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Messages - Dr_Avalanche

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I am of the opinion that a character should have a strong foundation in the mechanics - the common problem is that the mechanics doesn't support the play most people are interested in, because the common idea is that mechanics are for combat, everything else is more or less handled by GM/Player fiat.

If my character is driven by his urge to protect his family, in my ideal system that character motivation should make a difference, not just in how I choose to play the character, but mechanically as well.

Other Games / What is everyone playing?
« on: June 21, 2006, 05:24:28 am »
I've reinstalled Football Manager 2006. It's that time of year.

Help Desk / Smile!
« on: June 08, 2006, 06:01:31 pm »
I smile. :)

Quote from: Gunhilda
I used to think that way myself, but I've found that my designs work much better when I tailor the rules to what I want the system to do.

For example, the Virtues and Vices of the new WoD, the virtues of Exalted, or the alignment system of D&D would all just look silly in Traveller -- but they are essential mechanics of each system.

You can force a rules set to do just about anything.  But I think it's more profitable and fun to know where you're going when you start out.

This is absolutely true. I wonder if it's maybe it's not so much a setting though as a unified sense of how the game is supposed to be played. To me, this feels like a poster child for player empowered, character driven roleplay. I don't think you'd use this game for mystery solving, and you wouldn't use it for anything where realism is desireable - it's not going to model gun wounds or slash wounds, that's for sure.

But I think if we want to make an assumption for a setting, let's make sure first that it can do a straight swords and sorcery game. It should be able to model Conan, or Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. I don't foresee any trouble making it work with for example a modern setting as well, but let's use this as a start.

Quote from: Maddman
Maybe not every roll could call for a Goal pool?  Or maybe have the skill pool dictate narrative power?  If the goal succeeds then the goal is achieved, but if the skill is also achieved then the player gets to determine exactly how that happens.  If the goal succeeds but the skill doesn't, then the GM decides what happens.  Conversely if you get a success with the skill pool but fail the goal pool the action fails, but you get to dictate how it fails.  If the skill fails then the GM ownZ j00.  :p  This may have all been intended in Dr A's post, but it wasn't obvious to me at first.  It almost seems a little backwards, but still very cool.

Er... I would like to say it was intended, but I think in my head I placed all narrating power in the hands of the player, regardless of result. This makes a lot of sense though. Player and GM has already agreed on the stakes (If you succeed, you get across the chasm, if you fail, you fall), but depending on who gets to describe it the outcome could be very different.

Edit - thinking about how this would work in a fight.  The Goal is to harm or gain advantage over your opponent, the skill is your ability to use weapons.  And I'm inventing some nomenclature so we can discuss this.  The results of a roll will be denoted s and g together.  Capital for a success, lower case for a failure - SG, sG, Sg, and sg.  Not perfect but it will save me typing.

For SG it's pretty obvious - you hit your opponent.  For sG you don't hit them, but you do gain some advantage over them.  Perhaps they lose ground, get disarmed, or lose initiative next round automatically.  If you buy my BS above, the GM gets to determine this.  For Sg the weapon strikes true but doesn't wound or hinder your foe for whatever reason the GM dreams up.  A parry, doesn't penetrate armor, or a dodge.  And for sg you miss and likely place yourself at a disadvantage, GM's call.

Looks pretty good to me. Here's one concern though: What if another character is the opponent? Do they just take turns rolling dice and reading/describing the effects? For that kind of situations, it would be good if the system was neutral as far as who is protagonist and antagonist. One set of rules for all, not one for players and another for npcs.

I'm also thinking that most fights should be resolved with one roll. See who achieved their goals, how the fight affected the characters mechanically, and who gets to describe it.

Quote from: Gunhilda
Maddman does have a point there. We'll need to spell out exactly what success gets you. I think that goal/skill success should be "better" than just goal success. In combat, that will be easy -- you'd get hurt if you failed your skill roll. You might still win with a dirty trick -- sand in the eyes, for example -- but you'd be injured, so your success wouldn't be "just as good".

Yes. If you're fighting a real opponent, it might simply be resolved with an opposed roll, where the difference in skill roll decides "injuries" (however that is represented in the game) while the difference in Goal successes decides who achieves what they set out to do (which might not be "kill the other dude").

