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Old 01-30-2016, 09:56 PM   #1
Flinx
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Default Success rolls: effective skill below 3

Hello,

I am in the process of learning the basic rules and have just stumbled on the following (B345):
Quote:
You may not attempt a success roll if your effective skill is less than 3, unless you are attempting a defense roll […]
It is not that this rule is not clear, I am just wondering why it exists and if I am overlooking any implications. Except for defense rolls as mentioned, this reduces the rule “3 and 4 are always a success” to “if your effective skill is 3, 4 is also a success”. And the odds for effective skills below 3 are so discouraging that it seems pointless to forbid it. If a player wanted to try something with an effective skill of e.g. 1, as a GM I would just say “You know this has only a 1.85% chance of success and a 50% chance of a critical failure, are you sure?”

But perhaps I am missing something here. Let me know if you think this is a rule that can be ignored without any impact.

Last edited by Flinx; 01-30-2016 at 10:02 PM. Reason: Typo in title; also added tag to title
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:47 PM   #2
Curmudgeon
 
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flinx
It is not that this rule is not clear, I am just wondering why it exists and if I am overlooking any implications. Except for defense rolls as mentioned, this reduces the rule “3 and 4 are always a success” to “if your effective skill is 3, 4 is also a success”. And the odds for effective skills below 3 are so discouraging that it seems pointless to forbid it. If a player wanted to try something with an effective skill of e.g. 1, as a GM I would just say “You know this has only a 1.85% chance of success and a 50% chance of a critical failure, are you sure?”

But perhaps I am missing something here. Let me know if you think this is a rule that can be ignored without any impact.
The rule probably exists because it isn't physically possible to roll less than 3 on 3d6. Since it is effective skill we are talking about, it isn't unreasonable to say that you should have no chance of success if the situation reduces your skill to less than 3. Otherwise you would be allowed the possibility of getting lucky and rolling a critical success on a 3 or 4, 2% of the time, and not only being successful but wildly successful, which doesn't quite seem fair. Even allowing a non-critical success on a roll of 3 with a 4 being a failure is a bit of a stretch, though not as bad a one. The key to remember is that a 2% chance of success is, on average, a success once every fifty tries. A success on a 3 would be bit less frequent, about once in 200 tries for rough figuring.

That said, it doesn't seem likely to break the game if you ignore the rule but you do need to determine whether success that often, under conditions that adverse, is going to break your suspension of disbelief.

The other thing to consider is that you've essentially opened the door for rolls when effective skill is reduced to 0 or a negative number. The argument can be made (and has a certain mathematical validity),that if you allow a roll for impossible results like a 1 or 2, you should also permit them for the equally impossible values of 0 and -1, for example.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:46 PM   #3
ArchonShiva
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

Yeah, mostly it's so you can't succeed 1-in-50 with effective skill -2714.

Other than that, feel free to ignore it. GURPS is a tool box.
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Old 01-31-2016, 12:42 AM   #4
Flinx
 
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Default Re: Success rolls: effective skill below 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The rule probably exists because it isn't physically possible to roll less than 3 on 3d6.
But the same can be said about the other end of the scale. Since all effective skills above 16 are treated like 16, it would be consistent to say all effective skill below 4 are treated like 4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Since it is effective skill we are talking about, it isn't unreasonable to say that you should have no chance of success if the situation reduces your skill to less than 3. Otherwise you would be allowed the possibility of getting lucky and rolling a critical success on a 3 or 4, 2% of the time, […]
Fair enough. For me the idea that you always have a slim chance of success was already ingrained when I came upon this “no chance below 3” rule, which might explain my unease about it. But there are also two aspects of the rules that to me make this limit seem inconsistent:
  1. Cases of “zero chance that you can do this” are already covered by skills without defaults.
  2. For the purpose of defense rolls the official standpoint is precisely that you can succeed with an abysmal effective skill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
[…] and not only being successful but wildly successful, which doesn't quite seem fair.
This is an interesting point I had not thought about. On the other hand the rules consider 3 and 4 a critical success even if your effective skill is only 3 or 4. So the idea behind it seems to be that a success is critical because it is a rare kind of success, not because it is far better than necessary. (Although that is somewhat contradicted again by 5 and 6 becoming critical successes for effective skills of at least 15 and 16 respectively.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The other thing to consider is that you've essentially opened the door for rolls when effective skill is reduced to 0 or a negative number. The argument can be made (and has a certain mathematical validity),that if you allow a roll for impossible results like a 1 or 2, you should also permit them for the equally impossible values of 0 and -1, for example.
Of course; and this is exactly what the rules do in case of defense rolls.

