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Author Topic: Q&D (Quick and Dirty) - 2nd Edition Revised  (Read 12186 times)
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« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2013, 09:19:02 PM »

Reserved. Look at the first page.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 09:20:36 PM by sparkletwist » Logged


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« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2013, 05:59:21 AM »

I must have missed the 1st Edition last year, 'cos I don't recognise this at all. It's cool, if a bit freeform for my liking. Might take it for a spin.
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« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2013, 04:08:54 PM »

I am admittedly more of a rules-light sort of person, but I take slight issue with the label of "freeform." It's true Q&D allows play groups a lot of freedom in how they flavor its mechanical outcomes, because it's not trying to simulate anything. However, there is still structure underlying it-- the point of all those little tables is to actually provide clear mechanics that have discernible and (hopefully) mathematically sound outcomes.
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« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2013, 05:23:20 PM »

It seems "freeform" means a very specific thing in rpgs, which certainly wasn't what I was getting at. A bit "rules light" for my liking.
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« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2013, 08:39:11 PM »

Overall, I like what I see.  I just worry that the flaws and merits will dilute the Awesomeness of Q&D.  They seem to add complexity, and not necessarily for things that make your character Awesome.  Otherwise, I like!
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« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2013, 03:31:25 PM »

Interesting take on the system.  I have some thoughts, and I'm curious as to your response, because I know you're a very deliberate sort of designer and it may be that I'm just missing something.

So Q&D stands for Quick & Dirty - implying an approach which is fast, minimalist, easy, and, well, sort of "sloppy" right?  The emphasis here is on functionality and ease of play rather than balance, precision, and/or elegance, right?  You've used the words "fast and simple" to describe the design goals.  Intuitiveness is a priority.  Outcomes are easy to discern and interpret rather than opaque or ambivalent.

My chief concern involves the number of rolls and the amount of mental arithmetic that needs to be done during things like combat.  I'll use Pathfinder as a means of contrast, because it has a reputation as a reasonably complex system (especially in the character-creation phase) but you could easily substitute other editions of D&D.

So in Pathfinder if I want to attack someone I generally roll two dice: one for attack and one for damage.  I perform two pieces of quick mental arithmetic to factor in bonuses to attack and damage.  I don't need to do any other arithmetic - the GM will tell me if I've hit (no math involved, really, just a quick glance at a monster's AC) and then if I've hurt the creature and by how much (check to see if it has DR or something, then a deduction of HP accordingly).  There might be some more rolls for fancy things like sneak attacks or saving throws vs. poison and as I level up I may get multiple attacks but these can be rolled simultaneously.  On a critcal hit I have to roll a couple of extra dice as well, but that's fairly rare.

Contrast wth Q&D.  Here, I roll an irregular number of dice depending on the nature of the attack, but it's probably going to be at least 2 and likely more.  If I'm a big bruiser type with a Melee skill of, say, 5 (not that crazy at all if we used the 25-point "badass" spread for character creation), that means I'm rolling 6 dice to attack.  Those dice then need to be added up.  So to begin with I'm performing a series of quick mental additions just to calculate my attack score.  But we're not done, because there's no static defence.  The enemy now rolls another varying number of dice, involving yet another quick set of additions/subtractions.  At last we get a result...

But we're not done yet.  There's now a table we need to consult to check what our result means, to interpret it, and we have a fairly broad range of possible outcomes, all with different mechanical implications.  Two of these results require rolling on yet another table (negative complications or bonus awesomeness) to figure out what actually occurs.  Several of these results require even more rolls (like the skill check on the narrow failure option, or the extra damage die).  Some of them require the GM to improvise something interesting on the spot, which can take a quick moment's consideration.

All this is before we start factoring in things like merit and flaw dice, using AP to make declarations that need to be considered and interpreted, compelling an NPC, which requires DM judgement, or extra rolls from special abilities, one of which (Sneak Attack) requires more opposed checks with multiple dice and tables and tables-within-tables.

Now we finally get to damage (hopefully).  Instead of a single HP pool we have two seperate pools.  We have to perform a little more mental arithmetic to calculate how much stress and how much harm damage is taken/given.  Damage here also doesn't act simply as a number to keep track of before passing out/dying.  It "counts as a flaw and can (and should!) also be compelled, which will introduce further complications."  More dice.  More tables.  More arithmetic.  We have to caluclate how many negative complications we have and the severity of our new flaw based on the amount of damage we sustained.  And to top it off they replenish at different rates.

Oh, and I forgot those skill/luck bonuses, too, the graduated scale of damage bonuses based on rolls, the interaction of merits/flaws with these bonuses.

