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Author Topic: Part V: Peeling Back the Layers - The Real Deal  (Read 4024 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: January 01, 2002, 08:43:00 PM »

January 24th, 2002 -

At the behest of my friends here on the Forge, I will present Scattershot at the point I have it.  Even though this is a work-in-progress and much of the terminology is in a state of flux, I am not trying to present a diary of the progress.  Expect the lead component of this thread to undergo changes as Scattershot does.  This edition was originally put together very early on Tuesday, January 1st, 2002.  This series of articles will detail strictly the mechanics of Scattershot, articles relating to the techniques of 'how to play' will have to wait until I have more of them centralized and organized.  The third major component of the game, the setting and genre material is will be addressed once I get a new batch of playtesters.

So at last we come to the mechanics.  This is where we formalize the 'flow of play' in support of emotionally engaging contextual thinking.  We are going to examine primarily the Advanced Scattershot mechanics across the whole range of 'Densities' from General to Mechanical play.  We're going to fully formalize the process of passing who the Speaker is during scenes within a game into the communal language and mechanics of Scattershot.

At its simplest level, the Scattershot mechanic is little more than a resolution system with trimmings.  Every ability (or quality of any entity within a Scattershot game) is described by a Rating.  Before I talk about using these Ratings, I think I should describe 'how to get them.'

Fat Points

    Scattershot's point-based system requires that you 'buy' abilities using character points, during character generation or evolution, in order to take full advantage of them.  Since simplicity is one of the design specifications and it is a point-based system, we quickly decided that to raise any rating 1 point would cost 1 point.  This makes Scattershot's points 'worth more' than most games (by a factor of 3, 5, or in some cases 10 or higher).

    Some have suggested that this lacks a limit on the 'return on investments.'  This is only an illusion.  Scattershot's die mechanic (more in just a bit) creates a sigmoid graph (which means more and more points give less and less improvement in probability terms).  Also, when a player has more points to 'spend' there are obviously more choices to make (Scattershot will have rather long 'laundry' lists of abilities to choose from - for players who aren't interested in lists, it's not hard to make up abilities instead of searching for them, the lists are mostly to help players get inspired); this means that most of the time, these points will tend to get 'spread out' more.

    The second part of having a point-based system we do differently is that there are no point cut-offs.  Instead of saying, "you only have 30 points to spend," we point out that more points means a character has a higher or broader efficacy in general.  Concentrations of points in a single ability means that a character is expected to excel at (or be somewhat defined by) that ability (like a gunfighter - who
should have a high 'quickdraw' skill).  Based on this quality, the rest of the group can form a quick understanding of 'how able' a character is and can play accordingly.

All abilities (which does not appear to include Stats) require that at least one point (not including Free Skills1 - more on that later) be spent on them in order that the character can make full use of them (Stats are the same except a 'hidden' point is spent on each prior to character generation).  Abilities not 'spent upon' can only be used at a 'default' rating (which means they have certain functional restrictions).  Abilities are ranked from Free1, to Easy, Intermediate, or Difficult (on up to Exceptional, Renowned, Incredible, Nigh Impossible, and Legendary - this is actually based on an explicit formulation of efficacy, see 'making up your own abilities' below).

Free skills1 (which make up almost all of the Free abilities) are included to cover things that are generally taken to 'flesh out' a character (and have much higher 'starting' Ratings than other abilities, as listed with each).  Rather than making things like academic-based characters very expensive, they allow a broad range of 'background' skills.  There is only a minor cost that accrues for taking many Free skills1.  All other abilities receive their rank not by some arbitrary standard, but how they relate to one and another in terms of efficacy in general and specifically how they relate to the template abilities (that are used to create additional material by the participants - see 'making up your own abilities' below).  (Technically 'Free skills' do this too, but the point cost is also 'hidden'.)

The Rating of an Easy ability is the 'points spent on it' plus 11, Intermediate abilities are 'points plus 10,' Difficult is 'plus 9' (and so on)².  (As an example, Superpowers are of Incredible rank, but in the example powers - a fairly wide list - may be treated as Difficult with a 'buy in' cost of 3 for Ratings purposes; numerically the result is the same.)  Natural human range for all abilities (Stats included) is 8-14 with a median of 10 (any rating is possible, but a 15 means the character is at least superhuman in that respect - and that may require additional explanation in the character's description).[/list:u]What Do You Do with These Ratings?

    When an
Instantaneous, Invoked Rating is 'checked³' for an Immediate action by an Individual, after determining the necessary rating, two ten-sided dice are rolled and their sum* is subtracted from this rating (so rolling lower is better).  The difference is called a MIB (short for Made-It-By) number.  Rolling higher than the Rating is a failure or MIB (Missed-It-By) number; a roll equal to the rating has 'just made it.'  There are many different types of Modifiers that can be applied to this roll.  Beyond the familiar range, size, and opportunity modifiers you would expect, there can also be Residual, Scope, and Duration modifiers when the available ability is not a perfect match for the needed action.

