Author Topic: Creating a d20 Battletech game  (Read 5625 times)

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Offline Sanari

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Creating a d20 Battletech game
« on: December 01, 2008, 10:33:05 AM »
Hello all, I am currently creating my own d20 battletech RPG and was wondering if there was any interest here in such a thing. So far I have picked up several battletech books and am doing research on creating the game. I had a few questions about the battletech universe I couldn't find that I hoped to ask.

Firstly, does the game have any psychics in the game and if so are they of any noteworthy power?

Another thing I have not seen any mention one way or the other, do aliens exist in the battletech universe? Do they have any appearance in the game?

Not entirely related to universe but what sort of classes do you think would or should exist in a battletech universe? So far I have a Mechcommander class that gives situational bonuses to allies, calls in repairs, supplies and tank/infantry support and a Scout class that has abilities with jamming sensors, getting extra sensor info, assisting with indirect fire and dealing extra damage when unnoticed. These classes would be played both in and out of mech's for reference sake.

Questions? Comments?

Offline Tharnow

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 12:06:00 PM »
Afaik there are neither psychics nor aliens in the Battletech-Universe.
Of course, you should know the background to create such a game.

As for the classes: Do you want to focus the gameplay on mechs, or do you want to include "normal" rpg-stuff as well?

Anyway, i would go for an "open", point based character system (e.g. Shadowrun, GURPS)  - mechpilots are defined by their mech, so you dont need specific classes. And if you want to include non-mech roles, this will benefit both pilots and technicans, mission controll etc - because they can be more than just their designated role.

Offline Sanari

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 12:37:45 PM »
Firstly, thank you very much for your reply!

The game I am creating will involve vehicles and battle armor as well as being "on foot" in addition to traditional mech battles.

As far as my choosing a d20 system its more a matter of what I know, I have extensive knowledge of 3.5 D&D as well as d20 modern and 4e so if i'm going to make this as close to a professional product as I can thats what i'm going for.

I do not believe a mechpilot should be defined by the piece of equipment they are in. I was going the other direction, that a mech is only as good as its pilot and the abilities they gained in their class would translate into things they can do with their mech.

Please note I am not trying to offend the battletech universe, i'm just trying to make my own creation with a classed system. (once more in my are of expertise)

Offline PanzerBoxb

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 02:53:21 PM »
My apologies if this sounds harsh but why are you making a BattleTech RPG without really knowing the BattleTech universe?

Please note I am not trying to offend the battletech universe, i'm just trying to make my own creation with a classed system. (once more in my are of expertise)

Therein lies the rub.  If you plan on using an existing scenario, especially ones as popular as BattleTech, then you had better be prepared for getting called on every little discrepancy by the rabid fan base.  Otherwise they will not be interested in even trying your product out.

I do not believe a mechpilot should be defined by the piece of equipment they are in. I was going the other direction, that a mech is only as good as its pilot and the abilities they gained in their class would translate into things they can do with their mech.

Now, having a MechWarrior's (MW) skill determine what they can and cannot do with a Mech is a great idea but you should also have penalties for a MW who is piloting an unfamiliar chassis.

Offline (TLL)KitLightning

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2008, 05:35:23 PM »
Sanaris it is a very hazardeous venture you are about to step out into. I do not mean this in any degrading tone, rather on the contrary, that there is a lot of core fans who you would have more than one verbal fight with over the CBT universe, over the why this and that function is in or not. Making a d20 based version of the CBT, you should first establish a solid knowledge of the rules in the current (and past) CBT universe and also take a big dive into the existing Mechwarrior RPG, that it is obviously there that I would suggest you draw most from. The system in CBT is well founded and tested and turning it into an RGP within a d20 system is (from my view) only a modest step, not an evolution. Yet making it into an old school RPG with many fold of skills and directions a Player can take is not a sole task for one person alone.
 Creating the Classes or class system alone is extreme, that what would you focus on, Mechwarrior as a pilot, or as a trader (i.e. a Merchant or Pirate), will he have any Diplomatic skills to advance within any socially organised system. If you mainly will focus on the Player as a Warrior, does the Player have to acquire skills for each Main Weapon Class, and from there choose any SubClasses that may exist, and how will the level of each Class/SubClass reflect on the d20 rolled.
And how do you imagine the Level system for the Characters in general to unfold?

