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Author Topic: [Other Worlds][Lake Geneva Con] Becoming Undead Means I Win.  (Read 7735 times)
Clyde L. Rhoer
Member

Posts: 391


« on: June 18, 2007, 01:10:54 PM »

I had lots of fun this Saturday. My friend Len and I went to Lake Geneva Wisconsin for the Lake Geneva convention put on by Troll Lord Games. As per usual, the gaming gods caused Mike Holmes to arrive at the same time. We seem to astonishingly run into him in the parking lot at many of the local conventions we go to. Anyway, Other Worlds right?

We sat down and found a table as it was all open gaming. We jibber jabbered for awhile and discussed what we were going to play. A young man came up and started talking with me about Linux-y stuff and I invited him to play. There was some concern but I think it worked out well overall. His name was Joe. So we have Len, Joe, and myself as players and Mike as GM.

Mike was using a scenario that he is either working on, or is finished, I'm not sure which. He explained the three characters, who weren't exactly pre-gens as they weren't created, but they had some ideas already. Two were from a magical society, a leader, and someone with other motivations, and one was the guy who knew where they needed to go. I asked/ordered Len to play the leader. He normally plays the foil to the rest of the group, and he tends to do so wonderfully, but I wanted to see what would happen when he was in the position of authority. Joe and I diced for the other two characters, as I didn't want to force something on him, and for his own reasons he didn't want to choose either. Joe ended up playing the wizard with a hidden dark side, and I got the guy who isn't part of the Wizardly order but is showing the wizards the way.

We then designed part of our characters, Other Worlds lets you create your characters as you play, but we needed a little to start the characters. The way the game works is you have a culture, an occupation, two trademarks, and individuality. You can attach eight different descriptors, words that describe your character, to each of these sections, then you can attach four more descriptors but these have to be tied to a relationship, and then four more that have another condition. That's a total of 16 for each section. Culture are traits that everyone in your culture shares, Occupation is what keeps you from starving, trademarks are things you can do that are cool, so magic or swordfighting, or whatever, individuality are things that make you different from your culture or other people who share your trademarks.

The characters looked something like this, I won't try to remember all the descriptors:

Quote
Len: Culture: Our shared culture, Occupation: Noble, Trademark(1): Order of the white mystical guys, Trademark(2): The Sword of Nobility.

Joe: Culture: Our shared culture, Occupation: Librarian, Trademark(1): Order of the white mystical guys, Trademark(2): Order of the chaotic dark loving guys.

Clyde: Culture: Our shared culture, Occupation: Sergeant, Trademark(1): Order of the Efficient Axe, Trademark(2): Dwarf.

We then went on the adventure. I had mentioned to Mike earlier how I was hoping to get into a dungeon delve while at Lake Geneva. It just seems appropriate, and I do like to occasionally get my old school on. We first had a chasm between us and the way. My Dwarf went across and set up his magic rope. I felt it likely Joe hadn't played a game in quite the style we were going for, as he was seemed to be worried about all the steps we needed to take to be safe. Perhaps my playing a curt dwarf, and Len playing a noble who wouldn't be bothered with such trite details wasn't helpful. There was a night encounter with a mechanical spider, and then we explored the place that had the book of everlasting life.

We came upon something that should have been dead long ago, there was a face off, and Len and I killed the monster, while Joe seeded chaos and got the book. Len looted a ring and as he was doing so a demon began to rise from the floor. We found out the ring kept the Demon at bay and the thing that should have been dead had made itself that way to keep the demon at bay. Joe ended up taking on the duty, as he had been looking to master the magics anyway. My Dwarf stayed to be his cook while he tried to find the secret of immortality. It was much more interesting than this, but I woke up in the middle of my night, and I find sleep pressing back on me. There were some minor interpersonal problems, that I think would clear up with more familiarity. If someone wants to take on the fiction better, or discuss the interpersonal stuff, please do. I want to talk about the game, before I go back to bed.

I really like the game. I like that I could make up pregens, and set up their places in the initial situation, tie players to npc's, and still leave lots of room for the people who play to attach their own ideas to the character. The mechanics were fairly simple. You get so many d10's for the descriptor you use, and the more descriptors you can tie to that orginal descriptor you get a bonus number based on how strong that second descriptor is. The person with the highest amount on a single d10 wins, if there's a tie you look at the second highest, etc until there isn't a tie. This lead to when something was important to the player they tried to find lots of desciptors, and when it wasn't they only used a few.

