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# net.rpg.freeform: Post 2 of 2

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### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 17, 1992, 9:29:38â€¯AM11/17/92
to
(Continued from previous post:)

3. Game Mechanic:

I propose that the seven-tiered quality range be converted to numbers for
resolution. This means:

Terrible = 1
Inferior = 2
Poor = 3
Average = 4
Good = 5
Superior = 6
Excellent = 7

We now need to look at what percentage of the population fits into each
of these categories. I would like a range where about 1/3 of the
population is Average, 1/3 below, and 1/3 above. (Other ranges are
possible, counter proposals are welcome!)

The easiest mechanic I have come up with that reflects this range is the
following:

Take a deck of cards. Remove all cards except for:

1 Ace
2 Twos
4 Threes
4 Fours
4 Fives
4 Sixes
2 Sevens
1 Face Card (or joker. "Hearts" players will choose the Queen of Spades.)

All players and the GM should have their own deck of these 22 cards.

For any action that is not automatic, the deck should be shuffled, and a
card either cut or drawn. The number drawn must be less than or equal to
the quality in question in order for the action to succeed. The Face
Card means automatic, and possibly catastrophic, failure.

The percentage chances of actions succeeding based on quality levels are:

Terrible = 1 = 4.5% (That is, someone Terrible at something only
Inferior = 2 = 13.6% succeeds 4.5% of the times he tries it, etc.)
Poor = 3 = 31.8%
Average = 4 = 50.0%
Good = 5 = 68.2%
Superior = 6 = 86.4%
Excellent = 7 = 95.5%

(Automatic Failure = 4.5%)

A modifier can be applied to quality used: +/-1 is pretty extreme in this
simple system, though, so +/-2 should be the limit, and rarely used at
that.

In general, the lower the draw, the better the result of the action.

Sometimes there is a contest of qualities. This is the case for combat,
for example, or an attempt to seduce someone. In this case, each
participant draws a card and determines how much they made - or lost -
the quality by. For example, an NPC of Average swordsmanship is up
against a Superior PC swordsman. The GM draws a 2 for the NPC, meaning
she made it by 2. The PC draws a 4, meaning he also made it by 2 - the
round is a stand-off.

Note that the range above is for human statistics. Super humans, some
aliens, animals, etc., will have some qualities (such as Strength) beyond
the normal human range. Having skills beyond Excellent is also possible,
but not as likely. In these cases, simply assign a number to represent
the quality. If a character really wants to try a tug of war with an
elephant, for example, give the elephant a Strength of 100 and draw cards
for a contest of qualities.

(Needed: a way to determine weapon damage simply and easily. I'm working
on it; suggestions welcome.)

4. Supernormal Powers:

Supernormal Powers are the exception to the rule about each undefined
quality being Average. Each undefined Power is, instead, non-existent.
If the GM is allowing Powers, then each level must be bought separately.
For example, to get the Superpower Flight (or the magic spell Flight, or
the psionic ability to Levitate) at Terrible level, the player must
reduce another quality by one level. To get it at Average, he must
reduce two more levels of other qualities.

The GM needs to design the type, number allowed, maximum levels and
disadvantages of Powers in her game. Some examples are given below:

Type of Powers: the GM may allow only magic, or only psi, or only
superpowers, or whatever, or some combinations of the above. In
addition, she needs to decide if magic is subdivided into each Power
representing a spell, or group of spells (such as elemental magic) or
simply the ability to break the laws of nature in any way that can be
imagined.

Number of Powers allowed: the GM may not have any limit, or may decide
that each character may have only one Power, or anything in between.

Maximum Level: the GM may decide that Powers may not begin the game
higher than Average, for example, or there may be no limit.

Disadvantages of Powers: Using a Power might have no disadvantage, or it
might be physically or mentally taxing, or time consuming, or risky to
the character, or be limited to a certain number of uses per day, etc.

(This section needs to be expanded - I'm working on it; suggestions
welcome.)

5. Character growth:

When the player feels the character has accomplished enough to warrant
improving in some quality, he petitions the GM for permission to raise
it. Likewise, the GM can simply award an improvement in a quality she
feels deserves to be raised. In these cases, there is no corresponding
reduction of another quality - this is character development, not
creation.

--
- Steffan O'Sullivan s...@oz.plymouth.edu

### X Visser

Nov 17, 1992, 5:26:30â€¯PM11/17/92
to
Hmmm...

I read SOS's, and am somewhat confused. I mean, why not simplify?

