*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 16, 2021, 11:11:18 PM

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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Ideas for defaults in classic skill-based systems  (Read 21890 times)
emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« on: November 21, 2005, 09:47:46 AM »

Hello All! 

I've been developing a simple system with a normal rules-set (IE: similar to BRP, GURPS, AD&D, etc)... But I've been struggling with skill defaults.  I've gone back and forth with this problem so many times I'm dizzy. 

Here are some of my concerns::
1) I want to have a default roll for those untrained in skills that could be attempted without training.
2) Improving a skill should reflect an improvement in the chance of success from the default, right?
3) Some rolls need to follow the full range of attributes and success (like a very coordinated character will probably never lose his balance)
4) I don't want high attributes to have an unbalancing affect on developed skill levels. 
5) Some skills don't really have important defaults at all (pretty easy to handle mechanically)
6) I find defaults annoying to compute, and wouldn't mind getting rid of them (as a base for trained skills) if there was a way to do it. 

RIght now, the system has attributes from about 1-20, with the percentage of success in a normal skill being about the level of the skill / 20. 

Anyway, just wanted to get some input.

Thanks!
-sean

Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2005, 09:57:56 AM »

Welcome to the Forge, Sean!

Skill defaults are one of those tenth-iteration rules considerations that are based off of a dozen prior decisions and have lots of emergent properties attached to them, so it's kind of hard to comment on them without hearing about those dozen prior decisions first.  The question also implies, but does not definitionally state, that you're going for a ruleset that simulates some level of realism -- is that what you're going for, or are you trying to maximize player options?  If you can nail down why you're including skill defaults, it'll be a lot easier to nail down how they should work, or indeed, if you need them at all.
Logged

emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2005, 10:32:19 AM »

Good point, and thanks for the good welcome!  I recently posted a link to my game on another site, and within a few days, my pride was slammed to floor, and my eyes opened.  So... I'm humbled and ready to learn radical ideas...

Let me guide you through my previous ideas then, if that will help.

1) I started with the intent to extend BRP Call of Cthulhu into other genres. .
2) I switched it to a d20-ish system that always rolls against 20 (approx same probability) to allow for easier contests... (two players rolling skills, and the higher wins)
3) I realized that setting the defaults to mimic the probability of success ( for easier / harder skill) also affected the contents, giving the user of one skill an unfair advantage ... an example of this might be a dodge... You could perhaps think that a highly dextrous character could dodge a falling rock easily, but if he starts with a 18/20 chance to dodge the rock, then if he trains himself more, that skill quickly becomes unbalanced relative to a trained swordsman....   I hate flat dodges, so that's out of the picture.
4) I decided I wanted the system to focus more on skills than attributes, and to minimize the importance of attributes if possible, because I like random attributes, and don't want it to provide an unfair advantage.

Since those decisions, I've gone back and forth between several options
1) Flat defaults... the defaults are always a flat number ... didn't work for agility based skills. 
2) Low defaults for all skills... All skills become balanced, but nobody can do anything untrained well.. It makes rolling an attribute easy to call for a GM, but then rolling the skill that replaces it is harder to succeed at.
3) High defaults... Again, I don't want attributes to have such an impact on the game (it makes me shudder thinking of how many times I used GURPS loopholes to try to make invincible characters )

Here are the main philosophies of the system I'm developing.
1) Dangerous Combat - The system works in settings where combat can be entertaining, but very dangerous.  Consequently, characters must be careful to survive.  (Horror, some fantasy settings, etc)
2) Focus on Character personality and Interaction... The system is supposed to discourage players from trying to make the "best" character, but instead the most interesting to act out.  Therefore, I don't want people trying to optimize them for combat ... etc.. There's some fun in being good at things, but I think you get my drift.

Is that enough info?

Thanks for your help!
-sean
Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2005, 10:37:16 AM »

Is there any way to edit posts here?

Two days ago I only knew of systems that attempted to achieve some level of realism, and thought that was the point.  I'm open to radically different ideas of skills themselves, including how one resolves conflict ... Do some systems just not require rolls for most things?

I wanted defaults originally because I thought that was the only option.

I wouldn't mind getting rid of them if I could think of a good alternative.   

What are some good threads/articles dealing with different ways to resolve conflict (player to GM or NPC)?
Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2005, 10:51:34 AM »

Ah, welcome to a whole new way of thinking about roleplaying games.  Well actually, welcome to whole new ways of thinking about roleplaying games.

