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Old 12-10-2017, 06:11 PM   #1
ravenfish
 
Join Date: May 2007
Default The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

Over in the Weird Powers: Hive Mother thread the question being asked has become quite derailed by a secondary discussion. I mentioned, as an aside, that I tend to avoid giving even perfectly loyal living allies an availability of "Constantly", but rather give them "Almost All the Time" and assume that, if the appearance roll fails, they were in bed with the flu or something. Andreas didn't like this, pointing out that an ally confined to bed could still provide some forms of support, and that assuming they were healthy when the success role succeeded devalued points the ally spent on Resistant to Disease, etc. I suggested that these points could be earned if the Ally is exposed "in the line of duty" to disease-ridden conditions, after which there might well be a risk of the ally being incapacitated for a while regardless of the appearance roll.

It was moreover pointed out that a ~5% absence rate seemed rather high. I countered that American companies assign workers ~3% of the work year as sick days (this being the quickest way I could think of to gauge the portion of the time that an average person is not fit for duty). Andreas and AlexanderHowl pointed out that this does not imply that the worker is actually incapacitated during those sick days; Flyndaran suggested that, in actual fact, comporate sick day policy is frequently so detatched from the facts on the ground as to be useless as a source of information, and it was further pointed out that discussion of averages overlooks the fact that Adventuring allies tend to have higher HT than the general population, which would correspond to even less time sick than whatever the average is. I could counter that inability (as opposed to unwillingness) to appear could also be caused by factors other than illness (his car wouldn't start, the bridge was out, he got lost- any good roleplayer could come up with dozens of these), and, more fundamentally, GURPS (like other roleplaying games) tends to overstate the probability of highly unlikely events where it does not ignore them completely, so as not to waste time rolling for things that almost never happen (compare the chances of a critical failure on a piloting roll- or even of two critical failures in a row- with the number of crashes that occur in routine air travel).

Before going further, it might be helpful to disentangle two questions:

1: When an appearance roll fails, is it reasonable to fluff this as the ally being unable to appear rather than unwilling, and is it reasonable to choose a frequency of appearance with the assumption that this is happening?

2: Is it reasonable to assume that, if an appearance roll succeeds, the Ally has not been incapacitated by circumstances outside the PCs control?

Question 1 was what I had in mind when I made my initial comment, but Question 2 seems to have been what we are arguing over. I would qualify my position here by saying that, if the plot has established that an epidemic is sweeping the town, and I had made the PCs roll to resist it, I would make the ally roll to resist it using the same rules. If the PCs take the ally through a disease ridden swamp, HT rolls for everyone. However, I would never declare out of the blue that the ally is out sick, and I would be unlikely to make random rolls to see if he is sick when there is no plot-reason for him to be, for the same reason I would not expose a PC who paid points for Magery with temporary bouts of Antimagic Flu, or even make players roll routinely against the common cold in anything but the most low-stakes of games (that is, if I did, it would be a plot hook rather than a mere inconvenience). I suppose, if one did make PCs roll against routine illness, a fair case could be made that the ally should suffer the same inconvenience.
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Last edited by ravenfish; 12-10-2017 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
1: When an appearance roll fails, is it reasonable to fluff this as the ally being unable to appear rather than unwilling, and is it reasonable to choose a frequency of appearance with the assumption that this is happening?
There could be any number of reasons and that is as good as any. Basically the appearance roll is a combination of all the reasons why they would not appear. Be it sickness, laziness, buss strike, their mothers funeral, sick kid, holiday, forgetting to recharge cell phone so cannot be reached, a meeting in a secure room where communication devices have to be left behind and whatever else happens in real life.

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2: Is it reasonable to assume that, if an appearance roll succeeds, the Ally has not been incapacitated by circumstances outside the PCs control?
Appearance rolls like all similar rolls can be modified by the GM depending on the circumstances. They are not absolutes, just the "normal". But in general: yes.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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I suggested that these points could be earned if the Ally is exposed "in the line of duty" to disease-ridden conditions, after which there might well be a risk of the ally being incapacitated for a while regardless of the appearance roll.
This would likely only earn a small part of the points though. It is not uncommon for adventures to take place over a rather short amount of time and sometimes with long times between adventures.

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I could counter that inability (as opposed to unwillingness) to appear could also be caused by factors other than illness (his car wouldn't start, the bridge was out, he got lost- any good roleplayer could come up with dozens of these), and, more fundamentally, GURPS (like other roleplaying games) tends to overstate the probability of highly unlikely events where it does not ignore them completely, so as not to waste time rolling for things that almost never happen (compare the chances of a critical failure on a piloting roll- or even of two critical failures in a row- with the number of crashes that occur in routine air travel).
Pretty much all other such factors can be reliably countered though. For example, having your minion follow you around all the time would counter alll the ones you mentioned. Eventually you have to use some pretty contrived stuff to keep them away.

