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BRP basic skill rules giving me cognitive dissonance


j0nnyfive

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Hey everybody! This is my first post. I've been reading some BRP and RuneQuest material just out of curiosity. I've never actually played a pen and paper RPG before, but I've read quite a few rulebooks (sadly). What started me on my journey of reading these books, funny enough, was looking for ideas to create Elder Scrolls mods for the video games. :) The rules of Elder Scrolls games always bugged me.

Anyway, these dice-rolling RPGs look pretty fun! I'd like to play sometime. So, I've been reading different rule sets (D&D, Interlock, Unisystem, Barbarians of Lemuria, Mini Six just to name a few), and of all these sets of rules, I like BRP the best. . . sort of. I was wondering if someone here could help me break through my mental block I'm having with BRP.

The idea of a percent IS intuitive, yes. But, to me, the way it is used in BRP games (in general) does not feel intuitive. I'll try to explain as efficiently as I can.

1. The idea that my skill rating is not a rating but a DC in and of itself messes with my head. I WANT to look at this number as a rating, but when the GM modifies this number

due to difficulty, then it feels as though they modified my skill rating, which makes no sense. I know it seems like I'm picking nits, but really! It messes with me.

2. Percentile. What does this mean? How is it a percentage? Of what? If this DC can go over 100, and you can fail on a 00 no matter what, then how is this a percentage?

Doesn't the '%' symbol imply that 100 is the ultimate maximum which means "always and forever?" Again, picking nits, but really. It messes with me.

3. Roll under doesn't feel as good as roll over. There SHOULD be a way to easily make BRP an optional roll over system. Couldn't you say if your skill rating is a 70, then you have to roll over a 30? Or something like that?

Okay, I know it may seem like I'm nitpicking because I know there are probably thousands of people who don't have these problems, but these things really bug me.

I believe the idea of using percentile dice IS intuitive and awesome, but I feel like the way it is actually used in the rules isn't very intuitive. Can you guys and gals set me right?

Thanks!

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1. The idea that my skill rating is not a rating but a DC in and of itself messes with my head. I WANT to look at this number as a rating, but when the GM modifies this number

due to difficulty, then it feels as though they modified my skill rating, which makes no sense. I know it seems like I'm picking nits, but really! It messes with me.

The GM modifies based on various factors. Some are additive, some are multiplicative. Your skill level is set at whatever rating it is. To make things easier to deal with, instead of applying the penalty after the roll, it is easier to apply it before, so that you know exactly what you need. So, if the task is difficult, the GM may apply a 1/2x, meaning your skill is effectively halved due to the difficulty. Much nicer than rolling and doubling the result after to determine whether or not you succeed.

2. Percentile. What does this mean? How is it a percentage? Of what? If this DC can go over 100, and you can fail on a 00 no matter what, then how is this a percentage?

Doesn't the '%' symbol imply that 100 is the ultimate maximum which means "always and forever?" Again, picking nits, but really. It messes with me.

It is based on a percentile roll (i.e. most things are in terms of percentages), but it is not limited to 100% percent. With the use of criticals (say 1/10 is a crit), a skill of 100 crits on a 10 or less, but a skill of 120 crits on a 12 or less. So, going over 100 allows a greater chance of scoring a critical success. Also, some rules allow you to split your attacks if you have more than 100 in a skill, i.e someone with 120 in longsword can attack twice at 60. In RQ6, you use your skill over 100 as a penalty to your opponent (i.e. if you have 120 in longsword, you roll as if you have 100, but your opponent gets a -20 penalty).

3. Roll under doesn't feel as good as roll over. There SHOULD be a way to easily make BRP an optional roll over system. Couldn't you say if your skill rating is a 70, then you have to roll over a 30? Or something like that?

You could, if you wanted. But, for simplicity, and use of criticals/specials, it is much easier to roll less than your rating, and 1/20 or 1/10 or whatever to get special/critical hit. Knowing your skill rating is 70, it is much simpler to know you need to roll a 70 or less, or score a 7 or less for a critical if using the 1/10 rule. Your way introduces extra complication of 100 - 70 to get "roll a 30 or better", and 100 - (70/10) to get "roll a 93 or better to get a critical".

