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D20 Style Combat in RPG Maker

Something I’ve often toyed with aside from my own game FateStone was the idea of re-creating a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in something like RPG Maker.  Seems easy right? You’ve got dungeons, monsters, characters all there and ready to go!  However, the big hurdle is quite simply that the way combat works does not overlap. Like at all.  RPG Maker’s combat calculations are more inspired by Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest than anything you’d find in a Pen & Paper RPG tome. So I recently put my mind to work on figuring out how exactly you would be able to bring a d20 or D&D Style of combat to a RPG Maker game.

Now take in mind that this is a very basic version of what I started working with.  While I have started working on versions to incorporate all the different D&D ability scores, I haven’t hammered out all the nitty gritty of using them.  So for now I strictly went for Attack Roll (Attack) vs AC (Defense) and Spell Attack (Magic Attack) vs Saving Throw (Magic Defense).

 

First is the dice roll:

1dX = Math.randomInt(X)+1

YdX = Math.randomInt((X*Y), Y) + 1

For the YdX formula, it’s important to note that you’ll be setting the range of the random numbers, when it says X*Y you should replace that with the actual value of X * Y.  In other words, for 3d6 don’t put (6 * 3) just put (18).  These formulas will be used for everything from determining the attack to the damage, so they are pretty much the cornerstone of this whole thing.  But another important one would be how to you get the Ability Modifier from the Ability Score.  For that you’ll want to use the following calculation:

Math.Floor((A – 10)/2) = M

A = Ability Score.  M = Ability Modifier.

In simple terms, you subtract 10 from the Score, divide that by 2 and round down (because you always round down in D&D) and that will give you the modifier.  So an Attack (Strength) of 14 would result in a modifier of 2.

So how would this work for an actual skill?  Well, let’s take a look at one.  First, you’ll want to set the Skill in RPG Maker to be a ‘Certain Hit’.  We are just going to skip the whole Accuracy/Evade cycle of the attack in favor of our own math.  Then our damage formula will look something like this:

If (b.def <= (Math.randomInt(20) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2) + (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )) Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (MOD – Math.Floor(a.level/2)); else 0

Kind of crazy, right?  Let’s break it down.

If (b.def <=: This First bit is essentially starting an ‘If-then’ clause that says if the following math results in something equal to or higher than our target’s defense (AC).

(Math.randomInt(20) + 1: This is our d20 roll.

+ (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2): This is adding our attack modifier

+ (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )): This adds half our level to the math and finishes our If condition.  So it’s a random number between 1-20, plus the modifier, plus half our level.

Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2))This part is our damage calculation. Essentially, do this much damage (a random XdY dice amount) plus our Attack modifier damage.

else 0 And if the math DIDN’T equal or beat the Target’s Defense(AC), then deal zero damage due to it being a miss.

To summarize, the formula is basically:

If (Target AC) <= 1d20 + Attack Modifier + Half Level; Deal XdY + Attack Modifier damage; else deal no damage.

Naturally, you can probably imagine how this basic formula can be applied to a lot of different things.  It forms the basic idea for skill checks, saving throws, and pretty much any Difficulty Check based roll. You could replace the target defense with a d20 roll on the enemy side as well and have an opposed check.

As I said at the top, this isn’t perfect.  It doesn’t quite yet take into account D&D’s Ability Scores, which I’m still working on.  Mostly just stuck on thinking of a way to make the Target Defense side of things work when b.def would simply be their Constitution score or something.

If I ever figure out a good solution to it, I will let you know.

In the mean time, you might find the following plug ins for RPG Maker MV to be handy when it comes to recreating the D&D experience:

Yanfly’s Weapon Unleash: Allows you to reassign a different attack skill to different weapons, thus being able to give daggers a different damage formula than a great axe.

Yanfly’s Limited Skill Usages: For those interested in bringing D&D 4th Edition’s system of At-Will, Encounter and Daily abilities to the game, this plugin can help.  However, you might want to create a common event for sleeping that gets called when using an item like ‘Camping Set’ or something to reset the Daily uses.

