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I used to roll behind a screen, but now don't even do that.  In fact I roll the dice in front of the players whenever there is an attack.  It makes sure you aren't tempted to go easy on the players, or to fudge.  Let the dice tell the story.  It normally turns out better that way, rather than forced deus ex machina and railroading things. CoC is plenty tense without GM interference in rolls for the sake of building tension or somesuch.

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Dear klecser, I have a slightly different perspective. I also do not like the "dice tell the story" attitude. I agree that dice do not tell the story, simply because they can not talk. Players ma

Spending Luck - I use in every game. I just allow players to use their normal Luck value in any game - with enough encouragement, they spend it all. It's about player enjoyment of the game, and if spe

Great question. I predominately do campaigns, but I've also run one-shots at FLGS' and with friends. Keeping each type of game is very different.  Pros and cons that I perceive for using Luck in each

A lot of people criticize fudging and a lot of people criticize not fudging. To me, it depends on how you see your campaign. If you think the story aspect of the campaign is more important then you should take control of the narrative and fudge rolls. If you see the game aspect as more important than that then you shouldn't fudge. That's the way I see it.

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1 hour ago, Kyle said:

A lot of people criticize fudging and a lot of people criticize not fudging. To me, it depends on how you see your campaign. If you think the story aspect of the campaign is more important then you should take control of the narrative and fudge rolls. If you see the game aspect as more important than that then you shouldn't fudge. That's the way I see it.

I'd add that, if everyone is having fun, that is all that matters. 

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Don't forget using about luck. That lets your players fudge their own rolls. Last night I had players do it twice, only 1 and 2% respectively, but made the story move well. Occasionally I've had a 35-40% spend when it needed to count.

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18 minutes ago, uglifruit said:

Do you find spending luck to modify rolls only makes sense within a Campaign-type setting (where Luck becomes a resource that the Investigators might want to hold back?).

Great question. I predominately do campaigns, but I've also run one-shots at FLGS' and with friends. Keeping each type of game is very different.  Pros and cons that I perceive for using Luck in each type:

Campaign Pros: Luck can really give a sense of both excitement and relief when it helps players succeed. The Group Luck roll really helps to balance Luck use because everyone suffers if someone blows all their luck in a short time. Players get attached to their characters, and while I appreciate the nature of CoC being about lethality, it also isn't a Keeper's (or anyone's) job to tell anyone how they should feel about their game experiences. All of the "but that isn't the right way to play CoC!' voices in the audience, I'm looking at you.

Campaign Cons: The Group Luck roll can also make it so that players are afraid to spend Luck and it actually becomes a source of anxiety for them. Maybe this isn't really a Con, because then you're just playing 1E-6E. 😜  A Con may be that Luck rewards are a thing and it is something the Keeper has to consider and manage. If you don't like managing numeric statistics of a group, that is a downside.

One-Shot Pros: Can ease the likelihood of an early player death that leaves them sitting at the table. It gives them the power to decide how big of a risk they want to take in a situation rather than the Keeper deciding that. Obviously bringing extra character sheets can alleviate this too. As above, some players like the idea of a sense of control over big moments or as a security blanket. Players do fear getting an inexperienced or vindictive Keeper that will leave them high and dry for most a game.

One-Shot Cons: Min-maxers will deliberately withhold spending Luck until the one critical moment and then blow it all to craft a critical success, thereby getting what they want: "winning" a role-playing game. Many Keepers restrict Luck spending at all in one-shots or limit the total amount of Luck that can be spent in a one-shot. I've heard "no more than half" as a common example. 

Those are not exhaustive lists. Others will come up with other examples. That's just off the top of my head whilst doing three things at once. 

All of that said, and on point to this topic, we have trust issues in the hobby.  A lot of these discussions seem to boil down to "I can't trust my players" or "I can't trust my Keeper."  It boggles my mind that some Keepers especially seem to assume that their players have poor story intentions or aren't smart enough to manage mechanics. And there are certainly both players and Keepers that exhibit all of the traits we dislike about each group. It is important for us to assume the best first, IMO.

 

 

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15 hours ago, uglifruit said:

Do you find spending luck to modify rolls only makes sense within a Campaign-type setting (where Luck becomes a resource that the Investigators might want to hold back?).

