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Author Topic: Phrasing of Scattershot's dice resolution  (Read 3639 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 21, 2002, 02:50:35 PM »

Hello,

This thread addresses something that might crop up in the first: Fang's explanation of the basic resolution roll. It seems like a small point, but there are a couple of implications and other rules that I want to continue with, on this thread, once the basic question is answered. (Links to the original Scattershot threads are at the end of the post.)

The phrasing in the rules is like this (paraphrase): Roll 2d10 and subtract their sum from your ability. If the amount (MIB) is greater than zero, you have succeeded; if it's equal to zero, then you've barely made it; if it's less than zero, you failed.

I paraphrased this in my previous Scattershot thread as: Roll 2d10, compare it to your rating; if it's under, you succeed; if it's equal, you barely made it; if it's over, you fail. (Basically, good old TFT or Champions 3d6, roll equal to or under your target value.)

Is there any reason why the first phrasing is used? It seems cumbersome to me, in that the subtraction in question seems slower and odder than simply comparing the value of the dice's sum over/under the target number.

(Like I said, I've got more to ask about, so this is just a beginning issue for this thread.)

Best,
Ron

Fang's threads about Scattershot are at:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1073">I: Core concept
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1087">II: Whence go the mechanics
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1080">III: Difference between players and GM
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1096">IV: Sorting out the nuts and bolts
And http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1122">V: Actual mechanics
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2002, 09:16:30 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
This thread addresses something that might crop up in the first: Fang's explanation of the basic resolution roll. It seems like a small point, but there are a couple of implications and other rules that I want to continue with, on this thread, once the basic question is answered.

The phrasing in the rules is like this (paraphrase): Roll 2d10 and subtract their sum from your ability. If the amount (MIB) is greater than zero, you have succeeded; if it's equal to zero, then you've barely made it; if it's less than zero, you failed.

I paraphrased this in my previous Scattershot thread as: Roll 2d10, compare it to your rating; if it's under, you succeed; if it's equal, you barely made it; if it's over, you fail. (Basically, good old TFT or Champions 3d6, roll equal to or under your target value.)

Is there any reason why the first phrasing is used? It seems cumbersome to me, in that the subtraction in question seems slower and odder than simply comparing the value of the dice's sum over/under the target number.

Uh, yeah.  (Hey Caro¹, get me that odd piece of footwear) Ahem, that would be because I neglected to 'drop the other shoe.'  You see the MIB number is not a binary (pass-fail) or even a trinary (pass-pass barely-fail); its a graduated scale of results.  One thing I never cared for in Champions, The Fantasy Trip (which to me was simply the precursor to GURPS), and Dungeons & Dragons (all from way back) was something (correct me if I am wrong) you call the 'whiff' factor.  You roll your attack, succeed greatly, you roll your damage and get a 1, whiff.

Let me start at the beginning.  From my understanding, basic Fortune-in-the-Middle mechanics are described as having a general statement of intent by the Attacker; dice are rolled, and they contribute to the specific description of 'what actually happened.'  Scattershot uses two rolls for single action conflict resolution; an Attacker MIB number is rolled and so is a Defender MIB number (in early playtests defenders felt deprotagonized when they didn't get to roll dice).  A Resultant MIB number is the difference between them (AMIB minus DMIB).

How does this work in FitM?  When the attacker calls out their character's action (which is much more specific), they do not get to make any claim on how this will affect the defender's character.  It's not "Alphonse kicks Balthazar in the gut," that takes away Balthazar's player's control, making his character 'in position' to receive the blow.  Instead, after establishing engagement (Scattershot has explicit 'rules of engagement'), it would be "Alphonse makes a gut level kick."  What Balthazar's player chooses to have his character do is totally up to him; for example "Balthazar spins out of the way."

Then the dice come out and the RMIB is generated.  Time for pass-fail right?  Not quite; across the range stretching between the Critical Juncture number and the same number negative, is the source of the detail of what happened.  The number actually tells the players how to 'blend' their actions to create the final result.  At just below the Critical Juncture number, Alphonse did exactly what he set out to do, kick Balthazar in the gut and well.  As things get closer and closer to 0, Balthazar is spinning partly away from the blow.  At 0 (and only because we give 'house odds,' meaning the defender takes all ties) Balthazar just barely spins away from the attack, a decisive, but close, dodge.  Below 0 Balthazar's spin begins to more clearly 'overshadow' the interaction, until you get to just above the negative Critical Juncture number where Balthazar makes Alphonse look like he's moving underwater.  (Two things to remember; if Alphonse's AMIB is negative, Balthazar does not even roll any dice, and if Alphonse's is 0 or higher and Balthazar's is negative, the RMIB is only equal to Alphonse's AMIB.)

Thus the RMIB gives an immediate 'feel' for what happened, but then it also figures into the calculation of damage.  If Alphonse scores an RMIB of say 3 and has a Strength of 12 ('normal' human range is 8-14 with a median of 10) then according to the UE Chart, he has a damage multiplier of 1½ (for muscle-based 'stuff'), meaning the basic damage becomes 5 (4½ rounded normally).

Uncontested rolls derive from this interaction.  Cedric is trying to create a counterfeit $20s.  He takes all the accordant modifiers into consideration and rolls the dice.  His MIB number is not only a pass-fail (in uncontested rolls, 0 goes to the die roller), but also forms the basic modifier for how hard it will be to detect the forgery.  A MIB number of 2 means that a person carefully examining the bill will have an additional -2 on their MIB number to catch Cedric's work.  And yes, there will be occasions where one might wish to pass a poor copy; a negative MIB number adds to the examiner's roll, so the 'passer' better have his act up to snuff (because that affects it too).

So I guess it might be "Roll 2d10 and subtract their sum from your ability. If the amount (MIB) is greater than zero, you have succeeded; if it's equal to zero, then you've barely made it; if it's less than zero, you failed."  Then use the MIB to generate the damage, define the future residual modifier, or simply as a scalar of degree of success.

Fang Langford

¹ That would be my partner, co-designer, editor, wife, and soul mate.  (Did I ever mention we met at the University's gaming clubs?)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2002, 08:22:56 AM »

Hi Fang,

(edited)

Good explanation. I do see how the dice are used and the importance of RMIB as the central value of interest. What puzzles me, still, is one quibble, pertaining only to the generation of one character's MIB.

Quote
So I guess it might be "Roll 2d10 and subtract their sum from your ability. If the amount (MIB) is greater than zero, you have succeeded; if it's equal to zero, then you've barely made it; if it's less than zero, you failed." Then use the MIB to generate the damage, define the future residual modifier, or simply as a scalar of degree of success.


My only quibble is simply the recommended mental process: why the subtraction in the first sentence?

Here's how I find it to be most understandable. Say my ability is, um, 13. I roll 2d10 and add them: 8. Fab! It was under 13 (so I succeeded), and I now proceed to the UE table with 5, the difference. If I'd rolled a 19, then I'd have to go to the table with -6.

We are, of course, describing precisely the same mathematical operations. I contend, strictly pedagogically, that it's easier to say "compare to the rating," with the difference being immediately calculated, then "subtract from the rating and compare the difference to 0." Again, I know it's the same math, but to the user, it looks like an extra step.

Since much of play is going to be about RMIB, it seems all the more reason to streamline the understanding of getting the two MIB's.

Best,
Ron
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2002, 03:45:08 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Quote from: Le Joueur
So I guess it might be "Roll 2d10 and subtract their sum from your ability. If the amount (MIB) is greater than zero, you have succeeded; if it's equal to zero, then you've barely made it; if it's less than zero, you failed." Then use the MIB to generate the damage, define the future residual modifier, or simply as a scalar of degree of success.

My only quibble is simply the recommended mental process: why the subtraction in the first sentence?

The problem isn't the first sentence, its my laziness in not altering the second.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Here's how I find it to be most understandable. Say my ability is, um, 13. I roll 2d10 and add them: 8. Fab! It was under 13 (so I succeeded), and I now proceed to the UE table with 5, the difference. If I'd rolled a 19, then I'd have to go to the table with -6.