If you want to test your idea, however good it may be, write up a solid summary and the basic ground rulings and ideas of it´s basic functions. Post it here or at the CTB, but be wary, that you may not like some feedback.The small pamphlet you have written here, I sincerely cannot take serious, again this is not meant to be viewed as a negative view of your idea, only that a little more flesh on the bones cast would be welcomed.

My apologies if this sounds harsh but why are you making a BattleTech RPG without really knowing the BattleTech universe?

A valid question. Please enlighten us.
   

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Offline Sanari

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2008, 10:47:56 PM »
My apologies if this sounds harsh but why are you making a BattleTech RPG without really knowing the BattleTech universe?

It's not that I don't know the battletech universe, its that I haven't gotten my head around all the things the setting has to offer yet, which is why I asked about the aliens and psychics, its just common for sci-fi to have one or both of them and they were notably lacking in any information I have on hand. I have had a love for battletech, the mechwarrior and mechcommander series was in my opinion the best mech gaming you could get your hands on. To me it was in how realistic and serious the games story presented itself that I thought it would be perfect to adapt into an rpg my friends and colleages could sit down and play.

To Kitlightning
I understand very well the hazards of this project, my research has led to people who have tried this before and getting thrown out of forums for daring to try this. That is why I have decided to make my intentions known here, from what I have seen this is probably the most helpful and understanding community of battletech fans around. I am currently familiarizing myself with the battletech systems, I made sure to get a pile of books and have already been reading through them like my life depended on it, that is how I am with game systems I have ocd with them and get very into my readings. I know you don't think its something that can be taken alone but it would'nt be the first time I have created a d20 system and I do have some help and of course the battletech community if you are willing.

I apologise but one of my customers servers just went so i'll have to finish this post later so coming up in my next post I will have some of the systems and subsystems I am working on including Mechwarrior points, Stress points and criticals!

Offline (TLL)KitLightning

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2008, 11:10:46 PM »
np Sanari ... and Welcome to the Forum, btw! didn´t think of that last time I posted.
   

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Offline (TLL)Calistarius

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2008, 12:28:15 AM »
Something I really would like to see be left out of the game is character levels, like they use in D&D. I really don't like levels in a pen and paper rpg. I personally would prefere if it was a skill based system. Where by using your skills you get better at them, and if you don't use them you won't get better. I just think it is wrong for, lets say, a character who only fought in battle for one whole level, somehow got better at picking locks. It makes no sense to me.

This also includes things like somehow getting more health with higher levels and similar things, I just don't like it to be in a pen and paper rpg. I prefere a system where you health points did not change at all, but rather stayed the same based on your characters toughness or what ever the attributes name may be. So what keep's the character alive was not that he/she have 1337 amounts of health and can stand to be pommeled 50 times over the head with out dieing. But rather that the character is so skilled with his weapon's or shield, that he is able to parry and block his way out of harms way. And yes, this does mean that a character is much more vulnerable then they are in D&D.

I am not to fond of the D&D's D20 system either, where your to hit/success roll works by adding up all the numbers plus the D20 and then rolling towards a target number. I don't like how armour is dealt with in D&D either. Where armour+dex+shield+etc gets clumped into one big number, and if you beat that score you do damage, no matter what kind of weapon you have.

I prefere a system where to be able to hit you need to roll equal or lower then your skill. Where when you have succeeded to hit, the enemy gets an active attempt on defending by rolling to parry with weapon, block with shield or even dodge out of the way. And if that fails the enemy's armour will reduce the amount of damage your attack did (unless it was a perfect or special hit). Where you chance of doing significant damage with a dagger against a knight in full plate armour is close to impossible. Unless you scored a perfect (or special) hit, or if you took the negative of having your skill reduced to do a aimed attack towards the joint between 2 plates, or towards the narrow slit in the enemy's visor.

