This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Author Topic: Hacking the Storyteller System  (Read 8350 times)

Aglondir

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2020, 09:18:38 pm »
I should mention my design goal:

  • I'm building a simple fantasy game. Think Game of Thrones, Arthurian romance, Robin Hood, etc. plus some magic.
  • The PC's are not monsters or superhumans.
  • I want to keep things simple, and strip away any dice tricks like 10-again, 9-again, rule of ones, etc. that increase handling time.
  • I want to recapture the "casual fun" we had back in the 90's.
  • I want to keep the Storygame stuff to a minimum, if any.

Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1119263
Without exploding dice, the maximum number of successes the dice pool may ever score is always a fixed number.

That's Ok. I don't want a character with a dice pool of 2 getting 5 successes. They know going into it that 2 is their max. I'm going to adjust TN's rather than successes.

 
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1119263
If I understand you correctly, then your intent is TN8 and no exploding dice. Do you want 10s to count as two successes?
No, sorry if I was being obtuse, I'm still trying to figure out what I want. Here's my current idea:

Step 1: GM decides difficulty

TNs usually start at 6, but the GM can adjust higher or lower.

  • TN 6: Normal
  • TN 7: Challenging
  • TN 8: Hard
  • TN 9: Very hard
  • TN 10: Near Impossible

Step 2: Player rolls dice pool

  • Nothing special happens when you roll ones or tens
  • You never add or subtract dice from the pool
  • Every die >= TN is a success

Step 3: GM decides outcome based on number of successes

  • Partial
  • Solid
  • Good
  • Excellent
  • Phenomenal

On a partial success, you can spend immediately spend a WP to turn it into 2 successes (solid success.) Otherwise, the GM will interpret the result so it is "success at a cost."


Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1119263
In general I found that a d100 task resolution system is far easier to work with than these finicky dice pool mechanics. The player will always know the PC's exact chances of success on any action, not including modifiers concealed by the GM. The chance of success is not occluded by harebrained attempts to simplify the math.

True, there's nothing more transparent than a percentile system, but I want the odds hidden to help echo the feel of the game, which is obfuscation and mystery.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2020, 09:19:51 pm by Aglondir »
I know it's hard to keep an open heart,
When even friends seem out to harm you.
But if you could heal a broken heart,
Wouldn't time be out to charm you?

- Axl Rose, "November Rain"

Snowman0147

  • Now Even More Frosty
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2927
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #46 on: January 24, 2020, 11:27:20 pm »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1119263
In general I found that a d100 task resolution system is far easier to work with than these finicky dice pool mechanics. The player will always know the PC's exact chances of success on any action, not including modifiers concealed by the GM. The chance of success is not occluded by harebrained attempts to simplify the math.

Then why not just keep it as attribute between 10 to 50 with modifier being the ten digit, skill being 10 to 50 with spec being +10 more percentage, and then have difficulty that reduces the chances?  Say you got strength 50% (modifier of +5), weaponry 40% with spec in great swords, and the target your trying to hit has defense -40%.  That leaves you with 60% chance of success with degrees of success adding to damage for every degree.  Like a claymore is base 3L damage plus five more from strength plus two more cause you rolled 38 out of 60 for two degrees of success for total of 10L damage.

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2020, 10:26:30 am »
This is a tangent less related to rules and more to setting design.

I watched What We Do In The Shadows series on Hulu. I loved all the references they shoved in to even the most obscure vampire media like The Strain (e.g. The Baron) and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (e.g. every vamp has a unique power, often linked to their backstory or personality).

Makes me dislike White Wolf's Vampire games even more. They're still essentially the same weirdly dated and arbitrarily restrictive games they were nearly thirty years ago now. They need to change with the times.

If I was running a vampire game, then I'd use What We Do In The Shadows as the campaign setting. It just seems more fun to have that half-melodramatic half-irreverent tone. I especially loved the part where the centuries old vampire decides to dress up in stereotypical Universal Dracula costume with Twilight brand body glitter like an 80s rockstar.

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #48 on: April 01, 2020, 05:05:37 am »
It's been a while since I posted in this thread. This post is about mechanics. Specifically, my dissatisfaction with how the dice pool task resolution mechanic. I keep finding myself disliking the task resolution, regardless of whether it's Storyteller, Storytelling, or Storypath. Storytelling doesn't let you conceal modifiers from players. Counting separate dice pools and net hits in Storyteller and Storypath is too many probability sliders in my opinion.

