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  1. #1
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    It is becoming clear that there are several different ideas for how to proceed.

    Maybe we should talk some more about them - albeit rapidly so we can get down to business and revise the chapter.

    I had inteneded to avoid dealing with each individual domain action separately and instead try to have some sort of commonality amongst them. If we deal with one action at atime, come up with all the modifiers and then the DC we could easily spend the next year trying to get this done. Something to be real wary of.

    I also don't think it is wise for everyone to start posting their own hose-rules version (I'm only using that terminology becasue until we develop standards they are all house-rules) and then say try it my way. This will lead to tremendous amount of anarchy, IMO.

    Maybe we could group similar types of actions into common pols and address them that way.

    Like: Rule/contest/agitate; create; etc.

    I grouped rule/contest/agitate together because they all deal with changing the level of something (a holding, a province, an attitude).

    It is very possible to include a different set of modifiers (or costs) for actions at the realm/province level vice the individual holding level. This also fits the difference in 2nd ed between the two.

    Anyway I think we need to do some discussions here because things are getting too confused to keep on in the manner we have been going.

    One question to discuss is should we determine all the modifiers or the DC of an action first. This seems to be an issue that people are looking at differently and thus affecting how they are voted in the polls. If we all come to the same page then we can start to actually develop something here, IMO.
    Duane Eggert

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    One question to discuss is should we determine all the modifiers or the DC of an action first. This seems to be an issue that people are looking at differently and thus affecting how they are voted in the polls. If we all come to the same page then we can start to actually develop something here, IMO.
    I understand your desire for structure and taking logical steps to solve these problems, however I think it should be obvious by now that you can't talk about modifiers without talking about base DC's and action costs. These are inherently interrelated concepts. As Ian pointed out, what is an appropriate modifier is dependent upon the base DC, and vice versa. Confusing or unorganized as it may seem, I think these things ought to be presented together, otherwise there is no basis for saying "this is balanced," or "this is whacked, no regent could do that!"

    That being said, I think discussion is a good idea, as is posting concrete propositions (along with some rationale for any non-standard/new ideas). If there is general agreement, things could perhaps be moved along fairly expeditiously with a single sanctioning vote of the whole setup rather than each specialized detail seperately. This puzzle will have to be looked at as a whole if we are to be able to accurately judge a system's elegance, playability, balance, realism, and inherent logic.

    Irdeggman, you mentioned a little while back that we musn't lose the forests for the trees. Here is a good case of that, where putting each mechanical "tree" under the microscope is making it difficult to see how all the mechanics mesh together.

    If it's useful I'd be happy to repost those things I have proposed thus far (for domain action modifiers, attitudes, and base costs) on this thread, though I expect most perusers of this thread have also read those.

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    irdeggman I feel your pain. Getting a team all on the same page and working coherently rather than at cross purposes is something that comes up very often in my line of work. Without having the ability to fire anyone you are doing quite well and must have the patience of a saint. But in considering your call for open discussion, I think some methods that Ive used with teams in programing and analysis might be helpful. Please disregard any of the following as too tedious, too involved, or just plain silly (millions of engineers and scientists have done the same).

    1.
    Mission Statement
    A set of general specifications or ground rules for each project can be helpful. Without getting into the nitty gritty details we as a community could use such a document to help establish broad goals for the domain rules. Success of the final rules could be measured off of the goals we set at the begining. From what Ive seen on the forums the following items might fit on such goals:

    needing spreadsheets (aka a computer) to calcuate should not be required.
    where possible core rules and d20 mechanisms should be used.
    Bloodlines are crucial to regents and ruling domains and will be infused throughout.
    compared to current BRCS rules RP useage should be more required.
    Ruling province levels up should be slow and hard (or not?)
    The domain rules should work for either characters made for traditional adventure based D&D or characters made for domain-only activity.

    [I warned you that my suggestions might be a bit silly or tedious, but these things can help us touch base ocasionally. And the mere act of deciding what kind of rules we want will make making those rules much easier.]

