Atlantis: The Second Age RPG – Variable Damage Mod

Atlantis: The Second Age RPG – Variable Damage Mod
I’ve been a big fan of Bard Games Atlantean Trilogy for over 20 years. It was definitely a game that was ahead of its time built for a truly evocative setting, Antediluvian Earth. Now the Morrigan Press has updated and re-released this game using their OMNI system. While this is great news indeed. As this is a deeply nostalgic remade games from the 1980’s, there is some discussion as to houseruling Atlantis: The Second Age (AtSA) to make it more “like we remember playing Atlantis”.



AtSA Core Book Cover

The Arcanum Cover

On the A:TSA Yahoo Group, there is a discussion thread about changing the combat system to include random damage (to suit the tastes of a specific gaming group who are used to it).…

The existing system for Atlantis: The Second Age has fairly static damage:

  • 1/2 Damage (by weapon) for Partial Successes
  • Full Damage (by weapon) for Successes
  • Full Damage (by weapon) + Special for Critical Successes.




A modification for this was proposed and is being discussed. I’ve added some analysis and alternative options for discussion. The following is the text I initially added:

Re: Variable Damage

— “inner_sanctum_13” <doug@…> wrote:
> Now, as for the multiple dice damage… are you adjusting HP upwards
> accordingly? Or are you going for a particularly bloody game? Because
> otherwise, some highly skilled archer attacking from surprise is
> going to/has a good chance to simply slaughter the first PC (or NPC)
> they find. <snip>


Let’s look at this.

Under the existing system, DR=6 weapon (say a gladius) would do 3 points on a partial, 6 on a full, and 6 + make a CON-modified roll vs a critical wound (assuming that “Kill” was the stated intent of the attacker) on a critical success.

The proposed mod for the same weapon (DR=6), we would get and average of 3.5 points on a partial (min=1, max=6), 7 on a full (min=2, max=12), and 10.5 on crit (min=3, max=18). I am assuming that the mod would remove the critical wound roll. If not, this does up the ante a bit (as on a lucky roll a gladius can do 18 points of damage). Even without the roll, this does change the dynamic a bit more (and introduces more uncertainty into the game).

It is important to note that the more randomness that a system includes, the more likely the underdog will luck-out and win. By and large, the average party (taken in aggragate, not individually) is much superior in capabilities than the challenges which are put before them. This is supported by the fact that they do not fail 50% or more of the time. They usually win. Increasing the amount of randomness will increase the chance that one of the many mooks that the PC’s face will score a lucky shot and kill a PC. More directly: All other things being equal, increased randomness in a combat system will increase the PC mortality rate in the game. Think about this before implementing the proposed mod.

Now assuming that random damage is dear to your group, I have a few alternatives to suggest:

1) Use DR-2 to determine the die type for damage to lessen the overall damage value. This would give us a d4 for the gladius and 1-4 points for a partial (ave=2.5), 2-8 for a full (ave=5), and 3-12 for a critical success (ave=7.5). Note that this does necitate some innovation for small weapons (i.e., a d2 or d3 perhaps for some weapons), but this is not particularly difficult to address.

2) Instead of multiple damage dice, use different dice based upon the result. For example, use DR-2 as the die size for a partial, DR for a full, and DR+2 for a critical. For the gladius example, this yields d4, d6, and d8, respectively. It also always allows for a “scratch” (i.e., one point of damage). The example can be tweeked to increase the average damage by using DR, DR+2, and DR+4 (d6, d8, and d10 for the gladius). You will have to examine how this effects your game to know.

3a) Another option is to use a Degree of Success (DoS) modifier to damage. DoS is defined as the skill roll – 10 (so a total roll of 12 would have a DoS of 2, a total roll of 18 would have a DoS of 8, a total roll of 7 would have a DoS of -3, and a total roll of 4 would be a failure –any roll under 5 will still automatically fail). Damage would then be weapon DR + DoS. So a gladius would do 8, 14, 3, and 0f points of damage for the rolls listed in this example). This method sticks with the OMNI system single die roll.

3b)You might also define DoS as 1/2 of the above meaning DoS = (0.5)(Total Roll -10)…rounded down. This is a bit more complex, but would yield DoS’s of 1, 4, -2, and Failure for the previously used rolls. It does notably still stick with the single die roll of the OMNI system.

I would be interested in thoughts on these ideas.


~Adaen of Bridgewater,

Thursday October 26, 2006 – 03:27pm (EDT)

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