Ian

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Hey Ian! Thanks for your quick response.

I'm not sure I'm following your first point. I'm trying, please forgive me. :) You said it's easier to deal with knowing what you have to roll against before you roll. I'm not sure I understand this. Whether you change the roll or the target, even if it is multiplicative, I'm not sure why this makes things easier or harder. Would you not know the same information either way? Sorry, I'm probably not seeing something. Please keep trying with me. This is a problem of... verisimilitude(?) I'm having, I think. I mean, if my skill is 70, then a harder challenge would not make me less skilled. My skill would still be 70, but my attempt in that moment (represented by the roll) would be what is handicapped. But telling me that I now have to beat 35 instead of 70 feels like I'm not as skilled, which doesn't make sense to me. Like rolling under, this FEELS strange. People don't lose skill, they simply face easier or harder challenges...

What bugs me about the percentage thing is that it doesn't "feel" like a percentage. My intuition "wants" the skill rating system to stop at 100 which would be god-like and perfect.

The fact that you can go past 100 makes me lose my sense of scale in some weird way. 100% should mean that I win 100% of the time, period, no matter what. But it doesn't.

This bugs the fire out of me.

I want to see things like this:

90 = max human

91 = mutant

93 = something...

95 = superhero

99 = demigod

100 = theoretically impossible in this universe (or some Cthulhu-ish sounding explanation) lol

I wish the skill level and crit level would rise independently or something. So, you could stop at 99, then your crits continue to improve even though you stop at 99 skill.

I think my problem is with "verisimilitude". I'm not sure if I'm using that word right.

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Hey Ian! Thanks for your quick response.

I'm not sure I'm following your first point. I'm trying, please forgive me. :) You said it's easier to deal with knowing what you have to roll against before you roll. I'm not sure I understand this. Whether you change the roll or the target, even if it is multiplicative, I'm not sure why this makes things easier or harder. Would you not know the same information either way? Sorry, I'm probably not seeing something. Please keep trying with me. This is a problem of... verisimilitude(?) I'm having, I think. I mean, if my skill is 70, then a harder challenge would not make me less skilled. My skill would still be 70, but my attempt in that moment (represented by the roll) would be what is handicapped. But telling me that I now have to beat 35 instead of 70 feels like I'm not as skilled, which doesn't make sense to me. Like rolling under, this FEELS strange. People don't lose skill, they simply face easier or harder challenges...

What bugs me about the percentage thing is that it doesn't "feel" like a percentage. My intuition "wants" the skill rating system to stop at 100 which would be god-like and perfect.

The fact that you can go past 100 makes me lose my sense of scale in some weird way. 100% should mean that I win 100% of the time, period, no matter what. But it doesn't.

This bugs the fire out of me.

I want to see things like this:

90 = max human

91 = mutant

93 = something...

95 = superhero

99 = demigod

100 = theoretically impossible in this universe (or some Cthulhu-ish sounding explanation) lol

I wish the skill level and crit level would rise independently or something. So, you could stop at 99, then your crits continue to improve even though you stop at 99 skill.

I think my problem is with "verisimilitude". I'm not sure if I'm using that word right.

Seriously, just try playing it. As you get more comfortable and familiar with the rules and how things work, I suspect your concerns will go away. The system has been in use, in one form or another, since 1978. With only minor tweaks and additions. It's worked well for many people for over 35 years. I think you will surprise yourself.

Ian

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Seriously, just try playing it. As you get more comfortable and familiar with the rules and how things work, I suspect your concerns will go away. The system has been in use, in one form or another, since 1978. With only minor tweaks and additions. It's worked well for many people for over 35 years. I think you will surprise yourself.

Ian

K. Well, thanks for your fast responses Ian! Goodnight! :)

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That little symbol on the character sheets, %, really should be removed, as it puzzles many players. The number that is on your character sheet is not your chance of success full stop; it is "your chance of getting a normal success when attempting a task of average difficulty without additional circumstantial modifiers", or something like that. And this is only true as long as the rating is lower than 100, since the highest chance of success you can have at any task is 99%. So it is not really a percentage, but rather your character's "subjective contribution" to an actual percent chance of success in which also "objective external" circumstances are factored.