We just need to extend that to other skills.

Indeed. Here's a challenge: Hard knocks make you weaker, but at the same time more interesting from a story perspective. After all, if Han Solo and Luke Skywalker never had any set backs, their successes wouldn't be very memorable.
So how can the game model something like that? I'm thinking that skill failures drain your resources, while goal failures actually provide the character with fuel for future scenes. Not sure how that should work though. I'm sort of imagining a pool from which you can draw extra dice to your pools when you want to ensure success, or to advance the character through new skills or traits. But it seems too..I don't know. It doesn't feel satisfying. It might be possible to improve on.

Is it possible that losing/losing a Fast Talk check hurts your character in exactly the same way as a lost fight does? That would be funky in a way.

Quote from: Kryyst
I don't think there is any need at all to put the mechanics into a setting. The setting really only comes out in what skills/powers/equipment you get. First concentrate on the core mechanic then spread out from there. Decide on how it works in combat and non-combat situations. Then add on magic/powers if those are important.

I think this is probably the way to go (plus, in my mind, I have this nagging feeling that in the end, I will decide that things like magic works just the same way as any other skill check, so it's already built in).

Quote from: Gunhilda
Okay, so you have a basic dice mechanic and a general idea of how you want the rules to look. Where do we go from here?

If I knew.

Is this interesting enough to actually create the system around it that it would require? I must admit that while I didn't have that in mind at all when I wrote the original post, it's a little tempting now.

Design-wise, I'm not sure where to go next. Maybe take a step back and try to put the system in a context. Does it need a "setting", even if that setting is as generic as saying "this is a fantasy roleplaying game. It's not built for science-fiction"? Maybe look into how people interact, when dice pool meets dice pool.

There's so much that would need to be done if I decided to develop this into an actual game that I literally don't know where to start.

Well, I can start by thanking you guys for bouncing ideas with me. It's really helpful, even when it's "well, that's cool, but not what I had in mind".

Quote from: Maddman
One issue I see right away is that the goal pool is far, far more important than the skill pool.  After all, if the goal pool fails then you fail even if the skill roll succeeds.  And if the goal pool succeeds then then you succeed, even if the skill roll fails.  You may consider this a feature and not a bug but it leads to the obvious question - why have skills other than flavor?  If you can make sure you have a good goal pool then it doesn't matter what skills your character has.

I'll get back to the rest of the post later if I can add something constructive. The above is important. I don't think it's a feature that the skill is "just" flavor. It might do something else, which I'm not really sure of right now... Maybe success in the skill roll:

- Adds one success to the Goal roll, ensuring it's not "botched" (a concept I'm not sure if it should be in the game, but still...)
- Gives XP
- Limits just how bad Goal failure can be
- Something completely different

I'd be curious to hear the opinions of anyone who has tried With Great Power.

Quote from: Gunhilda
And with two sets of dice, you could even have degrees of success or failure for both, leading to an even more robust mechanic.

Very true. As long as it's intuitive - I think it's fairly important that the player and the GM together are able to define what success and failure means before the dice are rolled. If you create too much granularity, it becomes difficult to decide what the result actually means.

Of course, granularity might only be needed sometimes - in combat, for example. It could decide both who wins a fight, who achieved their objectives, and how injured they are.
I'm also wondering if this would benefit from open-ended dice, so if we're assuming d6's, each 6 would give both a success and a re-roll. That way, small dice pools wouldn't feel quite so discouraging. Not that the dice pools have to be small, but it seems more elegant somehow than rolling 20 dice for no particularly good reason.

Heh. I was so excited about my new system, that I forgot to expand on one neat little finesse that I even bolded because I thought it was so cool.

By loaning dice from the GM, the player implicitly tells the GM "I really want to pass this, you can screw me over later in return, ok?" because the dice the player borrows, the GM can use to raise the difficulty for the PC next time he runs into a challenge.

Which of course is like the Uni-system GM giving the player Drama points in return for screwing him, but the other way around... "Here, have some dice, screw me over".

Hrm. I had an idea that I think is neat. Dice pools!

What, someone has done dice pools before?


Ok, so that wasn't exactly the point.


