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So how do YOU handle contest skills?


islan

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I can't really get my head around contested, non-combat skills. The skills chapter says that it is just a comparison of degree of success (normal, special, or critical) with ties going to the defending side, while the system chapter details something very different that doesn't make any sense to me (the defender's roll is 'shifted' by a number equal to how much the attacker beat his own roll).

Both of these methods appear to me as largely inadequate. The problem I have with the first one is that it makes using your skill against someone with a high defending skill nearly impossible (a 100% Stealth character would have a terrible time sneaking up on a 100% Listen character).

So what option have you found to work for you? The only one that is making any sense to me at the moment is to add the difference between the two skills to 50 and make the attacker roll (ex: 80% Stealth sneaking up on a 60% Listen would have a 70% chance of success).

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RQII states pure and simple that Perception skills take priority so successful Listener hears a successful Sneaker, a special Listener a Special Sneaker and so on.

You could do worse than follow that model. The issue/problem would be determining which type of skill trumps in other contests.

A chap called Darran (who sometimes posts here I believe) has addressed a similar artefact in HeroQuest by stating that the active party wins on tied level of success.

For myself I use highest skill wins on a tie which is what 'highest roll under' purports to do . This does change the flavour of combats (especially) so have your eyes open if you are going to try this rule.

Al

Rule Zero: Don't be on fire

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So what option have you found to work for you? The only one that is making any sense to me at the moment is to add the difference between the two skills to 50 and make the attacker roll (ex: 80% Stealth sneaking up on a 60% Listen would have a 70% chance of success).

This is what I most often use w/ the player making the roll.

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So what option have you found to work for you? The only one that is making any sense to me at the moment is to add the difference between the two skills to 50 and make the attacker roll (ex: 80% Stealth sneaking up on a 60% Listen would have a 70% chance of success).

I've never found a system that's entirely satisfactory (and not for want of trying). Your idea seems pretty good, though.

But why is 50 the best number to add? If it was 25 (the normal Listen/Spot skill value, which most defenders could be expected to have) then the Stealth could normally be rolled unmodified. (And your 80v60 example would have a 45% chance - is that unreasonable?)

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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So what option have you found to work for you?

Both parties roll. Higher degree of success wins. Where degrees of success are equal (both rolled a normal success, both rolled a special success or both rolled a critical success), the character who beat their skill by the most wins but with a normal success. Where degrees of success are different, but the loser still succeeded (so where the loser rolled a success versus a special or critical success, or where they rolled a special success versus a critical success by their opponent), the winners level of success but not the fact that they succeeded / 'won' is reduced by one level for each "level of success the loser achieved.

Thus, a losing normal success will reduce a winning critical success to a special, and a winning special success to a normal success. A losing special success will reduce a winning critical success to a normal success.

Note that in most situations where a contested roll seems the right rule to uses, I typically wouldn't as a GM be that bothered about the specific level of success in a skill - if a character is trying to sneak past a guard, whether the guard just hears the characters movement (normal success), or hears it well enough that he could probably identify the person walking if he heard them again (critical success) doesn't matter. So in effect the system I use is better success level wins; if tied, person who rolled furthest under their skill wins (if tied there, highest skill wins and if THAT ties, flip a coin).

Cheers,

Nick

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I've never found a system that's entirely satisfactory (and not for want of trying). Your idea seems pretty good, though.

But why is 50 the best number to add? If it was 25 (the normal Listen/Spot skill value, which most defenders could be expected to have) then the Stealth could normally be rolled unmodified. (And your 80v60 example would have a 45% chance - is that unreasonable?)

I make the base 50 because, if someone is trying to sneak up on someone whose listen skill is equal to theirs, it would make sense that they have a 50/50 chance of success (ie, since they are both equal in skill, they would both have an equal chance of success).

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I make the base 50 because, if someone is trying to sneak up on someone whose listen skill is equal to theirs, it would make sense that they have a 50/50 chance of success (ie, since they are both equal in skill, they would both have an equal chance of success).

Yes, that does seem fair.

But who ever said life was fair? Is it reasonable that the chance would be fifty-fifty to sneak up on someone (or past them, or simply hide from them), relevant skills being equal?

And the bases are different: 10% for Hide/Sneak, 25% for Listen/Spot. So should a Sneaker always be at a -15% penalty (i.e. only a 35% chance) against Targets who have trained the same percentile-amount in the relevant skills?