If modifying the skill rating troubles you, modify the die roll result: double it for hard tasks, halve it for easy tasks, add and subtract specific modifiers to it.

The first RPG I bought was D&D, but the first one I played was the German The Dark Eye; TDE's is a roll-under system, so to me rolling under felt "natural"... until I played a RPG with a different system. There are no "intuitive" and "counterintuitive" rules set, only good and bad ones. I habitually say that there's nothing intuitive in the way the knight moves on a chessboard, and still in at least five centuries nobody has had trouble playing chess because of it. All you have to do to is play a game, for its rules to become "second nature".

Edited by MatteoN
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Hey Ian! Thanks for your quick response.

I'm not sure I'm following your first point. I'm trying, please forgive me. :) You said it's easier to deal with knowing what you have to roll against before you roll. I'm not sure I understand this. Whether you change the roll or the target, even if it is multiplicative, I'm not sure why this makes things easier or harder. Would you not know the same information either way? Sorry, I'm probably not seeing something. Please keep trying with me. This is a problem of... verisimilitude(?) I'm having, I think. I mean, if my skill is 70, then a harder challenge would not make me less skilled. My skill would still be 70, but my attempt in that moment (represented by the roll) would be what is handicapped. But telling me that I now have to beat 35 instead of 70 feels like I'm not as skilled, which doesn't make sense to me. Like rolling under, this FEELS strange. People don't lose skill, they simply face easier or harder challenges...

To get into this a bit more - think of it this way. The way BRP based games have been designed and implemented, the knowledge you have when attemtping to do something is front-loaded - you have pretty much all of the knowledge of what it takes to succeed in front of you. Your skill rating is your target number under normal challenges. When something is sufficiently more difficult (or easier), since there is no other target value than your skill level, the skill level is modified. In the end, whether you modify your skill level, or some arbitrary target number, the same effect is garnered - your skill is made less effective by the difficulty. So, it really doesn't matter what you change. In BRP, the skill is modified since that is the only thing that can be.

What bugs me about the percentage thing is that it doesn't "feel" like a percentage. My intuition "wants" the skill rating system to stop at 100 which would be god-like and perfect.

The fact that you can go past 100 makes me lose my sense of scale in some weird way. 100% should mean that I win 100% of the time, period, no matter what. But it doesn't.

This bugs the fire out of me.

I want to see things like this:

90 = max human

91 = mutant

93 = something...

95 = superhero

99 = demigod

100 = theoretically impossible in this universe (or some Cthulhu-ish sounding explanation) lol

I wish the skill level and crit level would rise independently or something. So, you could stop at 99, then your crits continue to improve even though you stop at 99 skill.

I think my problem is with "verisimilitude". I'm not sure if I'm using that word right.

And this is what bugs me about percentages and an artifical limit of 100%. It's just math. 12 is 120% of 10. 20 is 200% of 10. Percentages describe relationships between values. Just because you define one value as the one you are comparing things to, does not mean you cannot have something greater. Same thing with fractions. 100% is 1. Surely you can have 1 1/2 (or 3/2) of something. You are not constrained/limited to a single value of 1. Percenatges are the same, they can exceed 100% if that is what the relationship dictates.

Further, you really need to read the books more closely. The skill levels are succinctly defined in the BGB as to what they mean. It is the level of compentency on a human scale. Demigods, superheroes, etc. go beyond that scale. Read the Skills chapter again with all of this in mind. And, 100% has never meant, in BRP at least, that you always succeed. Again, the Skills chapter states this. There is always a chance for failure unless the task is so easy, a roll is not necessary. And, in all reality, what you are asking for about skill and crit level rising independently is pretty much what is happening. While your skill level can increase beyond 100%, a roll of "00" is always a failure, so it "stops at 99". However, as the skill level continues to increase, so does the crit level.

