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

Stalker0

Legend
Magus Coeruleus said:
Stalker0, based on your analyzes, what recommendations would you make if I did not want to force anyone to make a roll or aid another necessarily?

In general, aid is only "necessary" when the person is using a low skill for the challenge. If he's using a skill that's about par with the group, you will only get a small drop in your win rate if he doesn't aid.

If the player chooses not to participate in the skill challenge at all, then check your new party vs the standard. If the rest of the party is average, there's probably nothing that needs to be changed for the challenge. If the new party tends to have a big skill user, you may wish to add +1 to the DC to balance it out.
 

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Stalker, the 3x rules by Penumbra for social encounters take the diplomancy rolls, etc and turn them into a combat-esque process that has 'hit points' on each side. Perhaps remove the 'success' and failures with a set number of hit points. A success deals 3 points of damage. A failure deals 0 points and may have other implications later.
Then replace 'aid another' with a check vs the simple DC that deals 1 point of damage on a success.

This allows the low skill monkey to still impact the success of the group.

Of course, you would need some attrition measure or time limit on the encounter. Perhaps 5 'rounds' per challenge levels. This would have to be set just right so that the low skill characters would need to act in order for the group to succeed.


--or, maybe I am talking out of my 4th point of contact :)
 

Stalker0 said:
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.

I think, then, that my alternate suggestion of making it an encounter use power would work well. It would also mean that the timing of the power would be tactically important; if you use it on a check you could do well on, you lose the chance to bow out of one in which you would do poorly.
 

bardolph

First Post
Thanks for the terrific system, Stalker0. I appreciate all of the hard work you put into it.

One of my reservations with this system is that it gets a little "crunchy" for my taste. I'd like to be able to use this system, but without the resource management aspect.

Here are some tweaks I'm considering when using this system in my game.

Guiding Light: I'm not so wild about integrating a "role" into the mechanics of a skill challenge. I'd be satisfied with allowing a simple Aid Another roll at DC 10/15/20 (based on tier), but making this bonus non-stackable. Multiple players can aid, but because the bonus is non-stackable, they might have to aid different players.

Critical Success: Rather than banking this success against future failures, could this count as an extra success, without skewing the numbers too much?

Heroic Surge: Do your difficulty DCs assume that the players are spending Heroic surges throughout the skill challenge? Would eliminating the Heroic Surge throw off all the numbers?

Time of Trials and Bold Recovery: I do like the idea of "rescuing" a skill challenge from failure, but I'd like to avoid having distinct "phases" in a skill challenge. What I'm think of is this: once per encounter, each player has the ability to reroll another player's failure, using a Hard DC and an allowed skill. Success = erase the failure. Failure = add one more failure.

Daring Skills: I like the idea of certain skills being riskier than others. If I'm not using Heroic Surges, perhaps a "Daring" skill also carries with it a +2/-2 adjustment to the next skill check, depending on success or failure of the roll?
 
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bardolph

First Post
Stalker0 said:
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.
In many cases, it is appropriate for the lead skill member to be the one making all of the most important rolls. For example, in the operating room, the surgeon is the only one with the knife. The same would apply in a Negotiation challenge.

A good way to mitigate this effect in some skill challenges is to require a certain number of successes in various skills per round, with group penalties if this quota is not met. This is what the DMG recommends. For example, a Wilderness Survival challenge may require a minimum of one Nature and two Endurance successes per round.
 
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jeffhartsell

First Post
I like this revamped version.

Comments:
1. Instead of unlocking a secondary skill with a DC+5 check, grant a +2 to the next roll.
2. Removing unlocking secondary skills. The secondary skills are a reward for players thinking of creative ways to use skills not listed as primary and get the group involved in RP right away. If the first player to go does not have a primary skill and is not the "guiding light" he is screwed.
3. Allow the use of action points granting the player a re-roll.

I agree that the DCs given in the DMG need this minor tweaking to take into account each discrete level of play. A more intuitive approach would have been to stick with +5, so level 1 easy would start at 13 and you increase that by 1/2 level to account for leveling and increase medium and hard by +5 and +10 over the easy number.

