Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw 6


6: Design the Game Mechanics: How Things Work


Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw uses some simple rules

When trying to do something of more than moderate difficulty, where a skill would be applicable, add the character's skill to the statistic or quality that best fits the situation. If the character has any Advantages or Disadvantages that apply, or there are any situational modifiers (provided by the GM), add or subtract  those as well. This is the Target Number.

If you roll the Target Number or less in a d20, the character succeeds. A roll of 1 is not always a success - it is possible for a disadvantage or situational modifier to reduce the character's Target Number to below zero.

Normally skill use is yes/no - the character either did it or she didn't. In cases where two people are competing, such as a brawl, the winner is whoever beat their Target Number by more points - this is called the degree of success. Someone with Target number of 17 who rolls a 16 might succeed, but she would lose a contest to someone who had a target number of 5 who rolled a 2, as she only made her roll by 1 point while her competitor made it by 3.

The GM might use the degree of success to see how well a character did something, or how quickly, but any roll that beats the target number is a success.


Looking over your Stats and Skill you might think "whoa, my character stinks!" To an extent this is true - even a character's best stat+skill combinations are likely to be around 10, and most will come out to 3 to 5. Some things to remember: first, the character is only 11. She has plenty of time to get better. Second, rolls are only made in moderately difficult situations - Even a Bravery + Mischief of 2 will let the character sneak through a spooky corridor with distant guards with no problem. It’s only when the guards are closer, or worse, already looking for you, that the dice come into play.

Finally, your character has an advantage in the form of Youth. Youth lets you modify your Target Number after the dice after the dice are rolled - each point of Youth spent increases your TN by 3. If your Target Number is 5 and you roll an 11 you can spend 2 points of youth to increase you TN to an 11 and succeed. Youth points come back after each session, so your 7 points are a sizable pool. Plus, since you spend them after the roll they are never wasted - if you have a TN of 6 and roll an 19 you might decide 5 Youth is too much to turn it into a success, which is better than spending 4 Youth before the roll and still coming up short. Your character's Youth diminishes as she ages, but she's getting better as she ages as well.

Spell Casting

Your character's Magical skills are likely noticeably worse than her Common skills. This is also intentional - underage wizards are not supposed to perform magic outside the school, and first years are most often casting their first spells shortly after arrival. There is one thing that boosts your character's chances, and that's a Verbal Incantation. Casting a spell without an incantation is the base difficulty, so loudly proclaiming the incantation gives your character a +3 situational bonus.

If your character is using a Standard Spell - one taken from the course books, taught in class and, to be fair, used a lot in the text, the ease of spell use gives another +3 situational bonus. You should record any standard spells on your character sheet, when she learns them, along with what they do. Lumos, Wingardium Leviosa and Expelliarmus are all standard spells

For the most part first year students will be using standard spells. You don't have to, however. Each year's worth of training in the magical skill increases the general ability in the type of magic, even if there isn't a standard spell. There is no standard spell to turn a matchstick into a needle, but it is First Year Transfiguration, as is any magic that turns a small inanimate object into another small inanimate object. Second Year Transfiguration covers turning small inanimate objects into small animate ones, such as snuff-boxes to mice. At Fifth Year the caster learns to transfigure herself. Once your character has attended classes you'll get a list of what First Year covers in each class. You can try to cast a spell more complex than your year would suggest, but each year of difference in ability gives a -6 on the roll (yes, that's -6). This can be reduced with a good Astronomy or Arithmancy test.

Rolls against Qualities

Sometimes the test won't be against a skill but directly against a quality: a sudden burst of insight, standing fast on a difficult course, facing a surprising danger. These are direct tests against Intellect, Fortitude and Bravery with no skill involved.

In these cases, the roll is a d6 against the quality in question, trying to roll low. Otherwise this is treated the same as a stat+skill test, with a yes/no outcome and degree of success determined by the roll.

As you can see, a high quality gives a marginal advantage in skills but makes a big difference in rolls directly against the quality - people with 5 Bravery are very seldom driven to flight, and those with a 5 Fortitude almost never surrender.

Health and Damage

Fighting - real, to the death fighting - is very rare at the school. Students may brawl a little, but it's rare that there's anything more than a bloody nose or split lip - more likely someone is jinxed to vomit up slugs. Still, sometime people fall from broomsticks, get careless in Care of Magical Creatures class or otherwise get hurt.

Health is tracked by your character's Size - the more Size she has, the more damage she can take. Damage is recorded in Points on your character sheet.

After she has taken Points equal to half her Size your character suffers a Minor Wound - this is usually a bruise heavy enough to slow her down or a blackened and puffy eye that blocks her vision. For many First Years this comes with one successful hit.

After she has taken Points equal to 2/3rds of her Size she has a Major Wound - a broken bone, large cut or concussion - and must make a Fortitude test on d6 to stay conscious.

