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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 72 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Character difficulties -> Player dice chance modifers  (Read 2125 times)
Andrew Martin
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Posts: 785


« on: May 02, 2002, 07:28:10 PM »

In the spirit of the rants by Mike:
Just why are character difficulties modeled as player dice chance modifiers? For example, the character's pistol range is long, so the player's dice roll has a -50% modifier or similar in other game systems.

Does it need to be this way? Is there a better way?
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Andrew Martin
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2002, 08:22:10 PM »

Is this an attempt to discuss the advantages of freeform roleplaying over standard tabletop? Or are you looking for something entirely new?

Mike
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Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2002, 08:29:42 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Is this an attempt to discuss the advantages of freeform roleplaying over standard tabletop? Or are you looking for something entirely new?

Mike


I'm looking for something entirely new. I've got one alternative approach that seems to work with my players (in addition to freeform roleplaying), but I'm interested in seeing other approaches to reflecting difficulty or ease modifiers to character actions.

I'm also interested in the "why" part of the question: Why is the character's difficulties/eases modelled as player dice modifiers?
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Andrew Martin
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2002, 08:51:03 PM »

Quote from: Andrew Martin
Why is the character's difficulties/eases modelled as player dice modifiers?


Um, why not? Or rather, as a statistician, such modeling appeals to me. I can look at the figures and make an informed decision. As a GM, I can decide if the task will be interesting to roll for, or dramatic, or challenging, or whatever I'm going for. As a player, I can make a more informed decision. That assumes that it's appropriate for my character to know the odds, or that I'm in author stance, and making OOC decisions based on the odds.

I would assume that we're using such modifiers because it's driving a good model. If so, then using the model will produce interesting results, and propell the game forward as designed.

But I must ask, what's your new secret? Is it something that you can share with us, or do we have to wait for it? Perhaps I am brainwashed, because it seems to me that numbers or words are the only tabletop mechanics that are appropriate. If you demonstrate, that becomes LARP.

What's left, computer simulation? Video?

Mike
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Rich Forest
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Posts: 226


« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2002, 09:52:51 PM »

I think I see what you’re getting at with this, Andrew.  Tell me if I’m right.  There’s plenty of discussion of the fact that the player and character are different.  Characters can make decisions because players want them to, not just because “that’s what my character would do.”  The player and the character are distinct, and they don't have to want the same things to happen (see Elfs), and character "wants" can be motivated by player wants.  

Ok, so the character is having difficulties… and the player takes the modifier.  That's the main way to model it.  And what your asking is, “is this the only way to do this?”

Well, you’ll notice that I said, “the main way to model it.”  I’m not a walking library of game rules, so hopefully someone else will be able to help me out/correct me if I'm mistaken, but there are games where character difficulties are not modeled as modifiers to player rolls.  

I’m thinking of The Pool.  If I remember correctly, difficulty’s got nothing to do with it.  With how many dice you roll, I mean.  Instead, what’s important is how many dice you want to wager in order to get narrative control.  And, when you’re done, you can narrate whatever you want—even difficulties for the character.  Sure, the GM gives you 1-3 dice for your pool whenever you roll, but I don’t think the “how many dice” part is explicitly connected to character difficulties.  

Likewise, I think InSpectres gets pretty much everything done without caring about character difficulties at all.  Maybe not "pretty much," now that I think about it.  Maybe everything.  The rolls are tied to character scores, but these aren’t limited to being character skills in the traditional RPG sense.  

I'm sure those aren't the only two games that do this.  

So if I understand your question, I think the answer is YES, there are other ways to do this.  

Now tell us about yours :)

Rich Forest
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Andrew Martin
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Posts: 785


« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2002, 01:17:28 AM »

Quote from: Rich
So if I understand your question, I think the answer is YES, there are other ways to do this.  

Now tell us about yours :)


There's my post on Ratio here: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5489, which show good things happening. There's also Vincent's (Lumpley Games) Chalk Outlines http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/chalk.html where concessions (as bad things) are described. Our play groups have been trying out concessions in play using my Swift system and so far it's been quite good.

Basically the idea of concessions I stole from Vincent's Chalk Outlines. It's a number of problems the character suffers or endures in order to succeed at a action. In our games using Swift, the player describes an intended action, and rolls the die (Swift uses single die resolution), and the GM can impose one or more concessions to cover the action's difficulty with respect to the character.

For example, fighting in the dark against skeletons, the GM could impose one concession for the darkness and another concession for the empty space between the bones of the skeleton. Note that these are just numbers, not descriptions; the GM just announces "two concessions for the dark and empty spaces of the skeleton". The player rolls the die, and succeeds. So the player declares, as their character, "I slice at the skeleton, but instead of destroying it, I misjudge the distance slice between it's ribs, chipping it's bones (1st concession = minor damage) and momentarily slowing it (2nd concession = minor effect)."

This gives the difficulty to the character, instead of being just modifiers to the player's dice roll. We've incorporated concessions into miracles, and developed ways for characters to perform realistic actions to automatically negate concessions; for example, taking some extra time is one way to negate a concession entirely.

Swift isn't perfect yet, as it doesn't handle allowing the player to force concessions on the opponent/world very well. I've developed Ratio (on RPG.net) to grant or require "concessions" to/from the player's character depending upon the skill used and dice result. Ratio doesn't do attributes yet, unfortunately. :(

Looked at another way, concessions are sort of like success levels in other RPG systems. Roll high, get critical success in combat, and the opponent's is dead or severly hurt. Roll low, get critical fumble, and your character's in trouble. Concessions imposed or removed by the GM depending upon circumstance are like a dice penalty or bonus, but act directly on the character, not the player.
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Andrew Martin
lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2002, 06:24:59 AM »

Check out the World, the Flesh, and the Devil (as always).  More difficult for your character becomes more likely to succumb to the World, the Flesh, or the Devil, which is very different from more likely to fail.

I find it appealing and strange.  I go into battle with a guy who can by all accounts own my sad sorry self, and I'm a. just as likely to beat him as if I were his equal, but b. more likely to cheat, chicken out, betray my morals, go berserk, or eat his raw flesh than if I were his equal.  Isn't that cool?  It's like my favorite thing.

The mechanics are for the player, not the character, like you say, Rich.  The WF&D doesn't say 'this is more challenging for your character, so it's less likely to happen,' it says 'this is more challenging for your character, so it pushes your character in a different direction.'  It directs your authorship rather than refuting it.

Andrew, it sounds like you're doing a similar thing with concessions.  You're saying 'it's more difficult for the character, let it be more difficult for the character, not the player.'  Again directing rather than refuting the player's authorship.  

(I'm glad you like and are using concessions, by the way.  I think they're Chalk Outlines' best feature.  But why do you have taking more time reduce concessions, instead of just having taking more time be a concession?)

-Vincent
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Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2002, 02:29:57 PM »

Quote from: Vincent

But why do you have taking more time reduce concessions, instead of just having taking more time be a concession?)


Yes! You are right. Taking more time is simply a concession that happens before the roll. I hadn't thought about "more time" happening as a back fill to the resolution. I was thinking of cause and effect; a player takes a bit more time before the roll (one concession), then rolls and negates a concession, or (just thought of now), uses the extra preparation time to enhance the effect (get more concessions). I'll have to describe it better and make the symmetry more obvious: concessions imposed by the player on their character before the roll can add to concessions imposed on the world/opponent, or subtract from concessions imposed on the character. Alternatively just roll without specify concessions before hand, and a concession imposed on the character by the roll can be decided by the player as  "a bit more time" is required, so "back filling" the resolution. Thanks, Vincent!
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Andrew Martin
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