Games I can think of with similar styles is for example the 3rd edition of the MechWarrior rpg, and... and... ehm... Actually, I can't think of any other English/American made rpg that does that (I am sure there are though). I can think of 4 or so Swedish rpg's, right of the top of my head, that does/did it though.

Ok, I admit it... I don't like the D&D systems at all. ::) The only D&D game I ever thought was ok was Birthright, but that was not because of the system. It was more so due to the setting and concept of the game. And because of the awesome gamemaster we had, a french guy who's last name actually was Merlin. :D

Anyway... I think I might have gone of and ranted a bit here... and I have talked more fantasy then sci-fi to, but I feel some of it is a valid point even for a sci-fi game. So to stop babbling...my final paragraph. :D

If you should take anything in my post serious, it should be the first and second paragraph. Because to me, D&D's system has always felt very unrealistic. And the Battletech world has always feeled pretty realistic to me, even if there are a few things in it that are unrealistic. That is basically what you should aim for, realism, even in the game mechanics them self. I think that would be one of the things that could cool the BT fanbase a bit. But don't take all of this only on my word for all this, you should probably try it out, and see what you think.

Offline Sirius

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2008, 10:00:32 AM »
I think the most important question to answer is why are you trying to create a new RPG when there's already the MechWarrior RPG? The d20 system isn't really all that strong by itself - so I'm not sure why you'd go to all the effort to twist something around it when there are already alternatives.

(D&D isn't a bad game, don't get me wrong - it's generally worked pretty well to me. But it does have its weaknesses, and half of them are actually due to how d20 works. It doesn't reflect reality all that well.)

Offline Sanari

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2008, 10:50:36 AM »
Currently the Character creation system will go something like this.
Using a point buy system you will set up your base character attributes. These are going to shape your character out of mech as well as modify what you can do in a mech, one example would be strength, while it may not actually change how "strong" your mech is its a natural assumption that someone who is a brawler in real life would be able to make most use out of any melee combat a mech has. I don't mean to say a weak pilot wouldn't be able to punch you in the face with an atlas, a huge mech's still a brute.

From there you would then choose your class, which would define both your characters major starting abilities as well as grant access to different skills, though these will be somewhat interchangeable (i'll get to that later). The Mechcommander for example will have most of the abilities that deal with outside influence, they can open communications in the middle of battle and call in things ranging from ammo drops, to direct fire reinforcements. These things won't be free however so its not something that can be used with reckless abandon. The Mechcommander is also going to be the best at dealing with things on the diplomacy side, getting passage through restricted territory, negotiating for trading prisoners of war and working out the details of a cease fire are all right up a mechcommanders alley.

Now for gaining some of the skills and abilities these will be handled as the mechwarrior levels up through what are called promotions (basically feats for those familiar with D&D). With promotions a mechwarrior can gain a skill from another class such as the aforementioned diplomacy of a Mechcommander or gain specialization with a weapon class or subclass, having an easier time to hit and dealing some more damage.

As for the weapons themselves, a mechwarrior will be able to use any weapon, as to how well that will depend on a mechwarriors specialization and choice in mech as the default targetting computer (TC) will be optimized for certain weapons systems (Ex: A catapult mech was designed as a long range support platform so its TC is optimized for missile weapons, especially when used with indirect fire, but offer little assistance with other weapons).

Now as promised a few more tidbits of game design I have right now.
Mechwarrior points: These are going to be what sets a players mechwarrior apart from what a normal rank and file could do. MP are going to represent a combination of luck and skill depending on the situation. Using MP a Scout could for example completely dodge a missile attack, pushing both himself and his mech beyond the normal limits. Another example would be having an adrenalin surged speed boost to squeeze out another shot in a combat round. Utilizing a Mechwarrior point can even allow a reroll on the critical hit table, possible preventing devastating results. These points are going to be very finite in number, not something that a mechwarrior can do all the time, though some elite mech enemies may have these points as well.