And another complication - what does failure to Hide/Sneak actually mean? Does the other side definitely immediately see/hear them? I prefer to think the other side may just be made 'suspicious', and gain some advantage, such as being able to try further/active perception rolls in future rounds. If this interpretation is used, then the base chances should perhaps be different.

It also seems to me that high-skilled Sneakers (e.g. professional thief/scout types) should be able to rely on their skills a bit better (but not too much). Some sort of advantage should go to the higher-skilled, I feel (a kind of 'insurance policy' against those bad rolls). If you've worked your Hide up to 75%, should you really - fully 25% of the time - be as vulnerable to being seen as Joe Dimwit usually is (totally untrained Hide 10%)? I think not. [i hesitate to say it, but this is something the D20 system does better!]

So I'd like to combine that principle with the 'just suspicious' idea, above, but haven't worked out anything simple enough - yet... Can anyone help?

Edited by frogspawner

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Just to be annoying; if a Sneak-roll succeeds, you manage to move from A to B without attracting undue attention to yourself, yes? Then why would the Sneak be trumped by a Listen-roll, when there is nothing to hear?

If you try "normal" sneaking, observers don't get to roll for perception. If you make the roll, no-one notices. If you fail, you attract attention. If observers then make their perception-rolls, they home right unto you. If they fail, you'll have some time before they figure it out.

If you however try some more macho sneaking; sneaking up on a guard to knock him out, trying to sneak past a PC that states "I'm being alert" or highly competent guards, tiptoeing past some one who just turned their back, when there are observers within close distance(it's easier to avoid notice from someone who is more than 5 meters away, than if that someone was 4' away), then they can roll for counter-perception.

And then I've ruled that in contested rolls of this kind, the one that rolls highest, but still under their skill is the winner(barring specials etc). Although, A.I.'s suggestion that highest skill wins is even better, I think.

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Which is the Defending Skill and which is the Attacking one?

If I am Sneaking, them I am defending and my evil opponent in Attacking my attempt at Sneaking with his Listen skill.

If I am a guard then I am defending and the evil thief is attacking with his evil Sneak skill.

In my book, on a tie the PC wins, unless it is a contest between two PCs, in which case the higher skill should win.

It doesn't need to be absolutely consistent as long as it is quick and playable.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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My houserule of the stealth vs. perception issue:

Stealth roll:

fumble: something really bad (and funny ;)) happens.

failure: no effect - normal perception roll will detect the character.

success: all perception rolls to detect character is difficult (at half percent).

special: all perception rolls to detect character is very difficult (perception rolls shifted one level down - e.g. need a special or better perception roll to detect character).

critical: all perception rolls to detect character is impossible (automatic failure).

First roll stealth, then perception.

(Stealth rolls may be easy (at double percent) if no one is paying attention.)

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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And the bases are different: 10% for Hide/Sneak, 25% for Listen/Spot. So should a Sneaker always be at a -15% penalty (i.e. only a 35% chance) against Targets who have trained the same percentile-amount in the relevant skills?

The bases are only meant as a starting point for all characters: everyone is not as good at Stealth as Listen by default, but training can make them better at it.

Which is the Defending Skill and which is the Attacking one?

Stealth is "attacking" and Listen is "defending," just like a Weapon Skill is attacking and Dodge defending.

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Stealth is "attacking" and Listen is "defending," just like a Weapon Skill is attacking and Dodge defending.

I have to disagree with this. "Attacking" is the player character who's turn it is, regardless of the action. "Defending" is the player character who is the object of the "attack".

If its an NPCs turn, unless it is a major NPC, then I would still consider them defending, whether it is the GMs "turn" or not. How would this work for the hide/sneak scenario (npc being sneaky)? The PC would roll their perception first and then allow the level of success to dictate the difficulty for the NPC.

SDLeary

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Stealth is "attacking" and Listen is "defending," just like a Weapon Skill is attacking and Dodge defending.

I have to disagree with this. "Attacking" is the player character who's turn it is, regardless of the action.

Sorry, but I don't think either of these is exactly correct. Trying to hide/sneak away from a ravening monster is "defensive", right?

"Defending" is the player character who is the object of the "attack".

Yes, that's more like it. But isn't trying spot/hear someone who's hiding/sneaking away with your treasure "defensive" too?

The bases are only meant as a starting point for all characters: everyone is not as good at Stealth as Listen by default, but training can make them better at it.

