Sunday, November 20, 2005

Castle Falkenstien

Doing some thinking about Castle Falkenstien. First off, it's a really fun world. "Steampunk" is something I've always wanted to play in.

Let's face it: The card mechanics are terrible. Even if we did a "patch" with the card values, it still puts the game in a context where it pays to ask for all kinds of little draws in order to build a good hand for the important stuff. I know that Brian has stated that he wants to stay away from dice because dice are shunned in the background. I want to urge Brian to forget about that. It's not important, and would not be nearly as distracting to the telling of the story as the current card mechanics are.


I'm speaking for Nigel here, but I'm pretty sure he could "FUDGE" it without a lot of difficulty. I've seen a lot of Nigel's work with FUDGE, and he can easily build a combat system that is as complex or simple as you want it to be. Not only that, but the current stats and character creation would slip easily into FUDGE. Of course I've just volunteered Nigel for some work here, so I suppose he should really weigh in here first. :)

Otherwise, I could "Savage" it fairly easily also. I think FUDGE is a better fit, but SW could do a decent job, and we are all pretty familiar with it.

There are other solutions I can think of, but none of them could be easily implimented in the middle of story as easily as those listed above.

Comments? Questions? Stock tips?


Delphino said...

First: I agree with you.
Your possible solutions if Brian agrees to change his mind about the dice are all fine and I think that we could easily find a smoother system.

Second: Brian has indicated that dice are unaccepable, so cards it is.

I haven't completely crunched the math on Nigel's solution that off suit cards of the same color be counted as half their face value for the purposes of drops.
This would increase the average drop from a 2.92 to a 3.48 (remember to include the jokers) if rounded down. (3.59 if rounding up.)

The impact, more likely to turn a Poor stat into an Good or almost Good result.
Now, I need Nigel to confirm how the decrease in the standard deviation will impact the results.
It isn't a huge decrease, from 3.855 to 3.800 (3.814 rounding up,) but since severity of sucess is figured on the difference of one score to the opposing score, the tighting of the STDEV should have an impact of reducing the likelihood of level 4 successes.

I am still lobbying for an increase in hand size as advances occur... however, I suspect that since advances are done through role-playing justification that there will be a difficulty getting this "stat" increased in some meaningful manner.

However, I would ask Brian to consider the adjustment from a standard deck of playing cards to a tarot deck. (first w/out Nigel's solution)

Depending on how the Major Arcana would be dealt with, this could increase the average drop to 3.29 while decreasing the STDEV to 3.567, if the Major Arcana were considered being in suit at all times for half of their value, the Fool and the World being counted as 0)

If droping the Major Arcana all together, the Average drops to 2.625 w/ STDEV being 3.49. Fewer sucesses but a small swing between drops.

Boze said...

Hmmm. Interesting mathwork, Shawn. Just looking at it off the top of my head it seems like it might be wrong...not because you calculated wrongly but because of the fact that you can choose your drop from a choice of 4, which if I am not mistaken will skew your results in a somewhat unpredictable way. If one always dropped one's highest card it would be more predictable, but sometimes you don't do this for various reasons. I made several drops Monday night where I chose a lesser card than I might have used. I'm not sure how this impacts your overall conclusion, probably still holds water for the most part.

I guess what mostly bothers me about the system is that as soon as I get my hand of cards, I know what my character is and isn't capable of in any situation. On Monday, I was deal 4 diamonds (two face cards even), so I knew any intellectual challenges I might face would be easily overcome. However, I also knew I was screwed in any other situation. So it behooved me to steer everything to an intellectual area.

A more rigorous portrayal of this phenomenon ocurred during our practice combat. I had NO clubs in my hand (and, oddly enough, I still haven't drawn any clubs yet) so I took actions specifically geared towards the cards I did have, knowing I would fail in any straight attack/defense situation. I knew for a fact that if Nigel shot at me, I had no chance whatsoever of dodging it. In a dice-skill system I would not have had this kind of precognition.
Despite fencing being my best skill, it was my worst option in the fight...and taking a shot with my pistol was even more useless.

While I agree Fudge is probably the less obtrusive change, should a change be made, I'd vote for Savage Worlds personally. I just really like the system, and it is very easy to play and GM. I'd be willing to help Tim savage it. Also, I'm thinking that Brian has a greater mastery of SW than Fudge; if Fudge was used Nigel would sort of end up as the rules arbiter and guru.

Womachka said...