I like that the culture traits require agreement from everyone, and I like the flexibility of the descriptors. I would have liked to have some more concrete examples of the descriptors with attachments so I could understand how to use them better. I understand you whipped this up at my request like a week ago Mike, but perhaps for other playtests in the future you could have a character sheet that has several examples of the conditional descriptors? I was leery to try to make those up on the fly, as I didn't have enough data to feel comfortable making them.

I'm also left wondering about motivations. I can get a clear idea from the system who the character is, but not why they are doing stuff. Is this supposed to be in the descriptors also? Could another type of conditional descriptor be helpful for this? In the second playtest which I'll either get to in a few days or someone else will get the gumption to do, one single motivational descriptor really drove play. In this playtest the group drove play but I didn't feel like that was as mechanically pushed for as it could have been.

All in all this was more fun than any playtest has a right to be.
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nitramwi
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 01:55:59 PM »

Mike's game is GREAT!  Joe was asking for a copy before he left us, and Joe had NEVER played a game like this before!
While we actually played Mike's TWICE, I'll let Clyde write stuff up and add as needed.

There was a bit of Player vs Player conflict in this first game.

First, I played one heck of an arrogant noble!  (May be because I despise arrogance in real life!)  Everyone hated my character!
Joe even "arranged" for my character to catch a disease!  Yes, THAT arrogant!  Which, for those who know me well, is very much
just the opposite of how I really am.  At least I think so...

Second, Joe had "tricked" my character into paying for this quest; his character was not very honest either.  He was a better liar than me!

Third, everybody's character got what they wanted from the quest.  Except mine, but he considered his life to be a just reward!

Great game Mike!  Can not say enough about it!
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2007, 12:24:05 PM »

Thanks for the accolades, guys, and great feedback.

One thing that should be clear here is that a lot of what I was trying is experimental even within our design group (myself, Mark Humphreys and Scott Mathis). Much of it may not make it to the final version, as we have other ideas percolating.

Some more notes: The limits on the archtypes in terms of number of abilities is just how many free abilities one gets in terms of building the character. A character can and will get more abilities as time goes on in addition to these freebies. The free ones are just there to ensure that the player has what they need in order to flesh out the character in depth during play. The limit exists so that the player has some constraints and doesn't just add everything and the kitchen sink. Instead coming up with a tight concept.

Another important point is that the archtype categories I used was specific to the game we played. For another game in another universe you might start with a different set. And while building your character archtype descriptions from scratch is a standard option in the game, it's also a standard option to start with pre-defined example archtypes. It's always possible to build new archtypes, but it's also possible to have some set up before play. The idea we have is to have supplements that are either suggestions for how to build these for a genre, or actual settings with many archtypes worked out ahead of time. 

The die mechanic I used is somewhat similar to Sorcerer's, though the manner in which you calculate the number of dice is based off of Hero Quest. And the continuation mechanic has some similarities to Bringing Down the Pain from TSOY.

We're taking from everywhere that we admire. :-)

Yes, Clyde, the motivations are supposed to be in the descriptors. I didn't emphasize that much in this first game, though I did indicate that Joe's character needed to have his desire for the book of everlasting life in his personality traits. As you say, the couple of motivational descriptors in the second session did manage to move things forward well. I'm not sure that we need more mechanical motivation, but, in fact, I think we have a couple of mechanics you didn't see that might work for that. Gotta figure out how to work 'em into the next test. 

Example character sheets is a great idea, Clyde. I'm all over that. And thanks for the note on the temporary descriptors.

Len, thanks for the enthusiasm. That's always helpful in finishing up a game. :-)

Now a question for the both of you: Did you feel that the number of traits in each archtype was right in terms of being limiting overall, but not so much so that you felt that you filled up and had missed things? Understanding that you can add abilities later in the game too, but having to use currency to get them?

Oh, and I still don't have a good idea for what to call the damn currency. I'm thinking Player Points to indicate their metagame nature? How's that sound?

Mike
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2007, 04:10:20 PM »

Hey Mike,

I think we are having crossed wires over the word mechanic. I mean just requiring some type of motivational descriptor. I didn't catch that you did that with Joe's character, having mentioned that I see how that drove play for him. On further thinking I also see how my taking, "cares about his soldiers" drove play for me. I guess what I'm saying there is I think a tiny bit more focused attention on that quality would be good. That focus could be achieved, I think, by saying your character needs to start with X motivational descriptors. I can't wait to see the other mechanics.