Ian

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I'm not sure I'm following your first point. I'm trying, please forgive me. :) You said it's easier to deal with knowing what you have to roll against before you roll. I'm not sure I understand this. Whether you change the roll or the target, even if it is multiplicative, I'm not sure why this makes things easier or harder. Would you not know the same information either way? Sorry, I'm probably not seeing something. Please keep trying with me. This is a problem of... verisimilitude(?) I'm having, I think. I mean, if my skill is 70, then a harder challenge would not make me less skilled. My skill would still be 70, but my attempt in that moment (represented by the roll) would be what is handicapped. But telling me that I now have to beat 35 instead of 70 feels like I'm not as skilled, which doesn't make sense to me. Like rolling under, this FEELS strange. People don't lose skill, they simply face easier or harder challenges...

OK, try this.

100% means that you should be able to succeed in using a skill under optimal circumstances most of the time.

However, BRP has modifiers for difficulty. A Difficult roll means your skill is halved. So, someone who is pretty good with a skill, say Climbing, most of the time should be able to climb a wall fairly easily. However, if he is climbing a mountain in a blizzard then his skill would be halved. Someone with 100% skill has a 50% chance of climbing the mountain in a blizzard. Someone with 200% Climbing can climb the mountain in a blizzard most of the time.

Also, some special effects rely on scoring a Special or Critical roll. If your normal chance is 100% then you special on a 20 and critical on 05. If your skill is 200% then you special on 40 and critical on 10. This means that people with higher skills than 100% have a better chance of getting a better result.

Finally, in combat, people with more than 100% skill can do more things. If you make multiple attacks then you split your skill across the attacks. So, someone with 100% could attack twice at 50% with the same weapon. Someone with a skill of 200% could attack twice at 100%.

The higher skill indicates a higher proficiency.

What bugs me about the percentage thing is that it doesn't "feel" like a percentage. My intuition "wants" the skill rating system to stop at 100 which would be god-like and perfect.

The fact that you can go past 100 makes me lose my sense of scale in some weird way. 100% should mean that I win 100% of the time, period, no matter what. But it doesn't.

This bugs the fire out of me.

What happens if you are doing something very difficult? Do you automatically succeed? Nope.

It is just a matter of perception. Your idea of what 100% means isn't the same as ours.

I want to see things like this:

90 = max human

91 = mutant

93 = something...

95 = superhero

99 = demigod

100 = theoretically impossible in this universe (or some Cthulhu-ish sounding explanation) lol

I wish the skill level and crit level would rise independently or something. So, you could stop at 99, then your crits continue to improve even though you stop at 99 skill.

I think my problem is with "verisimilitude". I'm not sure if I'm using that word right.

With magic, if you can increase your skill level by 20% and are at 90% what happens? Sure, increasing crits gives you a way of handling that, but it is a less elegant solution than having skills over 100%.

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

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Hey guys/gals,

Thanks for your responses!

Yeah, my problems aren't about doubting whether the game works on a technical "math" level. Of course it does, I'm sure it does, it's been around forever and all... it's just my own subjective/aesthetic/psychological problems I'm having with the percent system. I think my problems stem from the idea that this skill rating scale seems to mean so many different things. Here's what I've gathered so far:

1. It is a rating of how "good" I am as a human. 120% means I'm beyond the average human max potential of 100%? In this context, it is a comparison of how "good" I am as a human compared to another human. In this context, it makes sense to go past 100% since we're comparing me to others.

2. It is a rating of my percent chance of beating the average challenge as that challenge pertains to humans since this is a human scale. So, a 50% challenge for a human may only be a 90% challenge for a demigod. This view only works until the skill reaches 99% because in this context, it doesn't make sense to beat a challenge 101% of the time since 100% or 99% is all that one can reasonably expect, but after 99%... okay, so if the human and the demigod are both at 99%, what is the difference? Human scale athletic challenge 99% vs demigod athletic challenge 99%... would you give the demigod bonuses while penalizing the human?

3. The remainder of value past 99% pertains to a "bonus section" affecting how often I crit and various battle stuff. Even though its a part of the same number, we use this section in a different way... I think.

I'm pretty sure I could play and run this game, but my imagination is angry with it. lol

Question: Why are there different scales of skill rather than using this to compare me (human) with the monsters I fight? Does the SIZ attribute pertain to only humans as well? I thought that was so I could see just how big Cthulhu was in comparison to myself? I was thinking of the skills the same way. Oops.

