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Using /random in IC Combat


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Hello, the entire roleplaying community. Apparently, Oskar made mention of this system of IC combat Everwatch'd started using in his podcast, and a few of Nebulous' members have expressed interest, or at least a desire for a clearly-written list of rules, so here you go.


I'm going to talk a little bit about the [/random] command first off; the full command is [/random x], where x is a number between 1 and 1000. When performed, the game will randomly generate a number between 0 and whatever you put in for x. Mind, 0 is always a valid possibility, so if you only want 20 possible results, subtract one so the values can run from 0 to 19. Leaving x blank will make the system roll from 0 to 100.


First off is The Action, followed by The Roll. Basically, a player declares what they want to do, and then uses [/random] to find out if they succeeded in their action or not. Rolling high is always better; this is the simplest way of using [/random] in combat. In events with someone coordinating all of the combat, you'll need to wait for them to let you know if your roll was high enough for success; for those coordinating, I'd recommend having an idea of where success and failure fall on the scale of 0 to 100. If it's just a duel, you'll either need to settle on where success and failure are divided (at 50, per se) or simply use [/random 1] to decide immediate success (1) or failure (0).


To spice things up, you could include degrees of success or failure. In combat, you're not always guaranteed to land a clean blow or else miss entirely; since the basic [/random] has 101 possible results, you can divide the possibilities up into different degrees of success or failure. As a sample, let's say a Menacing Swordsman takes a swing at a foe, and rolls [/random].


0-19: Critical Failure (The swing lodges the sword in the ground, or is parried completely)

20-39: Failure (The swing simply misses or the foe blocks)

40-59: Partial Success (The swing deals some damage, but bounces off armor or the foe backsteps)

60-89: Success (The swing deals a good amount of damage, and both are left capable of retaliating)

90-100: Critical Success (The swing deals a massive amount of damage, perhaps striking the foe's neck)


That's just a sample spread. I'd really recommend having more chances for success than failure; it's always more fun to succeed than fail, and keeps the combat from devolving into "he blocked. she parried. he dodged." Spells can be handled in a similar fashion, although Critical Failure could mean friendly-fire or a failure to cast the spell in the first place, and Critical Success could mean freezing the foe completely, or carrying him off a cliff with a burst of wind.


For duels, the spread would be much simpler. Let's use a [/random 2] as an example:


0: The attack fails completely.

1: The attack deals a glancing blow only.

2: The attack succeeds.


Adding more possibilities is always an option, mind; just set it up beforehand with your duelling partner and get the [/random] rules out of the way first.


As a final reminder, this isn't an excuse to make everything ruled by the whims of the Random Number Generator and Nymeia's threads; sometimes, a player just isn't going to miss (against a foe unable to evade or resist, or a coup de gras, a finishing attack on a knocked-down foe), and sometimes, a character's talents will make some things more or less likely. Talk to your coordinator about things like this, and work it out. It's not set in stone, after all.

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This system doesn't seem very fair... IC battles aren't even a good form of RP anyways. If you're going to battle, you're almost better off having a set appointment or going over what you want in /tell. Some people just have horrible luck with /random. I don't see how it would hardly be fair for if someone would always roll /1-10 despite being say a rank 50 paladin. (I've seen this luck happen all the damn time.) This system is, or possibly even more sloppy than how people already do IC battle.


I'm not trying to totally discard the system and if people ask for it... I probably would give in. But in my honest opinion, I feel it's best just playing off two characters attacks and if they're decent RPer's (which I assume most people are.) They won't do something stupid like *Throws lightning bolt and shocks you.* They'd instead do *Throws a lightning -in attempt- to shock you.* This way both players can play off each others moves and have more fun. Now I understand if someone always dodged the attacks, that would be an issue... but what's keeping you from shooting them a /tell and saying "hey, mind taking the hit on the next move?" Most RPer's are friendly enough to level with each other and will most likely say "Sure, I'll take the next hit."


Anyways... That's just my personal rant on /random battle.

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I'm of a similar mindset as Gospel with this and I think he put it a lot more clearly than I did over on the Everwatch forums. Using something like this as a guideline during situations where like-level opponents are going up against one another but neither wants to OOCly concede the loss might make sense. But there are often a lot of character and environmental variables that should be taken into account for the successful enactment of a RP match.