We are, of course, describing precisely the same mathematical operations. I contend, strictly pedagogically, that it's easier to say "compare to the rating," with the difference being immediately calculated, then "subtract from the rating and compare the difference to 0." Again, I know it's the same math, but to the user, it looks like an extra step.

That's a good point and underscores the difficulty I am at expressing central mechanic of the system.  I am beginning to understand why you keep likening Scattershot to Mayfair's DC Heroes.

The part that is coming out wrong is "I now proceed to the UE table with 5."  That would be 'handling time' I don't recommend.  Perhaps if I parse it out with an example using as small of steps as possible.  What I am not properly communicating is how we've worked to cut down the 'handling time.'

Let's say Delphi the Mentalist decides to use mind control on a mob of people who have him tied up and mean him ill.  The game has been established with a Critical Juncture number of 7.  And let's say he has a Mind Control (Group) type of ability at a Rating of 13 and a Power of 25.  When originally making note of this power on his character sheet, Delphi's player checked the UE Chart and made note that at Power 25, Delphi will normally be able to affect 31 individuals (and wrote this on the character sheet).  We'll begin with Delphi's Action.[list=1][*]Delphi's player indicates he is establishing mind control on the crowd
[*]He rolls a 8 (any lesser would only happen 21% of the time)
[*]Reading the MIB out loud he states that he 'Made It By 5'
[*]This means, to the gamemaster (or whoever is Proprietor of the mob), that any members of that group would have to 'Make It By 5' or more in order to remain free of the effect
[*]Since this is a Supernatural or Preternatural effect, the Rating used to resist it is Power (barring a more applicable rating, such as a Resist Torture skill or having an advantage like Strong Will which would increase the Rating for this interaction)
[*]While I don't expect the players to have this memorized, the chances of doing this (rolling 5 or less) is only 10%, our playtesters seemed to get a 'feel' for this quite quickly
[*]Now this only covers the first 31 people out of a potentially large mob
[*]Delphi could:
    [*]Burn a MIB point and increase his reach (±5 mechanic means a 30 on the UE Chart making it cover 45 people)
    [*]Roll an Experience Dice and add it to his total (virtually assuring a Telling Blow)
    [*]Do both
    [*]He might grandstand it; playing on mob mentality, his control over those 28 (90% of 31), and some soliloquy expanding influence (rather than control) over the whole mob
    [*]He might decide to take longer (adding something mechanically the same as an 'aiming' bonus)
    [*]Or any combination of the above[/list:u][/list:o]What he doesn't do is look up the MIB 5 on the UE Chart.  The UE Chart limits what can be affected and this is known from the point the power was created.  The ±5 mechanic allows this number to be tweaked after the roll (and we are still discussing if it should be ±10 or what).

    So, if I am describing it well, the reason you make the subtraction is for that 'feel' that players get over the mechanics.  Consulting the chart is only on those rare occasions when the ±5 mechanic is invoked (and during character creation).  The subtraction also comes in handy during the tense moments of combat when both parties bark them out simultaneously.

    For single characters it's never a case of "compare the difference to 0."  The size of the MIB number always has value.  You're picking a lock and you get a +4!  You found that one intensely easy.  Say your cruising the bar scene for information and it's difficult to find (say a -2); You make your modified Streetwise roll at -1, its gonna be an all-nighter on the street, if you stick with it.  An illusionist can tell at a glance how well they did (say with a +5), knowing that only the curator will notice it's really gone.

    In playtest, the "extra step" has so far been invisible.  They roll, they see 'your comparison' and then take the next step to see precisely how well it compares.  Degree is important in the Scattershot process of generating detail.  If you charge a super-battery with a lightning bolt you need to know how much.  If you seduce a harlot for the information you need to know how well.  Few things in life are as cut and dried as pass-fail, Scattershot gives an instant 'feel' for the degree of success.  The Critical Juncture number even functions as the 'yardstick' to measure fantastic success against.

    Is that any better?

    Fang Langford
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    RobMuadib
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    « Reply #4 on: January 23, 2002, 07:15:49 AM »

    Quote from: Le Joueur

    That's a good point and underscores the difficulty I am at expressing central mechanic of the system.  I am beginning to understand why you keep likening Scattershot to Mayfair's DC Heroes.


    Your systems use of the MIB number (which I rather like) is similar to the operation of the DC heroes/MEGS(Mayfair Exponential Gaming System) Action/Result Table system, and very similar to is immediate successor the TORG/Masterbook system. (Both of which were a major influence in the design of my core mechanics, which I will talk about more in a bit.)


    MEGS/TORG and a bit of System Archaelogy
    ========================================
    Under MEGS You pit an Acting Value (rated in APs) against an Opposing Value - OV (also rated in APs) to get your Target Number. By comparing your open-ended dice roll of 2d10 against their Target Number chart, which is centered on an 11 or higher to succeed for equal values (with progressivey greater values required for success as the OV increases, with the target number increasing at  a semi-exponential rate to account for open-ended result and greater difference of ability), you determine a number of Column shifts for use on the Result Chart.

    The Result chart pits your Effect Value (EV) against an Resitance Value (RV) such that at an EV = RV you score one Result Attribute Point (RAP).
    positive column shifts increase this towards your EV, then EV +1, EV + 2, etc.

    MEGS is the immediate ancestor of the system underlying TORG/Shatterzone/Masterbook, which was also designed by Greg Gorden.
    TORG makes some simplifications over MEGS. First, there is no Action/Result Chart, rather there is a simpler Bonus Number chart (which maps the roll of an open-ended 2D10 roll, centered on 11, to various positive/negative Dice Modifiers, with greater and greater rolls required to achieve successive Dice Modifiers.)

    This Bonus Number is added to your Acting Value , this Acting Total then compared against an Difficulty Number/Opposing Value. (The net result was to rearranged the comparisons such that you don't need to know the Opposing Value to determine your dice result, and with a simpler table to Bonus Number lookup, it is more heads up (you look up from tables quicker.)

    Second, instead of comparing your result to count column shifts, you subtract your Acting Value from the Opposing Value  to get an Effect Modifier.  You then add this Effect Modifier to your Effect Value to determine result. The effect Value could be compared to a  result table, depending on whats being resolved, which map the EVs to various success levels/effects.

    Now, your system does a similar thing in a more simplified way. First, you
    have a standardized range of abilities that fits within your dice range results (as I understand it), such that you by comparing your roll against
    your Acting Value (I forget your terminlogy), you get a Result/Effect Value.

    Now, as I undestand it, you allow for this simplification by sharply limiting
    success to the range of the dice. That is, you can't succeed beyond a certain value, that value being your Acting Value Minus the lowest rollable result, and you also have no chance of success beyond a certain value (or so I believe, since the dice stop at 2/20.) Whereas with MEGS/TORG you have an open-ended/infinitesmal chance of acheiving both success against impossible odds as well as achieving Supersuccess (i.e. success beyond the value of your underlying Result, more so in TORG, much less so in MEGS).

    However, as a positive, you do provide for a rull range of Failure Results on the other side, Whereas MEGS/TORG was simplified to
    simply Graded Success/Failure/Botch. Oh yeah, a question for you Fang, it would seem for ability scores of 20 or more, you have no chance of failure (Or is a 20 an auto-failure.) This differs from MEGS/TORG as well in that they allow for both infinestimal chances of success and failure.

    So it would seem to me you created a dice mechanic that provides most of the range of benefits of MEGS/TORG, i.e. nicely graduated range of success(plus failure as a bonus) results with a slick abstracted resolution, while cutting down handling time to the bone.

    However, features you dropped include Infinitesmal chance of Success/Failure and Relative Graded Success/Effect (which only MEGS has, TORGS dropped it in terms of it's simpler Effect/Result Value determination, at least for standard success resolution).

    Relative Graded Success(/Failure) means that success is weighted by the underlying ability as compared to the opposition. For instance, if someone rolled high enough to get a +3 CS, their actual success in terms of RAPS would be predicated upon their the ratio/Difference of that RAP versus the Opposing Value.

    This is nice both for use of modeling weapons versus armor say, but it also allows for modelling of say the effect of overall Skill versus difficulty of task. Someone more skilled, for a given level of Skill and difficulty, will achieve a greater success result for each success breakpoint..