However, I do like the idea of having character attributes in the single digits. So, after some quick checking, I decided that I'd probably be happier with an 2d6+modifiers task resolution mechanic with fixed target numbers a la PbtA. I am considering retrofitting that sort of task resolution to Opening the Dark as an experiment.

What do you guys think?

EDIT: To go into more detail on the 3d6 task resolution... I couldn't find an existing task resolution mechanic in my searching, so I'm making this up myself for now. It's a mix of PbtA and Action! System.

You roll a 3d6 and apply various modifiers (e.g. attributes, applicable skills, circumstances, complexity of the task) to the result. The player is only aware of modifiers that his PC would be aware of. The GM then applies modifiers the PC would not be aware of (e.g. the defense traits of the opponent, unforeseen circumstances) to get the final result. The final result is compared to a set of fixed target numbers that determine the degree of success: 12+ is a success, 21+ is a critical success, etc.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2020, 09:49:06 am by BoxCrayonTales »

Stephen Tannhauser

  • Curmudgeonly Refugee
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • S
  • Posts: 485
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #49 on: April 01, 2020, 04:16:31 pm »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125366
This post is about mechanics. Specifically, my dissatisfaction with how the dice pool task resolution mechanic. I keep finding myself disliking the task resolution.... Counting separate dice pools and net hits in Storyteller and Storypath is too many probability sliders in my opinion.

You roll a 3d6 and apply various modifiers (e.g. attributes, applicable skills, circumstances, complexity of the task) to the result. The player is only aware of modifiers that his PC would be aware of. The GM then applies modifiers the PC would not be aware of (e.g. the defense traits of the opponent, unforeseen circumstances) to get the final result. The final result is compared to a set of fixed target numbers that determine the degree of success: 12+ is a success, 21+ is a critical success, etc.

Out of curiosity, how difficult is it for players to gain knowledge of the initially unknown modifiers?  Defense traits, for example; generally it only takes a couple of exchanges in a fight to get a clear sense of how much trouble you're in.

If these factors are difficult to identify and account for, it strikes me that you may have simply replaced opaque multiple sliders (due to difficulty of on-the-fly odds calculation) with opaque multiple adjustments to a single slider (due to deliberate concealment of some relevant factors).

That said, there's no denying that mathematically a simple set of plus/minus to a single fixed dice curve is a lot easier to follow in play. So that may be enough benefit for most right there.
Better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. -- Mark Twain

STR 8 DEX 10 CON 10 INT 11 WIS 6 CHA 3

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #50 on: April 01, 2020, 05:53:20 pm »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125411
Out of curiosity, how difficult is it for players to gain knowledge of the initially unknown modifiers?  Defense traits, for example; generally it only takes a couple of exchanges in a fight to get a clear sense of how much trouble you're in.

If these factors are difficult to identify and account for, it strikes me that you may have simply replaced opaque multiple sliders (due to difficulty of on-the-fly odds calculation) with opaque multiple adjustments to a single slider (due to deliberate concealment of some relevant factors).

Really? Systems like d20 and Action! System roll against target numbers (known as Difficulty Class, Difficulty Level, etc). The only tweak I made was folding difficulty class/level into the hidden modifiers and using fixed target numbers to adjudicate degrees of success a la PbtA.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125411
That said, there's no denying that mathematically a simple set of plus/minus to a single fixed dice curve is a lot easier to follow in play. So that may be enough benefit for most right there.

As somebody once said on Min/Max Boards, the complexity of task resolution dice scales through rolling under a percentile, rolling dice and adding modifiers, dice pools, dice pools with multiple die types, and whatever is going on with Cthulhutech.


[/HR]

Quick tangent: It slipped my notice for years, but just now I realized something very clever about the way that Chronicles of Darkness 1e handled resistance.

There are two types of resistance: automatic and contested. Defenders essentially have a defense pool, though it's never called that but I used the phrase for quick reference. In automatic resistance, the defense pool applies as a penalty to the attack pool. In contested resistance, the pools and rolled against one another and the highest roll wins. In Chronicles, automatic resistance is used when the attacker's intended effect is binary, whereas contested resistance is used when the effect scales is accumulative or directly with the hits/successes rolled (e.g. damage in combat).

(In World of Darkness, there is no such thing as automatic resistance IIRC. All resistance is opposed rolls, where the defender's hits/successes are subtracted from the attacker's hits/successes after both pools are rolled. Both methods of contested rolls have the same probabilities.)

