But what I want to stress through this rule are the following:
Working with Direct Influence.
If some key things needs to be done then the PCs take the matters in their hands. They move to be in direct influence of the events. There will be things beyond their control or influence, but there are some ways around that and ways to move themselves directly into the situation and influence its outcome to the effect of the bigger picture.
There are mechanics in some games, not just GURPS, which grants the PC a surprising amount of influence despite there being no influence in it. Like choosing Stocks vs beating the Market, there is an illusion of control.
Examples of where at default there is a lot of Control but there should be a limit:
- Leadership. it assumes the control is in the leader.
- Influence Checks at first glance. its inconsistently adjudicated as the contest or a roll by the influencer.
- Mass Combat. When actually there should be more of a TDM representing the group instead of the the Strategist or Tactician's skill level allowing for an uncapped success rate.
- Profession Rolls. a professional has his skill level as his success over a month of work, as is the rules is an oversimplification sets problematic conclusions and extrapolations.
- Rolls against complex systems: Marketing, Physician, Politics, Economics, Sociology, Finance, etc... any system with many "actors". The solution is to Capp success (as this post is about) and emphasis on TDM of the situation.
A lot of rolls and circumstances are really more about the Situation (Task Difficulty Modifier) and there is a limit to the control and influence of the Agent or Character. The examples above all would be shifting the "control" or "influence" away from a Single Agent and the GM should just call the Circumstance.
Choosing your battles.
Those situations we can directly influence and identify those we cannot. This is my favorite bias and bad habit which GTD has been helping me work out: doing too much vs doing what matters. The GM can present so many problems and little distractions that would make the game as overwhelming as it really is in the real world but the ability or the wisdom to know what problem to tackle or how to break down a big problem into smaller chunks is a key challenge that may be worth "skinner boxing" in a game.
But note this is Hard Mode. That challenges and complexities such as this and other such mechanics are only for those who feel like they want do something different and challenge themselves. Going into these challenges without more basic problem solving has been tackled can lead to frustration and distraction from what makes the game enjoyable.
What this is NOT
That there is no way to influence events. There are limits to influence events.
Hard games are going to be tackled in a long post I'm still rewriting about the research of myself and others about Traveller (including GURPS Traveller) that over time the failure rates of any business in traveller is greater than half (meeting the base rates in the real world for small businesses of 70-90% over 3-5 years). That running procedurally the game is unforgiving, and can be really fun.
- Thinking Fast and Slow: Expert Intuition Can we Trust it chapter 22 since it deals with illusion of control.
- The Replication Crisis deals with with the renewed uncertainty of what was thought to be understood and is now being retested and restudied.