Author Topic: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?  (Read 6018 times)

Offline Nytemare3701

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Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« on: November 08, 2011, 05:59:12 AM »
Before I start, I'd like to make a few statements to get everyone in the right frame of mind.

First Statement: A die roll represents random chance, the variables your game DOESN'T track, the ones left to one moment of uncertainty.

Second Statement: As a character increases in skill, they reduce the chance of failure, possibly eliminating it altogether.

Now for the hard part...

How does one make a system that allows RNG to exist, while still making numerical bonuses mean something? For added difficulty, one has to address power creep.

My attempt: There are a set number of bonus types, with a cap on each one. In D&D this would be as simple as adding a cap to each of the existing bonus types, while Exalted has it built in with a maximum number of bonus dice possible.

Offline veekie

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 09:00:08 AM »
Generally, the trick there is to avoid having the dice determine whether it works or not entirely, in any situation, theres:
Works great
Works
Fails
Fails badly

So, in combination with the dice, your skill determines your 'center'(the 50% point), do you roll to see how well you do(skill with investment) or do you roll to avoid getting screwed(skill without). The former is usually active(you chose to use the ability) in nature, while the latter is more reactive.
This is relatively easy to do, on a d20, since probability is straight, investment should put you at success from 6-20, with great success from 15-20. Extreme investment pushes you even closer to that, you'd succeed on everything above 1  and are basically rolling to determine degree of success. And vice versa.

So what you need to control is the extreme investment. The extant bonus types, while a fine concept, are broken by dint of sheer variety. What can be done towards this, I think, is a tighter division(only for roll combinations only).
-Innate bonuses. Your base chassis bonus of <class level> effect. BAB, skill points, CL, etc.
-Ability bonuses. Your stat bonus. Spell and item bonuses to stats go towards Internal bonuses below, not here.
-Internal bonuses. Bonuses from an internal source, such as buff spells, or temporary effects like Rage. Existing bonuses that fall here are Enhancement and Insight. If rebuilding the system, only long lasting bonuses that you can carry from encounter to encounter should go here.
-External bonuses. Bonuses from an external source, such as battlefield control, teamwork and circumstances. Existing bonuses that fall here are Luck, Sacred, Profane and Morale. If rebuilding the system, brief 'burst' bonuses go here.
By controlling magnitude availability(or just plain capping) of these bonuses, control is achieved over the potential rolls.
AC as an oddball, should be folded into a largely Innate bonus, with equipment counting as an Internal bonus.
Do note that the divisions are somewhat arbitrary and subject to change, its just a demo.

So this puts the kibosh on stacking lots of bonuses, and you can do probability range estimation. The actual numbers are, funny enough, irrelevant. What matters here is for active modifiers versus reactive modifiers.

Active modifiers would be player-initiated skills and all attacks. Here, you can assume the Innate and Ability bonuses to have low skew(they'd be only a couple of points different unless the player wants to be a unique snowflake), so the range of available variance lies in Internal and External bonuses. For uncontested active modifiers, you can then give challenges that they would succeed on 75% of the time, and with both bonuses, automatically succeed and roll for greater success.
-Contested active rolls are another matter, they're a headache to calculate for, since every modifier is present, and to make things worse, some(internal/external) are present twice. Innate difference+Ability difference+2*External difference+2*Internal difference.
The existing 3.5 method of handling this is that at low levels, Innate+Ability gap is small(Str 16 BAB +1 vs Str 8 BAB +0) while External/Internal effects are infrequent, reversing at higher levels with a large Innate+Ability gap, but with the Internal bonus consistent(due to the +X items)
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Offline Dan2

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 05:00:24 PM »
Before I write a lot, allow me to ask a couple of questions.

Are you asking about specific types of die mechanics or are you applying this to all of them?

What nature of solution are you looking for?
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Offline Sinfire Titan

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 12:35:45 AM »
I feel bonuses should be somewhat niche, but that abilities that grant bonuses should not just grant a bonus.

To give an example, I recognize that Improved Initiative is a good, even valuable, feat. I am loathe to take it because all it does is grant a bonus. If it even granted the ability to reroll my Init once/day I'd be more inclined to enjoy taking the feat itself because it provides an option that I didn't have before.
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 08:37:37 AM »
I feel bonuses should be somewhat niche, but that abilities that grant bonuses should not just grant a bonus.

To give an example, I recognize that Improved Initiative is a good, even valuable, feat. I am loathe to take it because all it does is grant a bonus. If it even granted the ability to reroll my Init once/day I'd be more inclined to enjoy taking the feat itself because it provides an option that I didn't have before.
I kind of feel the same way as a matter of personal preference. 