I don't doubt the system "works" as written. I don't doubt any of these RPG systems "work". My problem is one of cognitive aesthetics I guess. I'm sure to other people smarter or different then myself, this "core mechanic" is super intuitive and beautiful and all... I just wish I was one of them. lol Guys, correct any mistakes I made above, please. Thanks for your patience.

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Hey guys/gals,

Thanks for your responses!

Yeah, my problems aren't about doubting whether the game works on a technical "math" level. Of course it does, I'm sure it does, it's been around forever and all... it's just my own subjective/aesthetic/psychological problems I'm having with the percent system. I think my problems stem from the idea that this skill rating scale seems to mean so many different things. Here's what I've gathered so far:

1. It is a rating of how "good" I am as a human. 120% means I'm beyond the average human max potential of 100%? In this context, it is a comparison of how "good" I am as a human compared to another human. In this context, it makes sense to go past 100% since we're comparing me to others.

2. It is a rating of my percent chance of beating the average challenge as that challenge pertains to humans since this is a human scale. So, a 50% challenge for a human may only be a 90% challenge for a demigod. This view only works until the skill reaches 99% because in this context, it doesn't make sense to beat a challenge 101% of the time since 100% or 99% is all that one can reasonably expect, but after 99%... okay, so if the human and the demigod are both at 99%, what is the difference? Human scale athletic challenge 99% vs demigod athletic challenge 99%... would you give the demigod bonuses while penalizing the human?

3. The remainder of value past 99% pertains to a "bonus section" affecting how often I crit and various battle stuff. Even though its a part of the same number, we use this section in a different way... I think.

I'm pretty sure I could play and run this game, but my imagination is angry with it. lol

Question: Why are there different scales of skill rather than using this to compare me (human) with the monsters I fight? Does the SIZ attribute pertain to only humans as well? I thought that was so I could see just how big Cthulhu was in comparison to myself? I was thinking of the skills the same way. Oops.

I don't doubt the system "works" as written. I don't doubt any of these RPG systems "work". My problem is one of cognitive aesthetics I guess. I'm sure to other people smarter or different then myself, this "core mechanic" is super intuitive and beautiful and all... I just wish I was one of them. lol Guys, correct any mistakes I made above, please. Thanks for your patience.

Stick with 1) and you'll be fine :)

Also, understand that in many cases, when dealing with Lovecraftian or gods/demigods, etc. , often times the source material states that what you are dealing with is not the actual true being itself, but an avatar of the being, a representation of it. So, while the "earthly" stats and skills may be related to the human/normal scale, in reality, the being encompasses much more.

SIZ can be compared with humans assuming similar physiology (i.e. bipedal, simlar to human proportions). However, for some animals and creatures based on animal like (or totally alien) physiologies, this comparison does not work (same with inanimate objects like vehicles, walls, buildings, etc.) The comparisons will work in a pinch, or for a quick look, but they break down at the extremes. The Big Gold Book has two distinct tables for SIZ, one for human/humanoid, and one for a more generic comparison.

Ian

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Hey guys, thanks again.

Let me ask you a question as I feel we've reached an impasse as far as what my tastes can handle. I want to propose a different way of handling skill checks (for myself), and I want you guys to tell me how much work it would take to implement it (if you don't mind). :)

SKILL CHECKS

Easy = no roll.

Could mess up = roll for fumble.

Difficult = roll.

Very difficult = roll twice (unless you crit on the 1st roll).

Extremely difficult = roll for crit.

HOW SKILLS WORK

Skills aren't a relative scale, they are absolute. You can use this scale to compare any creature to any other.

The range is from 1 to 99. After this, you would add a decimal and go to 99.99. In theory, you could go to 99.99.99.99.99 etc, but probably wouldn't need to.

The multiple decimals represent multiple d100 dice rolls. Multiple rolls (although very rare) could build anticipation.

A skill of 100 is perfect.

A skill of 99.12 gives you a 12% chance of crit. A skill of 99.99.01 gives you a 99.01% chance of crit. A skill of 100 gives you 100% chance of crit.

A skill of 99.07 still gives a 9% chance of crit until you reach 99.10 (this is the quirky exception. lol)

A skill of 99.01 has a 0.10% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '91' I believe.

