Roll to succeed



  • Yesterday I had an interesting insight. Ordinarily I'd discuss it with Avatara on IRC, but time zones mean I probably won't line up with him until the weekend, so I'm writing this down before I forget. Basically:

    When role-playing, rolling dice is rarely about determining whether you succeed or fail. GMs generally won't let bad rolls turn into TPKs. Rather, the dice are there to determine what success costs you.

    I'm imagining a system which works something like this: at the start of an encounter, add up modifiers. Then, roll a d12 on the success table. You can choose to pay the success cost or the failure cost, or, on a positive roll, you can reroll with a cumulative -1 penalty.

        Success cost        Failure cost
    12≤ No adverse effects  No adverse effects
    11  Minor concession    No adverse effects
    10  One injury          No adverse effects
    ...
     3  Major concession    No adverse effects
     2  Max injuries.       Minor concession.
    ...
    -3  One death           Max injuries.
    ...
    -6≥ Party death         One death
    (basic idea; no attempt made to balance)
    

    The nature of a concession would have to do with the threat being faced. For example, against a pack of werewolves, a minor concession might mean taking a break to treat a character's bite wound; a standard concession needing to stop and search for a medicinal plant; a major concession that a character is infected with lycanthropy.

    The basic mechanic would become pressing the party's luck by rerolling positive but undesirable results. This works equally well for all sorts of checks, though the table above is probably only good for combat. The players' role would be narration: how did their modifiers get applied to the situation? How was the cost was converted into success or failure?



  • Well, that sounds interesting, but, to be honest, I've never been very interested in table-top games, so I don't think my input will mean much.

    Are you thinking about applying this to Cythera specifically or just analyzing the prospect in general?



  • @selax_bot, on 24 September 2014 - 11:49 PM, said in Roll to succeed:

    Well, that sounds interesting, but, to be honest, I've never been very interested in table-top games, so I don't think my input will mean much.

    Have you tried it? The unpleasant part, in my experience, is that combat tends to take a long time, with a lot of dice rolled and averaged out into what was roughly the expected outcome anyway. Other than that, it tends to be a good experience, like a TS except with someone actually responsible for it.

    Quote

    Are you thinking about applying this to Cythera specifically or just analyzing the prospect in general?

    General thought.



  • @pallas-athene_bot, on 25 September 2014 - 05:24 AM, said in Roll to succeed:

    Have you tried it? The unpleasant part, in my experience, is that combat tends to take a long time, with a lot of dice rolled and averaged out into what was roughly the expected outcome anyway. Other than that, it tends to be a good experience, like a TS except with someone actually responsible for it.

    I'm not really familiar with anything like D&D, but I've watched my older brother play part of a game (or two) of Warhammer 40k against my Dad. For that particular sort of game, it seemed a lot less efficient than using a computer for the whole thing.



  • D&D and Warhammer are really different games though. Sure, you can do 40K combat mechanics on a computer, but the point of tabletop RPGs is to provide you "infinite" options - something that can't really be codified in a computer game. Ever play a game where the answer to "how do I open this door?" was "find a special key located somewhere"? On a tabletop game, you could get a key, pick the lock, bash the door down, crawl inside a window, attempt to bribe/intimidate the occupants, enlist the help of the police/landlord/animals/etc (legitimately or illegitimately), burn down the wall, and so on. Way more options than any game can provide. That said, even I no longer really recommend D&D for roleplaying groups (because it's heavily focused on combat and die-rolling over actual role-playing).

    Pallas, I'm not quite sure I follow how you intend on using the system. You roll the die, calculate the total, and then determine whether succeeding at a cost is more desirable than failing at a smaller cost? With those particular weights, depending on how often the party has to roll, you're in for a pretty gloomy time (unless there are a lot of ways to gain positive modifiers). Even in d20 combat, someone can easily be struck with a series of sub-10 rolls and they're pretty much contributing nothing for an hour.