A MIB becomes a contested 'check3' by having any party who is 'engaged' by the action actively resist it.  After the modifiers are applied, both parties roll separate MIB numbers, and then subtract the resistor's MIB number from the MIB of the character performing the original action.  Sometimes the resistor's MIB number can be derived as either a Reactive or Residual MIB number, depending on the circumstances.  The Resulting MIB (or RMIB) number is used to determine the quality of the success of the action (just like the MIB number in an uncontested roll).[/list:u]Taking Turns

    As I mentioned in
the first installment, Scattershot formalizes the 'flow of play,' especially at times of high emotion.  Just like the normal tendency to formalize play during cacophony, Scattershot switches to a rigid play-order during Mechanical play.  A lot of game systems use complicated mechanics to create some kind of turn order related to the efficacy of combat-skilled characters.  For as much trouble as I have seen this cause, it never seems to be a reasonable return for such wargame inspired mechanics.

During Mechanical play, Scattershot does a very simple thing; play goes counter-clockwise around the group (play passes to your right once you have taken the turns for each of the characters you play).  Each time around the group is called a Round (simple huh?).  What about all those things complicated games capture with their turn-order mechanics?  Well, it seemed to us they were trying to emulate the kinds of advantages characters could have over each other in melee, so we created the Combat Advantage system (I'll come back to that later) instead.[/list:u]Who Goes First?

    Another feature that seemed to us a needless complication was all of those 'initiative' mechanics.  Ultimately, they only seem to mitigate who makes the actual 'first swing;' while that can have important consequences in fairly lethal systems, it seems to completely eliminate those tense and exciting 'leading up to combat' scenes.  The tense circling, the traded insults, having guns at the ready yet not wanting to 'make the first move.'  Looking at all these examples with an eye towards writing mechanics, I could only see one thing.  
The battle had already started.

In the source material, sometimes it seemed like a mental battle, sometimes not, but it always 'felt' like they were already using Mechanical play.  So how were they fighting without trading blows?  It looked like they were 'looking for an opening,' seeking the 'advantage,' or the like.  (I'll get to Combat Advantage in a moment.)  If that is the case, then who starts it?  That seemed simple, whoever first chooses to act as though battle is inevitable.  Whether it is the cowhand walking into the bar spoiling for a fight, savages springing from an ambush, the dandy striking with his white glove, or a pirate slowly drawing his cutlass from its scabbard, the character who makes the decision that battle is a foregone conclusion is the one who takes the first Mechanical play turn; it's that simple.[/list:u]What about Bigger, Faster Combat?

    During
Mechanical play, scope is an important feature to keep track of.  Things like naval engagements, a battle like Waterloo, and those mass combat scenes from The Hobbit and Braveheart will only rarely have an Individual Scope aspect (and even then the battle itself is usually handled 'behind the scenes') and are usually only in Specific play.  Our mechanic for melee is, if the characters played by one participant outnumber the rest of the group of players, you will usually need to switch to a 'higher' level of Scope than Individual play.  This keeps things from 'bogging down' the pacing, like a battle against bad odds.  This also allows the system to simplify handling what I believe are called 'mooks' more easily.

While we're talking about melee, I would like to describe a seemingly unique feature of Scattershot.  Now you probably don't imagine using Involved actions in Individual melee, but we have a way where it seems almost necessary.  To me, when a gunslinger sizes up his opponent, waits for them to 'twitch,' draws his gun, and fires as though he'd aimed; these four actions actually count as a single Involved action.  The same is true for those 'Hong Kong Martial Arts Theatre' movie moves, a whole flurry of actions that Scattershot treats as a single Involved action.  (Because of the nature of this contested action and how the actual landed blow is determined, Scattershot resolves this as a series of die rolls between subject and actor.)

When a character knows a martial art that includes any of these Involved sequences of actions and they have an opportunity to act, they may use one as though it were a single action.  In many cases, the literal sequence will be described by a loose 'script' that can be customized 'on the fly' during play.  These sequences can be followed to their end, provided every component is fended off or the whole sequence is not interrupted (specific mechanics of interruption apply).[/list:u]How Do I Defend Myself?

    In Scattershot, whenever someone makes a melee action against your character, the have 'engaged' them.  When your character is thus engaged, you may Forfeit one of their upcoming actions (if they have any left this Round) and perform a Reactive or defensive action with its MIB roll.  (And performing such a Forfeited action can be a lead in to a flurry of actions,
by the defender, so be careful who you engage, you might regret it.)  After you have Forfeited both of your character's actions, they may perform nothing but 'free actions' until the end of their next turn.[/list:u]What was that about Advantage?

    During a melee, many things happen, too many to easily catalog as mechanics.  In order to reflect the many, varied ways that combatants can shift the tide of battle, we created the Combat Advantage mechanic.  Basically speaking, it is any action that would result in a
Residual penalty against the opponent that your character holds the Advantage over.  Scattershot's techniques discuss what can be or should not be worthy of creating this Residual penalty; what kinds of actions will create Advantage, what sorts will support an Advantage, and what one can do to erode another's Advantage over you.  (I'm not going into the specifics here unless requested.)

This mechanic of Combat Advantage is what replaces most other games' rules for initiative and complex turn-order rules (which, as far as I can tell, only result in some kind of advantage anyway).[/list:u]What if I Miss?

    In many cases during
Specific play a roll might Miss-It-By just a point or two.  After the MIB number is calculated, the character's player may opt to 'Buy a Success' by changing one of the parameters of the attempt after the fact.  Let's say an auto mechanic Missed-It-By 1 (often just MIB -1), his player can turn this failure into a success by changing the amount of time it took, or by requiring more parts and thus cost (or both if they Missed-It-By 2).  A 'bought' success is never higher than 'just making it.'  In Mechanical play, like melee, if a player needs to 'Buy a Success' they can do things like give ground, yield Combat Advantage, dive for cover, or something more descriptive like going down on one knee as long as the group seems receptive to the complication it creates.

