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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: horomancer on February 11, 2010, 08:18:19 PM

Title: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: horomancer on February 11, 2010, 08:18:19 PM
Hi there. I've been working on a game system and have hit a stumbling block. Here is what I have so far-
All conflicts are broken down into a simple formula of (d10 + static number from character) - (d10 + static number from GM OR static number from Player)
Which results in either a positive or negative number. I the number is greater than or equal to 1, then the player taking the action is successful.
By subtracting one d10 from another, the results will tend to be centered at 0 (10% chance of getting a 0) and make large differences very unlikely (1% chance of getting a -9 or +9).
Different aspects of the game can then be weighted to represent how much 'chance' or 'luck' plays into success or failure. In my game being 'good' at fighting doesn't mean someone less skilled can't get lucky and take a stronger player out (rolling a natural +9) since the amount of resources spent on fighting get you a smaller static number than if you spent those resources on other skills like crafting or social skills. These fields are less prone to chance influencing them and the larger static number you can purchase means your results are more consistent.

All and all I am very happy with this.

My problem- What do I do with the results from these rolls?
How do i translate the 'you rolled real awesome' to tangible results? For certain tasks, this isn't an issue. Do you jump over the gorge? Do you see the tripwire before you step on it? These kinds of situations  are simple pass/fail and the question is resolved with only knowing if the rolls came out to 1 or greater.
More complex situations become trickier. A player hits someone with his sword, and ends with a total of 1 should not net the same results as if he had rolled a total of 5. Having this be a straight conversion, such as a total of 3 means the target looses 3 hit points doesn't seem right to me. For one thing I wanted to avoid having to keep track of changing pools of numbers as much as possible and would rather not have things like hitpoints to start with, for another I want to keep the mechanics the same for hitting an enemy with a stick as you would use for making an object or influencing the people around you. Unless I want to assign points to EVERY possible action (and I don't) I would have more than one mechanism for solving problems and I want to avoid that. The values that are made have different meanings, but they should all be made the same way

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: David C on February 11, 2010, 10:36:18 PM
First, a comment on your mechanic.  It's pretty much the same thing as d20, or Thac0 or my game...  You're just comparing two totals against each other.  "Is my roll+skill higher than his roll+skill?"  So, my input is, "Ditch the subtraction."  Just compare totals, it is a lot easier.

As for points, you could do what TSoY has.  There is one pool called "Harm."  Every action inflicts "Harm."  When a character's Harm hits his limit, he loses his battle and the other character wins.

You can also do what so many other games do.  You could make it so each point you win by gives you some additional success.  If you beat your "Jump over the gorge" by 3 points, then you get 3 cool things.  Cool things can be color, "I do a somersault over the gorge." They can be a mechanical bonus, "I make a jump attack across the gorge."  They can be story related, "I jump across the gorge and notice that there's ORCS! laying in ambush."  Etc.

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on February 12, 2010, 02:57:56 AM
As David says, mathematically your system is equivalent to rolling 2d10 + character skill > task difficulty. It's not the same as rolling a d20, though, as that has a linear probability distribution, while two dice have a rough bell curve. This mostly matters for aesthetic purposes - many people would say that doing deduction is less elegant in a rpg system than using non-zero target numbers. The target number corresponding to an opposing modifier n in your system would be n+11 in the normalized system.

Insofar as your actual question goes, it's almost impossible to answer - you're effectively asking what we think your game should accomplish. How could we know? The only way to answer to that question is for me to list all the different possibilities out there, and for you to pick the one that is useful for your game and the role of this resolution system in it. A more fruitful way of approach might be to clarify your needs - what do you need this system to accomplish? Once you know that, you can ask how this system can accomplish what you need. Reversing the order of those questions just ends up with an endless list of suggestions that try to guess what your needs might be.

If you don't like dynamic pool tracking, such as hit points, then you might opt for the Mountain Witch solution: have a table that tells you that ah hah, a +3 result translates into a "mixed success", and then just follow the rules for how a mixed success should be interpreted into the fiction. This method allows you a bit more flexibility than the fact-determination David suggested, as you can hook up whatever you want into your table, not just generic cool things.

