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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Dice Again  (Read 2764 times)
Supplanter
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Posts: 258


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« on: July 29, 2001, 08:41:00 AM »

When I learned about Fading Suns' die method I was really high on it. To recap:

1) You perform operations on some number of trait values and get a tally. The tally will be somewhere between 1 and 20.

2) You roll a d20. If the result is under your tally, you get as many successes as you rolled. If it is exactly equal to your tally, you get a critical success. If it's over your tally you fail and on 20 you fumble.

Cool! It's fast! No abstruse mathematical operations like subtraction to stretch out the handling time! :wink: You do a simple comparison - is it bigger than my tally? - and if it's not, you just read the number off the die.

Can't get much simpler than that.

Then on vacation, I struck golf balls in anger for the first time, and I got to thinking about Fading Suns, me, and Tiger Woods.

If Tiger and I play golf using Fading Suns, I have a tally around 5 and he has something close to a 19 when we step up to drive the ball. Most likely I fail to hit the ball. Most likely Tiger does hit the ball. Here's the part that bothers me:

If I get a 2, the rules define that as a minor success - call it a something that lands in the fairway, but not so far out or so well-placed that you'd be really happy with it. If Tiger gets a 2, the rules define that as the same kind of minor success, the same kind of unimpressive tee shot.

Tiger and I have the same chance of hitting an unimpressive tee shot. (5%.)

That's nuts.

Tiger should not only have a greater overall chance of success than I do, and the potential for higher success levels, he should be far less likely than I to succeed unimpressively.

Some FS players apparently go to 2d10 instead of 1d20, but while that skews toward more failures for the untalented and more successes for the talented, at each point where our tally scores overlap (2-5 in this case), Tiger and I are exactly as likely as each other to roll the same success.

Hero Wars handles it much better - Tiger would have a much, much higher tally than I and get bumps out the wazoo. But I still like the simplicity of the FS method. So here's a suggested, slight compensation:

1) Figure tallies as before. (I have 5, Tiger has 19.)

2) Roll 2d20.

3) Pick the one you like better.

4) Score as before. (If picked roll > Tally, fail. If picked roll <= Tally, score that many successes.)

I believe this goes some way toward restoring the balance between Tiger and I, avoids the counting time associated with even simple dice pools, and even corrects somewhat for FS's failure bias.

Thoughts, especially from the very mathematical?

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
Epoch
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2001, 09:10:00 AM »

Well, you couldn't use it in the Fading Suns system unmodified -- it greatly increases chance of success and chance of great success.  But I suspect that you know that and weren't planning on using FS unmodified.

By the way, you might get a similar effect by stealing a concept from Unknown Armies -- a percentile roll with "flip-flops."

Roll the standard percentile -- two d10's.  But don't declare a "ten's" and "one's" die.  Read it both ways, take what you want.  As in the FS system, the higher that you get, as long as it's beneath your skill, the better.

Beginners spend a lot of time flip-flopping their dice to get any kind of success at all.  Experts spend a lot of time flip-flopping their dice to improve their level of success.
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Supplanter
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2001, 10:21:00 AM »

Quote
Well, you couldn't use it in the Fading Suns system unmodified -- it greatly increases chance of success and chance of great success. But I suspect that you know that and weren't planning on using FS unmodified.


Actually, if I were going to play FS, I would want to use it without further modifications. The whole idea is to make the chances of successes and great successes much higher than they are. In the rules chapter of the second edition, they calculate how a "bard" attempting to entertain a gathering with a song of derring-do ends up with something like an 8 tally. What bard worthy of the name is more likely to fuck up something like that than to carry it off? A real bard should routinely do well at "barding stuff," and a really good bard should routinely do very well. The modifiers presented in the rule example strike me as far from the sort of thing that should make it likely that a competent bard embarrasses himself.

Tiger Woods should indeed have a much higher chance of a great success than FS gives him. If a simple dice trick gets us there, that may be all the modification I'd want.

For other reasons, I just can't like Fading Suns as much as I want to, which is a shame. The sources of inspiration are non-risible (Wolfe, Simmons, Silverberg, Mote in God's Eye) and they're really trying. Somehow they're also failing. But mechanically, the game has a certain appeal, except for the failure bias and the insufficient space between high and low.

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
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