Roleplaying Uncertainty

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Glorelendil
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:19 am

cuthalion wrote: One big issue here--not really sure this is the way the rules work? Normally repeated tries are not allowed. Forget in the rules where it says this, but it's pretty explicit. So, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the theme of what you're proposing, but I'm not sure you're characterizing the current system accurately.

I think, RAW, if someone fails a roll, the characters are left not knowing about the mushrooms (nothing is there to stop them from trying them anyway). If someone succeeds, they might know various levels of information about the mushrooms, thanks to degrees of success. An ordinary success might let players know they aren't poisonous, but a great success might also suggest that the character knows proper preparation is key to avoiding stomach aches all round.

Additionally, if somebody fails, that's it, there shouldn't be more attempts, except for specific circumstances. The players will be left, in fact, not knowing.
Oh, hrrmm. Is that the case? I'll admit that sometimes (too often) I turn out to be mistaken about nuance in the rules. But I don't recall anything to that effect in TOR.
Per RAW, the dice emulate everything that goes into making that decision, the circumstances, the character's life/background, etc. We are consulting the oracle, as it were, to see how the character acts/reacts. We're not actually needed, as players, to make decisions at that level for our characters.

I know you know all this, but thought it bore reiterating. I still think what you're suggesting is smart.
Yes, I agree that's how systems are intended. (And, no, you were not being pedantic in pointing it out. Pedantry is usually in the presentation, not the content.)

And I think you understand that my complaint is that RAW, in this game and many others, eliminates the possibility of what could be interesting and more immersive experience.
If I understand you right, you're saying that for circumstances where uncertainty is to be emphasized, we can use this new mechanic to zoom in on and simulate that uncertainty in more detail, much like we do for journeys or combat, and there I'm totally with you.
Well, it's not just about expanding the detail, it's about introducing some tense decision-making. In all honesty where I started from was trying to find a way to cause players whose characters are lost underground to actually start bickering with each other, the way their characters probably would be. But once I started circling around a solution I realized it potentially addressed a whole category of paradoxes in RPGs that has always bugged me. E.g., using Perception/Insight as a lie detector.
I like the mechanic you propose, I'm not totally sure which die/combo of dice is best, as stats aren't my strong suit. Personally, I don't much like rolling a feat die and interpreting a chart. I think I like the use of success die more. Rolling one per level of success seems most in line with the theme/existing rules for me, and it's a novel mechanic, which doesn't hurt. The odds there look a bit too tight tho--how do you make a extraordinary success much more reliable, as compared to an ordinary?
Well, rolling a success die for each success, and getting a wrong answer if all of those dice come up as 1, is one way of doing that. My concern with that method is that with a great success the odds of a 'false positive' are already way too small. I don't mind an extraordinary success being 'effectively sure', but for this to work I think even a great success should involve some doubt.
Lastly, the only other thought I have is on the multiple participants. Again, I wouldn't say multiple people participating raising the TN as you describe it fits the RAW. My suggestion would be to have the effects of multiple participants adjust the Uncertainty die/ce, not the action roll. That can still produce the kind of group uncertainty/conflicts you're going for, and also then eliminates Deadmanwalking's issue with the TNs. Not sure if it gets around the hope spending issue.
Oh...that's interesting. Mathematically it may work out, although I think I have the same problem with it that you and DMW have with the TN. I'm ok raising the TN because it's a decision by the LM before the players even know there's a skill test, and there are lots of other reasons why the TN might be higher, whereas adjusting the modifier seems to be more causal: "because somebody else is doing this, my odds are worse."

Again, this all works just fine if the TNs aren't altered at all. It will just be harder for individuals and easier for groups. Which perhaps is what it should be, anyway.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Would be interested to see some played out examples of this working out. I might try some myself if something appropriate comes up.
I literally thought of this last night, so you may very well playtest it before I do. Let me know...
*P.s. One last thought--maybe traits could be invoked when rolling Uncertainy die to somehow affect the results. This would seem to make thematic/logical sense, that a character with a relevant trait is less likely to choose the wrong option.
Hmmm. That's...logical. And yet it doesn't fall into the three categories of using traits. One could equally say that in general traits should make it more likely that you succeed at any common skill (perhaps reducing the TN) and it would make sense. But that's very intentionally not how traits work.

But maybe there's an interesting application of traits in here somewhere...

