In my first post on TobCon 3, I mentioned we ran into problems with the damage system in 4e. On the surface, it’s cleverly done: you add the Success Levels of the attacker to the damage, and subtract the defenders’ and that gives you a number. Simple, elegant, and reflective of how things went in the round.
But the same system also gets rid of the dreaded whiff of 1 & 2e by deciding a successful hit by an opposed test, so that it can happen even if both sides fail their rolls (the one with the worst Success Levels loses). Unfortunately, this makes calculating damage very complicated very quickly if you are dealing with multiple combatants, as we were.
See, if the successful attacker and the unsuccessful defender make their rolls (under the melee skill), then both subtract the tens rolled from that of their skill, and the attacker then adds this number to the damage, while the defender subtracts theirs.
If only the attacker made his roll, then he subtracts the tens rolled from that of his skill and adds that to damage, while the defender subtracts the tens of his skill from that rolled but adds that to the damage as well.
If both failed their rolls, then both subtract the tens of their skills from that of their respective rolls, then the attacker subtracts their number from the damage, while the defender adds theirs.
So the principle is simple, as is each individual step by itself. Taken together, in application, things get really confusing.
Instead, I suggest that if both the attacker and defender succeed or fail, then the attacker rolls a D10 twice and takes the lower number for damage. If the attacker succeeds and the defender fails, then the higher number is used. Optionally, if the attacker makes his roll, he can add his SL too.