Using a system to support your event.

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Nomine
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Using a system to support your event.

#1 Post by Nomine » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:30 pm

Why is a system good in the first place?
A system, it can be this or any - is good because it manages expectations, it lets everybody know which rules apply and when they apply. That can (Depending on the GM´s preferences) reduce stress. For me personally, it is challenging when players roll without me expecting it, as I then feel that I as a GM need to act on the roll - even if that roll was not needed. You can suddenly have 4 people rolling to do an attack at more or less the same time, but their emotes may come in a different order- making it hard to track who-does-what-when. Or players rolling when you did not want them to roll, just for the speed of an event and then failing, slowing everything down needlessly.

So a system in place, helps me communicate around an event and control its progress. Therefor it is important to state when a roll is needed.
I prefer to make it clear to say "I will call who needs to make a roll". Then when asking for a roll, always name the player needing to roll.
Part of that is also to manage the number of rolls taking place, as a roll should in principle never be made unless it matters, and you want an emote/reaction on both a good and bad outcome.

Secondly, it lets me as a GM manage the odds of success, so it helps support the feeling of the event. Lots of likely failures - Unwinnable odds, hard for players. Need to speed it up: Increase the odds in the players favor and reduce the number of rolls I tell people to make.
Rolls also add a little bit of feeling of chance to it.

This system is designed to let players take part in describing the story, reducing the stress on me as a GM - with having to imagine less, write less and be able to spend more time on tracking the event, and overall progress.

Any system - and expectations to players should always be communicated before the event starts - even if you have used the system with the same players before Never change the rules underway.



Simple roll system: You roll for what you try to do if you get above a number (10, 20 or 30 depending on the situation), you succeed. If you get below - bad things happen to you (Players choice) Nomine will give you the target number.
If there is a group action, choose one person to act/roll for the group. Any bad consequences will then happen to all in that group.

This means you describe both your own action and the actions of the enemy/opposition.
The more dangerous situation, the more dramatic your description can be.

Example:
Play says in raid: I want to attack the guard.
Nomine: It is a Risky Situation, if you get below 20, bad things happen to your character
Player rolls: 47
Player then emotes: I rush upon the guard that barely manages to let out a startled “Huh! Who ar….” before my sword plunges into their stomach, killing them.

Group example:
Nomine: Player X, roll for the scout troupe trying to navigate through the terrain quietly, This is a Controlled Situation, if you get below 10, bad things happen to your character

Player X: rolls 85
Player X: The only noise that is heard as they move closer to the enemy camp is the indignant sound of a startled field mouse

Failed example:
Play says in raid: I want to attack the guard.
Nomine: It is a Risky Situation, if you get below 20, bad things happen to your character
Player rolls: 07
Player: The guard pulls his sword lightning fast, parrying my attack before striking his fist over my jaw, almost knocking me out.


Modifiers can be given, but should be kept to the +/-5 range. So that odds are usually in the players favour of being successful.
If you want a crit system, anything over 90 is a crit.
This is a Controlled Situation, if you get below 10, bad things happen to your character
This is a Risky Situation, if you get below 20, bad things happen to your character
This is a Desperate Situation, if you get below 30, bad things happen to your character.
You choose what sort of bad thing that happens, but it should have a consequence and fit "What could go wrong, in what you tried to do now"

Finally, I got the following whispers ready, to remind players of the expectations to them.
"You were successful, describe freely what happens"
"You failed, please describe what happens"

Group actions can also be used to speed up the story, as individual rolling leads to emotes, and time lost as everyone writes their emotes.
For instance: 4 players say: I will scout - Choose one to roll once, the roll covering everybody`s success.
Or ask all players to roll, but only give information to the best rollers - in whispers, so they can communicate ICly to others.
Or ask all to roll, but make it clear; only the best one will be successful in the action.

Other kinds of rolls.
Normally we talk about a fail/succeed roll - as in, if you make the roll, your character succeeds with its action.
But there are also other ways you can use the mechanic to support the action.

Cumulative successes: E.g. the only thing the rolls really decide, is how long something will take. After 2-3 successes the players can move fast the obstacle.
Example: You can hear the guards come closer, you need to pick the door quickly, the door has two locks.
First success: You hear a click as the first lock opens, and the guards sounds like they are in the floor above.
First failure (and 2nd roll) the guards are coming down the stairs, closer and closer.
Second success: Just as the guards are about to turn the corner, and you can slip inside.

