Stamina in ICRPG!

homebrew
hack

#1

I have been thinking about having more varied options in combat. Inspired by some RPG design discussions and the RFE: Death on Albireon game. Here is what I came up with.

Breathing Heroes

  • Heroes get a Breath equal to 10 Stamina Points, or SP
  • Recovery Attempts also replenish Breath

This is similar to ICRPG’s Heart of 10HP. I just liked Breath as a better word for Stamina, and there is no confusing the two.

  • Heroes may spend Breath, 1:1 to increase their Attempts

Say the Target is 12 and a hero rolls a 10. They can spend 2SP to make that a hit instead of a miss.

  • Armor now starts at 0, and works as Damage Reduction
  • Monsters roll against the Target like the players do

Say a hero has 2 Armor and they get hit for 5 damage, they only take 3 damage because the armor reduces the 5 to a 3. Alternatively, say they only get hit for 2 damage, then they don’t take damage at all.

This is done because I like Armor working this way, but also to make integrating with the Dodge action easier. Also, if the one-room Target idea is great because it allows the players to have one number to look to and speeds up play, aren’t all of those things true for the GM as well? They’re a player too!

  • When a hero is being attacked, they may Dodge the attack and take no damage by spending Breath to raise the Target, 1:1. They must spend at least as much as the value of their Armor in order to Dodge.

The Target is 12 and a monster rolls a 16 to hit. Our hero may spend 5 Breath to raise the Target to 17 and Dodge the attack!

The Target is 12, the Hero has 3 Armor, and the monster rolls a 13. Our hero has to spend 3 Breath even though only 2 is needed, due to their armor.

I like this so much! Heroes with heavy armor will have a harder time dodging, while heroes with light or no armor will find dodging easier.

  • When a hero is being attacked, they may Block the attack. All damage done is dealt to Breath before it is dealt to Heart.

Say the hero has 3 Breath, and takes 5 damage. They lose all their Breath, and 2 of their Heart, or HP.

This is the armored-up way to dodge. :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Shields no longer add to Armor, instead they act as extra Breath when blocking.

This lets you have different strengths of shields. More opportunities for cool Loot!

Consequences

I like what I have so far, but I am seriously empowering the heroes here. Even if they just Block, they basically get an extra free Heart. So I needed to find a way to balance things out. (shameless plug incoming…) Enter one of my previous posts: Alternative Death Rules for ICRPG

I am going to use the system I detailed in one of my later responses.

  • When a hero takes damage, the amount the hero’s final Heart is reduced by, is the amount of Strain on the Hero. All Attempts are reduced by Strain

Say a hero takes 3 damage, and can’t block or dodge it. Their Heart is now at 7. They take -3 to all Attempt rolls.

In this way, a hero’s Breath becomes the extra they have to spend. While their Heart is precious and dangerous to injure. The penalties to Attempts felt a little stiff, which is another reason I have Armor working as Damage Reduction.

The way I see this playing out is the Heroes fight, block and dodge super well until they run out of Breath. Then when they start taking injuries, the battle gets more and more dangerous.

A creative GM might let you Dodge or Block for allies Close to you. :smile:

Also,

  • Mages built with ICRPG Magic may spend Breath instead of HP when casting spells.
  • FEATS from Khan’s book may spend Breath instead of HP as well.
  • This replaces Stun points in VC as well maybe?

Summary

Basic Rules

  • Heroes get a Breath equal to 10 Stamina Points, or SP
  • Recovery Attempts also replenish Breath
  • Armor now starts at 0, and works as Damage Reduction
  • Monsters roll against the Target like the players do
  • Shields no longer add to Armor, instead they act as extra Breath when blocking.
  • When a hero takes damage, the amount the hero’s final Heart is reduced by, is the amount of Strain on the Hero. All Attempts are reduced by Strain
  • Mages built with ICRPG Magic may spend Breath instead of HP when casting spells.
  • FEATS from Khan’s book may spend Breath instead of HP as well.
  • This replaces Stun points in VC as well maybe?

