCs, instead players roll d6+6 at character generation to find out how many Skill points they have to spend. - NPCs and monsters still use the Skill score as a catch-all ability rating. - Skill tests are now 2d6 + a relevant Skill, 8+ passes. - Combat is a Skill test for the PC with a difficulty equal to the opponent's Skill. If the player succeeds they do damage, if they fail they take damage. (Finally: If you want to keep the randomness up in combat and you don't mind mixing in another dice, have the player roll 1D12+Skill rather than 2D6.)
Paolo Greco @ 2019-05-20 10:50:03
I like this! however the mechanics support only PC vs Monster, and no other challenge. To make it more uniform and interoperable: 1: Every creature has EITHER no SKILL but many skills OR one catch-all SKILL that averages at 0. 2: each actor in a challenge rolls 1d6+relevant skill. Stealing a page from S&W you can stat up monsters with a double notation like: SKILL: 6 [-1] Also nothing stops you from giving monsters both a general skill and specific skills: Wizard SKILL 7  +2 Magic
Brian Ashford @ 2019-05-20 11:23:00
Yep, that would work. The other option is to have the players roll when the monster instigates the combat just the same as they do when they start it themselves.
Brian Ashford @ 2019-05-20 11:32:34
Oh, and PC vs PC is just both roll, highest wins.
K Yani @ 2019-05-20 17:38:21
I don't fully understand the point about Combat Strength being 9.5 points lower. Do you mean that the resulting damage doesn't scale well with amount of hit points?
Brian Ashford @ 2019-05-20 23:29:20
In Advanced Fighting Fantasy PCs have a Skill stat which shows general ability at everything, and Special Skills which rate specific additional abilities. Combat Strength is 2d6+Skill+Special Skill The Skill stat is generated by rolling d6+6, giving a score of 7 to 12, averaging 9.5. if you want to remove the Skill stat (and I do want to), that means you only have 2d6+Special Skill to roll to find your Combat Strength. You will be short a Skill start of (on average) 9.5.
K Yani @ 2019-05-21 00:46:40
Thank you for the explanation. But if this is a contested roll and Skill removed from both sides, does the removal of Skill matter?
Brian Ashford @ 2019-05-21 08:53:33
You are only removing Skill from the PC. Old method: 2d6+Skill+Special vs 2d6+Skill My method: 2d6+Special Skill vs Skill
K Yani @ 2019-05-21 10:10:04
Now got it, thank you.
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