Monday, June 22, 2015

OneDice: A Gripe

I may have mentioned that I'm quite enamored with the OneDice system from Cakebread & Walton, having now purchased their books for Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Cyperpunk, and Fantasy. I think I've noted a bug in the system what needs house-ruling. The bug is so far specific to Fantasy.

Alright, so in OneDice you roll 1d6+Stat+Skill, aiming for a target number. Nothing new. In combat, that target number is the opponent's Defense. (Spelled Defence in the book, because British people) Defense, for PCs, is determined by taking the better of a character's Strong or Quick and multiplying it by three.

This formula gives most demihumans Defense of 9, because elves and halflings and such have Quick 3 and Orcs have Strong 3. Trolls, all of whom start with Strength 4, have 12 Defense. These are raw numbers without any armor or shields.

Why is this a problem? Well, I'm glad you asked. With the exception of Trollish Strong, no PC can start with a stat higher than 3. Similarly, no character can start with a skill higher than 2.

Let's make an Orc warrior. I have Strong 3 just because I'm an Orc. I also max my Blades skill at 2. In combat, I roll 1d6+3+2. I cannot hit a PC Troll in combat. The highest I can roll is 11, and all PC Trolls have Defense 12 without armor.

Hell, even against other types of humanoids, my maxed-out Orc only has a 1/3 chance of hitting. All Elves, Goblins, and Halflings have Quick 3, giving them 9 Defense.  Adding my Strong 3 and Blades 2, I still have to roll a 5 or 6 to beat their Defense score. If they put on any armor, I'm sunk.

In addition, the formula for determining a PC's defense does not apply to monsters. Monsters, even NPCs belonging to a playable race, appear to have utterly arbitrary Defense scores, similar to the AC scores of monsters in older versions of D&D. 

My solution:
Defense= Quick + Skill+3. In hand-to-hand, this is going to be the character's appropriate weapon skill. (Blades, Bruiser, etc.) In ranged combat, this will be Acrobatics. Armor adds to Defense as per the table. This applies to monsters as well, since their weapon skills are usually noted. Particularly large, armored, or otherwise tough opponents can get a bonus equal to a type of armor. (A monster with thick fur might count as slightly armored, a lizard man might count as wearing medium/mail, etc.)

Take a look at another Troll PC. Trolls begin with Quickness of only 1 or 2, plus probably 2 points in a weapon skill. If my maxed out Orc gets into a scrap with this Troll, he finds himself up against a Defense score of  7 (2+2+3). He now needs a 3+ on a d6 to hit the Troll, whereas before it was literally impossible to hit the Troll. This Orc can now hit an unarmored Elf (Defense 8) on the roll of 4+. Keep in mind this Orc is a character designed to throw down.

One thing I should've noted earlier: Every OneDice character gets 6 Stunt Points per session, and those points can be used to ignore an enemy's Defense, but I don't think that remedies the situation when you find starting characters being literally unable to hit opponents with Defense 9 or 12, as Stunt Points are a finite resource and the Defense bypass is only for one attack.

I haven't checked the other OneDice games, but I suspect there will be a similar issue since I think the system is essentially the same. I'll check Urban Fantasy next, since it's the one I most want to actually run.

If I've somehow done the math wrong on my initial examples demonstrating the math problems in this system, please someone tell me. I'd love to be wrong about this, but I think the game is pretty straightforward.


  1. I totally understand what you are saying and have seen it in my head as well. I have yet to run OneDice to see it in play though. I think one thing that you are missing (Or perhaps its missing from the Fantasy book) is advantage.
    "Sometimes the Gamekeeper will judge that one side or another has a natural advantage and can insist that one side receives a +2 Defence or To Hit bonus until they lose the advantage."
    Admittedly its not much, but it would help. Plus it would make people smarter about how they fight. Not just rushing in and hacking. Look for the advantage.

    1. While it always helps to fight smart,I don't really think it helps enough. The Orc in the above example would be adding +7 to hit instead of +5. That means he still has to roll a 6 on his die to exceed the Troll's defense of 12. Even with the advantage, my maxed out Orc warrior only hits 1 in 6 times. (And damage is modified by how much you beat Defense by, so he'd inflict minimum damage each time.) Fighting the Elf above, he can hit on 3+ if he has advantage. While those odds are definitely more reasonable, it also assumes the Elf (or Orc, or Dwarf, or whatever) is not wearing any armor at all. Even with light armor on, my maxed out Orc Warrior still has a 50/50 chance to hit an Elf wearing leather armor.

      And all this assumes you have the advantage and can keep it for multiple rounds.

      I'm still looking through Cyberpunk and doing fake combats in my head, but I think I'm going to stick with my alternative Defense formula.

      I still like OneDice, and I've endured games I liked a lot less that had a lot more serious issues. :)

    2. Stunt Points, Advantage, and GK modified NPCs! GK characters don't have to be constructed in the same way as Player's characters. House rules are good! I've run lots of games in lots of settings, and I've not had a maths problem, but there is the potential for a character to be unable to hit an opponent (without a Stunt Point) or auto-hitting (unless opposed with a Stunt Point). The Mooks and Minions rules and GK adjustments can counter imbalance.

  2. I'm going to try to get to the Mooks/Minions PDF tonight. I still think the PC Defense values seem a little high. Perhaps the M&M rules will give me a fresh perspective.

    And heeey, while I've got you in my comments section, any ETA on OneDice Space?

  3. Hmm, I'll have to look in to OneDice. Your defense fix sounds exactly like how Rapidfire (1d6 mechanic) works, which I really like.

  4. I was in the bath mulling over this very question, after a game of OneDice Raptors on Monday (great fun by the way!). I started with two characters with S2, Q2, C2, and then moved one point of C to either S or Q, to see how that affected combat. I was surprised to discover that with Q3, the opponent was untouchable! Naturally I turned to the Internet to see if anyone else had a solution to this problem.

    Originally I thought that Defence should be changed from 3xMax(S,Q) to 2Q+2, but then further changed that to Q+4+skill, which is very similar to your solution (only making it a point harder to hit).

    I'm planning to run OneDice Fantasy with a group of Goblins, who will be inept and rubbish, but my house rules will be:
    - Health = 2S+4
    - Defence = Q+4+skill
    - Stunts = C+1
    - Armour subtracts damage, doesn't add to Defence (I like AC, but not in this game).

    I suppose it could also have worked with 6 automatically hits, but this is more elegant. Hopefully it will be fun.

    1. I'd be interested to see a play report of your goblin game.

      Also I was quite surprised to have a comment on my defunct blog, especially from a post nearly two years old.

      Incidentally I did run a game of OD Urban Fantasy in 2016 (a one shot), and didn't quite have the same math problems I thought I would, but I also think my monsters may have been a bit underpowered. Anyway, I can hardly stick to my assumption with a data point of one.

    2. I just wanted to read some other people's experiences with OneDice and your post came up on Google. I've been having a browse through your blog, and there's some good stuff! Sorry it came to an end.

      I'm playtesting a week on Monday, and the Con game is early April, so I'll let you know how it went. I do want the goblins to be fairly weak, but everything shouldn't be impossible.

    3. I would like to know how it goes! I'm considering running OneDice Urban Fantasy again at my favorite summer gaming convention, as well as a one-on-one occasional game with a friend of mine. I'm almost half-tempted to post reports.

      I just burned out on the blog. I didn't seem to have anything to say and life has been pretty busy these past few months. Kind of surprised/delighted that someone is still reading it.