    This is simplified in TORGS general success system by putting all players on an abitrarily equal relative success. Since Your Test Total minus opposing value is used directly to determine result. Whereas in Damage determination it is added to an Effect Value which is then compared to an
    Opposing Value.

    This means, that if you can succeed, regardless of your relative level of ability, you can still achieve any level of success. Since all success levels
    start from the same starting point for all characters. While in MEGS, the greater your Effect Value relative the Opposing Value, the greater your base success both for general success as well as Damage/Effect modelling.

    Now, I think you made an excellent design choice in regards to your stated goals in tweaking your mechanic. I find it kind of interesting, because my mechanic operates in a similar fashion, but where you dropped certain features and added graded failure, I Provided Infinestimal Success/Failure chance, and Graded Relative Success/Failure.

    Which I considered a positive as it allowed me to provide an interesting way to model the Skill/Experience versus Talent/Ability dichotomy. Which
    is ignored in your simpler/quicker mechanic. A given Score for your resoltion peforms the same. where for a given score under my mechanic, Different combinations of Aptitude and Proficiency perform different, even if they have the same chance of binary success.

    The cost on my part was a rather complex mechanic with many steps, and a possibly spiraling handling time, if a highe open-ended result occurs. I have optimised and mitigated this as much as possible, but it is still there, luckily I accept it and hope my audience will too in exchange for its impressive range of modelling and switches/dials for altering the results. Which is to say, I accepted these drawbacks in exchange for its very rich modelling options, which I believe no other RPGs mechanic has done as well.

    I think I would like to post an examination of my system, as a counterpoint to yours. (though I am sure most of the forge members here will have a coronary at the handling time and complexity, though I believe it is mitigated through optimization, usage tips, and internalization.)

    Quote from: Le Joueur

    The part that is coming out wrong is "I now proceed to the UE table with 5."  That would be 'handling time' I don't recommend.  Perhaps if I parse it out with an example using as small of steps as possible.  What I am not properly communicating is how we've worked to cut down the 'handling time.'

    Let's say Delphi the Mentalist decides to use mind control on a mob of people who have him tied up and mean him ill.  The game has been established with a Critical Juncture number of 7.  And let's say he has a Mind Control (Group) type of ability at a Rating of 13 and a Power of 25.  When originally making note of this power on his character sheet, Delphi's player checked the UE Chart and made note that at Power 25, Delphi will normally be able to affect 31 individuals (and wrote this on the character sheet).  We'll begin with Delphi's Action.[list=1][*]Delphi's player indicates he is establishing mind control on the crowd
    [*]He rolls a 8 (any lesser would only happen 21% of the time)
    [*]Reading the MIB out loud he states that he 'Made It By 5'
    [*]This means, to the gamemaster (or whoever is Proprietor of the mob), that any members of that group would have to 'Make It By 5' or more in order to remain free of the effect
    [*]Since this is a Supernatural or Preternatural effect, the Rating used to resist it is Power (barring a more applicable rating, such as a Resist Torture skill or having an advantage like Strong Will which would increase the Rating for this interaction)
    [*]While I don't expect the players to have this memorized, the chances of doing this (rolling 5 or less) is only 10%, our playtesters seemed to get a 'feel' for this quite quickly
    [*]Now this only covers the first 31 people out of a potentially large mob
    [*]Delphi could:
      [*]Burn a MIB point and increase his reach (±5 mechanic means a 30 on the UE Chart making it cover 45 people)
      [*]Roll an Experience Dice and add it to his total (virtually assuring a Telling Blow)
      [*]Do both
      [*]He might grandstand it; playing on mob mentality, his control over those 28 (90% of 31), and some soliloquy expanding influence (rather than control) over the whole mob
      [*]He might decide to take longer (adding something mechanically the same as an 'aiming' bonus)
      [*]Or any combination of the above[/list:u][/list:o]What he doesn't do is look up the MIB 5 on the UE Chart.  The UE Chart limits what can be affected and this is known from the point the power was created.  The ±5 mechanic allows this number to be tweaked after the roll (and we are still discussing if it should be ±10 or what).

      Fang Langford



      I really really like the direction you have taken with your mechanic. I like the rich detailed results it produces as well as your use of an UE. Which again draws comparisons to MEGS base 2 AP system, and TORGS 5 points to a factor of 10 log scale system. My system, in its spirit of the option for more detail is better maxim, uses a 10 points to a factor of 10 log scale as it's underlying scale.

      I also like the use of your Residuals Score, Which is much how MEGS operated, in that RAPs from one Test could act as the OV/RV to another, or as a Minimum level of success needed, or be converted to a duration, quantity, etc.. My system works very similarly in its use of Failure/Success/Effect Result Scores, but again with more detailed modeling of factors.

      Your pre-derived use is also a good optimization for handling time. Overall I am very impressed by the direction of your mechanics and codification of various ideas. As I metioned earlier, it is also interesting to me in that you designed a mechanic with many of the same features as mine but, optimized for speed and simplicity, where mine is designed for rich modeling and detail with speed 2nd, and simplicity last.

      anyway, thought I would chime in with a bit of game archaelogy and deconstruction of your mechanics, and how they mirror and differ from mine.
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #5 on: January 24, 2002, 08:27:15 AM »

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Quote from: Le Joueur
      That's a good point and underscores the difficulty I am at expressing central mechanic of the system.  I am beginning to understand why you keep likening Scattershot to Mayfair's DC Heroes.

      Your system's use of the MIB number (which I rather like) is similar to the operation of the DC heroes/MEGS (Mayfair Exponential Gaming System) Action/Result Table system, and very similar to is immediate successor the TORG/Masterbook system.

      While I freely admit that Scattershot uses a unified geometric-progression system to predetermine the limit of the 'quantity' that can affected (and I express that in a table), there is no table like the Action Table anywhere in the game.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Under MEGS You pit an Acting Value (rated in APs) against an Opposing Value - OV (also rated in APs) to get your Target Number. By comparing your open-ended dice roll of 2d10 against their Target Number chart, which is centered on an 11 or higher to succeed for equal values (with progressively greater values required for success as the OV increases, with the target number increasing at a semi-exponential rate to account for open-ended result and greater difference of ability), you determine a number of Column shifts for use on the Result Chart.

      This is why I don't see the resemblance in Scattershot.  Here you index AV versus OV on a chart and get a target number for a single roll.  To me, that felt like the defender was barred from the interplay; definitely sounding deprotagonizing.

      In Scattershot both parties have a hand in the action; it really 'gets you involved.'  The reason MIB numbers are used sans chart is for that instant when both players call them out and in the following silence everyone suddenly knows which is higher.

      Also, MIB numbers simultaneously replace the Results chart.  The predetermined effects (indexed on the UE Chart) only come into play after the RMIB number is known, for things that alter a resource rating; otherwise a MIB number is 'used straight.'

      That means, in Scattershot, you have two rolls (one for each character) to MEGS' one and no charts (well, one you use long before the session) to MEGS' two. I do respect the similarity between exponential APs and the geometric UE Chart; it's where I learned the idea.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      (The net result [in Torg] was to rearranged the comparisons such that you don't need to know the Opposing Value to determine your dice result, and with a simpler table to Bonus Number lookup, it is more heads up [you look up from tables quicker.])

      We traded tables for an 'add then subtract;' it's more portable and can speed the 'heads up' time, but with math-uncomfortable our only choice was a one-two-three Jan-Ken-Po comparison.  I don't know if either way is better.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Second, instead of comparing your result to count column shifts, you subtract your Acting Value from the Opposing Value  to get an Effect Modifier.  You then add this Effect Modifier to your Effect Value to determine result. The effect Value could be compared to a result table, depending on what’s being resolved, which map the EVs to various success levels/effects.

      Which brings the math back anyway.  We always felt that too much 'handling time' in the quanta of melee (separate actions), deflated the tension of putting your character's life on the line.  While Scattershot's math can seem imposing at first, we've found that the 'flash card face-off' effect came back and supported the tension pretty well.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Now, your system does a similar thing in a more simplified way. First, you have a standardized range of abilities that fits within your dice range results (as I understand it), such that you by comparing your roll against
      your Acting Value (I forget your terminology), [They’re called ‘Ratings,’ intuitive remember?] you get a Result/Effect Value.