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My 5e D&D Injury System

So a while back I made a post detailing my “Injury System” for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition.  It was roughly modeled after the Dragon Age: Origins injuries but without all the unruly book keeping that came with the ups and downs of temporarily changing ability scores.   Well, now a new edition of the game is upon us and I figured why the heck not update that old chart for the newest edition of the game.  It’s something to work with right?  While the new Dungeon Master’s Guide DOES have an Injury chart, it feels a bit severe and well – permanent – than some of my injuries. My injuries are things you see happening to inconvenience someone that they would sustain in a fight.  The official table in the book is like…  OH BAHAMUT YOU ARE #$%&ED UP!  I mean, losing body parts? Yeuch!  So here’s MY chart:

Roll 1d6
Roll Result Normal Effect Complicated Effect
1 Injured Arm Disadvantage on Strength Checks & Saves Disadvantage on Strength checks & saves. Disadvantage on Melee & Ranged attack rolls.
2 Injured Leg Disadvantage on Dexterity Checks & Saves. Speed reduced by 5 feet. Disadvantage on Dexterity check & saves. Speed reduced by 15 feet.
3 Cracked Skull Disadvantage on Wisdom and Intelligence Checks & Saves Disadvantage on Wisdom and Intelligence rolls. Including spell attack rolls. Can’t use spells that use concentration.
4 Cracked Rib Disadvantage on Constitution Checks & Saves.  Disadvantage on Constitution rolls. Vulnerable to Piercing, Slashing, and Bludgeoning damage.
5 Stomach Wound No CON modifier when you roll hit dice. No CON modifier when you roll hit dice. Hit dice roll is halved (round down.)
6 No Injury Sustained

As before, falling unconscious will result in one injury from the normal effect column (unless they roll a 6.) This injury can be treated in a town or city (DM Tip: feel free to charge a physician’s fee, or have a doctor ask a favor for treatment. Great story hook!) or by a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check in the field and outside of combat.  However, if the players opt for the Wisdom (Medicine) check, a failure will result in the injury becoming complicated, and become the corresponded complicated effect.  A complicated injury MUST be treated in a town or city.

There’s also an alternate rule with these that I came up with after playing some test games of 5th edition and found that especially at low level things can be particularly deadly for players.   I’m sure that’s great for a lot of DMs and Players out there.  Lethal, deadly, and  risky – Yay.  Yea, that’s how a dungeon crawl SHOULD be.  But for me?  I prefer a good story.  So do my players.  So having characters drop like flies isn’t exactly a great feature for me and mine.  So I also added this:

Alternate Death Rules:  In the event that a character dies (by failing 3 death saves or taking lethal damage) they can try to be resuscitated after combat is over.  By making a Wisdom (Medicine) check with a DC 20, they can be brought back from the brink but automatically sustain 2 complicated injuries.  Roll against the injury chart above with 2d6 instead of 1.  The PC will sustain both injuries.  If one of the dice is a 6, reroll it until you get a 1-5.  If BOTH dice end up being rolled as 6s, then the PC has complications during the resuscitation and dies permanently.

Naturally you can play around with these making them worse or easier by switching around the DCs. Like a DC 10 to treat an injury and a DC 15 to resuscitate using those alternate dying rules. Or crank them up with you wanna get edgy with it.

My RPG Rogue’s Gallery

serata nerd elf

You know sometimes I find myself reminiscing about characters long past, usually holding a glass of brandy and a cigar while staring deeply into a roaring fireplace.  Which is really odd because I don’t drink, I don’t smoke aaaand I don’t have a fireplace.  But the point still stands.  I’ve had so many random RPG characters over the years, I like to look back at them and think “What if someone else could use some of this potential?”  I mean, I’ve met so many folks who quite honestly could use some neat ideas to use for their characters.  Not that theirs were bad.  Just flat.  So I figured I’d share some of mine.  Which you might think that’s the dumbest thing next to telling people about how you totally rolled 3 18’s on your stats or about this awesome idea you have for a homebrew, but I stopped listening to you along time ago voice in my head.  So story time!

