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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Sadly, this reminds me of another pet peeve: 'go fish' gameplay (be it skills, attributes, etc). The kind of game where character creation is basically trying to guess which checks out of a big list are most likely to come up, and then during play those abilities pretty much have to wait for the GM to call for them to see any use. Spot, Listen, Climb, Balance, Swim, Disable Device, Search, Survival, and many Knowledge skills work this way in 3.5 for example. If you have Charm and go up to someone to engage them with it, and the GM says 'your intent is deception, so use Fast Talk instead' then that's a 'go fish' type of situation.

    Skills should each promote at least one proactive thing that the character can reliably initiate, and where the results are fairly well defined. E.g. in the above case, if Charm can always be used to 'get someone to absolve the character of perceived wrongdoing or suspicion' then even if it's a 'fast talk kind of situation' on the face of it, the person with Charm can figure out ways to use their skill. So then choosing Charm over Fast Talk isn't divvying up the rolls between characters, but is rather making a stylistic choice about gameplay feel.
    My 2c: if you have charm, and go up to a guard, and try to convince them that you're legitimately allowed into the area they're guarding because this is a surprise inspection, then that is without a doubt a deception test, and you can't roll charm, you're rolling deceive. However, if you're going to tell them that they're going to let you in or else your "boys" are going to murder their family, that's intimidate.

    The way I see it is that you tell me what you're going to do/say, and I tell you what you're going to roll to see if it works.
    Last edited by LordCdrMilitant; 2018-02-01 at 11:34 PM.
    Guardsmen, hear me! Cadia may lie in ruin, but her proud people do not! For each brother and sister who gave their lives to Him as martyrs, we will reap a vengeance fiftyfold! Cadia may be no more, but will never be forgotten; our foes shall tremble in fear at the name, for their doom shall come from the barrels of Cadian guns, fired by Cadian hands! Forward, for vengeance and retribution, in His name and the names of our fallen comrades!

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    My 2c: if you have charm, and go up to a guard, and try to convince them that you're legitimately allowed into the area they're guarding because this is a surprise inspection, then that is without a doubt a deception test, and you can't roll charm, you're rolling deceive. However, if you're going to tell them that they're going to let you in or else your "boys" are going to murder their family, that's intimidate.

    The way I see it is that you tell me what you're going to do/say, and I tell you what you're going to roll to see if it works.
    This is what I'm referring to as 'go fish', because then rather than knowing concretely what a given skill investment empowers me to do, I'm being encouraged to do what makes sense in the situation but then I might end up being punished for that if its inconsistent with how I've distributed skills. So succeeding in that kind of game encourages a large component of metagaming - analyzing the DM to figure out what kinds of scenarios they like, how they'll tend to interpret ambiguous cases, etc.

    So my preference is to systems where the player decides the skill that will be used rather than the DM, but where the effects that skill can achieve may be more precisely defined. In the guard example, if Charm can always proactively be used to allay suspicion or negative impressions in any context, the player with high Charm can know ahead of time that they could risk e.g. attempt to bribe or sneak past the guard and, should that go wrong, use Charm to escape the consequences.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This is what I'm referring to as 'go fish', because then rather than knowing concretely what a given skill investment empowers me to do, I'm being encouraged to do what makes sense in the situation but then I might end up being punished for that if its inconsistent with how I've distributed skills. So succeeding in that kind of game encourages a large component of metagaming - analyzing the DM to figure out what kinds of scenarios they like, how they'll tend to interpret ambiguous cases, etc.

    So my preference is to systems where the player decides the skill that will be used rather than the DM, but where the effects that skill can achieve may be more precisely defined. In the guard example, if Charm can always proactively be used to allay suspicion or negative impressions in any context, the player with high Charm can know ahead of time that they could risk e.g. attempt to bribe or sneak past the guard and, should that go wrong, use Charm to escape the consequences.
    Charm can't and shouldn't get you out of all problems. I would rather not encourage players to dump every stat rank in one skill to solve all problems, and rather the majority of their skills be basically trained to be used optimally as the situation requires.

    One of my peeves from players is when they say "I roll to charm the guard." If they say that, then they fail and the guard sounds the alarm. If my players say "I walk up to the guard and try to bribe him to let me past," then I'll tell them to roll charm [probably after asking them how much they're offering as a bribe].

    And charm might not be useful in the situation, because the guards would report each other for such deficiencies in loyalty and the offender would be executed, and it's up the to PC's the analyse the situation and determine that perhaps charm is not effective compared to deceive or intimidate. As GM, I am not obligated to make every encounter vulnerable to one skill so you can put all your ranks in it and ignore the rest of the skill list, and I'd rather you be passably proficient in a great many than very, very good at one.
    Guardsmen, hear me! Cadia may lie in ruin, but her proud people do not! For each brother and sister who gave their lives to Him as martyrs, we will reap a vengeance fiftyfold! Cadia may be no more, but will never be forgotten; our foes shall tremble in fear at the name, for their doom shall come from the barrels of Cadian guns, fired by Cadian hands! Forward, for vengeance and retribution, in His name and the names of our fallen comrades!

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    Charm can't and shouldn't get you out of all problems. I would rather not encourage players to dump every stat rank in one skill to solve all problems, and rather the majority of their skills be basically trained to be used optimally as the situation requires.

    One of my peeves from players is when they say "I roll to charm the guard." If they say that, then they fail and the guard sounds the alarm. If my players say "I walk up to the guard and try to bribe him to let me past," then I'll tell them to roll charm [probably after asking them how much they're offering as a bribe].

