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Doing Skill Challenges Right
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject: Doing Skill Challenges Right Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Role Playing Games need a resolution for the Cops and Robbers situation of one player going "bang" at another. One of the cooperative story's authors clearly wishes that an attack strikes at a character while another of the authors similarly feels that this should not happen. And so we use die rolls and established modifiers to determine whether in fact the cowboy shot the indian or vice versa.

But they also need a resolution for the Magical Teaparty situation of one pretty princess making the bestest cake while another pretty princess also wants to make the bestest cake. As soon as you have multiple authors, disagreements will occur as to who is the prettiest, the fastest, the most charming, the dreamiest, or whatever. When it comes down to the wire, we need to have a system by which players can take established modifiers and die rolls and determine the results of conflicts and unopposed actions. If you want to make a statue so good that it can single handedly destroy Communism, you should be able to do so, or at least have it be pre-determined in the game itself how a character might go about doing that and how success or failure would be determined. Because nothing in the entire world sucks as much as having two of the authors of the cooperative storytelling game argue that a neo-classicist architectural blueprint would or would not be better than some other architectural style.

The 4e Skill System doesn't work. At all. And here are the things that it does wrong:

  • Simple Skill Checks Don't Have DCs You need to have an approximate idea of what you can do with a single die roll. And frankly, most things you might want to do (find someone who gathers mickweed, haggle over the price of beer, interpret the rantings of a mad prophet, etc.) should be resolved in a single die roll. If you want to identify a monster or rifle through the contents of a locker, that is simply too small a portion of the action to bother rolling more than one set of dice. So those simple rolls need to be in there with established Target Numbers and difficulty modifiers.

  • The Math is Batshit Wrong When 4e gets into the complex "skill challenges" it does so with math so bad it makes us cry real tears. The set Target Numbers combined with the set die modifiers combined with the set required number of dice rolls and successes leave actual success in any attempt at anything a vanishingly unlikely proposition. Obviously, however difficulties are set, characters who are "good" at tasks should actually succeed occasionally. This isn't Paranoia, after all.

  • Complexity Makes Things Easier In 4e, a complexity 1 challenge is failed if you get more than 20% failures. A complexity 5 challenge is failed if you get more than 31% failures. A complexity 5 challenge, therefore gives you more than half again the amount of leeway as compared to a supposedly minimally difficult one does. But beyond that, simply making the same die rolls over and over again just makes you more likely to succeed at tasks you are likely to succeed at, and more likely to fail at tasks you are likely to fail at. To make a "complex" situation have any real meaning you'd need not only to adjust supposedly more difficult scenarios such that they had less margin for error rather than more, but also to change them such that completion of them relied on something other than simply taking your best relevant ability and spamming it. Rolling a Diplomacy check four times is no more interesting than rolling it once, it just takes more time.

    ---

    So what is wanted is a skill system in which characters can do simple things with a simple roll that they can roughly gauge the effectiveness of before they make it. And to make a setup in which complex things actually take some sort of complex solution and interaction. A negotiation shouldn't just be "I roll Diplomacy. I roll it nine times." A better solution would be to require that people get a certain number of success results with different aspects of their character.

    For example: The Negotiation now requires 3 success results. One of the success results must come from Diplomacy. The other two have to come from something else, such as getting legal precedent or coming to the table with a military victory or whatever. The idea is that there would be many possibilities to bring a success result, and you'd have to get success results from multiple possibilities so that multiple characters could feel like contributing.

    -Frank
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    RiotGearEpsilon
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    There's one currently up on the ENWorld boards if you take a quick gander. I saw a link to it on these boards somewhere.
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    FrankTrollman
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    RiotGearEpsilon wrote:
    There's one currently up on the ENWorld boards if you take a quick gander. I saw a link to it on these boards somewhere.


    It is this one: ENWorld Skill Challenge New Math.

    It's... basically the same broken mechanic from 4e but with the math revamped to make it so that it was no longer a no-brainer to go for more complicated challenges. But you still just "Roll Diplomacy! Roll it hard!" in order to power through the challenges. You don't actually have any meaningful choices or contributions. You seriously may as well reduce it to a single die roll with slightly smaller Target Numbers and save yourself a massive headache.