I guess this quickly becomes more a discussion about game design than about application of rules. I am inclined to leave out the rule when explaining the mechanics in favor of simplicity and consistency. Should a player ever want to try their luck I will hand out hard consequences for a critical failure and warn them about it.

Thank you for your thoughts on the topic.
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Old 01-31-2016, 12:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Success rolls: effective skill below 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flinx View Post
But the same can be said about the other end of the scale. Since all effective skills above 16 are treated like 16, it would be consistent to say all effective skill below 4 are treated like 4.
Which is why Skill level 16 opens the option of "No Nuisance rolls" perk for the skill.
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:56 AM   #6
Flinx
 
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Default Re: Success rolls: effective skill below 3

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Originally Posted by roguebfl View Post
Which is why Skill level 16 opens the option of "No Nuisance rolls" perk for the skill.
This seems to cover scenarios where the GM would probably waive the rolls anyway, but I guess that’s why it’s just a perk. (In case anyone else is looking for the description, it’s in “Power-Ups 2: Perks”.)

As a matter of principle I think that if a roll is appropriate at all, it’s interpretation should be true to the normal distribution it approximates, which includes only asymptotically approaching zero in both directions and so always leaving a slight chance of both success and failure under all circumstances. And on a more practical note it just makes for a better gaming experience. If a character who has never used a bow wants to pick one up and shoot an opponent’s eye out, I don’t want to say „you can’t do that“, I want to say „you can certainly try but there is a high chance you will hit one of your companions instead”.
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Old 01-31-2016, 04:00 AM   #7
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

If somebody using Bow at default wants yo shoot somebody in the eye, they should end up with at least an effective skill of 3 by using a full Aim.
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Old 01-31-2016, 06:51 AM   #8
Dinadon
 
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

What hasn't been mentioned yet is that the chance of Critical Failure keeps increasing. If your effective skill is 0, then a roll of 10 or more is a critical failure. Once effective skill is -6 or -7 the Critical Success and Critical Failure ranges will overlap!


The thing is, from a game design perspective, this isn't a symmetrical situation. People seek to maximise success, while minimising failure. Thus Critical Success range expands, then stops, to prevent an I win button. A 16 is the maximum you can roll as this encourages you to use modifiers to diversify skill use, but also has no effect on margin of success if the check uses that instead of simple success. Meanwhile, few people would want a Critical Failure 50% of the time. The cap of 3 means Critical Failure is at worse around 20%.
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Old 01-31-2016, 06:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
If somebody using Bow at default wants yo shoot somebody in the eye, they should end up with at least an effective skill of 3 by using a full Aim.
All I see is that someone could argue a bonus from range being less than 2 yards when aimed. It's not in the rules, but seems more justifiable to me then 100 yard, 10 yard, and 1 inch shots to the eye ending up with the same chance.
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Old 01-31-2016, 07:30 AM   #10
Maz
 
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Default Re: Success roles: effective skill below 3

In my experience this rule is really important in two situations.

1) When the PC's can keep trying. For instance, picking "an impossible to pick"-lock might only require a few minutes of time but have a -10 penalty to attempt. repeated attempts are at -1.
WITHOUT this rule there wouldn't be much difference between someone with skill 15 or someone defaulting to skill 6. They could both keep attempting and will open the lock in a few hours. Maybe faster depending on luck.
WITH this rule the person at default couldn't even hope to try, and the other person have maybe one shot at it, and should probably take all the "spend extra time" and al sort of other situational modifiers to try to get to a place where they might actually succeed.

Of course a sensible GM might just declare "No you can't no matter how much you try". But I know several type of gamers who might start arguing if the rules say "you can always attempt and succeed on a roll of 3".



2) In combat. The only thing preventing my archer from shooting you in the eye at 500y in darkness is the -30 or so penalty.
WITHOUT this rule I might as well try (assuming I have enough arrows). Other similar situations where you are heavily penalized in combat. Then you might as well "go for the eye" as IF you then hit, it's much worse.

Of course some GM's and players might like this. I do not as it, in my experience, lead to players attempting stupid things only because the rules allow it, not because "that is what my character would do".
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