Friday, March 29, 2019

In the interests of failure


Been a bit. No promises of a regular return, mind you.

In what little time I've had for such pursuits I've been on a tour, so to speak, of various nooks and crannies withing the gaming blagosphere, taking note of little knick knacks that might look good on a shelf of rules.

One of which is the climbing system that eventually ended up in Veins of the Earth; the precursor to which is found here: http://falsemachine.blogspot.com/2014/03/climbing-full-system-first-draft.html

What's interesting there, aside from clarifying what it means to climb beyond some thief skill that's usually not worth checking, is the failure modes.

They key off stat checks, and this the only mechanic I've seen that uses stat checks that I actually like. Each statistic is themed in itself, and I'd posit that the order you check in is important.

 I'd deduce that (and yes this next bit is obvious):


  • Constitution - acts here as the "primary attribute" for climbing, and a failure here sets you up for a cascade of failures.
  • Strength - an obvious failure mode for climbing.
  • Dexterity - a failure of movement
  • Intelligence - a failure of planning
  • Wisdom - a failure of judgement
  • Charisma - a failure of personality, or morale.

I think the general concept is applicable to failures in general; perhaps making failures interesting without relying on the Judge to make stuff up on the fly.

So, maybe something like:


Open Locks
WisdomAll failures cumulative
DexterityYour tools break.
IntelligenceA tool slips; there's a loud *clink*. Anything on the other side of the door is alerted.
CharismaFrustration overcomes you. Take a -1 penalty to further checks today.

One might argue that Dexterity would be the "primary attribute" for opening locks; I'd retort that judgement and patience are just as important. We then move DEX to the "obvious failure", and assume that thieves will usually make that check, as DEX is their prime stat.

As Open Locks isn't a terribly physically demanding task, we drop both CON and STR, leaving INT and CHA - we slot INT in as a "general fuckup", and then CHA as a sort of "ragequit" on the task.

We all know the coworker who's overreacting to every slight failure; and we don't like them. That's applied CHA, to me at least.

It's likely, however, that there's too much failure here - you're almost guaranteed something "interesting", and maybe that's boring. Climb, sure, yea - you fail a climb check you fall, and Patrick's system above at least has gradients based on the difficulty of the climb.

It'd be easy enough to gatekeep the interesting failures like so:


Open Locks
SurpriseContinue on table if surprised.
WisdomAll failures cumulative
DexterityYour tools break.
IntelligenceA tool slips; there's a loud *clink*. Anything on the other side of the door is alerted.
CharismaFrustration overcomes you. Take a -1 penalty to further checks today.

and there you go. If the PC is surprised they failed, then shit goes south. Easy-peasy.


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