Traits are (I'd use 3 of 'em, but use more if you like) rated from 1-6.
the degree of success (DOS) is equal to the amount on the die when a
success is rolled. Thus, in a contest, If Ed and Joe have 4s, and they roll
1 and 4, respectively, Joe wins.

Damage is x(DS). Apply as a penalty to assets, or simply from Strength/Con/End
as hp loss. Parries reduce attacking DS by their own DS, so you can reduce the
effects of a hit without completely blocking it.

Award, say (for 3 traits), 10 points to divide. Skill points are equal to
(two lowest traits). Cost of skills is:

[(2Skill Level)/(Trait+3)]^0.5, rounded to the tenth (publish a table for
exponetiaphobes).

For super-powers, start with more points for traits, and allow powers to be
bought, at levels, from them. So, in a super-hero game, start with, say, 16
points, and make speed:4, or somethiong cost a certain amount of points?

-H

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 17, 1992, 8:29:24â€¯PM11/17/92
to
r...@stein.u.washington.edu (X Visser) writes:
>
>I read SOS's, and am somewhat confused. I mean, why not simplify?

>Traits are (I'd use 3 of 'em, but use more if you like) rated from 1-6.

The reason I went 1 to 7 is because I like an Average stat. I also
like the idea that you can use words to instantly identify where
someone is in the spectrum. Everyone can relate to: "Is he better than
average?" If the answer is yes, then is he merely Good, or even
Superior to that, or one of the elite Excellent few? Too many more
distinctions than that and you lose the simplicity; any fewer and it's
too grainy.

You lose me right there - I hate straight progression systems. I'm
firmly in the bell-curve camp, sorry.

>the degree of success (DOS) is equal to the amount on the die when a
>success is rolled. Thus, in a contest, If Ed and Joe have 4s, and they roll
>1 and 4, respectively, Joe wins.

This is what I have, except using a bell curve.

>Damage is x(DS). Apply as a penalty to assets, or simply from Strength/Con/End
>as hp loss. Parries reduce attacking DS by their own DS, so you can reduce the
>effects of a hit without completely blocking it.

I'll think on this, thanks.

>Award, say (for 3 traits), 10 points to divide. Skill points are equal to
>(two lowest traits). Cost of skills is:
>
>[(2Skill Level)/(Trait+3)]^0.5, rounded to the tenth (publish a table for
>exponetiaphobes).

And you say mine is complex? To me, mine is much simpler than this.
Different outlooks on life, I guess. "We don't need no stinking
points," is my battle cry for character creation!

>For super-powers, start with more points for traits, and allow powers to be
>bought, at levels, from them. So, in a super-hero game, start with, say, 16
>points, and make speed:4, or somethiong cost a certain amount of points?

I don't want points, so I can't use this, but thanks for replying!

### mil...@wharton.upenn.edu

Nov 17, 1992, 10:28:36â€¯PM11/17/92
to
In article <1992Nov17.1...@oz.plymouth.edu>, s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:
> The easiest mechanic I have come up with that reflects this range is the
> following:
>
> Take a deck of cards. Remove all cards except for:
>
> 1 Ace
> 2 Twos
> 4 Threes
> 4 Fours
> 4 Fives
> 4 Sixes
> 2 Sevens
> 1 Face Card (or joker. "Hearts" players will choose the Queen of Spades.)

You're doing this to get a bell curve, but it seems to me that a bell
curve isn't as important as a modal probability distribution. If you're
going to use cards anyway, why not simplify a little more, and get rid
of the bell curve for a more natural (with cards) modal curve?

Mix two decks of cards together. Every player draws a certain number of
cards for their hand. The worst initiative goes first. Pip cards are
counted by the pips on their faces. Face cards are worth ten and allow a
second card to be played on top of them. Aces count as face cards if
desired, or they can be played for one point and allow the player to
discard the rest of the hand and refill. When your hand is empty you
can't play any more cards, but before you start your next action you can
refill it from the deck.

To figure out skills add ability score to the card points. This works
for opposed skills too, no need to subtract. Just add and compare. You
might need to stretch out the 1-7 point scale since this scale is wider,
but it depends on how important you think luck should be.

--
whoah,
+++++++++++++++++++++++23
Loren Miller internet: MIL...@wharton.upenn.edu
Mediocrity is a hand rail. -- Baron de Montesquieu

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 18, 1992, 8:25:34â€¯AM11/18/92
to
mil...@wharton.upenn.edu writes:
>
>You're doing this to get a bell curve, but it seems to me that a bell
>curve isn't as important as a modal probability distribution. If you're
>going to use cards anyway, why not simplify a little more, and get rid
>of the bell curve for a more natural (with cards) modal curve?