Realism is not necessarily the whole point -- but it may be the point for you and your friends.  Alternately, it's good to see how other people do things, cause maybe you'd like that, too.  Here are three RPGs that you can take a look at (free of charge) to see systems that aren't necessarily about "realism":

The Shadow of Yesterday will probably sound very familiar to you in terms of what you'd expect from an RPG, but take a good look and you'll see that it works a lot differently than the games you're used to.

Otherkind presents a fairly familiar setting, but works in completely different ways than most mainstream RPGs.

Conquer the Horizon is one of my own and presents a system that has very little reference to character "success".  Technically speaking, it may not really be a roleplaying game, but a different but similar animal.

Additionally, there are tons and tons of threads about different resolution systems in this forum and in Indie Game Design, and if you haven't read the articles (link at the top of the page) that's a good place to start seeing the many different ways to approach the hobby.

(I can't seem to find the "Know Your Hobby" Standard Rant -- can someone else provide a link?)
Logged

emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2005, 10:53:50 AM »

Thanks a lot!  I'll take a look at those.
Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2005, 10:56:46 AM »

(More substantial, this time...)

No, you can't edit posts.  Use the Preview button when posting; it's a good thing.  It's what I should have done to preclude me making this second follow-up post.

If you want dangerous combat and a focus on character interaction, why do you need skill defaults?  You talk about a "good alternative" -- what would a good alternative do for the game?  If you can answer either of those questions, you'll be most of the way to figuring out how things should work.
Logged

emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2005, 11:52:25 AM »

Woah... I can feel new synapses forming in my left-frontal role-playing gyrus.  :) (Just read the first system you mentioned)

I'll get back to you after I read the others.

-sean 

Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2005, 03:01:58 PM »

(I can't seem to find the "Know Your Hobby" Standard Rant -- can someone else provide a link?)

The essay by that elitist jerk? Yeah, it's here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=5564.0

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2005, 09:11:55 PM »

Ok... I've read a lot in the past 10 hours...

I've decided I'm definitely a narrativist, with a little bit of gamist in me too (I was always the one who found the loopholes to make the best character possible).  That being said, I don't really want to encourage gamism in my system, but I don't want my system to be off-the-wall free acting either.

I guess I thought you had to have defaults to handle people trying something that they haven't developed...  Right now in my recently modified rules, we have no "defaults" per se, (Every skill starts at 0) but that's still a 20% chance of success at most things. 

What else can you do?  Is there any other way to get rid of them?  Is there any other way to have them besides fixed values or some derived default based on the attributes?

Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2005, 10:23:40 PM »

Some quick ideas:
You could have some derived default based on related skills, rather than attributes.
Say, if you have a high skill in Broadswords, then all swords can be used at a penalty, and all weapons at a bigger penalty (or use fractions instead of penalties - 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc.).

You could organise skills into groups, like Fighting Skills, Social Skills, etc., and allow characters to have a default skill in the group - maybe based on the value of skills in that group, or bought independently.

You could redefine what skills are: "Policeman" could be a skill, and covers everything that policemen should be able to do - such Archetypes might replace traditional skills entirely, or coexist with them, maybe with an artificially low cap on their rating. So, you'd be able to use your Beat Cop rating to spot that hidden gun someone is carrying, intimidate a perp, get donuts at a discount, or whatever - or if you had the specific skills that cover those, you'd use them instead because they are higher.

You could use a Castle Falkenstein-like approach, where all skills default to Average, unless taken down to Poor or up to Good, Great, or Superb.
Logged

emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2005, 06:33:50 AM »

Very good overview... Thanks!
Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2005, 09:26:07 AM »

I've decided I'm definitely a narrativist, with a little bit of gamist in me too (I was always the one who found the loopholes to make the best character possible).  That being said, I don't really want to encourage gamism in my system, but I don't want my system to be off-the-wall free acting either.
It's a classic mistake to associate narrativism and "free acting." One can have mechanics, even lots of mechanics, that support narrativism. It's not a matter of how much mechanics you have, but what they support...

Quote
I guess I thought you had to have defaults to handle people trying something that they haven't developed...  Right now in my recently modified rules, we have no "defaults" per se, (Every skill starts at 0) but that's still a 20% chance of success at most things.
Well...this is an assumption. That is, there are games that don't have defaults that do just fine. But I think you're saying that you think it would be odd for a character not to have some small chance at success in doing things at which they aren't trained. If, indeed, this is the case, then it might do to have some method of default. But, as it happens, a 20% flat default rate might be just fine.