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: Alex Abate Biral on February 12, 2010, 09:25:24 AM
Like Eero said, you must already have some idea of what you want to accomplish with your system before deciding what to do with that result. Think about this like that: your resolution system will define how situations will roll off. Every time there is a conflict to solve, people will roll these 2 dice and get a number out of it. Now, you have to ask yourself, "What kind of story I want people to tell with my game?". Once you know this (or at least have a vague idea of what it is), not only will people here be better able to help you, but you yourself will be better able to decide which path to take. Of course, if you already have a good idea of what kind of story you want, post about it!

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: horomancer on February 12, 2010, 07:34:15 PM
I know what I'm asking for is a bit vague, that's due to some ideas not being firmly formed in my mind. I was hoping to draw out other peoples ideas to help frame my own and make a sharper image of what I want my system to be.
I presented my d10+skill - d10+skill idea because I want the bell curve effect. I've seen other methods that produce better curves, but the two d10 in oppisition generates numbers that work well with other parts of the system. When looking at a pass / fail setup for a roll, the tried and true dx+skill vs DC works well and my current set up works that way just by not going the last step and subtracting. With my mechanic in full use I feel a meaningful amount of color can be applied to the game without adding extra dice, charts, or (possibly) additional rolls.
I want this because I think the mechanical system of an RPG should have as light a foot print as possible while still being able to accurately represent what is happening in the story. I'm hopping to make something more indepth than TWERPS that can be played with a single d10, a handful of numbers, very little math, and as few charts as possible. The rules will hopefully be so simple that they can be fully explained on a single sheet of paper. I want this as I've found I quickly get frustrated when gaming stops so information can be dredge from a library of gaming text, then argued about for 10 minutes.
That is why I want to find a way to extra as much information as possible from a single dice roll. In a simple dx+skill vs DC, while the probability of pass/fail can be shifted just by altering the DC (or the skill) the amount of usefull information pass that is minimal. Any number you roll has the same chance of coming up on the die, so weather you just barely passed or passed greatly isn't meaningful, though the GM may choose to make it so. Mechanically it is irrealavent. With my mechanic, the chance of passing a DC equal to your skill is 45% since the roll most be greater by 1. To have it acutally BE just 1 is 10%. to have it be greater by 7 is only 3% and to get the max of 9 is just 1%. I feel this can be directly applied into assigning mechanical results from your actions, but I'm not certain how to go about that with adding the fewest possible steps.

An example of what i was thinking of-
Joe attacks a goblin and hits with a total of +1. the goblin then makes another roll to see if he beats a DC of 1. If he passes, he shrugs off the blow, if not he becomes wounded.
This method would turn a graduated roll directly into a pass/fail roll allowing me to directly take results and get meaningful data from it without having to keep track of numbers. I like that. If Joe happens to be very well equipped and skilled compared to the goblin, a good roll could result in a +5 or even a +9. This new DC would greatly increase the likelyhood of inflicting a wound on the goblin, but then there is a problem in that no matter how high a number Joe could make, the result is a single wound on a goblin. In my opinion a very high initial number should equal more damage or even death, but I'm currently at a loss for how to do such without adding hitpoints, multiple rolls, or some manner of chart. I dislike all three options, but could live most easily with having to make some new roll, or applying some easy to remember rule of thumb like 'ever 3 points is a chance to wound' .

I hope I made myself clear on why I'm sticking firm to my dice mechanic. The projected numbers for rolls mean values would rarely be as high as 20, and that is under the most abusive minmaxing I could come up with. Figures in the single digit and low teens would be most common and I don't believe this level of math would slow the pace of a story.

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: contracycle on February 13, 2010, 06:00:21 AM
You could use a simple arithmetic progression, 1-3-6, with different levels of effect.

You could have a "resilience" value associated with characters, which serves as a threshold for a death effect rather than a wound effect.  This is not HP because it is not attritional, but would require an extra value.

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: horomancer on February 13, 2010, 07:18:55 PM
So far having a progression seems the best choice. I've also thought of having damage tie back to the Spirit Stat for avoiding taking minuses to actions when hit (toughing through the pain) , not loosing conciousness, and not dying. This would be fiting in my logic of how combat would work and server double duty to keep someone from maxing one stat and being unbeatable .

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: David C on February 14, 2010, 12:53:53 AM
I apologize that my previous post confused the issue.

I don't really see the difference between rolling '1d10+Skill vs 1d10+skill' and '1d10+skill-1d10+skill'

I guess D&D is more like0 '1d20+skill vs DC 10'. I hadn't thought about it before, but I guess that does change the statistical probabilities. 

Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: horomancer on February 14, 2010, 07:28:50 AM
After some more musing I've come up with the following which may prove satisfactory for combat. If it will fit well with other types of actions is still unclear, but it may be like so many other cases where combat just has more rules and checks since its outcome is so vital to the characters involved.

Atk = d10 + Body Stat + Skill + Weapon bonus
Def = d10 + Body Stat + Skill + Armour bonus

If Atk </= Def = failure
If Atk > Def = success and roll for damage outcome

A success of 1,2, or 3 is one wound, 4,5, or 6 is two wounds, 7,8, or 9 is three wounds etc.
The defender makes a single roll of d10 + Spirit Stat (+ Special traits if they have any) against d10 + Success from Atk roll
If the defender succeeds on this roll they are still wounded, but do not incur minuses to actions. The amount of minuses they do not incur is proportional to the roll they make (ie. a 1,2,3 means they don't take a -1 modifier, a 4,5,6 they do not take a -2 modifier, etc.)

This can be used to describe a fight where someone is run though with a sword, but still fights on (High success from an atk roll followed by an even higher Spirit roll) or someone getting the wind knocked out of them from a light blow.


Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: Vulpinoid on February 14, 2010, 11:59:23 AM
I'll admit that this is a bit of a tangent to your idea, and probably not where you're heading...but I'll throw it out there anyway.

Your thread title talks about a conflict resolution system, not a task resolution system.

Yet the body of your text seems to adequately describe a task resolution system rather than one focused on conflict resolution. Specifically the task of hitting an opponent as part of a combat sequence.

There is a subtle difference between them, Eero summed it up pretty well recently on Story Games, and I stole his words and expanded a bit for an entry on my blog (

What I'm proposing is a conflict mechanism, that resolves the outcome of an entire round of combat rather than a strike-by-strike task analysis.

If you've heard of Otherkind dice, you'll have an idea of where I'm heading.

At the start of a combat round you roll 3 d10's. You then get to assign any one of these to attack, any one of the other two to defence, and then the final one to damage.

Eg. 7, 4, 2.

Do I want to spend that 7 for a good attack sequence during the round? Do I want to use it to reflect that my focus is on defence? Or do I want to maximize the damage I do?

What about the 2? What am I willing to sacrifice during this round? This 2 obviously reflects that I'm at a strategic disadvantage somewhere, but how does it reflect within the game world?

Once two combatants have rolled their dice then assigned them, they reveal their rolls and modify them accordingly with their skills and other bonuses. Then comparisons are made with attack pools and defence pools, if any attack pool is higher than an opponents defence pool, the damage die is consulted and modified accordingly.

Thus a whole round of conflict can be played out, without the need for endless die rolls. You could even play with mechanisms that affect the placement of a beserker always has to put their highest die into attack...

The same type of mechanism can be applied to social challenges, where one party wants to achieve a certain goal, but has to decide whether to sacrifice another goal to achieve it. (I have a hostage, and he has control over the flow of drugs into the port, I want the swap my hostage for control in some of that drug much am I willing to give and much does he want the hostage?)

It's just an idea I've been toying with lately, I don't know if you'll find it useful.


Title: Re: Need suggestions for finishing a conflict resolution system
Post by: horomancer on February 14, 2010, 07:06:56 PM
I see what you mean there about it being more of task resolution than conflict resolution. I had thought maybe setting the rolls so that each party took a 'side' of the dice out come, which would have made it more to what you described with your 3d10. In that version of my system both parties stated the outcome they wanted, added their stats, then rolled and the highest number won all in one go with no back and forth. I discard this method since it became cumbersome when multiple people were involved or if a stated outcome could be disputed as reasonable. This style still has merit though for more mundane tasks where failing by a certain amount could mean an unfortunate event occurs. I've also thought of having failing rolls using my current mechanism result in circumstantial minuses. You take an action, do poorly, and the opposition has a chance to exploit it. This would have the result of making any conflict a real crap shoot and give a net bonus to the side going second. In an even match the aggressor has equal chance to harm himself as well as the opponent. While his failure may not directly result in damage, it will mean a much better roll for the defender when he counter attacks and the result is no one making the first move. Rarely is taking the initiative not a good thing and i feel this would be counter productive.