Now, why exactly would it ever be necessary to add automatic resistance? Surely it is adequately covered by contested resistance?

This is where that cleverness I mentioned comes in. Chronicles of Darkness added two new rules: the "exceptional success", and that in contested rolls the defender's success do not subtract from the attacker's. An exceptional success is any roll that produces 5+ hits/successes. Typically, accumulative results/automatic resistance receive no special benefit since the effect already scales with hits/successes. In binary results/contested resistance, an exceptional success provides a more powerful instance of the same effect.

Since the defender's successes do not subtract from the attacker's successes, it reduces the attacker's chance of rolling a standard success or better but doesn't reduce their chance of rolling an exceptional success compared to a standard success. If the defender wins, then the attacker's success or exceptional success is downgraded to a failure, but an exceptional success is never downgraded to a success. (If not clever, it is at least slightly simpler than d100's matrix of comparing degrees of successes on opposed rolls.)

Which is why Chronicles 2e changing the dodge action to a unique type of contested roll where the defender's successes subtract from the attacker's is incongruous with the original intent of the STing system to be streamlined. It retrofits the contested roll from the STer system onto STing system, even though this is unnecessary since the probabilities of success/failure don't change. It is an unnecessary complication that serves no purpose. The only justification I have seen for it is that you can add modifiers to the dodge roll, but again this is redundant since the same modifiers could be applied to the attack roll. You are better off switching to the Storypath System, since it would be more consistent.

However, that does inspire me to add the exceptional success and cumulative/binary resistance to Opening the Dark. Although it sounds like a nightmare to implement now that I think about it. That makes me even more appreciative of the 3d6 task resolution mechanic I proposed. It can easily approximate the automatic/contested resistance distinction by adding an opposed roll which doesn't subtract from the attacker's result.

Aglondir

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #51 on: April 01, 2020, 10:12:38 pm »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125366
You roll a 3d6 and apply various modifiers (e.g. attributes, applicable skills, circumstances, complexity of the task) to the result. The player is only aware of modifiers that his PC would be aware of. The GM then applies modifiers the PC would not be aware of (e.g. the defense traits of the opponent, unforeseen circumstances) to get the final result. The final result is compared to a set of fixed target numbers that determine the degree of success: 12+ is a success, 21+ is a critical success, etc.

It will work. It's basically Action, and before that, Fuzion. I would use:

Atts range 1 to 5
Skills range 1 to 5
Roll 3d6
Success if sum >= target number
Degrees of success = (sum - TN)/2.

A TN if 12 night be too easy, depending on how many points players start with.
I know it's hard to keep an open heart,
When even friends seem out to harm you.
But if you could heal a broken heart,
Wouldn't time be out to charm you?

- Axl Rose, "November Rain"

Stephen Tannhauser

  • Curmudgeonly Refugee
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • S
  • Posts: 485
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #52 on: April 02, 2020, 10:00:13 am »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125419
The only tweak I made was folding difficulty class/level into the hidden modifiers....

That's a pretty significant tweak. The way you phrase it, it sounds like if you can't know difficulty class/level, you won't know what your odds of success are, and given this was your original complaint about dice pools -- that the varying sliders made it too difficult to calculate odds -- I just wasn't seeing how this solved that problem.

Quote
Chronicles 2e changing the dodge action to a unique type of contested roll where the defender's successes subtract from the attacker's is incongruous with the original intent of the STing system to be streamlined. It retrofits the contested roll from the STer system onto STing system, even though this is unnecessary since the probabilities of success/failure don't change.

That, I suspect, is down to a psychological effect that derives from the players, not the mechanics: a lot of players like the chance to make an active defense roll, even if in practice the odds of a beneficial result are the same, because it reinforces the illusion of "doing something" in a combat rather than sitting and waiting to passively find out what happens.
Better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. -- Mark Twain

STR 8 DEX 10 CON 10 INT 11 WIS 6 CHA 3

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #53 on: April 02, 2020, 07:08:24 pm »
Quote from: Aglondir;1125425
It will work. It's basically Action, and before that, Fuzion. I would use:

Atts range 1 to 5
Skills range 1 to 5
Roll 3d6
Success if sum >= target number
Degrees of success = (sum - TN)/2.

A TN if 12 night be too easy, depending on how many points players start with.