A skill of 99.55 has a 0.05% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '96' I believe.

A skill of 99.99 has a 0.01% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '00' I believe.

A skill of 99.99.99 has a 0.0.01% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '00', then '00'. What are the odds? Crazy.

Needless to say, if you're using decimals, you probably won't see fumbles for a long time.

You can arbitrarily limit how high in skill any creature can go. 99? Sure. 99.50? Why not. 90? K.

Anyway, how much work would be involved in using a system like this for myself? Are the rules for combat and magic and such intertwined into the way skills work? I haven't read the book in a while. Sorry. Just wanting some quick and dirty expert advice. I'm. . . testing the limits of the flexibility of BRP. lol I didn't spend all day thinking this up, so it may be a horrible, horrible idea. But would something LIKE it work, maybe?

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Hey guys, thanks again.

Let me ask you a question as I feel we've reached an impasse as far as what my tastes can handle. I want to propose a different way of handling skill checks (for myself), and I want you guys to tell me how much work it would take to implement it (if you don't mind). :)

SKILL CHECKS

Easy = no roll.

Could mess up = roll for fumble.

Difficult = roll.

Very difficult = roll twice (unless you crit on the 1st roll).

Extremely difficult = roll for crit.

HOW SKILLS WORK

Skills aren't a relative scale, they are absolute. You can use this scale to compare any creature to any other.

The range is from 1 to 99. After this, you would add a decimal and go to 99.99. In theory, you could go to 99.99.99.99.99 etc, but probably wouldn't need to.

The multiple decimals represent multiple d100 dice rolls. Multiple rolls (although very rare) could build anticipation.

A skill of 100 is perfect.

A skill of 99.12 gives you a 12% chance of crit. A skill of 99.99.01 gives you a 99.01% chance of crit. A skill of 100 gives you 100% chance of crit.

A skill of 99.07 still gives a 9% chance of crit until you reach 99.10 (this is the quirky exception. lol)

A skill of 99.01 has a 0.10% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '91' I believe.

A skill of 99.55 has a 0.05% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '96' I believe.

A skill of 99.99 has a 0.01% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '00' I believe.

A skill of 99.99.99 has a 0.0.01% chance of fumble. So, to fumble, you'd have to roll '00', then '00', then '00'. What are the odds? Crazy.

Needless to say, if you're using decimals, you probably won't see fumbles for a long time.

You can arbitrarily limit how high in skill any creature can go. 99? Sure. 99.50? Why not. 90? K.

Anyway, how much work would be involved in using a system like this for myself? Are the rules for combat and magic and such intertwined into the way skills work? I haven't read the book in a while. Sorry. Just wanting some quick and dirty expert advice. I'm. . . testing the limits of the flexibility of BRP. lol I didn't spend all day thinking this up, so it may be a horrible, horrible idea. But would something LIKE it work, maybe?

I think you are really starting to overcomplicate a very simple system.

Multiple rolls to determine success - probably not a good idea.

The whole decimal concept is just weird, and produces effects very different from RAW.

Again, I would try playing it as is for a while before tinkering.

Ian

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Hey guys, I just wanted to thank you for helping me better understand BRP (which was tripping me up!)

I'm feeling better about it now after the helpful comments you all have made. I especially appreciate the tip to think of it as a human scale of 0 - 100% where that 100% represents the best a human should be able to do (I think). After pondering this for a while, I now think of it like this:

A skill rating represents how well you can do as compared to a human, where 100% means you are performing at full human capacity. This is what the number represents.

For convenience, we USE the number as a percent chance of success for the "average" difficulty. Beyond 99%, we USE this number for other things. But this is for convenience. It works.

But the number itself represents the human scale. (Please correct me or add to this if I'm wrong here)

*Sigh* My brain doesn't hurt anymore. I don't know why I was having such a hard time with that. ? I was just thinking about this in a weird way I guess. I'm used to the idea of "add some numbers up and try to beat a target the GM gives you". I think rolling "against yourself" can be sorta trippy if you're not used to it. K, thanks again!

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Yes, basically 90% means that you are a master of the skill, the "best" that a normal person is likely to be. Any more means that you are superb, incredible and so on.

So, thinking of 100% as the best that a normal human could be works very well.

