*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 24, 2014, 03:19:23 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Probability & a new mechanic.  (Read 4285 times)
Mystery Cat
Registree

Posts: 3


« on: February 24, 2006, 12:32:38 PM »

Hey folks,

I'm a first-timer, so although I've got some specific questions please don't hesitate to shout out if there's any suggestions or criticisms!

The mechanic:
At a basic level, Characters are made up of two abilities: Skills and Talents. The latter are inherent, untrained, and generalised, while the former have to be learned and are more focused. These two abilities take the form of d10 dice pools.

In a Situation the GM sets the relevant Skill+Talent to be used. While both pools are rolled together, Talents use dice of one colour and Skills use dice of another. Note: Both sorts of die explode, or expand, or whatever you want to call it.

Each die is considered individually, rather than combined (at least at this stage). High Skill rolls are good, and Low Talent rolls are good. Why's that? Because the player takes his lowest Talent result away from his highest Skill result, and is left with a number. That number is the amount of Situation Points (SPs) he has.

Situation Points can be used to solve the situation to the player's satisfaction. They are multi-purpose, but only within the limit of the Talent/Skill combination rolled. No using Manual Dexterity/Lockpicking to machine-gun the mooks, for example. The GM sets a number of SPs to overcome the challenge, and away we go!

Opposed rolls work along roughly the same principles. Both players roll, and the one who ends up with the most SPs is the victor. The level of success is determined by the difference between SP totals.

For example:
Quote
Big Jim and Hercules are having a tug o' war. Big Jim's Strength/Tug o' war Talent/Skill split is 4/2, and he rolls 11, 8, 5, 4 / 2, 4. The best results to choose are the two 4s, so the strongman ends up with a rather unfortunate 0 SPs.
Hercules is stronger than Big Jim but hasn't had any training in the fine art of Tug o' war, so his Talent/Skill split is 6/1. He rolls 7, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1 / 8. Taking the 1 and the 8 gives him a grand total of 7 SPs, and he wins the day.
Poor Big Jim is dragged seven yards across the grass and over the line, losing the contest.

Combat Situations, as always, are a little more complicated. The principles remain the same, however.

Each player involved rolls Wits/Combat to determine the number of SPs available to them this round.

Players then bid SPs in order to go first, and take their turns in order of bid-size, from highest to lowest. (Should nobody want to go first, then the players must bid to go last.)

When that first player declares his Action, the other players (and GM, of course) can declare they are using their own SPs to stop him. This is called a Denial That it isn't their turn yet doesn't matter. Whether they'll have any SPs left when it is, however...

Simply put, if the number of SPs used for the Action are greater than the number of Denying SPs, the action succeeds. Just as with opposed actions, the measure of success is the difference in the number of SPs.

The thing that sets combat apart is Skill Limiting. A player cannot assign more SPs to an Action (or a Denial) than they have points in the Skill they would use. Players can Raise the amount of SPs they put into an Action or Denial, but no higher than this limit.

For example:
 
Quote
Ahnold, who is going first, declares he wants to 'machine gun dat chubby pony-tailed bugger over dere.' His Machine Gun skill is 4, so he cannot assign more than 4 SPs to that particular action. He decides to conserve his SPs, and assigns 2.

That chubby pony-tailed bugger, whose name is Stephan Seagull, understandably thinks this is a bad idea. He declares he is Denying, and describes his action: 'I dive for cover behind these barrels marked 'Inflammable.'' Stephan's Dodge skill is 2, and he assigns the maximum 2 SPs to the denial.

Seeing this, Ahnold opts to increases up his bid by one, to 3SPs. Stephan has already reached his maximum, so unless some other combatant intervenes he could be in trouble...

No one helps. Stephan dives for cover too late, and is clipped by one of Ahnold's shots. His 2 Denial SPs cancel out 2 of Ahnold's Action SPs, leaving a single point, and as a result he takes a single wound.

Behind the cover of the fuel barrels, Stephan fingers a ragged hole in the sleeve of his shiny leather trenchcoat and scowls...

When it's his turn, a player can continue to make actions until his SPs are exhausted. Alternatively, he can Pass and end his turn, conserving SPs for his own defense.

Damage:
Fairly simple, this one. As shown in the previous example, a character struck by an attack takes a number of Wounds equal to the left-over Action SPs, after all Denials.

