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Old 04-11-2017, 05:42 PM   #71
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
It is in GURPS. The character with Luck is the one who survived ten or twenty occasions when they have a significant chance of dying, whereas the characters without it are the others, probably with otherwise similar stats, who didn't.
Well, in that case, forgive me, but it seems that all this discussion of what "luck" means in the real world is just BS. I don't even see why we're talking about it. The claim that there is something peculiar about the way *I* use the word is specious; the peculiarity is in the way GURPS used the word.

And if the effect of playing GURPS by the RAW, and keeping the actual results of dice rolls, is to produce a game that, in your opinion, no one could enjoy playing, because no character could survive more than a handful of sessions, and the necessary fix is to routinely give characters Luck so that the players can reroll catastrophic outcomes . . . well, that seems to me to be saying that GURPS rules are a failure. That's what I call "published rules that make a game unplayable unless you apply a fix to work around their problems."

Now, my experience is that GURPS isn't that lethal. There are a lot of things in it that make death less likely. For example, there's the requirement of a failed HT roll to have injury actually result in death. Buy HT up to a modest 13, and you have a 50% chance of your character not dying till they get physically battered to death. Raise it higher than that, and you can take damage equal to 5x your HP (a 14d attack to center of mass) and expect not to die. Or you can leave HT lower and buy some Hard to Kill, or buy Very Fit.

The argument about the heroic marine makes sense if you envision GURPS characters as running through kill zones, and emerging unscathed on the other side, and if you plan to have your characters do that sort of thing. But in my worldview, doing that sort of thing gets you killed, and the expectation that it won't is the sort of delusion that that Chinese rebellion in the 19th century cultivated. Doing that sort of thing might be heroic, but it's not the sort of heroism you expect to survive. And so I don't run that sort of thing as "adventures." I don't think modern war makes sense as a setting for adventure stories. There are exceptions, such as World War I pilot duels or special ops missions behind enemy lines; but being on the front lines in World War II wasn't adventurous.

I run mostly campaigns with fantastic elements that protect against the realistic effects of combat in terms that are defined in the world; or campaigns that are simply low on combat; or, occasionally, campaigns that involve smaller-scale and less intense violence, such as my campaign about French fencing students, where "first blood" was the usual custom in a duel. All of those are options that work while staying fairly near the realistic end of the spectrum, which is what I personally prefer for the most part. If you prefer the cinematic end, that's an equally legitimate taste; it's just not mine.

Edit: But you know, I'm wondering: Seriously, would any of you guys set out to play in a campaign that involved the kind of activities this Dan Daly fellow lived through, and think that was "adventure"? Or is this just a thought experiment? You seem to think a statistically accurate model of this would be to have a PC die every three sessions, which seems to imply about a 5% death rate for every span of time represented by a single RPG session; that seems like it could amount to an insanely high death rate, not to mention the accompanying crippling injuries, mental breakdowns, and simple wounds.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:00 PM   #72
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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
Well, in that case, forgive me, but it seems that all this discussion of what "luck" means in the real world is just BS. I don't even see why we're talking about it. The claim that there is something peculiar about the way *I* use the word is specious; the peculiarity is in the way GURPS used the word.
Luck means that you can reroll the occasional dice roll. In actual play, the way I've seen it used is mostly to prevent the grim randomness of reality from killing the PCs when they refuse to be average people and thus step again and again squarely into the path of the kind of risks that routinely kill most normal people.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
And if the effect of playing GURPS by the RAW, and keeping the actual results of dice rolls, is to produce a game that, in your opinion, no one could enjoy playing, because no character could survive more than a handful of sessions, and the necessary fix is to routinely give characters Luck so that the players can reroll catastrophic outcomes . . . well, that seems to me to be saying that GURPS rules are a failure. That's what I call "published rules that make a game unplayable unless you apply a fix to work around their problems."
Some characters are meant to die if they take a risk. One shot adventures, games where every player has many characters, etc. In every guide I've read how to make GURPS characters for ongoing campaigns with action-adventure elements, it's strongly recommended that they have Luck.

