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System Hack: Exceptional Success Equilibrium

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  • System Hack: Exceptional Success Equilibrium

    I've found my players regularly roll exceptional successes, to the point where they succeed normally far less than they exceed exceptionally. This is only to be expected once they start throwing around 15+ dicepools due to skill buffs and attribute buffs and luck buffs. The problem with this is that when every roll is exceptional, none of them are.

    Here's my proposed system hack for fixing it:
    • Every time a player rolls an exceptional success, I give them a "stone".
    • Every time they dramatically fail or release a paradox, they remove one stone.
    • Each stone adds 1 to the number of successes needed to be exceptional.
    So someone with 3 stones would need 8 successes to exceptionally succeed normally, or 6 for a Praxis.

    The goal is to achieve an equilibrium point that keeps exceptional successes possible, but exceptional.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Maybe it needs a ceiling. Lets say you don't want to spend WP, at most you can boost yourself to:

    5 skill points + 5 attribute points + 5 from a boon + 5 from an enhanced tool (for spellcasting, this is substituted by yantras, which can have greater variation).

    So if you consider one success rolled per 3 dice, that means when stones > 6, it will require mana and a lot of setup. So it is possible they become so infrequent that they are forgotten altogether.

    How about adding a small removal of these stones at the end of a scene (-1, for example) or a reset after the characters have a long time to rest ?

    You might also need to homebrew an interaction with the Inspired merit. But I think the same -2 stones rule from Praxis could apply.
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-27-2019, 06:04 AM.


    New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


    The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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    • #3
      Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
      Maybe it needs a ceiling. Lets say you don't want to spend WP, at most you can boost yourself to:

      5 skill points + 5 attribute points + 5 from a boon + 5 from an enhanced tool (for spellcasting, this is substituted by yantras, which can have greater variation).

      So if you consider one success rolled per 3 dice, that means when stones > 6, it will require mana and a lot of setup. So it is possible they become so infrequent that they are forgotten altogether.

      How about adding a small removal of these stones at the end of a scene (-1, for example) or a reset after the characters have a long time to rest ?

      You might also need to homebrew an interaction with the Inspired merit. But I think the same -2 stones rule from Praxis could apply.
      They can lower the stone rating at any time by choosing to dramatically fail, or by choosing to release paradox

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      • #4
        Sounds pretty interesting. I'd be interested in seeing this done as a group rather than individually, though it depends how well your players play together.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lareath View Post
          They can lower the stone rating at any time by choosing to dramatically fail, or by choosing to release paradox
          Yes, but if characters are trying to stick to Wisdom, that becomes increasingly more difficult.

          If the cabal has a habit of tilting the odds in their favor, it becomes weird when they stop to try to fail, transform that into a dramatic failure and get the beat plus stone reset. Both that and something like hexing themselves to help things along is a bit of metagaming that sounds hard to justify narratively.

          Its a very interesting mechanic, but could feel odd thematically.

          What about each point of damage from containing a Paradox taking off one stone ? That way Wisdom is still a viable approach, yet releasing it remains an interesting carrot (wipe away some stones while taking damage vs let Paradox go crazy to wipe all of them).
          Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-27-2019, 08:03 AM.


          New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


          The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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          • #6
            Presumably, the characters wouldn't be trying for Failure->Dramatics Failure to remove Stones, instead it would be the players embracing their weaknesses to make things more interesting (which mechanical caveat).

            Though... Mages would be among the few to uncover such "meta" knowledge and build an odd philosophy around it - Stones are basically karmic debt. Exceptional luck or success indebts you, and disasters pay back some of that debt.


            Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
            Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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            • #7
              Are these 15+ dicepools dramatic rolls? If not then why make them. If so then should they not be rewarded with a condition and a beat? I mean it is a exp system so changing it might change the purpose of the system a bit.

              If they are rolling to dramatic effect but it just seems like to much conditions I would suggest taking from FATE and switching the rewards from you placing a condition on them to allowing them to apply a condition to the current scene that would have a minor bonus is used in a action. An example would be allowing them to declare aspects to the scene such as specific furniture, items, tools, or other allowable oddities that could be used in dramatic ways. Like a dent on a rug for the opponent to trip on or a light bulb that is flickering or on its last leg or a very noisy neighbors existence to be called upon later.
              Last edited by WalkingEye; 01-27-2019, 06:26 PM.

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              • #8
                Another suggestion that has been house ruled by some, including myself, is to remove the automatic Arcanum Boost to Potency and Duration. These two factors gaining such a massive boost have really made Mage 2E spell casting hard to deal with in terms of power since without modifying your die pool any you can automatically have a 4 Potency, which for most things is sufficient. This would mean getting Potency/Duration to high levels would require some die pool modifications meaning it is much harder to have a +15 die pool with the standard Yantra, Luck Bonus, Arcanum Bonus, and Gnosis Bonus at least for spellcasting.

                For skill actions, I am not sure there is much I can provide in the ways of reducing the bonuses since Attribute + Skill + Luck bonus + Specialty can easily place you at +15 die pool with a good chance for exceptional successes. However, typically I don't count exceptional success when clashing, but rather only in instances where it is a straight up # of success = Y situations. Clashing with skills and getting an exceptional success just means you "might" be better than the other guy.

                Also, there is a reminder that you can only gain 1 Beat Per Scene from the same source. Another thing to consider when handing out exceptional success beats. They could take a condition and possibly get another Beat so nothing is wrong with that.
                Last edited by Taldorblackfire; 01-28-2019, 04:49 PM. Reason: Edit: Reminded of the One Beat per Scene Rule


                "Teamwork makes the dream work!"

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