Dungeons & Delvers: Defense & Armor Overhaul

Something I've been considering for Dungeons & Delvers, besides giving classes scaling Wounds and alternating between gaining Skills and Talents when you level up (Skill + Talent at each level seems to be a tad too much of a jump in competency), is changing adventurer Defenses to static Block and Dodge values.

Similar to Dungeon World—and I think Numenera, and some other role-playing games I'm sure—currently players roll for everything: attacking, dodging, skills, you name it.

While wrapping up the public playtest adventure, something occurred to me: I hadn't considered what would happen if, say, a monster attacked another monster, a wizard going up the Enchanter tree managed to charm and control a monster, or a monster tried to bash its way through a locked door.

See, monsters don't roll dice, so if you just compare their values then they're basically always hitting or missing (or, in the case of a monster trying to bash in a door, succeeding or failing). I could provide rules for converting their Attack and Defense to dice, or just let the GM arbitrarily decide what happens and when, but that seems clumsy and unsatisfactory respectively. If they just had dice for their Attack and adventurers had Defense values, then the GM could just roll.

(I want to point out that initially monsters did have Dice Pools for their Attack and Defense, but this caused combat to drag: it took Melissa and the kids half an hour or longer to take out a couple lizardmen. We then changed monster Dice Pools to static values and the game went a lot faster. Just letting everyone know that we've already tried opposed rolls and it wasn't fast or fun.)

I've got two approaches to this that we're going to playtest.

The first is that adventurers start with a 3 in their Block and Dodge. For each die grade that your Might and Ability have above d4, you bump up Block and Dodge by 1 point respectively. Armor also increases them, to the tune of 1 for light armor, 2 for medium, and 3 for heavy (shields also add a +1). So, a 1st-level fighter with Might d8 and heavy armor would have Block 8, or 9 if he's packing a shield.

The second idea shakes things up a bit more. Instead of base value of 3, adventurers start with a 5 in Block and Dodge, but unlike the first approach only stats, talents, and shields can increase them: armor instead gives you extra Wounds (+1 for light, +2 for medium, and +3 for heavy). Using the same fighter as above, he'd have Block 7, 8 with a shield, but with the heavy armor he'd have 8 Wounds instead of the 5 you normally get.

I'm leaning towards the second approach, because I'm concerned that a 1st-level fighter with a shield and Defender would have something like a Block of 10, which could make things "too safe". But, hey, that's why you actually playtest things.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

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  1. What about mental attacks? Perhaps a Resist defense stat might come in handy?

    1. @Victor: Good catch! Yeah, could add a Will Defense that is based on Intellect.


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