Drama, Fortune, Karma -- Still valid? [split]

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I will weigh in here, and say that a Skill resolution system could, concievably exist.

When I was in sixth grade, we had an "Oregon Trail" game that lasted the whole series.  Each member of the class kept records as to the health of his livestock, the supplies and gear he had on his wagon, and even the health of the people in his fictional family.  We were presented with challenges once a week, that would affect the welfare of our families.  These could be anything from vocabulary tests to essays to quizzes.  We could also make decisions (as a group; we were not allowed to split up the wagon train) that would also affect our progress.

At one point, our group arrived late to a mountain pass; we could either risk going through the pass and get hit by a storm, or we could turn back and wait until the following year.  Our class (much to my chagrin) opted to try for the pass.  "Donner, party of four?  Donner, party of four."  In order to survive the ordeal, we were required to stand eight feet from a garbage pail, put a single die on one FOOT, and use that foot to put the die into the bucket.  We could either hop forward, or just toss it, but if the foot or the die hit the ground, our whole "family" died in the pass.

I believe that yes, a Skill mechanic is entirely possible... though not really germaine to the kind of roleplaying games that we usually think of.

If DFK is not valid, then what is the alternative? How does DFK specifically fail? What is so broken about DFK that it cannot be expanded to include a greater depth -- ignoring for the moment adding to its breadth.

Claiming DFK is "broken" or "doesn't work" in such an instance is, for me, throwing out the baby with the bathwater (for example, for me, John's criticism of the DFK system falls into this category of criticism -- level of importance seems like an axis along which the resolution systems can fall, but it is not useful as a categorization of said systems).

Quote from: Andrew Morris

Thomas, that's more what I was looking for when I started this thread. I'd like to hear more about why you feel DFK isn't a good classification system when you have a chance to comment further.

As to the question you raised ("It's a classification system based on, what exactly?"), I'd say it's based on immediately identifiable core qualities. What I mean by that is we (your average gamers/game designers)look at rolling dice, comparing scores, and resolution by speaking as three distinict categories, distinct because of their quintessential characteristic. All DFK does is lump similar methods together and name them (at least, that's my take).

Others have stated that they have a different viewpoint on what DFK is/does. John Kim says (over here) that Drama and Karma are a split defined by reference to game traits or not, with Fortune being an unrelated category defined by its use of randomizers. Now, that viewpoint is interesting because it makes DFK seem a little shaky to me. It's one thing to define a set of categories based on central characteristics. It's another to define a set of categories based on dichotomies. Either one is useful and valid, but mixing them together seems like a broken system to me. -[Emphasis added, Thomas]

You've hit on it exactly!  The problem is what I highlighted: DFK is an identification based on "Oh yeah, that's obvious" as opposed to any actual definable quality.

The problems go even further than that.  The stuff John discussed (three posts up) definitely matters.  Additionally, DFK isn't really useful except as an identifier.  In that sense it's about as useful as Stance Theory.  That is to say, it helps us acknowledge that, yes, there are different ways of doing things.  It helps us discuss those different ways.  But it definitely does not make any predictions, or even allow predictions to be made.

What does having a game based primarily on Fortune do to play?  There's no way to know because there are too many factors that just aren't accounted for.

So, I guess my stance is: as a set of vocabulary (that is, a way to describe what's going on generally) DFK is fine, but as an actual classification system it sucks.

EDIT: Crossposted with Greyorm


Sorry for being away form the discussion for a while, as I was out of town for the holiday weekend.

There were a couple of questions posed to me about what I think of Skill (uppercase, as opposed to character skills). Well, I think Skill as a resolution mechanic is not just possible but entirely valid. The shortcomings I mentioned I don't think make it any less valid, only less desirable for certain players.

Tossing dice onto a tray, throwing darts at a dartboard, throwing horseshoes, arm wrestling, dropping grains of rice from above one's head into a shotglass, or whatever are completely legitimate ways to determine success or failure in an RPG. They are, however, both unusual and give a player a Gamist advantage for something he himself can physically do better in the real world. If all the players in your group accept the idea that real-world stength and coordination should matter in an RPG and that noone will be unduly helped or hindered compared to his fellow players then I say go for a Skill resolution mechanic. Personally, I was a fan of the game show Double Dare, which allowed people to answer trivia and general knowledge questions or perform a physical challenge in order to accumulate points. I don't rule out some similar mixing of methods in RPGs.

I see two really useful places for Skill as a resolution mechanic in combination with others.  First, an opposed action between two player characters could come down to a challenge to see who does better at a particular activity in real life. Second, a player who's looking for an exceptional success or even a simple success against terrible odds could be assigned a difficult real-life test of skill instead of depending on a random die roll or spending enough of a valuable in-game resource to assure success.

Additionally, maybe there could even be a Karma resource in a game called Luck or somesuch which is determined every session on a 1-20 scale by throwing a dart at a dartboard. Hit a 20 on the dartboard, get 20 Luck points this session. Hit a one, and get one point. Hit a bullseye, and maybe you get 50. I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere out there people are playing poker or craps with in-game resources -- beat me at a hand of real-world poker, and you get a pot filled with in-game cash, equipment, or maybe even magical energy, into which we both placed bets. Games like craps or blackjack where there is a house player make sense if the players bet resources and the GM is the house -- all resources the GM gets go to unfriendly NPCs and/or monsters.

Andrew Morris:
John, does the point that Drama and Karma are the inverse of each other (which you make in the other DFK thread), with Fortune being an unrelated category, indicate that DFK needs some fixing? I'd be inclined to say yes, but I have a hard time articulating why, other than the fact that it seems the classification system is a bit mixed.


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