That being said, I've also come to loathe the 1/day abilities that have always proliferated in D&D.  To the point where I don't even bother writing them down unless they are really good (though rerolling initiative is a pretty good one).  As a side note, one of my friends houseruled all the Iron Will, et al. feats to do something like that b/c he thought they were weak.

Offline Sinfire Titan

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 09:45:08 AM »
That being said, I've also come to loathe the 1/day abilities that have always proliferated in D&D.  To the point where I don't even bother writing them down unless they are really good (though rerolling initiative is a pretty good one).  As a side note, one of my friends houseruled all the Iron Will, et al. feats to do something like that b/c he thought they were weak.

Incidentally, this is why I love Incarnum so much. If the feat provides a bonus point of Essentia, then it grants me a very flexible bonus that I can enjoy utilizing. After all, I can put that point into a +1 Deflection bonus to AC, a +2 to UMD, an extra DR 1/Magic, an extra round of being Incorporeal, another +10ft to my speed, or I can invest it in a feat like Midnight Metamagic if I felt like it.

So that small bonus ends up being worth more to me than a simple +1 bonus to Attack rolls.
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Offline Mooncrow

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 02:57:02 PM »
I feel similarly about the factotum's Inspiration Points.  If there had been a little more thought put into the system, it would be one of the more elegant things that 3.5 came out with.

Offline BG_Josh

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 09:14:02 PM »
The game battlestations handles power creep well.

You roll 2d6 + bonus for everything.  What you get at higher levels is rerolls meaning you incease your chances of rolling well, but the dice are meaningful.

Offline SneeR

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 01:51:34 PM »
I have considered how games like D&D would work from level 60 onward. The dice barely matter anymore at that point, at least in opposed checks. For instance, Hide versus Spot; a master sneak could dance about playing the trumpet and still evade the sight of lesser eyes.

How does one reconcile the difference of a +7 to a +60? Forget Hide, what about Bluff? "I am your god. Didn't you know?" Checks that actually matter are very difficult to take into account with such a linear system as the d20.

I have thought about the defense bonus alternate play style, where people gain bonuses to AC as they level, and I believe the spirit of the mechanic is applicable. What if someone always has a bonus to certain checks equal to half their level, unless their bonus would be higher on its own merits? I know that that is unfair to the people who specilize, but it grants nonspecialists half a chance to counter the insane bonuses.

The problem with that is also the issue of it merely extending the life expectancy of dice. At level 60, the bonus is still worthless, because the difference between the two (+60 vs. +30) is greater than 20.

I have thought about ading additional dice. For instance, adding another d20 to every roll at every 20th level, but that just makes the RNG get very random again, then even out over the next twenty levels. It also grants a small chance for nonspecialists if they roll well and the opponent roll poorly, but that also goes the other way, opening the door for even greater failure by nonspecialists. Besides, you get a prettty steep bell curve with all those d20s.

My only solution is to take the critical mechanic of Epic characters and extend it. Instead of rolling another d20 and adding it on only a natural twenty, what if you extended it to  natural 15? Natural 10? Then cap the number of extra d20s based on level. Levels 1-20: 1; 21-40: 2; 41-60: 3. Just add all of the d20s together.

I haven't done any actual math for it, but you may want the number of d20s to rise more in later levels.

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Offline veekie

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2011, 02:57:37 AM »
^^
I think thats more a problem of the overspecialization inherent in the system than the dice mechanic. You do need to maintain the gap between the following though:
-Best action vs Best reaction - For example, to hit vs AC. The best AC is still low enough that the to hit will eventually pull ahead entirely. Another example is Damage vs DR and Damage vs HP. You need to have the attack modifiers to be ideally as optimizable as the defense.

-Best action vs Worst reaction - You see this more with skills, e.g. Hide vs Spot. The problem here is the investment gap, while Spot is a 'defense', it can be completely uninvested in. You can try to close the gap by forcing investment(which is the +1/2 level bonus  4E used), raise the investment cost for larger numbers(like getting rid of +30 skill items) or allow it to work(after all whats else is the point of optimizing your stealth if you have still good odds of being spotted by mooks?). Alternatively a greater degree of environmental modifiers, situational modifiers(combined roll bonus, distance penalties/bonuses), costs or limitations on the 'offensive' action could reduce the impact.