To answer your direct question. I did not feel cramped by the amount of options. I did feel cramped by not having good examples of the conditional descriptors. There were a couple times I didn't add something because I wasn't sure what to do after filling the original eight in one category or another. Having said that I felt like I had a crap ton of options for descriptors, and I wonder why you would want to allow more later, it seems to me that you would enter the realm of confusion. Perhaps you've had experience with other games that shows my worry on this part isn't valid. Anyway, I'm willing to push to filling it all out and seeing if it gets confusing.

Have you given thought to what to do with the remainder? This seemed important to you, and my playing a "bad" descriptor on my self to lose a die but gain a high remainder seemed to not be what you wanted. The tie breaker idea didn't seem to make the remainder feel important either, and in our second game using the divide by 2 method... we stopped even paying attention to the remainder.

Player Points doesn't sound good on the ear, but makes it fairly clear what they are.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2007, 09:50:49 AM »

Hi Clyde,

In HQ there was a "rule" that you had to come up with some goals for your character. But it had no direct mechanical reinforcement. In writing these rules we're trying to come up with a way to reinforce the idea mechanically, but so far what we have is largely, "List whatever goals you have for the character in terms of Personality traits."

Like, "Driven to Obtain the Book of Everlasting Life" for instance. Other than suggesting this we haven't pushed having a set minumum number of these. But it's something we'll think about.


As to the limits... so you ran up against them even in the course of a single session, but you don't feel that they were too restrictive? And that having even more descriptors on the sheet would be too much stuff?

As it happens many HQ characters have this many or more abilities and still add more and more as they go on. For instance new relationships as they emerge are important to add. You really feel that this will become confusing?


To describe to people the "remainder" problem, the method that I tested is to take your total rating, divide by ten, and roll that many D10s. The question is what to do with the remainder. Noting that we may change the base idea making this unimportant, here are the options we've come up with so far:

1. The remainder counts as a rolled die of that level. So if my total is 29, that's 2d10s in the pool, and a 9 as well. The problem with this is that, let's say my total is 32. It actually behooves me to try to find -3 worth of penalties so that my total will be 29. As the expected results of 2d and a 9 are better than 3d and a 2. There is a very odd perspective by which this is actually a beneficial effect. But I think even then it's screwy.

2. The remainder counts as a die rolled with half it's value. The problem here is that there's the little extra math step. But I kinda like that a 9 digits value gives you a nice median result indicating stability. And you always have the incentive to up your value, since an extra die averages 5.5.

3. Divide by five to get the number of dice rolled, and take the remainder as whatever it is. This is similar to 2 in effect (the remainder is never higher than 4), but you double the number of dice rolled, and the division is slightly more complicated. As it was we were rolling like 13 dice at times, and I'd like to keep the pool size down (I personally like lots of dice, but I'd like the game to be playable with a reasonable number of dice). That said, this would also have the effect of making the calculations for augments easier. Which are, actually, the majority of the math. Hmmm.


Anyone have a different way to work it out?

Mike
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Valamir
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WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007, 11:33:16 AM »

Instead of dividing by 5 and rolling d10s...could you divide by 10 and roll d20s...that would keep the number of dice down.
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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Posts: 391


« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 01:58:18 PM »

Hi Mike,

It seems I'm not being clear. I didn't hit the limit.... The problem was I didn't understand how to use the last eight of the 16 in each category. Descriptors nine through sixteen require a condition. Nine through Twelve required a relationship, and Thirteen through Sixteen required something else. So after Eight I wasn't sure what to do. I'm not saying this is a game problem as much as a one-shot/playtest problem since I have no knowledge of the text to rely on. This is why I think it might be good to prime the pumps so to speak, so I can have an example right on the character sheet to look at. Then we can more meaningfully discuss whether 16 is enough, because we can see if I hit that limit.

Suggesting that players create goals, and stressing how goals can drive play sounds good to me. My main worry is that if someone only makes a bunch of adjectives, then we have a character that is not compelled to action. Having slavers in the second game in the first scene really pushed us forward because of Len's character sheet. If the text points this out strongly then it seems you have at least given guidance.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2007, 06:03:32 AM »

Ralph,

Thanks, I think that solves the problem. Don't know why that hadn't occured to me.

I am still concerned about if there is an incentive to obtain a certain total level, however. I'll have to look at the statistics first. Though the "average d20 roll" is 10.5, I'm not sure that this is how it works out statistically being in a pool of other dice rolled for individual effect. If it were additive, this would certainly be the case. But is there a strong incentive to push from a 9 to a 10 to get the extra d20 here? Interestingly, with many dice, I think that the incentive grows stronger. A d20 and a 9 seems not much worse, if at all, than 2d20s here. With lots of dice, you're certain to roll greater than a 9 making it less likely to be important in resolution.