I'm not saying the system is bad or uninteresting; it looks like it could create some really involved, dramatic combats with a range of detailed results and a very cinematic sort of feel.  I'm not math-averse, either, and individually the plethora of rolls and quick additions and subtractions and comparisons aren't daunting.  But taken as a whole something as simple as "I attack the Orc" can involve rolling handfuls of dice, consulting multiple tables, and factoring in a whole range of bonuses and penalties.  This just doesn't strike me as "quick" or "dirty" - it's actually a kind of precise, deliberate system with lots of varying levels of success and failure and mechanizations of personality and background and complex dynamics of player/GM control and compulsion.

In Pathfinder/D&D sometimes you attack and you miss and that sucks and you didn't do very much during your turn and it's kind of boring.  That happens.  The system has weaknesses; any system has tradeoffs.  But Q&D strikes me as being far slower and more involved than those systems, and given its design goals, I'm not sure that's how you want it to play.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2013, 05:58:20 PM by Steerpike » Logged


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« Reply #36 on: November 28, 2013, 07:36:30 PM »

First of all, thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

I definitely think you've got a point here, but I think that making a comparison to Pathfinder and then using "roll to swing your sword at the Orc" as your test case is a bit of an oversimplification. In this case, it does make Q&D seem more complicated, partially because you expended far more words describing the process in Q&D. Things get more interesting (and start to bog down very quickly) in Pathfinder if you decide you want to grapple, or cast a spell, or make a two-handed power attack and also spend a usage of your 3+Int times a day bloodline ability to get a +2 circumstance bonus against an enemy that has DR that the weapon you're possibly using might get through while at the same time using your immediate action to use your Arcane Strike feat to get a further damage bonus. Or... one of the many other specific abilities given by feats or class features that can lead to things like this. And before you make too much of Pathfinder's static target number, keep in mind that your AC is not the same as your touch AC which is not the same as your flat-footed AC, and you have to know which of these your attack is targeting. Like, say, if it's a firearm, you target touch AC unless you're outside of the first range increment, then you target normal AC, unless you're using one of the Gunslinger's special abilities, which costs a Grit point... yeah.

In Q&D, on the other hand, things stay about the same. There is not this huge growth in complexity as character options grow, because the options are all rather informal and based around however you want to narrate them; mechanically, it all still comes down to Q&D's very simplified and abstracted version of combat maneuvers. In this way, in my opinion, it retains the ability to call itself "quick and dirty." Is it enough? I'm not sure. So far, it has worked well, but, admittedly, every game I've played of Q&D has been on IRC (or another chat venue) because I don't have a RL gaming group any more, so that means its somewhat wonky dice expressions are all crunched quite efficiently by the dice bot, and I might be somewhat underestimating the amount of trouble that rolling a big handful of dice and adding everything up could create. One possibility I thought of to make things even simpler was was a sort of "dice cancellation." That is, if the attacker rolls 3d6, and the defender rolls 2d6, the net result is that instead of rolling "d20+3d6-2d6," the attacker simply rolls "d20+d6." This creates a much flatter probability curve, and for that reason I'm not really sure if I'm behind the idea (and as such didn't include it in the initial post) but it is definitely a quick and dirty fix!

Anyway, as you observe, we're not done yet. After rolling, we need to consult a table. Will this slow things down? The thing is, this table of outcomes is the core of Q&D's resolution mechanic, and it will be used in just about every roll. Just as in every other RPG where there are things that may need to be looked up in a table that people internalize, the experienced Q&D player will eventually internalize the initial table of outcomes because it's used so often. I'm not saying it's necessary to actively expend effort on memorizing anything, of course-- Q&D's tables are simple enough that you could put them all on a note card and keep it close at hand, or pop them up in another window if you're playing online. There will never be any delays to go digging through the rulebook or whatever.

This may lead to more tables. It may also lead to the need for the GM to improvise. Hopefully, it won't lead to both too often. One of the core tenets of Q&D is that if the GM and/or a player have a better idea for how to adjudicate an outcome, just do that and don't bother with the table. The table is there so that instead of wasting time thinking or arguing, you can just roll a d6 and do that and be done with it.

