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Stalker0's Alternate Core Skill Challenge System: FINAL VERSION 1.8!

Stalker0

Legend
gonesailing said:
Just a quick question. So the "Tags" are gone right? Guiding Light and Bold Recovery should be useable on every check? Simplifies things.

Also, I think the "problem" of a weak skill user is really a problem of Challenge design. I think a challenge needs as many Allowed skills as possible with varied Ability bases. All physical, mental, or charisma based challenges will tend to leave one or more player out.

If the tags confused you before I apologize. Even in Ver 1.7 you could use bold recovery and guiding light on every check, except bold recovery could only be used during the time or trials.

The helpful tag just gives you an extra benefit when using Guiding Light, and Daring when using heroic surge and bold recovery.
 

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IvanHo

First Post
I made a somewhat more printable version of the system (still not pretty, but I managed to fit it on a single page and there's less black).

I placed the bold and daring tag info in the setting up skills section.

IvanHo, back to lurking....
 

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  • Stalker0 Skill Challenge 1.8.pdf
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Stalker0

Legend
IvanHo said:
I made a somewhat more printable version of the system (still not pretty, but I managed to fit it on a single page and there's less black).

I placed the bold and daring tag info in the setting up skills section.

IvanHo, back to lurking....

Very nice! I especially like the sideways tables, they are clean and easy to read.

You didn't mention anything about secondary skills though.
 

Hawke

First Post
The PDF looks nice - one sheet with the info I need as a DM to run it. Overall from a player standpoint they just need to learn what Guiding Light is / does and that they can use a healing surge. Once it gets to the Time of Trials you can give them more info, but just those two bits shouldn't require them to learn a million new things but jump into the challenge.

I'd suggest running extremely forgiving / easy challenges the first few for your players to give them an idea on how the system works and some of the things they can do with it before trying to destroy them. We always run 2-3 easier combat encounters in a very forgiving way that are setup to show major combat elements before we jump into the game. Considering you'll have maybe 1 skill challenge for every 10 encounters (random guess, will vary) it's almost that much more important they know how it's going to work so when you get to that do-or-die moment where it really matters it isn't the first time they're picking their guiding light and making a choice to use a surge or not.

Stalker0, thanks for the great info. IvanHo, thanks for the pdf.
 

Hawke

First Post
The Skill DC lists as "Easy - Med - High," would consistent language sound better? Easy/Medium/Hard or Low/Med/High?

I think the standard is to use Hard instead of High, though I don't have my books in front of me.
 

Verequus

First Post
Stalker0, reading through your first two posts I got confused a bit. I first thought that the low DC was missing, but then I discovered it being using by Guiding Light. The way you described it, I expected that a normal roll for success or failure has been given a low DC, not that the low DC belongs only to some new mechanic.

Then the unlocking of new skills isn't mentioned at all. It has to be inferred by the example. Can you give your text another round to look for missing rules? Otherwise your system looks good - I will use it, if I get the chance. :)
 

osmanb

First Post
I actually have some similar questions, with regards to the tags in the example. There is no explicit description of those in the rules. All of them make the challenge easier for the players. How much easier? I know that the system is designed to be very robust and tolerant of different parties at this point, but were the simulations done with some assumption about the skills and tags? (eg, there is always one daring skill?).
 

gonesailing

First Post
Verequus said:
Stalker0, reading through your first two posts I got confused a bit. I first thought that the low DC was missing, but then I discovered it being using by Guiding Light. The way you described it, I expected that a normal roll for success or failure has been given a low DC, not that the low DC belongs only to some new mechanic.

Then the unlocking of new skills isn't mentioned at all. It has to be inferred by the example. Can you give your text another round to look for missing rules? Otherwise your system looks good - I will use it, if I get the chance. :)

The text is a little unclear in some points, but Stalker0 has done the really hard work(math). I am trying use my limited English skills to whip up some better documentation for him to approve but in the meantime read the excellent PDF that IvanH0 attached to his post here
http://www.enworld.org/showpost.php?p=4298314&postcount=62
 

Stalker0

Legend
Verequus said:
Stalker0, reading through your first two posts I got confused a bit. I first thought that the low DC was missing, but then I discovered it being using by Guiding Light. The way you described it, I expected that a normal roll for success or failure has been given a low DC, not that the low DC belongs only to some new mechanic.

Then the unlocking of new skills isn't mentioned at all. It has to be inferred by the example. Can you give your text another round to look for missing rules? Otherwise your system looks good - I will use it, if I get the chance. :)

The reason I did it this way is that in the last version I had people tell me there was too much text, too much complexity. So I tried to streamline, and take the optional things like the tags and secondary skills as an example for people who wanted to use them. But if I have caused more confusion, then I can easily edit that.
 

Stalker0

Legend
osmanb said:
I actually have some similar questions, with regards to the tags in the example. There is no explicit description of those in the rules. All of them make the challenge easier for the players. How much easier?

The core math is done without use of the tags. The tags themselves have little effect on the system overall, as their bonuses tend to be minor and relegated to one roll.

for example with the helpful tag, the real advantage of aid another is not the +2 bonus, its actually the ability to take a person with a low skill mod out of the challenge for a while. So it adding a +3 instead of a +2 actually doesn't make that big of a difference.