    And charm might not be useful in the situation, because the guards would report each other for such deficiencies in loyalty and the offender would be executed, and it's up the to PC's the analyse the situation and determine that perhaps charm is not effective compared to deceive or intimidate. As GM, I am not obligated to make every encounter vulnerable to one skill so you can put all your ranks in it and ignore the rest of the skill list, and I'd rather you be passably proficient in a great many than very, very good at one.
    Contrast this with, for example, 'I stab the guard with a sword'. Whether or not in the grand strategic sense stabbing the guard with a sword will resolve the scenario, it has a small set of well-defined outcomes which can be reliably brought about: the guard may be okay, injured, or dead. Repeated stabbings are likely to move down that chart. Now, that may not prevent an alarm from going out, it may not unlock the barred door that the guard is stationed in front of, etc, but the things that stabbing lets you do are basically really straightforward and clearly laid out.

    If stabbing doesn't resolve the scenario, its because the logic of the scenario is such that achieve the state transition that stabbing promises (enemy: alive -> dead) doesn't actually resolve the tension, rather than that the GM decided 'stabbing isn't the right skill to resolve this scenario, so please roll bludgeoning instead.'

    I'd rather skills be designed like that, where there's a concrete thing that the skill absolutely, clearly does, and which at any time the player can choose to use it for without it being asked for by the GM. Then, it's the players job to figure out how to use those abilities to navigate the scenario, rather than the game being designed such that the GM tells them 'this is how the scenario is to be navigated, did you invest points in the correct skills to pass the various checkpoints?'.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I need to say I disagree NichG; or at the very least I must say I have never been in a game that ran that way.
    If you wanted to use Charm instead of, say, Fast Talk - you change your approach. Your goal isn't to make them believe a false claim, but to distract/extract information/buy your buddies time. This could resolve the situation just as easily.
    If you want to lie, but are a terrible liar, it doesn't matter how damn charming you are. At the same time, when playing the positive long-con angle Fast Talk isn't going to cut it by itself.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Those GM sections that talk down to me and tell me how to "do it right".

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This is what I'm referring to as 'go fish', because then rather than knowing concretely what a given skill investment empowers me to do, I'm being encouraged to do what makes sense in the situation but then I might end up being punished for that if its inconsistent with how I've distributed skills. So succeeding in that kind of game encourages a large component of metagaming - analyzing the DM to figure out what kinds of scenarios they like, how they'll tend to interpret ambiguous cases, etc.

    So my preference is to systems where the player decides the skill that will be used rather than the DM, but where the effects that skill can achieve may be more precisely defined. In the guard example, if Charm can always proactively be used to allay suspicion or negative impressions in any context, the player with high Charm can know ahead of time that they could risk e.g. attempt to bribe or sneak past the guard and, should that go wrong, use Charm to escape the consequences.
    I'm not a fan of being able to argue that any skill is useful for such things - but I do agree that the system itself should make the skills distinct enough that it's not an issue.

    I actually think that 3.x did a decent job with Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate (though the execution of each had issues - I'm just talking about separation of them) - but I've seen systems which have a lot of overlap/subjectivity on the social skills which I do agree get annoying.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Here's how I see the breakdown in social skills.

    Charm: Convince someone to break a rule for you because you're just so darn cute (sexy, harmless, flirty, or whatever)! You're not trying to get them to think you're allowed in, but you're trying to convince them to let you through, even though they know you're not on the list.

    Fast Talk: Confuse the target into believing it's possible you have permission. At the end of a successful Fast Talk, the victim might never be able to decide whether you have permission or not, but they've decided to "err on the side of caution" by letting you through.

    Bluff: Lie/exaggerate/twist the truth to convince your target that you have permission. (I left the invitation in my other pants. But look, there's Captain Tightpants! He knows me! (waves to Capt. Tightpants, who politely waves back to the obviously wealthy and well-dressed PC)

    Intimidate: Threaten someone into breaking a rule for you. Again, they know you're not on the list, but they're more afraid of you than whoever gave them the list. (YOU DO NOT SEE OR HEAR THRUG!)

    Does this count as "Go Fish"-ing? I don't know. I don't play 3.X/P. I've probably missed a social skill or two as well. Note that all of these approaches can accomplish the same thing, just using different methods. Intimidate strikes me as the shortest-term solution - as soon as the victim feels safe, they'll turn on you (though what they will require to feel safe depends on the nature of your threat). Bluff probably lasts for the longest time (good until their supervisor talks to them about what they did), while Fast Talk and Charm are probably somewhere in the middle.

    Then you get the question: Can you use any of these skills to convince someone to believe something that's true?
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    I need to say I disagree NichG; or at the very least I must say I have never been in a game that ran that way.
    If you wanted to use Charm instead of, say, Fast Talk - you change your approach. Your goal isn't to make them believe a false claim, but to distract/extract information/buy your buddies time. This could resolve the situation just as easily.
    If you want to lie, but are a terrible liar, it doesn't matter how damn charming you are. At the same time, when playing the positive long-con angle Fast Talk isn't going to cut it by itself.
    Totally agree here - I think I get NichG's point (that if there are 150 skills, how am I to know what will be useful and what will be underwater-basket-weaving equivalents?), but I think that's an issue that is well covered by a Session Zero kind of thing where the players and GM discuss the game to be played. Sure, some default and overlap is okay, but it needs to speak to the stylistic approach of the characters, and handle the truth that the skills are not the same thing. In a mixed game (say D&D), building a social character in what turns out to be a meat grinder game is pretty sucky, but that isn't necessarily a system issue.

    In the situation laid out previously...the Charmer might not be able to convince the guard that he or she belongs in the secured area, but could probably engage and distract the guard so that others on the team could get into the secured area and either complete the required task or find a way to get the Charmer in later. Similarly, the Fast Talker might be able to convince the wealthy widow to allow him or her access to the mansion or the Rolls once, but the Charmer would be more able to "arrange" things so they had regular access to the house and the car. Just like you know that a sword attack isn't going to do much against a tank, you know the "skin" of the persuasion/deceive/socialize skills and can make reasonable assumptions about how they will work.