Merits and Flaws are the big mechanical addition between Q&D1 and Q&D2. They add their own tables, their own complexities, and more dice. I'll concede that they have yet to be proven to be workable in an actual game environment. However, I should point out, they also don't figure into every roll. Not even close. One big problem with Q&D1's "Profession" system (essentially the predecessor to Merits) is that it was a bonus that was simply applied "when it was applicable." The game had to be paused any time it prompted a discussion (or, worse, an argument, but fortunately that never happened in any of my games) between player(s) and GM as to whether the profession's bonus might apply or not. Q&D2 adds a bit more mechanical rigor to its Merits and Flaws with the hope that it'll speed things up in the long run. That is to say, a bit less dirty, a bit more quick. Or at least that's the idea.

Adding it all up, a "simple combat turn" in Q&D might not be any faster than one in Pathfinder, or in FATE, or whatever. However, I contend that the label of "simple" can apply far more often in Q&D, and its reliance on a single core resolution mechanic based on a small set of simple tables will, at the end of the day, end up being faster than the ponderous reams of crunch required in a game like Pathfinder. It's quick because you're not reaching for the rulebook. It's dirty because a lot is left up to the whims of the group in the moment. I'm just trying to throw a little mechanical elegance in this so the system offers meaningful decisions and worthwhile outcomes: too quick and too dirty and there is hardly even a point of having a system at all, after all.
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« Reply #37 on: November 28, 2013, 08:41:35 PM »

sparkletwist

Things get more interesting (and start to bog down very quickly) in Pathfinder if you decide you want to grapple, or cast a spell, or make a two-handed power attack and also spend a usage of your 3+Int times a day bloodline ability to get a +2 circumstance bonus against an enemy that has DR that the weapon you're possibly using might get through while at the same time using your immediate action to use your Arcane Strike feat to get a further damage bonus.

That's totally true - grappling is especially bad.  The core mechanic is very simple, but there are lots more complex manoeuvres.  My critique was more built around the most basic possible action in combat, which seems to me would take longer in Q&D than in Pathfinder/D&D.  It's possible that the Q&D process is quicker than the Pathfinder one when attempting a wider variety of moves.  Still, even without the Pathfinder comparison, it strikes me that the core task resolution/combat mechanic of Q&D isn't especially quick.

sparkletwist

So far, it has worked well, but, admittedly, every game I've played of Q&D has been on IRC (or another chat venue) because I don't have a RL gaming group any more, so that means its somewhat wonky dice expressions are all crunched quite efficiently by the dice bot, and I might be somewhat underestimating the amount of trouble that rolling a big handful of dice and adding everything up could create.

This struck me as well.  I think Q&D would be a lot better/faster online than face-to-face; counting and mentally adding up/subtracting all those die rolls for everything would be a lot more onerous at a gaming table than when a program can do it all for you.  It'd still take awhile to write everything out, but it's not as serious online.

sparkletwist

However, I contend that the label of "simple" can apply far more often in Q&D, and its reliance on a single core resolution mechanic based on a small set of simple tables will, at the end of the day, end up being faster than the ponderous reams of crunch required in a game like Pathfinder.

I'm not sure about this.  There's certainly a lot of character info in Pathfinder/D&D that involves large swathes of crunch, but it doesn't need to be kept in one's head at a time, and the core mechanic is incredibly simple : roll 1d20+modifiers, compare your result to the relevant number.  I'm not saying this is better than Q&D's approach, which has a lot going for it, but I think it might be simpler.  In Q&D you're going to be rolling a different number of dice for every roll you make; your margin of success matters; you have to consult 1-2 tables for everything you do.  I'm sure with practice this would become a well-worn, habitual process that would get faster over time, but it's not super-intuitive for new players, I think.

I do think the system is really interesting, and very well suited to a particular sort of game - action-heavy cinematic storytelling.
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« Reply #38 on: November 28, 2013, 09:06:54 PM »

Having GMed Quick and Dirty last night, I can say that it is leaps and bounds more streamlined than any D20 incarnation I have ever played. On the ground, running in realtime, the fact that the entire system can be referenced in your head (I memorised it in under half an hour) more than makes up for the more involved calculation for roll to roll. I don't prefer this to FATE (when I go rules light I go rules light) but it is Quick and it is Dirty. Like my ex.

EDIT: We played face to face but with diceroller apps on our phones. Sometimes we used them, sometimes we didn't.
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« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2013, 09:12:28 PM »

SA

We played face to face but with diceroller apps on our phones.

A good solution to the "adding lots of dice together" issue that I hadn't considered!
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« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2013, 12:08:59 AM »

Steerpike

There's certainly a lot of character info in Pathfinder/D&D that involves large swathes of crunch, but it doesn't need to be kept in one's head at a time
It actually sort of does, or at least it needs to be looked up and retained before it's needed. Otherwise, if you need a particular bit of crunch and you don't know it, you're going to have to reach for the rulebook or ask the other players. And as soon as you start doing that, things slow down a lot!

