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Degrees of Success (or Failure)


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So, in both 5th Edition and 6th Edition the statements are the same.

 

"When the GM asks you to make a Characteristic Roll (such as a DEX Roll to walk along a narrow beam), you roll 3d6 like normal. Th e more you make (or fail) the roll by, the greater your degree of success (or failure)."

 

"If the character rolls less than or equal to his Skill Roll, taking all modifiers into account, he has succeeded. The more he makes the roll by, the greater his degree of success."

 

Just how do you apply the concept of Degree of Success or Degree of Failure

What kinds of degrees do you use, as in how do you define a single degree or more? 

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18 minutes ago, dmjalund said:

Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's strictly pass/fail. Other times it's just narrative and up to the GM

 

True, that is what I think is the most common way.  The pass/fail option.

 

But I am curious on how other GM's handle it. 

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I just accidentally erased a more elaborate post.

 

Sometimes a narrative difference between describing how you barely make a Climb or do it easily.

 

Sometimes tangible. Gambling well means winning more money (and/or doing it more impressively if your intent is to impress). Combat driving is the difference between an unblemished car or a car full of so many dings and bullet holes so that you couldn't drive the car around town or put it into a regular body shop without attracting police attention.

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To give a concrete example....player has Analyze (Magic);  the GM allows the skill to apply to magical items.  The campaign rules might have differing levels of info depending on the degree of success:

 

--enhanced damage:  don't roll an 18

--elemental damage (or 'bane' damage...against a race or type of critter):  very easy (miss by 2 or less)

--fire damage (or dragonslayer):  make the roll

--how much?:  GM might consider this more subtle, so make by 2

--Ohhhh it does THAT????  (an undead bane weapon actually has Affects Desolid Undead, but it doesn't impact the damage):  make by 5

 

It's also plausible that there's, say, 3 clues.  Miss by 2, get 1;  make, get 2;  make by 2, get all 3.  

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14 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

To give a concrete example....player has Analyze (Magic);  the GM allows the skill to apply to magical items.  The campaign rules might have differing levels of info depending on the degree of success:

 

--enhanced damage:  don't roll an 18

--elemental damage (or 'bane' damage...against a race or type of critter):  very easy (miss by 2 or less)

--fire damage (or dragonslayer):  make the roll

--how much?:  GM might consider this more subtle, so make by 2

--Ohhhh it does THAT????  (an undead bane weapon actually has Affects Desolid Undead, but it doesn't impact the damage):  make by 5

 

It's also plausible that there's, say, 3 clues.  Miss by 2, get 1;  make, get 2;  make by 2, get all 3.  

 

That's why you spend a lot of extra time on your Analyze roll....

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It depends on what the roll is for.  

 

If it is an opposed roll then the better the roll the harder it is for the opposing roll to succeed.  So for an opposed roll this is already kind of built in and not a lot more needs to be done.

 

In combat using the critical hit rules pretty well takes care of it. Add in some fumbles on a bad roll to cover the opposite spectrum.

 

For some rolls the results are binary by the nature of the task.  When you are trying to disarm a bomb with demolitions you either succeed or fail.  Sure you could say that if you make it by more you do it quicker, but on that skill you are usually taking extra time if you can.  These type of tasks any degree of success is pretty much cosmetic. 

 

For tasks involving information like perception or knowledge skills the more you make the roll the more information you get.  Making your perception roll exactly will give you the basic information.  With a better roll you gain more details.  So if you make the perception roll exactly you notice someone is sneaking up on you.  If you make it by more you get more details.  
 

Task falling outside these categories are handled depending on the circumstance.   

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So you know, Hero System Skills covers some of this on Degrees of Success (15–16). It provides a variety of general options for additional effects due to a high degree of success as well as a critical success (a Skill Roll result of 3). Hero System Skills doesn't seem to cover Characteristic Rolls, though.

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I have also used degree of success to determine how long a task takes for skills that have a more nebulous time frame.  So for character using a Mechanic skill to repair a vehicle or a scholar doing research with a KS, or a gadgeteer using Electronics and some SS to invent a new gizmo, the more they make their roll by the faster they complete the task.  That said, I have also set the time it takes to complete such tasks with an eye toward pacing the plot or for dramatic purpose, so it depends on the situation.

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Lots of great stuff from others already.  I'll add one thing I've done a few times (not too often).

 

If the player has a great success (typically but not always a critical success), I've said that the character had such an epiphany doing the task that I've given them 2 bonus XP specifically to buy +1 with that skill.  This doesn't get awarded for things the character does a ton of (for instance, Stealth rolls by the Batman-type character), but for example the brick who happens to have Demolitions stepping up to defuse a bomb "because if I fail I'm more likely to survive the explosion."

 

Alternately, sticking with the bomb-defusing example, greater success might provide some useful information they'd otherwise need to tease out some other way.  "As you're defusing the bomb, you notice one component is fairly unique and there's only one company in this city that sells them..."

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Okay, I think it would be helpful to first off explain how I use skills. Several years ago I got introduced to a gumshoe game that used their investigative system. Because of that and how well it worked I have adopted it into most RPG’s that I play, specifically the investigative part.

 

In the Gumshoe System there are two types of skills investigative skills and general skills. Pretty much every RPG out there would have their skills categorized as general skills in Gumshoe because general skills are determined by die roles.  Investigative skills are automatically successful if you just use them. Investigative skills also have investigative points. Since an investigative skill automatically succeeds if you use it, there are multiple levels of information available. The automatic success gets you the first and easiest piece of information, and you can spend your investigative points to purchase more in-depth information. Of course, if no in-depth information is available you are not charged your spend.