    ASIDE: I think overly-broad defaulting of skills leads to a second pet peeve of mine - skill systems that allow the generalist to be better than the specialist because of an attribute-default system. Things were you roll a pool of dice (say Skill + Attribute) and keep a subset (say Attribute). Far better to have an Intelligence of 5 and a skill of 1 (Roll 6 keep 5) than an Intelligence of 3 and skill of 4 (roll 7 keep 3) for instance. The highly developed skill should greatly outweigh the naturally apt but untrained. Not to open another can of worms, but boy that exposes the munchkin-factor quickly!

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    While a certain level of granularity is good, my general experience has been that the more a system breaks down skills (ie, "Body" to "Athletics" to "Climb" to "Bouldering" to "Bare-Handed Bouldering"), the less competent characters feel. Particularly if you've got a pure skill-based game where there's no general ability score boosting multiple related checks, you wind up having a lot of trouble filling out a role. 3.5 has this problem to an extent; I remember a version of Traveller that I briefly played that was even worse.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    I need to say I disagree NichG; or at the very least I must say I have never been in a game that ran that way.
    If you wanted to use Charm instead of, say, Fast Talk - you change your approach. Your goal isn't to make them believe a false claim, but to distract/extract information/buy your buddies time. This could resolve the situation just as easily.
    If you want to lie, but are a terrible liar, it doesn't matter how damn charming you are. At the same time, when playing the positive long-con angle Fast Talk isn't going to cut it by itself.
    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    I'm not a fan of being able to argue that any skill is useful for such things - but I do agree that the system itself should make the skills distinct enough that it's not an issue.

    I actually think that 3.x did a decent job with Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate (though the execution of each had issues - I'm just talking about separation of them) - but I've seen systems which have a lot of overlap/subjectivity on the social skills which I do agree get annoying.
    The direction I'd go is to move away from the sort of 'do stuff, then sometimes the GM asks you to roll a thing to proceed' methodology. So you can take a diverse set of social skills - lets say 'Charm, Fast Talk, Diplomacy, Deception, Intimidation, Persuade, Etiquette' in order to have a really ridiculous amount of overlap, then give each of them proactive abilities as follows (I'm just going to assume 'having the skill' means you get to do this thing for simplicity, but it could be skill rank dependent, have a roll, whatever).

    Spoiler
    Show

    Charm: You may invoke Charm in order to avoid being blamed or suspected of something. Mechanically, this allows you to undo a social or procedural faux paux, but you do not get the results of the action you undo. For example, a character is detected in an off-limits area and uses Charm to avoid arrest (but must leave the area); a character attempts a bribe but is rebuffed and the guard tries to escalate, but the character uses Charm to brush it off; a party member is being hunted by the police, who are searching door to door, and the owner of the house they are hiding in uses Charm to be above suspicion and therefore not be searched.

    Fast Talk: You may invoke Fast Talk to change the topic of conversation or suppress or alter a conversational goal to something else that is still of interest to the participants but may be secondary. For example, during an interrogation the interrogator is trying to get a particular piece of information, but the subject uses Fast Talk to instead provide information about a third party (which the interrogator is still interested in) and thereby causes the initial question to be forgotten; a character is participating in a debate about ownership of a tavern, and uses Fast Talk to change the topic to accusations that the proper owner embezzeled funds from the city council.

    Diplomacy: You may invoke Diplomacy in order to introduce terms or sanctions surrounding a discussion or agreement, such that violation of the agreement triggers those sanctions. These sanctions can be social (in that other parties who participate in the agreement will act to enforce them), legal (in that property or standing is lost should the agreement be violated), or even psychological if appropriate leverage exists (where the violator suffers a long-duration mechanical debuff for acting against the agreement).

    Deception: You may invoke Deception to create the impression of complete sincerity (in the sense of pulling off a guise, or saying something that could be true but happens not to be), or given a day's worth of effort to create a rumor which will be spread throughout the community as if true (must be done in an appropriate population center). For example, a character wishes to ruin someone's marriage and invokes Deception to create a rumor that they are sleeping around. Additionally, as a harder check, Deception can be used to act as if affected by one of the social attacks (or to act as if bound by a magical contract) while in reality avoiding the normal penalties - e.g. falsely following an Intimidation ultimatum, avoiding a Diplomacy sanction, giving false information in response to a Persuade attempt, etc.

    Intimidation: You may invoke Intimidation to attempt to create an ultimatum for another character, such that they can only violate the ultimatum by escalating to violence or withdrawing from the scene (if physically capable). If the character still chooses to escalate to violence, they suffer a penalty on Initiative. A character unable to escalate or withdraw is compelled to obey the ultimatum if the Intimidation is successful. Once a character has been intimidated once by a given actor (successfully or unsuccessfully), it will not work again within the next 24 hours.

    Persuade: You may invoke Persuade to evaluate how a target NPC would respond to a given pressure or offer, or to correctly determine their priorities among a set of pressures or offers. For example, you are trying to get the king to send an army to support your hometown against an orc invasion, and use Persuade to discover that the king is most concerned about one of his feudal lords staging a revolt while his forces are divided.

    Etiquette: You may invoke Etiquette to force a target to meet with you or else lose social standing or otherwise have their own social interactions with others be thwarted in some way. For example, a character uses Etiquette to create the situation where if the Duke doesn't give them an hour of his time to hear a request, a merchant he is trying to make trade negotiations with will snub him in return. The character need not have a direct relationship with the merchant - rather they have set up a situation where if the Duke acts improperly, the merchant will get cold feet due to the social perception of their interaction.


