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Author Topic: Chickens and eggs  (Read 12469 times)
M. J. Young
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« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2002, 09:49:33 AM »

In reviewing this thread, I realized that Rumble didn't suggest what kind of die mechanic would be used to determine success or failure; and Mike's comments about numbers of successes put me in mind of a dice pool mechanic.

It would have more dials/switches than I like, but I could imagine something like this working. If the number of dice rolled was based on the character's ability, and the target number was based on the opponent's ability, there could then be a fixed number of successes based on kinds of action--X for blocking (which in this scheme should be limited to reducing damage, not eliminating it, or you wind up with one of those perpetual miss schemes), Y for escaping (depending on how your initiative scheme works, this would end combat), Z for attacking. Thus as soon as the dice hit the table, everyone knows what action you can perform successfully, and you choose from among those at which you would be successful--unless of course you fail entirely, in which case you would do nothing that round.

Anyway, that might get you started.

As I say, I kind of like the idea of a mechanic that guides the action more than resolving successes, which this FitB seems to be. Multiverser uses something like it in General Effects Rolls, used when a situation is unclear to determine whether it favors or disfavors the character, and to what degree. You could create a fortune mechanic in which the die is rolled and announces not so much whether the character is successful, but whether what happens in the next round is going to be good or bad for the character (and to what degree--the Multiverser general effects table can be instructive for this, as it uses descriptives connected to numbers, such as "good enough" and "beyond hopes" and "not thwarting but generally unfavorable" which could easily be adopted to round-by-round combat). Then you'd have a system where you roll the dice, read how good or bad the outcome is from the player's perspective, and then create the narration of what happens in that round based on achieving that quality of outcome. It strikes me as much more story-driving than many fortune mechanics.

--M. J. Young
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rumble
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Posts: 19


« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2002, 12:04:13 PM »

People who are spot on to my question:
M.J. Young, Simon Hibbs, nipfipgip...dip, Mike Holmes

People who are slightly off...
nearly everyone else :)

But thanks for the references to FitM. I did read them. It's not exactly what I was after, but it got me passingly familiar with the jargon, which is becoming overwhelming, to say the least. I guess I'm talking about FitB rather than FitM. Ugh. Sucks to be boxed in.

Here's another illustration, with a VERY primitive mechanic. I'm just trying to illustrate, not make an actual game here, so have mercy.

Pick a skill, any skill.
Under each skill, list each of the following mindsets: Fight (agressing), Feint (posturing), Freeze (assessing), Flight (evading)
Rate each of the mindsets to a total of +0. No mindset can be above +2 or below -2.

For example:

Combat: Fight (-2), Feint (+1), Freeze (-1), Flight (+2)
You can imagine this easily... a moderately intimidating bully who can't gauge his opponent or fight well, and has learned to weasel out of tough situations.

Herbalism: Fight (+1), Feint (-2), Freeze (+1), Flight (0)
It's a touch more difficult with non-combat skills, but just extend the concept of evasion from "get out of the way," to "... and let someone else handle it." This translates to access and development of a network of contacts. So here, we've got a Herbalist who analyzes and deals with problems unimpressively but effectively, with access to a reasonable set of assistants/contacts for more difficult problems.

Anyway, let's stick with the Combat "skill," and staying simple, I'll use a d8, with rolls of 5+ being gradually successful results, and 4- being gradually abysmal results.

You don't state an action before you roll. You choose AFTER you roll, based on the roll result, your character's mindsets with respect to the event under consideration, and your character's actual personality. You get to add your preferred mindset to the die roll after the roll. Under this system, it's not even practical to choose an action before you roll. Like backgammon, you need to see the roll before you decide what to do.

Let's go back to our feisty orc and the hapless adventurer.
=====
PC has: Combat: Fight (-2), Feint (+1), Freeze (-1), Flight (+2)

GM: An enraged, bloodthirsty orc leaps out of the shadows at you. What do you do?

Player: (rolls d8 = 2) Aaiiieee! I frantically duck out of the way, and while I'm scrabbling for my dagger, he whacks me a good one.
[Comment: The player actively chooses Flight instead of Feint, knowing that both options result in failure, but preparing his dagger for the next round, just in case. Bravado (Feint) will only gain him a more serious wound, and taking time to size up the orc (Freeze) or rabidly attack it (Fight) might be fatal.]