If you can 'Buy a Success,' why not be able to 'Sell a Success?'  The mechanic for when you 'Sell a Success' is called the ±5 mechanic.  To take longer, you find the duration on the UE Chart and then count up or down 5 points.  This way you can add or subtract to the amount affected; 'extra' points of success can also be 'spent' on Residual modifiers.  You can likewise 'buy' a point of Combat Advantage (which is of course just another form of Residual modifier anyway).[/list:u]Critical Junctures

    In setting up a game, the participants need to fix how 'epic' or 'over the top' they want to play.  The primary way this is done is by adjusting the Critical Juncture Threshold.  The core suggested threshold is 7.  This means whenever any modified MIB number is 7 or higher, the player of the character this
'goes against' is compelled to create a description of not only what has happened but must also indicate how this forms a turning point for their character.  (I especially like the title character's first encounter with the Sheriff of Nottingham, in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  Robin clearly scores a Telling Blow - matching or exceeding the Critical Juncture Threshold of the game.  The Sheriff's player, rather than taking a horrible wound, describes a fatal attack on his vanity, taking on a new Disadvantage.)

Likewise, if a player rolls a Missed-It-By number 7 or more points above the modified Rating used, they are also compelled to describe what kind of fantastic mistake occurs.  This Catastrophic Failure must also be something of a 'turning point.'  In contested rolls, a Telling Blow is only described when the RMIB continues to exceeds the Critical Juncture Threshold after being calculated.  The Critical Juncture Threshold also controls a number of other features in the game.  For example, the total of the Critical Juncture number and Epic Value³ (which limits the maximum length of Flurries of Action) must be ten or less (id est, in a game where the Critical Juncture is 6, then flurries may not exceed 4 in a row).  This keeps all the 'epic' qualities in line for a single game.[/list:u]In Case I Forgot to Mention:

    Uses of Types in
Mechanical play: most abilities used will be Invoked Ratings, what these affect is often limited by Magnitude Ratings.  'What gets affected' will frequently be a Resource Rating.

For example, if your character punches mine (and they don't have a related melee skill), they will generate a MIB number based on an Invoked use of their Agility Stat.  If they have an unusually high Strength, in its Magnitude role, the Multiplier facet of the UE Chart will be indexed and that will multiply the RMIB.  This will be the basic damage which unless modified is taken from my Hit Points in their Resource role.  Likewise, if your character wanted to throw a water tower on a burning building, their Strength indexed on the UE Chart would be compared to the estimated weight of the tower and the maximum throwing distance could be calculated.  Because of the scope of the tower and the target, small amounts of error in the throw would be forgiven (using both scatter and 'area of effect' mechanics).[/list:u]How is a Gamemaster different in Mechanical play?

    You may have noticed that once
Mechanical play gets going it quickly becomes impossible to tell 'who started it.'  The only problem this has caused had to do with the application of superhuman speed in our superhero mechanics.  The solution was to have a fair number of the additional actions performed immediately before the gamemaster (mostly because, by and large, they are taking the turns of more individual, and non-player, characters).  Other than that, there are no real, practical differences.[/list:u]What if I Want to Make Up My Own Abilities?

    Scattershot bases every ability on 5 templates.  There are schedules of modifications that can be made to these abilities, but those modifications are rather esoteric and are kept to the
Advanced Scattershot mechanics.  In keeping with the design specifications of Scattershot, these templates are paired with the five elements (almost everything happens to be, but that has more to do with Scattershot's universal metaphysic that I can cover if anyone is interested).  Earth matches the template of affecting the physical nature of an object, Water has the template of movement, location, and time manipulation, Air's template manipulates the energy of a subject (including spiritual), Fire manipulates structure and relativity (this includes information), and finally Ether is relative to the unusual abilities that affect the 'character' of a subject - including things which make it unique or unremarkable.  I can go into detail if necessary, but this about sums it up.[/list:u]I hope this satisfies everyone's curiosity over Scattershot's mechanics.  Feel free to ask for clarifications, I am planning on going over the whole series in better detail and re-editing almost all of it.

Maybe I can spell out the techniques of play that make use of these mechanics.

©2002 Impswitch and Fang Langford (who will get around to tightening this up eventually, especially with feedback)

¹ Free skills are actually free until quantity is built up with them.  A bargain at 4 (taken at listed levels) for every point, and the first 4 are Free!  After you 'pay' for them, raising them is normal (1 for 1).  (Their 'actual value' falls below the easy threshold because of their limited applicability.)

² A character may have a specialization in a Skill by simply further narrowing what it affects.  This compares the differences in Scopes of some related Skills.  For example, the squad level engagement skill³ compares to military hand-to-hand³ in the same fashion as an M16 skill (an unlisted specialization) would compare to the rifle skill.  Such specialization makes a skill one rank 'easier' and therefore cheaper.

There has been a great deal of controversy on the modeling of talent in relation to training.  In Scattershot Talent in a skill costs the same as Training, it's only differentiated by the character's description and history.  This is because, without a point cut-off, there is not much need for complicated pricing mechanics.  (These costs can be mixed as well.)

³ I need a new word for this one.