P.S. I keep thinking about DMW's assertion that spending a point of Hope could actually make things worse, by which I think he means that without spending Hope you have a 50/50 chance, and with spending Hope you might end up being biased toward an incorrect choice, which seems worse than having a 50/50 chance. This is actually kind of a subtle logic riddle, but I think the fallacy is in giving the uninformed choice 50/50 odds and then comparing it to a single possible outcome of the informed choice. Yes, in some cases you might have been better off not spending Hope, but averaged over all cases it's an improvement. Nevertheless, I still kind of like the idea of applying a positive modifier to the secret roll, just because it creates that incentive to spend Hope even when you've already succeeded. (Which is kind of like the "magical result" effect of Wondrous Artefacts.)
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zedturtle
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by zedturtle » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:47 am

This is going to be in semi-random order, and somewhat rapid fire, so I apologize in advance...

1) I'm very leery about the idea of spending Hope unnecessarily, simply because it degrades the value of the resource. Every Hope point is precious and you're even less likely to spend it if you know that it might not help you.

2) I'd strongly prefer that the hard choices occur in the game... in other words, skills might be able to tell you something about the nature of the hard choice, but the hard choice exists in the situation and not the skill rolls. For example, if the choice is "Saved the captured villager, or warn the village about the impending orc attack" then skill checks might reveal more about the captured villager or the impending attack, but they don't remove the burden of making the choice between the two. (Of course, a LM can make a nudge a certain way... players might make different choices if the captured village was a young child versus an elder nigh to their deathbed.)

3) Admittedly, I'm a pretty terrible player. But when I do play, I already experience a ton of uncertainty, just because my vision and understanding of the gameworld is incomplete. And that existing uncertainty can lead to stalling and a fear of making the wrong choice. Increasing uncertainty makes more likely to give into analysis paralysis, and I'd worry about that.
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cuthalion
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by cuthalion » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:03 am

REPEATING AN ACTION
A die roll made to resolve a normal action doesn’t necessarily indicate a single act, but possibly a series of efforts (for example, an attack roll doesn’t generally simulate a single sword swing). When a player succeeds or fails at a roll he has just resolved his hero’s best attempt at doing something.

In other words, players are not allowed to repeat a die roll aimed to resolve the same action.

This is one of the reasons why choosing whether or not to spend a Hope point on an action attempt is such a critical one: the acting player is not going to get a second chance.
p. 148

Somewhat open to interpretation where other players are concerned, but my feeling is that when you take it with what's said above in task resolution about 'definite consequences' for failure, and that fact that multiple people participating on a task/repeating a task is explicitly allowed in the Prolonged Task section, I read it that multiple attempts aren't fair game.
Glorelendil wrote:Well, rolling a success die for each success, and getting a wrong answer if all of those dice come up as 1, is one way of doing that. My concern with that method is that with a great success the odds of a 'false positive' are already way too small. I don't mind an extraordinary success being 'effectively sure', but for this to work I think even a great success should involve some doubt.
Agreed. Maybe the feat die is the way to go. Then it can be thoroughly modified depending on successes and, where appropriate, Gandalf runes and EoSs can be triggering rolls.
Glorelendil wrote:Oh...that's interesting. Mathematically it may work out, although I think I have the same problem with it that you and DMW have with the TN. I'm ok raising the TN because it's a decision by the LM before the players even know there's a skill test, and there are lots of other reasons why the TN might be higher, whereas adjusting the modifier seems to be more causal: "because somebody else is doing this, my odds are worse."

Again, this all works just fine if the TNs aren't altered at all. It will just be harder for individuals and easier for groups. Which perhaps is what it should be, anyway.
Yeh, perhaps you just leave it to the LM to aid/mess with the players relative to their levels of success. Even with two successful rolls by two players, telling each something slightly different could be enough to generate an interesting problem. The issue here is that you're back to the handling of this being on the LM, not the dice, which is I thought what you wanted to avoid.

My thought is that what's needed is an Uncertainty roll that can be modified by: level of success from the task roll, number of players participating (could be good or bad, depending), and trait invocation*.

I have some thoughts, but will have to wait for now.

*I think this is relevant only under the "reducing the difficulty of the task" usage of traits, but it's clearly just an interpretation.

Glorelendil
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:07 am

cuthalion wrote: If someone succeeds, they might know various levels of information about the mushrooms, thanks to degrees of success. An ordinary success might let players know they aren't poisonous, but a great success might also suggest that the character knows proper preparation is key to avoiding stomach aches all round.
Actually, I meant to respond to this in more detail. (And maybe this is also a response to zedturtle.)

