Stalker0's Obsidian Skill Challenge System (Update: Version 1.1) Now with PDF!!

Stalker0

Legend
So, what do you think of the changes they did? I guess we're all interested in your take.

I haven't had a chance to do a thorough math analysis on it yet, but I can give you some highlights.

First of all, WOTC definitely curbed many of the problems:

1) Higher Complexities are always harder.
2) Parties have good win rates.
3) Each person has a good chance to succeed at any individual skill check.
4) Adding off the wall skills are now medium Dc in general , not hard.
5) Aid Another should now be used infrequently.

There are now three issues that still remain, one is old, and the other is a creation of the new system.

The old one is variance. If we look at each player having a 90% chance to succeed with their best skills (and with the new DCs that is highly likely). You get about a 98% win rate at complexity 1 and a 84% win rate at complexity 5. That's actually really good for such a wide complexity range!

However, let's drop each person's check to 85% (basically a +1 to the DC). The complexity 1 win is now 95.27%, meaning the win rate hasn't dropped that much....that's also very good! However, when we look at complexity 5, the rate is now 64.79%. that's a difference of 20% from the original complexity 5, and a 30% difference between the complexities at that DC. That's a big difference, and it gets worse as you drop further down.

This is a fundamental property of the success/failure model, you cannot get rid of it. Much of my work on my original system was creating mechanics to curb it, but that's all you can do. WOTC has removed some of the variance of its original system, but much of it remains.

The next problem is that the ceiling has been made too low. At 1st level, a player will generally have +9's to his good skills, and could easily have +10-12 if he specializes a bit more. Those are automatic successes on medium DCs. And of course, when you throw in utility powers you can easily get players autowinning skill challenges. I think it was good they lowered the DCs, but I think they went too far. HOWEVER!! If you take away the standard assumption that players are supposed to use their best skills, this changes. If similar to Obsidian, a DM says that these skills are the right ones for the job then the low DCs might actually be a blessing for characters who aren't as trained in those skills.

The third problem is that they still have disincentives for rolling. In fact, now they've taken out the assumption that all players participate in a challenge...which to me is the worst problem. To me, that was the whole point of the skill challenge system, to get players to accomplish a skill encounter as a team. Now the best way to go is your best skill guy just rolls and everyone stands back.


Now...all of that aside, I will say the math is a lot more solid than the original version, and because of that, this system is worthy of playtesting. I have said many times that I don't think math should be the final judge of any system. The reason the original system broke that rule was because its math was so blatantly bad. If this system had been the one I was originally handed, you would not have gotten all of the crazy math analysis I have done. I would have noted some math oddities, but I would have taken faith and tried it out a lot before making any judgements. But now I have Obsidian, my group likes it, and I doubt we will change from that any time soon.
 

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Scud.NZ

First Post
The third problem is that they still have disincentives for rolling. In fact, now they've taken out the assumption that all players participate in a challenge...which to me is the worst problem. To me, that was the whole point of the skill challenge system, to get players to accomplish a skill encounter as a team. Now the best way to go is your best skill guy just rolls and everyone stands back.

Which makes you wonder why bother with all that dice rolling? Why not have the best guy make a single dice roll. Success or Failure. Sorted.

I agree with the comment about the revised version being "playtest worthy", but doesn't it make you furious that they never bothered to do that before they printed and released the game. Such a core mechanism of the game should never have been released in that fashion.

I think I'll stick with your system, Stalker0, until I see the posts that say how good the new one is (which I don't think will be any time soon).
 

EldritchFire

First Post
Quick question.

On page 8 of the .pdf, it states that "For XP purposes, treat the skill challenge as a complexity 3 if you were using the standard system. "

However, a few more lines down, it also says "Awarding XP: Treat a combat skill challenge as an elite monster, whose level is equal to the skill challenge level."

Which is it?

Thanks!

-EF
 
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Stalker0

Legend
Quick question.

