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Random idea: Extended rolls w/ Decay

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  • Random idea: Extended rolls w/ Decay

    I was flipping through an OPP book and came across a system (I can't find the reference now) that worked like an extended roll, except that dice showing 1s were deducted from the pool after each roll.

    Which I thought was neat, and made me think about extended rolls in Exalted.

    Extended rolls (3e Core, p.189) are typically used to determine if a player will succeed in time. They're good for something like a footrace (first to 10 successes wins) where each roll represents an independent unit of effort that sums linearly to the final outcome.

    What I like about the decay idea is that it combines the dramatic benefits of sequential, cumulative rolls with something like "what is the ceiling of the character's capabilities". If you keep banging away at a big problem (say, writing a novel, building a house, cracking a cipher) or anything that benefits from advanced planning, taking your time to polish and refine and redo should be better than your first attempt, but you would eventually expect to see diminishing returns as you run out of new things to try, improvements to make, etc., the character achieves the best version they can of whatever it is, given the specific circumstances.

    It also has an in-built push-your-luck mechanic, because as the pool gets smaller, the chance of botching one of the rolls goes way up. (not sure exactly what to do with this; using the normal extended action "any botch means you start over" might be too draconian for some applications).

    So I wrote a quick simulator to see what sorts of numbers this would generate. I immediately ran into a problem in that, if you only remove 1s, even with a modest (for an Exalt) dice pool like 10, at you end up making an average of 28 rolls (90th percentile of 44) for an average total successes of about 18 (90th percentile of 29). And that's a frankly unreasonable number of rolls to expect someone to make at the table. I didn't account for botches but it does also mean that you are guaranteed to botch eventually because you keep rolling until you have 1 die left and it shows a "1".

    But since I already had the simulator written I decided to see what would happen if your removed any dice that did not show a success instead. This felt much more interesting (and much more reasonable to actually do at the table).

    10d@diff1: Average rolls 3.7 (90th percentile 5), Average successes 8.3 (90th percentile 11)
    10d@diff3: Average rolls 3.7 (90th percentile 5), Average successes 3.7 (90th percentile 7)
    10d@diff5: Average rolls 3.7 (90th percentile 5), Average successes 1.5 (90th percentile 4)

    25d@diff1: Average rolls 4.7 (90th percentile 6), Average successes 20.8 (90th percentile 30)
    25d@diff3: Average rolls 4.7 (90th percentile 6), Average successes 14.3 (90th percentile 22)
    25d@diff5: Average rolls 4.7 (90th percentile 6), Average successes 10.1 (90th percentile 16)

    Anyway, does anyone else see potential for this type of "extended roll with decay" or "exploding successes" (depending on your point of view) for various subsystems? Just curious.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Blackwell View Post

    Anyway, does anyone else see potential for this type of "extended roll with decay" or "exploding successes" (depending on your point of view) for various subsystems? Just curious.
    If time is a factor, that's what Terminus is for.

    If time isn't a factor, just let the character succeed.

    You eventually break the cipher, finish the book, build the house.

    It's more interesting to me to give you three rolls to break the cipher, and if you fail then you can't break it. Now go on an adventure to find a master codebreaker. Or now the Deathlord's army attacks and you didn't get advanced warning from breaking the code.

    Letting you just keep rolling until you hit your theoretical best... is an interesting mechanic. It looks like a reasonable number of rolls with a decent number of average successes and a high variance. But I just don't know what I'd use it for.

    Why would I be rolling in the first place? What do I gain from making this a Decay roll instead of a simple roll, contested roll, or extended roll?

    It seems better as a Charm mechanic to represent your excellence (if applied to an otherwise single roll -- roll Intelligence + Linguistics to write a book but Peak Authorial Method makes successes explode as you edit out all the kinks) or as a curse mechanic to apply to an opponent on an extended roll (the limits of your skill become apparent as the project goes on).

    Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


    • #3
      I've got to agree that Terminus in the base rules takes care of the idea of characters hitting a wall where they've spent all their options. Which makes the idea of decay seem superfluous.

      I don't entirely agree that an extend roll without a Terminus is always pointless, but it's going to be fairly edge cases. The obvious example would be that time is a factor, but not in a limiting sense. If the PCs are getting into nation building sort of stuff, there can be some decent dramatic uncertainty around how long it takes to do something in relation to how other plans are going even if success is virtually guaranteed and the project wouldn't be a failure just for not happening before X deadline. But there's room in the system for other resources than time. A Charm could empower you to keep making rolls in an extended action as long as you toss more motes at it each roll. If calibrated well, that could add a different resource than time to consider.

      That still leaves Exalted's extended action rules fairly bland, but if I wanted to look at a relatively easy way to look at other games in the ST family. CofD 2e's extended action rules have some good ideas you could mine that doesn't seem like they'd cause any major hiccups in 3e (except maybe the idea of setting a Terminus based on the character's base dice-pool).


      • #4
        I use extended rolls with no terminus of there are environmental effects. Like you’re crossing a desert, every interval you roll to see how far you get and then roll to resist the terrible heat, and after the first three hours there’s a sandstorm for the rest of the journey.

        As for the system I think it’s a neat idea but I’m not sure if use it, and generally for extended rolls people are throwing 20+ dice at the thing so it wouldn’t really matter so much, unfortunately.