* Anyone can also add experience dice to this roll.  Experince dice are six-sided and given out as rewards for play that increases the enjoyment of the game.  They are awarded at the end of a session (by gamemaster choice, group vote, or other technique as desired) or they are given 'on the spot' where and when any participant feels that someone has made a significant contribution to their (or everyone's) play (when other than the gamemaster, we are considering if a 'bowl of dice' is appropriate or if players should use only their own on the chance that the gamemaster will not agree and refund them immediately).

Experience dice are also the character development mechanic.  When a player wishes to add points to their character they select a number of experience dice to 'roll for points.'  The target number for 1 point is 6, for two it is 10, 3 is 14, and 4 is 18 (and so on by increments of 4 per point).  All the 'wagered' experience dice are rolled at once and added together and then compared to the target numbers.

As I explained in this thread, the critical juncture number and the 'looseness' of the supply of experience dice work together to Transition Scattershot towards more Narrativist play (when Critical Juncture is low and Experience Dice are plentiful) or towards Gamist play (when Critical Juncture is high and Experience Dice are scarce).  You'll note that in character development, often regarded as a Gamist mechanic, Experience Dice become more valuable because of scarcity.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2002, 03:05:15 PM »

Well, I finally got around to editting the beast.

And I found a whole section missing.  The 'rules of engagement' are now in place and make the following-action stuff look a little more worthwhile.

Thanks for the patience.

Fang Langford
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contracycle
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2002, 03:26:46 AM »

Say Fang, you've never worked for Last Unicorn games, have you ;)
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2002, 06:29:24 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Say Fang, you've never worked for Last Unicorn games, have you ;)

No.  Why?  (He said with much confusion.)

Fang Langford
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contracycle
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2002, 06:40:20 AM »

They're (in)famous for reinventing terminology to the point of obscurantism.  I was just struck by how many terms you have to get to follow the description.
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RobMuadib
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2002, 09:32:14 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur

So at last we come to the mechanics.  This is where we formalize the 'flow of play' in support of emotionally engaging contextual thinking.  We are going to examine primarily the Advanced Scattershot mechanics across the whole range of 'Densities' from General to Mechanical play.  We're going to fully formalize the process of passing who the Speaker is during scenes within a game into the communal language and mechanics of Scattershot.


Well, I thought I would chime in here a bit, partially as a response to contracyles post below. Specifically, on the idea of the steeper learning curve associated with a game that fully quantifies it's game language, and largely makes it a requirement to learn.

First, all RPGs are in effect Formal Languages, in the way that computer programming languages are. These formal languages exist to enable us to engage in the three elements of Story, Game, and Role.

Now, most games that have been written so far, leave large amounts of this formal language implicit, or reserve it's use to certain empowered players.

Now, in the first case, you lose the easy means to express and utilize the elements of the formal language that are assumed/implicit, those creating a system with which the players largely give short shrift to those elements Story/Game/Role which are left implicit. In the second, you create a class of highly empowered players, who because they have access to these Guide mechanics, have greater control over the experience of the players that don't.

Thus, I believe that making the mechanics explicit and "democratizing" them leads to the ability for all players to be empowered and thus have greater ability to engage the elements of Story/Game/Role they find most compelling.  

(This is newish thinking on my part that has developed from my X-styles and XXX RPG theory thread in the GNS discussion forum)

Quote from: Le Joueur

At its simplest level, the Scattershot mechanic is little more than a resolution system with trimmings.  Every ability (or quality of any entity within a Scattershot game) is described by a Rating.  Before I talk about using these Ratings, I think I should describe 'how to get them.'


again I like this thinking, as it mirrors the methodology I am using in design of my own game. That getting the players to learn to use game language, and make that language "abstractionist" and high-level, so it is powerful and easy to use, is GOOD. Powerful Formalized Game Language GOOD!


Quote from: Le Joueur

Fat Points

    Scattershot's point-based system requires that you 'buy' abilities using character points, during character generation or evolution, in order to take full advantage of them.  Since simplicity is one of the design specifications and it is a point-based system, we quickly decided that to raise any rating 1 point would cost 1 point.  This makes Scattershot's points 'worth more' than most games (by a factor of 3, 5, or in some cases 10 or higher).

    Some have suggested that this lacks a limit on the 'return on investments.'  This is only an illusion.  Scattershot's die mechanic (more in just a bit) creates a sigmoid graph (which means more and more points give less and less improvement in probability terms).  Also, when a player has more points to 'spend' there are obviously more choices to make (Scattershot will have rather long 'laundry' lists of abilities to choose from - for players who aren't interested in lists, it's not hard to make up abilities instead of searching for them, the lists are mostly to help players get inspired); this means that most of the time, these points will tend to get 'spread out' more.

    The second part of having a point-based system we do differently is that there are no point cut-offs.  Instead of saying, "you only have 30 points to spend," we point out that more points means a character has a higher or broader efficacy in general.  Concentrations of points in a single ability means that a character is expected to excel at (or be somewhat defined by) that ability (like a gunfighter - who
should have a high 'quickdraw' skill).  Based on this quality, the rest of the group can form a quick understanding of 'how able' a character is and can play accordingly.


One problem I have on this thinking, while true for normal abilities that
define an ability to succeed at something, there is a diminished return
for each greater investment. But what about abilities such as super powers and such, ones which are applications of a UE derived Value.

Since they are based on a Geometric progression. Having unlimited points to spend on the "effect" portion means a player could create a character that can destroy planets and all while someone else might have just made batman. How do you adress this, Self-established limits?

