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House Rule Idea: "Crude" tests and skilled tests


Jakob

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One thing that keeps bothering me about "classic" BRP (RQ, the big gold book, the current SRD) is that often, there is not a clear distinction between when a skill would apply and when a Characteristic x 5 (or x3 or even x1) roll. Why can't you make an Agility roll to dodge something? Bascially, because there's a dodge skill. It kind of bugs me ...

So I wondered: Could you make the Characteristic x5 roll a standard alternative to a skill roll for a "crude" approach? Some things are crude in themselves, of course, like breaking stuff with sheer force, so it would make sense that that would be a STRx5 roll, anyway. But maybe you are good with your hands, but have never learned to lockpick - so you could still try with a DEXx5 roll. However, there would be a catch: I'd say that with the crude approach, you never get a critical, and you always get some unwanted side-effect: A lock would be broken if you open it with DEXx5 instead of the Lockpicking skill, or you'd make a lot of noise, take a lot of time. With knowledge-based tests, an INTx5 would only ever get you a general idea and never something specific. And some tasks still might just need you to have and apply the skill (like reading a specific language).

You could even say that, after failing a skilled approach, you could re-try with the crude approach in some cases (if you have enough time, if the task is repeatable); that would be a bit like pushing a roll in CoC7, because it would entail a negative consequence.

To me, it seems like a nice way of keeping specific skill largely separate from your characteristics (so you can be a good climber even with DEX and STR at 6, because you just have learned it and know exactly how to do it right), but still give a siginficant role to characteristics (the guy who knows nohting about climling but has DEX of 16 will probably do well as well, but leave some equipment in the wall because he doesn't really know what steps to take in what order).

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13 minutes ago, Jakob said:

So I wondered: Could you make the Characteristic x5 roll a standard alternative to a skill roll for a "crude" approach? Some things are crude in themselves, of course, like breaking stuff with sheer force, so it would make sense that that would be a STRx5 roll, anyway.

Sure why not, it already is to a lesser or greater degree. Lifting a rock, comes to mind. Keeping ones footing on a patch of ice. 

 

15 minutes ago, Jakob said:

A lock would be broken if you open it with DEXx5 instead of the Lockpicking skill, or you'd make a lot of noise,

This might slide away from “crude” to a little more sophisticated and perhaps requires an opposed roll. Skill of locksmith vs skill of picker... either Characteristic times 5 or skill divided by 5 which ever is easier. Bashing down doors... the same.

 

17 minutes ago, Jakob said:

You could even say that, after failing a skilled approach, you could re-try with the crude approach in some cases (if you have enough time, if the task is repeatable); that would be a bit like pushing a roll in CoC7, because it would entail a negative consequence.

 

Not had the pleasure of CoC 7 so no opinion...

 

18 minutes ago, Jakob said:

To me, it seems like a nice way of keeping specific skill largely separate from your characteristics (so you can be a good climber even with DEX and STR at 6, because you just have learned it and know exactly how to do it right), but still give a siginficant role to characteristics (the guy who knows nohting about climling but has DEX of 16 will probably do well as well, but leave some equipment in the wall because he doesn't really know what steps to take in what order).

This requires a bit of bookwork but sounds plausible.

All my opinion...

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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Maybe "crude" is not quite the right word, here ... I'm thinking about cases of "you might not have learned to do this, but you're natural dexterity/intelligence etc. gives you a good shot. However, it will always be noticeable that you don't really know what you're doing."

It would require a certain amount of GM fiat to come up with negative consequences on succesful "crude" rolls (and even more negative consequences for failed crude rolls).

I also wouldn't allow them in combat, maybe with the exception of Dodge: The Dodge skill would imply that you actually have learned how to dodge in combat, if you roll DEXx5, you're just throwing yourself out of the way of an attack, and consequently, wouldn't be able to attack yourself that round or do anything else besodes dodging (and on a failed "crude" dodge, you'd probably end up on the ground).

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*** I would want to keep this "untrained" approach very limited... even with DEX=18,  you shouldn't be able (for example) to 90% an apple off someone's head with a bow at 50 paces, the first time you try archery!

Training counts for a LOT, and a 10-year veteran archer (but with a mere DEX=12) will have MUCH better odds.