      Now, as I understand it, you allow for this simplification by sharply limiting
      success to the range of the dice. That is, you can't succeed beyond a certain value, that value being your Acting Value Minus the lowest rollable result, and you also have no chance of success beyond a certain value (or so I believe, since the dice stop at 2/20.) Whereas with MEGS/TORG you have an open-ended/infinitesimal chance of achieving both success against impossible odds as well as achieving Supersuccess (i.e. success beyond the value of your underlying Result, more so in TORG, much less so in MEGS).

      One of the things we wanted to do with Scattershot was end the caprice of open-ended rolls; in my experience they almost never happen when you need them to (and that seems to depreciate the goal they are put in for).  On the other hand we wished to keep long-shots and infinitesimal (seeming) odds.  We capture this with Experience Dice; by adding (or subtracting) Experience Dice to a roll, it becomes open-ended.  To counter the 'feel' of it being deliberate on the player's part (as opposed to at the whim of doubles) Experience Dice must be rolled rather than as 'experience points' to be simply spend.  (It gets really open-ended when you start taking out a line of Experience Dice credit against your 'karmic bank account,' because later someone gets to use them against you!)  We also capture some of "supersuccess" using the Critical Juncture cut-off; succeed by enough and get a 'cool' success.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      However, as a positive, you do provide for a full range of Failure Results on the other side, Whereas MEGS/TORG was simplified to simply Graded Success/Failure/Botch. Oh yeah, a question for you Fang, it would seem for ability scores of 20 or more, you have no chance of failure (Or is a 20 an auto-failure?)

      I was wondering when someone would finally notice that.  In those cases there are actually several things at work.

      First and foremost, any Rating that is greater than 14 is superhuman.  Since most 'natural' humans range from 8-14 (with a median of 10) and that's only 6 ranks, imagine what 6 more ranks above that must be on a geometric progression!  I don't have a problem imagining someone who is more than 2 times ‘more whatever’ than the very best mankind has to offer, succeeding at every unmodified resolution with no sweat.

      Secondly, this is supposed to be captured by the 'taking your chances' technique.  (You don't roll the dice unless you feel your character is compelled to 'take their chances.' You don't fail watch repair under normal conditions; it's only when you're forced to 'take your chances,' do things get 'dicey.')

      Third, remember this result is likely a residual modifier and some things should only leave infinitesimal chances.

      And finally, most of such rolls will exceed the Critical Juncture threshold anyway and that means the MIB number is only a guideline.  (Also, don't forget that that kind of Rating requires the expenditure of 9 or more points to possess; everyone playing will know what to expect when such a character is able to bring such an extra-human ability to bear.)

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      This differs from MEGS/TORG as well in that they allow for both infinitesimal chances of success and failure.

      As above for success; and imagine what happens when someone begins throwing Experience Dice against you; I've seen this work to keep the 'flow of a game' going because of players contributing from keeping it from being too overwhelming a success.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      So it would seem to me you created a dice mechanic that provides most of the range of benefits of MEGS/TORG, i.e. nicely graduated range of success (plus failure as a bonus) results with a slick abstracted resolution, while cutting down handling time to the bone.

      However, features you dropped include Infinitesimal chance of Success/Failure

      That depends on how you interpret the open-endedness of the Experience Dice mechanic.  I can see people taking it both ways, so I take your point (and may need to reword the mechanics).

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      and Relative Graded Success/Effect (which only MEGS has, TORGS dropped it in terms of it's simpler Effect/Result Value determination, at least for standard success resolution).

      Relative Graded Success(/Failure) means that success is weighted by the underlying ability as compared to the opposition. For instance, if someone rolled high enough to get a +3 CS, their actual success in terms of RAPS would be predicated upon their the ratio/Difference of that RAP versus the Opposing Value.

      This is nice both for use of modeling weapons versus armor, but it also allows for modeling of say the effect of overall Skill versus difficulty of task. Someone more skilled, for a given level of Skill and difficulty, will achieve a greater success result for each success breakpoint.

      Whew!  I never got that far into MEGS, but how does that not relate to higher level Ratings generating bigger MIB numbers in Scattershot?  Perhaps this is hidden in how the Multiplier facet of Scattershot works for things like damage.

      Let’s compare Everlast-man and the Force, both punching the Goofball.  Everlast-man, being a trained boxer (Boxing of 13) with a strength of 15, rolls his dice (getting a 11) and gets a MIB of  2.  In the exact same situation, the Force, a superhuman battering ram (Kinetic Blast of 17) with a power of 30, makes the same roll and gets a MIB of  6.  In these parallel cases, we’ll just say that the Goofball wasn’t paying attention and fails his dodge roll.  Everlast-man takes his RMIB of 4 and (noting the multiplier he indexed when his character was created) multiplies it by 2½ getting a 5 basic damage.  The Force takes his RMIB of 6 and multiplies by 9 (Multiplier is a geometric progression equaling whichever Rating squared, divided by 100) and gets 54!  (After this, it’s up to Goofball’s player to determine how this ‘bounces off’ his rubbery exterior.)  That sounds like ‘greater success for each breakpoint,’ but I might be reading it wrong.

      Now if the Force’s Kinetic Blast was18, then he would have met or exceeded a Critical Juncture threshold of 7.  This would have compelled Goofball’s player to describe some kind of unique result, perhaps he decides the blow sends his character bouncing all around the scene and right out of it!  (Meeting the suggestion of having ‘larger than the melee’ results.)

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Now, I think you made an excellent design choice in regards to your stated goals in tweaking your mechanic. I find it kind of interesting, because my mechanic operates in a similar fashion, but where you dropped certain features and added graded failure, I provided Infinitesimal Success/Failure chance, and Graded Relative Success/Failure.

      Which I considered a positive as it allowed me to provide an interesting way to model the Skill/Experience versus Talent/Ability dichotomy. Which is ignored in your simpler/quicker mechanic. A given Score for your resolution performs the same. Where, for a given score under my mechanic, Different combinations of Aptitude and Proficiency perform different, even if they have the same chance of binary success.

      Well, since Scattershot’s graduated success levels carry over into the results, I have always had to ask a question.  I take for granted that all game mechanics are abstractions.  Granted the example of two characters performing the same action, one with high skill and low aptitude and the other with low skill and high aptitude (such that in terms of probabilities within the mechanic, they are equal), how does a system model the differences in what they produce?  It is difficult to both abstract reality and yet capture the subtle differences between success that is more skilled and equal to success that is more talented.

      In fact, because of how Scattershot is design to handle this kind of detail, there are no mechanics for it.  Points spent on talent cost the same as points spent on training, they add together and the total is used to set the ‘skill’ level.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      The cost on my part was a rather complex mechanic with many steps, and a possibly spiraling handling time, if a higher open-ended result occurs. I have optimized and mitigated this as much as possible, but it is still there, luckily I accept it and hope my audience will too in exchange for its impressive range of modeling and switches/dials for altering the results. Which is to say, I accepted these drawbacks in exchange for its very rich modeling options, which I believe no other RPGs mechanic has done as well.

      Looking at the possibilities for modeling detail as it occurs in the real world and the amount of abstraction necessary to write a role-playing game, I concluded that no amount of work on my part to delineate detail would really add much value to the game played by people using Scattershot.  This is originally how I conceived of the Critical Juncture limit.  I once played in a Warhammer Fantasy module; my character was the ‘look-alike’ that drove the plot.  In our first melee, my character took a critical hit to the hip; it dislodged a piece of bone that flowed up his bloodstream into his brain killing him in six hours.  Game over.

      I realized that for as cool as the critical hit tables were in Warhammer Fantasy, I would never be able to publish that many tables.  I liked the wide range of possible results, but how could I do that without tables and have it suit each gaming group playing Scattershot?  I’d let them improvise!  When a character is hit by an attack over a certain caliber, a Telling Blow has been struck and their player must improvise whatever ‘critical hit’ effect they feel is appropriate.  That’s how Scattershot approaches an "impressive range of...results."  Not necessarily the best way, but I hope one that will have some appeal.