This is interesting to me, since I plan to use a scaled triangular progression for establishing Trait Score costs. Where a triangular progression means it costs you a number of points equal to the sum of the values up and including the Score being purchased - i.e. a Score of 1 costs 1, a Score of 2 (1+2), 3, a Score of 3 costs (1+2+3), 6, Score of 4 costs (1+2+3+4), 10, a score of 5 costs (1+2+3+4+5), 15, etc.

This doesn't result in a shortchange in either Basis Traits or Proficiency,
despite the diminishing returns in your chance of Binary Success, as higher Trait Scores offer a geometric increase in related Values, and a Linear increase in scaled ability. For Proficiency, although your Binary Success is subject to diminishing returns, the magnitudes of your Success scale linearly. (and thus require a geometrically increasing cost to achieve.)

This occurs because of the way I determine Success/Effect ratings. Which I will show when I post an examination of my mechanics, which I plan to do later today.


Quote from: Le Joueur

What Do You Do with These Ratings?

    When an
Instantaneous, Invoked Rating is 'checked³' for an Immediate action by an Individual, after determining the necessary rating, two ten-sided dice are rolled and their sum* is subtracted from this rating (so rolling lower is better).  The difference is called a MIB (short for Made-It-By) number.  Rolling higher than the Rating is a failure or MIB (Missed-It-By) number; a roll equal to the rating has 'just made it.'  There are many different types of Modifiers that can be applied to this roll.  Beyond the familiar range, size, and opportunity modifiers you would expect, there can also be Residual, Scope, and Duration modifiers when the available ability is not a perfect match for the needed action.


I like this idea of allowing of success out of failure. Seems like a good mechanic, especially when trying to emphasize story elements. This is somewhat novel approach. I have seen modifiers applied for hurrying/Taking extra time on an Act, but this is first I've really seen anyone use a reverse application of it. Pretty slick.

My only caveat would to be label "optional" in that, it that it could cause short shrift to Roleist elements for people who want to emphasize it. Hardcore "Sim" play being the classic example, and possibly Gameist play as well. Imagine the following exchange.

"Hah, you failed, prepare to die dewd."
"Wait!, <rules ouija by desperate Gameist player to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat."
"What? that sucks, pulling some lame rule out of your ass just so you won't lose.""

Quote from: Le Joueur

Taking Turns

    As I mentioned in
the first installment, Scattershot formalizes the 'flow of play,' especially at times of high emotion.  Just like the normal tendency to formalize play during cacophony, Scattershot switches to a rigid play-order during Mechanical play.  A lot of game systems use complicated mechanics to create some kind of turn order related to the efficacy of combat-skilled characters.  For as much trouble as I have seen this cause, it never seems to be a reasonable return for such wargame inspired mechanics.

    In many cases during
Specific play a roll might Miss-It-By just a point or two.  After the MIB number is calculated, the character's player may opt to 'Buy a Success' by changing one of the parameters of the attempt after the fact.  Let's say an auto mechanic Missed-It-By 1 (often just MIB -1), his player can turn this failure into a success by changing the amount of time it took, or by requiring more parts and thus cost (or both if they Missed-It-By 2).  A 'bought' success is never higher than 'just making it.'  In Mechanical play, like melee, if a player needs to 'Buy a Success' they can do things like give ground, yield Combat Advantage, dive for cover, or something more descriptive like going down on one knee as long as the group seems receptive to the complication it creates.


I am going to agree to disagree with you, well done initiative systems, provide a nice modeling of factors resulting in very tense involved Gameist gameplay.

The best example of such being the Semi-simultaneous action count system of the Phoenix Command Small Arms system. (an idea I am ripping off for my game, but only for the Tactical Combat rules, :))
Where moving into the open at the wrong time, or being caught flat-footed out of cover has obvious and crushing results. And catching some poor bastard looking around being uncatious with a short burst, as you wait in a Kneeling firing stance around solid cover, is SO satisfying!

(what can I say, I like to play FPS on the computer too. Oh yeah, that reminds me of one of my classic mantras, someone needs to convert Phoenix command to a computer moderated version that would be sweet!)

Quote from: Le Joueur

If you can 'Buy a Success,' why not be able to 'Sell a Success?'  The mechanic for when you 'Sell a Success' is called the ±5 mechanic.  To take longer, you find the duration on the UE Chart and then count up or down 5 points.  This way you can add or subtract to the amount affected; 'extra' points of success can also be 'spent' on Residual modifiers.  You can likewise 'buy' a point of Combat Advantage (which is of course just another form of Residual modifier anyway).  [/list:u]


Again, I like this, it's a clever reverse application of the handiness of a UE Scale type deal. Also one I haven't seen before, as I mentioned above.
Also, such Success Shifting can be a good tool to support Storyist goals.
Which should gain you brownie points around here:)

My only point would be to express it's Storyist leanings, or not, as Ron mentioned in a different thread, your game nicely features lots of Storyist supporting mechanics.

Quote from: Le Joueur

Critical Junctures
    In setting up a game, the participants need to fix how 'epic' or 'over the top' they want to play.  The primary way this is done is by adjusting the Critical Juncture Threshold.  The core suggested threshold is 7.  This means whenever any modified MIB number is 7 or higher, the player of the character this
'goes against' is compelled to create a description of not only what has happened but must also indicate how this forms a turning point for their character.  (I especially like the title character's first encounter with the Sheriff of Nottingham, in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  Robin clearly scores a Telling Blow - matching or exceeding the Critical Juncture Threshold of the game.  The Sheriff's player, rather than taking a horrible wound, describes a fatal attack on his vanity, taking on a new Disadvantage.)