No. For one shots or demo games I either just reduce the amount of luck they have or put a cap on it (20%), or don't use it at all. It's never been a problem. In longer games / campaigns there are always a few who hoard, but even then I've never felt that it has overly affected any outcomes, and  there are restrictions on its use. Don't forget that you can get it back.

Recent uses have been to stop a gun malfunction (but still a miss), throwing someone off a train in a grappling fight (missed by 1%), falling through a trapdoor (avoiding serious injury missed by 35%). I think the highest spend ever was on a dodge roll when a machine gun opened up on them (around 60%).

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5 hours ago, David Scott said:

Recent uses have been to stop a gun malfunction (but still a miss), throwing someone off a train in a grappling fight (missed by 1%), falling through a trapdoor (avoiding serious injury missed by 35%). I think the highest spend ever was on a dodge roll when a machine gun opened up on them (around 60%).

Similar experiences. My players aren't fools. Why do Keepers treat their players like fools? Why do Keepers assume their players will make foolish decisions when given agency?

Let's take the gun malfunction as an example for the topic.

Jane brings her rifle to bear against the cultist bearing down on her. She pulls the trigger. It jams! But Jane is determined to stop this vile organization. She checks the bolt action quickly, finds a misalignment, and rights it. (Luck spent) *Boom* The Cultist won't be spreading their vile poison anymore! At least this one, of legion.

Some gamers prefer for the encounter to go the other way. Jane pulls the trigger and it jams. And that's fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But I think that the key thing here is that there is also nothing wrong with the alternative.

I just really dislike the "dice tell the story" exclusively attitude. I understand the logic behind it. People want random elements injected into their stories to make them more exciting. But "random elements" of plot and situation alone are never what make a story interesting. They never have been. Luke misses his shot on the exhaust port because he fumbled the roll is not interesting to me. Professor Armitage fumbling his spell casting in the denouement is not interesting to me. Trinity missing the point blank shot on the Agent, resulting in Neo dying, is not interesting to me.

I'm pretty sure that anyone who acts like their stories are completely random are deliberately ignoring the ways in which they make choices that guide story. "Dice alter the story" is more to my taste, and maybe I'm just splitting hairs on the language. But I've listened to gamers speak on this for ages and many that I know act like dice are the only vehicle that alters the story. It's a shame too because that is pretty self-deprecating.

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Spending Luck - I use in every game. I just allow players to use their normal Luck value in any game - with enough encouragement, they spend it all. It's about player enjoyment of the game, and if spending Luck helps that, then it's all good.  People get hung up on the amount of Luck points players might have in a one-shot - if they are not spending it, or it seems they have too much, ask yourself - am I throwing enough at them?

I love the fear in a player's eyes when I ask - do you want to spend Luck on that roll or would you rather push it?

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Dear klecser,

I have a slightly different perspective. I also do not like the "dice tell the story" attitude. I agree that dice do not tell the story, simply because they can not talk. Players make the story and dice are just tools. What are these tools for?

I follow the philosophy that dice pick between different branches of history (or between the alternative game universes). Any time we roll a dice, several outcomes are possible: failure, success, hard success etc. Each outcome is a different history, different time-line. And here is where I probably disagree with you: all these branches can be interesting. You say:

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Luke misses his shot on the exhaust port because he fumbled the roll is not interesting to me. Professor Armitage fumbling his spell casting in the denouement is not interesting to me. Trinity missing the point blank shot on the Agent, resulting in Neo dying, is not interesting to me.

All these examples are examples of failure, suggesting that failure is inherently less interesting. Why? We could take all your three examples and build exciting stories on top of them. The fact that we remember one "branch" of the story (the one we found in the book/ movie) being interesting, does not imply that other "branches" would be boring. You have also written before:

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But "random elements" of plot and situation alone are never what make a story interesting. They never have been.

I agree, and I think this is the key. You have several alternative stories as outcomes of a roll, and it is up to the Keeper and players to make any of them interesting. The excitement from the randomness of the roll comes just from the fact that we do not know which alternative will be chosen. But all of them will be interesting and this makes the game much more fun.