    The point is, each of these are to be used proactively. There's no need for the GM to ever say e.g. 'okay, now roll Etiquette to figure out if you have proper manners' with a system like this. Rather, someone who invests in Etiquette is buying the ability to make a social attack via the rules of society, whereas someone who invests in Fast Talk is buying the ability to shut down difficult conversations or otherwise deflect the direction of social action. Someone could Charm, Intimidate, Fast Talk, Persuade, Diplomace, or Etiquette the guard, and each of those things would have distinct and definite outcomes if successful (specifically: they get off scot free but don't get past, they escalate to a fight where they have a combat advantage, they alter the guard's priorities possibly distracting them enough for someone else to slip past, they figure out what the guard wants and needs and have to proceed from there, they trap the guard in an agreement perhaps for blackmail purposes later but not immediately getting them past, they force the guard to be polite but not necessarily let them past).

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The direction I'd go is to move away from the sort of 'do stuff, then sometimes the GM asks you to roll a thing to proceed' methodology. So you can take a diverse set of social skills - lets say 'Charm, Fast Talk, Diplomacy, Deception, Intimidation, Persuade, Etiquette' in order to have a really ridiculous amount of overlap, then give each of them proactive abilities as follows (I'm just going to assume 'having the skill' means you get to do this thing for simplicity, but it could be skill rank dependent, have a roll, whatever).

    Spoiler
    Show

    Charm: You may invoke Charm in order to avoid being blamed or suspected of something. Mechanically, this allows you to undo a social or procedural faux paux, but you do not get the results of the action you undo. For example, a character is detected in an off-limits area and uses Charm to avoid arrest (but must leave the area); a character attempts a bribe but is rebuffed and the guard tries to escalate, but the character uses Charm to brush it off; a party member is being hunted by the police, who are searching door to door, and the owner of the house they are hiding in uses Charm to be above suspicion and therefore not be searched.

    Fast Talk: You may invoke Fast Talk to change the topic of conversation or suppress or alter a conversational goal to something else that is still of interest to the participants but may be secondary. For example, during an interrogation the interrogator is trying to get a particular piece of information, but the subject uses Fast Talk to instead provide information about a third party (which the interrogator is still interested in) and thereby causes the initial question to be forgotten; a character is participating in a debate about ownership of a tavern, and uses Fast Talk to change the topic to accusations that the proper owner embezzeled funds from the city council.

    Diplomacy: You may invoke Diplomacy in order to introduce terms or sanctions surrounding a discussion or agreement, such that violation of the agreement triggers those sanctions. These sanctions can be social (in that other parties who participate in the agreement will act to enforce them), legal (in that property or standing is lost should the agreement be violated), or even psychological if appropriate leverage exists (where the violator suffers a long-duration mechanical debuff for acting against the agreement).

    Deception: You may invoke Deception to create the impression of complete sincerity (in the sense of pulling off a guise, or saying something that could be true but happens not to be), or given a day's worth of effort to create a rumor which will be spread throughout the community as if true (must be done in an appropriate population center). For example, a character wishes to ruin someone's marriage and invokes Deception to create a rumor that they are sleeping around. Additionally, as a harder check, Deception can be used to act as if affected by one of the social attacks (or to act as if bound by a magical contract) while in reality avoiding the normal penalties - e.g. falsely following an Intimidation ultimatum, avoiding a Diplomacy sanction, giving false information in response to a Persuade attempt, etc.

    Intimidation: You may invoke Intimidation to attempt to create an ultimatum for another character, such that they can only violate the ultimatum by escalating to violence or withdrawing from the scene (if physically capable). If the character still chooses to escalate to violence, they suffer a penalty on Initiative. A character unable to escalate or withdraw is compelled to obey the ultimatum if the Intimidation is successful. Once a character has been intimidated once by a given actor (successfully or unsuccessfully), it will not work again within the next 24 hours.

    Persuade: You may invoke Persuade to evaluate how a target NPC would respond to a given pressure or offer, or to correctly determine their priorities among a set of pressures or offers. For example, you are trying to get the king to send an army to support your hometown against an orc invasion, and use Persuade to discover that the king is most concerned about one of his feudal lords staging a revolt while his forces are divided.

    Etiquette: You may invoke Etiquette to force a target to meet with you or else lose social standing or otherwise have their own social interactions with others be thwarted in some way. For example, a character uses Etiquette to create the situation where if the Duke doesn't give them an hour of his time to hear a request, a merchant he is trying to make trade negotiations with will snub him in return. The character need not have a direct relationship with the merchant - rather they have set up a situation where if the Duke acts improperly, the merchant will get cold feet due to the social perception of their interaction.


    The point is, each of these are to be used proactively. There's no need for the GM to ever say e.g. 'okay, now roll Etiquette to figure out if you have proper manners' with a system like this. Rather, someone who invests in Etiquette is buying the ability to make a social attack via the rules of society, whereas someone who invests in Fast Talk is buying the ability to shut down difficult conversations or otherwise deflect the direction of social action. Someone could Charm, Intimidate, Fast Talk, Persuade, Diplomace, or Etiquette the guard, and each of those things would have distinct and definite outcomes if successful (specifically: they get off scot free but don't get past, they escalate to a fight where they have a combat advantage, they alter the guard's priorities possibly distracting them enough for someone else to slip past, they figure out what the guard wants and needs and have to proceed from there, they trap the guard in an agreement perhaps for blackmail purposes later but not immediately getting them past, they force the guard to be polite but not necessarily let them past).
    I don't like permission-slip systems. They have a tendency to make players think that they can only do what's written as permission. Anyone can do all those things, by default. Skills should make you better at them. Same with combat maneuvers.

