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Old 04-23-2012, 02:02 AM   #21
Sindri
 
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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Originally Posted by bcd View Post
I am going to go against the grain here and say that luck in real life is a learnable trait. I do however separate luck into two components: one is essentially a stochastic process and the other is the acquired skill of managing that stochastic process.

The stochastic process is the fortuitous event. This happens to us all every now and then, some sudden coincidence that has the potential to benefit us some way or other. Essentially, our ability to influence the generation of this fortuitous event is nil.

The acquired skill is the ability to frequently position yourself in such a way that should a fortuitous event happen to you, you will be able to make the most out of it. After all, what good is a fortuitous event if you weren't there to benefit from it? This isn't really one single skill as such but in the case of GURPS you could decide that the Luck advantage represents this on a broad spectrum. Narrow-band luck could be represented through high skill levels, or talents, or some other way.

As a real life example, consider the man on his way to catch the bus. He arrives late at the bus stop, but as luck would have it, the bus is also running late and so despite himself being late the man does catch the bus. Very lucky.

So how can the man use his acquired ability to cause the bus to fortuitously be late? He cannot, this is a stochastic process over which he has no control. The unlucky man is one who, when he notices he's already a minute late and it's still another five minutes walk to the bus stop, resigns to his fate and just saunters along expecting to have to wait an hour for the next bus. The lucky man is the one who thinks, but if I'm lucky the bus will be late too so I'll run and be at the stop in two minutes instead of five and maybe I'll catch a windfall. Sometimes, of course, he runs and still misses the bus but the occasional success will tend to vindicate his effort.

Society tends to call it "luck" when both a fortuitous event happens and you were able to benefit from it in some significant manner so the lucky man in the example above would be considered more "lucky" by society than the one who didn't bother to run.
I'm not sure if the luck advantage really simulates setting yourself up in a position to take advantage of luck though. For instance in the case of the guy catching the bus what would Luck do? The player decides whether or not to saunter or run and whether or not the bus comes late is presumable rolled randomly. If the person doesn't have "before the fact hindsight luck" then the bus comes as often for them as anyone else.
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:18 AM   #22
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
I'm not sure if the luck advantage really simulates setting yourself up in a position to take advantage of luck though. For instance in the case of the guy catching the bus what would Luck do? The player decides whether or not to saunter or run and whether or not the bus comes late is presumable rolled randomly. If the person doesn't have "before the fact hindsight luck" then the bus comes as often for them as anyone else.
In this case the player with Luck can have the GM reroll the bus arrival time ("outside events that affect you", p. B66), with the understanding that the GM may refuse to do so. If the player wants to be able to actually dictate the arrival time he would need something with more oomph, like Serendipity perhaps.

Still, the Luck advantage is not the only way to make your PC be perceived as lucky and the skills a player may be using in real life to take advantage of fortuitous events can often be applied in the game as well to make his PC seem lucky for no point cost at all.
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:50 AM   #23
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Luck is probability manipulation whether conscious or unconscious, and that is magical.
If you want a character that can make improbable pistol shots, then you give him a high skill, not some undefined super ability that affects everything he does.
From a player point of view, it may seem like that. But to a character he just pulled through in the clutch. There are plenty of people who seem to live charmed lives in ways we cannot measure due to necessary resolution. So we hand wave and call it luck.

Also Luck in Grups is not Magical unless it contains the limtation magical, otherwise it s wild.
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:39 AM   #24
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

GURPS uses various categories, such as Physical and Supernatural, to describe traits but one obvious category, as described by BlackLiger, is missing: Metagame. Such traits require the game world to be subverted for the benefit of the story or player, rather than changing the game world according to game world rules. Any magic is not Metagame because it exists in the game world and follows its peculiar rules whereas there is no game world method to interfere with Luck. There can only be pre-existing restrictions on Luck imposed for story or gameplay reasons. Luck should be categorised as a Metagame trait, not Mundane.

Other examples of Metagame traits are Serendipity and Signature Gear.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:22 AM   #25
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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Originally Posted by BlackLiger View Post
Luck, as defined in the core books for GURPS, is a meta trait, as it does not directly affect the game world, it directly affects the REAL world. It makes you be able to re-roll dice. As such, it is NOT supernatural. It is not something the character could become aware of. It is not something the character can rely upon. It is Meta-state, and thus outside of the character's perceptions.
Yeah, it's like Common Sense: It's not that your character is buying the ability to hear the voice of God in his head telling him that something is a terrible idea. It's that your player gets to hear the advice of the GM and have the character act accordingly, and thus the character seldom does stupid things (and thus has "common sense.") Same idea here.

Though given that Flyndarin doesn't believe in statistical anamolies, I wonder how he explains people who win the lottery three or more times. Perhaps they're not actually lucky? They don't exist? Or they have supernatural powers?
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:51 AM   #26
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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You believe plot protection exists in real life?
You believe your game characters exist in real life?