I completely agree that coming up with three levels of success, none of which absolutely give away the answer, is the ideal solution. And that's...actually quite hard.

Let's say we're trying to determine if somebody is lying. So we roll Insight and get a Great Success. Unless the LM has already planned out three levels of success he's going to have to improvise. And it has to be different from the last time this happened. So he says, "Um...you notice that he's sweating." There are now at least two possibilities:

1) If you're used to the LM saying "You can't tell" on a failure, this "hint" may as well mean "Yes, he's lying." Boring.

2) Maybe at your table this could be either the hint you got for succeeding, or the misdirection you got for failing. But if that's the case, how are you possibly supposed to interpret the probability of it being one or the other? What would the hint have been on a normal success? Basically you're still at 50/50, which is where you would have been if you hadn't rolled. And that's on a great success!

So maybe the LM needs to be even more obvious (or maybe you just know your LM really well and so you know this means, "Yes, he's lying.") But it actually becomes really, really (really really really) hard to convey just the right amount of certainty to accurately reflect a great success. It's an awfully fine line between too vague to be useful and too obvious to be interesting.

For my part I'd rather outsource my bad improv acting to the dice. The beauty of that is that I can still do the bad acting to narrate the dice, but my players won't try to read too much in it. I can tell them about the sweat, and they can do the math: "Let's see, Great Success, so 5/6 he's lying, 1/6 he's telling the truth and sweating for some other reason."
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cuthalion
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by cuthalion » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:40 am

Yeh, I totally agree with this. And can relate.

To use a logic of extremes tho, you couldn't possibly roll an Uncertainty die for every action in the game. So, for me, the take away is, some of the idea of the difficulty of decision-making etc. is hard baked into the rules (and the act of RP'ing, as zed says), and I shouldn't sweat every roll, but, with a mini-ruleset like the one you're proposing, if I want to spontaneously introduce/roll with some uncertainty (or plan out/make more of a crossroads while keeping cards closer to chest), I can do so without it being forced/cliched/obvious, etc.

Long story short, from my perspective, the idea doesn't need defending.

P.p.s. Needless to say, the smoking trait obviously ought to play in here if at all possible.

Glorelendil
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:49 am

cuthalion wrote: P.p.s. Needless to say, the smoking trait obviously ought to play in here if at all possible.
Well that goes without saying.
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Terisonen
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by Terisonen » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:41 pm

There is an answer for that: let the player roll the die behind screen, take a photo (with a smartphone, or a camera), tell the player what he has to know , and if he use a hope point then he pass a threshold. When resolving the case later, show him the photo.
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zedturtle
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by zedturtle » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:21 pm

Okay, I think I have a little more clarity on this... you want there to be such a thing as an Uncertain Situation (actual rules chunk, reference the three-way split in Moria for the quote, etc ). Is that correct? I was objecting to the idea that all skill resolutions have to be non-binary, which was throwing me for a loop ("you're not certain whether or not you've managed to climb the cliff, but it seems to you right now that you're standing on the summit").

With that in mind, I've often done the "basic success gets one true thing and two lies; great gets two true things and one line and extraordinary gets three true things". I think that's a reasonable way to introduce uncertainity without tripping players up too much.
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Glorelendil
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Re: Roleplaying Uncertainty

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:11 pm

zedturtle wrote:Okay, I think I have a little more clarity on this... you want there to be such a thing as an Uncertain Situation (actual rules chunk, reference the three-way split in Moria for the quote, etc ). Is that correct? I was objecting to the idea that all skill resolutions have to be non-binary, which was throwing me for a loop ("you're not certain whether or not you've managed to climb the cliff, but it seems to you right now that you're standing on the summit").
Oh, yes, absolutely. Only in some situations, such as the examples I gave in the OP.
With that in mind, I've often done the "basic success gets one true thing and two lies; great gets two true things and one line and extraordinary gets three true things". I think that's a reasonable way to introduce uncertainity without tripping players up too much.
Yeah, I think that's a great option when you've got those things prepared, although as I noted it can be very easy to inadvertently give away too much or too little. Basically this proposal is an attempt to abstract that approach into pure math. (Kind of like the way you can run Hazards without adding any fluff, if you so choose. "Make a Hunting roll to avoid 2 Shadow.")
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