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Old 04-11-2017, 10:40 AM   #51
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
I have one player who won't play GURPS unless his character can have the Luck advantage.
John and I know someone like that, and I'm pretty sure it's not the same bloke.

It is awfully good value.
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:01 AM   #52
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
I agree that it's a bit out of place in a hard-nosed realistic campaign.
I think the real determinant is "Do we want the dice to fall where they may as an absolute?" If so, then yes Luck is inappropriate. So are some of the other mechanics that mess with dice rolls, as are rules that mess with dice rolls. This would also preclude the GM fudging rolls, though to be fair it wouldn't be a problem because - when committed to going with the dice results and nothing else - you're not rolling unless all possible outcomes work for the story and the player's sense of fun.

I've not played in any hard-nosed, realistic adventures, but I can certainly see them lending themselves more to strictly following the dice than a more lighthearted game. On the other hand, someone is free to have a gritty, realistic setting where "Luck" is fine because some folks realistically have it when you view their lives in hindsight. That person may have simply rolled well each time or may have instead used Luck to try and skew things in his or her favor. If "Let the dice fall where they may!" is the driving force of the game, then even a fanciful or silly setting still ought to disallow Luck.
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:48 AM   #53
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
But I'm not talking about that behind-the-curtain stuff. I'm talking about the narrative concept "Alice is lucky." The fact that you can use the rules for Luck to build abilities that represent other things isn't relevant; the ordinary use of Luck is to represent a person being "lucky" as a persistent attribute, and it's that ordinary use that jars me.
The Krommquote I posted addressed this issue, did you read it? Here are some more:

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Phil makes the most fundamental point here: RPG characters do not exist. Thus, when constructing a "reality" around them with tools less powerful than a supercomputer with the complexity of the universe, vast tracts of reality must be compressed into fudge factors (a process not unlike what physicists call "renormalization"). Luck is such a fudge factor. It lets one tell a story where an actor enjoys a perfectly plausible but statistically unlikely outcome without worrying about butterflies flapping their wings half a world away, never mind cosmic rays streaking in from the far side of the galaxy. It isn't a supernatural device, but a dramatic one . . . it's no more supernatural than character points. Realistically, not everybody starts out with the same potential, yet every PC gets the same number of points at the start of a GURPS campaign, and for precisely the same reasons as why Luck exists: dramatic necessity.

Or even medium-to-large ones, like "everybody in the campaign starts on an equal footing" (equal points), "you can pick whatever appearance you like" (weak constraints on combinations of sex, height, weight, and ST, and no constraints at all on hair, eye, and skin tone), and "the GM's word is law." If the GM wants to run a campaign called Six Scary Gingers, and mandates red hair for everyone, a minimum ST of 12 for PCs, and 250 points all around, then that's the campaign. It isn't supernatural for six strong, red-headed people to exist and be close peers in all-around competence; it's just improbable. Luck is a similar sort of thing.

Ditto. And I would add that if you're forbidding Luck, you ought to make people roll their characters randomly while you're at it. The guarantee that you'll have the full campaign starting points and no disadvantages you don't want is the most hamfisted dramatic gesture of all, representing profound luck in a world where a typical collection of people will include the abused, the addicted, the chronically ill, and the profoundly poor, not to mention the clumsy, the stupid, the ugly, and the weak.

This isn't a bad reading, really. Luck effectively increases just about any score just a little once in a rare while. Looking at its outcomes over a career, it represents being fractionally better at everything without being expressly superior at one thing. It's easily interpreted as a knack for synergies among one's skills and talents rather than at a narrow set of feats.



Either way, Luck is intended to be viewed from the end of the story, so that you say, "Wow, wasn't he lucky?", possibly followed by the obligatory quip about skill rather than luck. But so is the entire combat system! Fighters don't actually move around in little overlapping pulses making discrete dodges and steps. They maneuver constantly, in a sufficiently complex way that you would need that supercomputer I mentioned to handle the outcomes. All the finite, discrete rolls do is establish a general thread that you can look back at and identify as "the battle." This doesn't make combat skills and HT rolls supernatural, though.
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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
This is a truly excellent point! I have had several players use Luck in ways that ultimately hurt their characters.