Likewise, if a player rolls a Missed-It-By number 7 or more points above the modified Rating used, they are also compelled to describe what kind of fantastic mistake occurs.  This Catastrophic Failure must also be something of a 'turning point.'  In contested rolls, a Telling Blow is only described when the RMIB continues to exceeds the Critical Juncture Threshold after being calculated.  The Critical Juncture Threshold also controls a number of other features in the game.  For example, the total of the Critical Juncture number and Epic Value³ (which limits the maximum length of Flurries of Action) must be ten or less (id est, in a game where the Critical Juncture is 6, then flurries may not exceed 4 in a row).  This keeps all the 'epic' qualities in line for a single game.[/list:u]


Again, I really like these ideas, reminds me of some of the Reality Rules I have in my game, whereby the outrageouness of results is tied to the "Reality" being simulated. Though in my take it is in support of Roleist, rather than Storyist goals.

Like I mentioned in earlier threads, I am finding it interesting how we have hit upon similar design metholodigies, but where your design is heavier on Storyist supporting mechanics, mine is heavier on Roleist supporting mechanics.

Either way, both are helping me to develop my thinking on my new XXX rpg theory stuff.

Quote from: Le Joueur

In Case I Forgot to Mention:

    Uses of Types in
Mechanical play: most abilities used will be Invoked Ratings, what these affect is often limited by Magnitude Ratings.  'What gets affected' will frequently be a Resource Rating.


Oh, I am reminded of something in Contracycles post regarding your terminology. Invoked is probably overly-obfuscated. In terms of previous design, Acting/Opposing or Action/Reaction might be a clearer term. Invoked is not as intuitive and heavier on the formal side in your Formal Language. Magnitude is pretty good, as it is fairly intuitive.

Quote from: Le Joueur

For example, if your character punches mine (and they don't have a related melee skill), they will generate a MIB number based on an Invoked use of their Agility Stat.  If they have an unusually high Strength, in its Magnitude role, the Multiplier facet of the UE Chart will be indexed and that will multiply the RMIB.  This will be the basic damage which unless modified is taken from my Hit Points in their Resource role.  Likewise, if your character wanted to throw a water tower on a burning building, their Strength indexed on the UE Chart would be compared to the estimated weight of the tower and the maximum throwing distance could be calculated.  Because of the scope of the tower and the target, small amounts of error in the throw would be forgiven (using both scatter and 'area of effect' mechanics).[/list:u]


I am a big proponent of the niftiness of the use of a Value Scale, it provides lots of concrete values and detail, while still being fairly high-level and abstracted enough to use easily. As opposed to lots of gurps like calcuation of specific values with lots of multiplication and no easy way to convert between results and such.

Quote from: Le Joueur

    You may have noticed that once
Mechanical play gets going it quickly becomes impossible to tell 'who started it.'  The only problem this has caused had to do with the application of superhuman speed in our superhero mechanics.  The solution was to have a fair number of the additional actions performed immediately before the gamemaster (mostly because, by and large, they are taking the turns of more individual, and non-player, characters).  Other than that, there are no real, practical differences.[/list:u]


One case where effective initiative mechanics do make a useful apperance, though a very limited case. Again, given the Storyist leanings of your system that I see, sounds pretty good.


Quote from: Le Joueur

What if I Want to Make Up My Own Abilities?

    Scattershot bases every ability on 5 templates.  There are schedules of modifications that can be made to these abilities, but those modifications are rather esoteric and are kept to the
Advanced Scattershot mechanics.  In keeping with the design specifications of Scattershot, these templates are paired with the five elements (almost everything happens to be, but that has more to do with Scattershot's universal metaphysic that I can cover if anyone is interested).  Earth matches the template of affecting the physical nature of an object, Water has the template of movement, location, and time manipulation, Air's template manipulates the energy of a subject (including spiritual), Fire manipulates structure and relativity (this includes information), and finally Ether is relative to the unusual abilities that affect the 'character' of a subject - including things which make it unique or unremarkable.  I can go into detail if necessary, but this about sums it up.[/list:u]I hope this satisfies everyone's curiosity over Scattershot's mechanics.  Feel free to ask for clarifications, I am planning on going over the whole series in better detail and re-editing almost all of it.


This sounds pretty interesting, and again follows some of the stuff I have been doing in my design, which is focused on getting the players to use
the Design Architectures to build worlds in its universe, The Million Worlds (TM)


Quote from: Le Joueur

² A character may have a specialization in a Skill by simply further narrowing what it affects.  This compares the differences in Scopes of some related Skills.  For example, the squad level engagement skill³ compares to military hand-to-hand³ in the same fashion as an M16 skill (an unlisted specialization) would compare to the rifle skill.  Such specialization makes a skill one rank 'easier' and therefore cheaper.


A good way to make skill use simple while still allowing for detail. I go significantly further by using a Cumulative Skill Tree where Proficiency is
determined from the sum of one of each of the character's relevant Skills,Specialties, and Familiarities.

as for names, the military Hand-to-Hand is covered in army field manual FM21-150 Combatives. Perhaps simply Close Combat (squad) and Close Combat (individual).