So feel free to use or not use various tags as you see fit, they are designed just to give dms more customization in their challenges, and don't serve any balancing function.
 

Magus Coeruleus

First Post
Stalker0 said:
The reason I did it this way is that in the last version I had people tell me there was too much text, too much complexity. So I tried to streamline, and take the optional things like the tags and secondary skills as an example for people who wanted to use them. But if I have caused more confusion, then I can easily edit that.
Did you have a chance to check out the Word file I had attached to post #33? You may not like suggested name changes but I tried to provide concise but thorough explanations of each concept, including the tags. It may be helpful.
 

gonesailing

First Post
IvanHo said:
I made a somewhat more printable version of the system (still not pretty, but I managed to fit it on a single page and there's less black).

I placed the bold and daring tag info in the setting up skills section.

IvanHo, back to lurking....

Looking at it again, I don't think I could do better.
 

Verequus

First Post
Stalker0 said:
The reason I did it this way is that in the last version I had people tell me there was too much text, too much complexity. So I tried to streamline, and take the optional things like the tags and secondary skills as an example for people who wanted to use them. But if I have caused more confusion, then I can easily edit that.

Streamlining is good, but if you remove explanations for features you use later then it went too far. How about adding an "Optional Rules" section? That way people can use the simpler variant while knowing what rules encompass actually the simpler variant.
 

Stalker0

Legend
On Sunday I got to run the first playtest of my new system.

I was a player, and we ran through 2 challenges, a complexity 2 and a complexity 1. Both challenges were open-ended, so the players were allowed to choose their skills.

I won initiative on the first and showed the players how its done by opening up with a heroic surge. The players seemed to like that and so opened up with surges of their own. However, it came down to the time of trials, and the player used his heroic surge to gain a +3 and beat the challenge.

The second one was a complexity 1, and the party made it through with 3 successes and a failure.

One thing that was interesting is that the players naturally wanted the ability to delay their actions, after all being used to the initiative of combat. The Dm allowed it, and I think it should be part of the core system. Its intuitive, and that kind of player choice tends to help the system, not hurt it.

Second, my group HATED the name Guiding Light. What I thought was a cool, heroic sounding name they thought was completely corny. I guess that's why I do math equations and don't create names:)

However, I did note the once per round aid was a bit of a problem, but not in the way I originally thought. Most of the time, people wanted to aid, not because they wanted to be helpful, but because they were unsure of what to do. People weren't sure of what skills to pick, or how to apply their best skills to a combat, so they looked to aid as a way to "bail them out".

While no one said anything, I could tell there were a few cases of "why can't I aid as well?" written on the players faces. Further, it got a little confusing when a person chose to aid, and then later on a person trying to aid, not remembering someone else had done it. The DM had to remind them of it several times, and then the player would sit trying to think of something to do.

In general, the system did what I had intended it to do, but the AID problem still plagues me. As promised though, I would like to see more playtest results before I change anything, but I will continue to look for better solutions to what I consider the last remaining flaw in the system.
 

gonesailing

First Post
Stalker0 said:
On Sunday I got to run the first playtest of my new system.

I was a player, and we ran through 2 challenges, a complexity 2 and a complexity 1. Both challenges were open-ended, so the players were allowed to choose their skills.
....... Most of the time, people wanted to aid, not because they wanted to be helpful, but because they were unsure of what to do. People weren't sure of what skills to pick, or how to apply their best skills to a combat, so they looked to aid as a way to "bail them out".
Emphasis Mine
I think it boils down to this. Mostly this is due to player unfamiliarity, I think. Also the DM has to be some sort of "Guiding Light" :) for the players. (Which I am sure he was). Some skills just naturally lend themselves to certain challenges, others might be hard to pick up. Perhaps more open and shut skill challenges. Also the DMG has excellent advice on how to run Skill Challenges. It does say there to explicitly spell out useful skills to the players. That doesn't mean players can't try something else.
 

Stalker0 said:
Second, my group HATED the name Guiding Light. What I thought was a cool, heroic sounding name they thought was completely corny. I guess that's why I do math equations and don't create names:)

However, I did note the once per round aid was a bit of a problem, but not in the way I originally thought. Most of the time, people wanted to aid, not because they wanted to be helpful, but because they were unsure of what to do. People weren't sure of what skills to pick, or how to apply their best skills to a combat, so they looked to aid as a way to "bail them out".

While no one said anything, I could tell there were a few cases of "why can't I aid as well?" written on the players faces. Further, it got a little confusing when a person chose to aid, and then later on a person trying to aid, not remembering someone else had done it. The DM had to remind them of it several times, and then the player would sit trying to think of something to do.

