Conflicting Task Resolution: Part 4

And it all comes down to this.  The long awaited conclusion.  If you haven’t already, start with Part One.

The question that I wanted to ask, but felt that I didn’t have enough room to answer in one post was this:  How do I take everything I like about a task resolution system, but turn it into a conflict resolution system for when I don’t feel like going through all the motions of the basic rules?

And don’t say ‘flip a coin,’ or ‘GM’s call,’ or any other variant on those.  They’ve been said before, and it’s not what I after.

It starts with Drifting HERO.  HERO has a number of really great features, but the combat system is entirely too task based.  So my question was: how do I do conflict resolution for combat in HERO?

Anyway, let’s get back to the general, and take the imagination framework from parts I-III.  The idea is to take the basic game system, but twist it, making it so we only need one roll.

I’m going to whip out a principle for Game Design I learned from, interestingly enough, the 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules.  And I’ll put it in bold text, because it’s important.

When you’re adding a new sub-system to a game, whether your own or someone elses, start with the core mechanic, and build from there.

In many conflict-resolution games, the core mechanic already is conflict resolution (see Dogs in the Vinyard.)  In others, it’s much simpler, and could easily be either task or conflict resolution (see Burning games- skill rolls are only as big in scope as you make them, and Fight! is undeniably Task Resolution, yet Bloody Versus is the conflict resolution version.)

Games that are skill based are easy to do, as I alluded to before.  Just have both participants make a skill roll, and have that count for the whole fight.

Consider the World of Darkness, Shadowrun, or Alternity.  In these games, it’d be easy to take this principle and say: well, you guys both make a Dexterity + Weaponry (or situation or game system equivalent), modified in such and such a fasion.  Whoever gets a better roll wins.  *Easy*  Fast.

What complicates things for D&D and HERO, while they have skill systems, is that they don’t really have combat as a skill.  They have Attack Bonus and CV, but in both games, combat is much much more than rolling one skill.

I’ve discussed HERO in more depth elsewhere, but it essentially has two core mechanics:  roll 3d6, look for a result lower than a certain number, and roll lotsd6, look for good numbers.  For various reasons, I chose to go with the latter for my HERO conflict-res framework.

Let’s look at the d20 system.  What’s the core mechanic of the d20 system?  Easy.  Roll a d20, add modifiers, look for a high number.  How would we do a fight between two people in one roll?  Each person rolls a d20, adds some number.  High number wins.

The question then becomes: what influences the roll?

At this point, the answer is as complicated as you want it to be.  The most basic measurement of combat effectiveness is ‘level’ or ‘hit dice.’  So a level check is a decent way to do it.  You could also go d20+ level + highest ability modifier, or d20 + level + sum of ability modifiers, or d20 + level + attack bonus + armor class, or factor in some equation based on total value of equipment, or what have you.  (And do remember:  a basic advantage is worth a +2 bonus!  That’s one of the GMing rules of thumb.)

(Remember: if it’s essential to know just how many points of damage someone took, or how many spell slots they used, or how many potions they drank,  it might be worth playing it out the long way.  This system is for quick, dirty, largely inconsequenital fights only.)

You could make a whole table for this sort of thing.  I’m probably going to do something similar for HERO.

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