In RP with the Eorzean Guard and Everwatch we had done a lot of this without any sort of use of /random where a little OOC communication between myself and whoever I was fighting went a long way toward having a fluid battle scene play out. With systems like this I sometimes feel "the dice get in the way." But I realize different people will prefer different methods and I've known several who have kind of wanted to "tabletopify" the system of combat in MMO's. But, like Gospel, avoiding systems like this unless absolutely necessary is my own preference as well.

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I think it's fair to say that when dueling with another RPer directly, the use of /random may be more clunky than useful. However, things become more complicated in a large battle environments where there is a DM, who is in charge of multiple adversaries/story/environment. Relying purely on RP when dealing with multiple battles, as well as keeping all the factors in mind, both of individual participants, the group overall, environmental effects, specific perks one may have... This system begins to justify itself.


While Lina wrote out the specifics, it's very much a guideline, as clearly there are moments where certain things would make sense, since all the roll results are very general, and do not take into account the character's strengths/weaknesses. And while Gospel mentioned the "luck" of getting low numbers, well, unfortunately that simply isn't true. There is no luck, it's a random number generator, and the patterns you may see in a short time are only there because it's hard for us NOT to distinguish patterns. We are pattern seeking animals. Aside from the note I mentioned above, where you can ignore the roll IF you feel it's IC'ly justified, sometimes stuff just doesn't work out. And sometimes, when you think you WOULD be able to succeed, it's not the case. Just as sometimes, when it seems that you wouldn't, you do.


That said, another point I'd like to bring up from Gospel's reply is:

But in my honest opinion, I feel it's best just playing off two characters attacks and if they're decent RPer's (which I assume most people are.)

You'd have to concede that, 1) Decent RP is absolutely subjective, and 2) Even if someone is typically a person you call decent, doesn't mean that they are when it comes to IC fights. Godmodding can happen, whether it's intentional or not.


That's why I am in favor of using /random when it comes to large conflicts (and sometimes in duels) since it does offer some definitive value as a base for whatever action happens, which can then be accepted, rejected, or added upon. It's a system that is between the 'extremes' of using one's levels to determine the skill/outcome (which I also favor for pure skill comparison), and completely leaving things open to RP (which I use for specific traits of characters). I consider myself to be an alright RPer, and even then I prefer to check /random once in a while even in small fights just to offset any potential for godmodding.

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Or you could just /tell them ahead of time and work out a storyline instead of rely on a "luck" based system. You can rationalize it as much as you like, but /random "is" a luck based system. Some days you roll high 10 times in a row, some days you'll roll low numbers over and over again.


Tell me, would you feel okay in a situation where you know you can win, you have all means of winning and then put it all on the line for a /random. That's like saying I'm going to take a drink of water. /random if I roll 1-4 I succeed at drinking the glass. If I roll 5-10 I spill or fumble my drink. Oh damn I just fumbled my drink... Let me pour another glass. but Let me /random and see if I succeed. Oops I lost at that too.


If you're going to put a whole fights result based on /random you may as well start using /random for everything you do from here on out. It's a sloppy system and it's just as bad as regular IC battles are now. Only this time you can try and justify it by hiding behind a number generator rather than acknowledging a poor player. If anything /random will lead to even more god modding.


Pulls out gun and shoots you in the head. /random 999... Guess I shot ya in the head there? Better make a new character.


That was a overly rude on my part, but that's a good example of some of the things that could easily happen. I'm also damn sure no one would be okay with that even if someone did roll a 999... So then we come back to characters talking it over to determine if that would really happen or not. Leading me back to why I posted... If you're going to force yourself into a stupid IC battle, you're better off just talking to someone and making a quick outcome that the two can agree upon and if you feel the need to fight multiple people then you should of been making a storyline with all of them in the first place.


Basically what I'm trying to say is /random has the potential to turn your character into either a god mod or a retard who can't defend or attack to save his/her life, despite being in tip top condition. I personally feel that /random in this kind of situation will only lean towards less desirable results for everyone, instead of good.


I'll /random and see if this posts get through. ...Oh damn, I lucked out this time and rolled a 500 I guess that means I'm clear to press submit.


((I apologize if my post comes off as sounding rude but I seriously can't think of any better way to describe some of the potential disasters this could all lead to if it became a staple to RP fighting or RP anything.))

