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On Dice Pools

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Sojourner Judas:

--- Quote from: RPGPundit ---What really baffles me in all this is that recently both WW and Fanpro have thought to "simplify" their mechanics. But how have they done this? By replacing a variable difficulty
number with a fixed difficulty number.
This is the least useful "fix" imagineable. Its the kind of thing I would expect from WW, but it disappoints me that Fanpro is going that way with it, and there appears to be some truth to the claims some have made on Dumpshock that Fanpro is "imitating" the WW concept.  I certainly can't believe the Fanpro boys just thought of the very same "fix" (which is hardly a fix at all) in a total vacuum.
This fix won't really be doing much to streamline the complexity of the system. You still have to check the difficulty, you still have to count successes. While having a fixed difficulty number is something of an improvement, it would have been a vastly greater improvement to get rid of the idea of "counting successes".

Have a mechanic where you have a variable difficulty, but ONE success is enough to succeed, always.
You want to make it a harder test? Raise the Difficulty.
Want to be able to judge whether something succeeds just a little or by a lot? Compare the single result to the difficulty; the higher it was, the better you succeed.
This is what seems to be the smoothest way to handle a die pool mechanic.
So why doesn't anyone have the guts to do it?
--- End quote ---
Under both the fixed-target dice pool systems you mentioned, one success is enough to succeed in most routine tasks. It's a marginal success, but a success nonetheless. Some more involved tasks may require more successes, but it's still rather simple. Beyond that, adding and subtracting dice to represent bonuses and penalties is much quicker to keep track of than changing the target number.

Caesar Slaad:

--- Quote from: GRIM ---Dice pools give a nice, visceral thrill when you roll them, like rolling massed fire in Warhammer.
There's also an immediacy to seeing 'successes' and a built in degree-of-success that can be seen/felt straight away.
--- End quote ---

Yup. I don't share that visceral thrill, but I beleive it to be true.

I also beleive what Brian had to say in his Rationales for Mechanics essay linked in the theory forum: they preserve the validity of different players options by shielding them from analysis.

Of course I don't like them as a GM because I like to understand the flow of the game and don't ever want to be caught off guard when it comes to playing the odds.

By rolling more of the same, rather than adding a bonus, you can increase the likelihood of success(es) without increasing the numerical value of success. This is great in games where such numerical values don't scale, such as in classless/levelless games (such as the one I am currently working on). You can get ahead in what you're good at without falling behind (too far) in what you suck at (pretty much equivalent to the wizard still having *something* to show for his hp, BAB, etc where scaling is bonuses based on level).

Just some thoughts. Maybe I'm wrong.

I once converted the d20 system to a dice pool. Basically you rolled one die, but one more for each plus you had. You had to get equal to or better than a target number, and each success meant you did better. In combat it meant the weapon you used did an extra die of damage. So a longsword with three sucesses would do 3d8 in damage.

In the case of those characters with minuses the number of dice needed to get a success went up. So that someone with a -1 on spot checks would need to roll equal to or higher than the target number with two dice to get that single success.

Visualizing epic characters rolling great gobs of d20's put an end to that idea. :)


--- Quote from: RPGPundit ---I don't honestly know how anyone can believe that Dice Pools are a "lighter" system than straightforward checks.
--- End quote ---

Are there many people declaring this belief? I only ask because, of all the arguments I've heard in favor of them, I don't often run into this one.


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