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DFK: rock, paper and scissors?

Started by Johannes, January 23, 2003, 07:00:50 PM

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Jack Spencer Jr

Kharma or Fortune, depending on how you look at it. The chopsticks and ice cube bit sounds like that even if you are skilled with chopsticks, it still *might* slip and fall. Therefore the outcome is uncertain. Hence: fortune.

Walt Freitag

Skill-based resolution is fortune because the outcome is uncertain? In what way is an outcome certain when Drama resolution is used? Skill-based resolution is karma on the metagame level? In what way is comparing how many tokens two players bid for success not metagame? [Player] skill is always important? If my skill at rolling high numbers on a d20 is important, then I'm cheating. (The issue is resolution mechanisms, not the strategic choices involved in setting up the situation being resolved.)

You could look at this however you want. It depends on what your reason is for having categories in the first place. I say, it doesn't help to understand the important similarities between, say, arm wrestling and a juried poetry contest used to resolve conflicting goals if both are lumped together with comparing character stats and comparing bids or with rolling dice and drawing cards.

Skill resolution is rarely applicable or functional in tabletop RPGs, so this is a rather abstruse point in that arena. But LARP designers need to understand the distinct characteristics of skill resolution, because as a practical matter is has utterly different implications for player behavior than karma, fortune, or drama mechanisms. A categorization that puts boffer weapon dueling into the same category as the D20 combat system, or the Rekon-1 combat system (every character has a single stat for fighting ability, highest number wins the fight), would be at best inadequate, at worst counterproductive, if the discussion includes comparing, designing, playing, or criticizing LARPs.

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere


I think you guys are making it too hard.

Drama = resolution based on in-game dramatic needs or desires
Karma = resolution based on comparisons of in-game fixed values
Fortune = resolution based on outside-game objective variables

Fortune is called Fortune because (a) Ron adapted the terminology from Jonathan Tweet; and, (b) most methods for interjecting objective variables into a game are based on randomizers of some kind. Skill-based resolution is Fortune because it introduces an objective variable.

it has nothing to do with certainty. you could raise an issue of certainty for any of the mechanics. Karma is uncertain if you don't know what all the fixed values are (player tactics of hidden knowledge.) Drama mechanics are uncertain until used -- you only know what has gone before.

the point is really that a Drama mechanic is not Fortune because any variables introduced are subjective rather than objective: what sounds aesthetically pleasing instead of what the dice say. likewise, roshambo is a Fortune mechanic, because in-game aesthetics or in-game fixed values are irrelevant to which hand you throw (unless you are playing the robot-constitution-republican variant popular with kibologists; they seem to like to throw robot no matter what...)
John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects:


FWIW I think you're spot on John

Mike Holmes

I guess the point is that this is the current definition, but that it's not particularly useful other than communicating a designation shorthand. It doesn't imply a player response.

Again, that said, I think that we could start a whole new set of terms based on Certainty/Uncertainty, and how this affects decision making. Perhaps another day.

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Walt Freitag

Talysman, that's a very concise and self-consistent assessment.

Under those definitions, skill-based resolution mechanisms would indeed be Fortune.

As would a system in which players resolve between different possible outcomes by openly and competitively bidding resource tokens. Such as in, say, Universalis.

The practical reality is that the actual used-in-the-real-world skill-based mechanisms common in LARPs using things like electronic dexterity gizmos and boffer weapons (and very occasionally in tabletop RPG play using trivia questions or whatever toys come to hand) have no meaningful similarity whatsoever to the actual used-in-the-real-world Fortune mechanisms common in tabletop role playing games using things such as dice and cards. Effectiveness and advancement are different, the relationships with stance and IIEE are different (just try to come up with a reasonable "Fortune in the Middle" approach for boffer combat resolution), and the design issues are all but non-overlapping (which makes them far more different than between Fortune and Karma). Categorizing skill-based mechanisms as Fortune based on abstruse definitions without addressing this reality is absurd.

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere

M. J. Young

Quote from: John 'talysman' LavioletteDrama = resolution based on in-game dramatic needs or desires
Karma = resolution based on comparisons of in-game fixed values
Fortune = resolution based on outside-game objective variables
I'm not happy with these statements of the definition; but this may because I see these three concepts of resolution as applying more broadly than merely role playing games, to games of all kinds.

Particularly with Karma, I'd have said that karma resolution was about direct comparison of game-relevant strengths or values. Thus resolution in Amber is karma because the players pit scores against each other directly; but I would say that game resolution in Football is also karma, because it is expected that the better team will win. Granted in that situation the "game relevant strengths or values" are difficult to define, but they clearly include strategy, teamwork, and individual player abilities such as strength, agility, and reaction. I don't get to that by a leap. I recognize something of a continuum of examples. War games in which there are no fortune variables generally use karma--the stronger army defeats the weaker army, taking certain losses in the process. Strategy board games with no fortune in them, such as Chess and Stratego, are simliarly karma in resolution, but it is here that the shift from comparison of numbers on paper to comparison of player abilities is most apparent (and this illumines the fact that such player abilities are relevant in the war games and in Amber as well). Karma means that the side that can put the game where its advantages lie will win, with minimal chance of failure due to other factors.

Even if my assessment is arguable, I think that the notion of "game relevant values" itself includes puzzle-solving abilities and such. That is, if I hand a player a wire puzzle and instruct that he is to undo it to open the lock, I have made his personal ability to solve that puzzle a game-relevant value. Similarly, in a tabletop game, if there is a riddle that must be solved to access a particular area, the solving of the riddle is a resolution mechanic in the game. Either it is karma, based on the players' ability to solve such riddles, or all this time we've been working with a three-fold model of resolution mechanics with a glaring hole in it that none of us have seen.

I say that it hasn't come up before because that is karma. I put it on a metagame level, because it involves player, not character, abilities, but that aspect of it might be my misunderstanding of what constitutes metagame.

I agree that not knowing the opposing fixed value does not change karma to fortune; my point on unpredictability was only that Rochambo was not less "random" than other "randomizers".

--M. J. Young