Threshold d20 Review: Introduction Part 2

Responding to John’s Response

I am responding to John’s response regarding my first post about his Threshold d20 site.

Regarding the use of Pathfinder SRD

John described why he started with Pathfinder SRD

  • Could easily start with a snapshot of

That’s a good reason right there, lots of material available in a useful form.

  • Had planned to keep various things that make Pathfinder Pathfinder (such as the Combat Maneuver mechanics).

This sounds sensible to me.  If it already has things you like, it’s reasonable to start there.

As an aside, I am synthesizing multiple versions (and potentially different systems entirely), so this doesn’t apply to me as much.

  • Only based in part on Pathfinder, things have changed to diverge from it and he expects it to get bigger.

The same thing happened to me with Echelon.  It started as “let’s make a better D&D 3.5”, then I started finding more abstractions, then realized that if I decoupled things a little more I could support more options, and… hey, I can do superheroes with this!

The mental reconfiguration I have experienced in the process of working on Echelon has been interesting.

Site Design is Simple/Clean

I had intended that entirely as a positive comment.  I like simple, clean design and approve.  To be honest, assuming it stays well-organized and accessible (accumulation of material may require some greater organization) I’d be satisfied with the site presentation as it is.

What’s New

John’s emphasis in the “What’s new” sections is different from mine, then, in that it summarizes the changes and has a bit of why.  My additional commentary is more or less entirely to explain the why rather than summarize.

In any case, I like to see it, so it’s all good.

Regarding Classes

The balancing act that is classes is part of what makes them easier in some cases.  John’s desire for finer-grained character development means they’re clunky, and I find that there are mechanical difficulties when multiclassing is allowed.  For design purposes they are perhaps most useful when characters are restricted to single classes because the interactions between them are greatly reduced.

Regarding Action Point Use

John’s thoughts on the use of Action Points makes sense, and is probably why so many systems have used similar mechanics in the past.  “Add up your action costs until you’ve spent your allowance” is pretty straightforward.

Or if you want to get tricky, you could even have something more cyclic, where you determine initial order of action (roll a die of whatever size suits the game), then choose your action… at which point you’re busy doing that action until you reach the current tick plus your action cost (so if you’re on tick 14 and take a 5-point action, you don’t get to act again until tick 19).  I certainly won’t say this is easier or simpler, but can put an interesting dynamic on combat.  I wouldn’t do it, myself, but it can be an option if the action costs vary enough.

One thing that concerns me a bit, though:

This will be made even easier once I roll out a preview of the Combat Assistant sheets. The concept now is that each player will have a half-sheet of paper in front of him with a diagram roughly similar to the old Van Halen logo, meaning, a flying V. The left side of the V is titled “Act”, the middle of the V is titled “Option”, and the right side of the V is titled “Move.”

John then continues to explain how this might be used, in “a very long-winded way of trying to explain the method behind what some may feel is the madness of point-based subsystems”.

I would be cautious here.  I’m not too concerned about how much text is required to explain it; I’d rather see longer, clear text that is explains things explicitly than a more concise treatment that requires the reader to deduce the interactions and consequences of what is written.

What concerns me more is that such a mechanism is expected to be used.  John mentions several different areas of the sheet, but I can easily imagine a fairly large number of action types.  I suspect that there are some abstractions in action types that I haven’t seen yet… in which case I wonder if this plan really gains much.

I don’t think I would take this approach myself (I plan to use something closer to FantasyCraft’s action structure), but I am interested in seeing how this works.

Regarding Movement Points and Fatigue

John says these sections are evidently in flux right now; I’ll reconsider when he’s got something more concrete.



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