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I read a friend's copy of Star Wars Saga Edition this weekend, hoping to glean new ways to improve True20. Interestingly, beyond some of the skill system stuff and a few feats, there wasn't nearly as much as I thought in terms of real improvements that could be worked into True20.
However, there was one area that I think could simplify True20 quite a bit, and that's the condition track.
Basically, SWSE doe away with the legion of status effects (shaken, nauseated, sickened, fatigued) etc, and has one unified condition track -- the farther you go down the track (whether it's from disease, fear, poison, fatigued, whatever), the more significant your penalties become, until you reach unconsciousness.
The track goes: -1, -2, -5, -10, unconscious. The penalty applies to attacks, defense, skill and ability checks, and in True20, non-Toughness saves. Additionally, when you're at -10, you're limited to half your move speed.
Certain conditions, like poison and fatigue, are permanent until removed through rest or curing, while conditions like fear are removed as soon as you've dealt with the source of the fear.
Now, this is actually very similiar to the True20 fatigue track: Winded (-1 Str/Dex), Fatigued (-2 Str/Dex), Exhausted(-3/Str/Dex), and unconscious, though the True20 fatigue track also includes more movement restrictions.
I think that implementing this track would be a boon to True20, since it would severely cut down on the number of conditions in the back of the book (conditions that, let's be honest, most players don't remember, and most DMs don't remember when they go away).
Now, Saga Edition includes a mechanism to basically spend a full-round action to move one step up the condition track, but in that system, characters who take damage over a certain threshold automatically get kicked down the condition track one step, so that's probably not necessary.
The way I see it, players would move down the condition track if they gained fatigue (probably through blowing a fatigue save, natural conditions, or Extra Effort), or from receiving their first wound(which would normally cause a Shaken condition). Effects like fear, disease, nauseation, and poison would also send people down the condition track(and I think a case could be made for the Expert feat Crippling Strike).
This opens up an interesting situation for adepts, though. Their always-rising Will saves would receive significant penalties as they move further down the track (whether due to damage or just failing fatigue saves). Since the penalties increase rather drastically on the condition track, I'm actually wondering whether we could do away with the rising save altogther(though Lucky would have to receive the axe, based on my math - though that's pretty true anyways).
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Hmm... I like the idea of simplifying the penalties, but I see some things I don't like right up front. Different conditions simply have different effects. The global penalties might work, but the movement and lack of other effects don't make sense to me. For example, someone who's afraid is either going to run in terror or cower in fear. I just don't see them running away more slowly. Also, without that condition, they are not forced to run at all. Also, some poisons and diseases wouldn't impact all abilities. For example, some toxins may only affect the character's body, but not his mind (or vice versa). I could see applying the penalty globally, but only to specific abilities. Then there's the issue of the penalties themselves. Do you make fatigue 5 levels instead of 3? How does that impact spell casting? It would seem to make it so you could use more powers. Do you always die at stage condition 5?
Perhaps coming up with a unifed method of creating tracks would be more helpful. For example, all tracks have 5 levels, each level has X boxes. The penalties for actions are Y at each level. Sum up all level 1 and 2 marks and subtract that from the save. Then have effects for some levels (2 - 5 normally). That would simply all of it and make it easier to remember without limiting the effects too much. For example...
Universal Penalties (to related actions):
Level 1: penalty to resistance
Level 2: penalty to resistance, -2
Level 3: -5
Level 4: -10
Level 5: incapacitated
Related Actions: all ability and skill checks; all saves (except toughness); all non-lethal resistance checks
3: one standard action per round only or one standard and one move, but drop to level 4
4: dying and unconscious
Related Actions: all ability and skill checks; all saves (except toughness)
2: lose next full action
3: lose next full action, one standard action per round only or one standard and one move, but drop to level 4
Related Actions: STR and DEX ability and related skill checks
2: cannot move all out or charge
3: cannot move all out or charge, 1/2 move
4: unconscious from exhaustion
5: dead from exhaustion
Related Actions: all ability and skill checks; will saves
3: flee or cower
4: unconscious from fright
5: dead from fright
Related Actions: all INT, WIS, CHA and related skill checks; will saves
3: confused (50% chance of doing nothing)
4: comatose from mental anguish (unconscious, gibbering, etc.)
