What's Your "Sweet Spot" for a Skill system?


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In some narrative games the dice rating indicates how important something is to the player to focus play on and has nothing to do with the character's competence.
Which is not something I particularly like, but it is perfectly coherent. To me this is much more logical than muddling simulationist and narrative considerations together. It is illogical to say that the skill rating represents character's competence, the DC difficulty of the task in the world, and then use these to draw odds for some unrelated event happening.

I would have thought that all the Ron Edwards fans would be delighted about my observation, I finally agree with him that mixing different play priorities leads to incoherence! :ROFLMAO:
 

The quality of the cooking was not in doubt.
Then don't make a roll where the odds of success are drawn from how good cook you are and how hard the recipe is!

Cooking is not an appropriate skill to use for hiding from bandits and difficulty of the recipe is not the correct environmental factor for determining the difficulty for that roll!
 

pemerton

Legend
No that's not what happened, but the question was, what if the situation was that the players' foremost and overt goal was to avoid drawing the bandits' attention? What is your answer to that? (Mine is just above.)
In Torchbearer, this would be a Survivalist test to conceal camp. This would grant +1 on the Camp Event roll.
 

pemerton

Legend
Cooking is not an appropriate skill to use for hiding from bandits
Luckily, no one has used it as such.

But clearly it is an appropriate skill for preserving frog meat.

and difficulty of the recipe is not the correct environmental factor for determining the difficulty for that roll!
This is not a statement of logic, or any first principle of RPG design. It's a preference of yours.

The difficulty of preserving 4 (as opposed to 2, or 1) portions of rations is an appropriate factor for determining how hard the Cook test is. And what is being tested? Not, typically, whether the character can preserve those rations per se. Rather, whether the character can preserve the rations given the challenges with which they are confronted. Such as being lost in a swamp in the neighbourhood of hostile bandits and others.

Which is not something I particularly like, but it is perfectly coherent. To me this is much more logical than muddling simulationist and narrative considerations together. It is illogical to say that the skill rating represents character's competence, the DC difficulty of the task in the world, and then use these to draw odds for some unrelated event happening.
Achieving what you want, when you try and cook things, is not unrelated to your ability as a Cook. So Torchbearer does not manifest the trait that you are describing as illogical.
 

To answer the OP, my "sweet spot" is the one I'm currently designing which is a mix of Dark Ages VtM/Vampire 5e and 3.x with some 5e sensibilities - leaning heavily into Degrees of Success, Success at a Cost, Fail Forward, but not necessarily excluding outright Fails or even Degrees of Failure.

I enjoy the combination of the Attributes + Abilities (Skills in 5e) on a 1d20.
Each of the Abilities have Specialities - when rolling for Specialities you gain Advantage.
Each point in an Ability means you cannot score (via 1d20 + Ability) less than 2x your Abilities. i.e If you have 2 points in Athletics you can roll under 4 before other modifiers (Attributes + Enchantments...etc)

No more broken BA with Expertise.
I also enjoy the Vampire Attribute system because
(1) You decrease the min-maxing of 20 on all one's primary stats, in that you can have competent fighters without needing to be among the strongest or fastest (finesse weapons) men alive;
(2) Odd numbers are useless on the Ability score chart - seriously what is the point here?

Combat abilities such as Archery + Melee would lean into a Non-Weapon Proficiency subsystem (still working through this).
 
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I would not (by default), because that would be backward. If the players' main intent is to avoid drawing the attention of bandits, they need to do something narratively relevant to that. I can see some wacky player deciding to cook up a tasty meal to bribe/appease bandits, but not to avoid drawing their attention in the first place.
But by having the bandits' arrival be the consequence of failing the cooking check you have essentially turned it into "make a cooking check to avoid attracting attention." Part of the point of any skill check is avoiding the consequence after all.
If the players decide to cook for whatever reason, knowing that bandits are in the area and therefore narratively relevant to just about any activity they might undertake, they should not be surprised when a negative result on the skill check involves having inadvertently drawn the attention of the bandits, rather than something boring like merely having burned the frog meat (although loss of needed supplies is indeed a valid negative consequence).
I agree that the players shouldn't be surprised by the bandits' appearance. Seems to me as though any consequence should make sense in the game and it seems to me as though everyone at the table thought this consequence made sense in this moment.
 

Aldarc

Legend
But by having the bandits' arrival be the consequence of failing the cooking check you have essentially turned it into "make a cooking check to avoid attracting attention."
FWIW, that seems like a distinction without a difference with your earlier example of a failed Survival check for setting up camp attracts the bandits' attention.

Part of the point of any skill check is avoiding the consequence after all.
Part of the point of skill checks in many games, IMHO, is that there should be consequences/stakes involved in the roll, otherwise no roll should be made or called for. This is true even per the rules of 5e D&D: "Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure" (DMG, p. 237).
 

Wolfpack48

Adventurer
I personally would have separated out the consequence of the fumbled cooking and the discovery of the camp by the bandits with a separate roll (party's Hide skill is at a disadvantage due to the smoking fire caused by Cooking vs. the bandit's Search), but I get the desire to condense rolls.
 

FWIW, that seems like a distinction without a difference with your earlier example of a failed Survival check for setting up camp attracts the bandits' attention.
The issue isn't that there's a check. The issue is that "make a Cooking check to avoid the bandits" seems to be to be ludicrous on its face and applying "the bandits are here now" as a consequence to a failed Cooking check turns the game situation into "make a Cooking check to avoid the bandits."
Part of the point of skill checks in many games, IMHO, is that there should be consequences/stakes involved in the roll, otherwise no roll should be made or called for. This is true even per the rules of 5e D&D: "Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure" (DMG, p. 237).
I don't disagree. I think the set of possible/plausible/likely consequences should be knowable. In the given play example that seems to have been the case.
 

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