Steerpike

the core mechanic is incredibly simple : roll 1d20+modifiers, compare your result to the relevant number.
I can't argue with you that rolling a d20 and adding a static number to it is going to be somewhat simpler and faster than rolling a d20 and adding a handful of other dice to it. However, I feel like this is simplifying things far beyond the point of being able to make a meaningful comparison, given the sheer amount of other factors that apply to Pathfinder/D&D/whatever that do not apply to Q&D.

And now I have SA's post to point to as evidence. grin

Steerpike

you have to consult 1-2 tables for everything you do
It's true that just about everything you do originally came off a table... but, like I said, the simpler outcomes become internalized very quickly, and the system always favors good improv over rolling on yet another table. If you roll an 11 and remember immediately that's a "success with a negative complication" and a great negative complication jumps right out of the scene that you're suggesting to the GM right away, zero tables end up being consulted and the whole thing goes pretty fast. And this kind of thing happens in Q&D games a lot... at least the ones I've been in.

Steerpike

it's not super-intuitive for new players, I think.
Compared to what? Pathfinder? I mean, if you are saying "Q&D is slower for me because I have very little experience playing Q&D and a ton of experience playing Pathfinder," well, then.. yes. But comparing apples to apples, i.e., the experience for a new player, can you really say Q&D fares worse?

Steerpike

I do think the system is really interesting, and very well suited to a particular sort of game - action-heavy cinematic storytelling.
Thanks!
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« Reply #41 on: November 29, 2013, 12:32:54 AM »

sparkletwist

...it needs to be looked up and retained before it's needed.

I'll definitely grant you that.

sparkletwist

Compared to what?  Pathfinder?

I picked Pathfinder because it actually is a pretty complex system, I think, as roleplaying systems go - there's a lot of different rules, sub-systems, and information to absorb.  It's not a good example of a super-simple, intuitive system.  That was kind of my point - Q&D struck me as being more complex in its task resolution than even Pathfinder.  However, SA's phone-app-equipped playtest has made me question my thinking a little.  I only played a handful of sessions of Q&D in its first edition, so I'm not an authority.  I thought it seemed to run slow, but that could have mostly been because we were all adapting to it and the kinks hadn't been worked out.

In essence, here's my overall logic: as I see it, if you want a simple, fast, intuitive system, then ideally you'd want to strip out as many extraneous rolls, table-look-ups, and arithmetical operations as possible while still preserving the system's integrity.  For every mechanic you add in, every layer of complexity, the question "is this necessary?" crops up.  The more dice, tables, sub-tables, judgments, complications, and additions/subtractions you're asking players to make at the table, the slower the game is going to play as a whole.  It may be that in practice what I'm perceiving as a fairly intricate, granular system actually fades away into relative simplicity and that it's still sufficiently simple to be fast and loose; and it may be that the trade-offs in speed and simplicity that Q&D's multiple dice and tables engender are worth it.

It does seem to me that there are probably some more-unspoken design imperatives being implemented in the system, consciously or not, and while some them might not be incompatible with the "quick and dirty" mindset I'm not sure all of them are necessarily in aid of that mindset - which is absolutely fine, but it might bear thinking about.

If I recall correctly, the original Q&D seemed invested in a very old school D&D mentality - fantasy character classes featured, for example, if I'm remembering properly.  Has that aspect been abandoned?  Are you envisioning a different sort of game with Q&D now?  Or do you see the system as flexible enough to accomadate a diverse range of genres?  Are there genres or types of games you think it specficially wouldn't be good at running?
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« Reply #42 on: November 29, 2013, 10:39:17 AM »

There are so many good ways I have seen RPG rule sets broken down, and some would apply.   Not judging Pathfinder or Q&D2, just giving another prism to look at them,

One view that is interesting is the idea that every system has some level of a core mechanic system, a default, basic ideal that is pretty static.  Bonuses my change a bit by power level or circumstance.  And the prevalence and commonality of layers on top of that are what determines the complexity, do PCS just roll to hit 50% of the time or do they involve modifiers 80% of the time?  also Note Bene, that basic mechanic can be simple or convoluted as well, and that affects the layering.

One Level from that is Optionals that layer over this that the Player can choose, like once a day abilities, poisons, tactical rules (backstab) etc.  Basically, the player taking a pretty normal, known modifier layered ON TOP of the normal mechanic.