Welcome, Loren! However, you've lost me here. Since this is r.g.design,
and math is essential to many game designs, please expand on what you
mean by a modal curve. This term is not in my vocabulary.

While it's true that I'm fond of a bell curve, note that I didn't use a
really classic one, such as a 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 distribution. This is
because I like the curve to be flatter near the middle.

>Mix two decks of cards together. Every player draws a certain number of
>cards for their hand. The worst initiative goes first.

I take it initiative is just another quality, right? So if a character
didn't define it, it's Average, right?

>Pip cards are
>counted by the pips on their faces. Face cards are worth ten and allow a
>second card to be played on top of them. Aces count as face cards if
>desired, or they can be played for one point and allow the player to
>discard the rest of the hand and refill. When your hand is empty you
>can't play any more cards, but before you start your next action you can
>refill it from the deck.

Do you mean for one side to play one card, then the other side plays
one card (or two if playing a face card), and that's the end of the
round? Or does the round continue until someone can't play anymore?
BTW, this makes face cards VERY potent, and there are a lot of them! I
fear this would devalue combat skill too much. Could someone play a
face card, and then as a second card, another face card, which would
allow yet another card to be played? Yikes! That gets into very high
numbers quickly, which makes the skill level less important.

>To figure out skills add ability score to the card points. This works
>for opposed skills too, no need to subtract. Just add and compare. You
>might need to stretch out the 1-7 point scale since this scale is wider,
>but it depends on how important you think luck should be.

the random result generated. Although many games use this - even some
wargames - this seems to more luck dependent than skill dependent to
me. I'll try to analyze the math on this, but if anyone else can do it
quickly and easily, please do so! I haven't had a math class in ovre
20 years . . .

### Loren Miller

Nov 18, 1992, 10:12:32â€¯AM11/18/92
to
In article <1992Nov18....@oz.plymouth.edu> s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:
>mil...@wharton.upenn.edu writes:
>>You're doing this to get a bell curve, but it seems to me that a bell
>>curve isn't as important as a modal probability distribution. If you're
>>going to use cards anyway, why not simplify a little more, and get rid
>>of the bell curve for a more natural (with cards) modal curve?
>Welcome, Loren! However, you've lost me here. Since this is r.g.design,
>and math is essential to many game designs, please expand on what you
>mean by a modal curve. This term is not in my vocabulary.

The mode is the most common value in a distribution. In a 3d6 distribution
10 and 11 are the most common values, and they are equally likely, so they
are the mode. A modal distribution is simply a distribution that has some
values that are more likely than others.

>Do you mean for one side to play one card, then the other side plays
>one card (or two if playing a face card), and that's the end of the
>round?

Yep. If you allow face cards to be played on top of face cards then it might
go longer, with bidding on results if you want to add more tactics to the
thing. Heck you could use a doubling cube if you wanted to keep track of
results.

> Or does the round continue until someone can't play anymore?
>BTW, this makes face cards VERY potent, and there are a lot of them! I
>fear this would devalue combat skill too much. Could someone play a
>face card, and then as a second card, another face card, which would
>allow yet another card to be played? Yikes! That gets into very high
>numbers quickly, which makes the skill level less important.

You could have a two card limit if you wanted. The more important thing is
if you play out all the cards in your hand you're out. You can't get more
until your next action. If someone attacks you in the meantime you're in
trouble. This means you don't always want to play out all the cards in your
hand.

I have another idea that might not make such big values as the face card
rule above.

Each player plays single cards, or can play a meld. Melds would include
two or more of a number, or a straight (3 minimum), or a straight flush
(3 card minimum). 2 of a kind (or 3 or 4 etc) would be counted by adding up
the cards (straight pip count, and face cards are 10), as would a straight,
while a straight flush would count for double points.

Example:
Henry plays 2 8s, for a total of 16.
Jimbob plays the 2,3,4 of hearts, for 9 points doubled, or 18.
Tricia, the GM, defends for the monster with two Kings, for a total of 20.

--
+++++++++++++++++++++++23
Loren Miller LO...@wmkt.wharton.upenn.edu
Shoes are the most basic prerequisite for liberty

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 18, 1992, 8:09:18â€¯PM11/18/92
to
lo...@wmkt.wharton.upenn.edu (Loren Miller) writes:
>
>The mode is the most common value in a distribution. In a 3d6 distribution
>10 and 11 are the most common values, and they are equally likely, so they
>are the mode. A modal distribution is simply a distribution that has some
>values that are more likely than others.