Stress points: All battlemechs have at least one stress point, these allow mechs to be pushed beyond their limit a certain amount before they reach the breaking point. Stress points are lost when a mech takes a critical hit or if a player takes an action that causes them to lose a point. Stress points represent the ongoing internal and non critical subsystem damage a mech is taking, something that can't be fixed with a welder and some armor plates lying around. It will deal with an extra heat sink blowing, an actuator starting to cease up and needing service and other aspects that cannot be quantified with hit points like how the surge from making an alpha strike will surely toast a few portions of your own mech. As long as a mech has some stress points it will continue operating more or less normally up to a point, but when the mech runs out of these points it will be extremely vulnerable to critical system failure from a well placed shot which brings me to the next mechanic, criticals.

Criticals: A critical is what happens when a shot lands in a particularly sensitive area of a mech, causing damage or destruction of important components depending on the mechs remaining stress points. Depending on those stress points you can have varying effects as listed below.

While stress points remain:
Ammo Explosion: ammo explodes dealing damage to the mech and making weapon unusable till reloaded. CASE allows a reroll if this is rolled but the new result must be taken.
Mech Shutdown: Mech safety system kicks in and shuts mech down, mech is immobilized next turn and pilot must spend turn restarting mech.
Targeting Computer Damage: -1 On all attack rolls till repaired.
Navcom Systems Offline: Radar and Communication systems shut down and must be manually restarted, taking a move action. After action is expended Navcom comes back online at the end of your next turn. Indirect fire is impossible when Navcom is offline.
Actuator Damaged: Mech suffers -1 to attack and mech is unable to leave the square its in till the end of your next turn.
Gyro Damaged: Pilot rolls take a -5 penalty till repaired. Heavy Duty Gyros: Ignore this roll the first time it comes up.

When stress points are exhausted:
Head: Cockpit destroyed, mechwarrior takes damage and is ejected.
Center Torso: Reactor crippled, reactor explodes at the end of the players next turn unless they succeed on a Pilot Check, If check succeeds mech shuts down till reactor repaired.
Right Torso: Destroyed, equipment and weapons attached destroyed, Arm attached is blown off (recoverable).
Left Torso: Destroyed, equipment and weapons attached destroyed, Arm attached is blown off (recoverable).
Right Arm: Destroyed, equipment and weapons attached destroyed
Left Arm: Destroyed, equipment and weapons attached destroyed
One Leg: Destroyed, Pilot check or fall prone and take falling damage. Mech may not move full speed and also gains a -1 speed penalty.
Both Legs: If both legs destroyed fall prone with no check and take falling damage, immobilized.
Weapon Destroyed: If weapon carries ammo it explodes.

Phew! Okay I was about to get into the mech's themselves but I think I need to stop typing as I don't even know who's going to bother reading this far  ;). I know its a little skitzo but I had alot to write. Well for those that give it a scan let me know what you think so far.

And sorry if I missed questions i'll try to pick them out next time I post.

Offline Sanari

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2008, 11:06:43 AM »
I think the most important question to answer is why are you trying to create a new RPG when there's already the MechWarrior RPG? The d20 system isn't really all that strong by itself - so I'm not sure why you'd go to all the effort to twist something around it when there are already alternatives.

(D&D isn't a bad game, don't get me wrong - it's generally worked pretty well to me. But it does have its weaknesses, and half of them are actually due to how d20 works. It doesn't reflect reality all that well.)

Well why not? I have plenty of reasons. I like battletech, I like the d20 system, I like creating things, I think people will enjoy playing it, I may bring new people into battletech, some people may like the universe but not the rules or be intimidated with learning an entirely new system but know d20, I could go on but you get the idea. I do understand the problem with the d20 system but its more how its usually presented, which is why I like making my own games for it.

I don't understand your point about how it doesn't reflect reality well, unless i'm mistaken both games involve dice being thrown around determining results while some painted pieces of metal are lying around on a grid. Thats all any game would be without an imagination.

Offline Sirius

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2008, 12:20:35 PM »
Fair enough. Nothing wrong with art for the sake of art.

About the reality issue, it's mostly because a d20 doesn't yield a normal distribution, which causes bizarre results with ability checks and skill checks. I also think the scale of the random factor to the fixed factor tends to be too large. For example, someone with 20 str is only 25% more likely to pass a strength check to break down a wooden door than someone with 10 str, even though they can carry four times as much weight. That doesn't ring true.