Quote from: Le Joueur

There has been a great deal of controversy on the modeling of talent in relation to training.  In Scattershot Talent in a skill costs the same as Training, it's only differentiated by the character's description and history.  This is because, without a point cut-off, there is not much need for complicated pricing mechanics.  (These costs can be mixed as well.)

 I will discuss this more when I post a summary of my Outcome Test mechanic for review.

Quote from: Le Joueur

³ I need a new word for this one. (Check)

Hmm, instead of contested Check, how about simply calling it a Challenge, (Since it is effectively the default way your resolve actions), and call the limited case of static uses a Simple Challenge.

For instance, when a instaneous [Action] Rating is Challenged, you make a Challenge roll by rolling 2d10 and comparing the your MIB # to the Challenge roll of your Opponent ... etc, Or, in the case of a Simple Challenge of a Rating, you make a Challenge Roll, modifying the Rating for difficulty. Your MIB from the Challenge of your Effective Rating is used
directly to determine your RMIB, ... etc.


Quote from: Le Joueur

* Anyone can also add experience dice to this roll.  Experince dice are six-sided and given out as rewards for play that increases the enjoyment of the game.  They are awarded at the end of a session (by gamemaster choice, group vote, or other technique as desired) or they are given 'on the spot' where and when any participant feels that someone has made a significant contribution to their (or everyone's) play (when other than the gamemaster, we are considering if a 'bowl of dice' is appropriate or if players should use only their own on the chance that the gamemaster will not agree and refund them immediately).

Experience dice are also the character development mechanic.  When a player wishes to add points to their character they select a number of experience dice to 'roll for points.'  The target number for 1 point is 6, for two it is 10, 3 is 14, and 4 is 18 (and so on by increments of 4 per point).  All the 'wagered' experience dice are rolled at once and added together and then compared to the target numbers.

As I explained in this thread, the critical juncture number and the 'looseness' of the supply of experience dice work together to Transition Scattershot towards more Narrativist play (when Critical Juncture is low and Experience Dice are plentiful) or towards Gamist play (when Critical Juncture is high and Experience Dice are scarce).  You'll note that in character development, often regarded as a Gamist mechanic, Experience Dice become more valuable because of scarcity.


I like this tailoring methodolgy you have set-up, and I see why Ron found your game interesting in terms of the Transitional effects of being able to tune towards Storyist or Gamist roles.

Anyway, that should be enough to keep you reading for a while, for my next trick I will post a summary of my mechanics and discuss how they represent more Roleist game language.
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
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"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
Rob
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2002, 05:48:15 AM »

Quote from: RobMuadib

Where moving into the open at the wrong time, or being caught flat-footed out of cover has obvious and crushing results. And catching some poor bastard looking around being uncatious with a short burst, as you wait in a Kneeling firing stance around solid cover, is SO satisfying!


I know, I got two in a row like that in CountrStrike over the weekend. ;)  Well actually I was the short arm on an L-shaped ambush.

Quote

(what can I say, I like to play FPS on the computer too. Oh yeah, that reminds me of one of my classic mantras, someone needs to convert Phoenix command to a computer moderated version that would be sweet!)


Well, if you've not tried CS, you should.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Scattershot thread.
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2002, 05:51:24 AM »

Weird, thats my post above.  Hmm.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2002, 08:16:02 PM »

Quote from: RobMuadib
One problem I have on this thinking, while true for normal abilities that define an ability to succeed at something, there is a diminished return for each greater investment. But what about abilities such as super powers and such, ones which are applications of a UE derived Value.

Since they are based on a Geometric progression. Having unlimited points to spend on the "effect" portion means a player could create a character that can destroy planets and all while someone else might have just made batman. How do you address this, Self-established limits?

I know the I-V stuff is terribly laden with designer notes, so I can understand what's happening here.  You're confusing the ability Rating with the effect's Magnitude.

This was one of the earliest compromises we made to mathematics, you need two numbers to model enough situations for our satisfaction.  It didn't follow that you'd be better and better at doing something as you became more powerful.  Where would you model people who had fantastic power but lousy control or vice versa?  That's why almost all Ratings have a Magnitude (for skills the Magnitude is 'hidden' by having each skill define its own parameters).  Superpower, magic, and et cetera are linked to the Power Stat.  The only Ratings that do not have Magnitudes are the Stats themselves (and actually, in most cases, they function as their own Magnitudes - and this is the only case of that).

What does that mean?  Well because of the sigmoid graph of probabilities associated with a 'this number or less' roll of dice, the more points you spend, the less return there is.  For example; if you have an Invoked Rating of 15, the chances of succeeding on an unmodified MIB roll is 85% (god, I love calculating with 2 ten-siders). Spend a point (going up to 16) and that becomes 90%.  If it were linear, another point would get you 5% more, but it doesn''t.  (17 is 94%, 18 is 97%, and 19 is 99%.)  This is diminishing return.

With Magnitude Ratings, it works geometrically.  Weight on the UE Chart can be calculated (if you don't like charts) at 3 times the Rating squared in pounds.  For a Magnitude Rating of 40 (40 x 40 x 3), that would be 4,800 pounds, just under 2½ tons.  Adding 10 points makes it 7,500 pounds, a 56% increase.  Adding 10 more is 10,800 pounds, another 69% (compared to the original).

