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    Default Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Working on a game largely about loss and failure, and I need to create 7 outcomes ranging from "Complete Abject Failure" to "Success" (These outcomes are intentionally skewed towards failure ). Currently I've got:

    0) Abject, Pathetic Failure
    1) Failure with a slim hint of redemption
    2) Failure but a slim hope of lasting impact
    3) Failure, but one that can be recovered from
    4) An adjacent victory: the goal is not achieved but something can be made of the failure
    5) Near Success/Success at the cost of something significant
    6) Success



    My main issue is that these categories don't feel crisp and well defined enough. So anywayz, any ideas for categories of failure or suggestions about how to tighten this up?
    Last edited by D20ragon; 2018-07-11 at 03:30 PM.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by D20ragon View Post
    Working on a game largely about loss and failure, and I need to create 7 outcomes ranging from "Complete Abject Failure" to "Success" (These outcomes are intentionally skewed towards failure ). Currently I've got:

    0) Abject, Pathetic Failure
    1) Failure with a slim hint of redemption
    2) Failure but a slim hope of lasting impact
    3) Failure, but one that can be recovered from
    4) An adjacent victory: the goal is not achieved but something can be made of the failure
    5) Near Success/Success at the cost of something significant
    6) Success



    My main issue is that these categories don't feel crisp and well defined enough. So anywayz, any ideas for categories of failure or suggestions about how to tighten this up?
    1) feels very vague... redemption? As in, you get a second chance?
    2) is vague as well. A lasting impact... for the better? Because if not, it is worse than outcome 1.

    Using your system, I can also not distinguish between the line of "no success" and "making things worse".

    There is also no "better than expected" or "unbelievably good" which is something I would like to see in a system.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    I don't think this will work. It won't benefit play at the table. Every single conceivable check won't have 7 distinct variants of progress and trying to create the missing ones will feel contrived.

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    The degrees of failure that I've seen work successfully were more like:

    1 - No, and worse...
    2 - No.
    3 - No, but...
    4 - Yes, but...
    5 - Yes.
    6 - Yes, and better...

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    1) feels very vague... redemption? As in, you get a second chance?
    2) is vague as well. A lasting impact... for the better? Because if not, it is worse than outcome 1.

    Using your system, I can also not distinguish between the line of "no success" and "making things worse".

    There is also no "better than expected" or "unbelievably good" which is something I would like to see in a system.
    Making things worse should definitely be clearer, I agree. Lasting impact for the better was the intent, but it’s kinda weird, I’ll mess with it.
    The lack of a “better than expected” is intentional, this game is specifically about loss and failure, and these results, while not the conflict resolution system of the game in question, are more broadly about how much the characters can ever achieve. (The game is a one sitting rpg about characters who lose everything in pursuit of a goal and most likely don’t end up achieving it).

    Quote Originally Posted by Blymurkla View Post
    I don't think this will work. It won't benefit play at the table. Every single conceivable check won't have 7 distinct variants of progress and trying to create the missing ones will feel contrived.
    Ordinarily I would agree, but I’m not coming up with a skill or ability check system right now. I should have made that clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    The degrees of failure that I've seen work successfully were more like:

    1 - No, and worse...
    2 - No.
    3 - No, but...
    4 - Yes, but...
    5 - Yes.
    6 - Yes, and better...
    This is usually true, but for this particular instance I need there to be more and worse failure conditions than victory conditions. Success in this instance is hard won, limited, and rare.

    I should have made it more clear what I’m tinkering with: basically, I’m looking for help with a 7 point scale from “absolutely the worst ever” to “standard success,” and having trouble coming up with that the individual points on the scale ought to be.
    Last edited by D20ragon; 2018-07-11 at 04:39 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenChord View Post
    This seems like a level of crazy-talk only you could accomplish.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mick View Post
    ... I've played a few games with D20ragon as GM in the past, and I have to vouch for his skill - he's an excellent writer, his world-building is top-notch ... and his games are, while sometimes too ambitious, some of the most fun to be had on these boards.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by Blymurkla View Post
    I don't think this will work. It won't benefit play at the table. Every single conceivable check won't have 7 distinct variants of progress and trying to create the missing ones will feel contrived.
    Agreed. If youre looking for a general "heres what to do if theres no specific rule for it" roll, I recommend making it only like 5 results: Full success, partial success, failure, catastrophic failure and "act of god"

    Full success is what it sounds like. You accomplish exactly what you set out to do.
    Partial Success means you succeed, but with a caveat of some sort. Maybe it cost an abnormal amount of resources, maybe you tripped an alarm, maybe you injured yourself, something like that.
    Failure is failure. No strings attached, you just didn't do what you wanted to do.
    Catastrophic failure: You actively made things worse than when you started out. Maybe you jammed a lock, woke up the dragon, broke some handholds off a cliff you were climbing, stuff like that
    and "Act of God" failure would be like catastrophic failure, except that the results aren't necessarily related to your actions. Maybe there was a thunderstorm and you got electrocuted mid action. Maybe the dragon sneezed in its sleep and set you on fire. Maybe it was aliens. Things that don't necessarily follow directly from your failure.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by D20ragon View Post
    I should have made it more clear what I’m tinkering with: basically, I’m looking for help with a 7 point scale from “absolutely the worst ever” to “standard success,” and having trouble coming up with that the individual points on the scale ought to be.
    "Absolutely the worst ever" would mean that like... the whole campaign ended thanks to that roll?

