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Re: [Forge-main] Re: Mechanics

From: Ricardo Gladwell
Subject: Re: [Forge-main] Re: Mechanics
Date: 05 Nov 2002 13:04:35 +0000

On Tue, 2002-11-05 at 01:25, Sisyphus D wrote:
> Finally, allow me to say that I'm one of those ancient
> oddballs who doesn't use "snippets" in his replies.

I have to say, I am one of those oddballs who does use snippets :) I
apologize in advance for my use of them, which I try to keep to a
minimum. I know some people find them irritating. They are more for my
own benefit: I use them to ensure that I reply to all the points raised
in an email and they help remind me what I am writing about.

> which lends too much weight to the die roll, in my
> opinion -- roughly +/-140%, in fact.  In contrast, if
> we went for
> [0-10, average 5] + [0-10, average 5] + [2-12, average
> 7] vs. [#]

I have to disagree with you here: I think the element of chance should
take precedence over the impact of stats. Stats should modify the roll,
but only so much. In a case where stats can overwhelm difficulties (max
+20 bonus means you could succeed with a score of 1) are overbalancing.
There should always be a chance of failure. For example, a difficulty of
20 (highest human difficulty) in the first system you mentioned above
means a character with 5 in both scores has a 50% chance of success.
Whereas, a character with 10 in both scores has a 100% chance of

Of course, one can always amend the difficulty awarding scheme (20
becomes a relatively hard task, 30+ nearly impossible) to balance both
systems so maybe we are arguing over nothing here. Perhaps it all comes
down to aesthetics: 0-5 or 0-10?

However, I do think that the ability + skill element must only
contribute at most half the result, not at least two thirds as you
suggest. Ideas?

> On the flip side: Ricardo, you are completely correct
> when you state that realistic results aren't a
> necessity -- this is a role-playing game, after all,
> not a procedure for distributing educational funds. 

LOL :)

My only concern with the d6 is that it lacks the intuitive
user-friendliness of the d10, and a 2d6 is as complicated to roll as a
1d10. Lastly, and this is a pedantic point, d6's are seen as being
somewhat archaic compared with sleek d10's and I want to give Forge a
fresh, up-to-date image. But that really is being pedantic so please
feel free to ignore it :)

It seems we are divided into two camps here, the d10's (me) and the d6's
(Enrique) :)

> To summarize my perspective, 1d6, 1d10, and 2d6 are
> all O.K. with me (you guys can wrestle with that
> situation, heh), but once the method of randomization
> has been established, we should follow some guidelines
> for skill and ability levels in relation to the
> element of chance.

Damn you, fence-sitter :) Seriously, there must be one single argument
which makes either the 2d6 or 1d10 the obvious choice. We just need to
figure that argument out.

> We should probably tackle the topic of opposed rolls
> and unopposed rolls only after we've figured out the
> dice that we'll be using... I mean, one thing at a
> time.  To throw in a word or two now, however, I've
> never been a fan of two different techniques used in
> one system

In defense of opposed and unopposed rolls is that not all situations
cater for both. What do you roll against when you are having a running
competition with someone? Who are you fighting against when you are
trying to remember something using a Knowledge skill? I think there is a
place of opposed and unopposed rolls, or static and dynamic rolls.
Dynamic rolls are used against 'moving targets' whilst static rolls are
used to fight against yourself. The system I use is simply where success
points cancel each other out. Saying that, a quick thought about combat
and I was wondering whether opposed rolls are necessary. Ideas?

> Oh, and thanks very much for the excellent ideas
> regarding the "Ancient Greeks in space" concept.  I
> myself had a wholly different idea of how it would be
> arranged; it's funny how one premise can produce so
> many varying storylines!

First, I would like to make some of my thoughts on world-building known.
In these situations I've always felt too many cooks spoil the broth.
What I mean to say is that when world-building personal vision is the
most important element. In my experience collaborative worlds built by
committee (such as Forgotten Realms, Dragonstar, etc.) are always bland.
Worlds, however, that are built on one persons (two people at most)
vision are generally the most individualistic and orginal worlds. Now,
this does not men that more than two people can work on a world. In
fact, some sort of objective or editorial control is often mandatory.
But, I think an internal vision is the most important element.

What this means is that I don't want to taint your (Duncan's) original
concept with my own because the raw idea is most important element. If
we do decide to collaborate on a world much thought needs to go into
exactly how we go about this (who contributes their ideas, who edits the
ideas, etc).

Saying that, I do have some non-conceptual ideas and advice for your

I really, really love your idea but I can see one major pitfall in its
development: mixing genres. At first it may seem that mixing genres (in
this case science fiction and fantasy) can increase the richness of your
world. I feel, however, that the two more often than not conflict with
each other unless some thought is put toward the aesthetic of how they

Firstly, magic and technology grate unless some rational can be given
for the two to happily coexist. The danger here is that magic will
always eclipse technology, since magic is 'cool' and technology rather,
well, un-magical.

Also, the aesthetic of technology directly conflicts with magic.
Technology is often gritty and realistic, whilst magic is fantastical,
larger than life and heroic. Science is deterministic, known, whilst
magic is humanocentric, vague and subjective. You must be careful to
integrate the two so that the aesthetics are balanced. Things that do
this well are the Fading Suns campaign setting, for example.

An example of how to approach this with your setting would be to create
a largely deterministic universe with rare, subjective elements such as
magic. Perhaps Elysium might actually exist as a planet or a certain
region of space. Gods would be distant, ephemeral, almost alien
creatures. I would avoid the 'monster-mash' syndrome of creating satyr
and centaur races unless you created some sylvan-like alien races with
much more deterministic rationales.

An alternative method would be to make a completely non-deterministic,
magical universe with centaurs, satyrs and gods, but play down the
technological aspects of it, perhaps do away with them altogether.

Ricardo Gladwell
President, Free Roleplaying Community

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