*** So for me, it'd mostly be a maximum of STATx1  (for some skills, it's just hopeless -- you can't INTx1% brain surgery, for example; nor win a chess game vs. a grandmaster or a modern chess-engine like Stockfish).  A few skills are pretty easy... almost everyone has dodged a bit, climbed a bit, just with childhood knockabouts & sports.  Even without formal "training" or XP-checks, people still can do these skills (at least to a half-assed standard), so maybe STATx3 ... ?

HOWEVER, in a very pulpy/cinematic/heroic style game, I could see MOST skills up to STATx3... maybe even STATx5 for those few "easy" skills.


*** Some games call this "defaulting" (or something similar) -- you can default to whatever your ruling characteristic is (STR for rock-splitting, DEX for Dodging, etc), or sometimes to a similar-ish skill (default to Rapier from your Longsword skill, or vice versa).

On the Gripping Hand, though, I'd never want to see the case where someone's "crude" or "default" skill was better than a same-stat character WITH training!!!

I think what you want is already baked-in to the game.  In BRP/RQ, we have the "Base chance" + "Stat Bonus" for most skills.  Grabbing my RQG Core (because it's what I have handy), I see (for example) Quarterstaff has a Base of 15%, plus STAT bonuses:
STR&POW  17+ = +5%
DEX&INT  13+ = +5%  /  17+ = +10%
So with 17+ in all 4 of the influential stats -- the "best" person for quarterstaff -- they begin (untrained) with 45% ability under RQG's RAW.

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2 minutes ago, g33k said:

*** I would want to keep this "untrained" approach very limited... even with DEX=18,  you shouldn't be able (for example) to 90% an apple off someone's head with a bow at 50 paces, the first time you try archery!

[...]


I think what you want is already baked-in to the game.  In BRP/RQ, we have the "Base chance" + "Stat Bonus" for most skills.  Grabbing my RQG Core (because it's what I have handy), I see (for example) Quarterstaff has a Base of 15%, plus STAT bonuses:
STR&POW  17+ = +5%
DEX&INT  13+ = +5%  /  17+ = +10%
So with 17+ in all 4 of the influential stats -- the "best" person for quarterstaff -- they begin (untrained) with 45% ability under RQG's RAW.

I would certainly limit it to tasks where it makes sense - Shooting an apple off someone's head would probably require a critical, anyway, so it would be out of the question. Also, I wouldn't allow it for weapon skills and combat (except for Dodge, as outlined).

It would have to be very clear that taking the "crude" approach won't allow you to get sophistcated results and always comes with a significant downside, but will allow you to succeed at the task in some way. That way, having a better chance at "crude" than a trained person has in the actual skill would not be a problem. That guy with DEX 16 might get the door open with a knife, but it will be a butcher's job ...

 

What I'm not looking for is characteristics modifying attributes; that is a valid approach, but very different, and if I wanted that, I'd turn to Mythras ... I just like the idea that depending on "raw characteristic power" will often give you a better chance at succeeding, but also a very different type of result.

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47 minutes ago, Jakob said:

... I just like the idea that depending on "raw characteristic power" will often give you a better chance at succeeding ...

This, I think, is where we part ways; that neither appeals to me, nor does it seem like a "realistic" approach.

Best of luck realizing your vision !

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

This, I think, is where we part ways; that neither appeals to me, nor does it seem like a "realistic" approach.

Best of luck realizing your vision !

I wouldn't quite call it a vision - more something I might try or not, depending on if ot seems to make sense to me on that particular day. 😄Still, thanks!

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6 hours ago, Jakob said:

One thing that keeps bothering me about "classic" BRP (RQ, the big gold book, the current SRD) is that often, there is not a clear distinction between when a skill would apply and when a Characteristic x 5 (or x3 or even x1) roll. Why can't you make an Agility roll to dodge something? Bascially, because there's a dodge skill. It kind of bugs me ...

So I wondered: Could you make the Characteristic x5 roll a standard alternative to a skill roll for a "crude" approach? Some things are crude in themselves, of course, like breaking stuff with sheer force, so it would make sense that that would be a STRx5 roll, anyway. But maybe you are good with your hands, but have never learned to lockpick - so you could still try with a DEXx5 roll. However, there would be a catch: I'd say that with the crude approach, you never get a critical, and you always get some unwanted side-effect: A lock would be broken if you open it with DEXx5 instead of the Lockpicking skill, or you'd make a lot of noise, take a lot of time. With knowledge-based tests, an INTx5 would only ever get you a general idea and never something specific. And some tasks still might just need you to have and apply the skill (like reading a specific language).