Cool. Just what I want.

>The more important thing is
>if you play out all the cards in your hand you're out. You can't get more
>until your next action. If someone attacks you in the meantime you're in
>trouble. This means you don't always want to play out all the cards in your
>hand.

I'm a tad confused, sorry. Let's take a sample combat so I can
understand what you're proposing:

Sue (NPC) and Joe are fighting. Sue has the initiative.

Sue has six cards in her hand (Question: does skill level = hand size?)
Joe has five. Joe plays first, I believe you said.

He leads his high card, hoping to score a hit right away: an 8. Sue
ripostes with her high card, a 10. I assume, since low initiative
plays last card, that this is a contest of qualities, and not just a
parry, so they go to the damage determination stage, whatever we hammer
that out to be. In other words, Joe got hit.

Questions:
Is this one complete round?
When do they get new cards?

>I have another idea that might not make such big values as the face card
>rule above.
>
>Each player plays single cards, or can play a meld. Melds would include
>two or more of a number, or a straight (3 minimum), or a straight flush
>(3 card minimum). 2 of a kind (or 3 or 4 etc) would be counted by adding up
>the cards (straight pip count, and face cards are 10), as would a straight,
>while a straight flush would count for double points.
>
>Example:
>Henry plays 2 8s, for a total of 16.
>Jimbob plays the 2,3,4 of hearts, for 9 points doubled, or 18.
>Tricia, the GM, defends for the monster with two Kings, for a total of 20.

I like this much better than the face card bit. I notice skill isn't
added in here - is that because it determines the number of cards in each
hand?

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 18, 1992, 8:33:20â€¯PM11/18/92
to
I wrote:

>I assume, since low initiative
>plays last card, that this is a contest of qualities, and not just a
>parry, so they go to the damage determination stage, whatever we hammer
>that out to be. In other words, Joe got hit.

Sorry, blew it. I should have written: "since *high* initiative plays
last card ..."

### Scaramouche

Nov 18, 1992, 8:26:19â€¯PM11/18/92
to
In article <lore...@wmkt.wharton.upenn.edu> lo...@wmkt.wharton.upenn.edu (Loren .13253...@oz.plymouth.edu> s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:
>
>I have another idea that might not make such big values as the face card
>rule above.
>
>Each player plays single cards, or can play a meld. Melds would include
>two or more of a number, or a straight (3 minimum), or a straight flush
>(3 card minimum). 2 of a kind (or 3 or 4 etc) would be counted by adding up
>the cards (straight pip count, and face cards are 10), as would a straight,
>while a straight flush would count for double points.
>
>Example:
>Henry plays 2 8s, for a total of 16.
>Jimbob plays the 2,3,4 of hearts, for 9 points doubled, or 18.
>Tricia, the GM, defends for the monster with two Kings, for a total of 20.

Larry plays a full house, aces over kings and cleaves the monster in twain.
; >

>
>--
>+++++++++++++++++++++++23
>Loren Miller LO...@wmkt.wharton.upenn.edu
>Shoes are the most basic prerequisite for liberty

--
>>>-----------------------------------------------------------------------<<<
"It is human nature, I suppose to be futile and ridiculous"
"If the windmill should prove to formidable, I may see what can be done
with the wind." -Scaramouche (fk...@midway.uchicago.edu)

### Paul Jason Clegg

Nov 18, 1992, 11:24:54â€¯PM11/18/92
to
I've been watching most of this card-resolution system discussion with some
combo which used cards in a limited fashion.

One thing I think people may be missing though, is the ease of use factor.
As a GM, you're going to be controlling several people at once; it's going
to be a real mess maintaining that many different hands of cards at once.
IF a card system is employed, there should be a dicing convention added to
speed play, even if it's only for the GM to use. Otherwise, GMs are going
to end up starting to carry around cartons of decks of cards instead of
just dice bags!

The card idea isn't a bad one; just remember that the GM needs special con-
sideration in the matter because he's not just one person all of the time.

...Paul

--
+ + + + + + + + + + +
Paul Clegg, cle...@aix.rpi.edu. Project Galactic Guide Coordinator.
System One RPG designer. But generally unknown.
+ + + + + + + + + + +

### mil...@wharton.upenn.edu

Nov 19, 1992, 12:05:26â€¯AM11/19/92
to
In article <1992Nov19.0...@oz.plymouth.edu>, s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:
| Sue (NPC) and Joe are fighting. Sue has the initiative.
|
| Sue has six cards in her hand (Question: does skill level = hand size?)

