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Getting rid of the "Rule of 1" - anyone done it?

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  • Getting rid of the "Rule of 1" - anyone done it?

    Hi

    So one thing that I find about the most frustrating thing on V20 or the oWoD in general, is that 1s subtract from successes. I know it's part of the system, but I really hate it. You roll a high dicepool, with a low difficulty, but because 3 of the 8 dice are 1s, you get 0 successes, because it cancels out everything else.

    I'm considering just getting rid of that rule. So 1s and no hit would still be a botch, but if you get hits they wouldn't subtract anymore.
    Obviously it will result in players getting more hits most of the time, and succeeding more often. I don't really see that as a problem, I can just adjust some thresholds by 1 or so if needed. And opposed dice pools, well it applies to NPCs too, so there shouldn't be a problem there.

    Has anyone ever done that? If so, what were your experience with it?

  • #2
    I've dropped the Rule of 1 in exactly that fashion before. It doesn't really change much in gameplay except for the obvious: more successful rolls. A nice side benefit of this is that it solves the logical paradox of large dice pools being more prone to both failure and botching. It's never a nice feeling when your blood-pumped, impressively statted character rolls a huge botch for something they should be capable of doing easily.
    Last edited by AzraelFirestorm; 04-29-2018, 12:13 AM. Reason: am bad with words


    "It's in your eyes. Something in your eyes. Check them out in the mirror and tell me if I'm wrong." - Stephen King, Danse Macabre

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    • #3
      It works fine. It's the default rule in some of the non-WoD ST games as it is.

      I will say when my old WoD group tried Exalted, I noticed that players seemed to mentally combine "botching" and "failing because of 1s >= successes," mentally, and they felt like botching got more rare even though the odds didn't inherently change. They got over it (and with Exalted the power level ramped up soon enough it wouldn't have mattered anyway), but it seems something to consider.

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      • #4
        I've messed with a few different variations on the rules, but I found the results came down to playstyle rather than mechanics. ​By this I am referring to the frequency that the ST requires dice rolls and if the players think about how they play.

        ​How many successes you get with or without the Rule of 1 doesn't enter into the end result if the strategy used doesn't require a dice roll. It's the old joke about rolling a dexterity check to see if you succeed at tying your shoes every single time your character puts them on. Eventually, given enough time and rolls, you botch so completely that your character will some how kill themselves while attempting to put on their shoes.

        ​But this is countered in two ways. The first being that no ST worth gaming with will make every single thing a dice roll, and then on the player side it is countered by wearing shoes that don't have laces or going barefoot, which negates the roll entirely. So with this in mind I would suggest that you look at the play styles of both the ST and Players to see if they are "roll heavy" styles. This can mean that games get bogged down in mechanics and rolls, rather than being moved along at a good clip, but it also means that the story is incredibly erratic because the dice rolls are sending it this way and that.

        ​Have you ever tried a one off game where the standard mechanics apply, but the players have a rule that they try to resolve things with as few rolls as possible? This translates to winning a battle before it ever begins. You don't go into a vampire bar and fight the biker gang leader, you blood bond the health inspector to cite the bar for health violations and have it closed down, that kind of thing.

        ​This playstyle thing became very clear to me in exalted with the choice of charms that added extra dice to a roll verses charms that added automatic successes. The idea was that you often wanted to cut down the chances of variance rather than simply adding more dice, and therefore more variance to any given situation or roll. This same philosophy applies to the very thought process of potential actions in a game.

        ​Unless of course you really like the total chaos approach where anything goes with dice controlling all outcomes, but that means that storyline and character role play tend to have a back seat to random chance.

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        • #5
          I personally like 1's removing successes and the potential for Botches. It adds a sense of risk. But it is your group/game, so do what you need to make it more fun and ask the group.

          I do not use only the 20th Ed versions of the games, but here are a few things I have done though you might enjoy or find helpful:

          1.) Trade in 4 dice from your pool to get 1 mundane Success. Those dice are not rolled, and it can help speed up the game. Generally, Difficulties of 8 or higher I will not allow this, bit it can be combined with spending Willpower or other auto-success mechanics like Potence. Difficulties lower than 6 I usually only require 3 dice instead of 4 to get 1 Success.
          So, if you have a Dice Pool of 9, you can decide not to roll 8 of them to have 2 Successes, and roll the last Die, (or not roll 4 for 1 success and roll the last 5 Dice).