Scythe the Revenant Ranger

Scythe was a character I made for a campaign that I really didn’t know what the setting was going to be.  I knew it was using the standard D&D 4e stuff in terms of mythology and cosmology, but that was about it.  So I wanted something broad enough that would give him a call to action and a reason to continue on with the adventure no matter what it was.  So I began thinking about the constants in Dungeons & Dragons.  What do you almost always do in a campaign?  Well, how about kill monsters?  Yes!  His goal will be to kill things.  That’s a good reason to pretty much always be in for whatever adventure you go on.  So what I ended up working with was that before being raised as a Revenant, Scythe was a bounty hunter.  However, his own dealings left him the target of plenty and he soon found himself tied to a rock at the bottom of a lake.  When he saw the Raven Queen and was about to have his soul dragged to the afterlife, he instead made a bargain with the Goddess of Death.  He would be HER bounty hunter.  He would reap souls to help her build an army to defend the Shadowfell from Orcus (at this point I had heard that the campaign was going through the Heroic Tier adventure series by Wizards of the Coast which I knew tied somewhat into Orcus in the long run.)  The Raven Queen accepted the bargain and raised him as a revenant to reap souls, and if he reaped enough he would earn his freedom to live again.  Unfortunately in his desperation to strike a bargain, a number was never specified.  So he was doomed to reap souls until the Raven Queen decided he had done enough.

The downside to this is that it kind of made him a tad bit psychotic. Like violence became his go to solution for pretty much anything, because hey, more souls. The epitome of which became this somewhat infamous moment in my blogs history that sparked much more of a debate then I was expecting.  Really, the character started to get darker and darker and became more and more prone to violence.  When you get to the point where you can’t go back to the center of commerce in an area because you killed too many or the wrong people – it may be time to rethink your motivations.  It didn’t help that Scythe was cocky.  Really cocky.  When threatened at point blank with an arrow, he didn’t flinch and told the woman holding the bow to wait while he discussed things with the party.  He was a revenant! Death wasn’t exactly a stopping block for him.  But it was getting out of control, so we decided to retire the character. Pulled back to the pits of the Shadowfell by the Raven Queen for blatant disregard for life.

Vrykerion the Half Elf Warlock

Scythe’s replacement on the mission, was someone less violent, and a lot more slimy.  Vrykerion the Vestige pact warlock.  Vestige pact warlocks, for those you don’t know, are warlocks who draw their power from making pacts with the souls of the dead for their power.  This character actually took that mentally a bit farther and flat out stole souls for power.  Each vestige he possessed was another person he tricked, swindled, or bargained their soul away.  His employ for The Raven Queen was a bit more of a debt to pay off for disrupting the “natural” order of things (namely, souls belong to the Queen of the Dead – not him.) Of course, he had his own desires being put on the mission that Scythe failed to do.  The quest the party had was tied into a powerful and ancient dragon that bordered on demi-god or god status that was sealed beneath the island they were on.  Scythe wanted that soul or even a piece of it.  His plan was to use the group’s loyalties to get close enough to try and bargain his way to part of the dragon’s soul in exchange for release, or something along those lines.

Of course, none of that happened.  Shortly after the appearance of the warlock, I ended up leaving the campaign due to a variety of reasons.  Would have been interesting to see how and if the story would have played out.

Operative X09 (Shadowrun/d20 Modern)

Probably my most controversial character I’ve ever played. X09 is a bit of robocop situation, where to appease his corporate masters his body was replaced entirely with a cybernetic android (using a homebrewed race) with the exception of his brain, which was simply purged of most of his memories.  However, upon learning that he once had things like a family, a life, and a bunch of other things in that vein that were taken from him he decides to go rogue and become a mercenary.  That’s really not that interesting and is a bit vague.  I was playing with a first time GM and wanted to give him plenty to work with since I knew he was a big fan of story and role play.

However, where this character started to get interesting was what happened when you mixed him with the rest of the party.  Other members had characters that were pretty much “good hero” types, and renegade hero types.  I was a cutthroat merc in it for the money.  I take a job, I do the job, I kill any and all loose ends or anyone who gets in my way.  I think the moment this truly came to shine was we were given a mission to infiltrate a top secret military base and stop a potential terrorist.  While trying to locate said secret base, we had an encounter with a gas station clerk out in the boonies.  We asked them a series of questions, paid him off for the answers, bought some stuff in exchange for what we wanted, and the whole thing went smoothly.  Where it turned was after the exchange was done, my character reached to pull out his wallet and instead pulled a gun and shot the clerk.  My teammates were horrified, but my logic was sound.  He had seen us, he could identify us, and thus was a loose end that needed to be dealt with.  Especially in the light that we were up against some potentially nasty black ops military fiends.