Overstate when not ignoring completely is of course a necessity if you are to resolve such events with only a few dice rolls. However you can still pick the option which closest matches reality. Flight accidents does not in GURPS, but from the fact that that huge difference has relatively commonly been brought up it can be seen that it probably isn't something to spread further. Many people probably fail to open doors and have to try again next second with a higher probability than planes have of crashing, but that is not generally something you have to roll for even when an emergency means that you are in a hurry and failure therefore could be dramatic.


Quote:
1: When an appearance roll fails, is it reasonable to fluff this as the ally being unable to appear rather than unwilling, and is it reasonable to choose a frequency of appearance with the assumption that this is happening?

2: Is it reasonable to assume that, if an appearance roll succeeds, the Ally has not been incapacitated by circumstances outside the PCs control?
1: It might be reasonable. Though take care that the frequency of such events doesn't become implausible and that it doesn't lead to the characters spending time on futily trying to prevent such events.

2: In general I don't think that is a good idea. Them always being able to participate in the adventure when they make their appearance rolls can lead to effectively giving them plenty of extra character points. An example I gave in the last thread is that I don't think that most GMs would give Allies Flight for free just so they can participate when the PCs adventure in the elemental plane of air. Giving them Immunity to Disease for when they make their appearance roll so that they can participate under normal conditions is less glaring, but the same principle applies.

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I would be unlikely to make random rolls to see if he is sick when there is no plot-reason for him to be, for the same reason I would not expose a PC who paid points for Magery with temporary bouts of Antimagic Flu, or even make players roll routinely against the common cold in anything but the most low-stakes of games (that is, if I did, it would be a plot hook rather than a mere inconvenience). I suppose, if one did make PCs roll against routine illness, a fair case could be made that the ally should suffer the same inconvenience.
Rolling against every single unlikely event which could possibly happen would obviously be way too much work for pretty much all games. However unlikely events occasionally happening just like they do in real life can add a nice tuch of flavor to the game. What one can do without spending much time or effort on it, is to roll once when for example a day passes in the game to check if anything unlikely happens. In the minority of days where it does, you can roll against a prepared table to check if someone gets exposed to a disease or if someone's car breaks down etc.

Last edited by Andreas; 12-10-2017 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post


Before going further, it might be helpful to disentangle two questions:

1: When an appearance roll fails, is it reasonable to fluff this as the ally being unable to appear rather than unwilling, and is it reasonable to choose a frequency of appearance with the assumption that this is happening?

2: Is it reasonable to assume that, if an appearance roll succeeds, the Ally has not been incapacitated by circumstances outside the PCs control?
Yes to both.
However as I used it with Patron for "The Captains Boat" its not strictly a question of do they appear but do they have a useful effect.
So an Ally, Contact, or Patron can be just talked to or background fluff and its not important. However if they provide actual aid or information (GM using them to promote the plot does not count) it counts against the Appearance Roll.
The Frequency of Appearance is based with that in mind, though the GM may fudge the roll as needed for the plot or circumstances. But if its adjusted too much the cost may need to be reevaluated.
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Old 12-11-2017, 12:28 AM   #5
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

A few data points. (for Luxembourg, but while day-worked numbers will change by country, I expect ratio to stay close)
Sickness leave ratio is iirc well under 2%, at least in the IT sector. (I have the exact number somewhere but see below.)
That said, this number doesn't include work-related sickness/injury ( Burn-out leaves for ones are rarely short.)
It also doesn't include sick children leaves, maternity, ...
A full-time worker usually works 5 days a week. Minus 25 days of vacation and 10 days of public holidays, thats 226 workdays a year.
On average, a good rules of thumb is that an employee will be present 216 days/226. (to account for all sickness and injuries, maternity and paternity, weddings, sick children's, seniority bonus vacation days, emergencies....).
That number is based on country wide averages for financial and IT sector, and could be fine tuned ... but let's keep simple.
Thats just under 4.5% unavailability ratio, actually.

So, 15- in Gurps match nicely to decide if someone that is supposed to be available actually is.

Last edited by Celjabba; 12-11-2017 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 12-11-2017, 12:41 AM   #6
whswhs
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

I don't consider sickness to be the only reason for an Ally to fail to show up. But it is certainly a reason, and an Ally who never fails to show up must be immune to sickness. That implies that such an Ally (a) probably has points in an Immunity and (b) therefore is not anything like a normal human being, and indeed I would reserve the constant frequency of appearance to Allies who were spirits, golems, zombies, robots, and other inhuman entities, leaving humans to be no higher than 15 or less. Any human life will contain some circumstances that interfere with showing up, despite the wish to do so, and a build of human Allies should take that into account.
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Old 12-11-2017, 12:48 AM   #7
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I don't consider sickness to be the only reason for an Ally to fail to show up. But it is certainly a reason, and an Ally who never fails to show up must be immune to sickness. That implies that such an Ally (a) probably has points in an Immunity and (b) therefore is not anything like a normal human being, and indeed I would reserve the constant frequency of appearance to Allies who were spirits, golems, zombies, robots, and other inhuman entities, leaving humans to be no higher than 15 or less. Any human life will contain some circumstances that interfere with showing up, despite the wish to do so, and a build of human Allies should take that into account.
Of course in the case of an Ally group of minions you can get 100% attendance just by assuming that not all of them show up at the same time.
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Old 12-11-2017, 01:44 AM   #8
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
It was moreover pointed out that a ~5% absence rate seemed rather high.
See my post above : it actually match real life surprisingly well.

