Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When Certainty Fails 40% of the time, and Luck has a greater factor to Success than skill.

“But the evidence is unequivocal — there is a great deal more luck than skill involved in the achievements of people getting very rich.” - Daniel Khaneman

this got me to reduce the Influence of a Skilled Leader on the Success of the Organization he is helming and Emphasize the Situational Modifiers.

In Famine or War, the Farmer or the King rolls at a Situational Penalty or Harder Difficulty. In Boom or Surplus Cycle the Farmer and King rolls at a Situational Bonus. Everyone Rolls and the situation will show its effects.

Edit: as +Gerardo Tasistro pointed out I have to clarify that this is only for Complex Problems like Leading an Organization, a Job Roll, or a Task that is very complex and that we are trying to resolve it as a Roll. (see Daniel Kahneman's discussion on the topic of Businesses and Biz leaders).

Mastering 1 Factor (or Broad Category of Factors) has a Minor Influence. In D20 this would be a +1 to +2 or in GURPS or in traveller a TN of 7 or 8 on its 2d6 system. Mastering or Controlling for a Multitude of Factors can have a bit of a bonus but cannot move the odds by more than 10% deviation from 50%.This follows that Awesome: "When people are 99% certain leads to 40% mistakes".

If your players don't like those Odds then point out this is a Matter of AGENCY. And bring up the Challenge What can someone do in the face of such odds. When the average business has a 1 in 10 to 3 in 10 survival chance in 5 years ask "How can they beat the odds?" and watch their approach. Watch for Planning Fallacy, Risk/Loss Aversion, Forecasting Bias, and Narrative Bias.

In truth your not going to prove them wrong, their answer are your tools as a GM. These exceptions and biases are your tools and buttons to press to get them engaged. Sounds Manipulative? You're playing a game of Pretend, by that context its not.

HARD MODE is when you use a Case Study method and check if they controlled these biases. By Case Study Method you us the tools found in Rationality and Decision Making Studies to see if they've controled for their Biases and throw the worse case scenario and watch them adapt and show off their creativity and unshakable AGENCY! Enough conditioning through these kinds of adventures and one gets a better grasp of  their own character and not just the PC they play.


Risk Aversion. Pointing out someone's bias can illicit a range of responses and my own risk aversion is not to entertain such strategies. The safest route is talking about it openly: "How much would you pay in character points or XP to have a 99% vs 60% chance of success in a field of expertise". Its actually a discussion worth having because a lot of the material around Risk Aversion is about bringing out the irrationality when we look at opportunity costs we could have had for the resources we put to be "SURE".

Going System Two  (Slowing down to think and work on the problem) and Thinking Like a Trader  (or Thinking like a Gamer) rationalizes the trade-offs, opportunity costs, and the diminishing returns on Risk Aversions spending in light of better uses of resources. In the end of the day, when players practice working through their risk aversion and master the very difficult skill of being Empirical and Rational while Framing the Problem in the most truthful and motivating way is a skill that improves their lives and the engagement in the Game IMO.

Edit: Planning Fallacy.
Dealing with planning Fallacy and the odds of chance is not the end for the players who incurable in their Risk Aversion. Choosing more Favorable Situation is Narrowing the Scope and Fighting in a more Favourable Situation.

Examples: If the market is on a down turn, we dont fight the tide of the market we look for where the opportunity is in the trend of the market. A GM cannot hope to make an awesome game with terrible players (and players cannot expect much from a terrible co-players or GM) so he shouldnt fight that battle and move on to a better circumstance. A fighter does not hope to turn the Tide of the Horde, but find the small battles he can win to work on a bit at a time (guerilla warfare and asymmetric warfare). A small biz owner in light of the 30% survival rate of biz over 5 years doesnt just gamble, he should look for a nich he can win and not just jump into an adventure he has no clue what to do iin.

GURPS Job Roll B516
Instead of using the Key Skill, just check if the Skill is at 14 and above. Being an Expert grants only a +1 to the Job Roll. Being fairly competent 11-13 grants no significant enough effect to provide a bonus or a penalty. Being unskilled in such a matter can be equal to the half the Default Penalty rounded to the worse value (From -2 to -3).

What has the biggest effect on the Roll is the Economic Condition or Cycles. Basically Famine, War, Political unrest all have a penalty while Trade, Good Laws, Climate, Peace etc... grant a Bonus. This can be a +4 bonus to a -4 bonus on its extremes. But its bell curve would put it at about +2 to -2 in most circumstances. A peace with all full labor force would be +2 while manpower shortage and war -2. Being the subject end off scorched earth campaign means moving and working in harder to reach regions a -4, and a surplus of slaves, good weather, and wealth and opportunity affecting most farmers would be a +4 .

Example. 
Johann the Farmer Villain who has two tenant households has a -2 when Arp Aslan and the Turks are harrying the Roman Borders, divesting his risk into sheeps and herding instead of a serious effort in his lands. But he is a skilled Herder and has a +1 for being an expert. After the Komnenian Restoration his son, Johannes has a +2 after the borders were secured but has a -1 because of his youth and the premature death of his father at the hands of mercenaries turned bandits. 
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