So you get easy as 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16, etc. all the way to 28 for level 30 easy check.

Or start at 14, 19, 24. But I agree with 18 as the medium DC for level 1. Using that as the base and adjust by -5 and +5 for easy and hard.
 

Stalker0

Legend
bardolph said:
Thanks for the terrific system, Stalker0. I appreciate all of the hard work you put into it.

One of my reservations with this system is that it gets a little "crunchy" for my taste. I'd like to be able to use this system, but without the resource management aspect.

Guiding Light: I'm not so wild about integrating a "role" into the mechanics of a skill challenge. I'd be satisfied with allowing a simple Aid Another roll at DC 10/15/20 (based on tier), but making this bonus non-stackable. Multiple players can aid, but because the bonus is non-stackable, they might have to aid different players.

Critical Success: Rather than banking this success against future failures, could this count as an extra success, without skewing the numbers too much?

Heroic Surge: Do your difficulty DCs assume that the players are spending Heroic surges throughout the skill challenge? Would eliminating the Heroic Surge throw off all the numbers?

Time of Trials and Bold Recovery: I do like the idea of "rescuing" a skill challenge from failure, but I'd like to avoid having distinct "phases" in a skill challenge. What I'm think of is this: once per encounter, each player has the ability to reroll another player's failure, using a Hard DC and an allowed skill. Success = erase the failure. Failure = add one more failure.

Daring Skills: I like the idea of certain skills being riskier than others. If I'm not using Heroic Surges, perhaps a "Daring" skill also carries with it a +2/-2 adjustment to the next skill check, depending on success or failure of the roll?

If you prefer a clean system that does not have so much "crunch", I highly recommend my Obsidian system, which can be found here: http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?p=4319615#post4319615.

It is very different from the standard skill challenge system, but you may find its simplicity to your liking.

On to your questions and comments:
Guiding Light is the biggest problem in the system, I'm pretty open about that. Unfortunately, its effect is so swingy in the math it has to be tightly regulated. Allowing multiple players to aid, even with a non-stackable bonus, can have a huge impact on the win rate, because your magnifying the players who have the high bonuses and are making all of the skill checks.

Critical Success doesn't exist anymore, that was in an earlier version of the system but was dropped.

Heroic Surge: My system assumes players are usually using a surge or two, perhaps 3 for a complexity 3 challenge. It shouldn't affect the numbers too much if you take it out. If you want, subtract 1 from the DC when doing a complexity 3 challenge. Other than that, I wouldn't make any other changes.

Bold Recovery: Your idea for bold recovery is interesting, I haven't run any models on that variant but your idea is not a little change. The fact that players can use BR at any time is a HUGE increase in BRs power. The fact that a player can completely negate a failure instead of just adding a +4 is another increase in its power. The fact that you add a failure is a significant drawback. How all of these factors play together would have to be looked at in detail.
 


bardolph

First Post
Stalker0 said:
If you prefer a clean system that does not have so much "crunch", I highly recommend my Obsidian system, which can be found here: http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?p=4319615#post4319615.

It is very different from the standard skill challenge system, but you may find its simplicity to your liking.
Heh, you've certainly been keeping yourself busy, Stalker0! I'll check it out.

On to your questions and comments:
Guiding Light is the biggest problem in the system, I'm pretty open about that. Unfortunately, its effect is so swingy in the math it has to be tightly regulated. Allowing multiple players to aid, even with a non-stackable bonus, can have a huge impact on the win rate, because your magnifying the players who have the high bonuses and are making all of the skill checks.
A high likelihood of success is desirable. After all, PCs win combat encounters virtually 100% of the time. However, I see what you're saying. It's a tough problem to solve.

The fundamental difference between combat and skill challenges is that combat doesn't have a direct penalty for missing a roll. Rather, it functions more like a race: can the PC's deal X damage before the enemy deals Y damage? Because enemy creatures are expected to accomplish a certain amount of progress each round, it behooves the party to accumulate as many successes (hits) as possible per round. This encourages an active role from each member of the party.