As you can see, turning the Magnitude up to the point where planets get destroyed becomes both cost prohibitive, and bloody obvious.  As I described in another thread, what follows this part of character creation is more-or-less negotiations on the part of the players to reach an idea of what kind of game they all want to take part in.  I will be formalizing that exact process, when I find those damn notes!  It isn't precisely about establishing limits, it has to do with shared expectations.

Quote from: RobMuadib
This doesn't result in a shortchange in either Basis Traits or Proficiency, despite the diminishing returns in your chance of Binary Success, as higher Trait Scores offer a geometric increase in related Values, and a Linear increase in scaled ability. For Proficiency, although your Binary Success is subject to diminishing returns, the magnitudes of your Success scale linearly. (and thus require a geometrically increasing cost to achieve.)

We took the opposite approach (if I am reading this correctly).  Our 'proficiency' scales with diminishing returns (see above), and our magnitudes scale geometrically.  The UE Chart is rarely about the magnitude of success and more about the magnitude of success attempted.  Strength doesn't even require a roll unless you're doing something 'chancy,' you simply are able to lift Strength squared times 3 pounds.

The only time success is scaled by the UE Chart is for things like attacks; an attack superpower 'powered' by a Power of 40 has a 'multiplier' of 16; after the RMIB is determined you multiply it by 16 (so an RMIB of 4 nets 64 points of basic damage).  The multiplier is static (and in a game with a Critical Juncture number of 5, you would only need to note these values to avoid in-play calculation: 16, 32, 48, and 64, because anything higher would be a Telling Blow).

Quote from: RobMuadib
I like this idea of allowing of success out of failure. Seems like a good mechanic, especially when trying to emphasize story elements. This is somewhat novel approach. I have seen modifiers applied for hurrying/Taking extra time on an Act, but this is first I've really seen anyone use a reverse application of it. Pretty slick.

My only caveat would to be label "optional" in that, it that it could cause short shrift to Roleist elements for people who want to emphasize it. Hardcore "Sim" play being the classic example, and possibly Gameist play as well. Imagine the following exchange.

"Hah, you failed, prepare to die dewd."
"Wait!, <rules ouija by desperate Gameist player to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat."
"What? that sucks, pulling some lame rule out of your ass just so you won't lose."

Actually, it doesn't need to be optional.  Sooner or later, the Gamist player will run out of the resources necessary to 'put off' losing.  (You can only overdraw your 'adharmic bank account' so much before it 'comes back to haunt you.')

Quote from: RobMuadib
I am going to agree to disagree with you, well done initiative systems, provide a nice modeling of factors resulting in very tense involved Gameist gameplay.

Where moving into the open at the wrong time, or being caught flat-footed out of cover has obvious and crushing results. And catching some poor bastard looking around being incautious with a short burst, as you wait in a Kneeling firing stance around solid cover, is SO satisfying!

You seem a little confused my friend.  Scattershot is not without a initiative system.  It has a pretty sophisticated one actually.  What it lacks is a randomized 'who strikes first' system.  It also does not take away 'first strike' from those who have the initiative due to the direction of the narrative.

As far as I am concerned, systems that games have called 'initiative systems' are actually some attempt to collapse the detail of who gets the upper hand in a battle into obscure, wargame-like number-based mechanics.  Instead of awarding 'first strike' as the only means of modelling the upper hand, we have the Combat Advantage system.  It's another of my 'favorite bits' in Scattershot.  Now that I have the 'just the mechanix' up; why don't you read it and tell me what you think?

Your example would never work in a 'who goes first' mechanic (well it might, but only because the players 'turn it back into story' after the fact).

Quote from: RobMuadib
Oh, I am reminded of something in Contracycle's post regarding your terminology. Invoked is probably overly-obfuscated. In terms of previous design, Acting/Opposing or Action/Reaction might be a clearer term. Invoked is not as intuitive and heavier on the formal side in your Formal Language.

And 'Acting/Opposing' intuitively means anything?  I guess Invoked has been hard for even our people to swallow, but I am still open to any word that a person, unencumbered by our years of gaming experience would think means an 'you use it' ability (as opposed to an 'it gets used up' or a 'how big?' rating), that won't be confused with our word for an 'it happens right away' ability (as opposed to an 'it takes a little work' or 'it takes quite a while' ability) or our word for an 'it happens when you want' ability (as opposed to an 'others trigger it' or a 'lingers on' ability), so they can all be used together.  MEGS-style terminology is almost completely opaque to never-gamed-before people.  (Heck, I still don't follow DC Heroes jargon, and I've got the books right over there!

Quote from: RobMuadib
Quote from: Le Joueur
³ I need a new word for this one. [referring to 'Check']

Hmm, instead of contested Check, how about simply calling it a Challenge, (Since it is effectively the default way your resolve actions), and call the limited case of static uses a Simple Challenge.

For instance, when a Instantaneous [Action] Rating is Challenged, you make a Challenge roll by rolling 2d10 and comparing the your MIB # to the Challenge roll of your Opponent ... etc, Or, in the case of a Simple Challenge of a Rating, you make a Challenge Roll, modifying the Rating for difficulty. Your MIB from the Challenge of your Effective Rating is used directly to determine your RMIB, ... etc.

Whoa!  Wrong way.  You're thinking noun, I'm thinking verb 'as in Check your Rating.'  We considered Test and Try, but they just don't have 'that feeling.'  Got any good verbs?

(Roll the 70s music...VERB!  That's what's happening! - Ah, I miss grammar rock....)

Fang Langford
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