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Originally Posted by warmachine View Post
GURPS uses various categories, such as Physical and Supernatural, to describe traits but one obvious category, as described by BlackLiger, is missing: Metagame.
...
Other examples of Metagame traits are Serendipity and Signature Gear.
Yeah. Exactly. They're places where the mostly-simulationist GURPS system allows small narrativist inclusions.

If you're such a hardcore simulationist that the idea of a game character being one of those fictional characters who catch a few extra breaks from the author offends you, then feel free to ban Luck and those other advantages. Me, I'm cool with them.
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:32 AM   #27
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

Luck can be a bunch of things
1) Luck can represent outright supernatural ability: "I've used alchemy to increase my fate."
2) It can represent hypercompetency: "I'm not going botch installing the experimental artifical spine".
3)It can also represent narrative plot protection: The Dalek's are going to miss the Doctor, he isn't going to randomly crit fail on dodge.
It certainly doesn't have to be supernatural. Although I don't think that a real human could justify any version but number 2, and even then it would probably be aspected to something like "Luck: Brain Surgery"
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:22 AM   #28
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

For what it's worth, Tactical Shooting p.7 lists it as a realistic advantage: "This is not an unrealistic advantage; real gunfights are often defined by lucky breaks."

Also, for a fourth option can't luck represent people who are simply better come crunch time, when it's all on the line and your in the zone and don't even think about it and just do it. Just like some people panic, some people simply have the clutch gene and act far above their average when everything is on the line, rather than being so hyper competent in general they are simply buying critical failure insurance. That seems to me to be the most realistic treatment, and aside from the obvious examples from sports I figure we all know someone like that. I know it applies to me playing first-person shooters, I can never play as well in Counter-Strike as when I do as when my entire team is dead and I'm at low health and I have only seconds to take 4 enemies and disarm the bomb.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:58 AM   #29
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
In reality, luck is defined after the fact to describe improbable events. In gurps, it is a probability altering advantage before the fact in my views plainly supernatural.
Advice I give all my players is to stop taking the name of traits in GURPS literally. They're just a name meant to represent a certain game mechanic. Period.

An example I like to use is Combat Reflexes. It has absolutely nothing to do with combat training or experience. It just means you react quickly and snap out of surprising situations faster. It could represent a trait of an athlete in a really fast moving sport how always has to move fast. It could represent someone who needs to rely on fast reflexes to get out of danger that suddenly appears in front of him (say, a race car driver). Or it could be a supernatural trait representing unusual awareness of a combat and what is going on around you (such as a Jedi's battle sense). The trait is merely called "Combat Reflexes" because it's probably the most common application of it - people will use it in combat. Many people will therefore buy the trait specifically to represent that fact - Combat Reflexes.

Luck is the same. It's a trait that allows you to obtain statistical anomalies, represented by rolling more than once and taking the best roll. The character is not actively altering the probabilities - the player is (unless you have Wishing, of course). Luck therefore in no way actually implies being lucky, even though many would interpret such a trait as being lucky (thus the name of the trait). Some can view that is being really skilled (which is also realistic and mundane). Some can view that as just plain random circumstantial events (also realistic, as it does happen to everyone every now and then). And some can view that as being blessed by the gods (at which point I agree it starts becoming supernatural).

So is Luck mundane? If you want it to be. Is it supernatural? Again, if you want it to be. A GURPS trait is a game effect. How and why it works is a special effect that you determine for your own character concept limited only by what the GM allows in his game.

If you want to go into "probability altering" definitions and arguments, well... nothing in real life is determined by dice anyway. You try something, and it works or it doesn't. In a test, you either know something or you don't. You don't "roll the dice when the question is asked to see if you know it." If that were true, your real life knowledge would be constantly fluctuating. Oh, there are "odds of success" in life, or whatnot. But who says it follows a 3d bell curve for everything you do, at every given moment, just like in GURPS? I certainly don't critically fail tying my shoes every 1 time out of 100 (or whatever the odds of rolling 18 is, which is always a critical failure). Chance of success isn't as static as a person's skill level in real life. I think the Luck trait just helps vary a game trait a bit more.


As to my campaigns, I allow low levels of luck as realistic coincidences. For higher levels I require that they be aspected to specific skills or trait the character is good at to represent uber-skill... or I require it to be supernatural.

[Note, I house rule Luck at 5 CP per level, allowing one reroll - instead of two - per in-game day per level, with no maximum level.]
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:31 AM   #30
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Default Re: Luck: Mundane or not?

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You believe your game characters exist in real life?
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.

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Yeah. Exactly. They're places where the mostly-simulationist GURPS system allows small narrativist inclusions.
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.

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Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post

If you're such a hardcore simulationist that the idea of a game character being one of those fictional characters who catch a few extra breaks from the author offends you, then feel free to ban Luck and those other advantages. Me, I'm cool with them.
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.

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Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post

That said, the mechanics of Luck (especially Aspected) can be used to represent hyper-competency that helps a character avoid those rare screw-ups that even professionals are susceptible to.
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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