16 August 2018

Healing: The Disabled List and Character Rosters

Major League Baseball has something called a disabled list. I'm sure other sports have something similar, but I only follow baseball. Athletes get hurt. Sometimes badly, and sometimes often. With limited rosters, teams need flexibility to bring in a replacement, usually from the team's AAA affiliate, sometimes elsewhere in the farm system, or more seldom by trade/free agency.

Adventurers also get hurt. Sometimes badly, and generally often. In most games, however, players don't have a roster of characters that they use. What if they did? And what if they could put a character on the disabled list in order to call up a fresh replacement "from the farm"? And what if, like a major league team, the roster size was limited, creating (hopefully) interesting decisions about when to DL a player, when to soldier on, and what to do about the roster crunch created by characters coming off the DL?

I feel a mechanic like this is especially important when using a descriptive damage system as I do. Characters tend to get pretty roughed up, and there needs to be a better way of dealing with it than bogging down the whole party going back to home base.

The Character Roster



Players have an "primary roster" (edit: also called the "active roster") of characters they can choose to adventure with (edit: adventure with as player characters). They also have a "secondary roster" which consists of their active roster and any henchmen they have.

The active roster is 5 characters, and the secondary roster is 10 characters.



Players can't just freely put people on and off the disabled list with no consequences. There's pressure to choose their favourite characters, creating interesting decisions.



At the beginning of an adventure (i.e. when leaving "home base"), the player may choose to play any character from their active roster. They may take along any henchmen from their secondary roster.

The Disabled List


There are 2 disabled lists, the 14-day DL and the 60-day DL. Characters on the 14-day DL are removed from the primary roster. Characters on the 60-day DL are removed from the secondary roster.

Once a character has been put on the DL, they are an NPC and simply rest and heal for the duration. They are safe and will not die. They remain an NPC until their time on the DL is up (either 14-day or 60-day).

When you put a character on the DL, either roll up a fresh 1st-level character, take over a henchman or 1st-level hireling, or bring in a standby character from your roster.



The character is healed of all flesh wounds after 14 days, and all (non-permanent) wounds after 60 days. The character is removed from the active roster, making room for a fresh character.

The player doesn't have to play a gimped, wounded character in the meantime.

It encourages procurement and maintenance of a home base.

It gives the party more stamina to work more than a 15-minute adventuring day.



Declare you are moving your active character onto the disabled list, and specify which one.


  • character is not in immediate danger (in combat, in quicksand, surrounded by fire)
  • character could plausibly make it back to base safely (if they can't walk, someone has to go with them)
    • they're not stuck in a pit; they're not surrounded by enemies; they're not being actively hunted for)
  • must have a "home base" available owned/leased by the party (somewhere they can get food and warm bed)

Roster Moves



The character is removed from the active roster and becomes an NPC henchman, with all that entails (they are an NPC with a morale score, they are nominally controlled by the DM but in practice are largely controlled by the PC, etc.).

Characters get 2 "options". Optioning a character uses up an option.


A henchman becomes a PC, with all that entails.


The character is removed from both the active and secondary roster. They are forever more an NPC, and leave the party to make their own way in the world. The DM is free to have the character resurface as a rival, friend, or acquaintance; or perhaps they will never be heard from again; or maybe they'll turn up dead - in any case, their fate is out of the hands of the player.

12 August 2018

Archery: Variable Range Increments

Following up from yesterday's post. A reminder on methodology.

I've taken men's longbow classifications from the Braintree Bowmen in the UK, ranging from 3rd class to Grandmaster Bowman; analyzed them with a tool I made to convert archery scores into to-hit rates on a d20; and applied those results to a variety of ranges for a 65cm target, which I reckon to be comparable to shooting at a human torso.

Each line on the chart represents a score in a "720 round" of archery, converted to be hit/miss against a 65cm target at the stated range.

Analyzing this chart, a thought occurred to me: instead of fixed range increments and a rising attack bonus, what if we had fixed attack bonuses/penalties and range increments that vary with level?