TN12 was taken from Action. It was used for actions which are of easy/average difficulty (i.e. are of dramatic relevance to the adventure, not just rolling for the sake of it). Action represents increased difficulty by raising TN, but I decided to take a page from PbtA and keep TN fixed. Increased difficulty is represented by applying penalties to the roll result, which keeps the probabilities the same. The difference between the roll result and the TN determines the degree of success.

For example, the tech wiz Jim is trying to hotwire a crashed alien spacecraft. He's a genius with lots of training, so his Att+Skill bonus is +10. This makes all but the most difficult tasks easy for him. Since he's dealing with an insanely complex alien spacecraft, he takes a -10 penalty due to unfamiliarity with the specs, the complexity of the task, compensating for the damage to the craft, a lack of proper tools, etc.

The final result of the roll determines the degree of success. Since his modifier has been reduced to +0, he is slightly more likely to fail than to succeed since the average result is 10-11 and he needs to score at least a 12.

You're concerned that it might be too easy. Why is that a problem in the first place?

We can adjust the degrees of success to produce interesting results, such as success at a cost or interesting failure.

If Jim fails to hotwire the ship, then he falls prey to whatever problem forced him to try. If he succeeds at a cost, then the ship flies but piloting will be hell. If he succeeds, then he escapes his predicament. If he succeeds critically, then he quickly arrives at a hospital planet where the nurses are sexbots.  If he critically fails, then the hotwire goes great until the ship suddenly appears in the middle of an unrelated active warzone.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125440
That's a pretty significant tweak. The way you phrase it, it sounds like if you can't know difficulty class/level, you won't know what your odds of success are, and given this was your original complaint about dice pools -- that the varying sliders made it too difficult to calculate odds -- I just wasn't seeing how this solved that problem.
I don't understand what you mean here. Do you normally tell your players their exact odds of success?

I had several complaints which applied in different circumstances. The way I devised this is that I want the GM to tell the player of any modifiers than the character should reasonably know about, while being free to conceal modifiers that they should not. This addresses a big flaw in the Chronicles of Darkness task resolution mechanic: the GM cannot conceal any modifiers from the players since all modifiers are applied before rolling. Trying to fix it by subtracting successes after the fact is clunky.

The task resolution mechanic I proposed fixes this by the inherent nature of XdY+Z resolution mechanics: there is only ever a single probability slider. Modifying the roll result or the target number are equivalent and easy to do. Concealing modifiers from players is easy to do, as they only learn after the roll is made by observing the results.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125440
That, I suspect, is down to a psychological effect that derives from the players, not the mechanics: a lot of players like the chance to make an active defense roll, even if in practice the odds of a beneficial result are the same, because it reinforces the illusion of "doing something" in a combat rather than sitting and waiting to passively find out what happens.
It's really frustrating, tho, because I generally prefer mechanics that reduce the number of rolls rather than increasing them. Tabletop isn't like video games where the computer rolls the dice for you. If you're not an expert, then any situation where lots of dice must be rolled might take hours.


[/HR]

That reminds me. I'd really like a critical fail mechanic that lets the GM conceal a critical fail from the players until he can spring the consequences in a dramatic moment. As opposed to GM fiat, which feels mean spirited.

Maybe a luck stat for PCs that only the GM can roll? I'm not a fan of dissociative mechanics so I prefer to keep luck in the GM's hands and hero points (or whatever the name is, but it represents a PC's sheer stubborness, willpower, etc) for players.

Stephen Tannhauser

  • Curmudgeonly Refugee
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • S
  • Posts: 485
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #54 on: April 03, 2020, 12:09:13 am »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125470
Do you normally tell your players their exact odds of success?

No, but (barring unusual situations where the discrepancy is the point of the encounter) I usually tell them enough to give them a pretty good ballpark sense of it, especially since in reality somebody facing a task for which they have even a moderate amount of aptitude and training can usually tell very quickly whether that task is likely to be a doddle, a challenge, or altogether out of their league.

Now that's not to say that unknown factors can't affect the odds from time to time. But I genuinely don't think basic difficulty, or at least the general benchmark sense of it, should be one of those regularly hidden factors, or players aren't getting enough information to make meaningful judgement calls about which risks are worth taking and which aren't.

Quote
I generally prefer mechanics that reduce the number of rolls rather than increasing them.