    It's the worst ever, in absolute terms, so you can't risk rolling that value ever again, so the whole game is over?

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    It might be good to revisit this pretty fundamentally. As is, you want 7 results - a success and 6 failures. This sounds like it's for thematic reasons, where things going wrong in a variety of ways and unalloyed success being incredibly rare is a large part of the point.

    There might be a better way to do that than a simple ordered list. Having 6 failures lets you have two groups of three or three groups of two, which lets you match fewer and thus clearer cases of severity with different categories of loss.

    For instance, you can have lost resources, lost opportunity, and harm through failure as three categories. Lost resources means you fail, and also you lose some resources in the process. Lost opportunity means you fail, and also there are impediments to trying again. Harm through failure means you fail, and also you get hurt somehow. Then there are two severities for each of these.

    If you fail a roll, you also roll a die to determine which of the three applies, from the low severity case. If you badly fail a roll, you also roll a die to determine which of the three applies, from the high severity case. If you're lucky enough to roll one which can't apply, then you're fortunate enough to just fail.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by D20ragon View Post
    This is usually true, but for this particular instance I need there to be more and worse failure conditions than victory conditions. Success in this instance is hard won, limited, and rare.
    that can be easily handled with difficulty of getting those. You don't necessarily need more types of failure results, just a distribution that favors them.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It might be good to revisit this pretty fundamentally. As is, you want 7 results - a success and 6 failures. This sounds like it's for thematic reasons, where things going wrong in a variety of ways and unalloyed success being incredibly rare is a large part of the point.

    There might be a better way to do that than a simple ordered list. Having 6 failures lets you have two groups of three or three groups of two, which lets you match fewer and thus clearer cases of severity with different categories of loss.

    For instance, you can have lost resources, lost opportunity, and harm through failure as three categories. Lost resources means you fail, and also you lose some resources in the process. Lost opportunity means you fail, and also there are impediments to trying again. Harm through failure means you fail, and also you get hurt somehow. Then there are two severities for each of these.

    If you fail a roll, you also roll a die to determine which of the three applies, from the low severity case. If you badly fail a roll, you also roll a die to determine which of the three applies, from the high severity case. If you're lucky enough to roll one which can't apply, then you're fortunate enough to just fail.
    Well, first of all, I enjoy this a lot and might steal parts of it for another project, but as far as this particular instance goes, the system is already pretty set in stone. I don't want to talk about the game too much because the playtest alpha hasn't even been released yet, but I think I need to provide a tad more context, albeit very much simplified:
    The game already has a conflict resolution mechanic. By succeeding tests, the character gains "goal dice" which represent the resources and progress towards their ultimate goal, which is chosen at the start of the game. During the last phase of the game, this "goal dice" pool is rolled, and the results will be checked against the table which I am looking for help with. This table needs to be skewed towards failure in the ways that I previously mentioned.
    ALSO: this "goal dice thing" is not the only thing dictating the outcome of the end of the game. There's a whole "hope/despair dice" thing as well, which isn't relevant to all of this, but I felt like it was important to stress that I'm only looking to refine one part of a game at the moment, not the whole game.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    that can be easily handled with difficulty of getting those. You don't necessarily need more types of failure results, just a distribution that favors them.
    The system is already in place though, and it's not my job to change it right now, just to work on making this table.


    Once this table and a bit more spit and polish type tasks have been completed, I'll post a new thread about the game itself, but this can't be that thread right now.
    Washed up Gm in the Playground

    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenChord View Post
    This seems like a level of crazy-talk only you could accomplish.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mick View Post
    ... I've played a few games with D20ragon as GM in the past, and I have to vouch for his skill - he's an excellent writer, his world-building is top-notch ... and his games are, while sometimes too ambitious, some of the most fun to be had on these boards.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Success, partial success, partial failure (failure with a concession prize), total failure, failure with mild consequences, failure with notable consequences, failure with disastrous consequences.

    In another game (FATE), the “consequences” line up pretty nicely with degrees of Conditions - Mild/Moderate/Severe is a Condition track already, so if you fail mildly, you earn a Mild Condition (sprained ankle, bruised ego, etc), whereas severe failures have Severe Conditions (or Moderate Conditions applies to the whole group - breaking everyone’s leg versus puncturing one of your lungs).
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    You accomplish what you were trying to achieve.
    You partially accomplish what you were trying to achieve.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve, but get some minor concession out of your failure.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve, and suffer some minor setback as a result of your failure.
    You partially invert what you were trying to achieve.
    You invert what you were trying to achieve.