This is why I really dislike fudging rolls. If we can alter the result on the dice, why are we even using them? I have to accept the result I rolled, even if I do not like it, because it forces me to be creative, to think how to make any possible outcome interesting. If I wanted my players to succeed I would not require any rolls, or would not roll for their opponents. Or would just "rail-road" the players in a way that leads their characters to a desired point. Or would use mechanic similar to the "Trail of Cthulhu", were investigation-related tasks can be performed without any rolls. I feel much more honest, when I do not pretend that I follow rules, just to alter or violate them any time I find them uncomfortable.

I could even say more, I love when uncomfortable, or just bad rolls ruin all my plans! Keeper is the only player that most of the time has no fun from discovering anything "new" in the story. Keeper knows all NPC, their motivations, knows the story, who killed who, which clue leads where etc. There is nothing left to discover for him. But when players do something unexpected, or have terrible rolls that could lead them to immediate damnation, this usually alters the story significantly. And suddenly I—as the Keeper—have something new to discover! I have to quickly rethink the plot, the NPCs behaviors etc. which opens a completely new universe of possibilities, and makes me feel like I am exploring the world together with my players.

Of course any approach is "good", because any RPG group has their own definition of "good".  For me, constant failure in CoC (especially when you play with new, inexperienced characters) is a natural outcome of the fact that CoC characters are not "heroes". They have no useful skills, they have no knowledge, they do not know how to use magic, and even though they still think that they can save the world. No, it is highly improbable. If you are a librarian whole life, and your Firearms is 10%, you can not probably win a shooting with cultists. So the characters will fail, they will go insane or die, but it will all happen in the most exciting ways. Because, believe me, you can enjoy a failure in CoC, if there was a good story behind it. And moreover, if the characters somehow succeed, players will remember that forever.

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3 hours ago, Tranquillitas Ordinis said:

Dear klecser,

I have a slightly different perspective. I also do not like the "dice tell the story" attitude. I agree that dice do not tell the story, simply because they can not talk. Players make the story and dice are just tools. What are these tools for?

I follow the philosophy that dice pick between different branches of history (or between the alternative game universes). Any time we roll a dice, several outcomes are possible: failure, success, hard success etc. Each outcome is a different history, different time-line. And here is where I probably disagree with you: all these branches can be interesting. You say:

 

I agree, and I think our perspectives are closer than you think. In the time I've spent thinking about this, it appears as if there is some degree of semantic differences that fuels the difference in perspective. Earlier in the thread Ian Absentia commented that this debate has never been resolved. Yet, we keep flogging the dead horse. Why? I think it is for two reasons. First, we all want everyone at the table to have fun. And there certainly are differences of opinion of what makes something fun. And while fun may seem like something locked to the one experiencing it, in a collaborative game it is not. One person's fun can be another person's dissatisfaction. Second, and related to the first, is the impression I get that some people believe that their fun at the expense of others is perfectly reasonable. This is where the table contract comes in. Any Keeper running a table needs to communicate with their players. And really probe what people find fun and what they don't. Communication is difficult. Questions I am very curious about: To what extent is there a division in the hobby? Tables that define "fun" by a particular creed and tables that define drastically different rules for said fun? How many are mixed and what challenges present themselves under those circumstances?

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All these examples are examples of failure, suggesting that failure is inherently less interesting. Why? We could take all your three examples and build exciting stories on top of them. The fact that we remember one "branch" of the story (the one we found in the book/ movie) being interesting, does not imply that other "branches" would be boring.

Failure is indeed interesting. But something being interesting and something being satisfying do not always coincide. That is what I was getting at with those examples. Failure in any of those situations would certainly be interesting. But it doesn't satisfy. And I think that might be getting to the crux in differences in preference for story-telling. I personally do not believe that it is easy to craft both interesting and satisfying under random conditions. The dice don't know what satisfies people. People do. And whether one fudges dice or fudges description, the end result is some fudging is needed somewhere if we intend to produce satisfying. And before people jump on me, I never said that satisfying means "players always win." I've never said that. I've given my prime example of dissatisfying earlier in the thread: Random flukes that produce inane, satisfaction-killing, absurd outcomes.