Reducing rolls in general is seldom a bad thing, but you have to eliminate the right rolls. Taking a roll away from the player that in their experience (even if they consciously know it makes no actual difference to probabilities) feels like one of their most critical defensive actions isn't one I would get rid of. There's a reason the "saving throw" in original D&D and AD&D was always a player-rolled die, not a GM-rolled one.

Quote
I'd really like a critical fail mechanic that lets the GM conceal a critical fail from the players until he can spring the consequences in a dramatic moment. As opposed to GM fiat, which feels mean spirited.

I'm not sure I understand how this would be used. What kind of situation are you thinking of representing here?

And to be honest, I think as a player this kind of thing would feel mean-spirited to me either way, if what you mean is concealing not only the nature of the critical fail from the player, but the fact it happened at all -- pointing to a roll the player made an hour ago without knowing the outcome feels much less "deserved" than it does if it happens right then and there, which is another one of those mostly instinctive reactions that no amount of conscious understanding of rules and chance will offset.

If there was some kind of metacurrency a player could spend -- call it "Buying Trouble", perhaps, where you can convert an ordinary failure into an ordinary success at the price of knowing you'll get hit with a much worse setback later on -- then at least the player would get input into when it happens, which would make it much more tolerable when it did.
Better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. -- Mark Twain

STR 8 DEX 10 CON 10 INT 11 WIS 6 CHA 3

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #55 on: April 03, 2020, 04:52:34 pm »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125487
No, but (barring unusual situations where the discrepancy is the point of the encounter) I usually tell them enough to give them a pretty good ballpark sense of it, especially since in reality somebody facing a task for which they have even a moderate amount of aptitude and training can usually tell very quickly whether that task is likely to be a doddle, a challenge, or altogether out of their league.

Now that's not to say that unknown factors can't affect the odds from time to time. But I genuinely don't think basic difficulty, or at least the general benchmark sense of it, should be one of those regularly hidden factors, or players aren't getting enough information to make meaningful judgement calls about which risks are worth taking and which aren't.
Then you can just tell the players what the modifiers are.

I'm just trying to address these specific complaints:
Quote
The Guidelines for Difficulty Modifiers:
The guidelines for difficulty modifiers (the amount of dice you remove from a roll to represent difficulty) in the rule book probably do more harm to games than good. The book says "as a rule, a single modifier never exceeds five, whether as a bonus or a penalty" (pg. 124). The problem with this is that, in practice, -5 is only a moderate penalty, not "sorely testing" as the book claims. It's easy to see why. Suppose a player puts 4 points into both an attribute and a skill used for some task. Since this is something that the player wants the character to be good at, he or she also spends a small number of experience points to get a specialty in it, which gives an additional +1. Finally, the character has some gear that gives an additional +2. This gives a subtotal of 11 dice, less the 5 so 6 dice are rolled. Since only one dice needs to come up as 8 or higher, the character has a 88% chance of success, and what I've outlined is a very moderate build for a character. It's not uncommon for characters to have 14 or more dice in a roll and that's still with normal human characters. Supernatural characters can have significantly more dice in their pools. In short, the maximum suggested allowed difficulty under the rules won't even slow down a character that's actually good at something.

The Players Can Easily Avoid Risking Dramatic Failures:
In World of Darkness, if you have to roll a dice poll that has zero dice, what you do is roll what is called a "chance die." That is, you roll one ten sided dice. However, only tens are counted as successes, though tens are still rerolled. Furthermore, if you roll a one on the initial dice, you get a "dramatic failure." You fail and something bad happens; perhaps your gun jams or you hit an ally by accident, or you get caught in a lie during a negotiation.

However, in practice, players can usually avoid rolling dice pools with zero dice in them by simply choosing not to take actions that have a chance of dramatic failure. Not only does this mean that entertaining dramatic failures never happen, it also means that players almost never attempt actions with very little chance of success even when it would make sense to do so, such as firing a few parting rounds at a villain that has fled out of range.

The Order of Events During a Skill/Attribute Roll.
When you, as game master, are trying to come up with a roll for a player, it is a two step process: Figure out which traits need to be rolled, then figure out what modifiers apply to the situation. The problem for me, and many other game masters I've played with, is I always forget the second step until after the player has rolled. If I forget to give a bonus, it's easy enough to roll a few extra dice. However, if I forget to apply a penalty until after the player rolled, it's problematic to make them re-roll with less dice. If it was a good roll, then I'm robing them; if it was a bad roll, do I really want to let them try again when they failed with more dice?