Basically, the protagonist of a single short scenario can get by without Luck, because it is entirely acceptable that he dies quickly. The protagonists of ongoing campaigns with action-adventure elements need Luck or a GM giving them the equivalent by shaping the world in their favour. Otherwise, the campaign won't be ongoing, at least not with the same protagonists.

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Now, my experience is that GURPS isn't that lethal. There are a lot of things in it that make death less likely. For example, there's the requirement of a failed HT roll to have injury actually result in death. Buy HT up to a modest 13, and you have a 50% chance of your character not dying till they get physically battered to death. Raise it higher than that, and you can take damage equal to 5x your HP (a 14d attack to center of mass) and expect not to die. Or you can leave HT lower and buy some Hard to Kill, or buy Very Fit.
That's only if the game isn't set in a remotely realistic world. Yes, you can ignore Bleeding rules and have injuries that are actually lethal without medical assistance just get better on their own, without any explanation, but that campaign switch does a lot more damage to my suspension of disbelief than giving protagonists Luck.

Using Bleeding rules, any injury to the Vitals. Neck, Skull or Vein/Arteries will usually be lethal if sustained under many typical adventuring conditions, i.e. a long way from a high-tech operating room.

It doesn't matter whether or not the death checks succeed when somebody is shot through the Vitals or Skull, if no one in the party can succeed at a Surgery check with -2 to -12 (before equipment modifiers), the character will die in minutes to hours.

In many Low-Tech games this is even worse. Replace 'shot' with stabbed and the case might be that no one in the entire world can actually help, because no one has Surgery that good, for one thing because the penalties from lacking tools are so severe. The character might be able to move and even fight, but he'll die nevertheless.

Note that I don't mind this being a possibility. I just prefer that characters have Luck so that this is a frightening possibility for PCs and something that happens to NPC, not a virtual certainty that will happen to PCs every few sessions, unless they don't act like PCs.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:19 PM   #73
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

I once did both Ridiculous Luck and Super Luck (latter through an item) for a skill monger/ super agent in a high point Supers game. The ability to effectively AT WILL declare a crucial skill roll as a critical success was devastatingly effective, even if I could only do it maybe two times a session.

Lock Picking, Cryptography, International Finance at one point. All were good uses. Getting access simultaneously to several federal databases via favor trading, then having the hyper intelligent Gadgeteer do the grunt work of gathering and cross referencing all the data in a preliminary analysis, declaring Serendipity (twice), and THEN declaring a critical success on Intelligence Analysis...

Oh, that hidden conspiracy making life heck for the Supers of the world? Here's their entire funding structure in detail. Which we then made several Law rolls to emphasize legally actionable items before handing it off to the federal government. Serendipity was for making sure we got at least one of the critical bits of infrastructure that makes the whole thing work to begin with.

High levels of skill combined with high levels of Luck are frighteningly effective in GURPS. The only limits are the imagination of the PCs involved.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:23 PM   #74
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

The risks for RPG characters are just so astronomically higher than for real people that they really need metagame traits to compensate. For example, many people consider it heroic to volunteer as a soldier in a war. But the real risk of being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq is so low that it wouldn't be worth rolling for in a game.

0.29% of personnel deployed there for at least one tour in the last 15 years have died. Many of these served multiple tours, so the risks for one tour would be substantially lower.

Of course, these figures include all military personnel deployed to combat zones, which will include many that are not front-line combatants. Even so, no analysis I've seen puts the risk of death for any modern MOS at above 2% in a single deployment. That's 'Bad Stuff will happen on critical failure' territory, not typical RPG session risk territory.

In other words, the chances of survival over three to nine months are 98% to 99.7%. That means that if it was gamed out, realistically, only on a critical failure on a monthly Job Roll would there exist a chance of death. But don't misunderstand me. This is a huge risk, in real world terms. Real people don't like to accept risks that characters in games regard as their daily existence.