    2.
    Modular development.
    The chicken and the egg problem that we have discussing the base DC and check modifiers is what brought about this open discussion. irdeggman has attempted to make the discussion of the rules easier by breaking it down into more basic elements (or units of analysis). Base DC, base costs, skill modifiers, and loyalty/attitude modifiers have come up so far in various polls and discussions. I think this is great approach because thinking of the whole thing at once is just a bit too much for my brain. Some people have suggested action by action lists that may be great, but are hard to consider for consitency and balance as a whole. However, it has been noted that everything depends on everything else. Let me mention one typical solution to this kind of problem.

    This kind of problem comes up very often when teams of people program together. Say you hired 100 people to design and program a totally new computer, and broke everyone up into obvious teams (monitor, mouse, cpu, keyboard, etc). Nothing would ever get done because any change the one group made would have a ripple effect and ruin all the plans that everyone else was working one. The way computer designers have gotten around this endless loop is to define interfaces. An interface is an established rule of how one part will interact with another part. Everything that designers of other parts need to know about a specific parts function is described in the interface. The inner workings can be ignored and can be said to be hidden from veiw. If both teams working on their side of an interface obey the agreed upon rules, then neither side needs to worry about what the other is doing.

    In our case, I can see several basic components for determining the success of a domain action; cost, modifiers, DC [final or base], actor [regent, court, leutenant, etc]. If for each actor we could establish an interface between the cost, modifiers, and DC, then we could independently craft and tune each element to reach the level of simplicity and realism we want.
    That last sentence was rather involved so let me provide a more concrete example. Say we agreed that the total of all modifiers for any action done by the regent himself would most likely fall in the range of plus or minus 0-5 (with 5-10 for exceptional events). Then we could place modifiers out of our minds for a moment while we considered what we wanted the final difficulty check for each action to be. When we later attack the more complicated issue of all the individual modifiers we would keep the 0-5 range in mind for the total. This would let us work on the modifiers without worrying that we are making the action too easy or too hard. [0-5 might be a bit low...0-10 might give us more room to work with]. Creating an acceptable common range for our modifiers would help us tune the difficulty of an action separate to the modifiers. Creating and sticking to a range of modifiers would also help in balance issues. Note this is a range of the total of all modifiers which might act on a domain action. What the modifiers are and what their weights are dont matter as long as the total falls in the pre-specified range.

    Looking at the v3.5 Core rulebooks, they have probably used a modifier range interface in their design process as well. The non-stacking of bonus types (DMG 3.5 p21) and the usual range of bonues 1-5 are probably an attempt to create a range of modifiers which they can plan around. Using their system you can create a totally new monster and make sure it is balanced to a set EL by considering typical ballpark bonuses that a certain level party would have on attack, AC, spells, etc. With our modifier range in mind you could probably create a domain encounter or domain-level adventure in a similar balanced way, without worrying too much about a huge inconsitency between using different domain actions to resolve the encounter.

    [Non-stacking named bonuses are an effective balancing tool we might also consider to control domain action modifier ranges].

    3.
    Testing.
    Anytime anyone posts a proposal or poll we all do a little math in our heads and try to figure: is that okay? is that balanced? is that better? Some way or another we do a little testing. Indeed anyone playing 3e BRCS or a home rule has been doing alot of testing too (playtesting). The more testing we do in the desiging stages the less playtesting of unworkable, unbalanced, and unfun product everyone is going to have to do. So Ive got a few tedious, involved, and silly suggestions about testing our design proposals.

    Consider the whole spectrum of regents. Run a variety of regents through a new rule. How bad would a horrible incompetent regent fail the check? Take a few of the example charaters or NPCs from the PHB and DMG, how do they stack up at 1st level or 10th [many characters arnt so far off these guys]? Consider not just class matched regents (rogue running a guild), but how would a wizard or some other cross-classed regent handle running law? Can there be a min/maxed regent made specificaly to crush your new rule? Would a powerful wealthy regent who is rolling in RP unbalance the rule? What about that new weak Great Captain?

    Perhaps test using regents from the Atlas of Cerelia? A few representative regents from the Atlas would really give the rules a good shakedown. These will be the PCs models and rivals, and already are serve as a definition of what Birthright is. These RP and GB stores, modifiers, courts, loyalty, classes, holding levels, province levels, and domain sizes are the touchstone of the rules. Even without the new 3e Atlas I always try to think of the spymaster Guilder Kailen, the Gorgon, Gavin Tael, Darien Avan, the usurped Moergen, and etc. A few examples from the new atlas might work wonders.