    A High level challenge shouldn't just be "exactly like a low level challenge, but with higher DCs because you are higher level." Because frankly, that is bullshit. More difficult things should be more difficult because each individual feat is more difficult and impressive, or because you have to do more different stuff. Having a climbing challenge where "I roll climbing again!" is boring and inane. Higher powered characters should have more diversity in their abilities, allowing them to rack up successes from more different things.

    But beyond that, people should be able to take time off from these challenges in order to go adventure out a bonus success here and there. The classic example would be a siege. You can make a success here and there by getting up and providing some inspiring leadership for the defenders, or producing a way to get supplies or whatever. But you can also get some successes by going out and destroying enemy siege engines or assassinating leaders or whatever.

    -Frank
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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    How about we have 2 different types of checks, or checks that scale based on your level-bracket?

    Simple Check: Roll 1 appropriate skill check

    Level Appropriate Check: Roll 1 appropriate check; Plus roll X more related type of check, where X is your level/5, rounded up.

    So, level 20 characters performing a level 16-20 skill check need to roll one appropriate check, and then 4 more checks in related skills.

    So, let's say a Diplomacy check:

    1. Diplomacy Check, you're diplomatic and nothing you say is reproachable, check.

    2. Intimidate Check, you're able to give your words a hint of violence.

    3. Knowledge (Local), you know the customs well enough to commit any sort of faux pas that would look terrible with the important people that you're dealing with.

    4. Sense Motive, you can lead a bull by the ring if you know what track he's used to being led.

    5. Listen, you can hear the words that a person is speaking and are able to hear variations in what they say, giving you insight or an idea into their words hidden meaning.


    Next, a low level trap

    Finding it:

    1. Search, obviously

    2. Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering); in a dungeon. Knowledge (Local); if you're say dealing with Kobolds

    Others:

    3. Spot, to find things in the corner of your eye that you might not have noticed; Spot keeps you from seeing the forest from the trees.

    4. Knowledge (Arcana), magic traps look like certain things, because wizards are pompous bastards and make their traps look obvious

    5. Sense Motive (stretch), only if you know the people that made the traps or the people using them imo.

    6. Concentration, keep focused on your work [Note: I can see this being a much more useful skill now]


    Breaking it:

    1. Disable Device

    2. Balance, avoid screwing up

    Others:

    3. Spot, to find things in the corner of your eye that you might not have noticed; Spot keeps you from seeing the forest from the trees.

    4. Knowledge (Arcana), magic traps look like certain things, because wizards are pompous bastards and make their traps look obvious

    5. Sense Motive (stretch), only if you know the people that made the traps or the people using them imo.

    6. Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering); in a dungeon. Knowledge (Local); if you're say dealing with Kobolds

    7. Appraise, if you can ID the materials used, then you can get an idea as to how to break them or jam the trap. Iron rusts, use salt water, certain stones you need to bury a piton into; others you can destroy with a maul, the type of wood used is pliable or rigid.

    8. Sleight of Hand, manual dexterity goes hand in hand with fiddling around with the inner workings of a trap.

    Those are just some ideas.

    I'm sure that every skill could easily have several related skills. The knowledge skills may be a bit of a stretch however.

    I could see the following though:

    1. Knowledge

    2. Gather info

    3. Diplomacy

    4. Search

    5. Spot

    6. Decipher Script

    Uhm, well, never mind.
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    Tydanosaurus
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    That's an interesting idea.

    There's really nothing different between these skill challenges and playing craps, except that craps is fun. Either way, you have a target, make your bet, and roll the dice a bunch of times. So why not do something like that and give the player more options?

    For example, you could give the player a "Hard" option involving only a single roll on a single skill, and an "Easy" option involving multiple rolls on multiple skills. Diplomacy, for example, could involve a Diplomacy check, with a pretty high target you got only one shot at (with, say, a 10% chance of hitting if you were trained). Or you could make a Diplomacy check with a 60% chance of hitting, after a Knowledge check with a 60% chance of hitting, after a Gather information Skill check w/ a 60% chance of hitting. You'd do better on the second, but maybe going the hard way gets you an extra benefit.