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Great in theory, not in practice, in my opinion. /random is just that, random. It does not take into consideration levels of those involved, skills, and if you say those variables are for the DM to decide, I have a problem with that too. It should be for the player to decide. Godmoding, no, but I'm sorry, Aysun won't die or get permanently crippled without my permission. That is my right as a player.


Also, using this before a standard was written, when only the DM "knew" what roll meant what, wasn't very cool for everyone else. Why, when the standard says 69-89+ is a success, did someone miss or 'fail' in some way repeatedly when rolling in that range, where as the other linkshell involved did just fine rolling lower? Hmmm.


My point is that it could be a helpful system for keeping battles moving along, but the only practical use that I give it is in 1-on-1 matches when the characters are of equal level and class, and the players want to have a bit of who knows what's gonna happen. And if it is going to be used outside of this, the player's input should trump the /random if it just does not seem right due to their skill vs. their opponent's, not the DM.


Gospel's right, it's impossible to respond to this thread without sounding rude. But my opinion's out there. Woo! >>;

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This was fun and a hassle when carried out. Now that I've read the explanation I can see what was going on without having to guess during the event. My concern is the same as Gospel's and Aysun's, which is lack of control over my character's actions. For example, when Elriche was hit, I have no problem with that consequence as a result of the dice however Elriche was not consulted about whether or not her character would be injured. It should be up to the player to decide what happens to their character. There are positive things about this, for example I think this system can be used successfully with a small group (2-4) as long as everyone is on board with the scenario. In my opinion, this shouldn't be used with RPers that have not given their consent to possible injury that is out of their hands and given to /random.


However, it was entertaining to say the least. I think I'll try this when I RP with one or two people, but I'll stay away from it being used in large groups. Thank you for posting this by the way, I'll be linking this on our forums.

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Random systems can work fine in combat, it all depends on how you handle it. They are, after all, the traditional basis of conflict resolution in tabletop RPGS. No matter how good you are, sometimes you just have an off day or random happenstance prevents success. Now, it usually doesn't, and the skilled opponent will nearly always succeed, but there is always that chance. However, for dice rolling to work in the context of RP, you have to get a few things out of the way on ground level.


First, everyone must be familiar and comfortable with the system ahead of time. This is VITAL. If people feel any given system disrupts their RP, they won't appreciate it breaking the flow. The key is for it to be ingrained enough that it DOESN'T. Only then does it become useful and not a distraction. Corollary to this is that everyone must agree with how the system works and to be bound by its results ahead of time. Of course, achieving this depends on whether or not people agree with HOW that system works.


So, how do you set up something like this? I agree that a routine sword swing being just as easily hit as missed is a bit ridiculous for a seasoned combat veteran taking a swing at a random street thug. TRUE randomization is not desirable; things must be offset. Uncertainty is only exciting if it gives an edge to our experience, not erodes the confidence in our ability to accurately portray our characters. So, we need rules. Many RPG systems accomplish this via boundary values, often called 'difficulties'. We'll just dispense with the one-or-multiple dice discussion here since /random spam is undesirable for obvious reasons.


For this same reason, when settling a fight you probably don't want to roll for each individual action - just roll to see who wins and by what margin, then ad-lib. Dice are not and should never be a substitute for clear, concise OOC communication when deciding IC conflicts. They only work if everyone has agreed, via OOC communication, mutual trust, and confidence in the system, to be bound by the results. This being the case, it's virtually impossible to enforce this across the broad spectrum of the community, as everyone will have different opinions on how to interpret the numbers! Still, greater global awareness and familiarity can make a quick compromise on a roll's terms relatively simple. If you can't reach this with someone, you probably shouldn't be roleplaying IC conflicts with them.


Perhaps also obvious but for the sake of transparent reasoning best stated explicitly, is that everyone must WANT to use the system. Strong-arming people into using it will only breed resentment and hurt roleplay. However, if people are comfortable, familiar, and confident in the conflict-resolving abilities of a fair and balanced "dice rolling" system, it can streamline and enhance RP while adding that ever-lurking factor of excitement and uncertainty into situations. After all, no matter how good you are, you MIGHT trip on a jutting flagstone you hadn't accounted for - not a failure of skill, but pure cosmic chance!