    Keeping the skill list small and high-level (instead of detailed and granular) seems to work better--it's usually obvious if you should roll Persuasion vs Deception vs Intimidation. All of those are "get someone to do something by ________" skills, the only difference is how you do it.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    BESM wasn't a very good system in a lot of ways, but it did have one idea I wish more games would use: skill costs depend on how _useful_ the skill is in that genre, not how difficult it is to learn in real life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    While a certain level of granularity is good, my general experience has been that the more a system breaks down skills (ie, "Body" to "Athletics" to "Climb" to "Bouldering" to "Bare-Handed Bouldering"), the less competent characters feel. Particularly if you've got a pure skill-based game where there's no general ability score boosting multiple related checks, you wind up having a lot of trouble filling out a role. 3.5 has this problem to an extent; I remember a version of Traveller that I briefly played that was even worse.
    Try GURPS - separate skills for Biology, Biochemistry, Zoology, Botany... eventually they just created the Science! skill-group to compact these.

    Or for true horror, the S.U.E. System., which can be summed up as "roll dice until I tell you you've failed."

    Or, for a good idea, the CORPS generic system had a neat way of handling skills: IIRC, They were set up in a tree of increasing specificity, and to see what you rolled, you summed up all relevant skills: So, Body + Athletics + Climb + Bouldering + Bare-handed Bouldering for your example. The thing being, the cost of skills at every 'step' was the skill level squared - so while buying Body 5 (25 points) would make you competent at anything physical, it would cost less to get Body 3, Athletics 3, Climb 1, Bouldering 1. BHB 1 (21 points total) and you'd have a better roll (9!).
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I don't like permission-slip systems. They have a tendency to make players think that they can only do what's written as permission. Anyone can do all those things, by default. Skills should make you better at them. Same with combat maneuvers.

    Keeping the skill list small and high-level (instead of detailed and granular) seems to work better--it's usually obvious if you should roll Persuasion vs Deception vs Intimidation. All of those are "get someone to do something by ________" skills, the only difference is how you do it.
    I was trying to design the list so that each thing was something that you couldn't do without game mechanical support, and which also didn't require the skill in any situation where it could be covered by roleplay, but I might not have been successful at that. The intent was for each skill to be designed like a spell - when you fire it off, a specific mechanical thing happens which adds on top of whatever you do with roleplay or the logic of the situation.

    E.g. Etiquette literally makes you able to cause NPCs you never meet or speak to to shun someone for slighting you; Diplomacy in the extreme lets you create a psychological catch where someone who betrays you will be driven to suicide; etc. Generally those are not just things anyone can do.

    If I'd done it right, it should've been clear that anyone could convince someone of something, be scary to someone weaker, or successfully pursue romance without a single rank in any of them. Rather each skill gives an augmentation to those base abilities by saying 'in addition to stuff you can normally do, here's an extra thing'
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Another pet peeve I have are purely reactive skills, as in skills that are niche enough that you only end up using it when the GM tells you to. If the GM is making the situation for the players it will never come up because no one can roll the skill unless a player invested in it and if the GM makes the situation up and sees what roles make sense without checking the characters' abilities then it will be pure luck if you take knowledge (virology) which is needed for the plot instead of the currently useless knowledge (nuclear). I understand that some campaigns will focus on different things but you can at least group them together like making knowing about virus spreading methods art of medicine since that's going to be useful in any campaign where people can get sick, poisoned or injured.

    In a similar vein are feats and abilities that are very situational, especially because they tend to be either useless or very powerful depending on the campaign. Like if you're playing a sea campaign having a feat that halves all penalties from rough waters is probably the most powerful feat you can take but is essentially useless otherwise which makes for an awkward character building choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by calam View Post
    Another pet peeve I have are purely reactive skills, as in skills that are niche enough that you only end up using it when the GM tells you to. If the GM is making the situation for the players it will never come up because no one can roll the skill unless a player invested in it and if the GM makes the situation up and sees what roles make sense without checking the characters' abilities then it will be pure luck if you take knowledge (virology) which is needed for the plot instead of the currently useless knowledge (nuclear). I understand that some campaigns will focus on different things but you can at least group them together like making knowing about virus spreading methods art of medicine since that's going to be useful in any campaign where people can get sick, poisoned or injured.

    In a similar vein are feats and abilities that are very situational, especially because they tend to be either useless or very powerful depending on the campaign. Like if you're playing a sea campaign having a feat that halves all penalties from rough waters is probably the most powerful feat you can take but is essentially useless otherwise which makes for an awkward character building choice.
    For me, these all fall under the umbrella of "niche quasi-trap options," and usually result from trying to be too granular in design. Paying a major resource (build points, XP, feat slots, skill points) for something that comes up basically never is really hard to balance. The expected value of the choice is roughly EV = (probability of use) x (value when used).

    If (probability of use) is low (ie the thing is niche), then value has to be high to make it valuable. But then, when it does get used it's totally OP and mandatory. If value is too low, then it's just a total trap.

    I strongly prefer broad skills/feats/features to narrow ones. Let things be useful a lot of the time and differentiate how you do things, not what you can do at all.
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    I am very surprised nobody has taken the opportunity to name the Wish Spell.

    It never leads to a satisfying ending, it readily creates situations where the session just devolves in Contract law; the game and it either ****s up everything in its entirety, or it ends everything for always and forever.

    The best use of the Wish spell imo is to wish for a sandwich.


    As for other stuff, I hate roleplay requirements, especially if the rules regarding said roleplaying have no basis for doing so. Case in point: the 5e druid and its metal armour taboo.