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This is why I really dislike fudging rolls. If we can alter the result on the dice, why are we even using them? I have to accept the result I rolled, even if I do not like it, because it forces me to be creative, to think how to make any possible outcome interesting. If I wanted my players to succeed I would not require any rolls, or would not roll for their opponents. Or would just "rail-road" the players in a way that leads their characters to a desired point. Or would use mechanic similar to the "Trail of Cthulhu", were investigation-related tasks can be performed without any rolls. I feel much more honest, when I do not pretend that I follow rules, just to alter or violate them any time I find them uncomfortable.

We're using them to inject an element of chance. Not complete and total governance by chance. And that is the key to what I oppose. I know role-players that wholeheartedly believe that a story in game should be determined entirely by chance, and if everyone leaves the table having seen nothing fun, interesting, or satisfying happening, then oh well. We were at the "mercy" of the dice all along. I guess the dice didn't allow an interesting story. Can you imagine a novelist rolling dice in writing a story or character? It would be a disaster. And yet, you get role-players treating the dice as if they are the sacred arbiter of story-telling. It is bizarre, and in my opinion is a liability in the hobby. :)

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I could even say more, I love when uncomfortable, or just bad rolls ruin all my plans! Keeper is the only player that most of the time has no fun from discovering anything "new" in the story. Keeper knows all NPC, their motivations, knows the story, who killed who, which clue leads where etc. There is nothing left to discover for him. But when players do something unexpected, or have terrible rolls that could lead them to immediate damnation, this usually alters the story significantly. And suddenly I—as the Keeper—have something new to discover! I have to quickly rethink the plot, the NPCs behaviors etc. which opens a completely new universe of possibilities, and makes me feel like I am exploring the world together with my players.

I think it is important to note that positive things can be different and interesting as well. I can't tell you the number of times that my players completely upended my plans and then succeeded. And I had a blast seeing them succeed. Part of me also thinks that there is this delight in seeing people fail. Why can't there be delight and interest in seeing them succeed? But this seems to be the argument of many. If they don't see threat, they can't imagine failure, and if they can't imagine failure, then the endeavor isn't worth doing. It's almost as if the journey is irrelevant to them? The legacy of Gygax is that he has engendered what I consider to be only one perspective as to what can be satisfying in the hobby. I believe his players knew what they signed up for and it isn't my job to tell them how to have fun. But I also think the consequence of Gygax' success is that he created a generation of role-players that equated brutal unyielding chance with fun. I happen to not equate those two things. And I also believe it to be a tactical wargamer's perspective not a story-telling perspective. When someone tells me that I'm cheating by fudging, what I really hear people saying is I define what is fun and what you define as fun doesn't matter. And I basically refuse to accept that.

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Of course any approach is "good", because any RPG group has their own definition of "good".  For me, constant failure in CoC (especially when you play with new, inexperienced characters) is a natural outcome of the fact that CoC characters are not "heroes". They have no useful skills, they have no knowledge, they do not know how to use magic, and even though they still think that they can save the world. No, it is highly improbable. If you are a librarian whole life, and your Firearms is 10%, you can not probably win a shooting with cultists. So the characters will fail, they will go insane or die, but it will all happen in the most exciting ways. Because, believe me, you can enjoy a failure in CoC, if there was a good story behind it. And moreover, if the characters somehow succeed, players will remember that forever.

Yeah, I don't disagree. We're closer than you might think. I think the key difference is that I view the satisfying outcome possibilities as being just as interesting under circumstances of "unexpected success" as "unexpected failure." And while don't begrudge anyone their preference of "unexpected failure is more satisfying," I also find it a cynical way to game. To each their own. But gaming is for everyone. Not just the cynical.

I think it is important that we discuss these things. If we want better tables, we have to understand each other better. The exact wrong thing to do would be to not talk about perspectives on fudging.

Edited by klecser
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5 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Sorry if I am asking a dumb question.. but if I remember right... Luck can only be used to turn normal failure into normal success, but can't affect fumble, special and critical... isn't that right?!

You are absolutely right, page 99.

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Criticals, fumbles, and firearm malfunctions always apply, and cannot be bought off with Luck points.

Earlier, I said that I let a player change a gun malfunction into a fail, "normally you can't spend luck to do that, but  this time the gods have smiled on you". Had I not allowed that, it would have caused a big story problem if time was spent trying to un-jam the gun. Chapter 10, Playing the Game has all kinds of help for this kind of situation - Rolling the Dice, page 194,

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If the player loses the roll then you get to decide what happens. Problems can arise if you declare an outcome that blocks play.

