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


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pemerton

Legend
Problems also come along when people take "This is why I don't like it" as an attack.
I don't care who does or doesn't like things. I do take a modest degree of exception to being told my play is illogical and incoherent.

It is not illogical to design a dice-based game so that, if a player loses on their roll, the "game state" changes in a way contrary to what they were hoping for.

When the "game state" in question is essentially a shared fiction, which the player is engaging via their control of a particular character (let's call it a PC) then it it not illogical that the change that is contrary to what the player was hoping for be a new state of the fiction that sets back their PC's interests.

When the fiction is one of being lost in a swamp near a moathouse populated by bandits, it is not illogical that the new state of the fiction, which sets back the PC's interests, is one in which the PC is discovered by bandits and threatened with capture by them.

When the player's action declaration that triggered all this was "I preserve some of the meat of the giant frogs I killed", it is not illogical that the dice roll be structured by reference to the character's skill as a cook.

There is no illogicality or incoherence to be found. All there is is the fact that some people do not like a game in which consequences for failed rolls can be matters that fall outside a very narrow domain of the action the character was attempting, that generated the need for the roll. That domain is one of not only causal proximity (after all, if everything else is held equal then spending a long time cooking does increase the likelihood of being found by nearby bandits) but of "proximity of topic" - that is, the preference is one in which the consequence is about the same thing as the action declaration (in this example, the topic in question is the cooking of frog meat).

That preference for proximity of both causation and topic is moderately widespread among RPGers, albeit somewhat loosely applied (eg I think at least some of those objecting to the cooking example would not object to a failed roll to hit being narrated as a shield block by the opponent, although that does not satisfy the joint proximity requirement, and has basically the same structure as the cooking example - hence why really serious simulationist RPGing such as RuneQuest introduces a roll to block/parry). But it has not distinctive claim to logic or coherence.
 




pemerton

Legend
Actually yah.
Well, if I said the point of dealing a hand of cards is to set initial parameters for the collection of "sets", that would be true of (say) rummy, but false of (say) bridge.

Maybe in the RPGs you play, the point of skill rolls is to avoid the consequences.

That is not, in general, true of the RPGs that I play. There may be occasions when it is true - when the trajectory of play means that an immediate threat is looming and a roll of some sort is made to see if the PC avoids it (basically, what Gygax characterised as a saving throw).

But this is not the general structure of play in the RPGs that I play. Most of the time the roll is a result of an action declared by the player, and its point is to see whether or not the fiction advances/develops in the fashion that that player desires for their PC. Such a roll is not much like a saving throw, and it does not have the purpose of avoiding a consequence. There is not even a consequence in sight until the action is declared.

EDIT: See also @Thourne just upthread.

EDIT 2: the structure of play I just described is found not only in Torchbearer or Burning Wheel or Prince Valiant, but also Classic Traveller, Rolemaster and RuneQuest. It is not distinctive to "modern"/"indie"/"narrative" RPGs.
 




pemerton

Legend
It is possible to propel the narrative without trying to avoid consequences
And so, agreeing with @Thourne that a reason for many action declarations is to propel the narrative, we see that at least prima facie it is possible to declare an action without trying to avoid consequences. Does anything exclude this prima facie possibility?

Given that I have experienced, I very confidently infer that nothing does!
 

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