However, should they have a Talent entitled 'Tough' (or 'Hard as Nails' or 'Resilient' or whatever) they can burn an SP to roll the base Talent and ignore damage equal to the final result.
Note: Mooks and other unnamed characters cannot do this - shrugging off gunfire is a heroic sort of thing to do.

For example:
Quote
Stephen Seagull pops up from behind his explosive cover and blasts away at Ahnold. When all is said and done, he comes out on top by a nice 5 SPs.

Luckily, Ahnold has the 'Tough as Austrian oak' Talent at 3 dice. He decides to burn an SP and rolls the Talent at 3/1, getting 9, 8, 3 / 8. Take the 3 and the 8, leaving a total of 5, and the blow is shrugged off entirely.

Ahnold is blown backwards by the impact, but otherwise unharmed.

The number of Wounds a character can take before falling over is equal to his 'Tough' Talent. Each wound imposes a -1 Penalty to that character's dice pools (reducing the size of both Skill and Trait pools, to a minimum of 1).

When his number of Wounds equals his 'Tough' Talent, the character falls unconscious. Should his Wounds ever reach double his 'Tough' Talent, the character is dead. *violins*

Healing occurs like a normal Trait/Skill roll. The maximum number of Wounds healed is equal to the result of the roll. Unlike most skills, Healing takes a number of rounds equal to the Wounds healed, at a rate of 1/round. Standing still in a gunfight to bandage your mate is a bad idea...[/i]

Right!

  • Problem number one is that I'm not good enough at maths to work out the probability curve for...

    (xd10, keep highest) - (yd10, keep lowest)

    ...when the dice're exploding. So the result could be some pretty wacky anomalies, and I wouldn't know.
  • Problem number two: Resource management: At the moment, there's only one resource to manage - SPs. They're the be-all and end-all, which might make the game a little too tactically simple . Of course, the system's supposed to be fast-moving and fluid, but not at the expense of gameplay.
  • Number three: Wits/Combat: As it stands, the combat system puts too much emphasis on this particular combination. Other skills control how much effort you can put into a single action, but how to reduce the importance of what is effectively an 'initiative' roll?
  • Four: Skill Rolls in Combat: Like the Tough roll to resist damage, I though about allowing certain skills to grant bonuses if rolled during combat. For example, the mook squad would have Tactics, which if used gives them a bonus to their next attack. However, with SPs being the only resource available during combat, there's no trade off. So this links back to the first point.
  • Five: Sneaky player tactics: The bidding system, together with the skill-limiting system, is probably wide open to abuse. Pouring SPs into a high-Skill attack seems to be the answer to everything - you can overwhelm their Denial and ensure serious Damage to your opponent that way.

My rationale for the system as it stands:
IMO, a talent is something that stops you being useless at something you've no experience of. It also marks those trained individuals who excel, and rise higher than somebody else with exactly the same schooling. It stops you making as big a mistake as you might have done without it. That (hopefully) explains the 'negative' aspect of Talent dice; the more dice you have, the better chance you have of ignoring a serious cock-up (negative modifier).

Skills let you do stuff right - hence the 'positive' effects. I'm debating removing the exploding effect of Skill dice, but leaving Talent dice alone. That way, Talent dice become more valuable at lower levels and Skill dice at higher ones.

The SP bidding aspect is something I'm very keen on retaining - it's fast, narrativist, cinematic and encourages much description on the part of both players and GM. At least, that's the idea...



That's it... if you've managed to trawl through it all, thanks! If you've got any comments or assistance to offer, a thousand times thanks!
Martin Jenner
Logged
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2006, 12:39:21 PM »

Why do Talent dice explode?  Unless your only Talent die explodes or all of your Talent dice explode, it doesn't matter since you'll be keeping the lowest die.  Unless they can explode down...
Logged

Mystery Cat
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2006, 01:00:19 PM »

Why do Talent dice explode?  Unless your only Talent die explodes or all of your Talent dice explode, it doesn't matter since you'll be keeping the lowest die.  Unless they can explode down...

No, a Talent dice explosion is a bad thing, as it provides a larger negative modifier to your SP total. And you hit the nail on the head - they're there in case you're unlucky enough to roll 10s on all your Talent dice. That's a serious danger with low Talent, but less so at higher levels. Also, the limited probability model I've been able to work out so far suggests it makes Talent more valuable early on, and Skill more so later.