          2.) I have two levels of Botch, Minor and True. A True Botch is like in the book, no Successes rolled and at least one 1 where bad things happen. A Minor Botch is when there are more 1's than Successes, (going negative), which leads to a very short term bad outcome, but not a terrible one. A gun jams, meaning not only did it not fire this action, but the next one must be used to clear it. You trip and have to get up.

          3.) Depending on the game and circimstances, I might also offer a player the choice for a little extra help like being tempted by the Dark Side. A Kindred misses with a punch might feel the Beast stir, offering to help, and if they accept, (their choice), they might get an extra Success, the cost being a penalty to resist or direct Frenzy until their next Frenzy.

          As mentioned above, a lot of it comes down to how frequently you roll dice. A lot of mundane tasks I simply allow to happen if the character has an Ability of 2 dots or so. But it is also worth keeping in mind that players like to be rewarded for stuff. If they put dots into things, let them use them. A bit off topic, but let them roll, but also make sure others are forced to roll those same checks, too. It can be very aggravating to build a character that is good, mechanically at something, but others kind of get a free pass at it. Tends to happen more with Social and Int traits because players might be more talented than their characters should be.

          Another tactic a ST can do is to have the characters roll to avoid mishap, time wasting, or other ill effects rather than succeeding, per se, particularly when it comes to plot events. For instance, if the group needs to hack a computer to gain entry into a building, have them roll, with successes reducing the time it takes to hack, triggering hidden security alarms, and possibly even finding extra commands. They are going to succeed, even if they fail the roll completely, but the better the roll(s), the better the outcome. There are two issues that can come from this, so use sparringly. First, it can sometimes feel like removing the threat of failure, meaning less meaningful or memorable. But it can also add to the above, sort of robbing characters of the spotlight of a good roll for something they put dots into.


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          • #6
            Thanks everyone for your input!

            I'm the ST in my game obviously, the one I'm considering this house rule for. I don't think I make my players roll for mundane shit, unless they're really obnoxious about it

            We also use the "If dicepool > difficulty don't bother" rule from the book, unless its combat, or they want to roll to get more than the minimal success.

            But I know it frustrates my players if they roll high dicepools and don't get any successes or just 1 because of all the 1s eating their hits. I know it frustrates me in the other games I play in to no end.

            Originally posted by Beckett View Post
            2.) I have two levels of Botch, Minor and True. A True Botch is like in the book, no Successes rolled and at least one 1 where bad things happen. A Minor Botch is when there are more 1's than Successes, (going negative), which leads to a very short term bad outcome, but not a terrible one. A gun jams, meaning not only did it not fire this action, but the next one must be used to clear it. You trip and have to get up.
            I just stole that one. I think it's a nice balance to the higher success chance now.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AzraelFirestorm View Post
              I've dropped the Rule of 1 in exactly that fashion before. It doesn't really change much in gameplay except for the obvious: more successful rolls. A nice side benefit of this is that it solves the logical paradox of large dice pools being more prone to both failure and botching. It's never a nice feeling when your blood-pumped, impressively statted character rolls a huge botch for something they should be capable of doing easily.
              Quatar this isn't statistically true. The reality is that more dice ALWAYS increases your odds of succeeding.

              Now there are a few, extremely niche and anomalous cases where adding more dice increases your risk of Botching, whilst also increasing your chances of Succeeding. The change here is a slight shift from odds of Failing (0 successes) to botching (-1 successes or less).

              https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...jHI/edit#gid=0

              (credit to Ambrosia)

              This spreadsheet shows the statistical reality. On a roll ABOVE DIFFICULTY 6, if you have EXACTLY 1 DIE, adding more die INCREASES YOUR RISK OF BOTCHING. However, adding those dice does also reduces your risk of Failing and increases the average number of successes. Eventually you have enough dice that the odds of Botching fall much lower.