      This also comments on the difference between talented and trained work.  Whatever the combination of those two, it is noted clearly in the character’s description.  When the player comes to the point where they are taking the MIB number and turning it into ‘detail’ for the game, their narration is expected to reflect this differentiation suited to their character’s description.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      I think I would like to post an examination of my system, as a counterpoint to yours. (Though I am sure most of the forge members here will have a coronary at the handling time and complexity, though I believe it is mitigated through optimization, usage tips, and internalization.)

      Start your own thread and go for it!

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      I really, really like the direction you have taken with your mechanic. I like the rich detailed results it produces as well as your use of an UE. Which again draws comparisons to MEGS base 2 AP system, and TORGS 5 points to a factor of 10 log scale system. My system, in its spirit of the option for more detail is better maxim, uses a 10 points to a factor of 10 log scale as it's underlying scale.

      I also like the use of your Residuals Score, which is much how MEGS operated, in that RAPs from one Test could act as the OV/RV to another, or as a Minimum level of success needed, or be converted to a duration, quantity, etc. My system works very similarly in its use of Failure/Success/Effect Result Scores, but again with more detailed modeling of factors.

      Your pre-derived use is also a good optimization for handling time. Overall I am very impressed by the direction of your mechanics and codification of various ideas. As I mentioned earlier, it is also interesting to me in that you designed a mechanic with many of the same features as mine but, optimized for speed and simplicity, where mine is designed for rich modeling and detail with speed 2nd, and simplicity last.

      Anyway, thought I would chime in with a bit of game archaeology and deconstruction of your mechanics, and how they mirror and differ from mine.

      Thank you for the compliments and the contrast (detailed understanding often comes out of comparison).

      Fang Langford

      (Don’t tell anyone, but you’ve added to my system confidence immensely.)
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      Ron Edwards
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      « Reply #6 on: January 24, 2002, 08:58:57 AM »

      Fang wrote,

      Quote
      One of the things we wanted to do with Scattershot was end the caprice of open-ended rolls; in my experience they almost never happen when you need them to (and that seems to depreciate the goal they are put in for).


      And,

      Quote
      ... the difference between talented and trained work. Whatever the combination of those two, it is noted clearly in the character’s description. When the player comes to the point where they are taking the MIB number and turning it into ‘detail’ for the game, their narration is expected to reflect this differentiation suited to their character’s description.


      (70s accent again) Solid. (About four syllables there, at least.)

      I should state too that the Mayfair/Scattershot comparison by me was intended to describe Scattershot's superficial appearance or first-impression, not its actual design or operation.

      Here's my new question.

      Fang, have you looked at the resolution system of The Whispering Vault? In that game, NPCs do not roll dice. To focus on combat for a moment, they have target-value ratings for Attack and Defend, against which  a player-character rolls (respectively) Defend and Attack. In other words, on your turn, when you strike it, you roll to beat the monster's Defend, but on its turn, when it strikes you, you roll to beat the monster's Attack. I believe the first game to present something like this was Legendary Lives, although I wouldn't be surprised to find an earlier antecedent.

      I realize that certain aspects of this are not very Scattershot-y, especially the "turn" part, but I do think that it offers a grand solution to the handling-time issue of X rolls and processes result, Y rolls and processes result, then the two results are processed together. I'm not offering it as an alternative to your system (which seems to be a fairly honed version of the separate X & Y, blended result process), but rather for musing-purposes.

      My general concern is that I have found (1) opposed roll systems (Over the Edge, Sorcerer) to work very well as long as target numbers are not an issue - the rolls provide the target number for one another - and (2) target number systems (The Whispering Vault, Little Fears) to work very well when opposed rolls are not an issue. Combining the two things (target numbers, opposed rolls) isn't a terrible thing, but in my experience it ranges from reasonably-all-right (Orkworld) to a bit laborious at least for the GM (Hero Wars) to well-beyond my current tastes for handling-time (GURPS, D6).

      Best,
      Ron
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      RobMuadib
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      « Reply #7 on: January 24, 2002, 03:12:40 PM »

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Quote from: Le Joueur
      That's a good point and underscores the difficulty I am at expressing central mechanic of the system.  I am beginning to understand why you keep likening Scattershot to Mayfair's DC Heroes.

      Your system's use of the MIB number (which I rather like) is similar to the operation of the DC heroes/MEGS (Mayfair Exponential Gaming System) Action/Result Table system, and very similar to is immediate successor the TORG/Masterbook system.

      While I freely admit that Scattershot uses a unified geometric-progression system to predetermine the limit of the 'quantity' that can affected (and I express that in a table), there is no table like the Action Table anywhere in the game.


      True, there is no actual table, however there is an implicit comparison.
      Specifically, since you use a roll <= mechanic versus a rating, each Check
      is effectively made against a standard opposing value of 11, which I believe where the curve is centered.

      So, although there is no table, I see that there is an implicit comparison to get odds of success as mapped to the dice roll. Of course all this comparison and mapping has been nicely integrated into the basic roll already, but to me I still see a "comparison" table, it's just implicit to the design. Which of course makes the mechanic simpler and quicker to use:)

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      (The net result [in Torg] was to rearranged the comparisons such that you don't need to know the Opposing Value to determine your dice result, and with a simpler table to Bonus Number lookup, it is more heads up [you look up from tables quicker.])

      We traded tables for an 'add then subtract;' it's more portable and can speed the 'heads up' time, but with math-uncomfortable our only choice was a one-two-three Jan-Ken-Po comparison.  I don't know if either way is better.


      They are about the same. I would say that because of the Open-Ended dice rolls within the TORG, having two rolls would be annoyingly
      time consuiming. So you have one-sided resolution with the target
      being represented as a static/passive value. The only advantage of this
      comparison rearrangement is that you don't have to reveal Opposing Scores to the players, which is useful for certain issues of character knowledge and such, where with the DC method, you always knew
      exactly how good your opponent was, because otherwise you couldn't determine your success..

       Your system works well because the dice roll and results determination is simple and quick. Thus two rolls aren't particularly burdensome. Now, I would say that having your basic "opposed" action (the classic being to hit in combat) being a double roll in TORGS would push the handling time far to high.

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Second, instead of comparing your result to count column shifts, you subtract your Acting Value from the Opposing Value  to get an Effect Modifier.  You then add this Effect Modifier to your Effect Value to determine result. The effect Value could be compared to a result table, depending on what’s being resolved, which map the EVs to various success levels/effects.

      Which brings the math back anyway.  We always felt that too much 'handling time' in the quanta of melee (separate actions), deflated the tension of putting your character's life on the line.  While Scattershot's math can seem imposing at first, we've found that the 'flash card face-off' effect came back and supported the tension pretty well.


      Yeah, it can tend to be annoying. TORG was worse for this, in DC at least, you used your RAPs directly as damage. That is, once you came away with the table you were done, and it's the targets turn to apply the result. TORG, on the other hand, required that after going through calculation of the Net Effect Value, you then had to compare it to a Damage Result Chart to get a result that could actually be applied to
      a character, (Wound/K/O, etc.) So instead of Eureeka I got an Effect of X, it's Euree...err wait a sec, <chart ouija action> Eureeka, you take a wound.

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      One of the things we wanted to do with Scattershot was end the caprice of open-ended rolls; in my experience they almost never happen when you need them to (and that seems to depreciate the goal they are put in for).  On the other hand we wished to keep long-shots and infinitesimal (seeming) odds.  We capture this with Experience Dice; by adding (or subtracting) Experience Dice to a roll, it becomes open-ended.  To counter the 'feel' of it being deliberate on the player's part (as opposed to at the whim of doubles) Experience Dice must be rolled rather than as 'experience points' to be simply spend.  (It gets really open-ended when you start taking out a line of Experience Dice credit against your 'karmic bank account,' because later someone gets to use them against you!)  We also capture some of "supersuccess" using the Critical Juncture cut-off; succeed by enough and get a 'cool' success.


      Ahh, I missed the experience dice bit in the mechanics. I believe your thinking here was good. Again, maximizing simplicity by not including
      an extra determinination. But add the effect by a enrichment mechanic.