Does that make sense?
Martin.
Logged
Justin Marx
Member

Posts: 88


« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2006, 06:38:50 AM »

Sorry, brief question - what do you do when there is no applicable talent? I don't know exactly what sort of list of talent's you've created, but take your tug-o-war example - are you likely to have an actual tug-o-war skill? What happens when you just want to default to a particular skill, not needing a particular talent to resolve it? Or are the talents very detailed and listed? If skills represent intrinsic abilities, how do you test them on their own for tasks that require no training?

The skill-limiting system on bidding puts a hellava lot more leverage into the hands of the better trained. It will compound their advantage with larger dice pools and probably make them unbeatable. This is not neccessarily a bad thing - to what extent do you want to balance Karma/Fortune in play? If you want a better chance (probably an only chance) for weaker characters to beat tougher characters in combat with lucky die rolls, then the skill-limit would probably have to go.

As far as the probabilities are concerned, John Hope's simple dicer might be able to do it - I can't remember where I found it, if you can't find it with google PM me and I can send it to you via email.

I think the SPs are an excellent resource, so long as you have plenty of different ways of using them. At this stage SPs are determined AFTER choosing which tactical option is being used which means they are only used in one way - as a way of measuring them against opposing actions linearly. If you can expand the use of SPs to include options after dice rolling, that makes it more interesting. Combat maneuvers perhaps?

I like the SP bidding mechanic, work on it and add more to it - does having more SPs allow you to add more narration? (especially in the case of non-combat events?) Can you include more information, add more details to a player's advantage. If you have a gamist sort of feel in mind, I think competitive bidding is a great way to go about it - but maybe you'd have to rethink about the skill-limit. If you play around with the probabilities on the simple dicer program, maybe instead of having the skill limit play around with die-face sizes to alter the odds.

Also, someone will pipe in with the big questions sooner or later, so I may as well be the first:

1) What do you want your game to really be about?
2) What do you want the characters to be able to do in the game?
3) How do you want the players to interact with each other and the GM if there is one in your game?

That will help clarify what you want to do with your dice mechanic to us here. Apart from that I think you have a good mechanic, but figuring out skill/trait listings is pivotal (as you mentioned with the Wits/Combat combo being too general - yet tug-of-war seems too specific to me) in getting it to work. I think working with distinctions based upon "untrained ability" and "learned ability" can be problematic at times - there's a lot of grey area, also on getting the right focus, not too broad or too narrow.

Justin
Logged

Mystery Cat
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2006, 02:54:57 PM »

Sorry, brief question - what do you do when there is no applicable talent?

If the character doesn't have an applicable talent, they only roll a single Talent dice. Same applies for a lack of appliable Skill. Talent1/1Skill is the baseline, rather than 0/0. Otherwise there'd be nothing to roll for unSkilled/unTalented tests.

I don't know exactly what sort of list of talent's you've created, but take your tug-o-war example - are you likely to have an actual tug-o-war skill?

At the moment actual lists of Talents/Skills are only imaginary, but I was considering just giving a handful of common examples and letting the players create their own (with the GM's approval). The following are off the top of my head, but hopefully they'll make things clearer.
Example Talents: Strong, Tough, Clever, Quick-thinking, Witty, Persuasive, Fast, Musical, Nimble, Manipulative...
Example Skills: Piano-playing, Swordsmanship, Dance, Pistol, Lock-picking, Sleight of hand, Combat training, Computer use...

Looking at that lot, it occurs to me that 'Talent' is the wrong word. 'Trait' or 'Characteristic' would be better, I think. As for the Tug-o'-war Skill, that was just something I invented for the example. As you said, it's probably a bit too specific (and useless) for a proper Skill.

What happens when you just want to default to a particular skill, not needing a particular talent to resolve it? Or are the talents very detailed and listed? If skills represent intrinsic abilities, how do you test them on their own for tasks that require no training?

In the case of a pure Talent(Trait) or pure Skill test, the other aspect defaults to 1. So a test of pure strength would read Strength/1, while a Character playing the flute without an appropriate 'Musical' Trait would roll 1/Flute.

It's the Talents(Traits) that represent intrinsic characteristics, while Skills represent training or experience in a narrower field.

The skill-limiting system on bidding puts a hellava lot more leverage into the hands of the better trained. It will compound their advantage with larger dice pools and probably make them unbeatable. This is not neccessarily a bad thing - to what extent do you want to balance Karma/Fortune in play? If you want a better chance (probably an only chance) for weaker characters to beat tougher characters in combat with lucky die rolls, then the skill-limit would probably have to go.