Ultimately for me story beats rules. 

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7 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Sorry if I am asking a dumb question.. but if I remember right... Luck can only be used to turn normal failure into normal success, but can't affect fumble, special and critical... isn't that right?!

By the letter of the RAW, sure. But YGWV. If a Keeper decides that a player can buy off a firearm malfunction, then they can.

Lloyd brings up another struggle we have in the hobby. And that is how different people attenuate to RAW. Personally, I think that it is fully appropriate that, if you go to an FLGS or a Con, it is fair for you to expect the RAW to be used, because it helps players to manage their expectations of what a new Keeper will and will not do.

The other side of this coin is that there are also people who seem to think (and I'm not saying that Llyod is one of them) that the RAW of any game should be treated as sacred, and that people who violate the RAW in their home games are "doing it wrong." The truth is that everyone's game will vary, and you can do whatever you want with the ruleset. If I were Keeping at an FLGS or Con and knew in advance that I wanted to play the RAW differently, I would just be upfront about that at the table.

This is central to the discussion because everyone has a different base set of assumptions for how mechanics work in the game. People don't like to have their assumptions contended with. Yet, all of us attenuating to universal application of the rules would basically just mean some people wouldn't have fun. I've been wondering why people are so passionate about one side of this discussion. And it may very well come down to perspective on RAW.

Edited by klecser
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Hi -  all of you read the Luck rules on p 99 of the Rulebook  😀

Any amount of Luck can be spent to adjust a roll. The original roll can be Extreme, Hard, Reg, or Fail, and Luck can be spent on those rolls to make them any of those results.

I.e. you failed - spend Luck to turn that into a Reg, Hard, or Extreme success. 

Crits, fumbles, and firearms malfunctions always apply and cannot be bought off with Luck points. But, of course, the Keeper can overrule that.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Mike M said:

Hi -  all of you read the Luck rules on p 99 of the Rulebook  😀

Any amount of Luck can be spent to adjust a roll. The original roll can be Extreme, Hard, Reg, or Fail, and Luck can be spent on those rolls to make them any of those results.

I.e. you failed - spend Luck to turn that into a Reg, Hard, or Extreme success. 

Crits, fumbles, and firearms malfunctions always apply and cannot be bought off with Luck points. But, of course, the Keeper can overrule that.

 

 

I am reading page 99 of CoC 7:
 

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Criticals, fumbles, and firearm malfunctions always apply, and cannot be bought off with Luck points

So it seems you read wrong.

To be fair I don't mind what you do, I am just arguing the rules. I was contemplating using that for my MoO setting (instead of BRP luck) and I contemplated whether luck could be used to buy special/crit or avoid Fumble. For now (untested yet) I will rule it out, as per rule book.

For the simple reason that a normal success vs a crit attack provide reasonable defense if you have good gear.... (and if you have no gear.. well.. your loss! :P )

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25 minutes ago, Mike M said:

Crits, fumbles, and firearms malfunctions always apply and cannot be bought off with Luck points. But, of course, the Keeper can overrule that.

Um, doesn't look to me like he read wrong? Did you read his whole post?

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Ultimately - dice rolling is about making things happen (ideally, very well or very badly). Hence, why skill rolls should be used when its dramatic to do so (i.e. no Drive Auto rolls when driving to pick up your groceries).

Negating a critical, fumble, or malfunction with Luck tends to work against the aim of creating drama, and allows the player to buy their way out of trouble, hence why it's not really allowed the rules. However, as I always say, the game comes first - if the Keeper feels that by allowing a player to use Luck on such things would aid the moment/drama, then I'd be cool with that. After all, burning Luck brings its own consequences, just later on.  Using a 2 for 1 formula for Luck spend against a fumble etc is certainly a possibility if you want to flag the added danger to that kind of action. Again, it comes down to you and your game. If the players know they can spend Luck to buy their way of really bad dice rolls, they are probably going to spend Luck points to do so, which in the long run means their Luck will fall and enables the Keeper to come up with creative ways to ask for Luck rolls later on, bringing the consequences to bear to further trouble the investigators.

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