    I'm not sure how the Skill system, even without the challenges, made it through playtesting. Stealth seems, if not broken, a little silly.
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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I'd rather have things like Negotiating a peace treaty between two kingdoms to be something complex.

    Meaning that the "big deal" skill checks need the people taking part to have multiple skills that they use.

    Crappy, or boring skill checks should be a single dice roll.

    The reason that you don't want people to be able to use one skill check to perform a crazy task is that people will simply try to get +120 on their skill check (the Diplomancer that changes Hostile enemies into Fanatical allies), or even crazier numbers, like +9,000 on their skill check (the crazy build that achieves a Craft skill so high that they could probably build a Star Destroyer in only 10 years).

    If you disallow people from making important checks unless they have several successful skill checks, then you both make skill checks that are supposed to matter both more interesting and less likely to drive off into Crazytown.


    The only benefit that I see in your 'hard' way is what I saw in a game that I played with a diplomancer build.

    Complete and utter boredom by every other player.

    If the cleric and archivist could leverage their knowledge skills; if the fighter could leverage his intimidate skill; if the ranger could leverage her spot and listen skills; and if the ninja could leverage his search skill, we would have a system for Diplomacy that makes the whole party viable.

    A one-roll for Diplomacy should be if you're haggling on a few gold pieces for a piece of jewelery that you're buying for your significant other while you're passing through the bazaar to meet said 'other' for dinner.

    Convincing this significant other to bed you is something that requires you to be more than Diplomatic. Afterall, we can probably all agree that the hero(ine) trying to seduce the Pasha/Vizier/Sorceress/Wizard/etc. is more important story-wise.

    Skills such as: Perform (oratory); Knowledge (Their religion, local); Speak Language, Sense motive, Listen and Spot would be important checks to make.

    Perhaps opposed by: Sense Motive, Appraise (the jewelery), Spot, Listen, Concentration (?).


    What I'm thinking would be that the character rolls any skills that they can.

    If they get enough successes, then they can proceed to the victory portion of the story.

    If they get more than enough, they win in an awesome manner (not a larger manner; so you land gracefully, not further; when your Jump, Balance, Tumble and Perform (Dance) skills all give you decent results).

    If you get less, you get less impressive results (you land, you land and wobble a bit, you look like a fool when you land).

    If you get a lot less (or none), something bad happens. Maybe.
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    Maxus
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Judging__Eagle wrote:

    If you get a lot less (or none), something bad happens. Maybe.


    Just how bad are we talking about? If you sing badly enough in public, will the public spontaneously form a mob and try to make you eat your own lute? Can an epicly failed Spellcraft check when creating a new spell lead to punching a hole in the fabric of the universe and having Lovecraftian Things coming in from Beyond?

    I've played with people who wouldn't mind have a sufficiently entertaining system by which you can throw a check into negatives and have horrible things happen. Especially if something like this can happen.

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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Maybe if you were trying to open a rift to the Far Realm that you could control.

    You should only screw up in a manner related to what you were trying to do.

    None of this "you swing your sword, and chop your testes off" BS.
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    RandomCasualty2
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Tydanosaurus wrote:

    There's really nothing different between these skill challenges and playing craps, except that craps is fun.


    Yeah, that seems to be the biggest problem with the 4E skil challenge system. It's not really like figuring out a puzzle or anything, there's no tactics. It's just pointless rolling.

    The system needs to be more than just "look at your character sheet for the skill with the biggest number. Pick that skill"
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    Talisman
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    PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I like this. I may adapt it for my 3.5 games.

    So, what about a simple complexification (I know that's not a word; shut up). Assign each skill-based task a Complexity from 1 to ?. This is the number of successful skill checls needed to accomplish said task.