I think the SPs are an excellent resource, so long as you have plenty of different ways of using them. At this stage SPs are determined AFTER choosing which tactical option is being used which means they are only used in one way - as a way of measuring them against opposing actions linearly. If you can expand the use of SPs to include options after dice rolling, that makes it more interesting. Combat maneuvers perhaps?

There seems to be a bit of confusion here, so I'm not sure I've explained combat right. SPs are generated at the beginning of the Round by a Wits/Combat Training roll. That applies for everyone in combat, no matter if they're the one's shooting or the ones trying to break into a safe while the bullets fly all about.

Once folks have their SP pools for the round, they can use them to do anything they wish. Whatever action (or actions) they chose to make, they are Limited in the number of SPs they can put in by their Skill level (though now I think about it, Traits would probably apply for things like running about, shouting orders, etc., so perhaps they should Limit combat actions too).

Hopefully that makes things a bit clearer? It also should reduce the importance of Skills as compared to Traits, I think, and remove that high-Skill problem you mentioned.

In answer to the Karma/Fortune thing, I'd like to come down on the Fortune side. Trait/Skill levels may be fixed, but SPs are generated through a fortune-based mechanic.

Combat manuevers and additional options are something I'd really like to include, but there has to be some kind of trade-off for them to be tactically interesting. While SPs are the only resource available there's nothing to trade them for. Some sort of gamble (risk 2 SPs for the chance to get 1D6 SPs, or something) might work, but it seems a little uninspired to me.

I like the SP bidding mechanic, work on it and add more to it - does having more SPs allow you to add more narration? (especially in the case of non-combat events?) Can you include more information, add more details to a player's advantage.

In combat, more SPs allow the player freedom to do more with their character's turn, and they're applicable to any action the player can dream up. All the GM needs to do is assign a required number of SPs for the stunt at hand, and if the player can muster that many SPs they're free to act. So - in theory - that gives players and GMs the ability to narrate interesting events.

Out of combat, players can still spend their SPs on anything they want. However, the traits or skills used to generate those SPs limit what they can be used for. Rolling Safe-cracking and using the SPs to disable the burglar alarm is clearly nonsensical.

I'm considering some sort of meta-game use for SPs, though, and Donjon's my principle influence here.. Letting the player spend SPs not for success purposes but instead to grant him narrative authority Each SP used that way would let the player create an additional detail, or erase some detail the GM had planned... Obviously this mechanic would need some serious thought, to see if it's realistically implementable.

Also, someone will pipe in with the big questions sooner or later, so I may as well be the first:

1) What do you want your game to really be about?
2) What do you want the characters to be able to do in the game?
3) How do you want the players to interact with each other and the GM if there is one in your game?

Eeep... Right, lets have a go at those three...
1) What do you want your game to really be about?
I want it to be about breathless, cinematic action where the players' imaginations play as important a part as the GM's planning.
2) What do you want the characters to be able to do in the game?
Act like larger-than-life pulp heroes! They should get the girl, solve the mystery, and foil the villain's plans. What's more, they should do it with style.
3) How do you want the players to interact with each other and the GM if there is one in your game?
I'm not sure quite how to answer this one. The players and GM should co-operate, even collaborate, in order to weave a story that everyone'll find interesting and enjoyable. If this involves intra-party conflict, so be it!

Are they the sort of answers you had in mind?

That will help clarify what you want to do with your dice mechanic to us here. Apart from that I think you have a good mechanic, but figuring out skill/trait listings is pivotal (as you mentioned with the Wits/Combat combo being too general - yet tug-of-war seems too specific to me) in getting it to work. I think working with distinctions based upon "untrained ability" and "learned ability" can be problematic at times - there's a lot of grey area, also on getting the right focus, not too broad or too narrow.

Justin

Do you think it would be necessary to strictly list traits and skills, or give extensive examples and leave them up to the players?

I was thinking of the 'Combat Training' skill as a special case. In its current role it allows more actions, and more effective ones, so I imagined it as a sort of catch-all for whatever makes a good soldier/warrior. More than anything else, it represents the ability not to freeze up when the bullets start flying, but to act swiftly and decisively. As the main generator of combat SPs it becomes very important, but the same applies for everybody.

Hmm... all of that has clarified my idea of the game a great deal. Thanks! And thanks for all your insightful comments, too. I really appreciate it!
Martin.
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!