Skill Challenges are the opposite: the goal is to limit the number of failures, since the number of failures is what sets the end of the challenge. This encourages caution, since everyone except the highest roller should bow out.

I can see how Guiding Light addresses this issue, since it forces positions 2-4 (in a 5-person party) to roll regardless of their skill. In a sense, this creates a situation where players 1 (Skilly McAwesome) and 5 (The Guiding Light) are racing to accumulate the needed number of successes before the rest of the party accumulates enough failures to end the challenge.

Heroic Surge: My system assumes players are usually using a surge or two, perhaps 3 for a complexity 3 challenge. It shouldn't affect the numbers too much if you take it out. If you want, subtract 1 from the DC when doing a complexity 3 challenge. Other than that, I wouldn't make any other changes.
My concern is that Healing Surges are the recommend penalty for failure in the DMG. If Healing Surges are also the price for success, then the party is placed into a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

Bold Recovery: Your idea for bold recovery is interesting, I haven't run any models on that variant but your idea is not a little change. The fact that players can use BR at any time is a HUGE increase in BRs power. The fact that a player can completely negate a failure instead of just adding a +4 is another increase in its power. The fact that you add a failure is a significant drawback. How all of these factors play together would have to be looked at in detail.
I disagree that using BR early would be an increase in power. If BR is a "hard" roll, it really would only make sense to use it to prevent the final failure, since the penalty for missing the BR (an additional failure) is so much more punishing at any other point in the challenge.
 

Stalker0

Legend
RaynerApe said:
Can we get a PDF of this system, please?

A pdf has already been posted in the thread, you can find it here: http://www.enworld.org/showpost.php?p=4298314&postcount=62

It still needs a bit more formatting to clean it up, but its there. I intend to clean up the formatting so we can hopefully get a nice clean version ready to go.

Right now I'm working on my Obsidian system. My goal is to have pdfs of both, so that I can present DMs with different options for their group, as each system has its advantages.
 
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Doc Aquatic

First Post
I'm really impressed by this system, Stalker0, and I can't wait to use it in the game I'm running. Even aside from the more balanced math, I love the tactical options you give player characters to help their skill checks, which helps make skill challenges in line with combat in terms of the options players are given. Great job!
 

Keenath

Explorer
I'm heartily impressed, Stalker0!

How flexible is this system when you start throwing off-level PCs into it? If I plan a level 4 skill challenge, and everyone's only level 3 when they get there, how does that alter their chances? Could I offset that by dropping the complexity one level? What about getting level 5 or 6 characters into a level 4 skill challenge versus bumping the complexity up? Is a 2-levels-higher party appropriate for a complexity 4 or 5 challenge?
 

Stalker0

Legend
Keenath said:
I'm heartily impressed, Stalker0!

How flexible is this system when you start throwing off-level PCs into it? If I plan a level 4 skill challenge, and everyone's only level 3 when they get there, how does that alter their chances? Could I offset that by dropping the complexity one level? What about getting level 5 or 6 characters into a level 4 skill challenge versus bumping the complexity up? Is a 2-levels-higher party appropriate for a complexity 4 or 5 challenge?

A regular party of two levels higher should be able to tackle a complexity 5 challenge and have a solid win rate.

In general, dropping the complexity one level will tighten up the win rate when your bumping up the difficulty. The challenge will still be a bit harder for the party than a standard skill challenge, but should work fine.
 

Keenath

Explorer
Well, okay. I built a quick little monte-carlo testing program in VB to try out some variable adjustments.

I built a level 10 party along the same lines as Stalker0's example party -- one awesome skill guy, two moderately-good ones, one moderate-low (-2 below the moderate-good ones, equivalent to an armor penalty or lower ability score), and one awful (untrained and using an non-focus skill). The 'awful' guy always provided assistance (I really can't use the term "guiding light"...) to the second-lowest guy, so his checks don't count towards success or failure but might give the moderate-low guy a +2 to bring him up to moderately-good.