    (I don't want it tied to levels because uber-characters should be able to use their uber-bonus to skilz to easily accomplish what low-levelers sweat over. Likewise, "just folks" can certainly try their hand at complex tasks. High level is what high DCs are for)

    The GM determines the primary skill associated with the task. The players can then attempt to use any other skill to assist, subject to the GM's approval. Said skill assistance must make logical sense. Other players can use their skillz to make non-primary checks; this prevents the scenario, where no one else even bothers with a certain skill because Player X has it maxed to the moon and back.

    Then, do it the way Judging_Eagle described. His Diplomacy example would be a Complexity 5 task (requiring 5 checks), with Diplomacy as the primary skill.

    I ponder, though, what to do about failure. Would it simply be a matter of the GM determining degrees of failure/success, based on the number of successful checks? Would you have to succeed at every check to achieve victory? I'm thinking all failures would result in things like that spoildered picture up thar.
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    CatharzGodfoot
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    So you have to clean the queen's stables, steal the yellow blanket, seduce the princess, and string the bow of heroes before your diplomacy bonus is big enough to get the queen to join your war effort?
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    Talisman
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    CatharzGodfoot wrote:
    So you have to clean the queen's stables, steal the yellow blanket, seduce the princess, and string the bow of heroes before your diplomacy bonus is big enough to get the queen to join your war effort?


    No. (well, maybe).

    Let's say the goblins are restless, and you need the Queen's OK to round up some guys and go thrash 'em. We'll call that a Complexity 3 Diplomacy task.

    The primary skill here is Diplomacy, obviously. The players determine what the secondary skills are. F'rinstance:

    Knowledge (local). Use that to explain about goblin culture, and how they'll become a worse menace unless they're stopped.

    Sense Motive to "read" the Queen, so we'll know how she's taking it and be able to phrase it properly.

    Perform (oratory) to make a good speech and secure the support of the Court.

    Bluff to exaggerate the threat and scare her into agreeing.

    Any of these would work, as well as possibly others. This doesn't have the effect of increasing your Diplomacy bonus (as J_E noted, this would merely encourage people to focus on gaining an astronomical bonus to one skill). Instead, this encourages diversity, teamwork, and creative thinking.
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    Voss
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    CatharzGodfoot wrote:
    So you have to clean the queen's stables, steal the yellow blanket, seduce the princess, and string the bow of heroes before your diplomacy bonus is big enough to get the queen to join your war effort?


    Nah, not that sort of shit. But stealing (or forging) plans that your enemy is going to invade her next should go some distance to convincing her to throw her hat in. I'd certainly give a party a bonus (or credit, or whatever) for doing one of those things and presenting the 'evidence' at the negotiations.

    Same with getting the Merchant's League rep to approach her about wartime and post-war trade routes and concessions.

    Seriously this is the kind of thing where roleplaying actually matters. So do in-game consequences. If the party has gutted the enemy supply lines, its probably easier to convince the queen to tackle a weakened enemy- lower cost for her. But if they've pissed her off, (by acting like, well, adventurers in front of NPCs) its going to be harder.

    This is one of the big failures of 4e. Everything interesting has been sucked out, and you just roll the damn dice. To me, this kind of shit should maybe (and really, just maybe) involve the dice about 2 or 3 times. Its largely going to depend on how the players approach it, and if they've done prep-work.
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    RandomCasualty2
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Voss wrote:

    This is one of the big failures of 4e. Everything interesting has been sucked out, and you just roll the damn dice.


    Well, in its defense a social encounter in 4E can be potentially a lot more interesting than a social encounter in 3.5 (where it's just a matte rof diplomacy check -> done).

    Most DMs just outright ignored the 3.5 social rules anyway, because they just sucked horribly and beyond belief.

    For people who like social systems, the 4E system is actually remotely playable. I mean, generally if you like social systems, you're just a fan of rolling dice and not worrying about the strategy behind thinking of a good bluff, or trying to actually fashion a realistic reason for the queen to help you.

    The 4E framework for skill encounters is actually relatively flexible. Just look at some of the same skill encounters, where they have various failures or successes costing you or gaining you things. So unlike 3.5, at the very least the DM can throw in whatever he wants. You can even add puzzle elements and say that certain things autofail. Like diplomacy could autofail if you've got insufficient evidence to make your case.