GM: You're all by yourself, armed with only a dagger. The orc, having wounded you grievously, comes around for another lunge. What are you going to do?

Player: (rolls d8 = 8) Cool. I launch myself like a bowling ball at the unsuspecting orc's legs, and bury my dagger in his back as he collapses.
[Comment: Here, the player chooses Fight, even though it's his weakest option, because it can succeed. Based on his previous Flight action, this now becomes a more viable scenario.]

GM: The orc wheezes a couple of times, and finally stops, a pool of blood spreading on his back.

Me: Yay!?
=====

Rather than have each monster have stats, per se, they would have mindset modifiers. I mean, go up against a scary troll, and your Fight may go down a notch, while fear lets some speed to your Flight.

I kinda skipped over character personality and it's effect on the player's decision making, but that's because I'm not concerned with a governance/personality enforcement mechanic right now. Suffice it to say that you could act agressively even if you weren't good at it. Nothing says a player can't choose to have their character be a bumbler when they don't play to their strengths.

I think the gameness of RPGs is preserved with this FitB example, but is it still exciting to know how well you do before you choose what you're going to do? Addressing one particular concern, this example doesn't take control away from the player -- rather, it reduces uncertainty and risk.

Incidentally, this isn't the only way to do it, but it's as good as I could do off the cuff. I'm sure there are other ways, and more extreme methods as well. We could actually take the decision of what happens away from the player, and simply leave them with the task of description, but I'm not sure this is ultimately desirable.
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2002, 02:00:19 PM »

Check out Otherkind.
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talysman
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« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2002, 11:38:09 PM »

hello...

long-time lurker, newbie poster (as the say on Usenet...)

Quote from: M. J. Young
In reviewing this thread, I realized that Rumble didn't suggest what kind of die mechanic would be used to determine success or failure; and Mike's comments about numbers of successes put me in mind of a dice pool mechanic.

It would have more dials/switches than I like, but I could imagine something like this working. If the number of dice rolled was based on the character's ability, and the target number was based on the opponent's ability, there could then be a fixed number of successes based on kinds of action--X for blocking (which in this scheme should be limited to reducing damage, not eliminating it, or you wind up with one of those perpetual miss schemes), Y for escaping (depending on how your initiative scheme works, this would end combat), Z for attacking. Thus as soon as the dice hit the table, everyone knows what action you can perform successfully, and you choose from among those at which you would be successful--unless of course you fail entirely, in which case you would do nothing that round.

--M. J. Young


argh! I was reading the first part of the thread and had this flash of insight
"hey! Fortune in the Beginning could work if you did it this way..." and now I see I'm a tad late.

anyways, here is the idea I had reading page 1, which you can see is similar to what you suggest: at the beginning of a round or scene, each player rolls a fixed number of dice to beat a fixed difficulty number, then counts the number of successes: this is the player's "success pool". the player then describes the character's actions for the scene, allotting a number of successes to each; there would be no opposing roll, just a "monster difficulty rating" indicating the minimum number of successes needed to affect the monster in any way.

here's a more specific example of a simple game mechanic:

characters have a single numerical stat, called Destiny, and several attributes or skills that are rated on a very simple four-tiered hierarchy:

basic skill level
good skill level
very good skill level
great skill level


NPCs and other opponents will also have a single numerical stat, called Danger, and may have skills. they may also have special abilities indicated as a bonus or penalty to their Danger under specific circumstances ("a swarm of bees has a Danger of 1, but get a +3 bonus to their Danger rating when attacked with weapons"; "mummies have Danger 5 but have a -4 penalty against fire.")

for each conflict, players roll a number of dice equal to their Destiny; every die roll greater than Destiny would equal a success. thus, players can opt to set Destiny low, which gives them a better chance of getting at least one success, or set Destiny high, decreasing the chances but giving a slight possibility for more successes.

the GM then tells the players the Danger number of the opponent or hazard they are facing, but does not tell them the skills or special abilities.
players then describe their actions, assigning one or more successes from their pool to each action. again, players have an opportunity for strategy: do only one or two actions ("I dodge the mummy's flailing arms while slashing back at it with my sword") so that the number of successes for each action is large, or split up the successes among a larger number of actions.