The program takes into account one Bold Recovery attempt per turn, made by the guy with the highest bonus. Technically you could have multiple bold recovery attempts made by different players if you had multiple final failures in a single turn, but that would add a layer of complexity -- so just assume they always fail those attempts. Also, this whole thing ignores the use of Heroic Surges, so the actual success rates will be slightly higher if the players want to spend resources, and it ignores any skill-boosting utility powers, which could theoretically convert a "moderate" to a second "good" skill user, or boost the low guy to a moderate. Whatever. Those are too situational to try to figure in.

In any case, this is what my little die roller came up with:

Given an on-level challenge the success rates were as follows:

Comp 1: 75%
Comp 2: 66%
Comp 3: 60%
Comp 4: 55%
Comp 5: 50%

The last two don't seem too awful; a second good skill user or lots of surge use could easily kick those up quite a bit.

Adding 1 to the DC (or, equivalently, running into a challenge designed for a party 1 or 2 levels higher) has the following success rates:
Comp 1: 66%
Comp 2: 53%
Comp 3: 45%
Comp 4: 39%
Comp 5: 33%

So I definitely wouldn't recommend using the higher complexities against a lower-level party. Adding 2 to the DCs (or using a party 3 to 4 levels lower) results in a massive drop in success rates, down to around 50% for complexity 1, so I really wouldn't do that.

Subtracting 1 from the DC (equivalent to hitting the challenge with a slightly higher-level party) provides these numbers:
Comp 1: 83%
Comp 2: 77%
Comp 3: 74%
Comp 4: 71%
Comp 5: 68%

So that's just fine even without any surges.


Given those numbers, I think it would be appropriate to calculate XP as X+1 monsters of that level, where X is the complexity -- thus complexity 1 is the same as 2 monsters, complexity 4 is equivalent to an on-level Solo (requiring significant resources and maybe some luck to beat), and so on.
 
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Tellerve

Registered User
So, which system are you going to use Stalker0? This one or your Obsidian version? And any chance you'll .pdf this version, or have you and I just missed it?

thanks,

Tellerve
 

Stalker0

Legend
So, which system are you going to use Stalker0? This one or your Obsidian version? And any chance you'll .pdf this version, or have you and I just missed it?

thanks,

Tellerve

My group will be using the Obsidian system. In fact, the reason I designed Obsidian is because my group liked the skill challenge idea, but they wanted a system that was more "invisible". They also really didn't like how failure works in the original system (and core system). So far, they have loved the new system, so they will be using that one.

As for a pdf, there is a pdf of this system within the thread. Work has ramped up for me a lot lately, so I haven't had time for much else, but if I get time I will make a cleaner pdf version.
 



Gwarh

First Post
Thanks and Kudo's Stalker0 for all your hard work. I am gratefull and will be trying out both your Skill Challenge systems soon enough in game.

Just a minor point and of course it's all a matter of opinion, but I felt some of the terminology used in your Alternate Core Skill Challenge System "ACSCS" would benefit with more intuitive name/titles perhaps. So here are a few ideas I was mulling over for my own printout of your system. Posting them more for fun really than in an effort to encourage you to change anything.

Guiding Light is now "THERE'S NO I IN TEAM" or "TEAM PLAYER"
Heroic Surge is now "HEROIC EFFORT"
The Time of Trials is now "LAST CHANCE" or "CRUNCH TIME"
Bold Recovery is now "BOUNCE BACK"

I just felt for me at least, the names were not entierly intuative. And wanted my players to get a feel for what they did/represent with just a glance at there names.

Also

Like one or two others I like the idea of more than one person being able to aid a task. But also see it's rife for abuse as the rule stands in the Core DMG as written.

How about allowing Aid Another but making the DC equal to the "EASY" test at the given level, and setting a cap at 3 players aiding the Lead roller. With each Aid giving a +1. Might be a bit arbritrary, but 3 sounds like a fair number. To many Cooks in a Kitchen ruins a Cake so to speak.
 
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