I didn't want to tackle that question yet. Skill level could be the hand
size or it could determine the base skill that you add your card points
to, or it could be both. I don't know yet. I think we have to playtest
it first, just to see how this melding cardplay system works.

| Joe has five. Joe plays first, I believe you said.
|
| He leads his high card, hoping to score a hit right away: an 8. Sue
| ripostes with her high card, a 10. I assume, since low initiative
| plays last card, that this is a contest of qualities, and not just a
| parry, so they go to the damage determination stage, whatever we hammer
| that out to be. In other words, Joe got hit.
|
| Questions:
| Is this one complete round?

Yes.

| When do they get new cards?

The round after they play their last card, or they can refill their hand
by playing an ace.

|>I have another idea that might not make such big values as the face card
|>rule above.
|>
|>Each player plays single cards, or can play a meld. Melds would include
|>two or more of a number, or a straight (3 minimum), or a straight flush
|>(3 card minimum). 2 of a kind (or 3 or 4 etc) would be counted by adding up
|>the cards (straight pip count, and face cards are 10), as would a straight,
|>while a straight flush would count for double points.
|>
|>Example:
|>Henry plays 2 8s, for a total of 16.
|>Jimbob plays the 2,3,4 of hearts, for 9 points doubled, or 18.
|>Tricia, the GM, defends for the monster with two Kings, for a total of 20.
|
| I like this much better than the face card bit. I notice skill isn't
| added in here - is that because it determines the number of cards in each
| hand?

Nope. I just didn't want to complicate what I was saying too much. It

But you are right, skill could easily determine hand size, if you had
the right mechanic. However, you would *have* to use a class/level
system of some sort to use hand size as a skill determinant, unless you
wanted to draw a new hand of another size every time you started using
another skill. It isn't that bad though, as long as you use a flexible
class/level system that lets a character develop from one class to
another, something like Warhammer. Perhaps if class/level were a simple
measure of accomplishment in a number of skills?

Let's try a more in depth example. I just got out a deck of cards and
shuffled it. I'll assume hand size is 5 for both players, Lotta and
Rudyard. Lotta is Good (4) and Rudyard is Average (3) at repartee.

Hands are:
Lotta: 4,K,A clubs; 2 spades; 3 diamonds
Rudyard: 5 clubs; 9, K diamonds; 4 hearts; 5 spades

Since Rudyard is worse, he has to go first. He plays his 9d. Lotta plays
her Kc, for 10+4=14 against 9+3=12. Lotta has beaten Rudyard by two
points, and this should be an insignificant win. Let's say that Rudyard
doesn't give up, he continues in spite of his obvious inferiority at
this little game (also note that playing last is a huge advantage in
this card game, which makes up for the minor difference between skill
values.) Now he tries to insult Lotta again, and plays the Kd for 10
points. Lotta has a straight that starts with the Ac, for 10 points and
a redraw. Her total is 14 against Rudyard's 13, for a significant
victory. She has also recovered her poise. As she played an ace she can
refill her hand now. If she hadn't played an ace, then what would we
have to do? How about saying that if you empty your hand (unless you
refill with an ace) you automatically lose initiative next round? If
nobody empties their hand then the loser of the previous round goes
first. Lotta refills, drawing 8c Qc 4s 6s 9s, a nice hand, but no melds.
For the next round of repartee, should it continue, Rudyard will have to
play with 3 cards against Lotta's 5, and she can easily defend. Etc etc
etc.

I think this will work.

Determine initiative in first round by going in ascending skill order,
best last. Determine initiative in following rounds by going in order
from worst total on previous round to best. If anyone plays out all
their cards in one round, they have emptied out their hand and must
refill it. For initiative determination the next round they must use
their skill rather than their total for initiative determination, and
will probably have to go first. Refilling the hand with an Ace doesn't
count as emptying your hand, by the way.

Count single cards and melds by summing the pips (face cards all count
as ten). Straight flushes are doubled. The total is called the "pip
sum".

Playing an ace allows you to discard however many cards you like and
refill your hand to full size immediately.

Add pip sum to skill value and compare to your opponent's total. Higher
total wins. Difference is cross referenced to a universal action results
table (only one table needed) and result applied to the loser.

### mil...@wharton.upenn.edu

Nov 19, 1992, 12:15:56â€¯AM11/19/92
to
In article <-my1...@rpi.edu>, cle...@aix.rpi.edu (Paul Jason Clegg) writes:
> One thing I think people may be missing though, is the ease of use factor.
> As a GM, you're going to be controlling several people at once; it's going
> to be a real mess maintaining that many different hands of cards at once.