And then the randomness... it's perfectly possible for someone to jump across a 20 foot gap untrained. Then on the next attempt, they could fail to cross a two-foot gap (which you could practically manage hopping on one foot from a standstill). The difference in skill levels needed for either extreme is vast, and I don't think it's realistic that the same person could do both, and with the same likelihood.

Offline Tharnow

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2008, 02:52:06 PM »
Well, its your system, so if you want to use D20 and a class-system, your decision.

Of course a mechwarrior is not defined by his mech - but the role he plays in battle certainly is.
A light mech will do scouting and harassing, a assault mech will do front-line assaults and so on...

That's why i think a open character system is better: A Mechwarrior will likely start with a light mech, and advance to heavier classes.
If you use a open system for this, you are fine: He gets better at the thing he is specialising in at the moment.
But if you use a D20-class system, it will look like this: A experienced light mech pilot wants to learn, e.g. "heavy mech piloting".
He will need 10K (or whatever) XP to do this (to advance a level), but he wont be very good at it.

Lets look at real life: I am a experienced swordfighter, but i don't know the first thing about driving a car.
It is in no way more difficult for me to learn driving than for every other average person.
Now, in a D20-system, lets say i am a 3rd level Fighter. I wont to invest 4 points into the "driving" skill.
It will be 3-4 times as difficult to do this than for a 1st level Fighter (or whatever), because advancing a level is way more difficult for me.

Don't get me wrong, D20 is a good system - for its own worlds. D&D IS defined by D20, so it does make sense.
And some rules of this system do apply just fine to other worlds - e.g. Star Wars: It fits the way how "heroic" characters are way more stronger than mooks.
But for most worlds, the level based character system does not fit at all.
Anakin was a expert mechanic, pilot and Jedi - all at once. Creating a character like him is easy in, say, GURPS or Shadowrun: Just give him good stats and skills. With D20, however, this is really difficult: A character can not change from one profession to another easily.
He has to earn a batshit of experience just to learn the basics, and has no chance to get as good as someone who did this thing from the beginning of his career - no matter how much more experience he gets.

Why this is bad for an Mechwarriorgame?
Well, Mechwarriors often acquire lots of different skills - they are at least mech pilots and  mechanicans, but very often also experienced commanders, diplomats or even infantry-soldiers.
D20 often hinders this kind of "multiclassing", as it will severe your progress in your main profession.

Don't neglect D20-based Mechwarrior, if your really want to do it.
I would recommend using GURPS as the basic mechanic  - it is easy to learn and has very versatile rules.
However, if you want to stick with D20, at least skip the generic class system.
You will also need a good way to deal with vehicle/mech damage, and mech combat in general. D20 can be applied here, if you are willing to skip some realism for more action - but don't apply hit points to the whole mech, use hit locations.
You could look at StarWarsD20 for vehicle combat.

Offline (TLL)Calistarius

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2008, 04:57:23 PM »
The D&D d20 system does have both possative and negative aspects of it. Unfortunatly, for me the negatives outweighs the possative with a lot. I am sure there are a lot of people who will like your version of a BT rpg game based in the d20 system, because they know it and/or like it. But I also think it will push away atleast an equal amount of people who would dislike, or maybe even hate it. I guess the same could be said for any other rpg systems to really. It all depends on what you prefere.

There is another system you could look at though, Steve Perrin's Basic Role-Playing, which is actually older then GURPS. The Basic Role-Playing rules is based on d100's and % though. Going to be honoust and say that I have never read these rules, so I don't know if they are good or not really. But it has been used to creat several other high profile rpg games, like Call of Cthulhu and Nephilim.

The best part with the BRP would be that it was those rules that was used to create the first Swedish rpg game. It got the named "Drakar och Demoner" (DoD for short, and meaning "Dragons and Demons"), and was released back in 1982. DoD is to Swedish rpg gamers, like D&D is to... well a huge amount of rpg gamers in the rest of the world. I think more Swedes play one of the 7 editions of DoD, then the amount of Swedes who play D&D.