    So in conclusion let me say that I've hired an outside consultant who has suggested downsizing all of you, outsourcing development to a low cost bidder, hiring a hot Madison Avenue ad firm, scrapping the pension plan, and upping executive pay. We have set an unrealistic deadline and will be shipping a surely flawed product at the end of the fiscal quarter. This has been your random management message of the day. Good Day.

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    So in conclusion let me say that I've hired an outside consultant who has suggested downsizing all of you, outsourcing development to a low cost bidder, hiring a hot Madison Avenue ad firm, scrapping the pension plan, and upping executive pay. We have set an unrealistic deadline and will be shipping a surely flawed product at the end of the fiscal quarter. This has been your random management message of the day. Good Day.
    Wow Danip...

    Is your hair pointy too? :blink:

    Seriously though -- No slight meant to Duane, who is doing and has done such a fantastic job in the past, but this is one section where we NEED to look at the entire process, not point-by-point, but instead as a whole. You have the right idea there Danip. We know the approximate bonuses that average regents will have, now let's figure out (for each action) the expected and acceptable chance of unmodified success for each action.
    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion -- and usually easier."

    - R. A. Heinlien, from The Collected works of Lazarus Long

  5. #5
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    So in conclusion let me say that I've hired an outside consultant who has suggested downsizing all of you, outsourcing development to a low cost bidder, hiring a hot Madison Avenue ad firm, scrapping the pension plan, and upping executive pay. We have set an unrealistic deadline and will be shipping a surely flawed product at the end of the fiscal quarter. This has been your random management message of the day. Good Day.
    Actually it was given in a no-bid contract to Halliburton (spelling).

    Danip thanks for your input - very similar to my own experience.

    Also look at the FAQ to see the BRCS design philosophy (I do believe that would count a a mission/vision statement).

    I have been a Quality Assurance supervisor and written or overseen writing of numerous administrative procedures at work. As I have pointed out I work for the US DOD at a NNSY (Norfolk Naval Shipyard) {Anyship, anyplace, anytime} - so I'm quite familiar with bureaucracy. My personal strengths are root cause analysis and problem solving and I have also written articles on implementing the Six Sigma process at NNSY. 20+ years of service.

    Athos69, I don't think we have captured the scope (or range) of modifiers to domain actions yet. We have defined that they will be decided by a d20 roll modified by 1/5 of the total skill check bonus. We have also defined several feats that provide bonuses (although no vote taken on them yet - I'm waiting for the most recent polls on the noble to complete, then I'll rewrite it and run it by Osprey for a logic check before posting the remainder of Chap 1 for final discussion and vote - since he has been the most intimiately involved in the class other than me).

    We haven't determined the extent (or if) domain attitude affects domain actions, how actions not performed by the regent personally should be handled nor what the scaling should be to perform a realm version of the domain action. All of these are pretty significant issues in my mind.

    I still see it easier to come up with a DC after these are mostly decided since in general I believe people want a net base 50% chance for an action (but this is an opinion not based on any data). This is because setting a number after all of the other variables are held constant is much easier and logical - it is just too difficult to solve multiple equations with multiple unknowns {I'm also an engineer}.

    I really would like to avoid the crap shoot concept which is where this whole thing started. I have an idea what do you think? Wait I do things differently try it my way. And so on. . .

    History has also shown on this project that just because people didn't raise objections doesn't mean they will agree with the final version. This type of revelation has successfully been reduced by running polls as we go.
    Duane Eggert

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    Should I change my avatar to a picture of Dilbert?

    Also look at the FAQ to see the BRCS design philosophy (I do believe that would count a a mission/vision statement).
    Mission statements are a bit silly. I guess what I was going more for was some more specific goals for the current chap 5 editing. Your polls on different mechanics options/parameters kind of get at reading the desires of the mob, but only indirectly. I was thinking maybe we should step back and talk about the whole thing, but leave out numbers and exact details for now. Kinda what we are doing here in a way....


    We haven't determined the extent (or if) domain attitude affects domain actions, how actions not performed by the regent personally should be handled nor what the scaling should be to perform a realm version of the domain action. All of these are pretty significant issues in my mind.