    Now, it's not like skill encounters are really fun in 4E, they're not. They're totally like craps. But at the very least the system is remotely workable, which is a step up from 3.5, where the social system frankly didn't work at all.


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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I might add that the Climb check for scaling the Grand Canyon would have to be higher than the Climb check for crossing Farmer Gumps sheep-corral wall.

    However, to even have a chance of surviving a Grand Canyon climb, you'd have to be able to do things like: keep your balance, spot new handholds, concentrate on maintaining proper safe climbing procedures, know about the nature of the type of rock surface that you're climbing.

    The idea of more checks is based on the challenge of the task, not the level of the charcters.

    So, level 5 characters could pull off level 10 tasks. They just need specialists to do so.

    Look at the journals of the people who cross the Arctic or Antarctic (in groups, or alone), or climb mountains. Those people seriously spend months preparing all of their gear, their supplies, training or working out, researching where they will be going and talking to people who have already gone there or similar places.

    I'd say that crossing the Arctic alone is easily a level 10 challenge; yet humans have done it. They were just really, really prepared for it. Even when they did things like cover their face in saliva/mucus in order to create insulating layers of ice on their face, or unpacked all of their food and repacked it into single larger containers in order to save a few ounces of weight, or only wore one article of clothing the whole trip. Even if they did all of those things, or any of the hundreds of different shenanigans that a human being would have to pull in order to survive in one of Earth's most inhospitable environments; they still had to work very hard at making their task succeed.

    The complexity should probably be related to how important the results are. Jumping rope, Complexity 1. Jumping across a pit full of column requires a bit more, Complexity 3 or 4.

    In a previous post I described haggling over the necklace (just straight Dip), versus seducing the enemy VIP (Dip, plus: knowledge (religion), knowledge (local), knowledge (royalty and nobility), perform (oratory), listen, spot and sense motive as possible rolls to make; Speak Language would just be for awesome points, so you and the fire magus speak in Ignan, while his guards can't understand what you say, maybe +2 to your Diplomacy check).

    I'd also suggest that characters make many skill checks for complex tasks. As many as they can think up that relate to the task they are performing. They simply need a certain amount of successful ones to make a difference.

    So, you could use: knowledge (religion), knowledge (local), knowledge (royalty and nobility), perform (oratory), listen, spot and sense motive as supporting skills. That's 7 supporting skill rolls that you're attempting. If you botch one or three, you're fine.

    It's only if you botch a some do you get sent home without the plans to the castle vault in the basement; and you only get thrown out on ear if you botch them all.
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    PhoneLobster
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I recall long ago RC mentioning that he felt that things like a rangers ability to track things could just plain work, no roll, and that would be cool.

    I'm on that band wagon.

    Skill checks are bullshit. The DCs are arbitrary and subjective even with stupidly exhuastive modifiers and guidlines.

    So admit the damn things are arbitrary and just say "skill tests are arbitrary, real character abilities, even the bullshit ones, don't rely on them".

    When bob the barbarian tries to sing for his dinner he gets to roll an unmodified (or if you must attribute modified, like it matters) d20 roll against a DC you just plain arbitrarily pull out your ass and make no apologies for.

    When bill the bard does it it just works.

    Skill checks solved. Don't waste your time pretending anything you're leaning towards wasting time on is anything less bullshit than that Frank.

    Setting difficulties for broadly social challenges is arbitrary bullshit as it is, to even pretend for a second that you are going to create a system in which you put every action labelled "other" into that is anything more than the GM spontaneously pulling numbers out of his ass is pretty damn hard to stomach.


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    virgil
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    So it's arbitrary and a load of bull to have skill checks for walking along a cliff face on a thin path, and for it to be harder when it's raining, and even harder when the ledge is half a thick as before?