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
1: When an appearance roll fails, is it reasonable to fluff this as the ally being unable to appear rather than unwilling,
Certainly, and imho more common for most allies .

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
and is it reasonable to choose a frequency of appearance with the assumption that this is happening?
Make sense.
If you expect the ally to be unavailable, frequency of appearance should reflect it.


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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
2: Is it reasonable to assume that, if an appearance roll succeeds, the Ally has not been incapacitated by circumstances outside the PCs control?
Definitively. "Roll of 7. Your 12- bodyguard ally is available but in bed with gallbladder stones, so, phone help only" is not, imho, acceptable.
Barring other disadvantages (cursed, ...), game world events, enemy meddling, ...
In fact, if I were to spring the above to my players, they would likely head to the hospital to discover who incapacitated their ally.

Of course, frequency of appearance is a problem in many long games, and require the GM creativity to explain how the ally who was missing last session managed to appear on a boat in the middle of the ocean, while the other ally is somehow not on the boat today, sorry...
Sickness work well for this kind of situation.
I tend to have 15- ally always with the players, but incapacitate them in some way should the roll be failed for a session.
6-, the player knew the risk when they left an ally behind with no way of catching up. Sorry.
9- or 12-, are trickier to explain.
One idea I used was to have the ally generally available, but to create trouble (sidequest) for him that require the players help. It inconvenience the players without having his sidekick depressed/sick/drunk/tending his ailing relatives/... half of the time.
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:18 AM   #9
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
2: In general I don't think that is a good idea. Them always being able to participate in the adventure when they make their appearance rolls can lead to effectively giving them plenty of extra character points. An example I gave in the last thread is that I don't think that most GMs would give Allies Flight for free just so they can participate when the PCs adventure in the elemental plane of air.
I think this is different. The ally is available, the players decided not to "use" him. They could carry the ally if they wanted to.
Same if a bunch of mages PC spend a few sessions in the astral plane. Their mundane allies won't be with them, but if they succeeded on their availability roll, they can still work for the PC, just not with them.
Of course, if the game was expected from the beginning to happen mostly in the elemental plane of air, and the PCs all got flying powers, having non-fliers high-availability allies is a GM failure imho.
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:23 AM   #10
Andreas
 
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Default Re: The Meaning of the Ally Appearance Roll

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See my post above : it actually match real life surprisingly well.
Not really, many of the reasons you listed are things that can be ignored for a Minion, or even a normal Ally in a great emergency.

A perfectly obedient minion can ignore "maternity and paternity, weddings, sick children's, seniority bonus vacation days". If you need them badly enough it is most often possible for them to show up despite sickness, injuries and emergencies as well.

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I don't consider sickness to be the only reason for an Ally to fail to show up. But it is certainly a reason, and an Ally who never fails to show up must be immune to sickness. That implies that such an Ally (a) probably has points in an Immunity and (b) therefore is not anything like a normal human being, and indeed I would reserve the constant frequency of appearance to Allies who were spirits, golems, zombies, robots, and other inhuman entities, leaving humans to be no higher than 15 or less. Any human life will contain some circumstances that interfere with showing up, despite the wish to do so, and a build of human Allies should take that into account.
I have never in my life (or at least since I was a young child) been too sick to be physically incapable of showing up and I certainly am not immune to sickness. A very sick minion will of course be less useful than otherwise, but there are often ways to make use of them anyway. While a human can't show up 100% of the time, it can be a lot closer to that than on a 15 or less. Also even a minion who can't leave the bed could be used for something like an RPM sacrifice. As for reasons other than sickness, those can usually be countered by keeping your Ally around you at all times (a live-in butler who always follows you when you leave home for example)

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Originally Posted by Celjabba View Post
I think this is different. The ally is available, the players decided not to "use" him. They could carry the ally if they wanted to.
Same if a bunch of mages PC spend a few sessions in the astral plane. Their mundane allies won't be with them, but if they succeeded on their availability roll, they can still work for the PC, just not with them.
Of course, if the game was expected from the beginning to happen mostly in the elemental plane of air, and the PCs all got flying powers, having non-fliers high-availability allies is a GM failure imho.
A sick Minion is also availible in that sense. They could carry him around even if he is too sick to walk.

Last edited by Andreas; 12-11-2017 at 02:28 AM.
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