I came up with an idea , which I'll present below, but the numbers are not worked on - I just inserted numbers that felt good. Ideally, I think characters should pass these tests most of the time, but far from every time - after all, an important part of these challenges are that the possible complications that come from failing are as interesting as succeeding, if not more so...

Anyway, here's what I came up with:

Every challenge you roll dice for, you use two kinds of dice - black and white (you can pick other colors, but I'll stick to the traditional, thank you very much).
Black represents your skill. It's a value that's written down on your character sheet in the old-fashioned way. In this case, I'm imagining a value around 1-5 or so, but that's something that could be fiddled with to get just right.
The white dice represents story power. You get one die for free, because regardless if this task is related to your story or not, you and the GM together has deemed it interesting enough to stop and roll for. In addition to that, you can get bonus dice for relevant traits on your character sheet. This could be various things - you might have a character motivation that is Greed, and you're doing this all to get to the crown jewels. You get a free white die for that. Another might be that you want to foil the king who imprisoned your brother. Since you bought that as another character motivation, you get another die in the white dice pool.
Finally, and this I think is the neat part, you really want to get past this challenge for whatever reason - the prospect of dealing with the guards seem particularly unappealing to you, for example - so you put yourself in debt to the GM, for a fourth white die.

Finally then, you roll your two dice pools. Every die that come up "positive" is a success. Each pool that reaches two successes passed the challenge - which leads to the four possible results in my original post.

- Skill success (black dice pool passed the test), Goal success (white pool passed)
- Skill success, Goal failure
- Skill failure, Goal success
- Skill failure, Goal failure

Personally, I think it looks darn neat... Obviously, unlike the above ideas, this would pretty much require a completely new game. I can't see anyone being able to insert this in any existing rules system...

Edit: Mixed up black and white dice in their final mention... Bah. Fixed now.

Good stuff here. I need to run (work, work, work), but I just wanted to say that. This is stuff worth thinking about.
The cool thing is, it looks like it could be very easily implemented in a lot of already existing games without too much effort.
Edit: I was replying to kryyst, but it applies to Maddman's post as well...

This made me think of the relation between the worshipper and their gods. In a setting where churches are important, it seemed odd that the "super-worshippers" (i.e paladins and clerics) received their divine spells directly from the god. For them then the church becomes an afterthought, a charity they participate in because they believe in the cause.
So my thought was that the god granted powers to the church, en masse according to a "contract", and the church appoints through ritual its paladins and clerics, and as long as they have the blessing of the church, they keep their spells. If the church feels they have become heretics, they lift their blessing on the paladin/cleric, who is then stripped of their powers.
However, the church is in the same relationship with the god as the individual previously was. The church can play politics, but if the church strays *too* far from the spirit of the god's will, they can collectively lose the favor of the god, who then breaks the "contract".
I don't run a D&D game and likely never will (though I gladly play), but I thought it was an interesting idea for a little different feel to those classes.

Another thing that I can't get out of my mind is that the task resolution should be based on skill, but the conflict resolution should be based on something else - something like Story Weight, for lack of a better word. I'm stumped how to do it elegantly though.
I kinda like kryysts idea, even if it's quite far from what I originally had in mind. I think the possibility for complication should always be there. Before the challenge (good word there) is resolved, the player and GM should always agree on what the consequences should be, for success (DC 20), complication (DC 15) and failure (Anything < 15). So success means getting in unnoticed, complications means running into the kitchen maid (who will likely raise the alarm), while failure means the guards see him sneaking in.
I'm sure this could be codified further - for example, for a less dangerous complication the player can take a bigger "complication range" and raise the level for outright success, or the reverse, increase the danger of the complication for lowering the level of outright failure, probably by 5 in each case.
But this mechanic removes one of the possibilities in my original idea. It's the "success despite task failure" that isn't represented. Not a big deal, perhaps, but I want to keep at this. There should be a way to represent all the possible outcomes somehow.

I don't know where the convention of "realism" in fantasy comes from - I absolutely adore the old Conan comics I used to read. Everything is just BIG. Temples, statues, machinery, monsters - everything is XXL, at the very least.

I like to be reminded - frequently - that I'm part of a fantastic setting, not reenacting the dark ages, mud, black death and all.

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