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Letís Use the Combat Tracker Effect Visibility Options Extension

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Displaying The Attackerís Effects

This is one in a series of Combat Tracker EVOE blog posts. An index can be found here.

In this article and the next, Iíll discuss the Combat Tracker effects that change or modify the result of an attack dice roll and EVOEís impact on what players see. Typically an attack is a simple roll of a 1d20 die. There are base modifiers such as the attacking characterís strength ability and proficiency bonus. Sometimes dexterity contributes a bonus. When effects are employed additional dice might be rolled or the dice roll outcome might be positively or negatively impacted. Depending on an effectís visibility setting in the Combat Tracker, none, some or all of the additional modifier values will be displayed in a playerís chat window. It is important to note that, even though what each player sees may be different, the GM always sees complete and accurate results.

Now for a few examples to illustrate the usefulness and caveats of EVOE.

Throughout this series Iíll use the following settings in the Options Manager, unless otherwise specified: (1) Chat: Show GM rolls - On, (2) Chat: Show results to client - On, (3) Chat: Show roll totals - On.

Krystryd, a level three paladin has a strength bonus of 3 and a proficiency bonus of 2, (so her base attack bonus is +5).

In this first example Iíll contrast her attack on an orc with her +2 attack bonus while not using the EVOE and then using the EVOE. The effectís visibility has been set to GM only.

In this first screenshot, a potion of the GMís Chat Window and Combat Tracker are shown in the upper panel. Portions of Krystrydís Chat Window, Combat Tracker and Actions Tab of her Character Sheet are shown in the lower panel.

05a - No EVOE.png
Items of interest: With the GM only visibility setting, as expected, the effect is not visible in Krystrydís Combat Tracker. Krystrydís Chat Window has exactly the same information as the GMís, even though the GM has set the visibility of the effect to GM only. Whatís the use of setting the effectís visibility to GM only, if, as soon as Krystryd rolls an attack, the Chat announces some sort of effect is in play. Krystryd doesnít know what the effect is but she knows she received a +2 bonus on her die roll.

The setup for this next screenshot is nearly identical to the above. The only differences are, EVOE is loaded and Krystryd rolls a 7 instead of an 11.

05b - With EVOE.png
Items of interest: ď[EFFECTS +2]Ē does not appear in Krystrydís Chat Window. The player is not tipped off to an effect in play. This being completely consistent with a GM only effect visibility. While the GMís Chat looks the same as before.

Which bring me to a point Iíd like to make, I have tried to do my best to ensure the GMís Chat Window information is consistent to the information one would see when not using the EVOE. There are a few differences and Iíll point them out when they present themselves.

The astute reader might have picked up on an inconsistency. An alert player is probably aware that it typically takes a 13 (orcís AC = 13) to hit an orc, but Krystryd did it with a 12! The GM knows the roll plus bonuses totals 14. But Krystryd, and the other players, see 12.

An in game conversation might go like this:
A Paladin: ďWeíve been dispatching orcs all night, Iíve rolled plenty of 12ís and missed. How come Krystryd just hit with a 12?Ē
GM: ďThatís meta-gaming. The calculations are correct. ItĎs a hit.Ē
(That answer probably isnít going to win you any friends. Instead try..)
GM: ďThere are things going on that you arenít aware of. Krystryd did hit the orc.Ē
A Paladin: ďLike what things?Ē
GM: ďYouíre going to have to have to discover that for yourself.Ē

Now on to another inconsistency: effect modifiers that involve dice.

The setup is similar, Krystryd will be attacking an orc, but her attack bonuses are 2d4-2 with a visibility of TRGT and 1d6 with a visibility of GM only. It is imperative that the user of EVOE remember TRGT means the character with the effect, not the target of the attack.

In the screenshot below, portions of the Combat Trackers and Chat Windows for the GM (left panel), A Paladin (center), and Krystryd (right panel) are shown. I tried to capture the dice throw plus the results in the Chat.

05c - Mod Dice.png
Items of interest: From each of the respective Combat Trackers, note the effects on Krystryd and their visibilities. The GM sees both, as always, A Paladin is aware of neither and Krystryd is aware of the 2d4-2 attack effect. Four dice were rolled, the ubiquitous d20, a d6 and two d4s. Every player sees them. However the Chats are inconsistent. The DM of course sees all, as usual. A Paladin sees only a single die contributing to the attack which is accurate, he is unaware of any contributing effects. Krystryd, aware of the 2d4-2 effect sees three dice. Also note who has ď[EFFECTS Ö]Ē reported in their Chat, plus the difference in modifier totals reported.

I tried various ways to remedy this. Using random number generation instead of an actual dice throws for the modifying dice. However this was unpalatable to me, because, as in this example Krystryd knows two more dice should be thrown. The DM can make the dice ďsecretĒ but silhouettes are displayed. I also thought about always throwing say 10 dice, and using only the appropriate ones in the evaluation, but that seemed a ridiculous solution.

In the end I believe the easiest mitigation is to use averages instead of dice for any ATK effect that is not VSBL. The average throw for d4 is 2.5 and the average throw for d6 is 3.5. So the DM could use ATK: +3 for the first effect and ATK: +4 for the second. Once everyone is aware of the effects the DM could use the die modifiers instead of numerics.

Conditional effects, blindness, poisoned, invisible, etc. introduce the same inconsistency issue because they cause two d20s to be rolled due to advantage or disadvantage. Iíve been thinking about possible solutions and I think using an average difference modifier may be the best way to go. I have calculated the average difference between two thrown d20s and it is 6.65. Using this idea, the player would rolls the d20 attack, EVOE would add 7 to the roll if the die cast value is 1 through 10 and subtract 7 if the die cast value is 11 through 20. Then the higher of the two values would be used for advantage or the lower of the two for disadvantage. I have a physics background which was very math intensive, but Iím sure a practicing mathematician would have a fit over this methodology. I would happily entertain alternative solutions.

Next time Iíll detail the defensive response to the attack roll (e.g. AC and Cover).

The Combat Tracker Effect Visibility Options Extension (EVOE) can be downloaded here.

This blog post was written using EVOE v0.1.0.

Please feel free to PM me or post comments, questions and/or criticisms either here or in the forums.

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