Most RPGs don't feature odds of death and injury this low, because most RPGs feature violence and risk at many times the rate any real person is likely to encounter it, usually within the first session.

If a PC is rolling at all, it's because there is a meaningful chance of failure on the roll. And that means a 2% or more chance of terrible consequences, in many cases, such as Active Defence rolls.* But because PCs will make many more such rolls over their careers than any real person, they'll need Luck to make sure that their frequent failures are, at least, not immediately deadly.

*Which, for that matter, are often lower than this.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:29 PM   #75
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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
The argument about the heroic marine makes sense if you envision GURPS characters as running through kill zones, and emerging unscathed on the other side, and if you plan to have your characters do that sort of thing. But in my worldview, doing that sort of thing gets you killed, and the expectation that it won't is the sort of delusion that that Chinese rebellion in the 19th century cultivated. Doing that sort of thing might be heroic, but it's not the sort of heroism you expect to survive.
Is the kind of person that can do this not a valid character concept? Dan Daly, Audie Murphy, even "Götz" von Berlichingen and Charles de Batz de Castelmore d'Artagnan actually lived, so you cannot say they aren't realistic.

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Edit: But you know, I'm wondering: Seriously, would any of you guys set out to play in a campaign that involved the kind of activities this Dan Daly fellow lived through, and think that was "adventure"? Or is this just a thought experiment?
Most games I run probably have as many lethal fights in a single adventure than Sgt. Major Daly fought in his whole career.
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You seem to think a statistically accurate model of this would be to have a PC die every three sessions, which seems to imply about a 5% death rate for every span of time represented by a single RPG session; that seems like it could amount to an insanely high death rate, not to mention the accompanying crippling injuries, mental breakdowns, and simple wounds.
I certainly have run games where the death rate for characters who act like a Dan Daly would be that high if they didn't have Daredevil and/or Luck. The lethality for more cautious characters isn't usually as high.

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Old 04-11-2017, 06:36 PM   #76
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Edit: But you know, I'm wondering: Seriously, would any of you guys set out to play in a campaign that involved the kind of activities this Dan Daly fellow lived through, and think that was "adventure"?
Yep.

Most of my PCs have been the sort who'd risk their lives to save someone else and it seems that somehow, PCs are in situations several times per session where a reasonable person might hide and call for assistance, but a PC who refuses to let potential bad things happen to others without trying to help has a serious chance of death or career ending injury.

In games I run, there is often the option of avoiding violence, never offending someone powerful and ruthless and being willing to let others die in your place while you hide and wait for the authorities. Oddly, however, few PCs choose this path consistently.

It seems that people don't usually play RPGs to be the guy in a hostage situation who calmly waits for SWAT to solve the problem as they carefully avoid drawing the attention of the hostage takers and try to remain anonymous. They want to be John McClane. They'll accept a world where being John McClane is really difficult and requires the cooperation of several Diet McClanes rather than one Awesomely Powerful McClane, but they will usually not accept being the characters who watch the terrorists shoot other hostages and react only by trying to fade better into the background so they aren't the next ones to be picked.

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Or is this just a thought experiment? You seem to think a statistically accurate model of this would be to have a PC die every three sessions, which seems to imply about a 5% death rate for every span of time represented by a single RPG session; that seems like it could amount to an insanely high death rate, not to mention the accompanying crippling injuries, mental breakdowns, and simple wounds.
Well, absent very powerful magic, PCs often operate in small groups without dozens of people with million dollar equipment ready to provide fast medevacs when they are wounded, so being seriously wounded and being killed are often the same thing.

Other than that, this is an accurate estimate of many campaigns featuring combat at about the rate of typical action-adventure roleplaying. PCs don't actually die that often, because you really shouldn't try to play action-adventure protagonists without Luck.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:42 PM   #77
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Some characters are meant to die if they take a risk. One shot adventures, games where every player has many characters, etc. In every guide I've read how to make GURPS characters for ongoing campaigns with action-adventure elements, it's strongly recommended that they have Luck.