By default they are the same - unless you spend development points or play the skill category bonuses option. But even then the principle remains true, that Hide/Sneak is on average less likely to succeed than Spot/Listen, given equal training etc.

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Sorry, but I don't think either of these is exactly correct. Trying to hide/sneak away from a ravening monster is "defensive", right?

Yes, but advantage should always be given to the PC. If said ravening monster is a PC, then he would be the "attacker". If an NPC, then the advantage should go to the PC, and their defensive skill should be the "attacking" skill, causing the monsters sneak to be diminished, if the players roll is successful.

Now, this SHOULD be modified. A penalty imposed if someone is not actively pursuing the task. If the PC is not actively listening or spotting, impose a penalty and allow them to roll first. If they succeed, then it makes the NPCs task more difficult.

Yes, that's more like it. But isn't trying spot/hear someone who's hiding/sneaking away with your treasure "defensive" too?

It certainly could be, but then so could hiding or sneaking away with the treasure be considered defensive. Said ravening monster doesn't want to be discovered.

If the PC is on guard duty in camp or on the ramparts, then the assumption is that they are active in their attempts to spot and listen. Now, middle of the night, fatigued, end of duty... that might call for the imposition of a penalty on the PCs

SDLeary

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Yes, but advantage should always be given to the PC.

I think you're skating on thin ice with that idea. Will there never come a time when PC acts against PC? Will one unexpectedly fail, in the absence of an advantage they'd become accustomed to?

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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I think you're skating on thin ice with that idea.

Not surprising... I live in California. The only ice we have is thin! ;-)

Will there never come a time when PC acts against PC? Will one unexpectedly fail, in the absence of an advantage they'd become accustomed to?

As stated above :D if it is a PC vs PC contest, then the player whose turn it is, is the attacker.

SDLeary

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OK, it's a fair cop. But I still reckon the system shouldn't have built-in advantages to PCs over NPCs. (Giving those is the GMs job! ;))

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Attacking = Active

Defending = Reactive

-----

I have yet to get my BRP rule-book. However when creating a set of rules based on Call of Cthulhu. Here are some of my rules thus far.

Example:

Attributes: Size (SIZ), Strength (STR), Agility (AGL), Speed (SPD), Health (HEA), Appearance (APP), Intellect (INT), Wit (WIT), Willpower (WIL), Perception (PER), Charisma (CHA), Education (EDU).

-----Game Points-----

Anger & Opportunity*: STR ___ + WIT ___ = ___ Bonus Point Pool | ___

Confidence & Sanity: WIL x3 ___ Mental Damage Capacity | ___

Lady Luck*,**: PER x3 ___ + CHA x3 ___ = ___ Universal Damage Capacity | ___

Meat & Bones: SIZ x2 ___ + HEA ___ = ___ Physical Damage Capacity | ___

Radiation Threshold: HEA x3 ___ Radiation Damage Capacity | ___

*: Only important characters have these Game Points. Important NPCs tend to have Lady Luck of PERx2+CHA

**Lady Luck is a pool that may be used as hit points or a pool of bonus success chance (after the roll).

Senses: PER x3 ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Chef Critical: PER ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Empathy Critical: CHA ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Feel Critical: HEA ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Hearing Critical: HEA ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Listen Critical: WIT ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Safe Crack Critical: PER ___ + ___ Points = ___%

--Search Critical: WIL ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Smell & Taste Critical: HEA ___ + Points ___ = ___%

--Spot Critical: HEA ___ + Points ___ = ___%

Skill Rules

Simple Task: Note the base percentage chance of the skill, and add modifiers (if any). Roll 1d100, a result equal to or less than your adjusted skill percentage is a success, a result more than your adjusted skill percentage is a failure.

Degree of Success:

• The higher the successful die roll, the higher the success.

• If the success was the result of doubles (11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, or 100), then 1 point of Lady Luck is gained equal to the successful tens place with 100 counting as a 10 (any Luck in excess of the maximum is usually lost at the end of a session).

• Check the following chart for bonus points (usually damage) gained for a successful result based on the tens die.

1x = 01 | 2x = 03 | 3x = 06 | 4x = 10 | 5x = 15

6x = 21 | 7x = 28 | 8x = 36 | 9x = 45 | 10x = 55

• Anger & Opportunity can be spent to increase the result (usually damage) by a maximum amount equal to the tens place rolled (1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x, or 10x).