If everyone wants the opportunity to aid each round, (which, from a roleplaying perspective, seems reasonable) couldn't you provide a remedy by allowing them to do so, but only allow one person to use their +2 bonus to assist someone else for any given check? As written, the guiding light rule seems to be a way for people to prepare for future skill checks; whether assisting someone on another check or rerolling your own. The only real problem from having multiple people use it each round is that you could then grant a character a massive bonus from multiple people assisting (which, as you mention, is the problem with the aid another rules as written in the DMG). So, since you still couldn't ever get more than a +2 bonus from aiding, it seems that the only real problem would be that there would be more skill rerolls. This might skew the math unacceptably; if so, perhaps limit the number of guiding light rerolls to 1x per character per challenge? That doesn't seem too different from what you'd get with the current rules, where you can get at most 1x per round. And heck, it makes it fit in with the encounter powers that players are familiar with already.

Perhaps as an alternate name, "Plan for the Worst". Or, if that's too negative, "Cunning Preparation". Or maybe "Spit in Murphy's Eye," if you want it to be light hearted.

In fact, writing it up as an encounter power might make it obvious how it works, and avoid player confusion. Much as how basic attacks are at-will powers that everyone has, or second wind. Something like the following:

Cunning Preparation
You think ahead, planning for the challenges to come, and skillfully lay the groundwork for future success.

Encounter
Standard Action - Personal
Effect: During a skill challenge, instead of taking your normal turn, you may roll an allowed skill check against a lower DC that does not count as a success or failure. If you succeed, you may do one of the following:
1) Provide another character a +2 power bonus to his or her next skill check.
2) Reroll one of your own skill checks later in the challenge, though you must take the new result.

If you opt for this route, it might make more sense to let the player choose which skill check to give an ally a +2 bonus on, rather than mandate that it be the next one. That way, multiple people can use the power on the same round and not have it be wasted. And, you're still only ever going to see a single +2 bonus for any given skill, because power bonuses don't stack.

EDIT: I was looking over your original system again, and I think that you could actually write up each of the new skill challenge options that your system provides as encounter frequency powers. This would let you clean up the wording to make them inline with the rest of the 4e ruleset, and potentially make the whole system a lot easier to grok. For instance, you could give the guiding light power a keyword, like "Simple," and the bold recovery a keyword like "Challenging". Then, you can just title each DC column accordingly, and know instantly which to use.

SECOND EDIT: Actually, looking at the current DC table, you could remove the two extra column entirely if you turned them into bonuses or penalties associated with the powers.

For example, for the guiding light power, you could just have them make the skill check with a bonus dependent on level:
Level 1-11: +4
Level 12-20: +5
Level 21-30: +6
(a little odd, since the bonus increases at level 12 instead of level 11, but workable. Or you could just make it increase at level 11 for sake of simplicity. Oh, I just realized you changed it TO its current form for simplicity; changing it back would make it more simple, AND more mathematically sound!)

For bold recovery, you could just have them make a skill check with a penalty dependent on level:
Bold Recovery:
Level 1-10: -5
Level 11-20: -6
Level 21: -7
(This one's even nicer, since it directly follows the tier structure!)

Then, you only have one DC column, no fuss, no muss. The DM doesn't have to worry about doing any extra bookkeeping; the players can adjust their bonuses accordingly (even noting them ahead of time), and roll against the same DC no matter what type of action they're taking. And, with the power rules as written, it should be extremely easy to follow.

What do you think?
 
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Black Plauge

First Post
I've just seen this for the first time and must say that it looks good. One thing though, you talk about "Daring" and "Helpful" tags for the skills but the most recent version (1.8) doesn't describe what these tags mean. Clarification?
 

Stalker0

Legend
Knowledge Sinkhole said:
If everyone wants the opportunity to aid each round, (which, from a roleplaying perspective, seems reasonable) couldn't you provide a remedy by allowing them to do so, but only allow one person to use their +2 bonus to assist someone else for any given check?

Unfortunately no. The reason is the +2 bonus from aid is actually not the real benefit from aid. The "real" power of aid is the ability for a player to pull himself out of the skill challenge, letting the guy with the best skill make all the rolls.

For example, take 3 people, with a +9, +8, and a +12 to their skill mods for a skill challenge. By electing the aid action, you can now let +12 make all of the rolls, which is a huge benefit. Then throw on the +2's you could potentially get, and the benefit is even bigger.

However, if I don't allow all the extra +2's, that would curb the discrepency between small and larger parties. However, aid another would also become "bow out of the skill challenge", which is not what the system is supposed to encourage.
 

Magus Coeruleus

First Post
Stalker0, based on your analyses, what recommendations would you make if I did not want to force anyone to make a roll or aid another necessarily? I appreciate the 4e philosophy of encouraging everyone to participate in a skill challenge but frankly I feel that if the work has been done to make sure everyone usually has applicable skills and there is a meta-game social expectation that people should have their PCs participate when they can, that it should not be necessary to force anyone to roll if they really think it makes more sense to hold off. Maybe there's even something useful they can be doing besides working on the skill challenge per se, for instance defending those making skill checks from attackers, making active perception checks for something potentially important but totally unrelated to the challenge, etc.

Thanks.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Black Plauge said:
I've just seen this for the first time and must say that it looks good. One thing though, you talk about "Daring" and "Helpful" tags for the skills but the most recent version (1.8) doesn't describe what these tags mean. Clarification?

I have updated the front page with the tags as an optional rule. So I hope that clears everything up.
 

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