Basically, the protagonist of a single short scenario can get by without Luck, because it is entirely acceptable that he dies quickly. The protagonists of ongoing campaigns with action-adventure elements need Luck or a GM giving them the equivalent by shaping the world in their favour. Otherwise, the campaign won't be ongoing, at least not with the same protagonists.
I'm starting my fifteenth GURPS campaign now, and that has not been my experience. Your phrase "with action-adventure elements" sets the bar low, perhaps lower than you imagine. In my campaigns, I'd say that Salle d'Armes, Sovereignty, Fixers, and Water Margin were action-adventure and had players inclined to prioritize that aspect, and that only Uplift and First Contact almost entirely lacked action-adventure elements; the other nine definitely had such elements. Virtually none of the characters had Luck. The death rates were extremely low; I've seen only a handfull of PC deaths in running campaigns since 1992.

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That's only if the game isn't set in a remotely realistic world. Yes, you can ignore Bleeding rules and have injuries that are actually lethal without medical assistance just get better on their own, without any explanation, but that campaign switch does a lot more damage to my suspension of disbelief than giving protagonists Luck.

. . . .

Note that I don't mind this being a possibility. I just prefer that characters have Luck so that this is a frightening possibility for PCs and something that happens to NPC, not a virtual certainty that will happen to PCs every few sessions, unless they don't act like PCs.
I think that you have now introduced a third category. I won't call it a straw man, because really someone might choose to run a campaign with bleeding rules and rules for risk of infection and so on. But my original distinction was between GURPS campaigns with Luck, and GURPS campaigns that use the base rules unmodified by anyone having Luck. The bleeding rules and such are not the base rules; they're an "extreme realism" option. The baseline rules are moderately realistic; Luck makes things less realistic. So in comparing how-thing-work-with-Luck and how-things-work-without-Luck-and-with-bleeding-and-so-on, you seem to be changing two variables, not just one. That doesn't make for an intellectually valid comparison. And you're leaving out the option that I normally take.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:52 PM   #78
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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I'm starting my fifteenth GURPS campaign now, and that has not been my experience. Your phrase "with action-adventure elements" sets the bar low, perhaps lower than you imagine. In my campaigns, I'd say that Salle d'Armes, Sovereignty, Fixers, and Water Margin were action-adventure and had players inclined to prioritize that aspect, and that only Uplift and First Contact almost entirely lacked action-adventure elements; the other nine definitely had such elements. Virtually none of the characters had Luck. The death rates were extremely low; I've seen only a handfull of PC deaths in running campaigns since 1992.
From reading what you write about your campaigns, it seems that the worlds they are set in are usually very forgiving and enemies extremely careful not to risk character death.

You are also willing to modify rules to ensure that career-ending crippling injuries (like destroyed Leg) becomes merely inconvenient, like Lame (Crippled Leg). That's Luck by GM fiat instead of as a trait written down, but it's nonetheless pretty much the same thing.

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I think that you have now introduced a third category. I won't call it a straw man, because really someone might choose to run a campaign with bleeding rules and rules for risk of infection and so on. But my original distinction was between GURPS campaigns with Luck, and GURPS campaigns that use the base rules unmodified by anyone having Luck. The bleeding rules and such are not the base rules; they're an "extreme realism" option. The baseline rules are moderately realistic; Luck makes things less realistic. So in comparing how-thing-work-with-Luck and how-things-work-without-Luck-and-with-bleeding-and-so-on, you seem to be changing two variables, not just one. That doesn't make for an intellectually valid comparison. And you're leaving out the option that I normally take.
The baseline rules aren't realistic at all. They are highly cinematic. Considering that you were saying that you preferred a more realistic style of play than Kromm, it's odd that you would choose the highly cinematic campaign switches.

In my experience, Luck as an allowed trait does very little damage to players' (and mine) view of the world as essentially realistic, albeit a place where the PCs, by dint of a metagame trait called Luck, are much more likely to be part of those fortunate few people who happen to survive more in their careers than others.