This could be a feature, however. From a cognative POV, if you have, say, 48 total, or 4d20 + an 8 roll, would you feel a strong incentive to bolster this by +2 in order to get to the 5d20?

Then the next question is whether or not that's a bad thing, if the incentive is there. Now that I'm thinking about it, once you have gotten to the next die, you'll probably stop. This could create a naturalistic point at which to stop adding abilities on. Or that could be hopeful thinking. :-)


Clyde,

I get it now, you didn't understand relationships and personality traits, what was selectable. I noted a dearth of these during play, but not why. This is a blind spot for me, apparently. I've been playing with these long enough that it doesn't occur to me that people would have any more trouble coming up with these than with any other sort of ability. At one point I did give some examples of the descriptors you use with relationships (Loves X, Hates Y, etc) - but possibly to only one player, and not to everyone.

So do you think that it's better to have examples in text on the sheet, or is it OK for the GM to just give out examples?


On the subject of goals, I'm not sure what you're saying. The slavers existed first, and then Len took "Hates Slavers" as a personality trait. Which then did drive play.

We're not looking to have a mechanical method here, other than mechanical incentive. That is, a player with Hates Slavers can add the ability in when appropriate. So that does tend to drive play somewhat. But our suggested methods for pushing play with abilities is actually pretty traditional in that it's GM-centric. Basically the GM is encouraged to make up conflicts that involve whatever traits emerge. So, for example, if Len had decided to take, "Always Has to Save Women" instead of "Hates Slavers" as his character's trait, I would have gone in a very different direction.

Do you feel that there should be more here than this?

Mike
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2007, 04:26:45 PM »

Hey Mike,

If it was me, I would have at least one example of each conditional descriptor on the character sheet. You explained how it worked to us in the beginning, but I either didn't remember or still was unsure what to do. I think that visual feedback will be important.

I didn't realize that Len took the trait after seeing the slavers. I think again we're having trouble around the word mechanical. I think what I am trying to express, is that in a game where someone of your experience is not running it, or perhaps with players who aren't as giving as Len, these motivational elements are going to be very important. Otherwise you have a clump of clay but no direction to point it in. I think folks who aren't used to this style of play will need to have a few waving flags at the start to work with, as they will be very important for "prep." They may not understand bangs. Most people don't run games like you, I, and the many folks we play with at conventions, by the seat of our pants. I think "regular" folk will need the support of a couple of waving flags as a default. Whether you make it clear in the text that it is a good idea to have some descriptors to drive play, or require X per character... both are different solutions that should both work fine.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2007, 05:29:35 AM »

Some examples on the side of the character sheet makes a lot of sense. I've just worked one up and uploaded it here: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/indie-netgaming/files/
The file name is "Other World Character Sheet". It's in Excel, but I'll try to put up a PDF soon.

As for the notion that people don't play with bangs and such, a lot of the book is devoted to giving GMs a notion of how to play this way, and how to create situations from which characters will emerge. This is a technique that I've been working on with creating "scenarios" for Other World play. For instance, with the slave scenario I started with, it's really unlikely that the players won't forge some identity for their characters in response to the event of the girl getting whipped by the slaver. Some players will make their characters culturally accepting of slavery. Others will make their characters intollerant of it. Even if a player decides to make his reaction ambiguous, that alone says something about the character (maybe he's trying to hide something).

By throwing out this sort of situation to start the game, I find that you're off and running. This is all part and parcel of how the game will be presented. Becuase, yeah, if you don't have this stuff, then the lump of clay never gets formed. The GM's contribution is in providing something interesting around which the players will frame their character's responses, and, therefore, what their characters are like.

Now, that said, could there be more mechanical support for this? Perhaps. I'm just not sure that this is the game for it. My co-writers seem to be somewhat against going in the direction of providing more mechanics in this direction.

Mike
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2007, 01:43:51 PM »


This could be a feature, however. From a cognative POV, if you have, say, 48 total, or 4d20 + an 8 roll, would you feel a strong incentive to bolster this by +2 in order to get to the 5d20?

Then the next question is whether or not that's a bad thing, if the incentive is there. Now that I'm thinking about it, once you have gotten to the next die, you'll probably stop. This could create a naturalistic point at which to stop adding abilities on. Or that could be hopeful thinking. :-)

When rolling 5D20 the chance of all the dice coming up at 7 or less is lower than 1%, so there's not much incentive to keep the +8 as a back-stop.