If that wasn’t enough to put the party on edge with my character, things only got worse when we got into the military base and we identified two unknown people in the tunnel ahead of us.  My character was able to deduce that one of these two was actually the brother of one of my team mates who we had heard was possibly brainwashed or flat out joined up with the terrorist cell.  I decided not to share this information with said teammate and instead ordered her (she was our team’s gun expert and professional sniper) to take them out.  My thinking of course would be that these guys are A) Potentially a threat, B) A possible emotional entanglement that could compromise the mission and C) Definitely in our physical way to complete the mission.  After opening fire and discovering who I just ordered her to shoot, my team mate clearly did NOT share my deductive reasoning for this action.  In fact, this was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back on the campaign.  She would shortly after this, use her first chance to blow my character’s brains across the wall.  Not exactly shocked, and she was well within her right to have revenge as far as I could see but the whole thing left everyone kind of shaken at the table and a bit distrustful in character and the campaign disbanded shortly after.

Still, first time I’ve ever had a character straight up die.  And to another player no less.

Vrykerion Oelarune the Eladrin Swordmage

Probably my most in depth role playing character, this Vrykerion (the first D&D character to use the name, the warlock came later) was actually part of a campaign where I got to do a bit of the world building.  His backstory shaped a chunk of the DMs world story.  The quick version is that in this low magic setting, he was part of a monastic order of eladrin who practiced the art of swordmagic, a powerful and ancient technique developed mostly for defense.  However, years ago his order was nearly complete wiped out in a mysterious attack.  Vrykerion only survived because he was in the lower levels of the monastery cleaning up as punishment for being an apprentice who tried to wield a master’s sword.  Only a handful of survivors (seven in all if I recall) made it out of there, and all swore to walk the earth trying to find whoever was behind the attack and to avenge our people.  This was nice because it always gave me two things whenever we visited a new place: Have any other eladrin been through here? And trying to find info on who attacked the monastery.

Still I mentioned that this was probably my most in depth character in terms of role play and there’s a specific story that goes along with that fact.  While investigating a ruined temple, we found a massive dragon frozen in ice along side a now deceased eladrin swordmage – one of Vrykerion’s seniors, a master who had been away from the monastery the night of the attack. Not only did the master have a journal that had valuable clues in it, but he also possessed a +1 Frost Longsword.  And at level 3 without a single magical item to my name, it seemed like a useful item.  But it was a master’s sword.  Even with the order gone, Vrykerion still knew that it was forbidden for him to wield that blade until he had passed his trials.  Especially since doing so is what landed him in punishment detail that spared him while his comrades died.  So there was a heavy guilt factor too.  I elected that Vrykerion would take the sword, but never use it.  He would carry the weapon until such that that he could return it to the monastery and place it with the swords of all those who had fallen before, as was the tradition of his people.

That may not seem like much, but especially in D&D passing up a +1 magical weapon for some fluff reason is pretty outrageous, doubly so in Fourth Edition where the monsters scale with the assumption that you do have those magical bonuses add in to your character (Another reason I have been a big advocate of using inherent bonuses in my fourth edition campaigns.  The freedom to role play without concern of ‘proper’ stat inflation.)  It was a bold move that was surprising to my DM, my fellow players and even dare I say to me.  But it felt like it made sense.  That my character wouldn’t use that sword.  Especially since his order was so very important to him, that he had dedicated the last nearly 100 years of his life to seeking out those who had destroyed it.

So that’s all for my RPG Rogue’s Gallery story time.  I hoped you maybe got some enjoyment about hearing some of these stories, or maybe got an idea for your own characters from it.  Have an interesting character of your own? Let me know in the comments below.  I love hearing awesome RPG stories of yester year.

Remembering to Play the Part

One of the first things a role player will try to beat into your brain is to always separate player knowledge and character knowledge.  It’s one of the most basic tenets of role playing.  Just because you know Ner’zhul became the original Lich King, doesn’t mean Sir Awesomeman the Paladin of Stormwind would.

The other night at my weekly D&D game, I came across a variation of the idea that honestly never occurred to me before. The separation of player motivation and character motivation.  Our party was trying to get into a ‘restricted area’ to speak to an important official in this Church of Pelor that we were sorta-kinda working for.  The high guard decided to cut us off, checked our ‘guest passes’ and declared us “Not supposed to be here.”  She was quite snooty about it too.

Now, as the rest of our gaming group was quick to point out, this woman was a high guard in the organization employing us.  Killing her would be bad, so we should all use non-lethal methods to subdue her.  The group knew this. I knew this.  But did my character?