    I still see it easier to come up with a DC after these are mostly decided since in general I believe people want a net base 50% chance for an action (but this is an opinion not based on any data). This is because setting a number after all of the other variables are held constant is much easier and logical - it is just too difficult to solve multiple equations with multiple unknowns {I'm also an engineer}.
    Maybe the inverse of the interface I suggested would be helpful. We agree that the typical final difficulty will be about x % (50%?). Then we could go about crafting various modifiers for their realism, simplicity, 3e suitability, etc without worry of the absolute impact of them. The thing to look at then would be the relative weights of the different modifiers. Later we would craft the base DC to get the typical final DC in the range we want.

    Personally I prefer my original idea of setting an acceptable range of the total of the modifiers. For realism's sake and due to the wonderful creativity of the forums I think that quite a few good modifiers will be crafted. But as irdeggman has previously pointed out the size of the modifier crop will probably be quite big. But having a possible and likely range of modifiers 15-20 or higher is hard for a d20 system. If Darien Avan was getting a bonus of 20+ on some domain action there is no way to set a balanced base DC which would allow poor Brosengae or others to accomplish actions while still posing a challenge for Avanil.
    The more I look at the Core rules as an exemplar the more I am impressed. Named bonus types are a great way to control modifiers. Perhaps bonuses which dont stack would help control our bonus creep? We could come up with all sorts of bonus modifiers from skills, for example, but if there was a domain modifier bonus type named skills only your highest bonus would apply. Other bonus types might include populace (including loyalty/attitude, prosperity, racial, etc bonuses which come from the ability of the people to help or hinder), spell [or magic] (from divine/arcane spells to aid domain actions), actor [or executive] (unsure on the name, but bonuses from using a skilled luetentant or big court or the regent...who ever is in charge), allied (bonues from the efforts of allied regents), blood, or other named bonus types might be helpful. Page 21 of the DMG, especially with the explanation of why keeping track of different types of bonuses is more useful than tedious, is really quite elegant.
    There are so many things which realistically might help a regent pull off a successful domain action, but perhaps they dont all stack.


    Are there other 3.5e balancing mechanisms which in the abstract might come to our aid in the fight for sensibility and balance?


    Anyway I hope this helps increase the number of knowns rather than the number of unknown variables.

    I wonder why Halliburton has taken an interest in Birthright? Could it be a nefarious plot to exploit holes in the Birthright domain rules to enact world domination? What is George Bush's bloodline strength and derivation? How will the 9/11 commision's recommendations influence the bonus modifiers for Espionage actions? Will those modifiers stack with the DOD's efforts?

  7. #7
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Are we talking "W" or senior? I think this is a prime example of bloodline strength diluting over generations. B)

    A lot of good ideas, especially about naming bonus types to prevent inordinate stacking.

    Morale bonus is one type that comes to mind (from domain attitude or other abilities).

    Spells can generally be quantified to a bonus type - morale, enchantment, etc.


    Mayhaps a regency bonus (to include RP and other similar things - only regency bonus from one source can be applied, I don't know just brainstorming)
    Duane Eggert

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    Discussion from the loyalty/attitude thread made me want to bundle any morale bonus with prosperity, racial bonues, etc.

    Non-stacking bonuses can be a bit non-sensical at times. The only reason they dont stack is because the rules say....that is a bit frustrating everytime Im working to give a wizard a higher AC thru magic items, spells, etc. We might run into some similar odd situations, though I like the fact that it makes a min/maxer be a bit more varied.

    Let me just randomly spew a bunch of (possible) modifiers and see if we can find some sensible groups/types:

    regent has skills
    using RP
    using GB
    allies RP, GB
    using previously made spy network
    regent focus feat
    bloodline ability bonus to action
    the people like me, they really do...attitude/loyalty
    province level
    holding level
    source level
    allied holdings
    opposed holdings
    prosperity of people
    using previously Built something (great work, bridge, cathedral...)
    having a great/big court
    racial bonus (brecthur and trade, elves and magic, etc...)
    luetentant has skills
    a skilled advisor
    circumstances are in your favor, by DM fiat?
    army is occupying
    having all/some/none of law holdings
    trade route GB size
    court reputation
    for each renowned/epic dead the regent has ever performed
    arcane magic item --> different magic bonus types enchantment, tranmutation
    ....and so on