    I think the most similar system I've seen (Shadowrun?) didn't have a consequence-less success as the max roll, it had it in the upper-middle range of the scale, with a few opportunities for the party to gain a bit of extra luck and have stuff succeed really well, but it also largely depends on the genre of game. The proposed scale looks more fitting for an apocalyptic zombie survival game, I think, where you ultimately run out of luck and lose.

    If you wanted to be more general (and simpler), you could just have the top range be a success, the bottom range be a failure, but the party can choose to give up a minor concession to make it a success (or a major concession if you rolled a 1). I think that would also be far less punitive. You could theoretically still die too (assuming the risk of death or grave injury is important); if your party was rolling really terrible there are only so many "benign" major concessions your party can give.



  • @avatara_bot, on 25 September 2014 - 10:01 PM, said in Roll to succeed:

    Pallas, I'm not quite sure I follow how you intend on using the system. You roll the die, calculate the total, and then determine whether succeeding at a cost is more desirable than failing at a smaller cost? With those particular weights, depending on how often the party has to roll, you're in for a pretty gloomy time (unless there are a lot of ways to gain positive modifiers). Even in d20 combat, someone can easily be struck with a series of sub-10 rolls and they're pretty much contributing nothing for an hour.

    I didn't make any effort to try to balance the table, but so we're clear: the party rolls once to decide the whole combat. So, if a 6 on a d12 means the party suffers four injuries in exchange for victory, that's not actually a bad result for an entire battle. The contributions of individual players would be in terms of modifiers (thief gives +1 in the dark, wizard gives +1 vs. groups) and lessening costs (cleric ignores two injuries per combat, fighter has a large injury capacity) so everyone contributes. And even rolling a one, you can retreat (choose to fail) without major consequences.

    Basically, combat takes too long. I want to decide the cost of victory quickly and move on.



  • I haven't had much experience with table-top RPGs, but the three or four times I attempted a session were mostly boring. The beginning was fun, when we were just joking off & exploring - and then something attacked us and we were stuck in combat for an hour, waiting for everyone to choose their moves, etc. I don't know why the GM expects us to read the instructions and know what attacks our characters are able to do. In computer RPGs, I just die a few dozen times until I kind of figure out how not to die, no need to sit around reading instructions.

    Fiery's idea for decreasing boring combat time sounds very appealing to me ^_ __^

    Quote

    Ever play a game where the answer to "how do I open this door?" was "find a special key located somewhere"? On a tabletop game, you could get a key, pick the lock, bash the door down, crawl inside a window, attempt to bribe/intimidate the occupants, enlist the help of the police/landlord/animals/etc (legitimately or illegitimately), burn down the wall, and so on. Way more options than any game can provide.

    In Cythera, you could find the key, bash down the door with a number of weapons, blow it up with dynamite, use a magic spell to unlock it, use a magic spell to fetch it into oblivion, or pick the lock. I mean, you can't actually pick the lock because that mechanic doesn't work, but it's the thought that counts, right?



  • @pallas-athene_bot, on 26 September 2014 - 03:44 AM, said in Roll to succeed:

    I didn't make any effort to try to balance the table, but so we're clear: the party rolls once to decide the whole combat. So, if a 6 on a d12 means the party suffers four injuries in exchange for victory, that's not actually a bad result for an entire battle. The contributions of individual players would be in terms of modifiers (thief gives +1 in the dark, wizard gives +1 vs. groups) and lessening costs (cleric ignores two injuries per combat, fighter has a large injury capacity) so everyone contributes. And even rolling a one, you can retreat (choose to fail) without major consequences.

    Basically, combat takes too long. I want to decide the cost of victory quickly and move on.

    I agree combat takes too long in most systems (which is why I'm moving away from D &D) and simplifying it would be nice. The thing with one roll though is you have to be careful when balancing the table. When you have two hundred rolls, or however many a "normal" combat takes, you can have good streaks or bad streaks, but overall it generally averages out. Here, your party gets one shot (which may not be as catastrophic as I'm making it out to be), so I'd adjust the probabilities a bit more so the average case is a minor concession, but there's a bigger chance to succeed with flying colors.

