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Old 12-25-2014, 11:43 PM   #1
BraselC5048
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Default Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

For a campaign which I like to think is halfway between Realistic and Borderline Realism, I came up with a greatly toned down version of buying success. It's costs (after the roll) 2 character points for a +2;, 4 points for a +4 (and GM approval); 6 points, GM approval, and the character didn't willingly choose to make the roll for +6; and 8 points, GM approval, and that depending on having not having chosen to get a place where you need to make the roll willingly, rather having it somehow forced on you, as well as extreme consequences for failure (read - forced to come up with a new character) for +8.


If you got to choose to make a roll where you could fail and still need +6 or +8 to avoid really bad things happening, instead of something safer, (+4 will get you there even if you're only effective skill 12), than you're out of luck for making bad decisions. Does not work on attack rolls, except in extreme circumstances, (with GM approval), usually on a ranged attack. (That's the "if we don't we're dead, right here and now," scenario. If you're a sniper and miss the shot to kill the president and win a losing war, than you don't get that, time for plan B.) Not allowed if the original roll was a critical failure.

Useful in "fail the roll or you die" situations, and extreme desperation where the players have run out of options.

One thing I'm divided about is buying off an enemy critical hit in combat. Maybe 5 points, and it's still hits, you do get a defense roll, and it's still the original roll (goon with full-auto rolled a 4 - try to dodge that!). Perhaps forcing the player to roll on the critical miss table too as a result? (Unarmed table if dodging, melee table if parrying or blocking.)
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Old 12-26-2014, 12:43 AM   #2
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

With these prices, it's unlikely to be useful. People are better off just biting the bullet and buying Luck.
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Old 12-26-2014, 03:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
With these prices, it's unlikely to be useful. People are better off just biting the bullet and buying Luck.
That's assuming you already have Luck; this is for times when you've already used it, and need to avoid getting killed before you get it back, or when you're stuck having to make a long-odds roll to avoid character death (usually either due to decisions the players made much, much earlier, and no stupid decisions either, and things evolved from there, or when the GM practically walked you into it.

Simply put, the +8 is there for when you need a critical success. (HT 14 with Very Fit, 10% chance, but you've been tied up and thrown into a lake, (you were drugged, and didn't have much of a chance to avoid it), your Escape roll passed (and you might well have needed to use Luck on that, is was something like 50-50, or maybe spend 2 points to pass that,) and at the depth you're at now anything but a critical success to avoid getting the bends results in you being dead.) Although in that example, it might just be better to use GM fait to say you got it.

Basically the +2 is for when you've used your Luck and now you've failed the 14 or less roll in the escape plan, or when you failed that on the entrance and used Luck, but now one of the guys you're fighting rolled a critical hit, and getting hit will pretty much mean the character's career's over. Extra insurance, basically, for very risky campaigns where you need something like the 15 point version of Luck twice (each works separately, each takes an hour before the next use) rather than the 30 point version each half hour.

Although I haven't really run campaigns with one or two characters in it, making a lot of rolls each, and fighting outnumbered, so I don't really have a good comparison time-wise. All I've done is more millitary-style where there's a half dozen guys on each side fighting (although normally we just assume a regular soldier at -HP or a major wound is a casualty, and leave it at that.) Of the times I've used it, once was running a starship battle on a ship without much ability to take critical hits, and luckily enough Luck managed to get a bridge hit (the first one of which actually benefited my character, but was rolled randomly), and wound up with another critical hit, without luck, and just got real life lucky with a third bridge hit. The other time was in the last few rolls of a session where my character won the medal of honor, and ironically enough it was after all the heroics were over. Dice were rolling really well that day.

Perhaps the 30 point version of Luck is enough for that type of campaign? I wouldn't really know.

(Once again, does this forum have any interest in a "your best campaign session recaps" thread, or simply me posting a recap? Guns-12 and a 6 round revolver, and no misses, and neck being rolled as often as torso, on both sides!
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Old 12-26-2014, 04:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

Spending something like 6 points on one roll, which may or may not save the character (due to more similarly scary rolls coming in the near future), seems like a very large fraction compared to the cost of Extra Life (No one could have survived that!).

Also, another insurance would be Serendipity, with uses spent on coincidences that would avert some of the dangers. (E.g., the rope happened to be rotten, and thus was trivial to escape from; the weather was warm etc.)
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Old 12-26-2014, 05:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

First, there's nothing "unrealistic" about buying successes. Real people have weird luck all the time. The real world is loaded to the gills with bizarre circumstances and startling streaks of good luck. Buying successes is no more unrealistic than Luck or Serendipity.