So, how does a balanced /random system work in action? I don't have a 'perfect' example, but back in Canta Per Me in FFXI, we'd /random to resolve situations where the outcome wasn't totally clear from the outset, and not just in combat. Someone's falling - do you catch them? The faintest of boot-scrapes announces an assassin is lurking in the tunnel ahead - do you hear it? Two roughly equivalent combatants square off - who carries the day? Rather than babble an explanation, here's a made-up example:


Verence 1.0 (Far less awkward, major stick up his ass, long story) has decided that the young wastrel who has stolen his crumpet is due a drubbing. Little does he realize, this wastrel is an agile crumpet assassin in disguise! We'll set the "difficulty" for the hit to connect at 800 out of 1000. This could be 8/10, 80/100, 40/50, it really doesn't matter so long as the scale is prearranged. CPM used 1000 since that's just how XI /random worked. How far above or below that value determines the degree of success or failure. We can see that there's much more room for degrees of failure than success here, as the crumpet assassin is not only an experienced drubbing-dodger, but is expecting the attack. For a truly superlative roll - say 980, we might rule 'critical hit' and RP as if the assassin had been caught totally flat-footed. For a spectacularly awful one, perhaps... 60, we might rule a botch/critical failure and say any number of things happened. Verence trips. Verence snags his cufflinks on something and rips his sleeve, throwing the punch wide. The assassin dodges and Verence splinters a produce stand with his mighty fist, sending vegetable flying everywhere!


Dice are never a replacement for creativity and RP, but they can resolve the issue of "Did Verence punch the crumpet assassin or not?" when I think he ought to hit and the other player thinks he ought to miss - or we're just really not sure how that would pan out. Things need to be kept relatively simple; we're not playing Warhammer here. A brief chat, a quick roll, and get on with the roleplaying.


Postscript: There's also simply "rolling against" each other, a system that has its own unique considerations, but I'm sure 90% of the readers of this thread have already glazed over at my profuse and effulgent verbiage, so I'm not even gonna go there unless someone's masochist enough to actually request it.

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I'll admit Verence makes some good points and yeah, once in awhile sure a dice roll could be fine for giggles.


Thing is though, Verences last bit in his post goes straight back, once more to what I've been saying all along. "Talk it out." We've managed to RP since beta without /random and it all seemed to turn out just fine. Please don't take this the wrong way... but if I'm going to be using dice or /random, I may as well be playing a table top game. One of the things that actually sets FFXIV RP apart from those games is that people didn't make use of /random or dice for any of their outcomes. They all talked it over like good, honest people and we all still managed to have wonderful RP.


I just feel that /random is to late to the party and it's probably going to end up being one of those things that will only be done in certain shells. This is all fine and dandy but as Verence says. Unless -everybody- agrees on it, /random is -not- the way to go. However, I'm -not- saying to do away with it or toss it out the window. I'm all up for experimenting it with people but in the end, I just feel that it still may cause more harm then good...


I'm not joking when I say I've played table tops with friends and every game for 4 games straight, the same friend in the group always rolled low and died or got banged up hard. I know those odds sound abysmal but they seriously can happen... I just wouldn't want to be in the shoes of the guy who has rotten luck, let alone try to picture the stress they'd be under OoC. So a better way to avoid that luck is to not rely on the source that's causing it.



My biggest fear really, is ending up seeing fights become nothing but.


Gospel: *Swings axe at marmot with all his force in attempt the smash it.*

/random: rolls 400

Marmot: Dodges your attack and quickly attempts to throw a nut at Gospel's head.*

/random: 345

Gospel: *Deflects the marmots nut with a swift parry and once more seeing an opening, attempts to smash the marmot with a brutal swing.*

/random: 638

Marmot: Taking a small hit the marmot wiggles and burps in its sudden hit. In attempt to counter attack the marmot uses nutkick to chuck another nut, only this time at Gospel's groin.*

/random: 005

Gospel: *laughing like a crazed hobo, picks up the marmot and attempts to finish it off mortal kombat style with an horrifying soul steal*

/random: 001

Marmot: *wiggles at one HP but attempts to claw Gospel in the face*

/random: 902

Gospel: *Cursing loudly as he is scratched. With the marmot still in hand, he shakes the marmot and attempts once more to finish it off with horrifying soul steal*

/random: 025 ((wtf?))