Again, you're not listening to what Josh is saying. Which is that, like Darren shows, there are myriad ways to do defaults. What you need to do is to ensure that the system you have for them fits your overall game. There is no "best" way to do defaults. The best way for one game is not to have them at all. The best way for another is to have an intricately complex method for looking at all of the character's abilities and coming up with a default from that.

Consider these two more rants from that crazy guy:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=2024 (Do you really need a combat system? Does it need to be so detailed?)
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=2051 (Watch out for layered systems like defaults, they can throw you for a loop - like you note with GURPS)

What I read you saying about combat is that you don't want it to be a source of gamism, but only entered when it makes sense for the character to enter it. Check out the game TROS for a perfect example of this (and you might want to check out their combat system).

On the other hand, this could be a very, very bad way to do your game. You still haven't told us what the game is about. What I think you're angling at is something generic to use with most of your own gaming. Am I getting close? And you don't like GURPS and how that handles things. Have you considered something like FUDGE (http://www.fudgerpg.com/)? Or is that "off the wall free acting?" Basically with generic games, it's very hard to know what's "best" because we really don't know what sort of play it's supposed to support. It's going to largely come down to "what do you think is best?" as a response from us.

The problem is:
Quote
1) I want to have a default roll for those untrained in skills that could be attempted without training.
2) Improving a skill should reflect an improvement in the chance of success from the default, right?
3) Some rolls need to follow the full range of attributes and success (like a very coordinated character will probably never lose his balance)
4) I don't want high attributes to have an unbalancing affect on developed skill levels. 
5) Some skills don't really have important defaults at all (pretty easy to handle mechanically)
6) I find defaults annoying to compute, and wouldn't mind getting rid of them (as a base for trained skills) if there was a way to do it. 
You seem to have conflicting goals. "I have to have defaults that do all of these things, but I wish I didn't have to have them because they don't seem worth the work."

Well, which is it? If you're asking if it's OK to do away with defaults, I'm sure that there are many here who will tell you that it's OK. But in the end, unless you're making this for public consumption, the only thing that really matters is what'll satisfy you and your players in play. "It's unrealistic" is simply not a valid reason to include defaults - by that argument I could argue that your game is unrealistic because it doesn't have specific rules for pregnancy (it doesn't, does it)?

And that all assumes that an RPG is a simulation. Which, since you've said you're not a simulationism seeking designer, seems an odd goal. That is, figure out what you really DO want your RPG to do, and then we'll know how to advise you. Only knowing what's wrong is not enough. Try FUDGE until you know better - it might show you what it is that you do want in contrast to what you've played before if it doesn't already have what you need.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2005, 09:51:05 AM »

I've decided I'm definitely a narrativist, with a little bit of gamist in me too...

Quick word of caution?  Don't go the "-ist" route, it only leads to overidentification and heartbreak.  It's like saying, "There are three kinds of foods: meat, vegetables, and bread.  I like bread the most, so I'm a breadist."  There are different ways to play games, and they're all fun.  There's no reason to pick one flavor of fun as "yours."

Quote
I guess I thought you had to have defaults to handle people trying something that they haven't developed...  Right now in my recently modified rules, we have no "defaults" per se, (Every skill starts at 0) but that's still a 20% chance of success at most things.  What else can you do?  Is there any other way to get rid of them?  Is there any other way to have them besides fixed values or some derived default based on the attributes?

Well, the easiest way to get rid of them is to just get rid of them.  Poof!  No more defaults, move along, nothing to see here.  But as Mike says (read what Mike said again), you really need to figure out what your game is about, and what it's striving for, in order to decide how to handle defaults.
Logged

emb
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2005, 03:40:18 PM »

Thanks a ton Mike and Josh!!

I must say I've learned more about role-playing in the past week than I had in years of playing.  Unfortunately, I'm reaching the limit of the idea my feeble gaming mind can process before trying things out, so... I think I'm full.

Thanks for the heads up about classifying myself.  I'll try to avoid that.   

Mike, you hit the head on the nail, we're trying to make a system that will fit our style of play (which we're still defining) in several genres.  I'd love to play the games that people repeatedly recommend on this site, but since they all cost 20-30 bucks, It'll take me awhile to get enough  money to buy them.  I wish more were available for free, but I don't begrudge those who have chosen to sell them either.  I just learned so much reading FATE, I think I could really benefit just from reading a few more.

Anyway, thanks a ton, but I've really got to put some of this stuff into practice before I can go any further.  You guys are awesome!  I'm going to be a regular here, I think.

-sean
Logged

Visit and Download: www.hessgames.com
Pages: [1] 2
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!