Well, let’s think about it.  My character – Scythe – is a revenant (if you’re not familiar with the D&D race, think ‘The Crow’. Not the elemental revenants in Northrend) that was raised by the Raven Queen to hunt down and claim souls for her so he can earn his freedom.  He’s a soul-harvesting bounty hunter for the Goddess of Death – I think it is safe to assume he doesn’t do non-lethal.

I went all out on her.  Brought my A-game.  Some solid hits, a little combat advantage, and one brutal critical hit later and she was lying on the floor covered in her own blood, muttering her final words to her god.  Scythe walks over to her and grins, “Pelor has no power where you’re going.” He pulled out his talisman and sent her soul to the Shadowfell to meet his mistress.

I had  knowingly killed what should have been an ally to our cause.  A high guard that served directly underneath the Church’s council. Why?  Because my character had a different motivation.  His freedom was more important than sparing some pain-in-the-butt guard that decided to pull a sword on us because our hall pass was invalid.

I think it’s safe to say that no one else in my group agreed with my actions.  This was a stupid decision that is surely going to cause a lot of issues for our characters in the near future.  As we ended the session for the night I smiled and looked at our Dungeon Master and said, “That was a mistake wasn’t it?”

He smiled back and said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget: “Wil Wheaton knew not to split the party.  Aeofel didn’t.”

I can not wait for our next game.

What Doesn't Kill Ya: My D&D Injury System

Recently I had a new Dungeons & Dragons 4e campaign start, my first in over 6 months that I was DMing and the first time I had DMed a game since actually getting to sit on the player side of the screen.  Needless to say it made a big difference.  One thing I really wanted to do was patch up some of the holes that my last campaign had as well as some that observed in my gaming experiences.

A big one was going unconscious mid-battle should be a bigger deal than “Oh, I have to start making Death Saves”  So I got to searching for a good way to raise the stakes.  That’s when I stumbled upon this article on RoleplayingTips.com.  It describes a system in which a player sustains an injury when they get knocked out in battle, mostly taken from Dragon Age.   This was my starting point for coming up with my system and it doesn’t change too much from this except for a few minor things.

First of all, I’m not a big fan of unnecesary book keeping and taking a straight minus to an ability score creates just that.  Every skill associated with that ability score gets temporarily changed, the attacks and damage have to be altered, and if you want to be really mean it can alter your hit point total and number of healing surges as well.  Ultimately it just sounded like a big hassle and I wanted to really make it easy.  So I built a system around taking a loss that get tacked on to the end of roll instead of the beginning and having to rework a lot because of it.

My second change was I shortened up the list, but doubled up the results.  Essentially the list got halved and each injury gives minuses to two things.  Some are worse injuries to have than others to be sure, and to get some reprieve I inserted a chance that you would not receive an injury at all.  Also, a player can only suffer a maximum of three injuries at a time. I ended up with this chart:

Roll 1d6.
1 Injured Arm -1 to Attack and Damage Rolls
2 Injured Leg -1 to Speed and Initiative Rolls
3 Sore Skull -1 to Perception and Saving Throws
4 Bruised Rib Gain Vulnerable 2 to all damage
5 Stomach Wound Healing Surge Value is Reduced by 1/4
6 No Injury Sustained

Granted, that’s just for the Heroic tier.  I haven’t decided if it will scale in the other tiers of play but I have a good while to decide that.  The next task was to figure out how they can cure their injuries.  The easiest answer was that the next time they are in a non-hostile town (I call them Points of Civilization, which I explain to my players as “Somewhere that has a warm bed, a fluffy pillow, and they aren’t trying to kill you.”) however I wanted to get them a quicker solution.  So I came up with two ways to cure the injury: Rest at a point of civilization or make a Hard DC heal check.

The Hard DC heal check was in hopes that only someone trained in healing would be able to fix the injuries, but even those who aren’t can stand a chance.  The downside to the immediate gratification of healing it through a check is that there is a chance to flub it and make it worse.  A failed check will complicate the injury and make it worse, causing the effects to double (or in the case of a ‘Complicated Bruised Rib’ Vulnerable 5 instead of 2) and a complicated injury can ONLY be healed a point of a civilization.  Still not a complete show stopper, but it does give it a bit of gamble.

So that’s my current system that I’m using to handle injuries when they go unconscious.  It’s a quick and easy system that gives players a few options and still encourages them to not shrug off going unconscious.  Thanks for reading!

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