    In such a system, you also don't need to overemphasize class modifiers. Actually, modifiers are half of what slows combat down. A simple +2/-2 or something situational modifier would seem sufficient (based on who has the advantage). Maybe a bit more or less if the DM thinks it's warranted.

    @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 26 September 2014 - 08:54 PM, said in Roll to succeed:

    In Cythera, you could find the key, bash down the door with a number of weapons, blow it up with dynamite, use a magic spell to unlock it, use a magic spell to fetch it into oblivion, or pick the lock. I mean, you can't actually pick the lock because that mechanic doesn't work, but it's the thought that counts, right?

    Sure, which is a lot for a computer game. But, you'll notice the restrictions in Cythera when you start talking to people. There are a number of things you can talk about, but you quickly start hitting the key words that weren't programmed in and start getting the same response to questions.



  • There's a story I like to tell to explain the appeal of tabletop games.

    A friend is trying to sneak into a city, and when the guard doesn't let him in, he knocks out the guard. However, the guard is able to raise the alarm first, and with more guards coming, my friend hides the guard's body and quickly impersonates him (he's a changeling, so he's able to do a good disguise very quickly).

    When the other guards come, he tells them "Someone tried to sneak in, and he must've jumped me. I'm not feeling so great; I'd better go home and take a rest." But the other guards say, "Oh, no, you'd better come to the guardhouse. The warden's going to want to talk to you and get the full story." So he gets led into the break room, and told to take it easy. "Do you want anything?" they ask. So he says, "I'm really fine. Maybe some hot cocoa."

    Still, if the warden shows up and interviews him, he's going to be in big trouble, because he doesn't really know much about the guards, and especially not about the guy he's impersonating. He starts to sneak out, but, on his way, he sees someone coming back, holding a tray; and on the tray is a steaming cup of hot cocoa. If that guard finds out he's left the break room, he'll raise the alarm. So he hides again, and knocks out that guard too—but the tray and the hot cocoa fall to the ground, clattering and bringing a bunch of guards running. So he says, "Uh, he had a heart attack! I'll go get the doctor!" and runs out.

    In no CRPG that I know of could you jokingly request a cup of hot cocoa and have it become a central element of a scene.



  • I feel like there's unspoken restrictions in tabletop rpgs. (Or maybe the restrictions are "spoken" in the instructions. I've never read them) If you don't do what the GM wants you to do, he kills your character. For example, if you attack someone then get bored of combat and attempt to run through the wall instead, GM will facilitate your character's slow death. It's just not fair.

    The hot cocoa example is pretty cool, but I'd probably get burned if I tried it.



  • Then you're probably playing with a bad (or uncreative) GM.



  • Actually, being 453, she probably is the GM in the cases she mentions :p .



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 03 October 2014 - 08:51 AM, said in Roll to succeed:

    The hot cocoa example is pretty cool, but I'd probably get burned if I tried it.

    Metaphorically, or literally burned by hot cocoa?



  • Literally (and also metaphorically).

    I've never been a GM. I think it involves math, so...



  • Yes, lots of addition and subtraction and occasionally some multiplication. Though depends on the game.



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 03 October 2014 - 08:51 AM, said in Roll to succeed:

    I feel like there's unspoken restrictions in tabletop rpgs. (Or maybe the restrictions are "spoken" in the instructions. I've never read them) If you don't do what the GM wants you to do, he kills your character. For example, if you attack someone then get bored of combat and attempt to run through the wall instead, GM will facilitate your character's slow death. It's just not fair.

    The hot cocoa example is pretty cool, but I'd probably get burned if I tried it.

    There shouldn't be any restrictions on what you can try. There probably aren't hard restrictions on what you can do, but if you want to run through a stone wall, you'll probably have to roll a 40 on your 20-sided die. I assure you, drinking hot cocoa requires a much easier roll.



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 03 October 2014 - 08:51 AM, said in Roll to succeed:

    For example, if you attack someone...

    Shorty thinks I should edit this to say "if you attack your innkeeper" but I don't see how that's relevant. I had a perfectly valid reason to attack that innkeeper. What does it matter that he was the innkeeper?


Log in to reply