"Hey, I have Luck, so I'm going to bet all my money on this mob poker game!" is a good example of the mere presence of Luck hosing the PC: The character ends up sucked into a dangerous and risky venture because the player decides to make a meta-game bet ("Luck will let me win at an ill-advised card game."). If Luck fails to result in victory, the PC ends up broke. Even if Luck comes through, it hoses the PC because mobsters who expected this nobody to lose are now angry and want his head, and the player just used up her Luck on Gambling, so she doesn't have it for Fast-Talk or Dodge or HT rolls. This isn't a hypothetical example – it happened in play!

Then there are dramatist players who like to use Luck to fail mandatory rolls that don't let the player opt out or "throw the match." They want to get spotted, captured, ill, or whatever because they find the idea of that adversity inspiring. It tells a better story. I've had a player use Luck to fail a HT roll to resist disease (a roll I required, because the body fights disease regardless of the subject's desires) so the PC could get sick and have an excuse to end up in a hospital for plot reasons. This didn't benefit the PC at all . . .

Luck is really, truly a case of a player paying points to cheat a PC into a more-central story role – nothing more and nothing less – unless it's given modifiers that turn it into a power the PC can control.
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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Just so.



Luck normally falls into a category that stands completely apart from mundane, exotic, and supernatural: "meta-game." Things in this fourth category do not exist at all in the game world, and therefore cannot be judged in terms of their relationship with the laws of nature there. They exist on the same plane as character points, disadvantage limits, and GM fiat, and serve story, not simulation. If you have no problem accepting that all the PCs have the same potential (points) or that nobody in the universe has Talents because the GM hates that game mechanic (fiat), then you should have no problem accepting Luck – it isn't any different.

The fact that Luck costs points like in-world traits isn't a case against this. Luck costs points because it benefits the player, and everything that benefits the player costs points. This includes both things that make the player's character more successful because that fictional person is more capable (in-world traits) and things that make the player's character more successful because the mechanics favor the player (meta-game traits). In-world, there's no way to see meta-game effects, as they look like the randomness of the universe. Favorable ones like Luck are comparable to the "plot armor" of the protagonists of heroic fiction, and enable the player to buy a more-central role in the story, nothing more.

I said a lot of this in the early days of this thread.

Obviously, a player could add modifiers that move Luck into the exotic or supernatural category: Active, Costs Fatigue, Game Time, and just about any power modifier would do this. Then all the arguments about it being a strange ability would become valid. As written, though, Luck doesn't even exist in the game world . . . it just ensures that the player gets to play a slightly more positive story role. It's basically no less cheating and no more exotic than the GM being your buddy and giving you an extra 20 points without telling the other players; it's just more honest and structured than that, to avoid hard feelings.
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:01 PM   #54
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I don't believe that anyone has "luck" as a substantive thing in the real world. There are random fluctuations, and we call them "luck" when they're favorable and large (or "bad luck" when unfavorable and large); but no one has a persistent tendency to get favorable or unfavorable random outcomes.
That's not actually true. If you have a group of 216 people who all roll a dice 3 times (higher = better), you could expect to get one guy who rolled 6s each time. In the real world, when you look back on peoples lives, some people will have benefited from random events more than the average, and some will have suffered more than average. Buying Luck is saying I want to be the guy who over the total of his lifetime benefits more than average from random events.

Yes, you don't get to choose this in real life. You also don't get to choose to have IQ 16 or be Very Handsome, GURPS allows you to choose those things, so why not this?
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:48 PM   #55
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Sure. There's a passage in Atlas Shrugged about the richest banker in North America being called an "audacious gambler" in a newspaper story. He tells the reporter, "The reason you'll never be rich is that you think what I'm doing is gambling."

But I'm not talking about that behind-the-curtain stuff. I'm talking about the narrative concept "Alice is lucky." The fact that you can use the rules for Luck to build abilities that represent other things isn't relevant; the ordinary use of Luck is to represent a person being "lucky" as a persistent attribute, and it's that ordinary use that jars me.
The narrative concept "Alice is lucky" is infinitely better represented by Serendipity. That's why it was added. Luck's mechanics don't produce fortuitous coincidences. They don't let you succeed at things that you have no skill at. They don't let you play the lottery and win.
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:57 PM   #56
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
I agree that it's a bit out of place in a hard-nosed realistic campaign.
Dice rolling is a bit out of place in a hard nosed realistic campaign.




