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Wavinator

Every Skill Test Gambles A Resource?

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Two things I hate about modern RPGs: Everything revolves around combat and non-combat interactivity-- everything from crafting to searching to lockpicking-- rarely involves any real risk.

 

So what about this: Tie skill tests to a gambling mechanic that impacts character advancement. It's not a new idea as tabletop games have this, but I think they usually apply to special tasks, like item creation or bonus die rolls in tough situations. I'm thinking more along the lines of a character point system for developing a party, with points rewarded for success and taken for failure and with the ability to wager points for critical success/failure.

 

I can only see this working if there are many things to buy, several characters to spend on and the costs for higher tier character development scale (exponentially, probably). It might also be necessary for spamming to be controlled by risking risk and stable reward, so that if you want to search 300 times in an area maybe you're only gaining 1 point but increasingly risking more and more in a sort of "house always wins" mentality over the long run.

 

Thoughts?

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Well, consider why games are the way they are, and then answer that mentality...

 

If you go back to early rpgs, there was a lot of variability.  Just take simple D&D examples... games would incorporate hit point rolls just like the pen and paper version.  A warrior would roll 1d10 on level up and get that many hitpoints.  When a thief tried to disarm a trap, there was a chance he would fail and possibly trigger the trap.  The problem at the time and in many other cases since, is that unlike pen and paper games with other players, you could just re-load your save and try again.  I mean, if your warrior rolled several twos and threes, you'd have a gimped warrior who would then be incapable of fulfilling his role.  That isn't fun and designers recognized this.

 

That doesn't mean such systems are bad, it just means they need to be tweaked in some way.  I would argue that you should in fact safeguard your system to minimize the chances that some bad dice rolling will permanently gimp a character.  But at the same time, adding unpredictability to your system is definitely viable.  Just a quick example off the top of my head... Maybe you have a system like the one you propose with a gambling mechanic that impacts character growth.  Maybe you have your own warrior type and you take some gamble option in which you're hoping to get more strength.  Maybe you fail badly, but the astral winds blow and grant your warrior some extra intelligence instead.  Then maybe you make sure your game includes some way for a warrior to take advantage of those int points in some way.  Sure, you'd prefer to have strength, but maybe those int points allow your warrior to do things that a stupid warrior can't.

 

I'm mostly spitballing off the top of my head, but I think incorporating a high degree of variability can be rather interesting, particularly if you are able to put players in situations that they did not plan for, but can still turn out well in some way...

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The Fate system in pen and paper has this to an extent.  

 

When things go wrong you get fate points(get ambushed, miss a meeting, and similar), you also have the option to turn down getting a fate point by not going through the event(IE: GM tells you there is a chance for X fate points, skip or not).

 

Fate can be used to increase a dice roll, or to take a little control over the story(Of course I'd have a tool kit in a car, all the way to knowing an NPC in town)

 

EDIT:  So players are forced to gamble whether to take a risk for some potential game changing power later or end up weakened enough that later will be too hard to continue or do well.   Also means players have to choose when to use fate.

 

Players are also forced to take aspects that they or the GM can invoke.   For instance for Book-Collector the player is going to know/read some rare books about various topics(get dice bonus against something that they can draw that knowledge on),  where as the GM can invoke it to bait the player to chase after something or not destroy something that should be(they earn fate for following through).

Edited by lithos
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You would have to limit the amount of loss or you would have to make the win/lose ratio something like 2:1 , and the chance of winning must be at least 50% or you will force the player backwards.

 

Also being forced to lose skill points to complete a main mission would be irritating(If you had to pick the door to find a quest item), you can counter this by allowing alternate path.

 

Makes me thing of dungeon crawlers.

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you could just create a "desired level-up-path" and as bad(or good) rolls bring a characteraway from this path, the following rolls are influenced to bring it closer again.

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you could just create a "desired level-up-path" and as bad(or good) rolls bring a characteraway from this path, the following rolls are influenced to bring it closer again.

What's the point of moving away if you just shift back to it? You might as well let them stay on it.

 

Gambling is a terrible mechanic in any game that lasts a long time. Its fine for games where a full play through lasts an hour or so. I'm not sure its a good idea to tie advancement to luck in such a blatant way.

 

Randomness should be about replay value and variety. For instance you could have a main class and then you could get random advancement in some ancillary skills or classes to vary how the game plays.

 

The risk is only real if it has lasting consequences. Randomness is a core part of a roguelike and does many of the things I noted like varying play. The gameplay is short and reacting to randomness is critical.

 

Randomness in advancement is impossible to react to. You are just stuck with shitty stats. Having worse stats requires you to be smarter but doesn't actually provide any interasting gameplay in and of itself.

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Gambling is a terrible mechanic in any game that lasts a long time. Its fine for games where a full play through lasts an hour or so. I'm not sure its a good idea to tie advancement to luck in such a blatant way.

 

Yeah you might be right. I actually started cooling to this idea as I tried to flesh it out. I like the idea of a real risk associated with something you presumably care about (advancement) but it might be too ham handed.

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Gambling is a terrible mechanic in any game that lasts a long time. Its fine for games where a full play through lasts an hour or so. I'm not sure its a good idea to tie advancement to luck in such a blatant way.

 

Yeah you might be right. I actually started cooling to this idea as I tried to flesh it out. I like the idea of a real risk associated with something you presumably care about (advancement) but it might be too ham handed.

Well risk has never been successful in RPGs out of rogue-likes really. Perhaps some sort of time based risk. You could spend longer in an area but it gets tougher. I think FTL did this great. You could make taking risks allow for a better ending or w/e. You could allow non-random negatives if you buff a skill or item too high. High risk high reward. Pretty much anything not affected by an RNG.

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