5: dead from mental decay
To make it more like the current system, add "lose next action" to level 2 and 3 of lethal and non-lethal damage, and using a power within 10 minutes of another does 1 level 1 fatigue damage.
You'd probably also want to add a recovery rate to each level for each track.
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DSRilk wrote:Hmm... I like the idea of simplifying the penalties, but I see some things I don't like right up front. Different conditions simply have different effects. The global penalties might work, but the movement and lack of other effects don't make sense to me. For example, someone who's afraid is either going to run in terror or cower in fear. I just don't see them running away more slowly. Also, without that condition, they are not forced to run at all. Also, some poisons and diseases wouldn't impact all abilities. For example, some toxins may only affect the character's body, but not his mind (or vice versa). I could see applying the penalty globally, but only to specific abilities. Then there's the issue of the penalties themselves. Do you make fatigue 5 levels instead of 3? How does that impact spell casting? It would seem to make it so you could use more powers. Do you always die at stage condition 5?
Let me address some of the issues here.
Yes, different penalties do often have different effects, stunning and dazing (which should really be one condition for simplicity's sake, IMO), but most of the other penalties just have minuses or forced effects (running away).
Changing fear to the condition track works a little better, in my opinion, since now players aren't forced to flee from the scary beastie (generally, actions that force players to behave a certain way aren't that fun), but if they don't flee, they have significant penalties, since they're having to fight their own fears while attacking. Besides, if the creature has an aura of fear, then there's a definite incentive to run -- run away and lose your fear penalties, or stick around and fight despite the difficulties.
You are correct that not all poisons/toxins/diseases would affect the condition track, just your standard run-of-the-mill stuff, as opposed to paralysing venom or a hallucinogen. Not everything will use the condition track, but having basic poisons and whatnot do so helps simplify things.
With regards to spellcasting, keep in mind that these penalties also apply to Will saves, meaning that the caster will not have an easier time because now there are five conditions instead of three. In addition, if power checks are affected by the condition track, it might get even harder for adepts to use certain powers, something that doesn't come into play now.
Finally, remember that this is not the damage track -- this is for non-damage conditions, and as such, you fall unconscious at the end of the condition track, not dead.
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Would condition track work with True20? I'm also wondering how different effects are handled... how well you remember what's long-term poison effect, what fatigue, what from normal damage etc. I believe that condition track works best with hitpoints, and I don't want to go back to them. Idea sounds great but I think it goes to different direction than True20.
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SWSE's Condition track works in two ways.
One way is to give hitpoint loss meaning - when you take damage over your threshold, you drop down on the track. True20 doesn't need this (beyond one drop on the track for your first Wound, like Shaken) as it doesn't have hitpoints and doesn't need them.
The other way the condition track works is to subsume the huge array of conditions (shaken, sickened, frightened, panicked, nauseated, fatigued, exhausted, winded, etc etc.) into a simple track that players can remember. The only conditions not subsumed on the track are "lose a turn"-type conditions, like Dazed, Stunned, and Paralyzed, and very specialized conditions, like Blinded and Deafened. It's also a good way of representing basic poison and drain attacks without actually having to deal with direct stat damage. It'd be easy to see a wight with a touch attack that drops you 1 level on the condition track, for instance.
In terms of how to keep track of what conditions a player is currently suffering from, I'd suggest a little set of names like "Poison" "Fatigue" "Fear", "Wounded", "Entangled" each with a set of 3-4 boxes(or one, for Wounded). When a player gets dropped on the condition track, they tick themselves down on the track, and check off a box depending on the type of condition. Later on, when they want to recover a condition, they know (based on the checked boxes) which conditions can be recovered and which will require rest or special care to remove.
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