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Difficulty: Multipliers vs Flat Adjustments?


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So, in the BRP Quickstart rules, on page 18, they list a bunch of difficulties, which act as multipliers on the skill.

In Legend on page 39, they list a bunch of difficulties, which act as flat bonuses or penalties on the skill.


I'm sure some of you prefer one approach, and others prefer the other approach. So!


Personally, +/- to the skill makes the most sense to me, in that it becomes easier to reach the point where you will always succeed on a particular task using a skill (short of a botch) because it's now so easy for you. It also makes sense to me because I can think of the difficulty modifier as a skill DC/task difficulty the same way I would in D&D or NWOD, where I am reducing your odds of success by a flat amount (okay in NWOD it's a little less reliable because dice pool statistics). Thus far I have only played the mongoose way, however.


Discuss: Which do you prefer, and why? How do both of them work out in play?

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I'm actually working on an Alchemy supplement right now, that's actualy for Magic World, but I went with skill penalties for more advanced operations.

Reasoning: while I do like the "difficult /normal/easy" methods for skill checks and it does work wonderfully most of the time, I found it to be too narrow in scope for what I wanted to achieve.

Example: making a potion calls for a "normal " skill roll while making an Elixir of Life calls for a skill roll with a -50% penalty. This way, lower skilled alchemists might have a very difficult time making the elixir but more skilled alchemists won't be as penalized as making a difficult skill roll might have been.

This way I didn't necessarily have to limit success for individual creations by a certain skill number.

Ie: the Alchemist MUST have 90% in Potions skill to learn the process.

It may seem like it's not that much different but play testing showed more successes this way and a PROFICIENT alchemist should have more successes than failures.

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I really like the 1/2, 1/1 and x2 multipliers of BRP. Quick and easy. 

I use flat adjustments as well in certain circumstanses, but those three difficulty levels cover most.


I am not a huge fan of RQ6's +/- 1/3 of skill. I use it, but I still have to stop for a second and run the numbers in my head. 

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Interesting. Why do you think you would prefer the multipliers?

I'm a heretic in that my preference is for modifying the die result instead of the skill rating. I prefer to only have to pay attention to a single variable (the modified die result) instead of two (the modified skill rating and the skill result). Adding flat modfiers to the die roll in case of hard tasks would make critical and special successes unachievable.

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I prefer adding and subtracting penalties to straight multiples, so I tend to use Legend's system.


For a PC with a 100% skill, the difference between Easy and Difficult is huge, compared to someone with 20% skill. I just think that the swing is just too great.

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


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Discuss: Which do you prefer, and why? How do both of them work out in play?



Seriously! Broad difficulty I do by the BRP system (albeit, I was using it as a house rule in Elric! games in the mid-90's and may have got the idea from a a Cthulhu game even earlier...) and then smaller sacle effects I use additions and subtractions.


It's always made more sense to me to have both.





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