    The named bonus types from the DMG are:
    Alchemical, Armor, Circumstance, Competence, Deflection, Dodge, Enhancement, Inherent, Insight, Luck, Morale, Natural Armor, Profane, Racial, Resistance, Sacred, Sheild, Size
    These bonuses work on 6 things:
    attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, AC, ability scores, or skill checks.
    Most of these individual scope bonuses dont work at the domain level. Note not all bonus types are usually at play for all 6 things (Natural Armor might have little to do with skill checks if at all....). There are also many unnamed bonuses that give a bit here a bit there.
    Hmm no obvious pattern exists in the DMG bonus types. Not so much help...

    Spells the directly influence a domain action check (rather than holding/province level or some other indirect method):
    Honest Dealings
    Looking at standard 3e BRCS spells almost none directly influence a domain action check. Maybe there is some room for exansion here? Maybe a lower level or cheaper demagogue the helps agitate actions instead of making a full attitude level adjustment. Other realm spells to give a little help might make sense (disband troops=Cuiraécen, Diplomacy=Nesirie, trade route=sera, espionage=Eloéle, Ruornil=rule source, etc..) If we include named bonus types for domain action probably no spells will have to be rewritten, but new spells would probably make sense. If the new spells provided a named bonus that overlapped with some non-magic bonus then they wouldnt lead to huge imbalances as much. Each spells actual way of effecting the role would have to be considered to see what bonus type it is.

    Maybe the thing to look at isnt the natural groupings of modifiers but rather when will we have too many modifiers and want to negate some of them?

    If each domain action only has one related skill will there ever be more than one skill bonus per action? Or might we open up the number of appliciable skills? A skill or competence bonus where only the highest skill bonus from one skill applies. A skilled advisor might give a skill bonus to actions, until the regent himself becomes even more skilled.

    Holding level and court modifiers might add up to be rather big. And I think they might naturally cancel each other out. Your law(7) probably has so many people on the ground in the province that extra buearocrats from the captial wont do much. But a court(10) could send a small army of people to give a law(1) a full court press. Possible names for this bonus type: size, organization, buearocracy, ....? Spending extra money on agitate might also fall in here?
    Could we also throw population /morale modifiers in here as well? Maybe not as they would tend to get squashed by the non-stacking.

    Regency bonus? That might up the cost in RP of modifing actions. If the RP you spent to modify an action did not stack with a bloodline ability, then a +2 bloodline ability would make RP spend useless until you spent 3RP. Although a quick look at blood alibities shows no abilities that directly influence a domain action check. Maybe some realm spells might be crafted to have a regency bonus that did not stack with RP spent. Or a special magic item. Potion of Regency (BRCS p 153) right now gives a +2 enhancement bonus to domain action checks. That could be a regency bonus. Or we could call spending RP on a domain action check an enhancement bonus.

    Using some of the original bonus types, especially when the bonus applies to the regent as an individual (like the potion of Regency), might be a good idea.


    Of course many of the modifiers I have mentioned dont exist yet, but they might if they were named.
    That is enough brainstorming for one post. In sum, I like named bonuses. It might help us set and manage a resonable range of modifiers to make the big picture of the domain rules more fathomable.

  9. #9
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Other modifiers include the "Master" level feats as well.

    Even though on the surface the DMG named bonuses don't seem to affect domain level play, they do. Since they can affect skill checks they have an effect on domain actions (remember it is total skill modifiers divided by 5 now).

    Morale bonuses have been made to fit the domain level of play by applying them to troops in BRCS, so the precedent has already been set to "expand" the normal use to include domain level of play.

    Several of the DMG named bonus types could easily be used, IMO.

    Circumstance, Competence, Enhancement (depends on how 'liberally' applied the text is), Inherent, Insight, Luck, Morale (as already mentioned), Profane, Racial, Sacred all seem t have potential based on the nature of the how the bonuses work. Most of the others by their natrue really wouldn't have much of an affect on domain level of play although armor, natural armor and shield bonuses could be used in relation to troops.
    Duane Eggert

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    Im going to make a new tread with domain action named bonus types, so we can develop that further and also get back on track here.

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