    EDIT: Although actually, looking at your original list again, it looks like total failure should be the bottom one, and the ones between should degrees from success to failure. So if that's the case:

    You accomplish what you were trying to achieve.
    You partially accomplish what you were trying to achieve.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve, but get some minor concession out of your failure.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve, and future attempts can be no more than a partial success.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve, and future attempts can accomplish no more than failing with a minor concession.
    You fail at what you were trying to achieve utterly; you may not try again in the future.
    Last edited by Quellian-dyrae; 2018-07-12 at 01:42 AM.
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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    I think by starting at the concept of 6 failures + 1 success, you already made any notion of minimalistic or crisp definitions rather hard to implement. That said, mechanically I can't see anything wrong with your starting proposition, or the one in the post above this.

    But I'll try my hand, just in case you like it better:

    0) Explosive Failure: The effect below, plus you've made other things worse as well.
    1) Conclusive Failure: Shuts down all avenues of approach.
    2) Irrevocable Failure: Shuts down this approach.
    3) Escalating Failure: You've made things worse.
    4) Educational Failure: You've gained something out of the failure.
    4b) Zero Impact Failure: You made no headway.
    5) Pyrrhic Victory: Success at the cost of sacrifice.
    5b) Partial Success
    6) Success

    As some of the others said, some personal cost could be mixed in there as well, perhaps.

    0b) Crippling Failure (permanent loss)
    1b) Exhaustive Failure (temporary loss)
    Last edited by Cespenar; 2018-07-12 at 03:13 AM.

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by D20ragon View Post
    Working on a game largely about loss and failure, and I need to create 7 outcomes ranging from "Complete Abject Failure" to "Success" (These outcomes are intentionally skewed towards failure ). Currently I've got:

    0) Abject, Pathetic Failure
    1) Failure with a slim hint of redemption
    2) Failure but a slim hope of lasting impact
    3) Failure, but one that can be recovered from
    4) An adjacent victory: the goal is not achieved but something can be made of the failure
    5) Near Success/Success at the cost of something significant
    6) Success



    My main issue is that these categories don't feel crisp and well defined enough. So anywayz, any ideas for categories of failure or suggestions about how to tighten this up?
    Without some hint of subject matter it's very, very hard to give useful feedback, however.

    1. Total Failure. This goal may not be achieved. "He's dead Jim."
    2. Failure, but a different and arduous route may lead somewhere near your original destination. "He was disintegrated, but I found a toe under the cabinet. Maybe we could clone him?"
    3. Failure, but some aspect of the original goal might be achieved. "Well, he's horribly burned and confined to this power chair with only a blinky light to communicate with, but maybe Spock can take him back to that planet of telepathic illusionists for a chance at a dream of life?"
    4. Failure, but not one that prevents the goal from being achieved in the future. "Once we invent the technology to replicate him a new spine, he'll only need several months of painful therapy to be back to normal."
    5. Failure, but one that might turn out to be useful in the future. "Sorry about the hand Luke, but your dad is pretty much a borg now. Maybe you can bond over this?"
    6. Marginal Success. "Well, you lost the bar fight, but your new heart should work fine, unless you take a stun to the chest, but what are the odds of that?"
    7. Victory. "It's only a flesh wound. Walk it off you pansy."

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    Default Re: Degrees of Failure Brainstorming

    Quote Originally Posted by Andor13 View Post
    Without some hint of subject matter it's very, very hard to give useful feedback, however.

    1. Total Failure. This goal may not be achieved. "He's dead Jim."
    2. Failure, but a different and arduous route may lead somewhere near your original destination. "He was disintegrated, but I found a toe under the cabinet. Maybe we could clone him?"
    3. Failure, but some aspect of the original goal might be achieved. "Well, he's horribly burned and confined to this power chair with only a blinky light to communicate with, but maybe Spock can take him back to that planet of telepathic illusionists for a chance at a dream of life?"
    4. Failure, but not one that prevents the goal from being achieved in the future. "Once we invent the technology to replicate him a new spine, he'll only need several months of painful therapy to be back to normal."
    5. Failure, but one that might turn out to be useful in the future. "Sorry about the hand Luke, but your dad is pretty much a borg now. Maybe you can bond over this?"
    6. Marginal Success. "Well, you lost the bar fight, but your new heart should work fine, unless you take a stun to the chest, but what are the odds of that?"
    7. Victory. "It's only a flesh wound. Walk it off you pansy."

    On my phone so I can’t quite muster the eloquence I’d like, but I’m wildly appreciative of the stuff I’ve received so far, and I promise, more context will be made available soon if anyone is interested! (And even if nobody is )
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenChord View Post
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    ... I've played a few games with D20ragon as GM in the past, and I have to vouch for his skill - he's an excellent writer, his world-building is top-notch ... and his games are, while sometimes too ambitious, some of the most fun to be had on these boards.
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