Author Topic: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...  (Read 4146 times)

Offline LCDarkwood

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Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« on: April 10, 2010, 08:16:47 AM »
This is a new thread designed to centralize my response to a bunch of stuff about crafting that's come up in other threads. You guys type way too fast for me to try and get to you all individually.

Regarding Always-On Effects

So, here's the deal: when you're talking about what you can and can't make an "always on" effect, some interpretive dirty work is required. You have to look at what the nature of the effect is, how it manifests in play, and then ask yourself what makes natural sense. (Note: That means there might be differing answers. I'm okay with that.)

So, let's look at blocks and Armor. The rules say that an evocation block is something you manifest and can pay for duration on, but once it's bypassed, it vanishes. That presents an immediate issue for a persistent enchanted item, because once you defeat the block, what happens? Does it go away permanently? Does it get turned back on again later? Where does the power come from to reconstitute the block?

So, probably, an "always on" block is not possible. The nature of the action contradicts the idea of persistence. Hence, Armor.

Now let's talk about attacks. How do you have an "always on" attack? That wouldn't be like a gun, it'd be like a gun that never stopped shooting. Evocation attacks require a process of gathering power and then releasing it. There's no "perpetual motion machine" for magical energy, just like there's no real way to make a gun with unlimited ammo. (Even though we shunt mundane firearm ammo off into a matter of narrative color, the analogy still works.)

So, if it's me, no persistent blocks, no "always on" attack items.

(I know, I know. What about the Warden Swords? Here's the deal: the Warden Sword doesn't expend energy to attack. Its damage comes from the fact that it's a sword. So it's a sword that has persistent spell effects on it, allowing it to ignore other enchantments. Even the counterspell ability, you have to be casting a counterspell to get it to work, because the sword expends no energy. Make sense?)

About Requirements

You don't have to have Crafting spec to craft. You just have to have slots. Crafting spec just lets you do it better.

About Armor and Stacking

So, the rules say that Armor ratings are based on what the armor is ideally supposed to be protecting the wearer from. There's an implication there that the ratings could be situationally variable under different circumstances. So if we're talking about a big honking Kevlar vest that's Armor:2, we're also saying that it's designed to protect against bullet impacts. A quick Google search reveals that Kevlar isn't so good against the stabbity stuff. I'd also argue it isn't going to do a damn thing against an evocation attack.

So, a lot of times, there isn't any stacking simply because the way you're defining the protection in the fiction suggests that situationally, stacking wouldn't occur. So there's that. How you want to deal with stuff like Michael's mail/Kevlar combo armor or whatever is up to you. I'd have it as side-by-side bonuses (Armor:2 vs. X and Y). Whatever. It's all good. (I'd also have that add to the difficulty of Resources/Contacts rolls to acquire any.)

Armor and Stacking Continued: The Numbers and Stuff

In Fate, a difference of one shift (or one step on the ladder) is bigger than you probably think. It can mean the difference between just taking stress and taking a consequence. It can be the difference between being able to take a consequence and being taken out. It can mean the difference between succeeding and needing to invoke an aspect to succeed. These thin lines manifest in actual play all the time.

So, you have to understand, stacking one armor benefit on top of another has a much bigger impact than it might seem from the numbers. Moving from Armor:2 to Armor:3 is a big step in weight class.

Let me do a quick example. Let's say you have Armor:2, and my Weapon and skill are such that I can inflict stress on you if I roll at least a 0 on the dice.

Without the influence of aspects, I have a 61.7% chance of doing that.

Now you upgrade to Armor:3. That means that now I need to roll at least a +1 on the dice to damage you.

Without the influence of aspects, I have a 38.3% chance of doing that.

That is a huge jump, which has a big cascade of effects on how things turn out. There's a 23% greater chance I'm going to have to spend a fate point to affect you now, every time I roll against you. And we're assuming your defense total stays the same here for simplicity - but in real play, it doesn't, because you roll every round and spend fate points of your own, further exacerbating the effects of this simple probability gap.

So, when I tell you that any stacking changes things significantly, I'm not exaggerating.

Armor and Stacking Continued: System Intent

Fate is not a physics simulator. It functions poorly in that regard. That's just a simple fact about it. It relies on abstraction. So you make trade-offs when you're talking about situations like this.

On the one hand, we don't have stacking rules by default. The default assumption is the same as for blocks - you get the benefit of the highest applicable rating to your situation. On the other hand, we also don't have rules for armor ablation over time, which is a very real issue that faces real-life body armor manufacturers.

If I'm going to go out of my way to say that you can layer different types of protection for cumulative effect, then I'm also going to want to know when one of the contributors to the stacking has been damaged enough that they're no longer actually contributing. You don't get to be specific about the one and handwave the other - that would privilege the defender way too much.

(I know, I know... but what about Weapon ratings stacking? There seems to be no restrictions on that! Doesn't that privilege the attacker? Absolutely, yes, it does. The Dresden Files is gritty. Fighting is scary and nasty. You're going to get hurt. It's not an action movie, even when you have powers. So there's that.)