What we get is a system that seems (to me) much more verisimilitudinous. At short range, there's little to no difference in skill. At long range, shots that are essentially impossible for an unskilled bowmen will be easy for a skilled shooter.

What we give up is some granularity in progression, as we probably don't want the range increments to change in such small steps between levels that it makes no real difference.

65cm target 0 -5 -10 -15 -20
3rd Class 5m 10m 15m 20m 25m
2nd Class 10m 20m 30m 40m 50m
Bowman 15m 30m 45m 50m 65m
Master Bowman 20m 40m 60m 80m 100m
Grandmaster Bowman 25m 50m 75m 100m 125m
World-Class Bowman 30m 60m 90m 120m 150m

Now, how about changing target size? The following charts show the effects of changing the target size by doubles and halves.

What we can notice is that for each doubling of  target size, it's as if the lowest-skilled (31 score) bowman is shooting as if they were a middle-skill bowman (157 score). For the "Bowman", it's like shooting as a "Grandmaster Bowman", and so on.

So, changing target sizes can be fairly easily modeled by shifting the effective skill of the archer - double the target size, increase the effective skill two increments. So a "3rd-class" bowman shooting at a target 1.3m across would use the "Bowman" row on the chart.

This is for considered shots in good conditions. Later we will examine more adverse conditions.

8 August 2018

Archery: Towards a Foundation

I was thinking of archery, and was immediately reminded that Delta had done some good work on the subject some time ago: http://deltasdnd.blogspot.ca/2014/04/a-model-of-archery-for-d.html

There's some good stuff there, and I think the methodology is promising, but I think some upstream errors make it less useful/accurate than it could be. With that in mind, I set out to build on those ideas.

Delta used an article in an old Dragon magazine by Robert Barrow (Dragon #58, pp 47-49) as his starting point, which in turn cites Archery by Longman and Walrond, published New York, 1894. I was not able to find that edition online, but did find Archery by Longman and Walrond, London, 1894, which surely must be different edition (likely the original edition) of the same book. Unfortunately, the page numbering is different, and Barrow's citation of pp 240 leads us to a discussion of the history of  the Royal Company of Archers in Scotland, which, while no doubt interesting in its own way, bears not at all on the matter to hand. There is a helpful chart on pp 264, which I would have surmised is the one used by Barrow, except that when I tabulated the data, it doesn't quite match the figures he quoted.

Barrow quotes 92%, 81%, 54% hits at 60, 80, and 100 yards, respectively. I calculated 96%, 86%, and 65%. Perhaps there was an error in his calculations; it was, after all, 1982, and he likely did not have a spreadsheet to do the calculations quickly and easily. Or perhaps he was simply using different data from a different part of the book and the editions are even more different than seems likely. In any case.

What I've done is write a little commandline tool that allows us to enter in a wide range of archery scores and get back out a hit rate for a given range and target size. The Archery data was useful, as it had a hit rate and a score, whereas most modern sources only list the score, and this was very useful to make sure I was getting sane results. I can set the output and input ranges and target sizes to be the same, and the compare the hit rate my model predicted based on the score with the actual hit rate in the data set. I found results were typically within 10% or so, which I'd say is more than good enough for our purposes.

One thing I can tell you - modern archers are much, much better than the archers in the Archery dataset.

So, with this tool in hand, I set out to find some data on how good archers are. I didn't just want a soup of scores, I wanted some guidance/interpretation of what those scores meant. Eventually, I found this site, which helpfully lists scores for 6 "classes" of archers, from 3rd class to Grandmaster. It didn't go all the way to Grandmaster for the 720 round scores I had calibrated my tool for, but this site helpfully allows you to convert a score from one type of round to another (using a similar approach to the CLI tool I made).

So, this got me scores with meanings attached, and my tool allows the conversion of these scores into hit rates for any target size and any range. Results of my investigations in a subsequent post.