I think for now I will stick with the card system. I started with it and I would prefer to finish with it. Lets try nigels suggestion of using same color off suits at 1/2 value and see if it cleans things up a little more.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Shawn I may explore the idea of using Tarot cards at a later date it seems like an interesting solution.

As for a dice system to replace this with I had considered using a modified fudge system.

Another idea I have toyed with is taking the cards and converting the card draws to a more fuge system.

In this system everyone gets a deck of cards throw your top 4 cards
In suit= Plus
Off suit Same color= minus
Off suit Off color= no change
The skills can then remain the same
Now this put the odds in favor of a no change situation. Higher chance of getting a blank then anything else. Then again the people who took skills at higher level will be more likely to suceed now. Less random chance. If your good at something most of the time you should be good at it is my thinking on this.
Any thoughts?

Leptopus said...

Off-hand, that fudge-card system sounds pretty good. The higher probability of a blank is even preferable from some points of view, as many people find fudge dice to have too wide a varience.

Delphino said...

Less than my math is wrong Brad, more that I have stated the simple situation with less clarity that you needed.

I will re-state. The average single result for any drop at any time will be the numbers previously calculated.

As you pointed out, that does not take into account the fact that you have a pool of 4 cards which you get to choose from, it only states that a random drop within the system will result in the averages above. Yes, this does take into account non-suiting results (which skew the numbers heavily down.)

The drawing of four cards actually slightly increases the previously calculated numbers a little bit, each card adjusting the probability of the remaining cards pulled having relevance to the situation.

Since there is a 75% chance (fresh undrawn deck) that you will pull a card not suited to the situation, and you increase the average drop of the next card impacting the situation...from 2.92 to 2.96... and the same on down the line until you pull a suited card (on average on the 4th draw of course)in which case the average drops back to 2.98 for the remainind cards(removing an average card [7] of the suit).

Really, the leason here is that later drawing of your hand is more likely to have a higher average drop result overall, which seems odd and why I wanted Nigel to crunch a little further on the numbers and show me the error involved if there is one. I suspect my making examples of average draws is the trick.

Also, as you indicated, the analysis doesn't take into account 1) the re-suffle factor or 2) the play factor from choices in hand... but mearly suggests an average drop.

The average card drop from a balanced average hand (with one of each suit) ranges from a possible result of 1 ( 3 off suit and the Ace of Suit) to 4.25 (3 off suit and one of the Jokers.) This again is only a random drop from a randomly determined hand vs. a random suit. (Jokers skew that result as being in suit all of the time.)

Now, the chances of a 4 suited draw are what you took issue with, and I don't want to take the time right now to calculate those... I believe that it is a 75% chance that you won't get a 4-suited initial draw (but I always foul up this calculation) and drawing the missing suit will hover around 25% after each draw.

Now, your statement that you know what your character is and isn't capable of in any situation is an have an initial idea of the tendency, but not the whole picture of the night. I would like you to admit that after you made a couple of drops, you had more options than just diamonds in your hand, particularly since you drew a joker on the second or third draw of the night.

Since some draws are opposed and others are just a target number, you're character sheet will be a great guide as to how good you are likely to be in a challenge, but not whether or not you will suck all night long in that challenge

As it is, this leads into the problem which I have with the system, revolving around the inherent tendency to hoard Clubs which the system demands. If there is a change I would like to lobby for it would be the adjustment to the suit problem. One of the beautiful aspects of 7th Seas was that each of the 5 basic stats had a place in combat, making no one stat more important for survival than the rest.
Modifications to the card system should incorporate this type of mechanic in order to make survival of characters/NPC's more possible. This would certainly make the misery of having no clubs in hand less of a death sentence from the players perspective.

Now, all of this still boils down to the fact that we have to let Brian do his job as ST with faith that he is or isn't willing to cack us all on the basis of a single terribly bad combat. I just think this system really happers his choices.

Boze said...

Very good Shawn, that was the expanded analysis I desired.

The only thing I will say is that, when I said I knew what my character was capable of by my card draw, I meant at THAT moment and with an opposed skill test. In other words, when I have no Clubs in my hand (as is the case 100% of the time, disregarding the lucky Joker draws I made), I am paranoid realizing that "If someone takes a shot at me, I have zero chance of dodging".
I guess what I am saying is, I try to avoid at all costs making an opposed throw in a suit I don't possess, which is very different from other games where I might take a risk on rolling well even if I have a relatively low skill in it.