the GM now reveals any skills or special abilities that affect the characters' actions. for each action described, if the player has a relevant skill ("good dodging" or "very good sword fighting", in the mummy example,) the player gets an extra success for that action ... and if the opponent has a relevant skill, the player loses a success from that action only. if each side has a relevant skill opposed to the other's relevant skill ("attack" versus "dodge", for example,) the player gets a success if the character's skill is higher and loses a success if the opponent's skill is higher; ties cancel out.

finally, the results: if the number of successes for a given action ("I dodge the mummy's flailing arms..." or "... slash back at it with my sword") match the opponent's Danger rating, the action just barely succeeds. extra successes mean the action succeeds phenomenally. and of course, not enough successes means failure.

that's just a quickie idea, and would certainly need more fleshing out to be used. for example, does one roll cover an entire scene, or a single "round"? should simple success defeat the opponent, or wear the opponent down/reduce Danger? what do extra successes really mean?
should they be used as a Director Stance mechanic to allow changing the scene?
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2002, 08:15:47 AM »

That's pretty cool. I can't remember any system where a stat was used both to determine number of dice rolled, and target number. I like the tradeoffs it represents.

Mike
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2002, 08:33:01 AM »

This does sound cool.

There's one potential problem with the Destiny number, which is that there will be, for any given die type, a pretty clear optimum Destiny to maximimze one's expected successes per roll.

But perhaps the player-character's Destiny score isn't a matter of player choice. If a gradual increase of the Destiny score (from an initial low value) is an inevitable progression during play, then this would become one of those long-term story arc mechanisms in which the system changes the nature of the character's protagonism over time. And a rather nifty one at that.

Talysman, welcome to the Forge!

(Will you taly me bananas? Daylight come, and... oh never mind.)

- Walt
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talysman
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« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2002, 11:24:28 AM »

thanks for the welcome, everyone!

Quote from: wfreitag
This does sound cool.

There's one potential problem with the Destiny number, which is that there will be, for any given die type, a pretty clear optimum Destiny to maximimze one's expected successes per roll.


probably so, although I'm not too concerned about it. still, the Destiny number might be linked to some other game mechanics, thus giving players more of a reason to play "non-optimal" characters. I would need to think about the three types of characters (low Destiny, high Destiny, optimum Destiny) and come up with a benefit for each category that would make different players with different roleplaying goals choose different character types.

also, since this was just an off-the-top-of-my-head game mechanic, I didn't work on character generation or character improvement. those might be linked to Destiny in some way.

Quote from: wfreitag

But perhaps the player-character's Destiny score isn't a matter of player choice. If a gradual increase of the Destiny score (from an initial low value) is an inevitable progression during play, then this would become one of those long-term story arc mechanisms in which the system changes the nature of the character's protagonism over time. And a rather nifty one at that.


I suppose it could be linked to Power or Scope of actions. obviously, I just got Trollbabe after reading a review of it; I'm impressed by the way Ron took a single stat and made low, middle, and high scores in that stat each have a meaningful effect. it was Trollbabe that made me think of describing a single-stat Fortune in the Beginning game mechanic after reading this thread; my immediate idea, which I changed as I began composing my reply, was to use a fixed number of dice, say 10, and a fixed target number, say 7, but still use the "skills count as extra successes" concept.

I kind of like the barebones mechanic I wound up with using Destiny, however. I think I will make some changes and develope it for a game, although I'll post details in a seperate thread, since we're starting to stray from the original thread topic here.

thanks for the constructive criticism, however.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2002, 06:48:53 AM »

Quote from: wfreitag
There's one potential problem with the Destiny number, which is that there will be, for any given die type, a pretty clear optimum Destiny to maximimze one's expected successes per roll.


You know, Walt, I thought of that too, and was going to include it in my post. But then something struck me. First, there is the obvious choice of going high so that you'll have a wider range of success. Despite failing more often, some players would prefer to trade this for the possibility of stellar successes. In addition, there are the bonuses and penalties to the roll. Each of the positions takes advantage of these to some extent. (assuming that I am correct in my reading that the bonuses and penalties listed apply to the Destiny rolls).

The greatest expected values are in the middle of the curve. But at the ends we have the low end where bonuses are nigh useless, but penalties are easily overcome. The high end takes advantage of the bonuses, but fails when any penalty occurs.