Marmot: *Thrashes about once more and attempts to scratch Gospel's face.*

/random: 879

Gospel: "Ah, screw this!" *Gospel having giving up on horrifying soul steal, instead decides to throw the marmot in attempt to get rid of it in his moment of anger.*

/random: 105 ((There is no god!))

Marmot: *The marmot merely drops to the floor instead of being thrown and attempts to latch to Gospel's face to claw him to death.*

/random: 796

Gospel: *Marmot oddly succeeds and is mauled by annoying marmot, and flails around like an angry Opo-Opo*



...Okay long story short, aside from bad luck with /random. I just feel It would also become very annoying having /random flooding the chat screen. Now stack that with multiple people all doing /random in a group setting and yeah, chat flood hell.


But to state Verence one last time, /random can be an okay occasion in a moment where you feel something is a make or break. Such as the example Verence gave where somebody feels that hit or something should connect while the other feels that it should miss. If the two are willing to throw it to /random, then by all means... make use of it. As long as /random isn't used for every damn little thing, then fine. Use it, have a blast.

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I feel like Gospel/Aysun/etc. are arguing against a stance no one here is taking. And while I can dissect each post and point out where I was misrepresented, I'll just quote my post above to nail it home, since folks seem to glaze over the parts they would actually agree with:


I think it's fair to say that when dueling with another RPer directly, the use of /random may be more clunky than useful. However, things become more complicated in a large battle environments where there is a DM, who is in charge of multiple adversaries/story/environment.

(aka it's not feasible to expect the DM to have private chats with each participant, while controlling everything else. This is where the trust system comes into play, which Verence touched on. And I agree that a common style of RP when dealing with injuries does need to be set in stone, as certain LSs, Everwatch for instance, do take more liberty with injury/death when it makes sense.)


While Lina wrote out the specifics, it's very much a guideline, as clearly there are moments where certain things would make sense, since all the roll results are very general, and do not take into account the character's strengths/weaknesses.


That's why I am in favor of using /random when it comes to large conflicts (and sometimes in duels) since it does offer some definitive value as a base for whatever action happens, which can then be accepted, rejected, or added upon.


The point: don't make a straw man and argue a point no one is making. No one here proposed to use it solely as a way to predict outcomes, as per Gospel's example. It's more akin to Verence's example, and for me personally, not even so much used in one on one, but in group settings.


To throw my own example, an enemy mage casts AoE Fire on the group. Everyone can roll to see how much they got hit by the blaze. If you're a mage yourself who can resist the fire more easier... maybe it'd make sense for you to shrug it off even if you rolled a 35. However for less trained people a 35 can burn some hairs.

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I think the problem some people may be having with this system is that it takes away a RPers complete autonomy over their character. When utilizing a system like this, you sort of hand over a certain amount of control. It's understandable that some people may not like that.


For instance, in the example given if a 2 were rolled on a 0-100 than it would be fair to assume that a significant amount of damage would be sustained. Perhaps this character was going to be a part of a beauty pageant the next day (yeah I'm reaching a bit here). Having one's hair scorched off and sustaining third-degree burns might make this dream a bit of an impossibility. For many of us, that's fine. But for some, perhaps some plan-ahead had been conducted and being a winner (or runner-up) in this beauty pageant was some crux to planned future storyline. This dice roll effectively hoses any shot at continuing on with the current plan.


Now I'm kind of on the middle of the fence here. Speaking only for myself and my own preferences, I would be willing to roll with the punches. Plans change all the time and I think being able to adapt to these types of changes is one (of a number of) trait(s) that a good RPer should exhibit. In the above example, maybe Eva would sulk about not being able to participate, or maybe it would afford her a chance to try self-healing, or to have to rely on someone else to heal. There are a number of different, unexpected ways this could go.


For sparring, I'd be willing to utilize /random to determine an outcome. Before /random I had often just shot a /tell to the "opponent" and determined an outcome. Often it was something like "I'm more than willing to take the loss but let's keep it interesting and lively and let me get a few good shots in" - or something to that effect.