 

The way I have adapted that to hero is that I said each skill has two components knowledge side and performance side. The performance side is handled pretty much as written, you to use a skill to do something and you roll the dice to see whether or not you succeed.

 

The knowledge side is handled a little different. If you have a skill and wish to apply it to gain clues within the game you can. Having the skill allows you to query using that skill and receive information no die roll required. This ability occurs if you have purchased any level of skill use. Beginning at Competent (11-) you gain one Epiphany Point.  At Very Skilled (14-) you gain another and for each +3 (17-, 20-, etc.) you gain another. Epiphany Points can be spent to learn additional information or to set up temporary informational support.

 

Here’s an example.

Your character has the skill forensics. Entering the room, he sees a body on the floor and wishes to see if he can determine cause of death. So, he tells the game master that he wishes to determine the cause of death using his forensic skill. Now since he isn’t actually performing an autopsy or physically cutting or hacking on something or actually doing something, he doesn’t have to actually roll the die he can gain readily apparent information by simply asking. The game master then tells him that due to apparent signs it looks like the individual died from asphyxiation. Now the player could stop at this point or if he had any Epiphany Points available, he could ask if there is more information. The GM could then tell them that there is a one point spend and a two point spend available. If the player decides to make the one point spend, he could then learn that it looks like the asphyxiation may have been caused by poison due to the residue and discoloration around the victim’s mouth. If he makes the two point spend, he would be told not only that it was probably due to poison but also, he would notice of organic matter. He could then recover a sample of the organic matter which could be later tested in an attempt to determine what it was which could lead to more clues.

 

This kind of application of the investigative concept to the skill system allows the game to flow and players to be able to make deductions and locate information in a more natural method. Since all PCs in the game are supposed to be larger-than-life with greater abilities than the normal person it only makes sense that they would be able to make basic deductions using their skills without having to make die roles. I personally wouldn’t be able to tell if my car’s brakes went out because they were sabotaged, but the highly skilled super techno man with his five skill levels and in vehicle mechanics would be able to spot the tampering fairly easy. Many people play characters that have skills in game that they most certainly do not in real life and I simply don’t see the concept of making people roll for everything.

 

The other thing that can be done with Epiphany Points (Investigative Points) is you can use them to buy other supporting things. For instance in games taking place in earlier eras there is usually a skill called Research. Let us say the adventures taking place in 1910 and your character is doing research to see if they can locate a cult. Epiphany points could be spent to make a connection between newspaper articles and classifieds if such a clue existed within the scenario. But the player could also spend an Epiphany Point to make a connection with the night librarian to be on the lookout for any newspaper articles that might pertain to the search. Sort of a limited contact but usually only good for that scenario. To establish a long-term relationship would be to require a full on Contact. In the same light a 1930's adventuring parties driver/mechanic could build rapport with the local auto racing clubs for information.

 

Then we come to skill roles.

 

For me simple pass fail on everything just doesn’t really work anymore. Too many games have demonstrated the value of degrees of success and failure. I have based my concept of success and failure on the old initial breakpoints that I became familiar with in hero.

8-, 11-, and 14- are the three initial breakpoints I remember from way back in the beginning of the game. So, what I have proposed for my degree of failure or degree of success chart is this.

 

Role succeeds by +6 and up = Exceptional Success

Role succeeds by +3 to +5 = Great Success

Roll just succeeds to +2 = Success

Roll just fails to -2 = Failure

Role fails by -3 to 5 = Worse Failure

Role fails by -6 and down = Extreme Failure.

 

I have used this basic formula for games where a worse failure or extreme failure can have other consequences besides simply failing. For instance, a thief is picking a lock, a simple failure means he didn’t pick the lock. A worse failure could mean that not only did he fail but he is jammed of the lock, where an extreme failure can mean not only did he fail to pick the lock but he broke his lock pick. Just some possible examples.

 

The reason why I posted this is I find it extremely easy to come up with the negative, things that went wrong with a worse failure or an extreme failure. But I find myself having issues coming up with positive benefits for having succeeded with a great or exceptional success. This is basically why I posted this thread I am really interested in what people think and how they would approach it.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

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I don't use it too much.  Honestly, the only time I've ever used it is because I screwed up and balanced things too far against the players and had to make adjustments on the fly.  Rather than doing a "gimme," which I don't like to do, as it can become habit-forming (for the players, I mean), I might check a die roll and come out with "well, you didn't hit him quite square, but the flat of your sword struck the side of his helm, forcing him to step back and jerk at his visor," or Crap.  He totally blew that roll, and they kinda _need_ to find that key.  Frankly, I didn't think they come in and shove the dresser up against the door, closing the half-open drawer that was meant to tempt them to look inside.  What's wrong with these guys?  Surely they aren't _that_ concerned about _one_ C'Thuloid......   Wait-- he's searching for the hidden panel with the exit.  Wow! Spectacular success, too!  "okay, you find that one panel behind the dresser does seem to wiggle a bit when pressed.  As you're working it, trying to figure out the latching mechanism, you see the corner of a piece of paper sticking out from behind the top of the panel.  Fishing it out, you see that it's a hand-written note; it must have fallen from the dresser when you jerked it towards the door.  It reads "I could wait no longer.  I have taken a coach to meet with the others.  Take this key; you will need it to access the crypt.  Look for the corner stone whose grain runs foul to its borders."

 

 

That sort of thing.   Short version:

 

It's a tool for me to unscrew the party when I did it myself, and not something I use publicly.  I have found that "every roll means _something_ good, and bad isn't always bad" tends to result in players giving the game their half.

 

 

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