View Full Version : Upcoming changes to the dice roll modifier descriptions

March 25th, 2011, 08:48
Hey all,

I was taking a look a the modifier stack, and how it displays when rolled, to see if I can make any improvements, and I've come up with three changes to the descriptions for dice rolls with modifiers

Initially please allow me to highlight are there are three types of "modifier" in Savage Worlds. One is the modifier stack which tends to be for temporary adjustments (e.g. +2 modifier for the Marksman edge). The second type is skill bonuses, which can be accessed via the radial menu on a skill dice and tend to be for more permanent stuff (e.g. +2 bonus of Notice for the Alertness edge). The third type is base skill modifiers, which are the modifiers on skills greater than d12 (e.g. the +2 of a d12+2 skill).

So lets look at some examples. In the examples below, for consistency, we shall assume the dice have rolled a "5".

First change - always show the modifier

Just typing a number into the modifier box, and rolling a skill. Lets type "3" onto the modifier star and roll our shooting skill :

Shooting : 5 + 3
Whilst this looks ok, it's not entirely clear where the +3 on the right hand side comes from, especially if we compare it to a named modifier on the stack (e.g. type "/mod 2 Marksman"), where the roll appears as follows :

Shooting (+2 marksman) : 5 + 2
Ah ha - here we can see the origin of the +2 ! What's more, if we use both the named modifier and then our "3" onto the modifier star, we see the following :

Shooting (+2 marksman, +3) : 5 + 5
Now we can see where all our right hand side modifier came from (even if +3 of it is unnamed). So my first proposed change / bugfix is : When the modifier stack just has a number on it, display it in brackets. So for the first example, we will instead see :

Shooting (+3) : 5 + 3
Ok, that was small and trivial, but hopefully makes the modifiers clearer.

Second change - always show the base skill modifier

Another area I think could do with improvement is for skills greater than d12. For instance, if we roll a shooting skill of d12+2, we see the following:

Shooting : 5 + 2
Once again, we are in a situation where we can't be sure where that +2 came from. Stacked up with the previous issue, where unnamed modifiers are also not always displayed, these two issues have caused me plenty of confusion mid-game.
The proposed solution here is to always include the base skill modifier onto the start of the roll description. So instead, when we roll a d12+2 skill we will see:

Shooting +2 : 5 + 2
And with a named modifier (+2 Marksman) and an unnamed numeric modifier (+3) as before, this becomes:

Shooting +2 (+2 marksman, +3) : 5 + 7
Here we can can the modifiers to read "+2, +2, +3 = +7", so it's much clearer where the right hand modifier has come from.

Third change - never show the summation of the bonuses

Now the third item I found is possibly an attempt to address the previous point, but I don't think it works clearly. Here, we introduce some bonuses in, so lets look at a Notice roll, with a basic skill under d12 and with a +2 bonus added onto it for the Awareness skill

Notice {+2 Awareness}: 5 + 2
This looks great, now lets add on a modifier, perhaps it's dark:

Notice {+2 Awareness} +2 (dark -1): 5 + 1
Now I'm reading "+2 +2 -1 = +1" (!) The problem here is a summation of all the bonuses has been included before the modifiers. This summation DOES include base skill modifier, so a notice skill of d12+2 would currently display as :

Notice {+2 Awareness} +4 (dark -1): 5 + 1
The +4 here is the base +2 bonus from the d12+2 skill, added to the +2 for Awareness. But it still reads wrong. The solution here, I think, is to simply remove the summation of the bonuses. Now we are showing the base skill modifier (see above) it only confuses us.

Why ?

Why have I gone through all this - is it really a problem ?

Well, putting all the problems together, my group has just started getting into "big modifier" territory. For instance, in Deadlands my Heroic (Grit 4) Blessed with Guts d12+1 who is paranoid by nature (-2 all guts rolls) had to make a fear (-4) check. Gosh. Also my PCs don't find the named modifier's easy to create or use - that's another improvement I feel - but that means in this case, he had the following :

Guts skill : D12+1
Guts skills bonuses : +4 (grit), -2 (paranoid)
Modifier stack : -4 typed into the modifier star (unnamed modifier)

With all of that, and the current ruleset, I was seeing the following :

Guts {+4 grit, -2 paranoid} : 5 - 1
Now here, I have no idea where that -1 comes from ?! An even when added in the modifier "properly" as a named modifier, we see :

Guts {+4 grit, -2 paranoid} +3 (Fear level -4) : 5 - 1
Which is probably more confusing - there are more numbers, but nothing seems to add up. However with all the changes from above applied it should display as:

Guts +1 {+4 grit, -2 paranoid} (-4) : 5 - 1
Guts +1 {+4 grit, -2 paranoid} (Fear Level -4) : 5 - 1
Reading across, "+1 +4 -2 -4 = -1" - my eyes and brain are happier, and I can see where all the modifiers have come from, so I can spot much easier if any modifiers were missed off.

Hopefully these changes will all make sense and produce better roll descriptions for everyone. If you've read this far, congratulations (!) and if you have any comments or feedback, I'd highly welcome them. Otherwise expect this as part of the next Savage Worlds release, coming very soon.


March 25th, 2011, 08:51
Tried to improve the formatting above - sorry - it still looks awful. But the point I'm trying to show is quite good though, I think :)

March 25th, 2011, 09:38
Works for me! :)

March 25th, 2011, 12:24
Looks great.

March 25th, 2011, 18:23
Even when I provide a list of (nearly) all modifiers for my players to drag and drop into the star, I still have those that enter them manually. How will the display handle multiple unlabeled entries in the stack? For example, someone enters +2, then -4 manually.

March 26th, 2011, 01:31
Even when I provide a list of (nearly) all modifiers for my players to drag and drop into the star, I still have those that enter them manually. How will the display handle multiple unlabeled entries in the stack? For example, someone enters +2, then -4 manually.

This will remain unchanged - it will show :

SkillName (+2, -4) : # - 2

The reason for this is you cannot actually have two manually entered numbers on the modifier star. You can have a drag-and-dropped number with no description, and a number entered manually. But if you type a number onto the star, then click out and back onto the modifier star, you are modifying that number and not entering a new one.

So in the code, the modifier stack holds "a manually entered number", which might be 0 in which case it's ignored, and "zero-to-many modifiers" with numbers and descriptions. But the descriptions can be blank, which is what you get when you drag a number from the chat onto the modifier star.