Monday, November 25, 2013

Basic Gaming Mechanics Questions

What do you like better as a player?

1. Varying skill test targets?
(really stinking easy: Target 6, Incredibly Unrealistically Tough: Target 25)

2. Varying modifiers to your skill tests, where 10 is always the target?
(really stinking easy: +4 to your roll, Incredibly Unrealistically Tough: -12 from your roll)

D20 uses the first. I'm currently using the second. It's a semantic change, but I'm curious what feels better to a player...


  1. D20 actually used both. Target number varied based on the difficulty of the task independent of anything else, the the roll was modified by more specific, situational things (like that crappy stat penalty or bonus from having masterwork tools). There's a certain reasoning behind that which supports pre-fab adventures, as challenges can be laid out as DC X regardless of what the PCs may bring with them.

    Using either only option 1 or only option 2 means philosophically saying, "The GM will always judge the difficulty on the spot."

    That said, I... don't have a great deal of personal preference either way. I think varying the target number puts a little more of the calculation in the hands of the GM, whereas the other route hands more modifiers to the player to sum up. But I grew up on roleplaying involving basic math skills, so I'm not really uncomfortable either way.

    - Scott

  2. Of course, you're right, D20 did use both didn't it.
    I'm having trouble visualizing the difference in using "only" 1 or 2, being different than both. Even if you use both options together, the GM can always boost or lower the difficulty. In prefab adventures a trap might need a "Very Difficult" target to disarm. What difference does it make if that's a -6 to your roll, or it's a target 16? Either way you will have your own skill rank and attribute mods. If your character then has situational mods added on, "Masterwork tools +2," "Blinded -6," which I have in my game, then we have both types don't we?! That's a separate question.
    It all comes back to whether a standard target 10 is better than varied difficulty targets... I think...?

    1. Feh. I keep trying to say something, but it won't come out right...

      Ultimately, I don't think it matters much. Pluses here, minuses there, it totals out about the same. If you go with a variable target, though, you'll need to change the success levels to "succeed by X" rather than preset numbers. Even that's not a big deal.

  3. I think it will boil down to the players and the GM - it seems to me that Aeranos *feels* more fluid during play than, say, Pathfinder / 3.5 - but that's just, like, my opinion, man...