On page 8 of the .pdf, it states that "For XP purposes, treat the skill challenge as a complexity 3 if you were using the standard system. "

However, a few more lines down, it also says "Awarding XP: Treat a combat skill challenge as an elite monster, whose level is equal to the skill challenge level."

Which is it?

Thanks!

TBP

Both!! A combat skill challenge is a different format than a standard one. In a combat challenge, you don't have 3 rounds of rolling, so it tends to have less rolls. Further, it designed as a packet deal with a regular combat. So the Xp is different.
 

EldritchFire

First Post
Both!! A combat skill challenge is a different format than a standard one. In a combat challenge, you don't have 3 rounds of rolling, so it tends to have less rolls. Further, it designed as a packet deal with a regular combat. So the Xp is different.

I'm sorry, I seemed to have missed my begining point: both XP values are in the Skill Challenges in Combat section.

One line says treat it as 3 monsters (complexity 3), the other says treat it as 2 (elite monster).

-EF
 

Hazimel

First Post
Great work

This deserves a bump. I will be trying it out soon in a game. Meanwhile, I like the idea of collecting skill challenges somewhere. Some of the posters here already have a good format started.
 


EldritchFire

First Post
Has anyone else noticed that the new "Hard" DCs on the errata for the DC By Level table are roughly 3 lower than Stalker0's listed DCs for Obsidian?

Just an observation.

-EF
 


Tormod

First Post
Psycked about your new skill system I designed todays session with that in mind. Only 3 of the normal 6 players were present but they had a blast.

First off was a grove they encountered in the forrest, where a cave-bear sat and had a meal. The bear was surounded by 4 stonehenge look-a-like stones and 3 really big trees with iliads running down them and to two of the stone formations, just to give them something to work with. One of my players falls into "the observer" category, so he got away with only a very brief description like "I try to climb on of the rock formations" or "I want to distract the bear with a shuriken" but the other 2 came up with long intricate descriptions of why they could use their skills.

None of them really had any combat skills but with creative stories I let them run with nature because of the odd location, heal once they discovered it was of ancient druidic nature and such. in the end they got a partial victory.


Next they got back to the city, which is a small adventuring hub. The innkeeper had just launced a new system where she'll give the party the spot they deserve for the reputation they have. They were currently in 5th place, but sitting on the table one spot above them were 2 rag-tag villagers who they recognized.

It just so happens that those to villagers were saved by the party earlier when they were in a litle above their heads trying to kill evil. My party had saved their sorry ass, but here they were, taking ALL the credit. Thus we started a social skill challenge. My fellows needed to win this or face beeing run out of the city, but with 4 straight sucsesses and then 2 20's it was an epic moment and the villagers were seen running out of town.
(recurring bbg's for sure xD)

Last off was a challenge I shamelessly stole from a previous poster in this thread. Scaling a mountain before sunset to reach a semetary before the wraight and skellies raise. They were so afraid of loosing this one the way I went on and on with with the sunset getting nearer and the powers of the wraith etc, that they actually expended action points to reroll in the first round. But they ended up winning this one as well, and got to chop down the skellies as they rose before confronting the wraith.

All in all that makes for 2 sucesses and one partial and TONS of fun. I expect I'll start almost all combat encounters, at least the majority with a skillchallenge. I'm perhaps a bit too relaxed when it comes to allow farfetched skills, but when it pushes their creativity to the max, I think I'll continue to be lenient.
(my cleric picked up a few pieces of coal from a fire in the middle of stonehenge to pray to the primordials and then tossed them on the bear. This useing endurance to hold the coal while praying. He rolled a 1 and got smited by his diety for 1d10 dmg and a healing surge for praying to other dieties though, but thats an other story :p)
As long as they stay creative I think I'll allow most skills. I designed the encounters to be balanced when they won anyway, but they'll lose and get to fight some though encounters soon enough :)

Great work stalker0, next sesstion is in 1 day :)

PS: made this account just to post this
 
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