The problem from a design perspective is, if you open up one of those cans of worms, you have to accept the fact that if you're going to be fair about it, you have to open the others associated with it. That road has led, through the process of this game's development, to a whole lot of stuff I consider not fun. I chose to spare you folks that pain. :)

The Post-Soapbox Solution

That said, if you really must, you could try this: vary it off of the "complementing a skill" rules on YS page 213-214. So, if you have two sets of protection at different totals that would apply together against the same source of damage (oh fine, like ensorcelled Kevlar), you can add +1 to the highest rating. But only +1, for the love of everything holy. So two Armor:2 values stacked give you Armor:3, not Armor:4.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 08:21:10 AM by LCDarkwood »

Offline Deadmanwalking

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2010, 08:47:39 AM »
The Post-Soapbox Solution

That said, if you really must, you could try this: vary it off of the "complementing a skill" rules on YS page 213-214. So, if you have two sets of protection at different totals that would apply together against the same source of damage (oh fine, like ensorcelled Kevlar), you can add +1 to the highest rating. But only +1, for the love of everything holy. So two Armor:2 values stacked give you Armor:3, not Armor:4.

See, this? This I can get behind completely. I'd like to note here, that you, sir, are awesome. Even when I don't agree with your basic opinion, your solutions in the "Well, I wouldn't do it, but if I did..." vein, are perfect. Way better than anything I could come up with. My hat's off to you.

Offline LCDarkwood

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2010, 09:26:02 AM »
See, this? This I can get behind completely. I'd like to note here, that you, sir, are awesome. Even when I don't agree with your basic opinion, your solutions in the "Well, I wouldn't do it, but if I did..." vein, are perfect. Way better than anything I could come up with. My hat's off to you.

Thanks! Like I said elsethread, it's your game now, not mine. The solutions will always go at the end of the soapboxing. I figure that the former pays for the latter, like putting money into a swearing jar. Or something. :)

Offline Hoar Grimnir

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2010, 12:08:20 AM »
I'm new to fate (having stopped gaming years ago) and appreciate the insight into the  drastic difference in only a one shift difference.
I tend to agree with you about armor not stacking (just doesn't sit right with me), but what are your thoughts on armor and, say, Inhuman Toughness.
Would you say they stack as it were? The armor takes some of the power off of the attack, then your thick skin'hide takes off some more.
Cheers

PS - the way you guys answer questions and are just so involved with your customers in general is truly awesome and greatly appreciated!
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Offline LCDarkwood

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2010, 04:44:23 AM »
I tend to agree with you about armor not stacking (just doesn't sit right with me), but what are your thoughts on armor and, say, Inhuman Toughness.

If it's me, no stacking, period - highest applicable value is what you use.

But if you're going to go with the idea I posted, I'd say that Toughness powers (in other words, "innate" armor) and another item (in other words, "manufactured" armor) are good candidates for that.

Offline void

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2010, 07:02:03 AM »
Awesome, this fills in some of the perspective gaps I was struggling with. I can run with this from here, happily, but I'd like to point out a couple things which made it hard for us to arrive at these conclusions based on the PDF text alone.

Re: Persistent Blocks. For this, it probably doesn't help that the leather duster example specifically mentions an always available block as an alternative implementation (YS303). This should probably be removed, or receive some kind of notation (tho that page is ALREADY absurdly busy), if it's contrary to the intent.

Re: Armor and context. The (short) section on armor in the book (YS202) doesn't... really give any indication it's supposed to be situational, nor does it encourage one to try to have a 'it has a Catch' mindset like the game does for Toughness powers. This probably also warrants an aside somewhere, or possibly a direct alteration of the body text. I think that would resolve a lot of the confusion about the intent there.

Again, your perspective here is perfectly sensible, and I'm more than happy to run with it, I just don't think that what you intended to convey was there in what we got.

Offline LCDarkwood

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 10:23:42 AM »
Re: Persistent Blocks. For this, it probably doesn't help that the leather duster example specifically mentions an always available block as an alternative implementation (YS303).

Yep, looks like an artifact from before we realized that evo blocks needed to go poof when bypassed. So noted. That's a great catch.

Quote
Re: Armor and context. The (short) section on armor in the book (YS202) doesn't... really give any indication it's supposed to be situational, nor does it encourage one to try to have a 'it has a Catch' mindset like the game does for Toughness powers. This probably also warrants an aside somewhere, or possibly a direct alteration of the body text. I think that would resolve a lot of the confusion about the intent there.

Yeah, that's a pretty busy section of the rules - there's always that issue where at some point, you have to stop going to war with the English language and let people read between the lines where they will. Or else you never finish, or write 1000+ page rulebooks. :) The passage says that weapon ratings are circumstantial, and that armor ratings work like weapons in that they're based on what they're ideally supposed to be protecting you from. I feel like that's enough room to justify the situational implication, but I agree it could be clearer.

I'll see what we can do for that text without causing reflow problems with the rest of the layout. Thanks!

Offline Deadmanwalking

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2010, 10:31:23 AM »
Personally, I got that armor was supposed to be situational (kevlar only works vs. guns, etc.). What I didn't get at all was that it couldn't stack (or could only act as a modifier). That's never said anywhere and is actually rather important info.