For me, systems that allow the game master to determine the difficulty after the player rolls have always worked better. It's only after the player tells me how many successes they got that I stop to think "was that good enough?" "How hard should this be?" Again, I've seen this tendency in several other game masters I've played with over the years, so it isn't just me.

This also slows down combat to a certain degree. When a player declares who their trying to attack in combat, they usually know what attribute, skill, and weapon values they have toward their dice pool, but they have to stop and ask the game master how much defense the target has. This value has to be taken away from the dice pool before rolling. Then the player can roll and report back the damage which the game master records. It would be better to have the player just roll and tell the game master the number of successes; then the game master can tell the player what happens. This requires one less back and forth than the current system.

Also, the current system makes it difficult for a game master to hide what the defenses of an antagonist are. This seems a serious flaw in what is to a large degree a horror game, where suspense and the unknown are central to generating the fear and tension, the emotional fuel horror game players hunger for. If the players are battling some silent beast in the dark, the game master might want to keep it a secret whether or not they are even hitting the thing. While players require the satisfaction of hitting something, their enjoyment may actually be enhanced by having to wait until they can search the area with a light to see their kill... which also might be the moment to hit them with a surprise attack by a second beast.

I personally never had a problem with these, but I figured I might extend an olive branch anyhow.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125487
Reducing rolls in general is seldom a bad thing, but you have to eliminate the right rolls. Taking a roll away from the player that in their experience (even if they consciously know it makes no actual difference to probabilities) feels like one of their most critical defensive actions isn't one I would get rid of. There's a reason the "saving throw" in original D&D and AD&D was always a player-rolled die, not a GM-rolled one.
Fair enough.

What about having the players roll all the rolls? Rather than rolling attack and defense every time, only the players need to roll. When a PC attacks, then they roll an attack roll penalized by the enemies' defense. When an enemy attacks them, then the PC rolls a defense roll penalized by the enemies' attack. This would place the focus firmly on the PCs and emphasize the psychological aspect, while reducing the number of unnecessary rolls.

Dear God, I feel so stupid for forgetting that rule from Unearthed Arcana.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1125487
I'm not sure I understand how this would be used. What kind of situation are you thinking of representing here?

And to be honest, I think as a player this kind of thing would feel mean-spirited to me either way, if what you mean is concealing not only the nature of the critical fail from the player, but the fact it happened at all -- pointing to a roll the player made an hour ago without knowing the outcome feels much less "deserved" than it does if it happens right then and there, which is another one of those mostly instinctive reactions that no amount of conscious understanding of rules and chance will offset.

If there was some kind of metacurrency a player could spend -- call it "Buying Trouble", perhaps, where you can convert an ordinary failure into an ordinary success at the price of knowing you'll get hit with a much worse setback later on -- then at least the player would get input into when it happens, which would make it much more tolerable when it did.
To use an example, some rules include fumble results where the PC thinks the action succeeded but only learns the result later. However, the player would still know it was a fumble and could prepare the PC accordingly even though the PC shouldn't be able to act on this knowledge. I dislike metagaming and other dissociative behaviors, unless roleplaying isn't a feature of the adventure.

I suppose it's mostly pet peeves.

Aglondir

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #56 on: April 08, 2020, 06:01:23 pm »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125470
TN12 was taken from Action. It was used for actions which are of easy/average difficulty (i.e. are of dramatic relevance to the adventure, not just rolling for the sake of it). Action represents increased difficulty by raising TN, but I decided to take a page from PbtA and keep TN fixed. Increased difficulty is represented by applying penalties to the roll result, which keeps the probabilities the same. The difference between the roll result and the TN determines the degree of success.

For example, the tech wiz Jim is trying to hotwire a crashed alien spacecraft. He's a genius with lots of training, so his Att+Skill bonus is +10. This makes all but the most difficult tasks easy for him. Since he's dealing with an insanely complex alien spacecraft, he takes a -10 penalty due to unfamiliarity with the specs, the complexity of the task, compensating for the damage to the craft, a lack of proper tools, etc.

The final result of the roll determines the degree of success. Since his modifier has been reduced to +0, he is slightly more likely to fail than to succeed since the average result is 10-11 and he needs to score at least a 12.


Yes, I have been literally using that mechanic (or the roll-under version) for at least 22 years.

Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1125470
You're concerned that it might be too easy. Why is that a problem in the first place?