On the Hero’s turn…

Strengthened Attempts

  • Heroes may spend Breath, 1:1 to increase their Attempts

When the Hero is being attacked…

Dodge or Block

  • When a hero is being attacked, they may Dodge the attack and take no damage by spending Breath to raise the Target, 1:1. They must spend at least as much as the value of their Armor in order to Dodge.

  • When a hero is being attacked, they may Block the attack. All damage done is dealt to Breath before it is dealt to Heart.

What do you guys think?


#2

Drake, I think this is a cool idea if you want to explore some crunchier combat, and adds a level of resource management that could engage players when it’s not their turn. When that level of complexity is introduced on paper my humble suggestion would be to make it as fun and easy to track as possible. Some players might just like having a d10 that they can tick down while others (like myself) might make a card for it and put it in a protector for a dry erase application. Fun is subjective because people play the hobby different ways for their own reasons, so offering different ways to manage the resource in a tactile way might help. (If you want more info on that you can search “Usability” on google and be overwhelmed with all the data. :slight_smile: )

A minor point, I would offer, would be branding. The verbiage of “Breath” might be confusing to some because of abstraction versus literalism: does it mean how long they can hold their breath/survive without breath, or does it mean something else? If I could offer “Brave” or something like that to show it’s a combat application? “I spend 3 Brave to Block the attack!” or “I boost my Attack with 3 Brave!” It’s just a mouth-feel thing, so it’s not mechanically important, haha.

While some may find the added level of complexity superfluous, I like system design and iterations of it, so I’d be interested to hear how this works. Heck, I might try this out soon!


#3

Yeah, it’s definitely more complex. So if you don’t care for the complexity, don’t use it. I was just thinking about it recently and decided to make a post for those who want a bit of complexity.

As for the verbiage. I was looking for a word for “stamina container”. The same way Heart works for HP. Breath was the best I could come up with.

I like “Brave”, but I don’t think it quite fits the Stamina theme. I would be interested to see what other people come up with though :wink:.


#4

I really like that level of complexity, so I’m glad you posted it.
“Brave” does feel like it limits the application to combat, so if this resource is going to reach beyond combat I think the Stamina theme is better. I’m imagining dynamic encounters where there’s complex movement options like swimming, climbing, or other things that you can add Stamina to in ways that adding “Brave” wouldn’t seem right.
I dig these kinds of crunchy system iterations. I could nerd out on them forever. :smiley:


#5

I personally would go for a d4 when it seems appropriate. This way it is not a constant, but when it is important, there is a variability that makes players conservative until they want to be heroic.


#6

I use stamina in my home game, and while my players seem happy it has never worked really smoothly.

A main problem for me has been the block/dodge separation. I think your dodge rule might be smarter than mine (i just allow an opposed roll). But I think you have the same problem: if b or d is objectively better in any given situation, the best possible design outcome of the separation is “nothing added” and the worst is “complexity added”.

Now, granted there can be a lot of reasons for a rule that aren’t related to its mechanic. Like: stamina is cool, or I want to promote shields. Mine is: I want things to be heavy. These are all valid! But if complexity is a concern (it might not be for your group), you could consider if there are things you could tweak for a similar experience with less moving parts.

One suggestion for you to consider would be to make the following changes:

  • Only characters with a shield can block. (Makes trade-off between shields/not more important)
  • Shields give no temporary stamina. (Blocking is powerful enough as is)
  • Magic or similar shields might give a bonus when used to block, but no general rule.

As for consequences: I don’t think strain is necessary. My guess is that the most pronounced consequence will be larger numbers for all rolls. So instead of a mean of about 10+stat, your baseline will shift to something like 13+stat. In this context, having 0 stamina will in effect be a -3 penalty. Thus, you could consider if it is really necessary to introduce another statistic and a penalty (which players tend to dislike and be prone to forget).

Anyway, I’d be super interested in the further development of this. Hope to hear some insights from play!


#7

This is near identical to what I wrote in my doc for my ashen company game in regards to “house rules” for both stamina and armor.

I think I ran it two weeks ago now if you want to search down the doc.

It worked but a better method is — you can use your hearts to increase your rolls; everyone starts with 2 hearts.

That’s my take away from an actual table test of the idea. The players really liked the control it gave them. Mind you this is for VTT play since the goal is to keep the session to 2.5 hours and makes for faster game play.