Offline LCDarkwood

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2010, 10:50:02 AM »
You're right, it doesn't say anywhere that armor doesn't stack. The game has no default rule about armor stacking. I have one.

I'm not entirely convinced the game needs a default rule about armor stacking.

But I'll throw it in the proofing list anyway, because hey, I could be wrong. :)

Offline Hoar Grimnir

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010, 01:06:52 PM »
Thanks for your input, I was sat on the fence for armor/toughness.
Cheers.
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Offline void

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2010, 01:08:16 PM »
The game rules did seem to be anti-stacking in general, though, so I think some of that message got through. I don't have time to go digging through right now, but I remember reading at least one sidebar saying "we take the biggest bonus". That never felt like an inconsistency to me.

(Of course, my main complaint about armor was looking for enhancement of an existing material, not stacking distinct sources, and that's been indirectly answered. :D )

Offline iago

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2010, 03:26:30 PM »
I'm gonna echo something here that I sent to our internal list, because maybe we can get some traction by discussing it out in the open:

Wouldn't an always-on block mean something that goes poof when it's overcome, but would renew on the following exchange?

So it'd be like, three guys mob you, the first one rolls Great over your always on Good block, poof, you have no block against the next two attacks... but then your exchange comes around and it's back up again, at Good?

For me, "always on" means something that reasserts its existence regularly, but not something that cheats and gives you the effect of multiple actions at once.  You can't set up two blocks in an exchange, therefore an "always on" block item would be something that could get temporarily breached and not reasserted until your next exchange rolls around.

In my mind, this would mimic a force shield that could get breached, but after a short recharge period, reassert itself.
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Offline iago

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2010, 04:02:29 PM »
Armor and Stacking Continued: The Numbers and Stuff

In Fate, a difference of one shift (or one step on the ladder) is bigger than you probably think. It can mean the difference between just taking stress and taking a consequence. It can be the difference between being able to take a consequence and being taken out. It can mean the difference between succeeding and needing to invoke an aspect to succeed. These thin lines manifest in actual play all the time.

So, you have to understand, stacking one armor benefit on top of another has a much bigger impact than it might seem from the numbers. Moving from Armor:2 to Armor:3 is a big step in weight class.

Let me do a quick example. Let's say you have Armor:2, and my Weapon and skill are such that I can inflict stress on you if I roll at least a 0 on the dice.

Without the influence of aspects, I have a 61.7% chance of doing that.

Now you upgrade to Armor:3. That means that now I need to roll at least a +1 on the dice to damage you.

Without the influence of aspects, I have a 38.3% chance of doing that.

That is a huge jump, which has a big cascade of effects on how things turn out. There's a 23% greater chance I'm going to have to spend a fate point to affect you now, every time I roll against you. And we're assuming your defense total stays the same here for simplicity - but in real play, it doesn't, because you roll every round and spend fate points of your own, further exacerbating the effects of this simple probability gap.

So, when I tell you that any stacking changes things significantly, I'm not exaggerating.

I also want to dig into this a little. I don't think the idea here is wrong, but I do think the example needs some more depth and detail.

Armor:2 vs. someone who rolls a 0 on the dice and still gets to inflict a point of stress implies that the person in question is using a Weapon:3.  If it was Weapon:2, the blow would "connect", but no stress would be inflicted.  So first off we're assuming a small advantage in armament for our hypothetical attacker.

Say, though, that it's Weapon:4 (gods help ya). Attacker rolls zero, that matches the defense roll, so the blow connects, 2 stress inflicted. If the defender's armor goes up to Armor:3, that blow still connects, 1 stress inflicted.  But if the defender's skill goes up by 1 (or he's just a little luckier on that defense roll) and the attack doesn't drop by 1 stress -- it misses. No connection, no stress.

So in this way defensive skill roll is valued more than armor ratings.  Armor is there to help you out when you screw up and don't get out of the way.  "If he got his hands on me, I was dead." That's a guiding principle to the way the various moving parts around stress infliction are balanced against each other. (It's why blocks are fragile but armor isn't, when it comes to spellcasting for example, too, since a block is a potentially higher defense roll.)

Similarly, it's why it's easier to get a Weapon:X bonus of some sort (which only applies when the blow connects) than an increase to your ability to hit the target.
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Offline LCDarkwood

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2010, 09:30:01 PM »
Armor:2 vs. someone who rolls a 0 on the dice and still gets to inflict a point of stress implies that the person in question is using a Weapon:3.

Or someone who's wearing Armor:2, has a Fair (+2) defense roll, and gets attacked by someone with Superb (+5) skill.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 09:33:56 PM by LCDarkwood »

Offline void

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Re: Answering some stuff about Crafting and Armor...
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2010, 03:13:36 AM »
This reminds me of when I was a ADSL technician. There's a conceptual snag here in that "always on" will for some people imply always on. That'd mean every time someone goes to attack, this is there.
We might consider "always available". It's there for you to call on, but it isn't automatically already on.