I was assuming that the GM would only have one hand of cards, though it
should be larger if he has to deal with multiple characters, or perhaps
the GM only plays one hand, and the numbers apply to *all* the GM
characters. They all have good luck and bad luck at the same time. Nah,
that wouldn't work. For one thing, my initiative idea wouldn't work, and
I think that's one of the key issues to decide with cardplay. So maybe
the GM should have the same hand size as the players, only add a half
handful (round down?) of cards per GM character past the first one. If
handsize is 5, then each character past one adds 2 to handsize. If
handsize is 8, then each character past one adds 4 to handsize.

### Paul Jason Clegg

Nov 19, 1992, 8:58:10â€¯AM11/19/92
to
In article <1992Nov19...@wharton.upenn.edu> mil...@wharton.upenn.edu writes:
>In article <-my1...@rpi.edu>, cle...@aix.rpi.edu (Paul Jason Clegg) writes:
>> One thing I think people may be missing though, is the ease of use factor.
>> As a GM, you're going to be controlling several people at once; it's going
>> to be a real mess maintaining that many different hands of cards at once.
>
>I was assuming that the GM would only have one hand of cards, though it
>should be larger if he has to deal with multiple characters, or perhaps
>the GM only plays one hand, and the numbers apply to *all* the GM
>characters. They all have good luck and bad luck at the same time. Nah,
>that wouldn't work. For one thing, my initiative idea wouldn't work, and
>I think that's one of the key issues to decide with cardplay. So maybe
>the GM should have the same hand size as the players, only add a half
>handful (round down?) of cards per GM character past the first one. If
>handsize is 5, then each character past one adds 2 to handsize. If
>handsize is 8, then each character past one adds 4 to handsize.

I still don't think that would work, and would still get very, very hard to
handle very quickly. It also wouldn't be the least bit fair to the NPCs who
have to draw from a single pool; assuming that the number of cards a PC holds
is related to their abilities (skill, luck, whatnot), it should be similar for
NPCs as well. And even if you just add a certain amount of cards to the GM's
hand, as you suggested, it still 1) won't be fair, and 2) will be a mess.
If you have a hand size of 5, and add two cards for every extra NPC, you're
talking about 15 cards for an NPC force of 6! When you get into modern games,
particularly military action-type scenarios (even small ones), you'll easily
get a number of NPCs on the order of 10 or more quickly -- That's 23 cards or
more! The whole card system is just too unwieldly for a GM to use efficiently,
so I think the GM needs to be able to fall back on some other device to resolve
such actions. (Just Thought: What about the fact that Jo Schmo the Guard
would have a huge advantage over the PCs just because the GM's hand was so
big, with more "good cards"?)

### Paul Jason Clegg

Nov 19, 1992, 11:13:50â€¯AM11/19/92
to
I sat through a class today thinking about the card system for task resolution,
and my ultimate conclusion is that it's not going to work. For some very
simple reasons:

The purpose of introducing a random element into a roleplaying game (ie.
using dice/etc for task resolution) is to represent the fact that there is
always some uncertainty in real life (or in a logical world, beit real or
fantasy). Using a hand of cards is not going to help make the world seem
so mysterious. For example, consider the following game occurence:

You're chasing the bad guy roof to roof. He crosses a wooden plank he had
set up to cross a particularly wide alleyway. Do you jump?

Possibility Dice:
You can judge the distance and figure out whether or not you can probably
make the jump. This is similar to real life, in that you still aren't entirely
sure if you'll make it or not. The player is much less likely to consider
jumping if they think it's too much.

Possibility Cards:
You look at the cards you have in your hand and think about the numbers
you currently hold. "Hey, I've got a straight! This jump is no problem!"
The choice is suddenly very strategic, but not "real-life" strategic. It
becomes even more of a number-crunching problem, and not an indeterminate
possibility.

If I've made the point the way I want to (which isn't necessarily true), using
cards creates an even more of a "play the numbers" situation than dice do,
which is a situation that I think most games/gamers try to avoid in the first
place. Basing an entire system on that concept is ridiculous.

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 19, 1992, 12:15:07â€¯PM11/19/92
to
Re: Paul's thoughts about a hand of cards not allowing the proper mood
of not knowing whether or not to try an action:

I had actually never considered holding a hand. You don't draw until
you've made the decision to leap, in this case, and return the unused
cards to the deck when the situation is over.