It would create natural points at which to stop going for extra bonuses as you say. Once you have a total of say 5D20 there's not much to be gained from going for a further bonus, only a further die will give you a statistically significant advantage.

All this assumes that only the highest roll is significant. Mechanics such as Godlike, in which the 'width' of a roll (number of dice with the same roll) or other such features of the dice values are significant, change that calculation completely.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2007, 09:16:20 AM »

Yeah, this is exactly my thinking, Simon.

As it happens, some of the mechanics we're considering do have a sort of "width" measurement, in that every die you roll higher than your opponent's high die would be a "Victory" or such. Going with an even more Sorcerer-esque approach. So the other dice may matter. Still it might not be too significant.

Moreover, there's the question of perception. While you and I can do the stats, Simon, often systems promote things because they're deceptive as to what the real probabilities are. Players don't often stop in play to do the calculations of the odds. So sometimes a mechanic can produce behavior through a seeming incentive even when there isn't one.

So "what does it seem like" is an important question. To see if it matches the reality.


One problem that I have with the sorcerer system in a case like this is that if the low side is rolling only one die, then it can only generate one victory. If we put the base at, say, 40, so that four dice was the minimum, would that sound like too many dice? It's adding three to each and every roll. Not a horrendous amount. No?

Mike
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2007, 02:16:15 PM »

Mike,

Has anyone rolled one die? It seems like in the two games we played the only time someone rolled less than three, was when they weren't heavily invested in the conflict.
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2007, 04:01:48 PM »

...So sometimes a mechanic can produce behavior through a seeming incentive even when there isn't one.

There's nothing wrong with incentivizing desirable behaviour even if it's a deceptively small incentive, but given the choice I'd rather give more substantial incentives. Sandy Petersen once said that he tries to never give out small bonuses in RPGs, for the same reasons that the damage bonus pick-up in Doom was Quad Damage. You balance it other ways, by giving it a huge cost or a limited duration or only effective against certain opponents. I agree with him inthat spending time trying to minimax small advantages is a waste of gaming time.

Quote
One problem that I have with the sorcerer system in a case like this is that if the low side is rolling only one die, then it can only generate one victory. If we put the base at, say, 40, so that four dice was the minimum, would that sound like too many dice? It's adding three to each and every roll. Not a horrendous amount. No?

I think 4D20 is a lot for a minimum, I'd have thought 2 dice would be enough. On four D20s there''s a 35% chance that one of those rolls will be a 19 or a 20 and a 69% chance of rolling at least a 16. Rolling lots of dice will tend to generate very high rolls very often.

That's the problem with rolling more than one die at a time, the probability curves can produce very unintuitive results and the more dice you roll the more unintuitive the results can be. I've seen GMs apply what they thought were small modifiers to a roll that actually made some types of outcomes almost impossible. Storyteller is particularly bad for this. Modifiers that make a small difference to outcomes when you're rolling a few dice can have massive effects when you're rolling lots of dice.

I'd steer clear of mechanics that rely on rolling lots of dice unless you're certain you have a good handle on the probabilities. They can work well, such as in Dogs in th Vineyard, or they can be a real pain  as in Storyteller.

Take HeroQuest as an example. You're only ever rolling two dice, both D20s, but because each side rolls a die the distribution of outcomes is curved and not flat. Because of the peculiar way that bumps work this means that a for a 5 point difference in the ability rating of two opponents the actual statistical advantage those 5 points give is very different for characters with ratings of 12 Vs 7 compared to characters with ratings of 19 Vs 14. The chances of the better character beating the other regardless of the level of victory doesn't change, but the odds of getting better than marginal results changes a lot. For the first example (12 Vs 7) the odds of a better than marginal victory are 31% Vs 20%. In the case of 19 Vs 14 the odds are about 42% Vs 9%. Because multiple rolls exaggerate statistical differences, I'd estimate that the weaker character's chances of winning an extended contest in the latter case are actually about a third of what they would be in the former. If the contest consists of only two exchanges they've certainly halved.

Bell-curve probabilities can be extremely useful, but I've seen HeroQuest players and GM's swear till they're blue in the face that the above effect doesn't exist. Ok, maybe it's not a big deal in the case of HeroQuest, but throw in more dice and things can get unintuitive very fast.