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

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Hey Simon! BRP is quickly becoming my favorite system to read. I'm seeing the elegance now. Okay, just to further clarify my thoughts on skills:

A skill rating actually represents two distinct things with one number:

1. A percentage rating for comparison (logically can surpass 100%)

2. A percentage of probability (logically can not surpass 100% AFAIK)

When the GM alters the number due to difficulty, she is altering the probability, NOT the rating. (So at 1/2 difficulty, you're rated at 80%, but only have 40% chance.)

Aha! I was conflating these two ideas, giving me a headache. It's been a few years since math class. Cognitive dissonance gone! :)

I'm really liking this system, but I do feel the need to say that reports of its intuitiveness have been (only somewhat) exaggerated. lol!

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When you start playing it, you will see how easy it is to use in practice.

Having said that, some people absolutely hate the idea and will not use percentile systems, often because of the very concerns that you raised. I can't see it myself, but people should use whichever systems they are happiest with.

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

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Another way to look at the skill ratings is instead of treating it as an absolute scale (i.e. 100% being the best there is/can be) you can view the ratings as relative to some typical resistance or sampling of the population. So the character with a 100% rating might not be the best, but is virtually assured of beating an average person in a contest of that skill. His 100% rating isn't an assured win against other experts.

The tricky part with % based skills is that the upper limits of performance are usually unknown, so the max skill scores are left open ended. It's quite likely that ten or twenty years down the road we might end up with a someone who can out perform someone who is "the best" in their field today, and an open ended scale allows us to account for that without retroactively downgrading the ratings of all the preceding characters, or even to help account for advances in our understanding.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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When you start playing it, you will see how easy it is to use in practice.

Having said that, some people absolutely hate the idea and will not use percentile systems, often because of the very concerns that you raised. I can't see it myself, but people should use whichever systems they are happiest with.

Yeah, I can see why they might have a problem, but I think if you wrangle with it mentally just a lil' bit, it makes sense. I think it's just one of those weird things in life where some people just click with it immediately, and others get cross-eyed for whatever reason. ;D It makes sense to me now thanks to you guys' input.

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Another way to look at the skill ratings is instead of treating it as an absolute scale (i.e. 100% being the best there is/can be) you can view the ratings as relative to some typical resistance or sampling of the population. So the character with a 100% rating might not be the best, but is virtually assured of beating an average person in a contest of that skill. His 100% rating isn't an assured win against other experts.

The tricky part with % based skills is that the upper limits of performance are usually unknown, so the max skill scores are left open ended. It's quite likely that ten or twenty years down the road we might end up with a someone who can out perform someone who is "the best" in their field today, and an open ended scale allows us to account for that without retroactively downgrading the ratings of all the preceding characters, or even to help account for advances in our understanding.

I like that way of looking at it Atgxtg! Did I say your name right? :P

Yeah, the way I think about it is that "100%" (as a rating) represents someone who can reliably pass a standard challenge at least 99/100 times (accounting for possible fumble). But to go past 100% is understandable in this context. Just because you can pass a standard challenge 99/100 times doesn't mean you're finished improving right? Even if you can't ever succeed more than 99/100 times, you could improve qualitatively somehow (maybe explains how the "crit" keeps increasing). So, this makes sense to me "as a rating."

My problem was because my brain was equating "as a rating" with "as a probability". Can't do that. :P Probabilities, as far as I know, cannot go past 100%. Practically anyway. I'm not sure how clear the written rules are on this in the different books. I just read the quickstart.

"Skills are rated as a skill chance, or the percentage chance a character attempting the skill has of succeeding, a value somewhere between 0% (no chance whatsoever) to 100+%, meaning it will always succeed." - Pg. 9.

My brain was going "Hey, if this is a probability, how can it go past 100%?" But, looking at it "as a rating" above 99%, and "as a probability" below 100%, clears it up for me. Or, alternatively, as both a rating AND a probability up to 99%, beyond which simply becomes a rating describing the more qualitative aspects of performance.

Good points! I like this discussion! The more I blab about it, the clearer it keeps getting. ;-D

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looking at it "as a rating" above 99%, and "as a probability" below 100%, clears it up for me.