To be honest, though, I'm not sure I'm liking the direction Loren's
system is going - it's getting too complicated for a game with the word
Simple in the title. More thoughts later - I just wanted to reassure
Paul that his objection would be valid if a hand were to be held, but
that I wouldn't want such a situation.

### John Rick

Nov 20, 1992, 1:27:27â€¯AM11/20/92
to
In article <17y1#h...@rpi.edu> cle...@aix.rpi.edu (Paul Jason Clegg) writes:

>Possibility Cards:
> You look at the cards you have in your hand and think about the numbers
>you currently hold. "Hey, I've got a straight! This jump is no problem!"

Something else that occurs to me is that with a deck of cards one is sampling
the distribution without (much) replacement.

If you are attacked by a dragon leading a horde of orcs (don't ask why it
isn't the other way around!) and you blow all your good cards to nail the
dragon, you'll then be unable to hit the orcs (assuming you haven't gone
all the way through the deck yet) - or are all cards shuffled back in once
discarded? This makes for a lot of shuffling.

If cards ARE shuffled back into the deck after every round, it's still the
case that in any large combat some players/monsters/whatever will be able
to make good hits while others won't, just because of the way the cards
are distributed.

IT seems to me that in order to make this system work you need an unlimited
deck that always has the same proportion of cards in it (i.e. always 4 aces,
4 kings, etc., no matter what's been drawn already). Why not just use
dice?

--
*** "Creation science...is not science because it depends upon a supernatural
*** intervention which is not guided by natural law. It...is not testable and
*** is not falsifiable." - Justice Wm.R.Overton, U.S. District Court (Arkansas)
=====> Email: jo...@psych.toronto.edu -or- ri...@lake.scar.utoronto.ca <=====

### John H Kim

Nov 20, 1992, 3:35:07â€¯AM11/20/92
to
s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:
>While it's true that I'm fond of a bell curve, note that I didn't use a
>really classic one, such as a 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 distribution. This is
>because I like the curve to be flatter near the middle.
...

>the random result generated. Although many games use this - even some
>wargames - this seems to more luck dependent than skill dependent to
>me. I'll try to analyze the math on this, but if anyone else can do it
>quickly and easily, please do so!

Well, Ars Magica is the main one I know about. That is darn
simple: just take a d10 and add it to skill. With a stress die you
complicate things a little more (1's mean roll again and double the
result, 0's give a chance of botch), but it is still pretty simple.

As far as being dominated by luck rather than skill - that can
easily be scaled away. Ars Magica does have luck very dependent. For a
variant I ran, however, I just doubled all skill numbers. Now skill is
more important with respect to attributes and luck.
You just have to vary the size of your die roll and/or the
size of your adds and you control the effect luck has. If you really
want, you can make the roll a bell curve - but I don't really see the
point.

What I like about these systems is that they do not give the
impression of generic 'success' and 'failure', as roll-above/below-skill
systems tend to produce, I have noticed. When players rolls *against*
their skill, they tend to think either 'I made it' or 'I blew it'. When
they *add* to skill, they tend to think 'Is that good enough?'
I think the latter is preferrable, obviously. I like de-
emphasizing the die roll, and emphasizing skill and difficulty. The
Ars Magica system, in particular, makes the die roll quick and simple,
and easy for the GM to estimate difficulties. (For example, an average,
unskilled person trying a task will have an average result of about 5.5,
the same as his roll - this is very easy to remember and intuitive.)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
John Kim | "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be."
jh...@cunixb.cc.columbia.edu | "The future's not the same anymore."
Columbia University | "What the hell's wrong with my langauge."

### Bill Seurer

Nov 20, 1992, 9:57:05â€¯AM11/20/92
to
In article <1992Nov20.0...@news.columbia.edu>, jh...@cunixb.cc.columbia.edu (John H Kim) writes:
|> Well, Ars Magica is the main one I know about. That is darn
|> simple: just take a d10 and add it to skill. With a stress die you
|> complicate things a little more (1's mean roll again and double the
|> result, 0's give a chance of botch), but it is still pretty simple.

It's not QUITE that simple. You also often add in an attribute and
sometimes another number or two (for arms when fighting for example).

|> As far as being dominated by luck rather than skill - that can
|> easily be scaled away. Ars Magica does have luck very dependent. For a
|> variant I ran, however, I just doubled all skill numbers. Now skill is
|> more important with respect to attributes and luck.