A cumulative success roll can be done by letting several players roll, all adding to the total count. (This is also one of the few times, were it is not important to expect an emote/reaction for each roll.

Psychology of a roll is important - At 30% you are saying that every 3rd person rolling will fail. - So that can have a huge impact on a group. It is better to fudge your system, to support your event - than to be true to the system.
Another way of seeing it, is that at 30% you want all of your players to fail every 3rd time.

It wears on people to fail several dice rolls consecutively - it simply is not fun for most to feel that their character is incompetent due to RNG. Modifiers can be used to support the idea that a character is skilled. "You are known for being skilled at XY" or "YZ are natural to you due to" - then giving a +5% chance, can both strengthen the player`s feeling of their character being seen - despite bad luck. As well as increasing the chance for the character to show off.

This is also in part why you should only call for a roll when you expect an reaction/emote regardless of bad or good outcomes.
It is easy to ask for a roll to defend against an attack hitting a large group, and only the people who fails reacts/emotes. Something that can reinforce a negative feeling. "Bad rolls matters, good roll is not seen and viewed as "Wasted good roll, when it did not matter."

How much is 17 vs 71?
Regardless of system picked, it is important to set expectations to what a roll means, if not you can quickly end up with a minor obstacle crippling an player character for life, derailing the whole adventure.

So two things impacts this - firstly, let people know if degrees of success should be a thing, or if it is fail/pass. And it is important to know, that players will take the freedom to make an outcome "extreme" on their character, but they need the GM`s permission to impact the event/NPCs. E.g. you need to be quick to the whisper trigger to let them know: You were super successful - feel free to vanquish the enemy heroically.

When it comes to the player reactions on a bad outcome, it is often a matter of how you communicated the obstacle/enemy compared to them. If the perception is that the enemy is very dangerous, the reactions will be scaled to that. Failing to dodge an "heavy swing from the main boss-es massive two handed sword." on a "roll 20 to dodge" and the player rolled 17, will often be: The armor took the brunt of the blow. At a roll of 7 it will quickly be: Lost a limb, mortally wounded, etc. Even if this was not your intention as a GM that the outcome could be that bad.

Choose your wording on how to describe an obstacle/danger/NPC.
Let people know from the start how extreme rolls will be managed: If you ever roll below 5 or over 95% it is a fumble or a critical. If it happens you will get a whisper from me." This can help set expectations on what is seen as really good or really bad, and help you push the story forward using a players fumbles.

"Yes, you got hit - there is now a slow acting deadly poison in your blood" - Can be just as bad as losing a limb, but with the difference that it gives all time to move forward, and the poison might spread with the speed of plot: E.g, something to be solved after the event, or perhaps later players can find the antidote. While a major wound, must be dealt with immediately.



Lastly, dice are not needed, systems are not needed. Trust your players, choose what supports the event and the story.


Comments, input or other ideas?

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Syrawenn
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Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:48 pm

Re: Using a system to support your event.

#2 Post by Syrawenn » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:31 am

Especially fond of ditching the rolls at some point...especially after last night.
Learning point!

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Chit
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Location: England

Re: Using a system to support your event.

#3 Post by Chit » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:26 pm

I love the idea of a return to few if any dice rolls. Allowing the players to make the arc darker or lighter. There's merit in both; the thing I don't like much about dice rolls is that it gets in the way of immersion and interferes with play. There's more waiting for your turn. But possibly less confusion.

People who rp'd their whole lives might not remember this, but when I first started rping with Starlight there wasn't any dice rolling at all. We were in an alliance where we trusted ourselves and the other guilds to sometimes take the hit and lie down. Dice rolling came in gradually with a few players who were used to rping that way. So it is possible to ditch the dice, if there is a shared understanding of:
- don't hog the drama - this is the critical core of it all; you are more often an audience or assisting than the hero in a multiplayer drama
- lose sometimes, win sometimes
- amazing strokes of good or bad luck can entertain but must not be relied on
- your character's level and the opposing character's level plays a part in the fight
- there's a shared vision of where we will end up (I think Nomine had always discussed the planned shape when involving other guilds.

This is just a viewpoint from a relative novice.

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