Sorry, I've turned into a bit of a probabilities geek since I got into debating Mongoose RuneQuest.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2007, 08:30:44 AM »

That's OK, Simon, I've always been a probabilities geek. :-)

And I understand the probabilities here very well (both in HQ and in this system). Just so you understand the system, however, there are no modifiers to the die rolls ever - because you're right, that can hose things fast. The only thing that affects the probabilities are the numbers of dice rolled. And, yes, actually the system does have some non-intuitive effects as the number of dice rolled go up. Quite simply, the odds of victory get nearer to 50% as you add dice to both sides. Meaning that the system, generally speaking, favors the underdog. More and more as the sides get more powerful.

Which I like, as it's dramatic. In any case, the incentive is still to always add more and more, so whether it's intuitive or not is fine. To the extent that things get nearer to 50% as you go up, however, and to the extent that players do feel or know this, it incentivizes only augmenting to the extent that's dramatic (why scrounge around for a 0.05% advantage?). Which is good.

The question is in terms of the small-scale, about whether or not players will push for small advantages. The system does allow it, of course. But I think that we're all agreeing that with high pools that players won't tend to go for a small extra bonus, but only for full dice. What I want to promote with the system is players selecting interesting augments, not looking for maximal effectiveness.

So far it looks pretty good.


Clyde, the way I had it set up, you had all abilities starting at 30. So three dice minimum, and on up. But that was to make the characters pretty competent. For "newb" characters, as the scale currently sits, the starting abilties would be lower. Also any new ability could start at a lower level, too. Lastly "default" abilites are at 10 now - one die. That is, if you don't have an appropriate primary ability, you roll one die to start. Yeah, with augments for competent characters, this can go up quickly. And with investment you'd hope to see at least a couple of dice.

How about making 2 dice default level? That's only a bump of one die.

The other way of looking at this, is that at default level you're only capable of so much victory. Maybe I don't need to worry that all they can get is one or two victories? That might well be the case.

All depends on what you can do with victories, right? This is what I've been working on lately. Basically a victory can be used to purchase a negative ability at some level, or a positive one if you spend an extra point. Both, if you have enough. Something like:

1 Victory Level: Add a negative ability at half of your primary ability used in the contest.
2 Victory Levels: Add a negative ability at primary ability level.
3 Victory Levels: Add a negative ability at twice primary ability level.
4 Victory Levels: Alter a character completely so as to change the nature of how they address such contests.

Note that the GM has veto power over what constitutes a "negative ability." It can have positive sides to it - all abilities are positive and negative. He just has to see it as being somthing that will be used against the character a lot. Further he is encouraged to find creative ways to use any ability created this way against the character getting it.

2 Victory Level: Add a positive ability at half of your opponent's primary ability used in the contest.
3 Victory Levels: Add a positive ability at opponent's primary ability level.
4 Victory Levels: Add a positive ability at twice opponent's primary ability level.
5 Victory Levels: Alter a character completely so as to change the nature of how they address such contests (you always win going forward).

Note that, in all cases, the victor can choose to give either negative or positive abilities to any party involved in the contest. So I can wound you, and learn something about swordsmanship myself, perhaps. Or I could even say you learn something about swordsmanship, and I become disillusioned with dueling.

Note that all abilites gained so are temporary (stealing from my own game Synthesis). They will fade with time - wounds heal, wealth gets spent, etc, etc. To transform these into full permanent abilities takes a contest. For instance, if you fail on a healing contest, the GM can choose to make the injury get worse, or he can take the victories and convert the temporary leg wound to a permanent limp. Victory on a contest to make an investment can convert a pile of money into a permanent wealth ability.

So... if we go with something like this, perhaps it makes sense if your number of victories is limited.

Comments on the idea? To put this in a playtest context, this is more or less the system I used, but with only one binary level - you either got the level of the ability or you didn't. Would having a currency to spend here help?

In the playtest I never really explained the use of the Player Points in this context, because with binary I think it doesn't work to say that you get to just spend them to move from failure to victory. With the more complex version, however, it might work this way. Thoughts? Moreover, I was thinking that you could save victories, not applying abilities on certain rolls. In which case, you could spend them later. Which would be how you get these points, potentially.

(For the HQ afficianado, you may note that this system replaces the variable augment rule - instead of rolling to see what augment you get, you get a temporary ability that augments, and may or may not fade right after use.)

Again, for the playtesters, would such a system add too much complexity? It's somewhat like Fallout from DitV.

How about if we added even more complexity in, such that another pass at the dice is taken to see if any victory is due to the loser to apply? This would result in potentially mixed result contests.

Mike
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