              This is a good system since it means that Difficulty 9 rolls are always risky, even with a good dicepool. It's as hard as an action can get. The kind of expertise which makes a Difficulty 9 roll safer is represented as having Exploding 10s (which increase your odds of acquiring more successes) from a Spec, and having Difficulty Reductions (which greatly lower the odds of a botch) from a related Merit (such as Ability Aptitude).

              However if you want to make Botches more rare, some WoD books use a variant of the Rule of 1; if you have at least 1 successful die, regardless of your net successes, it will Fail, rather than Botch.

              So, Difficulty 9, 7 dice.

              9, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 4 = -1 successes = Botch/Fail

              It's a Botch in the traditional system, and a Fail in this altered system.
              Last edited by 11twiggins; 04-29-2018, 07:17 AM.

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              • #8
                As long as you have 1 success it's never a botch in V20. That's not the issue, the issue is that 1s eat up successes.

                It's a psychological effect, we hate losing things.
                In a study, participants were given $50 at the start. Then they were asked to choose between one of the 2 options:
                1. keep $30, or
                2. gamble with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.
                Most chose to keep the money. Now they reframed the options:
                1. losing $20, or
                2. gambling with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.
                It was exactly the same thing! But now people were much more likely to chose the gambling option.

                It's just that we hate losing, and gaming is about fun. Getting frustrated because some arbitrary mechanic takes away some of your successes that you "earned" is not fun. It just "feels" better to have the difficulty increase and not get them in the first place.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                  This is a good system since it means that Difficulty 9 rolls are always risky, even with a good dicepool.
                  As long as I'm being quoted as a point of reference, I may as well nitpick.

                  Here's the issue with intentionally dropping the standard Rule of 1: sometimes you just want high difficulty rolls to be difficult, not necessarily "risky". I'm not saying I'd remove botches entirely in this scenario, but they sometimes feel a bit too artificial for the situation when 1's are taking your successes in a roll that should be doable without a problem (beyond simple failure) arising. Granted, this is greatly mitigated by using the Dice Pool>Difficulty=Success/no roll needed rule, as mentioned by Quatar, which I've used on occasion without any problems. That being said, I suppose a lot of it does depend on playstyle, as Thoth mentioned earlier in this thread. WoD games, for me anyway, function the smoothest when you let mechanics work with the story that's being told and vice versa, whichever rules you choose to go with. Epic Undead Awesomeness? Maybe less botches, or even simple failures only. Tragic Personal Horror? Let the Rule of 1 frolic, because the universe is doomed and sometimes things just suck in the World of Darkness! Whatever works for you.


                  "It's in your eyes. Something in your eyes. Check them out in the mirror and tell me if I'm wrong." - Stephen King, Danse Macabre

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Even if there were statistic arguments for removing botches (which are only possible with the rule of 1) I still could never do it, as botches are - probably in a somewhat sinister way - one of the most amusing aspects of the game. Not only 'cause they make the players sweat but more so as they are the players own contribution to fucking up matters ... which gives the ST a break from the role as arse-hole (yes, I'm a perpetual ST, and yes, I've been called worse).

                    But it takes an ST who doesn't take the judgement of said botch to extremes, and who'll still give the players a chance of coming out heroic.

                    V


                    "I used to wear purple"

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                    • #11
                      I've been running CWoD for over 15 years. What I've found to be the best idea is a mixture. So for things like Lore roles, you should be able to botch those even if you have 5 dots in the lore. It is possible that somewhere along the way, the character was just misinformed on a subject. An example is Red Caps aren't really fae but fae nightmares when in reality they are a kith themselves. However certain rolls I say you can't botch because the difficulty is high and it would result in the same response as a failure. Let's say you're escaping from a prison and you try to unlock all the doors so the prisoners can riot and make your escape easier. You don't know how to work the panel, but you know its possible to open all cells. A botch isn't going to tell the guards your location or anything worse, so a botch is simply a failure. This is the way I do things. I hope I was clear enough.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Quatar View Post
                        Hi

                        So one thing that I find about the most frustrating thing on V20 or the oWoD in general, is that 1s subtract from successes. I know it's part of the system, but I really hate it. You roll a high dicepool, with a low difficulty, but because 3 of the 8 dice are 1s, you get 0 successes, because it cancels out everything else.