    Why is swinging a sword any different from this wholly arbitrary skill system, as fighting's just another action? Why not play Amber and remove this whole farce of rolling dice?
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    virgileso wrote:
    So it's arbitrary and a load of bull to have skill checks for walking along a cliff face on a thin path, and for it to be harder when it's raining, and even harder when the ledge is half a thick as before?

    Yes.

    Completely.

    No two individuals will ever agree, no two GMs will generate the same sets of difficulties for those challenge ranges, therefore BULLSHIT.

    virgileso wrote:
    Why is swinging a sword any different from this wholly arbitrary skill system, as fighting's just another action?

    It isn't just another action it is a highly defined and abstracted segment broken off from "everything ever" and deeply covered by many many rules.

    It has it's inconsistencies and deficiencies but ultimately you can take any amount of segments of play and do this with them.

    But sooner or later SOMETHING, like the slippery cliff "minigame" is determined as sufficiently unimportant to not warrant a proper abstracted and fair system and becomes part of "skill challenges" or NWPs or whatever they are called this week.

    Its a section of the rules DEFINED by being the part of the game we don't care enough about to write real rules for. Of course its bullshit.

    Asking the question "how do we make this work?" is still valid.

    I'm pretty damn confident answering with anything altogether too different to my own answer is pure dick in hand wanking.
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Are you talking about 4E's skill system, or skill systems at all?
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    RiotGearEpsilon
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    FrankTrollman wrote:


    It is this one: ENWorld Skill Challenge New Math.

    It's... basically the same broken mechanic from 4e but with the math revamped to make it so that it was no longer a no-brainer to go for more complicated challenges. But you still just "Roll Diplomacy! Roll it hard!" in order to power through the challenges. You don't actually have any meaningful choices or contributions. You seriously may as well reduce it to a single die roll with slightly smaller Target Numbers and save yourself a massive headache.


    That is a problem, yes - but it's solvable. At this point, at least we have a mathematical basis that isn't dumb as hell.

    FrankTrollman wrote:
    A High level challenge shouldn't just be "exactly like a low level challenge, but with higher DCs because you are higher level." Because frankly, that is bullshit. More difficult things should be more difficult because each individual feat is more difficult and impressive, or because you have to do more different stuff. Having a climbing challenge where "I roll climbing again!" is boring and inane. Higher powered characters should have more diversity in their abilities, allowing them to rack up successes from more different things.


    If each individual feat is more difficult and impressive, doesn't that imply that the DC's would be higher? Don't overstate the issue. Characters don't become significantly broader in their expertise in 4e - or rather, they start with specialties in a few areas and improve equally in all areas. The grandeur of a high level character in a skill challenge is that they can face ANY lower-level skill challenge competently, not that they can face highly multidisciplinary challenges. They could conceivably face a lower level skill challenge that demanded an extremely multidisciplinary approach solo, rather than as a group of specialists.

    Additionally, I see no particular reason why multidisciplinary challenges should be limited to higher levels, or, for that matter, why they're any more interesting than challenges where you roll a single ability. You're still just rolling dice at numbers, unless you wrap those numbers in narrative importance.

    Tell me more about your thoughts on multidisciplinary skill challenges and their virtues? You've got a lot of ideas here and I feel like I'm not getting all of them.

    FrankTrollman wrote:
    But beyond that, people should be able to take time off from these challenges in order to go adventure out a bonus success here and there. The classic example would be a siege. You can make a success here and there by getting up and providing some inspiring leadership for the defenders, or producing a way to get supplies or whatever. But you can also get some successes by going out and destroying enemy siege engines or assassinating leaders or whatever.


    That's an excellent idea, but it's not appropriate for every skill challenge. If you're trying to disable a five-headed mechanical hydra, one spinal column at a time, you don't really have the time to go adventure yourself some successes - you're stuck with the situation you've got.
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    Voss
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    RandomCasualty2 wrote:
    Voss wrote:

    This is one of the big failures of 4e. Everything interesting has been sucked out, and you just roll the damn dice.


    Well, in its defense a social encounter in 4E can be potentially a lot more interesting than a social encounter in 3.5 (where it's just a matte rof diplomacy check -> done).