When success is too easy, the game becomes a farce. When it is too hard, the game becomes a chore. Reverse engineer it. Figure out:

A. What you want the average starting att rank to be,
B. What you want the average starting skill rank to be, and
C. What percentage of success you think is appropriate for Average Guy to succeed at an Average (difficult) task.

That will give you D: The baseline TN. Examples:

3, 3, and 95% yields TN 12.
3, 3, and 74% yields TN 15.
3, 3, and 50% yields TN 17.

One you get the appropriate baseline TN, you can then apply bonuses and penalties depending on the difficulty of the task, which is a great idea that you've already approved.
I know it's hard to keep an open heart,
When even friends seem out to harm you.
But if you could heal a broken heart,
Wouldn't time be out to charm you?

- Axl Rose, "November Rain"

YnasMidgard

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Y
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
    • http://ynasmidgard.blogspot.com/
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #57 on: April 15, 2020, 11:37:41 am »
Very interesting topic!

We used to play a lot of Werewolf: the Forsaken (that and the blue World of Darkness game were our favourite); it had its bumps, but all in all it felt like a good system. Last year we tried the fairly new second edition, and it was saddening: the subsystems felt more complicated without being better, and the game employed even more abstracted and narrative mechanics while trying remain a faux-realistic system (further obfuscating the design). However, I did think about incorporating some of the improvements (such as the reworked Gifts and form modifiers) into W:tF 1st edition, while also improving upon the nWoD core - so this topic is some amazing food for thought.

(As I say that, however, in my mind I'm actually redesigning nWoD using percentiles, probably somewhere between Delta Green and Mythras.)
Freelance Copy-Editor
My blog and some things I worked on

Snowman0147

  • Now Even More Frosty
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2927
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #58 on: April 15, 2020, 05:13:02 pm »
Quote from: YnasMidgard;1126941
Very interesting topic!

We used to play a lot of Werewolf: the Forsaken (that and the blue World of Darkness game were our favourite); it had its bumps, but all in all it felt like a good system. Last year we tried the fairly new second edition, and it was saddening: the subsystems felt more complicated without being better, and the game employed even more abstracted and narrative mechanics while trying remain a faux-realistic system (further obfuscating the design). However, I did think about incorporating some of the improvements (such as the reworked Gifts and form modifiers) into W:tF 1st edition, while also improving upon the nWoD core - so this topic is some amazing food for thought.

(As I say that, however, in my mind I'm actually redesigning nWoD using percentiles, probably somewhere between Delta Green and Mythras.)

Yeah I am trying to make a OSR version of this.  Right now looking into both Gumshoe and Ars Magica to figure things out.

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1632
    • View Profile
Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #59 on: April 15, 2020, 05:34:07 pm »
Quote from: YnasMidgard;1126941
Very interesting topic!

We used to play a lot of Werewolf: the Forsaken (that and the blue World of Darkness game were our favourite); it had its bumps, but all in all it felt like a good system. Last year we tried the fairly new second edition, and it was saddening: the subsystems felt more complicated without being better, and the game employed even more abstracted and narrative mechanics while trying remain a faux-realistic system (further obfuscating the design). However, I did think about incorporating some of the improvements (such as the reworked Gifts and form modifiers) into W:tF 1st edition, while also improving upon the nWoD core - so this topic is some amazing food for thought.

(As I say that, however, in my mind I'm actually redesigning nWoD using percentiles, probably somewhere between Delta Green and Mythras.)

I don't like the WW superpowers mechanics at all. Godbound's words mechanic, at least in basic concept, is superior. Or Everlasting's Codex of Immortals' guidelines for making superpowers. Or really any other game that lets you create powers using guidelines is better than WW.

As for shapeshifting modifiers... again, WW is overcomplicated for little benefit. I prefer WitchCraft's take on werewolves. They don't have fixed alternate forms, but flow like water as befits the situation.

In general I'm just frustrated with the WW games. I think their rules are terrible and their settings are (aside from Lost and Vigil) annoying narrow in concept. However, they hold a monopoly over the urban fantasy market so no other games have enough of a fandom for worthwhile discussions, much less finding interested players.

If I wanted to work on an actual retroclone using Opening the Dark, then I'd probably devise a setting that draws more from Nightlife, Everlasting and WitchCraft. For example, I prefer WitchCraft's depiction of spirits because it is more authentic to actual animistic beliefs.