                        I'm considering just getting rid of that rule. So 1s and no hit would still be a botch, but if you get hits they wouldn't subtract anymore.
                        Obviously it will result in players getting more hits most of the time, and succeeding more often. I don't really see that as a problem, I can just adjust some thresholds by 1 or so if needed. And opposed dice pools, well it applies to NPCs too, so there shouldn't be a problem there.

                        Has anyone ever done that? If so, what were your experience with it?
                        The main difference would be in the resulting style of chronicle. It may look like a small change. However, if you remove botches and 1's subtracting successes, you'll get a more swashbuckling, cinematic world. Picture Hollywood blockbusters, with characters swinging from chandeliers and running high speed car chases down staircases in the park. Everything will be bigger, louder, more dramatic, and less dangerous. Outrageous gambits and daringly brazen plans will be the order of the day... umm, night.

                        This applies to social and intellectual actions as well. Need to get into an office building? Seduce the receptionist, and leave her in the storeroom with a bouquet of roses. Need to solve a plague? Just lock a scientist in a lab for a few days. Understand, though, that this story may start to resemble a James Bond movie, the Diehard franchise, or a romcom where the target of affection may decline advances, but never seems to just call the cops and have their stalker arrested like most people would.

                        This may be exactly what you are going for, and that's fine. Remember, though, botches and failures do happen in real life, and a world can seem artificial and flat if none happen there. You'll need to create more texture elsewhere to make up for it.

                        With the existing rule of one, the world is more subtle, plans are more risk-laden, and sometimes stupendously bad things happen. Picture a Coen brothers film, where character failure and bad luck aren't bad for the story, they're what drives the narrative forward. Expect risk-benefit analysis to hew closer to reality, and players to be more cautious when making plans. Bystander death is more likely, as is negative attention from third parties. It's one thing if you plant a bomb in a sabbat haven and it fails to go off. It's another thing if it was next to a gas main and seven square blocks were leveled.

                        If your players are upset with the current rules (did you actually ask them?), take some time to review the rules with them. There are multiple ways to prevent the shame of a botch, or the disappointment of losing successes to 1's.

                        If a dicepool is higher than the difficulty, they can take a single auto-success. If it isn't higher, well, I suppose they didn't value that pool at chagen.

                        They can spend a willpower, for a minimal success.

                        They can take extra time, or use teamwork.

                        For physical pools, they can bloodpump.

                        They can also elect to approach the problem differently by changing their tactic. In the instance of blowing up a haven, they may not be demolitions experts, but somebody in town is. They may be able to achieve the goal with a social roll with a contractor, rather than doing it themselves. Manipulation+Streetwise would find an arsonist for hire. Charisma+Intimidation might convince someone you'll kill their family if they don't help. A Manipulation+Influence roll might get the haven condemned and leveled for a municipal carpark. There's always another way.

                        I've played with players who pout when they don't instantly succeed at everything. If this is the problem, explain that a good story requires successes, failures, and neutral, gray area, pyrrhic victories. Maybe build in a few very easy rolls, with fun pay-offs, so they don't feel like constant failures.

                        Here are some articles you might find helpful:

                        Realism v. Fantasy

                        Idealism v. Cynicism

                        Why maybe dropping the 1's rule is a good idea.

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                        • #13
                          They put the automatic success rule in the game which sounds like a good way around this problem you're having. If you have more dice than the difficulty the action succeeds without a roll.

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                          • #14
                            We dropped the 1s and raised all difficulty to 7 base instead. It went poorly and we failed much more often. Caution advised when changing the system.

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                            • #15
                              You shouldn't, statistically, be failing rolls more frequently with that change. What would be noticeable is less 'swing' in the roll (that is closer to average rolling) which means worse performance when the number of successes matter.

                              If you're rolling six dice (no specialties) at diff 6 with 1s canceling successes, you have ~88% chances of success, and ~49% odds of rolling 3+ successes. At diff 7 without 1s canceling successes, you have ~95% chance of success, but only ~46% odds of 3+ successes.

                              So playstyle and what kind of systems you're using is going to impact the feel of this change a lot. If you mostly do single roll no opposed roll checks, and 1 success is usually enough, the house rule should feel better, not worse. If you're running lots of detailed systems like combat, it's going to feel worse.

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