Note: Criticals are sub-skills or specialties. A character may select up to one appropriate successful critical per roll. A critical doubles the base result and is spectacularly narrated by the player (must be approved by the game master). A critical Sences (Feel) result could mean that the character being snuck upon reacts by feeling the presence of the interloper (a change in the magnetic field, seismographic reaction, temperature change, air flow alteration).

Degree of Failure:

• The higher the failing die roll, the more severe the failure is. Take the tens place rolled (1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x, or 10x) and subtract the tens place of the characters skill (minimum 1) to determine the severity of the failure (most often used when there is a need to compare failures).

• If the failure was the result of doubles (11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, or 100), then 1 point of Lady Luck is lost equal to the unsuccessful tens place with 100 counting at 10).

Characters Out of Luck halve there skills (round up) until they get a chance to relax, unwind, take a nap, eat a meal or the like. Each relaxing activity restores 1d6 Luck. Luck is fully restored after a relaxing day where minimal effort is exerted.

Conflicts: The highest successful roll wins. It is a stalemate if both sides tie or loose. A stalemated character who takes an action other than continuing the action that resulted in the stalemate forfeits the contest. Lady Luck may be spent to change the dice rolled in order to create a stalemate (most often used to delay an opponent).

Edited by darkrose50
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Thank you! Good to see someone on the same page as me.

Thats the way I se it to, the one doing something active against another, sneaking around a castle.

And the guard is defending, listning around for intruders.

If the guard is actively looking for you know and you are hiding, the guard is the agressor.

Defender wins rolls they have success in is the way I like the best. Though highest degree of success also works, whatever the player group with the GM likes best (not what the GM alone likes best)

Tea and Madness

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I always just assumed lower was better. The lowest roll wins.

While that is certainly an easy way of doing things, it doesn't factor in relative skills particularly well. For instance, if someone with a 100% skill rolls a 21 (almost a special and certainly better than 'difficult') against someone else with a 20% skill who rolls a 20 (only just barely a success), by your method the person with the lower skill would win, not taking into account that the first person made their roll by so much more. What's more, if someone with a skill of 20% were to succeed in their roll, then an opponent with a skill of 100% would have to roll a special to be able to win the contest. I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that this method de-values higher skills.

Thalaba

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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While that is certainly an easy way of doing things, it doesn't factor in relative skills particularly well. For instance, if someone with a 100% skill rolls a 21 (almost a special and certainly better than 'difficult') against someone else with a 20% skill who rolls a 20 (only just barely a success), by your method the person with the lower skill would win, not taking into account that the first person made their roll by so much more. What's more, if someone with a skill of 20% were to succeed in their roll, then an opponent with a skill of 100% would have to roll a special to be able to win the contest. I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that this method de-values higher skills.

Thalaba

Just seems the "price is right method" of rolling under skill but higher than the other roll, or the roll with the greater margin of success (closest roll to skill) muddles things up too.

If player A has a 70% but rolls a 19. And player B has a 30% but rolls a 20 its easy to say who wins. I guess. But now if you say player B wins because he was closer to his skill and only 10 points off than having a higher skill hurts you too since average rolls are more prevalent. Hitting a 60% skill very close with out going over (or say with in 20) will be way easier than a rare roll of 90. Making a high skill a liability. since now you got to roll very close to the higher extreme to win.

But what if player A has 20% and player B has 88%. Player B has got to roll 68-88 to beat players A's margin of success. since player A cant get lower than a 20 below his skill no matter what he rolls. Player A will win almost any roll he can make below a 20. Which in its self is the real limiter, how often he can make his roll. The higher the skill the harder it would be to beat the margin of success.

So that is why I say If the lower roll wins, the higher skill will win more often. Since the lower skilled player will out right fail more often. But leaves room for the player with a very low skill to pull off a lucky roll to.

If the method you want to use is the player wins who makes his roll but rolls higher than his opponent and margin of success doesn't matter It seems that the higher skilled player now has a double advantage. If player A has 20% and player B has 88% as stated above than player B will win as long as he rolls any thing better than 20% no matter what player A rolls. Since B has almost not chance. only change he has is if player B fails. Might as well just let player B do all the rolling any thing from 20-88 he wins.

So I'm not really convinced either way. I think lowest roll wins give the under dog some chance. Sure he is most likely toast. But if he makes it Under 20% its up to the higher skilled player to beat him. So 1/5 of the time the under dog has a change. I maybe wrong on this. But I ran old RQ for quiet some time and it worked fine back then. Its how ill do it now.

Edited by HANZO
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