Buying Successes isn't about realism but tone. Buying Successes gives players the opportunity to shape the story however they like. It let's them succeed at rolls that really matter to the player. This, by the way, doesn't mean that they won't fail. They often will. I sometimes even do a reverse of Buying Successes and I Pay For Failure. It just means players will generally fail when they find it dramatically appropriate and/or interesting to do so.

Removing Buying Successes doesn't make the game more realistic (that is, a game with 500 point super-heroes but lacking Buying Successes doesn't become more realistic than a game with 50 point normal guys who can Buy Successes), but it does make the players more beholden to random chance. It removes their sense of control and subjects them to the arbitrary nature of the world around them. That's also great for some themes: I think it's wonderful to depict horror, whether realistic (the horrors of war) or unrealistic (Cthulhu).

Once you've decided to allow Buying Successes, you need to consider the value of a character point. There's a reason they set it to one to change failure to success: Nobody is going to pay more than that. Perhaps 2, but you've already eliminated a great deal of the control. I usually give out no more than 3 points per session. 2 cp for a single success means the players can do this no more than once per session, and only if they're willing to give up 2 perks, or a permanent +1 to an acute sense, or half of a +1 to an advanced skill. If you raise that to 6, then it becomes nonsense. I could succeed, or I could buy a skill and a half, or I could buy some DR, or I'm well on my way to +1 HT or +1 ST.

You haven't really created a more "realistic" version of buying successes. You've introduced buying successes, made it economically unfeasible, and thus sent very mixed signals to your players. You've always created a noob trap: If you have some shiney-eyed new player who is willing to pay 6 CP for successes he thinks are fun, and a player who is not, then in 10 sessions you rapidly have a character who is worth 60 more points than the other, and doesn't need to spend points on successes because, you know, he doesn't fail all that often (and he has Luck for when he does fail).

It's already dear enough. Allow it or not. Don't monkey around with it in this particular way. It's not useful.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

You guys have some good points. Still, the general idea was that you'd keep several points "in reserve," unspent, and also that the characters are built to character level, not point total (mostly), and some of the extreme level core skills are locked at the starting number, or perhaps 1-3 levels more, depending on the level. Although my character has a couple of skills that she is simply forbidden to raise. Which 'are' very extreme. A lot of the points will go into techniques, were you don't get all you want at first, and improving secondary skills that don't have as many points put into them - If you only have 2 points in a skill, a little budget will go a long way, farther than if you have 12.

I just don't want players to decide to take insane (in odds) risks planning to buy success. I think I'll halve the point costs. The whole point is when you've used your luck, and failed a 13-15 or less roll, you have a backup option. The higher levels (+6, +8), are as much GM fait as anything else, and he might even pay out a few extra points in return. Usually needing that bonus is a result of circumstances outside the player's real control anyway The "enemy critical hit" is down to 3? points. And if you defense roll fails, he still gets to roll on the critical hit table, in games where your defense roll is very good. (When nobody has anything better than Dodge-9, then that doesn't apply.)
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
First, there's nothing "unrealistic" about buying successes. Real people have weird luck all the time. The real world is loaded to the gills with bizarre circumstances and startling streaks of good luck. Buying successes is no more unrealistic than Luck or Serendipity.

....
Do you really want to start that topic up again? Luck is supernatural no matter how you try to twist it. It doesn't exist in reality.

What is called "realistic" luck in reality is simply looking back at fortunate coincidences. Game luck is the ability to alter future probabilities to enforce such events. Completely different things.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
What is called "realistic" luck in reality is simply looking back at fortunate coincidences. Game luck is the ability to alter future probabilities to enforce such events. Completely different things.
I've always said "either everything is random, or nothing is and I don't know which, because I don't know the underlying math" So I don't agree with that statement in any way, and there's nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

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I've always said "either everything is random, or nothing is and I don't know which, because I don't know the underlying math" So I don't agree with that statement in any way, and there's nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.
You can believe in the supernatural all you want. The vast majority of humanity does. But that doesn't stop luck from being supernatural.
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Old 12-26-2014, 11:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: Lite version of buying success for a Borderline Realism campaign

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Do you really want to start that topic up again? Luck is supernatural no matter how you try to twist it. It doesn't exist in reality.

What is called "realistic" luck in reality is simply looking back at fortunate coincidences. Game luck is the ability to alter future probabilities to enforce such events. Completely different things.
I think you're confusing character and player here.

Active Luck is, explicitly, the ability for a character to consciously alter future probabilities to enforce fortunate events. Which is obviously supernatural.

But Luck, the GURPS trait, can just be a way for the character's player to say 'the story I'm telling about this character is one in which they experience fortunate coincidences.' Which is (by definition) improbable, but not necessarily supernatural.
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