Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Dice: WHFRP vs. "The other guys"

To start with, I'm going to answer the crowd who think that figuring out probabilities of success vs. failure are hard "when the result depends on the roll of two green d10s, a blue d8, a purple d8, and a couple black d6s and the result is not numerical but based on adding up and cancelling out symbols."

In WHFRP the odds are just as easy to figure out compared to other systems - perhaps even easier.

I figure it out by assigning "soft" numbers to each of the dice, for example:

There are seven types of dice available for use in the Dice Pool: Characteristic, Reckless, Conservative, Fortune, Misfortune, Challenge, and Expertise Dice.

Characteristic Dice are rolled completely dependant upon the characteristic used for the appropriate situization; ie. Zog is bashing a door. Zog has 3 strength. Zog rolls 3 characteristic dice. The odds that you will roll a "success" with this type of die is about 50/50 -- maybe a bit less but I like to round off any decimals that don't start with a ".5" and end with a "0". So in the spirit of using "soft probabilities" I will assign each one of these dice a value of ".5".

Caveat: This system isn't really based on anything resembling real mathematics, rather it's based on my personal feelings as I roll the dice and my own observation on what results pop up after numerous roll-after-roll.

Reckless and Conservative dice are dice that give you slightly better results (with a slim chance of a counterbalancing effect. You can replace Characteristic dice with these depending on your "stance".. Example. Zog is a reckless motherfucker. Zog *IS* allowed a few different options on his Stance Track (determined on his career). We'll say he meter looks a little like this ------>>> "[R-R-R-N-C]" Where R stands for Reckless, N is Neutral, and C is conservative. If Zog is only a little reckless (Kept track of by placing a token along his Stance Track) then his token might just be on the "R" closest to the Neutral Space -- Then Zog can exchange one of his characteristic dice for one Reckless Die. The more Reckless he is the more dice he can exchange. These dice I will assign a "1" to.

Fortune and Misfortune dice are situationally applied based on positive and negative effects from things like:

1) "Its really rainy and dark outside and you're trying to see the face of the man who ran across the street -- you get to add 3 misfortune dice to your pool."

2) "You have blackmail on the village elder who you are trying to squeeze for information -- add 4 fortune dice."

These dice are worth either "+.5" or "-.5" respectively.

The last dice that there are are Challange and Expertise dice, which are the the antithesis of eachother. Expertise can be added if you're really REALLY good at something. (based on skills that you can pick). Misfortune dice are added to the pool if the odds are really stacked against you, ranging from:

1) "You are outnumbered 3:1, add 3 misfortune dice, one for each opponant facing you."


2) "Your legs were just decapitated by the cannon ball that knocked you off the ship -- Roll 6 challange dice to stay afloat and conscious."

I can assign a "+1.5" or a "-1.5" respectively.

So lets say the dice pool that Zog is rolling to bash in a door looks like this:

3 strength for 3 characteristic dice. (Running Total [.5+.5+.5 =1.5])
He's only a little reckless this time, R=1 on the track. (Running Total [1.5 (-.5)+1 = 2])
The door is solid and sturdy, Add two misfortune dice. (Running Total [2 -.5-.5 = 1])
Zog is Athletic (from a skill). Add 1 expertise dice. (Running Total [1 + 1.5 = 2.5])
2.5 > 0 so the chances are that Zog "The Risk Taker" will bash open the door.

Realistically you probably wouldn't have to sit there and assign numbers to the dice. It's more the case of scanning the pool and saying to yourself, "Gee, there some of those good dice and a bunch of those bad dice in the pool. I'm probably not going to walk out of this alive".

This system feels a lot more cinematic though. I like not knowing exactly how the dice are going to fall, or that "I need to roll anything but a '1' on this D20 in order to succeed".

If I want to continuously study probabilities when I'm gaming (unless its a war game) then I'm probably not going to have a ton of fun. When I play an RPG I typically don't power game, statistics and probabilities only serve to push people in that direction and really end up becoming more of a distraction than anything.

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