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Toughness. Why?

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  • Toughness. Why?

    I've been reading through Modern Age and I really like it so far. It's got a lot of improvements from FAGE and I like most of the design more. I'm really confused by the purpose of Toughness though, and by extension Stun and Wound damage. It seems like these mechanics aren't really necessary as written.

    Toughness exists, according to the book, to supplement people not wearing armor in the modern world. This is fine, but the game immediately undercuts this by making Toughness not apply to ballistic wound damage (and therefore all normal ballistic damage), unless you are playing on cinematic mode. On pulpy and gritty it only applies to stun damage (of which all stun weapons are impact) and maybe impact wound damage on pulpy. These are also the least dangerous attacks in the game, and the ones against which the easier to access armors defend well against. It feels like the whole Toughness mechanic basically exists to solve a non-existent problem.

    If you are playing on cinematic or pulpy, you are also supposed to increase all weapon damage, in order to compensate for the higher Toughness and health values. It really feels like this system is adding a whole extra layer of complexity that doesn't really need to be there. You already have far more health on pulpy and cinematic. It seems to me that it would make more sense to just scrap Toughness and the separation between Stun and Wound damage, remove the bonus damage on Pulpy and Cinematic, and just allow people to choose whether they want to kill with their attack or not (you could even make it into a test with weapon skill to determine if your good enough not to kill someone) and add some unique rule for the stun gun. This would then lower the current number of Armor and Toughness combinations from 5 (Impact Stun, Impact Wound, Ballistic Stun, Ballistic Wound, Penetrating Stun) to two (Impact, Ballistic) which would streamline the amount of values that need to be tracked.

    Am I missing some obvious benefit of Toughness? Because right now it just seems to add a bunch of complexity for the sake of complexity
    Last edited by darthbdaman; 04-19-2019, 09:16 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Toughness. Why?

    Iím guessing (and itís really not much more) that there are two factors why Toughness seems this way.

    1. It allows for more granularity. For example, it not only allows to differentiate the damage between game modes and within these game modes between characters (some with more, some with less Toughness), but it gives the GM something to mix and match the game modes. One idea Iím toying with for an upcoming one-shot is to use cinematic mode as a baseline, but with gritty Health and damage (without the +2) and pulpy Toughness.

    2. It has to be (more or less) compatible to the other AGE games. Fantasy AGE doesnít know game modes (or just one: cinematic), but still differentiates between stun and wound damage. To keep it compatible with Fantasy AGE, all the rule changes need to be add-ons to the existing rules. What you proposed would make it harder to use material from other AGE games.
    My AGE Character Sheets: https://roninarmy.com/forum/dragon-age-rpg-age-system/modern-age/8450-age-fan-made-character-sheets

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    • #3
      Re: Toughness. Why?

      FAGE doesn't have stun and wound damage. I haven't seen them in any other AGE game. It actually makes it (very slightly) more complicated to cross over between the games.

      I understand the argument for having big differences between the modes, but it feels like toughness, and stun and wound damage, were created to make the modes feel more different, without actually really doing that much. Gritty and pulpy are basically the same, with only a few more melee weapons being blocked, while cinematic is completely different. If toughness was desired as a mechanic, it probably would have made more sense to just make a special rule for cinematic to add your constitution to your armor ratings,. On gritty and pulpy it just feels like a big layer of complexity that does very little.
      Last edited by darthbdaman; 04-19-2019, 01:54 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Toughness. Why?

        Oh, youíre right. I falsely assumed there was stun damage with similar rules for recovering and killing characters. Sorry about that, shouldíve checked before posting.
        My AGE Character Sheets: https://roninarmy.com/forum/dragon-age-rpg-age-system/modern-age/8450-age-fan-made-character-sheets

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        • #5
          Re: Toughness. Why?

          A few reasons. Main ones are:

          1) Armor isn't as common in modern games and isn't a niche protection factor linked to classes, so some of these benefits are transferred to an inherent trait.

          2) Different protection based on damage typing is significant in some cases, especially for the Pulpy mode.

          Note that as the rules mention, you can swap out portions of modes in chunks. This means you can use Cinematic Toughness with Gritty Health, for instance.

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