    But that's not all, I don't like systems where being the best there is at something doesn't prevent someone with a great random roll from showing you up. In 5e you can get as much as +11 to a given skill roll (assuming no expertise) at max lvl. If you roll a 1 on a d20 and the person with the absolute lowest modifier (a -1) rolls a 14 on a d20 he will show you up and I think that is a bad thing.

    That said, systems where you can only succeed at a challenge by being the absolute best at the skill the challenge asks for is not desirable either: something in between where you are really rewarded for investing into a skill but not impossible odds when you are untrained (or someone who dabbles in the skill).

    And lastly, after playing Anima Prime I found that a clunky way of resolving combat does not make a great gaming experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    But that's not all, I don't like systems where being the best there is at something doesn't prevent someone with a great random roll from showing you up. In 5e you can get as much as +11 to a given skill roll (assuming no expertise) at max lvl. If you roll a 1 on a d20 and the person with the absolute lowest modifier (a -1) rolls a 14 on a d20 he will show you up and I think that is a bad thing.

    That said, systems where you can only succeed at a challenge by being the absolute best at the skill the challenge asks for is not desirable either: something in between where you are really rewarded for investing into a skill but not impossible odds when you are untrained (or someone who dabbles in the skill).
    That's a very fine balance you're expecting. I'd be shocked if there's any system that has both those traits simultaneously--no edition of D&D has ever managed it. You'd need a bell-curve roll (so a dice pool, probably) with some wonky math.

    And a -1 is not the absolute lowest modifier--a -5 is. More than that, competence in 5e comes more from class features (expertise or reliable talent) than it does from raw proficiency. The rogue in my game can't roll below a 28 on certain checks-- +12 from expertise, +6 from ability scores (he found a dex Tome), plus reliable talent that turns any roll of 9 or less into a 10. That's what it means to be an expert in 5e--proficiency + good scores just means you're better than most at it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's a very fine balance you're expecting. I'd be shocked if there's any system that has both those traits simultaneously--no edition of D&D has ever managed it. You'd need a bell-curve roll (so a dice pool, probably) with some wonky math.
    No edition of D&D has ever managed it because D&D consistently has sad and pathetic skill systems by industry standards. Outside D&D it's pretty routinely reached, largely with curved rolls (sometimes dice pool, sometimes roll and add, sometimes other systems). This is even more true if you open the restrictions slightly to allow extremely low probabilities. That 5e example has a full 7% chance of the inept character doing better. Meanwhile in Fudge, my go to example, it's either 2.4% or 0.7% that the inept character does better depending on where you put the best out of the standard options. There's also a range there where they're guaranteed to succeed, a decent character has a pretty good shot, and a totally untrained person has respectable odds but will still probably fail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    No edition of D&D has ever managed it because D&D consistently has sad and pathetic skill systems by industry standards. Outside D&D it's pretty routinely reached, largely with curved rolls (sometimes dice pool, sometimes roll and add, sometimes other systems). This is even more true if you open the restrictions slightly to allow extremely low probabilities. That 5e example has a full 7% chance of the inept character doing better. Meanwhile in Fudge, my go to example, it's either 2.4% or 0.7% that the inept character does better depending on where you put the best out of the standard options. There's also a range there where they're guaranteed to succeed, a decent character has a pretty good shot, and a totally untrained person has respectable odds but will still probably fail.
    Tangentially, that reminds me of a couple of pet peeves.

    When checks/actions take more than a few seconds to resolve. I’m fine with trading off fidelity for resolution speed, for individual actions. If I have to pull out a flow chart or cross-reference multiple tables or track a large number (more than about 1) situational or temporary modifiers, it’s too much. Instead, I’d rather get stochastic fidelity by rolling a lot more atomic checks. Not “roll fight (with all these bonuses, penalties, etc) to see if you win”, or worse, “roll to see if you hit, then roll to see if you actually damaged him, then add the angle of the moon and the height above ground, ...” I like things that incentivize doing more smaller actions instead of one big action.

    The second is a dogged addiction to bell curves and statistics in general. While you might roll enough dice total over a session to start seeing the law of large numbers in effect, they’re not from the same distribution or distributed randomly. Not only that, but if you restrict the range enough, all distributions are flat.

    Multi-dice resolution mechanics make things both harder to predict (because people are bad at probability, and worse at non-linear probability) and less variable. In real life, weird things happen way too often to be on a bell curve. Life has fat tails.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Tangentially, that reminds me of a couple of pet peeves.

    When checks/actions take more than a few seconds to resolve. I’m fine with trading off fidelity for resolution speed, for individual actions. If I have to pull out a flow chart or cross-reference multiple tables or track a large number (more than about 1) situational or temporary modifiers, it’s too much. Instead, I’d rather get stochastic fidelity by rolling a lot more atomic checks. Not “roll fight (with all these bonuses, penalties, etc) to see if you win”, or worse, “roll to see if you hit, then roll to see if you actually damaged him, then add the angle of the moon and the height above ground, ...” I like things that incentivize doing more smaller actions instead of one big action.

    The second is a dogged addiction to bell curves and statistics in general. While you might roll enough dice total over a session to start seeing the law of large numbers in effect, they’re not from the same distribution or distributed randomly. Not only that, but if you restrict the range enough, all distributions are flat.

    Multi-dice resolution mechanics make things both harder to predict (because people are bad at probability, and worse at non-linear probability) and less variable. In real life, weird things happen way too often to be on a bell curve. Life has fat tails.
    I'm not fond of variable die pools against moving target numbers, especially with exploding dice (think L5R 4th, for example). I have deeply fond memories of playing WEG d6 Star Wars, but I'd never use that kind of system now.