I'm with Bruno and Otaku, these traits are a meta-level contract on how we want the game to proceed. IE is it "You rolls the dice, you takes your chances" or a "Some times the rolls need massaging" style campaign.
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Old 04-11-2017, 01:01 PM   #57
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
All that said, if your jam is the realist literature version of role playing, where the PCs are explicitly not the "lucky ones," of course luck is inappropriate. From your posting history I think you might prefer that. I don't think that is a common preference though.
On one hand, I don't care what the rest of you prefer. The question asked was, "Do you use these traits?" and only what I prefer is relevant to answering that.

On the other hand, I think a measure of probability distortion is already built into the basic game mechanics of GURPS. It works a bit like an action/adventure film where everyone is a bit luckier than people in the real world, not to mention a bit more likely to experience dramatic events. But I think that Luck is both (1) excessive and (2) undesirable as a distinctive individual trait.
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Old 04-11-2017, 01:06 PM   #58
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
That's not actually true. If you have a group of 216 people who all roll a dice 3 times (higher = better), you could expect to get one guy who rolled 6s each time. In the real world, when you look back on peoples lives, some people will have benefited from random events more than the average, and some will have suffered more than average. Buying Luck is saying I want to be the guy who over the total of his lifetime benefits more than average from random events.
That applies retrospectively. There is no prospective aspect to it: The fact that you rolled a 6 three times, or thirty, says nothing about the next roll (well, unless you have a loaded d6!). Prospectively you can say that if you have a group of 216 people, and they all roll a d6 three times, one of them will get three sixes (there's a 63.3% chance of this happening); but you can't say that any single one of them will get three sixes.
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Old 04-11-2017, 01:18 PM   #59
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
but you can't say that any single one of them will get three sixes.
You've missed the point.

Out of a group of X many people some will be Very Handsome [16], but in the real world you don't get to choose to be the Very Handsome one, but GURPS allows you to choose to play the Very Handsome if you pay the points.

Out of a group of X many people some will be Very Fit [15], but in the real world you don't get to choose to be the Very Fit one, but GURPS allows you to choose to play the Very Fit person if you pay the points.

Out of a group of X many people some will be benefit from random chance, but in the real world you don't get to choose to benefit from random chance, but GURPS allows you to choose to play the lucky person if you pay the points.
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Old 04-11-2017, 01:23 PM   #60
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
The Krommquote I posted addressed this issue, did you read it? Here are some more:
It's clear to me that Kromm and I have radically different sensibilities about gaming; to put it really simply, his preferences are more toward the cinematic end, and mine are more toward the realistic end. So most of his arguments just don't seem relevant to me.

In particular, when you quote him as saying

Obviously, a player could add modifiers that move Luck into the exotic or supernatural category: Active, Costs Fatigue, Game Time, and just about any power modifier would do this. Then all the arguments about it being a strange ability would become valid. As written, though, Luck doesn't even exist in the game world . . . it just ensures that the player gets to play a slightly more positive story role. It's basically no less cheating and no more exotic than the GM being your buddy and giving you an extra 20 points without telling the other players; it's just more honest and structured than that, to avoid hard feelings.

then I would say that the arguments about Luck being a strange ability don't concern me at all; they simply seem irrelevant, because I've decided to allow a certain kind of strange abilities. The version he says "doesn't even exist in the game world," on the other hand, just feels wrong to me. I can try to analyze why—and to look at what changes increase, or lessen, or take away the wrongness—but it's an emotional conclusion in the first place.

Perhaps part of it is that I don't want the player to get to play that more positive role. Even if they pay points for it, it isn't an interesting way for their character to be successful, and it makes the story about that character less enjoyable for me. And that probably has something to do with my having a taste for realism, and finding it more entertaining, not less, than cinematic fiction or drama.

And note that I've made an exception in the past. For example, when I ran a Buffyverse campaign, I used the Drama Points mechanic in the BtVS system; in fact I had a player who deliberately put every experience point he earned into Drama Points, and never got better at doing anything, and kept surviving by luck and coincidence. And I was fine with that, because I had chosen to emulate the Buffyverse, where things work that way. But if I'm emulating a more realistic universe, I don't want things to work that way. And in the last analysis, I think that's purely a question of taste.
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