Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thoughts About Non-ordinary Task Resolution

I was reading an article this morning in Dragon Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 titled How to Use Non-prime-requisite Character Attributes by Wesley D. Ives (page 7). The article is really quite a fascinating glimpse into the game and the development of class non-specific skills.
. . . Whenever a player performs a non-ordinary task, or attempts to do so, the referee is usually in a quandary — how to determine fairly whether the character can perform the attempted action? Normally, the referee gives consideration to the player’s attributes and then more or less ‘wings it,’ attempting to be fair — usually giving the player a percentage chance of success. A more standardized system is needed and the following guidelines should help considerably.


1) Generate a number from 1-100, and consult the table below

01-20                         (always add the                Four-sided
21-40                          score in question              Six-sided
41-60                          to the 1-100 number        Eight-sided
61-80                         achieved)                          Ten-sided
81-100                                                                Twelve-sided

2) Using the type die called for, generate a number, and multiply this number by the amount of the attribute being tested. THIS NUMBER IS THE PERCENT CHANCE OF SUCCESS.

EXAMPLE.: Consider Grod the fighter. His scores are STR-17; INT-9; WIS-5; CON-14; DEX-14; CHAR-12 Grod’s party has been attacked by a pair of bugbears. Grod wants three of his minions to hold off the Bugbears while Grod rolls away the boulder blocking the exit to the dungeon. So — will the minions fight?

DIE ROLL — 42 added to Grod’s Charisma (12) = 54. So Grod rolls an eight-sided die, scoring a seven. Therefore, there is a 7 x 12 (the score times Grod’s Charisma) or 84% chance that the minions will fight . . . (Ives pg 7)
For a system that is supposed to simplify the referee's life by providing a framework for determining all those pesky questions that arise when players go outside the defined rules this is surely the most complicated method I have read. The formula for this method actually reads as follows: 1d100 + ability score = die determination on the chart = appropriate die * ability score = percentage chance of success; which then requires the player to roll at, or under, that percentage number in order to succeed at the task in question.

The rule is very complicated and requires the player to make three rolls to determine the successfulness or failure of each part of the task and in the provided example (which I cut short) this results in six die rolls to determine two questions (will the minions fight; will Grod be able to make the boulder roll). That is a huge slow down in the play of the game and would most assuredly break the momentum of a good session by use of this bad rule.

It seems to me that Mr. Ives would have been better served by simply having the player roll a d20 against his ability score. If you roll at or lower than your score you have succeeded, above and you have failed. This would provide a quicker formula with less die rolls involved than the one proposed.

Still though, it does have a charm that makes me want to use it . . .

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