So there are some definite options and trade offs. The center probably does better in the long run and in more circumstances. But if a player can manipulate things they can leverage the more radical choices.

That said, I think I like the random drift of destiny idea. Could lead to interesting pacing.

Mike
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talysman
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2002, 11:33:02 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
... there is the obvious choice of going high so that you'll have a wider range of success. Despite failing more often, some players would prefer to trade this for the possibility of stellar successes. In addition, there are the bonuses and penalties to the roll. Each of the positions takes advantage of these to some extent. (assuming that I am correct in my reading that the bonuses and penalties listed apply to the Destiny rolls).


the trade-offs you are describing are definitely what I was thinking, but not the bonuses. remember, we're talking about how to do Fortune in the Beginning; once the GM and players decide there is a conflict, the dice are rolled before any description of action, so you can't decide which skills to apply.

the only ways I could see using bonuses in a Fortune in the Beginning set up would be:

    1. any successes rolled can be applied to extra die rolls in the next round/scene;
    2. special advantages (not skills) for a given character might allow extra die rolls; for example, Sidekick, Guardian Spirit, Magic Weapon.
    [/list:u]

    the only "bonuses" I mentioned originally were skills that allowed
extra successes after describing the action. these aren't an adjustment to the Destiny score and aren't extra dice to roll; they are essentially extra "dice" that automatically roll a success.

the idea I'm shooting for is a success pool used for multiple actions. the player can choose to do many actions with only minor degrees of success (which might fail) or a single action using all rolled successes (to overwhelm any difficulty present.)

adding in the new idea of special advantages: I would see these as two types: one-shots, which could only affect your rolls once per game, and permanent advantages, which affect any appropriate conflict. each special advantage would be categorized as Combat, Magic, or Social (I'm borrowing from Trollbabe here, obviously...) also, assume there is some kind of reward point mechanism that you could trade for Destiny points or special advantages.

at the beginning of any conflict, before describing any actions, the conflict type (Combat, Magic, Social) would be declared. if players plan to use a permanent special advantage of the same type, they declare they are doing so. if players want to use a one-shot, they declare this and spend a Destiny point. each player then rolls a number of dice equal to Destiny, plus an equal number of dice for every special advantage in play. they then count the successes, which becomes their success pool, and describe their actions, using one or more successes from their pool for each action.

I suppose under this system, you could ditch the skills completely. I was thinking about converting them to broader skills, anyways, sort of like cliches in Risus.

Quote

That said, I think I like the random drift of destiny idea. Could lead to interesting pacing.


I dunno about random drift, but I do like the idea of Destiny changing.

in my revision above, I have players opting to lower Destiny by one point (permanently?) in order to get double the number of dice, using the new Destiny score.

advancement is not really relevant in this thread, but I'm thinking one-shots should be gained through role-playing ("because of your noble actions, the woodland spirit gives you a wooden amulet and agrees to help you in your hour of need") while permanent advantages should require losing a Destiny point permanently.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2002, 01:12:58 PM »

Random was an overstatement. I meant something more like drifting with the pace of the game, or something like that.

Anyhow, if you do not allow the bonuses to the Destiny die roll (and I can see why you woudn't want to), then I'd agree with Walt that the middle is looking pretty good. I think that few players would go with the very stable low end where you get one success almost always, and never more. Pretty boring.

Mike
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talysman
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« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2002, 04:18:16 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Random was an overstatement. I meant something more like drifting with the pace of the game, or something like that.


you mean something like adding one point to Destiny every time a player calls for blow-by-blow resolution, subtracting one point when a player calls for scene-level resolution?

Quote

Anyhow, if you do not allow the bonuses to the Destiny die roll (and I can see why you woudn't want to), then I'd agree with Walt that the middle is looking pretty good. I think that few players would go with the very stable low end where you get one success almost always, and never more. Pretty boring.


I'm not too concerned about people avoiding 1 and 10 (assuming we're using d10s.) if people are clustering around 4 to 7, that seems fine.

another thing occured to me, which would allow the bonuses you were talking about: player makes roll first, counts successes as before. when player chooses to use a skill, the bonus of that skill adds to any one die that did NOT succeed. thus, instead of a skill counting as an extra automatic success, it counts as a potential success. also, there would never be more successes than Destiny (unless using a special ability.)
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
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