Something funny with the 6th edition of DoD that was created by Riotmind. When they got the license to make a new DoD edition, they compleatly remade the game. For example the big thing was the change in setting, they went from the normal tolkien-like fantasy, to a Swedish folklore, fairy taled, mythological fantasy world (google image search on "John Bauer" to see what I mean). That was a good move, because this really hits home to the core of a lot of Swedes, me included. But then they made one HUGE mistake... the game was made with a level system pretty simmilar to D&D. But when the whole of the Swedish rpg community stood up in a roar shouting "blasphemy!!!"... It didn't take long before an official addendum appeared on their website, "allowing" players to play without this feature. And in the subsequent reprints of the 6th edition (as well as the later 7th editions) little or no traces of "levels" remained. :D

Offline Sanari

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Re: Creating a d20 Battletech game
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2008, 09:26:29 AM »
Something I really would like to see be left out of the game is character levels, like they use in D&D. I really don't like levels in a pen and paper rpg. I personally would prefere if it was a skill based system. Where by using your skills you get better at them, and if you don't use them you won't get better. I just think it is wrong for, lets say, a character who only fought in battle for one whole level, somehow got better at picking locks. It makes no sense to me.

Having a game where you improve the skills you use is nice but it seems like it would add too much paperwork, which is the last thing I would think a player would want to worry about in the middle of battle is to notch off a box on his sheet to showe he used the piloting skill. By default D&D is a fairly abstract system, its perfectly normal in my experience for a character who didn't use (insert skill here) to say for in character purposes that they were practicing in the background.

This also includes things like somehow getting more health with higher levels and similar things, I just don't like it to be in a pen and paper rpg. I prefere a system where you health points did not change at all, but rather stayed the same based on your characters toughness or what ever the attributes name may be. So what keep's the character alive was not that he/she have 1337 amounts of health and can stand to be pommeled 50 times over the head with out dieing. But rather that the character is so skilled with his weapon's or shield, that he is able to parry and block his way out of harms way. And yes, this does mean that a character is much more vulnerable then they are in D&D.

I agree with you here, and though players are going to gain hp, its not going to be as much as default D&D.

I am not to fond of the D&D's D20 system either, where your to hit/success roll works by adding up all the numbers plus the D20 and then rolling towards a target number. I don't like how armour is dealt with in D&D either. Where armour+dex+shield+etc gets clumped into one big number, and if you beat that score you do damage, no matter what kind of weapon you have.

I prefere a system where to be able to hit you need to roll equal or lower then your skill. Where when you have succeeded to hit, the enemy gets an active attempt on defending by rolling to parry with weapon, block with shield or even dodge out of the way. And if that fails the enemy's armour will reduce the amount of damage your attack did (unless it was a perfect or special hit). Where you chance of doing significant damage with a dagger against a knight in full plate armour is close to impossible. Unless you scored a perfect (or special) hit, or if you took the negative of having your skill reduced to do a aimed attack towards the joint between 2 plates, or towards the narrow slit in the enemy's visor.

Just to be clear the armor system in d20 assumes you are actively dodging/parrying and encourages you to describe it as such. As far as daggers dealing damage to full plate wearing foes, thats a common problem and why i'm also going to employ whats called damage reduction, which can go towards a specific type of weapon or be a general bonus. It will keep even small mech out of reach of most small arms fire and allow assault mechs to at least shrug off smaller mech weapons.


If you should take anything in my post serious, it should be the first and second paragraph. Because to me, D&D's system has always felt very unrealistic. And the Battletech world has always feeled pretty realistic to me, even if there are a few things in it that are unrealistic. That is basically what you should aim for, realism, even in the game mechanics them self. I think that would be one of the things that could cool the BT fanbase a bit. But don't take all of this only on my word for all this, you should probably try it out, and see what you think.

One of my main design goals is to make the game as realistic as possible using the d20 system so long as it doesn't stunt the fun of the game. I actually have 2 ex military friends who are familiar with d20 going over several things with me so that I can squeeze some more realism into the game.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 09:54:32 AM by Sanari »