      I do like the bit about Karmic Bank Account. That you get Experience Dice applied against you. This reminds me of my "Hero Point" mechanic. In that you can spend Hero Points to alter the Dice Pool of Outcome Tests. There are two such methods of doing so, first is the classic use of Hero Points, which I call a "Heroic" use, or "Aceing" a roll. That is you use Hero Points to ensure success at a critical action. The second type I call an "Ex Machina" use (a rip on the term "Deus Ex Machina"), or "Deucing" a Roll. In which case you use Hero Points to reduce the success of a critical action being made against you. Which equates to be saved by a Deus Ex Machina, and is common in adventure type fiction - i.e. my trusty lighter took the bullet so I lived after the villian suprised me.


      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      However, as a positive, you do provide for a full range of Failure Results on the other side, Whereas MEGS/TORG was simplified to simply Graded Success/Failure/Botch. Oh yeah, a question for you Fang, it would seem for ability scores of 20 or more, you have no chance of failure (Or is a 20 an auto-failure?)

      I was wondering when someone would finally notice that.  In those cases there are actually several things at work.

      First and foremost, any Rating that is greater than 14 is superhuman.  Since most 'natural' humans range from 8-14 (with a median of 10) and that's only 6 ranks, imagine what 6 more ranks above that must be on a geometric progression!  I don't have a problem imagining someone who is more than 2 times ‘more whatever’ than the very best mankind has to offer, succeeding at every unmodified resolution with no sweat.

      Secondly, this is supposed to be captured by the 'taking your chances' technique.  (You don't roll the dice unless you feel your character is compelled to 'take their chances.' You don't fail watch repair under normal conditions; it's only when you're forced to 'take your chances,' do things get 'dicey.')

      Third, remember this result is likely a residual modifier and some things should only leave infinitesimal chances.

      And finally, most of such rolls will exceed the Critical Juncture threshold anyway and that means the MIB number is only a guideline.  (Also, don't forget that that kind of Rating requires the expenditure of 9 or more points to possess; everyone playing will know what to expect when such a character is able to bring such an extra-human ability to bear.)


       Sounds like you handle it pretty well. Not having players worry about rolling against a 0.0001% of success is a good simplification.


      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Well, since Scattershot’s graduated success levels carry over into the results, I have always had to ask a question.  I take for granted that all game mechanics are abstractions.  Granted the example of two characters performing the same action, one with high skill and low aptitude and the other with low skill and high aptitude (such that in terms of probabilities within the mechanic, they are equal), how does a system model the differences in what they produce?  It is difficult to both abstract reality and yet capture the subtle differences between success that is more skilled and equal to success that is more talented.

      In fact, because of how Scattershot is design to handle this kind of detail, there are no mechanics for it.  Points spent on talent cost the same as points spent on training, they add together and the total is used to set the ‘skill’ level.


      I will make a few brief comments here about Graded Relative Success and explain it more when I post an examination of my own mechanic.

      My mention DC heroes graded relative success is confusing, because for standard actions, typical skills checks, for example, your Acting Value, and Your Effecting Value are the same, equal to to your Skill Value.
      As is it is in your basic mechanic. This is because binary success and graded success operate along the same axis(are drawn from the same numbers.) They operate within the same magnitude and range under normal mechanics. Though specific effect rolls offer altered magnitude
      along that success range, as you indicated in your attack example with Everlast and Force.

      I should have been mentioning my mechanic, here.
      In my mechanic, the dice are read differently to determine your Binary Success and your Graded Success, thus operating at different chances range/of success. This is done such that your Aptitude/Talent controls the range of your Success and your Proficiency/Skill controls the magnitude along that range. Hence creating a real different between Talent and Skill
      that can't be simulated with the traditional single number.
      Under my system, For Effect based
      actions, Effect is the aggregate of two sets of Success Magnitude/Ranges
      one based on the Skill with which the attack was made, and one based on the nature of the weapon/effect being used.

      This of course increases complexity and such, but I believe the extra detail it produces is worthwhile, and think it's a neat mechanic, that allows for interesting modeling, while still being abstract enough to be usable.


      Quote from: RobMuadib
      I think I would like to post an examination of my system, as a counterpoint to yours. (Though I am sure most of the forge members here will have a coronary at the handling time and complexity, though I believe it is mitigated through optimization, usage tips, and internalization.)

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Start your own thread and go for it!


      I will post a summary of it soon, compared to most peoples preferences and system design choices around it is as heavy and complex as the space shuttle:)

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Thank you for the compliments and the contrast (detailed understanding often comes out of comparison).

      Fang Langford
      (Don’t tell anyone, but you’ve added to my system confidence immensely.)


      Your welcome, as I said I am impressed with the mechanic. The reasons it draws comparison to DC heroes, is because both are well-designed, seamless in use, and elegant in the results they provide.

      Rob Muadib
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #8 on: January 25, 2002, 01:34:21 PM »

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      TORG was worse for this, in DC at least, you used your RAPs directly as damage. That is, once you came away with the table you were done, and it's the targets turn to apply the result. TORG, on the other hand, required that after going through calculation of the Net Effect Value, you then had to compare it to a Damage Result Chart to get a result that could actually be applied to a character, (Wound/K/O, etc.) So instead of Eureka I got an Effect of X, it's Euree...err wait a sec, <chart Ouija action> Eureka, you take a wound.

      One of the Strengths of using the UE Chart is that even if you have a multiplier on an ability you only need to note the multiples up to but not including the Critical Juncture number.  For example The Heretic has a Power of 40 for his Blast power.  If the Critical Juncture number for the game is 7 then to 'know ahead of time' what his results are, he only needs to write these multiples of 16 on his character sheet as his 'effects' numbers: 16, 32, 48, 64, 80, and 96, leaving no calculation during play.

      Quote from: RobMuadib
      Quote from: Le Joueur
      One of the things we wanted to do with Scattershot was end the caprice of open-ended rolls; in my experience they almost never happen when you need them to (and that seems to depreciate the goal they are put in for).  On the other hand we wished to keep long-shots and infinitesimal (seeming) odds.  We capture this with Experience Dice; by adding (or subtracting) Experience Dice to a roll, it becomes open-ended.  To counter the 'feel' of it being deliberate on the player's part (as opposed to at the whim of doubles) Experience Dice must be rolled rather than as 'experience points' to be simply spend.  (It gets really open-ended when you start taking out a line of Experience Dice credit against your 'karmic bank account,' because later someone gets to use them against you!)  We also capture some of "supersuccess" using the Critical Juncture cut-off; succeed by enough and get a 'cool' success.

      Ah, I missed the experience dice bit in the mechanics. I believe your thinking here was good. Again, maximizing simplicity by not including an extra determination. But add the effect by an enrichment mechanic.

      I do like the bit about Karmic Bank Account. That you get Experience Dice applied against you. This reminds me of my "Hero Point" mechanic. In that you can spend Hero Points to alter the Dice Pool of Outcome Tests. There are two such methods of doing so, first is the classic use of Hero Points, which I call a "Heroic" use, or "Aceing" a roll. That is you use Hero Points to ensure success at a critical action. The second type I call an "Ex Machina" use (a rip on the term "Deus Ex Machina"), or "Deucing" a Roll. In which case you use Hero Points to reduce the success of a critical action being made against you. Which equates to be saved by a Deus Ex Machina, and is common in adventure type fiction - i.e. my trusty lighter took the bullet so I lived after the villain surprised me.

      I'm not sure if I am adequately communicating the principle here.  Experience Dice can be used in either of these ways at any time, regardless if the player is actually involved in the interaction or not.

      The 'karmic bank account' is for when you run out of Experience Dice.  You take out a loan and those 'Dice are saved after you use them, later (whenever they feel like it) whomever you 'used them against' must 'use them against' you as instant karmic backlash.  (That means if you used them against a non-player character, the gamemaster 'will get you,' a player otherwise.)

      Hope that makes things more clear.

      Fang Langford
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #9 on: January 25, 2002, 02:01:42 PM »

      Quote from: Ron Edwards
      Here's my new question, have you looked at the resolution system of The Whispering Vault? In that game, NPCs do not roll dice. To focus on combat for a moment, they have target-value ratings for Attack and Defend, against which  a player-character rolls (respectively) Defend and Attack. In other words, on your turn, when you strike it, you roll to beat the monster's Defend, but on its turn, when it strikes you, you roll to beat the monster's Attack.