    Most DMs just outright ignored the 3.5 social rules anyway, because they just sucked horribly and beyond belief.

    For people who like social systems, the 4E system is actually remotely playable. I mean, generally if you like social systems, you're just a fan of rolling dice and not worrying about the strategy behind thinking of a good bluff, or trying to actually fashion a realistic reason for the queen to help you.

    The 4E framework for skill encounters is actually relatively flexible. Just look at some of the same skill encounters, where they have various failures or successes costing you or gaining you things. So unlike 3.5, at the very least the DM can throw in whatever he wants. You can even add puzzle elements and say that certain things autofail. Like diplomacy could autofail if you've got insufficient evidence to make your case.

    At which point you're just better off role-playing the social encounter rather than bothering with the craps game. Thats the problem I have with it. Rather than supplement the RP aspect of the game, it kills it, hides the body and replaces it with a craps game.



    @RGE- part of the problem (even with the 'fixed' system) is that balancing on a patch of ice is arbitrarily harder as you go up in level. It can be the exact same patch of ice, and you don't have to do anything different to stand up on ice, but despite the fact that you have a bigger bonus in whatever skill balance falls under, unless you've put points in your Dex score, you actually have a greater chance of falling down. Thats... fucked up, right from the get-go.
    You can make a decent argument that level-appropriate things should be scaled to your level. However things that were level-appropriate 29 levels ago should be a complete non-issue. Especially when they can literally be the exact same things.

    Otherwise you can just rip out the faux-progression thats built into 4e and just accept that the designers pretty much want you to succeed on 11+ to 13+. Scaling everything on both sides of the equation means that the scaling is completely irrelevant and you aren't advancing at all.
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    Jacob_Orlove
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    You can still give a success or two from getting the Hydra to Bloodied, so that the Fighter types can contribute, and not just watch the Rogue and Wizard make Thievery and Arcana checks to disable the thing.
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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Quote:
    At which point you're just better off role-playing the social encounter rather than bothering with the craps game. Thats the problem I have with it. Rather than supplement the RP aspect of the game, it kills it, hides the body and replaces it with a craps game.


    Except that completely fails when the DM wants to railroad and his NPCs will not listen to appeals to what they as NPCs want.

    It's very hard to role-play the convincing of a Vampire who wants to not be a vampire that you can fix him with a Resurrection spell (true btw); when the DM has it firmly in his head that you must chase this Vampire to a temple after 5-13 more combat encounters before you are "allowed" to kill said Vampire.

    Then again, almost any game fails when you have a bad DM. I think the title of DM is really the problem.

    Really, I prefer to call myself the referee or arbitrator than game master or dungeon master. I'm there to make sure that the monsters follow the rules and the players do so as well. Saying that I'm "telling a story" when I've got 2 or 11 other co-authors is the height of pretension.
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    RandomCasualty2
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Voss wrote:

    At which point you're just better off role-playing the social encounter rather than bothering with the craps game. Thats the problem I have with it. Rather than supplement the RP aspect of the game, it kills it, hides the body and replaces it with a craps game.

    Well I tend to have that complaint with every social system I've read.
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    Voss
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Judging__Eagle wrote:
    Quote:
    At which point you're just better off role-playing the social encounter rather than bothering with the craps game. Thats the problem I have with it. Rather than supplement the RP aspect of the game, it kills it, hides the body and replaces it with a craps game.


    Except that completely fails when the DM wants to railroad and his NPCs will not listen to appeals to what they as NPCs want.
    .


    Having the system completely fails too. The best example of exactly this type of thing is a lot of recent computer games, particularly Bioware and Obsidian lately. There are certain decision trees, presented as options, that lead to the exact same result. You can say yes, no, try to intimidate, bluff or diplomatize the person, and you get the exact same result. NWN2 is particularly bad about this. Try to refuse a NPC. It really won't let you, and the options are just window dressing. What 4e does is present the exact same thing. You can just skip the dice rolling and proceed directly to the DM's success scenario. Or if he's really creative (which seems to be discouraged), you can go to the failure scenario. But it doesn't actually matter what you do.
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