Also, often a skill is used in multiple rolls when such are used (again
combat is a good example) so this tends to mutiply skill effects. Did
you actua double the numbers or just add twice the skill when rolling?
--

- Bill Seurer Language and Compiler Development IBM Rochester, MN
Internet: BillS...@vnet.ibm.com America On-Line: BillS...@aol.com

### Christopher Lantinga

Nov 21, 1992, 12:15:15â€¯AM11/21/92
to
s...@oz.plymouth.edu (Steffan O'Sullivan) writes:

>To be honest, though, I'm not sure I'm liking the direction Loren's
>system is going - it's getting too complicated for a game with the word
>Simple in the title. More thoughts later - I just wanted to reassure
>Paul that his objection would be valid if a hand were to be held, but
>that I wouldn't want such a situation.

Seriously! One thing that bugs me is that discussions of game design
seem to move instantly to combat systems. Can we chill on that for a
while? The card system is very elegant but only good for conflicts. And
it is getting complicated fast.

To return to Stephan's original SLUG suggestion... I like the idea of
selecting anything in the world as skills/attributes. Perhaps a
"standard" list to start out with, of the stereotypical ones, would be
good, but by all means let it get weird.

I wouldn't *force* players to take negatives for every positive; this
would land you, as Stephan implies in his examples, with character
sheets full of pointless negative attributes and skills (the Waco
Kid's Needlepoint skill) which exist merely to justify the positives
and may never come into play. How many negative attributes did Indy
Jones have? Did they really justify his positives? Or were they all
in things we didn't see, like Ballet, or Weasel Taming? I'd give
players a certain amount of positives for free. And I'd make it a
random amount. (sound of S.O'S. retching in the background!) The
reasoning: psychological. If I have the same number of points to
increase my attributes as everybody else, every single frivolous but
interesting ability will lower my amount of non-frivolous, useful
abilities and make me relatively weak in the party. Whereas if there
is a certain degree of randomness built in, there's going to be some
variation no matter what, and there is no absolute Game Balance
between characters, so Devil take the hindmost.

Anyway, another great idea is that of leaving things in reserve for
when they're needed. That should be allowed; after all, in stories we
often discover things about characters that would never have come up
if the plot hadn't taken a certain direction... I like that. Perhaps
a certain number of those should be given free, without negatives,
too.

What say?

(In my "dream system", characteristics would not necessarily be listed
in terms of ability or power, on graded scales of any time. They
would be whatever properties defined the character, whether useful or
not, and gave him a place in the story. They would accumulate during
the story, and not be spelled out beforehand (though they could be
planned, they needn't be)... But I'm not sure in how much detail such
a thing can be done...)

Ed Heil. Yes, THE Ed Heil
c/o Chris Lantinga, clan...@ursa.calvin.edu

### Steffan O'Sullivan

Nov 21, 1992, 2:01:17â€¯PM11/21/92
to
clan...@ursa.calvin.edu (Christopher Lantinga) writes:
>
>To return to Stephan's original SLUG suggestion... I like the idea of
>selecting anything in the world as skills/attributes. Perhaps a
>"standard" list to start out with, of the stereotypical ones, would be
>good, but by all means let it get weird.

Steffan, actually - a Welsh spelling. I think rather than a "standard"
list, it would be fine to make a list of "popular" attributes that the
GM can accept or reject as she chooses. I do think the GM should
supply a list of what she considers important attributes to the
players, though. That suggestion will be added, thanks.

>I wouldn't *force* players to take negatives for every positive ...

Okay - I can live with that - I'll write it in.

>And I'd make it a random amount.

I'll pass on the random amount, though I have no objection to listing
it as an option. I refuse to make anything random mandatory, though!

>Anyway, another great idea is that of leaving things in reserve for

>when they're needed. ...

>a certain number of those should be given free, without negatives,
>too.

Sounds good to me, I'll write it in, thanks.

>(In my "dream system", characteristics would not necessarily be listed
>in terms of ability or power, on graded scales of any time. They
>would be whatever properties defined the character, whether useful or
>not, and gave him a place in the story. They would accumulate during
>the story, and not be spelled out beforehand (though they could be
>planned, they needn't be)... But I'm not sure in how much detail such
>a thing can be done...)

Well, that sounds good to me - give me some examples of what you mean
and we'll see if we can work it in. Sounds like Over the Edge to me,
which is close to what I want SLUG to be, but is copyrighted and has a
few problems, anyway . . .

>Ed Heil. Yes, THE Ed Heil
>c/o Chris Lantinga, clan...@ursa.calvin.edu
>

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