You could even say that, after failing a skilled approach, you could re-try with the crude approach in some cases (if you have enough time, if the task is repeatable); that would be a bit like pushing a roll in CoC7, because it would entail a negative consequence.

To me, it seems like a nice way of keeping specific skill largely separate from your characteristics (so you can be a good climber even with DEX and STR at 6, because you just have learned it and know exactly how to do it right), but still give a siginficant role to characteristics (the guy who knows nohting about climling but has DEX of 16 will probably do well as well, but leave some equipment in the wall because he doesn't really know what steps to take in what order).

For me, it breaks down into two things. If you have some skill, everything is a success unless it is done under duress. But we have to look at numbers. For me, 30% is trained, 60% is experienced, 90% is mastery, everything else is heroic. I only have someone roll if I feel the task is outside of their skill level.

For a 'crude' skill, if you want to do it, I would assign a roll that goes between x1% to x5% depending on how you see the difficulty.

Whatever moves the story forward is the best approach.

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Me think Mythras has a solution that you might like. (I think, I might be confused, haven't played Mythras in like.. 2 years?)

It doesn't use characteristic roll (I think, maybe, not 100% sure), but anyway all skills start at the value of adding 2 characteristics. So that would be your crude skill roll right there! 😉 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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9 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Me think Mythras has a solution that you might like. (I think, I might be confused, haven't played Mythras in like.. 2 years?)

It doesn't use characteristic roll (I think, maybe, not 100% sure), but anyway all skills start at the value of adding 2 characteristics. So that would be your crude skill roll right there! 😉 

Thanks - I know Mythras and like it (I've even written for it), but this is something slightly different - for one thing, I want to find a consistent way to integrate characteristic rolls into classic BRP, and for the other, I like the idea of different approaches to a task.

Still, it might be a fool's errand ...

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For starters, I wouldn't use STR or DEXx5 for such tests. Characteristic x3 often is more than generous, especially if it is a favored characteristic.

 

The BRP approach is to have skills to roll on for specific tasks. A GM can go all simulationist and demand that only the exact skill named by the scenario or the GM can be used. But in that case, if you have a large set of skills with low default values, the character sheet basically tells you what your character can't do. The "crude skill" approach might be a work-around, but on the other hand, it makes use of rare skills obsolete, and thereby it makes those skills obsolete, at least for your game.

The RQG concept of augmenting the chance of success with a suitably related ability that your character actually has a decent chance at succeeding in does a fair job catchung up there, and feels truer to the underlying resolution system.

Depending on the amount of grit you like in your game (which should be there at some level if you consider a D100 system) you can improve some chances. A cook who  does his own maintenance on household appliances should be able to do a routine car repair with suitable tools, a suitable replacement part and a good set of instructions. The same character probably should not be able to re-attach a severed arm doing micro-surgery using wikipedia.

BRP allows you to harvest some bonuses on die rolls. You can play on that, have other characters contribute to a task.

 

As a GM, you should consider the tasks you put into the way of the player characters in a narrative context, too. Can the adventure be continued in a satisfactory way if the player characters fail at the task? If no, then the players will sooner or later succeed at the task, but at accumulating cost.

There is the concept of failing forward. The cost may be attrition on character health, character equipment, or it may be attrition on possible rewards, aka secondary mission objectives.

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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To be honest, I think I'd prefer to use base skill values equal to characteristic x3, or any formula like DEX x2 +STR.

If some skills are more difficult than others, give them a malus.

Or you could take a look at how James Bond 007 and Reve : the Dream Ouroboros treat skills and characteristics, while using a base system which is very similar to BRP. In JB007, you simply obtain your chances of success by multiplying a characteristic by a skill value.

Reve is slightly different, because skill levels vary from -10 to +10, and you first need to translate it into a factor ranging from .5 to 10 before multiplying your characteristic, or read the result in a table. That is, a characteristic of 12 and a skill of +3 give you a 12 x6.5 = 78% chance. A skill of 0 basically means you have a chance of success equal to your characteristic x5.

I don't remember how JB007 handles difficulties, but Reve modifies skill level. That is, when facing a difficult task, your skill of +3 can be reduced to +2 or lower, or increased to +4 or higher by a simple task.

Edited by Mugen
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