After she has taken Points equal to her Size she is unconscious, regardless of her Fortitude. For Size 2 characters, a Major Wound and unconsciousness are simultaneous.

If she is unfortunate enough to take Points equal to her Size +10, she's dead. This means that small first years can be easily wounded and knocked unconscious, but are comparatively hard to kill.

If your character tries to hurt someone, a successful Brawl check will do 1/3 your Size in Points of damage if you hit them unarmed (round up), or 2/3 your Size if you use a weapon. For comparison, falling 5 meters does 1d6 damage (and 2d6 for 10 meters, etc.), so being punched by an adult male is, on average as painful as a 1 story fall, while a hit with a club is as bad as a two story fall - though such a fall could be much, worse!

For someone like Hagrid, who is Size 15, his punches are enough to deliver a major wound to an adult and a blow from a club will almost certainly lay them low. Hagrid, with his Brawl of 14, is especially dangerous on this score. Magical Creatures will often have high Brawl and Size scores along with natural weapons, making them more dangerous still. 

For most First Years, fighting is less useful - combine a low Size and a low Brawl skill and most fights are scuffles that do no harm to either side before they're broken up. It can take several rolls before anyone scores a hit, and when they do the results are minor.

Both combatants roll at the same time, as brawling is a contested action. If both miss their rolls they do no damage to each other, but the one with a lower degree of failure (i.e., they missed the roll by the least amount) scuffs her foe up some. If one makes her roll and one misses, the loser takes full Points. If both make their rolls, the one with the greatest degree of success does full Points, while the one with the lesser degree of success does 1 Point less than normal, which could mean the blow does 0 Points.

Here's a quick example - Sky Walker gets into a brawl with a puffed up first year Gryffindor named, say, Bill Weasley. Weasley has Fortitude 2, Agility 3, Size 2 and Brawl 2. No Qualities are in play, so both students are using Agility +Brawl for their Target Numbers: Sky has 4+1 = 5, Weasley has 3+2 = 5.

Both students roll at the same time - Sky rolls a 9, Weasley a 10. The two swat away at each other for a few punches before stepping back and circling, and Weasley comes away with his hair messed up and robes torn - Sky missed by 4 points to Weasley's 5, so Sky is the nominal winner of the contest.

They dive into the fray again - Sky rolls a 3, Weasley a 17. Sky hit! And better still, Weasley failed! Sky does his full Points of damage, which, at Size/3, is 1 point. Weasley marks that down, but he's not yet at half his size. Still, it's obvious that Sky tagged him good.

Here is the point where their friends or a teacher would break them up in most cases, but let's say they’re the only ones around and Weasley decides to continue to fight. The next round Sky roll a 15 and Weasley a 6. Both failed again, but now Sky is just as scuffed up.

Another roll brings another set of failures with 9 and 11, then a fifth with 7 & 12. The boys are punching, kicking & wrestling with little skill and less effect.

Finally, on the sixth set of rolls Sky gets a 1 and Weasley a 5 - both hit. Sky does his full damage, or another 1 point. Weasley hits as well, but with the lower degree of success his damage is reduced by 1 to 0 Points. Sky blocked enough of Weasley's kick to keep from getting hurt. 

Weasley is now at 2/3rds of his Size and in Points of damage and has taken a major wound! He rolls a 2 on his d6 Fortitude test and stays conscious, bleeding from a cut on his scalp as he run to find a teacher or Madam Pomfrey. Sky, while in theory the winner, decides that scarpering would be the best course of action before the teachers get there.

Brawling is risky and often inconclusive - smart students rely more on threats, spells and goading their enemies into taking a swing in front of the teachers.

Wizarding duels are similar, but spells either do no damage as a jinx or a lot more as, say, sectum sempra.

Experience

Whenever a character successfully uses a skill they make a check mark next to it. At every school break (so once at winter break and once at the end of the school year) players can roll against any checked skill. If they fail in the roll (i.e. they roll over the skill number) the skill goes up by 1 point. In addition, they are allowed to make a roll against each magical skill for which they are taking a class. Rolling above the number listed means the skill improves by a point.

Skill
Int 1
Int 2
Int 3
Int 4
Int 5
-3
17
17
17
8
3
-2
17
17
8
3
2
-1
17
8
3
2
1
0
8
3
2
1
1
1
3
2
1
1
1
2
3
2
2
2
2
3+
skill
skill
skill
skill
skill

Starting at higher than first year

If you decide to allow a PC to start higher than 1st year(which I recommend only if someone is playing an older sibling rather than starting the entire group at higher grades) roll for their experience in magical skills as above, resolving each term before moving on to the next. For muggle and common skills refer to the chart below for the number of skill points and restruction son their use. Remember that students loe 1 point of youth per year, reducing their ability to manipulate die rolls after the fact.

Year
Skill Pts.
Max pts. in one skill
Max skill w/ advantages
2
9
3
12
3
18
6
12
4
27
9
12
5
36
11
15
6
45
13
15
7
54
15
17