This has worked well for me, but adding a bit of a random element might make things interesting too. For instance, supposing Eva wielding a lance (50 lancer) were up against an opponent who was a level 45 pugilist. For the sake of argument, let's say the fight was being conducted in close quarters so as to take the environment into account as well - such as a narrow cave. This would give the pugilist a clear advantage in most circumstances. So if a system like this were going to be utilized and both myself and my opponent agreed upon it, we might roll /random once to determine the outcome and then just let the RP happen after that. Maybe the cutoff would be 35 on a roll of 0-100. So anything under 35 would be Eva's win, and anything over 35 would be the opponent's. And the amount over/under that point would determine how close the fight was. A 35 might mean both wear each other out, or knock each other unconscious. A 25 might mean a long fight with Eva winning at the end. And a 99 might mean that a critical punch stunned Eva and the following attack would render her unconscious and the fight was over practically before it began.


The important thing here as Verence already pointed out is that all parties involved need to be in agreement about the system. I don't think anyone really wants to mandate something like this. But as has been stated, it's not a bad idea to use it as something like a guideline - I don't think using it to determine the outcome of every single swing is particularly feasable though. I just think it's important to take all the variables into account - character strenths/weaknesses, environmental factors, etc.

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As long as this remains a guideline and isn't expected to be written in stone. If it remains as something that all parties are willing to agree upon at meeting after discussion, then I really don't mind supporting it.


The thing is though, as some people say my example was bad. It really wasn't because it opens peoples eyes so they can hopefully expect what it -won't- become. People need to be shown all possible outcomes of what can potentially happen when trying a new system. Believe me, I did read that everyone here is only saying it should only be used in certain situations, such as a mages firaga AoE. That's fine, I wouldn't mind seeing it in such a situation myself, but I still feel within my right to make the examples I've made.


Thing is if people start using /random for situations like that... People will begin to ask for /rerolls and then on the next move people could possibly begin saying "now I'll use this move" and then someone tells them to "/random that..." The point I'm making which I know I've stated several times is, I don't mind if this is used as a guideline but don't expect people to fully follow or understand it. Even if they do, there is potential chance that this system could get stretched out of proportion to the point where people start demanding /random for like every 3 actions and that could get very annoying.


Also keep in mind with guidelines is when people start using it, more people will eventually start using it, because more people will expect others to be using it, and then it finally starts to become a rule. Which will eventually make it taboo not to use the guideline.


Really the only thing I'm trying to say here is this. I don't want to see /random come to that. I am only advising extreme caution when using it. Make sure everyone knows that it should only be used once in a blue moon to only help influence possible RP, but not -determine- RP end results. And also don't rely on it for every other thing, either.


((I already understand everyone here has pretty much said all this. I'm just letting you know, that I do agree with all the examples that were given here. I just felt it was necessary to state my concerns, even if they did seem over the top.))

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  • 2 weeks later...

I do not prefer the /random system as well.


But I think it's useful sometimes...sort of.


I just think that a wide /random does give room for a lot of RP, even if it is based on luck, simply because it gives a false sense of depth. Missing partially, assuming both characters are having the same 'luck', just allows us to find reasons on why this is happening and how to cope/adapt; the loose gravel under a character's foot gives in, for example. Fail epically enough, you'll slip, but in turn you can grab a handful of the dirt or sand and throw it in the opponent's face. You probably wouldn't have thought of that before, or really thought your character was -above- that kind of behavior, but then you learn under the face of death...yeah, my stoic, battle hardened Paladin is gonna use a dirty trick after all.


But, /random is no excuse for not RPing out or otherwise just planning ahead with the parties involved, and this certainly does not account for bad luck. In addition, when setting up /random rules, a /999 doesn't have to mean killshot-- you can kill anyone with anything, so it doesn't have to be a gun, it can even be a rusty needle. It could mean incapacitation, or it could mean a damn-well placed blow or cut. Or being stabbed in the eye...>.>.


It's still not the best system though, and I think what it comes down to is that we've all had a terrible experience with it. I know I have....even the power of love couldn't save my character. =(

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having used a dice based system in other environments i actually rather support this method of combat.


definately easier than loading up internet rock paper scissors, which is how i've done it a few times before xD


After all, even the most experienced people have an off day, it's all about how you write yourself around your rolls. Maybe doing an expansion like Warhammer would be good.


roll /random: if over 30 = hit

roll again, if over 30 = wound


Enemy rolls, if over 30 = armor save to prevent the wounding.


That way you can back and forth until someone recieves a wound. Perhaps a 3 strike wounding ends the battle.

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