    Give me a single die pool (3d6, 2d12, for example) that's looking for a specific target number determined by the character's ability in that regard, and modified by a reasonably small number of modifiers.
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    The pet peeve I most recently had issues with is game systems that needlessly call for a whole bunch of time, effort, and/or dice rolling needed to resolve an action. Especially those that require the consultation of multiple tables or situational rules. I'm not talking about games that might give you a lot of options as a player, and you get to decide between them. Those can get a little overwhelming too, but it can also lead to some tense and rewarding gameplay. No, I'm talking specifically about games that take forever to resolve an action even after you've decided exactly what it is you are trying to do.

    In general, these days I look very suspiciously on any system that requires more than one roll to resolve the consequences of an action. Rolling separate dice for attack and damage counts as one, because you can roll them both at the same time. But a system that, say, asks for an attack roll, then a damage roll, then a roll for hit location, then a roll for critical hit results at that location, then a roll for extra damage resulting from piercing your opponent's left kidney with an energy weapon....

    I've been in more than one game where we all lost interest and wandered away in the middle of what should theoretically be a big tense battle, because it simply takes too much time and rule-crunching to figure out what the heck is going on. It's especially bad because the worst battles in these systems are the ones that should ideally be the most fun and interesting, like boss fights against the BBEG or desperate last stands against superior foes. I've played games that were supposed to be combat-heavy grimdark gorefests that ended up being mostly politics or diceless roleplaying because we were all too bored by the combat rules to ever get into a fight!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Mirror View Post
    The pet peeve I most recently had issues with is game systems that needlessly call for a whole bunch of time, effort, and/or dice rolling needed to resolve an action. Especially those that require the consultation of multiple tables or situational rules. I'm not talking about games that might give you a lot of options as a player, and you get to decide between them. Those can get a little overwhelming too, but it can also lead to some tense and rewarding gameplay. No, I'm talking specifically about games that take forever to resolve an action even after you've decided exactly what it is you are trying to do.

    In general, these days I look very suspiciously on any system that requires more than one roll to resolve the consequences of an action. Rolling separate dice for attack and damage counts as one, because you can roll them both at the same time. But a system that, say, asks for an attack roll, then a damage roll, then a roll for hit location, then a roll for critical hit results at that location, then a roll for extra damage resulting from piercing your opponent's left kidney with an energy weapon....

    I've been in more than one game where we all lost interest and wandered away in the middle of what should theoretically be a big tense battle, because it simply takes too much time and rule-crunching to figure out what the heck is going on. It's especially bad because the worst battles in these systems are the ones that should ideally be the most fun and interesting, like boss fights against the BBEG or desperate last stands against superior foes. I've played games that were supposed to be combat-heavy grimdark gorefests that ended up being mostly politics or diceless roleplaying because we were all too bored by the combat rules to ever get into a fight!
    :Clapping.gif:

    Amen. Glad to see I'm not the only one. And it's not just combat (although it can be there most visible offender in a lot of cases).
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Amen. Glad to see I'm not the only one. And it's not just combat (although it can be there most visible offender in a lot of cases).
    That's true. I remember when the original Epic Level Handbook came out for 3E, and we decided to play an Epic level caster game, to really enjoy the experience of playing ridiculously powerful demigods who could reshape the rules of physics like putty.

    I think we quit one and a half sessions into it when I pulled out a 4 window spreadsheet about my downtime magic item crafting antics, and my buddy passed out pages with his Leadership feat followers' buff schedules for each member of the party, as well as a file about 8 pages long in 11 point font detailing the math for each of his custom-crafted epic level spell rituals, the end goal of which was to make custom planes for all of us which generated infinite wealth, responded to our thoughts, bred massive armies for our multiversal onslaught, made us and our minions immortal, could nuke entire planes from a distance, and constantly blasted each of our theme music tracks throughout the entire plane.

    I think we quit that game and decided to play L5R for a while with a different GM so the previous one could take some time off and find a way to forgive us. That's a little different because it wasn't TECHNICALLY in-game rules slowing down the pace of play, but just ridiculously complex rules in general that made it almost impossible to even start the game. Still though, that experience definitely helped push me towards some more streamlined rule sets (not that I was aware of any at the time).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Mirror View Post
    The pet peeve I most recently had issues with is game systems that needlessly call for a whole bunch of time, effort, and/or dice rolling needed to resolve an action. Especially those that require the consultation of multiple tables or situational rules. I'm not talking about games that might give you a lot of options as a player, and you get to decide between them. Those can get a little overwhelming too, but it can also lead to some tense and rewarding gameplay. No, I'm talking specifically about games that take forever to resolve an action even after you've decided exactly what it is you are trying to do.

    In general, these days I look very suspiciously on any system that requires more than one roll to resolve the consequences of an action. Rolling separate dice for attack and damage counts as one, because you can roll them both at the same time. But a system that, say, asks for an attack roll, then a damage roll, then a roll for hit location, then a roll for critical hit results at that location, then a roll for extra damage resulting from piercing your opponent's left kidney with an energy weapon....