      I have.  I have been collecting Whispering Vault ever since it was a 5½ x 8½, comb-bound edition.  I hadn't noticed that mechanic.  (I never get the chance to play all these wonderful games; if I could I'd play InSpectres.  I suppose I should be gratified that my players will only use Scattershot or nothing at all.)  I read it a few months ago when you mentioned it.  It rocked my world.  When we tried something like that, Scattershot lost a lot of its visceral 'you against me' feeling.

      We support that even when it does not involve two player characters by giving the gamemaster more of a chance to 'play' his characters, by making it possible for other players to adjudicate these battles.  The 'both parties call out their MIB numbers' gimmick really seems to enliven combat, even between the gamemaster and another player.

      Quote from: Ron Edwards
      My general concern is that I have found (1) opposed roll systems (Over the Edge, Sorcerer) to work very well as long as target numbers are not an issue - the rolls provide the target number for one another - and (2) target number systems (The Whispering Vault, Little Fears) to work very well when opposed rolls are not an issue. Combining the two things (target numbers, opposed rolls) isn't a terrible thing, but in my experience it ranges from reasonably-all-right (Orkworld) to a bit laborious at least for the GM (Hero Wars) to well-beyond my current tastes for handling-time (GURPS, D6).

      You know, you're the second person who's brought up the 'target number' issue to me and I must be missing something.  The target numbers in Scattershot are set before play begins, on the character sheet (even the Default-for-no-ability rolls).  There is a little tweaking by modifiers during play for attempting things clearly beyond the basic scope of an ability, but otherwise their static.

      I can see the problem with a ever-changing target number system combined with doubly-rolled opposition.  You have to think up both numbers, then roll against them, then calculate, thencombine them; that would be a lot of handling time.

      In Scattershot though, unless you have something like a point or two of Combat Advantage going against you, you will be using the skill Rating right off the character sheet.  Since most people only have one or two skills that they use in combat (unless their getting clever - which I think rightfully should be more work), so those can be referenced once at the beginning of the melee; this makes it: roll against your skill, then calculate, then shout out the difference, then the aggressor calculates his RMIB number and the defender recalculates his Hit Point total.

      About the same amount of calculation, but much less fore-appraisal.  I dunno, it seems to work.  I guess further playtest is called for.

      (How does Sorcerer handle doing something in melee 'the hard way?'  Imagine Inigo and Roberts trading handedness.  Are there modifiers?  How about high skill?  I haven't been able to afford Sorcerer, so you'll have to help me out here.  We might be using very much the same mathematics with the calculations in Scattershot just turned completely inside out.)

      Fang Langford
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      Ron Edwards
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      « Reply #10 on: February 05, 2002, 09:03:19 AM »

      Hi Fang,

      I never did get back to this one ...

      Your cogent description of the Scattershot system makes it very clear. I think it's about as streamlined as a certain category of RPG resolution is going to get.

      However, I see two very functional, sufficient uses of resolving conflicts with randomized methods that bear some considering.

      1) Roll vs. roll, with no target numbers whatsoever.

      Over the Edge uses a dice-pool system, in which one person might have a "3" in something, meaning three dice, and the other might have a "2" in something that opposes it, meaning two dice. They roll; higher wins, and the value rolled is the extent of the effect. In this case, you have neither attacker nor defender; ties or mutual damage of any kind are vanishingly rare.

      Prince Valiant (and later, Sorcerer) uses a modified form of this model. PV uses coins; Sorc uses dice of any magnitude as long as they are all the same. In this case, only the highest value die is read and compared across the two rolls; effect is determined by how many of one's dice are higher. (High ties are ignored.) In this case, everyone gets to be an attacker at some point.

      Swashbuckler's system uses a single die vs. a single die, with a table of modifiers to the player's roll based on what maneuvers are being matched up by combatants. In this case, like OTE, only clashes are resolved and ties/mutual damage almost never occur.

      The whole point about this Option #1 is that no target numbers are ever employed. The "meaning" of a given rolled value is only read relative to the other roll (higher or lower).

      2) Player-character rolls vs. target-number, for both offense and defense.

      This is just what I described for The Whispering Vault, in which the NPC sets target numbers, but the player always rolls. Little Fears uses a similar system, with a different way of determining how many dice are rolled. (No system I know of uses this method with a fixed number of dice and pip-based modifiers, but I don't see any reason why not.)

      The whole point of Option #2 is that target numbers are employed, but only one "side" ever rolls.

      3) The White Wolf system (which I refuse to call "Storyteller") hybridizes the two, and frankly I find that it adds nothing to the process except extra steps.

      The curse of the WW system is that it is based on varying both the target number and the number of dice rolled, for both combatants. Frankly, it's a huge pain in the ass, and combined with their traditional "wait your turn" sequencing, makes for profoundly boring play.

      Even if you keep the number of dice constant, though, as in GURPS, the entire notion of "I roll, calculate my effect based on my target number; you roll, calculate your effect based on my target number; we now compare effects" is incredibly annoying once one has experienced Options #1 and #2. This is the curse of Feng Shui as well.

      4) Functional hybrids of the two Options are found very rarely. The only one I can think of is Hero Wars, which in some ways is a lot like Swashbuckler with several, much more sophisticated ways of modulating the results across combatants, but it does use target-numbers. Since both rolls are single-die, the resultant curve is a nice bell.

      It may be that Scattershot, with its very carefully-constructed UE relative to the sigmoid curve produced by the two rolls, is another functional hybrid. As you point out, the placement of the comparison (prior to determining the overall effect) cuts down the handling time.

      Best,
      Ron
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      « Reply #11 on: February 05, 2002, 12:32:25 PM »

      Quote from: Ron Edwards
      Your cogent description of the Scattershot system makes it very clear. I think it's about as streamlined as a certain category of RPG resolution is going to get.

      However, I see two very functional, sufficient uses of resolving conflicts with randomized methods that bear some considering.

      1) Roll vs. roll, with no target numbers whatsoever.

      [Snip.]
      Swashbuckler's system uses a single die vs. a single die, with a table of modifiers to the player's roll based on what maneuvers are being matched up by combatants. In this case, like OTE, only clashes are resolved and ties/mutual damage almost never occur.

      The whole point about this Option #1 is that no target numbers are ever employed. The "meaning" of a given rolled value is only read relative to the other roll (higher or lower).

      [Snip number 2.]

      After reading through your analysis, I have to conclude that Scattershot then does have target numbers in contested rolls from a totally functional perspective.  Stripping away all the text around the system and inverting a few of the value-illusions attached to them, Scattershot uses something almost identical to what you describe in Swashbuckler.

      Taken absolutely as numbers, you could say Scattershot is paired dice versus paired dice with a modifier on the rolls to reflect skills, maneuver, and setting.  If you imagine the difference between a skill of 13 and one of 12 as the character with the 13 having one more +1 than the character with the 12, you can mentally 'throw out' the skill numbers.  It's complicated math but since both players call out deviation from a single static number (remember we're imagining skill differences as just another modifier), it is exactly the same as simply comparing numbers mathematically.

      Example time!  Player A rolls (with all the modifiers) a 13 and Player B rolls a 10.  Let's say the static number is 11; A is +2 and B is -1 (this is what they call out). This is the same as them comparing the 10 to the 13 and seeing a difference of 3.  If you 'slide' a few of the modifiers over to Player B (to cut down on Player A's workload), the difference still remains the same.  Scattershot simply uses the conspiracy of supposedly changing the 'static number' to reflect modifiers (for high skill) known in advance; they're still just modifiers to a duplicate static target number.

      Why go to that much trouble?  Two reasons; first, in playtest it reads a lot more like traditional games to have each player use character-driven skill 'target numbers.'  Or, how intuitively Scattershot handles bonuses and such.  (A higher 'illusionary target number' looks better; a bonus that adds, penalties that subtract 'sound right.')  Second is how it handles uncontested rolls.  I haven't picked up Swashbuckler in a while, but from what I remember about the combat chart, its modifiers didn't include non-combat actions.  We wanted Scattershot to have only one modifier list, combat or otherwise.  Maneuver bonuses are collapsed into the skills and Flurry rules (in order to have the 'better moves' you must have a higher level, which means you have an 'illusionary bonus' for using them).  All other modifiers are on one list.