Having injury function as it does with all realism switches turned off is a lot worse. It makes blunt trauma to the head a safe method of turning people off for a while without risk of intracranial hemorraghing. For that matter, it makes low-caliber hollow-point bullets a safe and effective knock-out method. It also makes all high HT characters into Monty Python's Black Knight, who don't need to fear any injury short of total bodily destruction.

It's a lot sillier than using Luck.
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Old 04-11-2017, 07:13 PM   #79
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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The baseline rules aren't realistic at all. They are highly cinematic. Considering that you were saying that you preferred a more realistic style of play than Kromm, it's odd that you would choose the highly cinematic campaign switches.
Your definition of "cinematic" seems to be synonymous with what the RAW call "realistic": That is, the baseline rules without any of the designated cinematic options in force. And your definition of "realism" seems to be the baseline rules with many or all of the "harsh realism" rules turned on. At this point I think you've moved the goalposts so far that we aren't even talking about the same thing.

As for the campaign incident you refer to, it's possible that I misunderstood the rules; but my recollection is that the injury level was "crippling" rather than "dismemberment." There is no rule that explicitly says that a crippling injury as such removes the limb. The consequence of crippling for a leg is some form of Lame. The character was able to see a surgeon, who was able to prevent the leg from being lost and instead have it be a bad leg, which is still a lesser level within Lame. (The character also ended up with Addiction to laudanum, as a free bonus!) I think what I was doing was minor variant interpretations within the RAW; it would have been perfectly RAW for the crippled guy to end up with Bad Leg in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention that this was a swashbuckling martial arts campaign?
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Old 04-11-2017, 07:29 PM   #80
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#39): Daredevil, Luck, Super Luck

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Your definition of "cinematic" seems to be synonymous with what the RAW call "realistic": That is, the baseline rules without any of the designated cinematic options in force. And your definition of "realism" seems to be the baseline rules with many or all of the "harsh realism" rules turned on. At this point I think you've moved the goalposts so far that we aren't even talking about the same thing.
It's been made pretty clear, by Kromm and others, that the baseline GURPS rules aren't meant to reflect reality, they are meant to enable Heroic play and, if necessary, take realism into a dark alley and shoot it.

Which is fine, because that's is how most people want to play RPGs. I just find it odd that someone would claim that Luck is too unrealistic for them, but still accept campaign switches in the baseline GURPS rules that are very much less realistic than Luck.

There are a lot more people in the real world have survived several instances where they might have died than there are people who never require any medical assistance after taking bullets to the brain or heart, but can be confident that because they are fit and healthy, there won't be any bleeding and the wounds will eventually heal on their own. A world where some people are more often lucky than others is a world we actually live in. A world where two hollow-point .22 LR bullets to the Skull cannot kill a normal human* (but will usually incapacitate him safely) is a cartoon.

*Absent some highly unusual critical hit results.

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As for the campaign incident you refer to, it's possible that I misunderstood the rules; but my recollection is that the injury level was "crippling" rather than "dismemberment." There is no rule that explicitly says that a crippling injury as such removes the limb. The consequence of crippling for a leg is some form of Lame. The character was able to see a surgeon, who was able to prevent the leg from being lost and instead have it be a bad leg, which is still a lesser level within Lame. (The character also ended up with Addiction to laudanum, as a free bonus!) I think what I was doing was minor variant interpretations within the RAW; it would have been perfectly RAW for the crippled guy to end up with Bad Leg in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention that this was a swashbuckling martial arts campaign?
Fair enough. I remembered reading an account of the event where it said that the leg was 'destroyed'. It may not have been used as a term of art, i.e. that the damage was twice the crippling threshold, in which case the leg would be completely destroyed absent TL7+ medicine (and would realistically need to be removed in order to prevent infection at TL5 or lower).

In any case, I don't feel that this was an unreasonable turn of events. I just think that interpreting events so that the character remained playable was essentially the same thing as allowing Luck, just done by fiat rather than built into the characters.
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