    I've been in more than one game where we all lost interest and wandered away in the middle of what should theoretically be a big tense battle, because it simply takes too much time and rule-crunching to figure out what the heck is going on. It's especially bad because the worst battles in these systems are the ones that should ideally be the most fun and interesting, like boss fights against the BBEG or desperate last stands against superior foes. I've played games that were supposed to be combat-heavy grimdark gorefests that ended up being mostly politics or diceless roleplaying because we were all too bored by the combat rules to ever get into a fight!
    IMO, there's always a tradeoff when trying to make the combat "like combat" -- between having enough detail in combat rules to allow for variation and grit and for things to feel active... and not bogging down so far in details and rolls and steps that, as you describe, you end up a tense and exciting fight that last less than a minute inside the "fiction" takes an hour to resolve at the table.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    IMO, there's always a tradeoff when trying to make the combat "like combat" -- between having enough detail in combat rules to allow for variation and grit and for things to feel active... and not bogging down so far in details and rolls and steps that, as you describe, you end up a tense and exciting fight that last less than a minute inside the "fiction" takes an hour to resolve at the table.
    Put me in the camp that prefers fast, cinematic-ish (not fully cinematic, but more cinematic than gritty) combat over "realistic." I'd rather resolve lots of actions, each one taking next to no time but abstracting quite a bit, than resolve a few perfectly-accurate actions in the same amount of time.

    And as DM, the system load is even worse than as a player. An average 5e D&D combat has 4-5 players, 4-8 monsters, plus terrain and possibly NPCs or environmental factors. Each player only has to manage one PC--I have to manage the rest while answering questions and resolving things that aren't directly combat related (interactions with terrain, how something looks due to time of day, lighting conditions, sound conditions, etc. 5e's fortunately light enough (although not very light on an absolute scale) that I can manage it. I still find myself using poor tactics just from sheer brain overload and desire to actually move things along. Armed standoffs aren't that fun to run, even if it's pretty realistic (both sides waiting for the other to make the first mistake).

    I jokingly think that the reason 3e D&D does so (comparatively) well with large solo fights (one monster vs a party) is that that's all it can do--adding many more monsters with non-trivial abilities makes DM heads explode (or bogs things down to a standstill).
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    My biggest peeve is exponential anything.
    I don't really even like linear scaling.

    It was one of my favorite parts of Shadowrun, back in my last group.
    It felt like a starting squad with intel could beat an experienced team going in blind.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    IMO, there's always a tradeoff when trying to make the combat "like combat" -- between having enough detail in combat rules to allow for variation and grit and for things to feel active... and not bogging down so far in details and rolls and steps that, as you describe, you end up a tense and exciting fight that last less than a minute inside the "fiction" takes an hour to resolve at the table.
    That's true, and everyone will have their own sweet spot when it comes to finding that balance.

    And for me...
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Put me in the camp that prefers fast, cinematic-ish (not fully cinematic, but more cinematic than gritty) combat over "realistic." I'd rather resolve lots of actions, each one taking next to no time but abstracting quite a bit, than resolve a few perfectly-accurate actions in the same amount of time.
    I used to be further along towards the "give me tables!" side of things, but as I get older and frankly have less time to game, I really prefer streamlined mechanical resolutions that let the group spend more time on what we actually find interesting as opposed to number tracking and flow-chart following. That's not a universal thing, just a personal preference. Though I have played a few games that I would argue are objectively overcomplicated and could accomplish the same design objectives in a less obtuse way. And those games would trigger my pet peeve.


    On a completely different note, I've remembered another pet peeve of mine: games that have disadvantages/flaws/whatever you want to call them that are designed such that they actively discourage the player from ever trying to roleplay them.

    For instance, grabbing a trait called "binge drinker" that gives your character a mechanical penalty in any situation where they imbibe alcohol. In term of game fiction, that should mean that your character has a weakness for booze and a tendency to over-indulge to their detriment. There are lots of interesting RP situations you can spin out of that. But in mechanical terms, a player is actually rewarded for avoiding those situations entirely, never drinking at all, so as to never encounter the penalty.

    As a result, for most players that trait might as well read "you get free character points, with no drawbacks as long as you make sure not to RP your character", and that undermines good matchup between what it says on your sheet and how your character acts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepy hedgehog View Post
    My biggest peeve is exponential anything.
    I don't really even like linear scaling.

    It was one of my favorite parts of Shadowrun, back in my last group.
    It felt like a starting squad with intel could beat an experienced team going in blind.
    So...do you dislike character advancement on a mechanical level?..
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Tangentially, that reminds me of a couple of pet peeves.

    When checks/actions take more than a few seconds to resolve. I’m fine with trading off fidelity for resolution speed, for individual actions. If I have to pull out a flow chart or cross-reference multiple tables or track a large number (more than about 1) situational or temporary modifiers, it’s too much. Instead, I’d rather get stochastic fidelity by rolling a lot more atomic checks. Not “roll fight (with all these bonuses, penalties, etc) to see if you win”, or worse, “roll to see if you hit, then roll to see if you actually damaged him, then add the angle of the moon and the height above ground, ...” I like things that incentivize doing more smaller actions instead of one big action.

    The second is a dogged addiction to bell curves and statistics in general. While you might roll enough dice total over a session to start seeing the law of large numbers in effect, they’re not from the same distribution or distributed randomly. Not only that, but if you restrict the range enough, all distributions are flat.

    Multi-dice resolution mechanics make things both harder to predict (because people are bad at probability, and worse at non-linear probability) and less variable. In real life, weird things happen way too often to be on a bell curve. Life has fat tails.
    You are completely right and I have yet to see a system that uses 2 resolution mechanics for skills and combat. From a statistics standpoint and usability I find that CoC 7th does a great job: d100 resolution where you skills and combat are graded by a threshold. the higher your threshold (i.e. the higher your score), the more often you will be successful. Sure the n00b can still beat the expert, but the chances for that are very, very slim (let's say expert is at 75%, n00b is at 5% for a normal skill check, that means 0.05*(1-0.75)=1,25% of that happening). If you are at advantage/disadvantage that is done though rolling an extra D100
    Warlock Poetry?
    Or ways to use me in game?
    Better grab a drink...

    Currently ruining Strahd's day - Avatar by the Outstanding Smuchsmuch

    First Ordained Jr. Tormlet by LoyalPaladin

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