Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Cold Dice and Flat Line Statistics

I've read a few articles about the good and the bad of d20 games, I've seen and heard the cries and  laments of their players, yet People still come back for more?

Cold Dice and Flat Line Statistics 

Roll yours stats, quick before they melt!
I'm not saying the idea of a Flat system with a chance at cold dice is a bad system, there is not enough evidence to say that definitively. Yet if the evidence continues to present itself, then what conclusion can I draw?

I read several forums of people discussing their games, the most common problem I see are two ends of the spectrum. My dice went cold, I hate this game.. to My Dice are Hot, WOOT, Love this game.

When did dice rolling become the reason to play? When did it ever stop? 

Statistically, The chance of rolling above a 16 on a d20 is 1/5, while decreasing to a 15 does increase your odds 20%, to a 1/4, if your attempting to break free of a hold-person spell, the chance of failing 3 times in a row is down to 42%, so almost 60/40.. but that's if the GM lets/makes you roll every round.

I know when I was a kid, I might have asked for a stealth roll every combat round, or a climb roll every 10 feet of rope, But as I matured, I don't even ask for a basic roll, unless there is a reason why a roll is suddenly needed.. 

If I attempt to climb down a rope, in real life, I know I have some basic chance at climbing down a rope, so if I do things carefully, I'll do it. If I'd never climbed down a rope, well, ok, different story, and if I go to climb down the rope and suddenly there is a reason I need to climb down fast, then I might slip, so again different story.

So it should be for game rolls, unless the character has no skill, no fall back stat of at least 60+%, then why roll, just say, ok, it takes longer or short, but you're safe, you do it.

If you don't, if you obey the dice and not the logic, you get strange scenarios, For me this spoils the game, fights break out over the bad ones, so you have to 'bend the rules' to save your game, but vice versa, if the strange scenario is funny, or allows your heroes to do some bad-ass awesome yet bu*****t moves, then that's supposed to be fun, so leave that in?

Cases in Point:

I saw a guy, in a game, his character perched on the roof, ready to fire an arrow, he crit fumbled (not a thing, except everyone does it) so instead of firing the arrow, the bow hits him in the head, he rolls for balance, crit fumbles again, so not only does he fall, he catches his buttons on the gutter, slicing open his jacket effectively reducing his armour by a few points, now falling to the ground, he tries to grab at a rope (washing line?) and crit fumbles a third time, the rope rips from the wall, bringing down bricks and plaster, compounding the damage, he dies as he hits the ground from 3 floors up and large parts of the building crush him. 
Haha, the text, it sums it up so nicely..

...from shooting an arrow..

I mean, what are the odds? 

Except we know.. 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20.. so this means that typically, with a DEX of 13 (they are archers, who makes an archer with a dex less than 13) out of 8000 archers on rooves, 400 will crit the target!..4800 will hit the target, 2400 will miss and 400 will accidentally strike themselves in the head, causing them to fall from the roof, 260 of them will catch the roof edge and live while 120 will plummet over, and 20 more will half rip off their own armour and plummet to their deaths.. of them 13 of them will grab at the rope and catch it, 6 of them will miss and hit the ground, maybe death occurs, and that 1 guy, pulls the wall on-top of him, 100% death.

8000:1, and yet, snipers around the world, performing missions, practice tasks, war-games, the real odds of such ridiculousness would be on par with winning the lottery.

The Player, also a GM, took it in stride, thats the game. Well done to him, yet 80% of players would call shenanigans, argues the stupidity of it all and probably -redact- the scenario to something else..

Yet Counter Point: Different Game, similar system, Same player, Aims his Arrow down a corridor, hopes to bounce the arrow off the ground at speed to enable it to achieve x2 distance in order to hit the BBG at the end of the corridor, 500 feet away, He NEEDS a modified 20 make the first bounce, and the second roll to make a hit, (with mods, needs a 17+) Yet rolls a 20, GM announces the arrow bounces off the teeth of a nearby statue, the to hit roll is also a 20, not only does it bounce a second time to attain distance, it maintains its speed enough for full damage, last roll, again, a 20, critical, through the eye socket of the bad guy, killing him, and taking out his chance at escaping and returning in subsequent adventure, players shout with Joy, .. Whoa Whoa.. can the GM call shenanigans? Nope.. its done.. Game Over Man, Game Over...

The "Problem" is, that this is a game, and you WANT fun, exciting, amazing things to happen to your characters, Yet, when the same math, the same odds, KILLS the characters.. they cry foul..

My dice went cold, I hate this game.. to My Dice are Hot, WOOT, Love this game.

If you develop a game with more realistic odds (I did) You also take away the upper chance of that awesome moment, If you include some special mechanic for the awesome (I also did), you by definition add in a special death mechanic. You can't have it without, because players soon realise they can't die, and become bored with the game (I've seen that one played out a few times) or the GM does..

So how to include the awesome death, awesome kills? 
That's the million dollar question. Only recently I tried something new.. and so far, play testing suggests this might work.. more news to come...

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