Reducing the binary nature of success also helps extend roll lifespan, you have a bit more swing before the dice stop mattering. In the case of opposed perception vs stealth, you could have a lesser success on stealth getting you past the opposition, but also alerting them after you're past, while a greater success gets you past, period.

Requiring multiple inputs to a scenario also helps, what are you doing while sneaking? If you're moving while sneaking, thats a penalty to both movement and stealth. If you're doing other things concurrently(or if you need to do multiple things to achieve your objective) they all suffer from the split attention.
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Offline Havok4

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2011, 01:32:25 PM »
I am currently playing a game of Apocalypse world which uses a really interesting system for this. You role 2d6+stat for everything. 12 and above is a critical success with the right abilities so something really good happens, 10-11 is a full success,7-9 is a partial success where it happens but something bad happens as well, and 6 and below is a failure so the game master can make something bad happen, sometimes this bad thing is unrelated to the failed roll. The stat is caped at 3, and additional bonuses are hard to get, you can get +1 easily enough but +2 is hard to pull off. I think it works out fairly well.

Offline Bard

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2011, 08:14:39 PM »
I am currently playing a game of Apocalypse world which uses a really interesting system for this. You role 2d6+stat for everything. 12 and above is a critical success with the right abilities so something really good happens, 10-11 is a full success,7-9 is a partial success where it happens but something bad happens as well, and 6 and below is a failure so the game master can make something bad happen, sometimes this bad thing is unrelated to the failed roll. The stat is caped at 3, and additional bonuses are hard to get, you can get +1 easily enough but +2 is hard to pull off. I think it works out fairly well.

so... at best (3 stat and a +1 bonus) your character skill count as 1/3rd of the success or just a bit more (slight bell curve with 2 dices and all)? No mention of actual skills, but only general stats (or viceversa if they inverted the words)?
It sounds quite bad to me :\ I wish I could read the rules so I can get a real opinion about it, but I can't find anyone that has the book :\ maybe I should try to go on the dark side and get it anyway.

Edit: Oh wait, Josh said a couple of posts up you also get rerolls in that game, that's quite a major point to say when you're describing the system since it changes it a lot! 
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Offline Havok4

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2011, 10:29:39 PM »
What you are ignoring is the low bar set for success, there are no opposed rolls, having a +3 versus no bonus to a stat reduces your chances of failing from  41.66% to 8.33%. Which is substantial. The big balancing factor is the fact that the DM cannot cause any threats to your character to advance or occur until someone fails a roll. So the failures are built into how the DM-player interactions work.  It works out very well I think, it is great fun.

You do not get rerolls however, that is a different game system.

You are right there are no skills, only stats, skills are represent with special moves and abilities that the classes get.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 10:34:08 PM by Havok4 »

Offline professorgear

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2011, 12:39:38 AM »
I've been working on a cap-less game (has no epic levels or similar because it keeps going). One way I've thought of regulating this problem is having a system where you roll any given dice but the number rolled is not exactly what you add to the result. Rather, the lower half of the dice is negative and the upper half is positive. In other words, if I rolled a 7 on a d20 I actually rolled a -3 or if I rolled a 16 I actually rolled a +6. You may not start with a d20, but may a d10. As characters progress, you make it a higher dice or add more die, the middle result always being zero. Thus, if you're at super high levels, you continue to involve chance or "fate" into your game by having your character roll 3 d20s, a 30 is a 0, and values are calculated from that middle point.

Any comments, suggestions?

Offline Bard

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Re: Your thoughts on target DCs and control within an RPG system?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 11:40:44 AM »
I've been working on a cap-less game (has no epic levels or similar because it keeps going). One way I've thought of regulating this problem is having a system where you roll any given dice but the number rolled is not exactly what you add to the result. Rather, the lower half of the dice is negative and the upper half is positive. In other words, if I rolled a 7 on a d20 I actually rolled a -3 or if I rolled a 16 I actually rolled a +6. You may not start with a d20, but may a d10. As characters progress, you make it a higher dice or add more die, the middle result always being zero. Thus, if you're at super high levels, you continue to involve chance or "fate" into your game by having your character roll 3 d20s, a 30 is a 0, and values are calculated from that middle point.

Any comments, suggestions?

Why you want to do every time a subtraction of 20 minus result? Mechanically it's the same as getting "normal" 1 to 20 results, the numbers are just 10 lower (or 20, 30, etc depending on the number of d20 used) O_o
Do you plan to use the same DCs regardless of the number of dices used? Because if so adding dice makes "more powerful characters" just more consistently average.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 11:45:50 AM by Bard »
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