Sunday, May 16, 2021

The range of starting stats

I'm going to let you into a little secret. It might be shocking to you. I hope you are sitting down. Here it comes...

You know that Fighting Fantasy books say 'No matter how weak your initial scores, you can still succeed'. 

Well, sometimes, it's not quite true.

Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuun!

Well, I think I have the best way to make gamebooks with random elements more fair. And that doesn't involve changing the creature stats - it only involves changing the starting stats of the character.

The problem with Fighting Fantasy books that have unfair combats could be solved if the character's starting SKILL had a smaller range.

Exhibit A: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. 

In order to defeat the warlock and get his treasure, you need to fight a SKILL 10 STAMINA 10 cyclops. If you have a SKILL of 7, this is almost impossible. Hitting it once has a 15.9%. You need to hit it 5 times, or maybe 4 or 3 if you manage to use LUCK. Not very likely.

Says this table I made a while back.

The problem will be solved if instead of having a SKILL of 1d6+6, you can have a SKILL of 1d3+9 or even 1d3+8.

And that's the end of that chapter.

If rolls depend on rolling 2d6, then a starting stat with a range of 6 is too big. Maybe 3 at the most.

There are other ways. The Lone Wolf combat system used a table based on the difference between Lone Wolf's Combat Skill and their opponent's Combat Skill. The table's numbers are in favour of Lone Wolf, so it is less likely that Lone Wolf will get an unfair death in combat. It is an effective solution.



  1. Yeah, I'll confess to times when I looked at my initial starting rolls for a Fighting Fantasy book and knew I was just going to die in my first combat anyway, so re-rolled. Narrowing the range is a more elegant way of dealing!

  2. I'd call this more of a workaround than a solution cos I think the implication of the "one true path" promise is that difficult combats are avoidable, either by non-combat solutions or just taking a different route.

    Which as we all know is a HUGE LIE as regards most of the FF series :D

  3. This is a good idea. The one time I really did roll the fabled 12/24/12 was in the Chasms of Malice, where they were very little help!

    Lone Wolf books were usually more forgiving, and preferred to kill you with falling masts or arrows in the head.