The Layer of complexity on top of that is the prevalence of atmospheric changes; spells by other characters and NPCS and foes, as well as the investiture of rules based on atmospherics like weather, formation, weapon choice (I know this is a PC choice, but it is part of the complexity of the outside world).

Then the last level of complexity is OOC complexity that the PC or others can layer on top of everything below, FATE points, etc, especially stuff that retros the affect of an earlier roll.  You missed your success roll on a spell and want to invoke an 'Action Point' to go back and have the spell work, that is another example. 
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« Reply #43 on: November 29, 2013, 02:39:29 PM »

Steerpike

I thought it seemed to run slow, but that could have mostly been because we were all adapting to it and the kinks hadn't been worked out.
Those early Cad Goleor games felt slow to me, too. Back when it was still Pathfinder, those games felt slow, too, so I don't know. The pace has improved lately, and I don't think it had much of anything to do with the system, but I'm not sure.

Steerpike

In essence, here's my overall logic: as I see it, if you want a simple, fast, intuitive system, then ideally you'd want to strip out as many extraneous rolls, table-look-ups, and arithmetical operations as possible while still preserving the system's integrity.  For every mechanic you add in, every layer of complexity, the question "is this necessary?" crops up.
That's a good general principle. Can Q&D be further streamlined? Probably. Part of the quickness and dirtiness of it is, admittedly, in its design process: not everything has been tested well, or even at all, and there are almost certainly still some bad ideas floating around. I tried to excise a lot of them in the transition from Q&D1 to Q&D2, but there might still be some lingering, or maybe I even introduced some new ones.

Steerpike

It does seem to me that there are probably some more-unspoken design imperatives being implented in the system, consciously or not
Probably. Q&D still has the shared-story and the player-empowerment undertones that I always dig. The quickest and dirtiest system around would run on nearly 100% GM fiat but that's not my thing at all.

Steerpike

If I recall correctly, the original Q&D seemed invested in a very old school D&D mentality - fantasy character classes featured, for example, if I'm remembering properly.  Has that aspect been abandoned?  Are you envisioning a different sort of game with Q&D now?  Or do you see the system as flexible enough to accomadate a diverse range of genres?
Not exactly. The "canonical" Q&D setting is the zany Bollywood-spy-thriller world of Mr. Billingsley and company. That setting is next-to-useless for actual gaming, though-- so it seemed to gravitate to more of an OD&D feel, and that's where the basics of its class system started. I like to think Q&D is flexible enough to run all sorts of games, though, as you observed, something with a rather cinematic feel would work best.

Steerpike

Are there genres or types of games you think it specficially wouldn't be good at running?
Anything purporting to be "simulationist" would probably be right out.

LordVreeg

Then the last level of complexity is OOC complexity that the PC or others can layer on top of everything below, FATE points, etc
From what I know of your opinion of mechanics like this, I understand why you'd think of this as the last or outermost layer, and in the case of something like Pathfinder's hero points, you'd be right. However, this ordering of layers is quite dependent on the game. In the case of FATE, since you used that as an example-- the fate points, invokes, and so on are probably right on top of the core resolution mechanic. They're virtually inseparable from how the "game of FATE" is played, and far more important to the core resolution mechanic than tactical maneuvers or atmospheric circumstances. As for Q&D, I would certainly consider its Awesome Points more vital to its resolution mechanic (more "inner," as it were) than the layer you've put beneath it-- things like tactical positioning or mechanically significant weapon choice don't really exist in a meaningful way in the Q&D system.
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« Reply #44 on: November 29, 2013, 03:15:22 PM »

Sparkle

LordVreeg

Then the last level of complexity is OOC complexity that the PC or others can layer on top of everything below, FATE points, etc
From what I know of your opinion of mechanics like this, I understand why you'd think of this as the last or outermost layer, and in the case of something like Pathfinder's hero points, you'd be right. However, this ordering of layers is quite dependent on the game. In the case of FATE, since you used that as an example-- the fate points, invokes, and so on are probably right on top of the core resolution mechanic. They're virtually inseparable from how the "game of FATE" is played, and far more important to the core resolution mechanic than tactical maneuvers or atmospheric circumstances. As for Q&D, I would certainly consider its Awesome Points more vital to its resolution mechanic (more "inner," as it were) than the layer you've put beneath it-- things like tactical positioning or mechanically significant weapon choice don't really exist in a meaningful way in the Q&D system
Oh, no doubt.  This was something I read a while ago, and the order was based on the perception of the person who wrote it.  They could be seen just as easily as parenthetical expressions to be added on.  I like that as it breaks down the levels of complexity into discreet areas, but the ordering?  Unimportant.
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Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg

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