Not sure I would do it at a table.


#8

Awhile back, in a home brew system fiddling with Castle Falkenstein before I found ICRPG, I used playing cards to represent Luck that my players could use to augment their rolls.

At the beginning of the session, I’d pass out a hand of seven cards to represent their Luck. Each of the suits correlated with a basic genre of action (Physical, Mental, Social, or Emotional). If they played a card in the appropriate suit, it would add the face value of the card. If the suit didn’t match it would only +1 the roll. They could play as many cards as they want.

Once they ran out of cards, they were “out of luck” until the end of the session or a long rest depending on the situation.

I’m, in no way, presenting this as a solution. Merely presenting fodder for any ideas that might incur :laughing:.


#9

I like this. My mind has been on a similar path. I like the idea of players rolling dodge and block though. Suddenly engaging that player to roll dodge after they just finished their turn keeps their head in the game.


#10

I don’t know if this helps you at all but here’s what I use to keep it simple. I started using a checkbox called Exhausted but I could see it being called Strained as well. Once a round, players can get that extra “push” by using this ability to add 3 to an Attempt OR take a Reaction on enemy turn. This works when swimming, climbing, attacking, blocking, or dodging, etc.

This means they have to consider if they’ll want a Reaction vs. making the current Attempt since they can only check the Exhausted box once each round. The downside is that on their next turn when they uncheck the box, they must subtract 3 from any check or attempt since they are recovering from Exhaustion.

I use 3 since that’s a general ICRPG value and easy to remember and I do allow stacking with easy/hard rolls since so many items already make your rolls easy/hard. (It didn’t seem fair to exhaust yourself because you know your next roll will be hard anyways). Anyways, I hope someone finds this method helpful LOL


#11

The Block / Dodge seperation I think would avoid the pitfall you are pointing out, because Blocking is concerned with Damage. While Dodging is concerned with the Attempt.

If you are playing a warrior with Armor 5, then you will probably be blocking most things, just because it is easier than dodging. But if a Dragon is about to breathe fire on you, and you know it is going to be double Ultimate damage or something, you might dodge instead because then you avoid the damage in it’s entirety.

Conversely, if you are playing a Monk with Armor 0, then you are probably dodging most things, because then you don’t have to risk a high damage roll from an opponent wiping out your Stamina if you Block. But if an opponent rolls high on their Attempt, you have to weigh the known cost of the Dodge if you can even pay it, versus taking the unknown (and hopefully low) damage.

Block versus Dodge is always a choice about if you can take the opponent’s hit. Dodging is about Attempts, Blocking is about Damage.

This is also why, @Delusions, I think you don’t need to have players roll. They are still confronted with a choice to make and are still engaged with the game on the GM’s turn, without slowing the game down with another roll.


#12

I totally agree that there’s a separation rules wise. My point is just that since both are ways of reaching the same result (=no damage), you have a “solved problem”.

Let x be the average damage output, minus armour.
Let y be the difference between the enemy attack roll and target OR armour, whichever is highest.

If our goal is to negate 100% of damage, we know that the most efficient strategy to do so - on average - would be to choose dodge if y <= x, and x otherwise. This is what you describe above, that one character always chooses block, except in these cases.

Is it bad because it’s solved? No, not necessarily. Blocking or dodging can still make characters feel different, which is good. But it does introduce complexity that, in most cases, don’t result in interesting tactical choices.

Now, I’m not trying to neg your idea. I think it’s rather elegant. I’m just bringing up an issue that my attempts at similar rules have highlighted at my table, so you know. And in hope that you would find a workaround that I can steal…


#13

Really good points! The best I can offer right now is that they actually have 2 goals. Reduce damage, and defeat the enemy.

By spending SP to Dodge or Block, they reduce their ability to defeat the enemy.

By spending SP to boost Attempts, they reduce their ability to ignore damage.

I’m not completely satisfied with this. I’ll have to do some more thinking.

Woops, just realized I misinterpreted your post.

Yes, I need to find another reason you would Dodge instead of Block, or vise versa, even when it’s not optimal. Good point, hmm.