Friday, October 4, 2013

Incentive balance, but streamline rolls

edited for clarity

Situational Heuristics

This is the ability to judge situation. I can speak mostly for myself and what I've observed, so here goes. One of the first things I realized as I got more aware of what really goes on in many situations in general, is that the Chances to Fail is really a Complete fail but more of a set back. Consequences are not Binary: they come in a spectrum.

Deciding when to ask a player to Roll is reflexive for many GMs, including myself. So what happens is when in Doubt, Roll and Shout! But as we learn and observe the world around us, often I realize the moments the GM or I asked a player to roll I realized is not a good subject matter to roll on. The Doubt-Roll-&Shout is only a stop gap measure (you do it less the better). The ability to find or make Schelling Point in a situation is what the GM should learn to do. The GM's skills improve as they capture or frame the problem in an interesting way for the players and maximize utility in that situation on to the next interesting thing.  

Ex. Climb check. Of course the PCs are going to take their time and be careful. Many of them are skilled climbers and there are many ways we can problem solve this given how ingenius they are. I can be a D*CK and assume they overlooked something trivial by direct the PLAYERS attention to the conflict (an old gm trick) and penalize them for rushing towards the conflict OR just let them go through the climb.

Take 10 or 20 is an idea I learned from D20. Why is it that Time and Opportunity is not taken account in the default roll. We think in Easy or Hard, but not consequences, set-backs and opportunities. The ability to judge a circumstance learning from being a GM is quite useful I realize even as a problem solver or even as a Player.

Can we take our time? How many opportunities? How many tries? etc... 

Incentive Balanced and Eye for Detail, but no need to roll for it. 

I began thinking about this more now that I'm running again, and when in hindsight asked useless rolls. It would have saved time to remove all the tiny inconsequential rolls... but how would I incentive having good well balanced stats? 

The thing is as much as I am a fan of the addage: For Want of a Nail, it should not cripple the story or flow. What I can do is load all those modifiers (penalties) into the few rolls that do come up. You are not well rounded enough to deal with this adverse situation, you have a penalty to your attack roll. 

Example
Adverse Terrain would require good Acrobatics, Running or Jumping Skill (because these skills means your joints, tendons and bones can withstand the high impact of this activity). If the player's Character has no such skill I can just give him a Bad Footing penalty when shooting or striking. 

GM: this is bad terrain, unless you have an appropriate footwork skill (running, jumping etc..)  you take a bad footing penalty when you move place to place equal to Six reduced by half an appropriate skill [ bad footing penalty = 6 - (skill/2) ]. 
Player: I have Karate (Capoiera) -14. It has a lot of good high impact footwork, even some dancing, I have dancing-12 and acrobatics-10. 
GM: Ok dancing and Capoiera would still give a penalty since its not appropriate, but since you have acrobatics-10 (still a penalty) I'll just base it on your Capoiera at -2, negating the penalty.     

Terrain, Lighting (observation skill), Foilage/Cover (observation skill), 

GM: these are seedy people, and they don't like outsiders. You have a penalty equal to six reduced by half an appropriate skill
Player: then points out to his Streetwise of 15 and Acting-14.
GM: Ok your excellent streetwise makes them feel you are "(Their) People". Your ethnically and linguistically compatible, you even intone some of the accent and your streetwise adds a bonus of 1.

In Roll20

use Handouts set to All Players. Title is the Situation. Write down all the Situation Modifiers: Lighting, Terrain, Appropriate Skills. Like a Narrative Game System (Fate ex.) have elements and key words there so that they can Yes&.    

In the Game, if I am able to talk to the other players about their characters prior to the game to help create an optimum strategy.

Next time I will use the END of the Game to talk about Optimal Strategy so that they have an easier time next game using their characters. If my system tweaking and experiment fails, I can try to increase their mastery over their character so that they can enjoy the game more.

I'm really happy about the people I meet over in Roll20, since its really a great matching of interests there are people who are more likely to give me a chance to fix the game unlike in face to face where the game ends pretty abruptly sigh... 



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