Personally, I prefer to just consider it an open-ended rating, ignoring the misleading percent signs on the character sheets. I think of the chance of success as equal to the lowest number between the rating times 1/2, 1 or 2 (± any modifier) and 99.

Edited by MatteoN
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Personally, I prefer to just consider it an open-ended rating, ignoring the misleading percent signs on the character sheets. I think of the chance of success as equal to the lowest number between the rating times 1/2, 1 or 2 (± any modifier) and 99.

Yeah, it would probably look a little nicer on paper to not have a bunch of percent signs everywhere too. :) Who knows? Maybe the percents give the game more grit.

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Personally I think that 100% refers to a level of skill such that you would expect to perform this skill successfully under most normal, stressful situations. Remember, you only roll for skills when the situation is demanding in some ways.

E.g. driving a car. Once you've got some sort of skill rating, you don't bother making Driving rolls every single time you drive a car; you only make them when for some reason there's a risk of failure. Example; a pedestrian steps out in front of you unexpectedly. Make a driving roll to avoid hitting the pedestrian.

The absolute value represents a degree of competence. Someone with a skill of 90% is labelled a master because 9 times out of 10, if they need to use the skill under stressful circumstances (such as the pedestrian example) they will succeed.

However what if they wish to perform some sort of crazy stunt such as flipping up onto two wheels to drive at high speed down an alley way that's too narrow for the car while being pursued by alien bounty hunters on skyboards? That's where you need someone with Stig-like skills, perhaps Driving at 160% because there will be negative to your skill to represent how hard this is.

The percentage value does NOT* represent the limit of normal human skill nor does it represent your skill in relation to other humans. It is a marker of competency. Once you reach a skill of 100% you can successfully perform all normal uses of this skill under stressful and demanding circumstances 19 times out of 20. (Because in stressful circumstances no matter how good you are you can always screw up.) Exceeding 100% means that you are more likely to succeed at the kinds of crazy stunts that even a regular master would fail at.

*However when Chaosium first adopted the system based on the old Thieves skills tables, 100% was the maximum value. In original RQ2 and Call of Cthulhu, 100% was the maximum you could attain. In RQ, divine favour (being a rune lord) let you reach "superhuman" levels of skill that exceeded 100%. In CoC, 100% was the maximum because only the horrors of the cthulhu mythos or edlritch magic could go higher. From RQ3 onwards, this was dropped and skill percentage became simply a measure of proficiency and this has continued to this day.

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I like that way of looking at it Atgxtg! Did I say your name right? :P

Yeah, the way I think about it is that "100%" (as a rating) represents someone who can reliably pass a standard challenge at least 99/100 times (accounting for possible fumble). But to go past 100% is understandable in this context. Just because you can pass a standard challenge 99/100 times doesn't mean you're finished improving right? Even if you can't ever succeed more than 99/100 times, you could improve qualitatively somehow (maybe explains how the "crit" keeps increasing). So, this makes sense to me "as a rating."

My problem was because my brain was equating "as a rating" with "as a probability". Can't do that. :P Probabilities, as far as I know, cannot go past 100%. Practically anyway. I'm not sure how clear the written rules are on this in the different books. I just read the quickstart.

Yeah, It's like when you see some sports figure on TV saying that the team won because they gave 110%.

"Skills are rated as a skill chance, or the percentage chance a character attempting the skill has of succeeding, a value somewhere between 0% (no chance whatsoever) to 100+%, meaning it will always succeed." - Pg. 9.

My brain was going "Hey, if this is a probability, how can it go past 100%?" But, looking at it "as a rating" above 99%, and "as a probability" below 100%, clears it up for me. Or, alternatively, as both a rating AND a probability up to 99%, beyond which simply becomes a rating describing the more qualitative aspects of performance.

Yes, the qualitative aspects are factored in there too. There is another RPG that I like which allows for success chances up to 300%. Values above 100%in that RPG don't represent increased probabilities of success, but increased probability of achieving a superior result. BRP is similar. Someone with a 100% skill rating and someone with a 200% rating are both virtually assured of a success, but the one with a 200% rating is more likely to achieve the better result, and win some sort of skill contest between the two characters.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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