      Ultimately, the system doesn't really have target numbers.  It's just a bunch of modifiers masquerading as target numbers.  Instead of "The 'meaning' of a given rolled value is only read relative to the other roll (higher or lower)," it would be, "The 'meaning' of a contested rolled value (the MIB number) is heard relative to the other called out (better or worse)."  And the difference is used to calculate mechanical results.

      Quote from: Ron Edwards
      It may be that Scattershot, with its very carefully-constructed UE relative to the sigmoid curve produced by the two rolls, is another functional hybrid. I certainly hope so.

      Again, the only affect the UE Chart has upon die resolution bears on what is being attempted (much like a -1 modifier for a target being 'too big,' the UE Chart changes what 'too big' is, based on the efficacy of the character attempting the action).  (However, the result of Resource-affecting MIBs is modified by a single UE Chart facet.)

      I'm an armchair statistician, and My God! I hated grinding out the permutation charts for the comparison of two sigmoid graphs using different Critical Juncture and ratings cut-off thresholds.  Argh!  Even my Microsoft Excel hurt after I resorted to using it!

      Ultimately Scattershot then fails at being a hybrid, merely using roll versus roll with illusionary target numbers to collapse (and divide responsibilities for) modifier calculation.

      I'm not so sure about the difference of resolving simultaneous actions (as all of your roll versus roll examples seem to), versus parsing it out to two separate clashes.  The purpose of breaking Flurries down to individual die rolls was to mechanize a fairly clear sequence of (smaller abstraction) actions 'in the mind's eye' (which I believe is usually either a Gamist or Simulationist priority, but I don't see how it couldn't be applied by Narrativists looking for more detail).

      Fang Langford
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #12 on: February 05, 2002, 01:15:39 PM »

      I only just noticed the differences between your last two posts.

      Quote from: One was Ron Edwards
      As you point out, the placement of the comparison (prior to determining the overall effect) cuts down the handling time.

      How does the 'figure the results' part work with Swashbuckler?  (Especially in light of the above 'not really with target numbers' stuff?)

      Fang Langford

      p. s. Which do you want deleted?  The first one right?

      [the 'extra' one this mentions has been erased - ed]
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      Marco
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      « Reply #13 on: February 05, 2002, 01:25:53 PM »

      I realize you're talking about dice mechanics (and not combat) but I've got a question:

      In your Force/Everlast/Goofball example it seems that your to-hit roll and "damage roll" are one in the same--does armor subtract from damage? In The Force's example it seems that damage goes:

      0, 0, 0, 9, 18, 27, 36, 54, up to 135 (although it'll hit the juncture at 63 so maybe those higher numbers don't actually occur).

      I don't know how characters respond to damage but if Scattershot can be used to play through a gamist-dungeon crawl then I'd expect 54 pts of damage to kill an even-relatively-tough person.

      Just looking at those numbers, it seems like there *might* be a blow-through problem based on spread (i.e. the character who can barely take 9pts of damage might be destroyed by 18).  

      I realize that a mortal getting hit by a 30pt Kinetic Blast is pretty much toast anyway--but unless armor scales along with damage (with another roll?) I'm curious as to how you avoid blow-through (invariant armor against a really wide scale in a comparatively narrow statistical range--the odds of 9pts are MUCH lower than the odds of a lot more).

      I realize there's a lot I don't know here--I'm just curious.

      -Marco
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      « Reply #14 on: February 05, 2002, 02:54:45 PM »

      Quote from: Marco
      In your Everlast/Force/Goofball [cute gimmick: all examples in this thread are alphabetical; these are characters E, F, and G] example it seems that your to-hit roll and "damage roll" are one in the same--does armor subtract from damage?

      Yes, that's right.  And you have 'caught me out.'  I neglected to put the armor mechanics in the 'nothing but mechanix' thread; I'll get right on that.

      Quote from: Marco
      In The Force's example it seems that damage goes:

      0, 0, 0, 9, 18, 27, 36, 54, up to 135 (although it'll hit the juncture at 63 so maybe those higher numbers don't actually occur).

      Yep, the only ones that need to be listed on the character sheet are (matching the positive RMIB numbers) 9, 18, 27, 35, 45, and 54.  Misses don't count and the Telling Blow doesn't really need numbers (you'll note; with a Critical Juncture number of 7, this is 'heavy damage' superhero game - not terribly four color - I think).

      I'm not sure where you get the 0s from though.  (Did I confuse by using a superhuman 'skill' level for The Force?  He rolls against a Rating of 17, his Resource Rating is a Power of 30.  Natural human 'skill' levels never exceed 14 making Force's 3 points superhuman.)

      Quote from: Marco
      I don't know how characters respond to damage but if Scattershot can be used to play through a gamist-dungeon crawl then I'd expect 54 pts of damage to kill an even-relatively-tough person.

      The main problem here is while 54 points is a measure of damage, it doesn't use a very familiar unit of 'injury.'  This being one of those 'tricks' Ron warns about.  A natural human ranges from 8-14 Hit Points, with a median of 10.  In Scattershot, Hit Points aren't a measure of injury.  When a character is reduced to 0 Hits Points, they could very well be completely healthy, they just cannot fight any more.

      Injury puts you out of battle; one way to lose Hit Points is to be injured.  Psychological attacks can do this too (being 'clinically demoralized' will reduce your Hit Points).  Anything that, in sufficient quantities, will 'take you out of a fight,' takes away Hit Points.  (If anything, it might resemble 'Bonk' from Teenagers from Outer Space; the Scattershot book for emulating Anime includes a mechanic for losing Hit Points for exceptionally well-delivered puns.)

      Likewise, if you brought a typical dungeon crawler into a superhero world, would it seem verisimilar for them to 'shrug off' one of Force's blasts?  I know if I were Force's player, that would leave me feeling disempowered.

      Quote from: Marco
      Just looking at those numbers, it seems like there *might* be a blow-through problem based on spread (i.e. the character who can barely take 9pts of damage might be destroyed by 18).

      Well, with a Blast defined as Kinetic Blast, the extra damage would be converted to velocity.  Since 10 points of Force's RMIB is about all it takes to 'wipe out' a 'nat (that's what the playtesters have come to call natural humans), the other 44 would go into Distance on the UE Chart (if anyone cares to look it up, otherwise the subject just 'goes flying, really, really fast') which is over a hundred yards.  (I think; right now we are considering reformulating the UE Chart.  How about I put up what we have?)

      Goofball, with his 'rubbery exterior' counting as armor, would have similar problems with a Kinetic Blast that exceeds his Armor + Hit Points.  Now if he took 'rubbery' to the next level and had Bodily Replacement: Rubbery Weird Science Material, he probably would also be totally invulnerable to Kinetic damage and would convert anything that overcame his armor as something that would catapult him around the landscape.  (See how falling damage would turn into bouncing?)

      Quote from: Marco
      I realize that a mortal getting hit by a 30pt Kinetic Blast is pretty much toast anyway--but unless armor scales along with damage (with another roll?) I'm curious as to how you avoid blow-through (invariant armor against a really wide scale in a comparatively narrow statistical range--the odds of 9pts are MUCH lower than the odds of a lot more).

      Armor is bought with a slightly different scale (using the Points facet of the UE Chart) that paces damage.  If Force had a Force Field (normally also based on his 30 Power), it would be good for 90 points of damage before some started getting through.  No additional roll needed.  'Blow through' is captured largely by Telling Blow (most superhero games have much lower Critical Juncture numbers, cutting down on 'lethality').  In playtest we discovered that in situations where Armor Ratings get into two digits, most players don't mind such widely separated 'notches' on their damage amounts (not sure why, might be a psychological scaling thingie).

      Quote from: Marco
      I realize there's a lot I don't know here--I'm just curious.

      Curiosity is my master and to yours too am I a slave; never fear asking questions, but remember that some answers might scare you.

      Fang Langford

      p. s. Would you mind if I split this off into a new thread?
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