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Challenge Dice upgrades versus Setback dice


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#1 Vivec

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:32 PM

Sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere.

I'm asking for opinions here regarding when to upgrade Difficulty Dice into Challenge Dice as opposed to simply adding a Setback dice to the pool. Please note that I have the Beginner Game but no access to the Beta version of the rules.

What circumstances feel right for upgrading to a Challenge as opposed to applying a Setback, and why? Should it only be when there's a chance of Despair setting in? I think that's the intention, but cannot confirm if it is. In all honesty, if there are any rules of thumb regarding this question, I either can't find them or there's simply not enough of them (or a cogent enough one to negate this confusion).

In the Beginner Game, firing into an Engaged combat bumps a Difficulty into a Challenge. However, firing while falling nets you two Setback Dice. Is it right to assume the bump to the Challenge in the first example is because a hero might injure his friend on a Despair?

Thanks in advance!



#2 LethalDose

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

I can't find the exact reference on a quick skim, but I believe the Beta book presents the following guidelines:

  • if an aspect of the task itself makes the task more complex, then you should upgrade the difficulty.
  • If there are environmental conditions that interfere with a character's ability to perform a task, then you should add setback dice.

Beyond that, difficulty upgrades are usually appropriate for pre-written rules, talents, or other effects that explicitly call for upgrades, while on-the-fly GM fiat style of effects are more appropriately handled by adding setback dice.

I think those are the basics.  I'll try to provide an actual citation for the bulletpoints shortly.

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#3 LethalDose

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:28 PM

Also, I just wanted to add that it really can be hard to chose between these two mechanisms.


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#4 Droma

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:43 PM

Try to think of it as if it was a d20 system. The setback dice are similar to giving a -2 penalty while upgrading to a challenge dice is more like the chance for a critical failure.

In general I think if the roll feels like it's happening at a critical point in the story then maybe add the challenge dice while at other times just add setback dice.

Example: They players are trying to navigate from some point in the wilderness back to their ship. They only have a stick and the sun to use as a compass because they lost all of their gear. Add some setback dice.

Example 2: Same situation except there are bounty hunters after. Add challenge dice.



#5 aramis

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:26 PM

I add challenge without flipping destiny when it's obvious that someone can get badly hurt whom you don't want.

For example, firing into a melee - on a despair, hit an ally in that melee. (in addition to the target, if you had successes left) 
Or, shooting at a guy between you and an ally - upgrade the difficulty die, but not the pool size.

Increasing the number of purple is because the task is simply inherently harder due to some aspect that's abnormal in how you're doing it. Autofire, two weapons, overly cumbersome weapon, too close, grips missing.

Adding black dice - external factors… obscuring mist, target behind cover, bad footing, they made you duck (advantage effect).

I convert to red with a destiny when I want to add a risk of side effects, but don't want to give a reason, or to give PC's some lightside destiny to spend.



#6 Lord Dynel

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:47 PM

So far, for me, I've based adding setback die on things such as environmental factors.  Darkness (or near dark), windy conditions, extreme temperatures, and things like that.  Also, not having a correct tool for a job (such as trying to hot wire a speeder with no tools).  I know these sound like similar reasons you would add difficulty dice or upgrade existing difficulty dice, but I try to seperate the minor obstacles from the action itself.  If a character was trying to repair a deserted speeder, with a tool kit, to get back to town, I would deem that an "Average" difficulty task.  Doing it in the blistering sands of Tattooine and using the energy cell from his blaster rifle to power the thing back to Anchorhead would call for 2-3 setback dice.  So far, I've reserved the upgrading of difficulty to challenge die specifically in conjunction with Destiny Point use and in the few instances in the rules that call for it.



#7 Vivec

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 06:41 AM

LethalDose said:

Also, I just wanted to add that it really can be hard to chose between these two mechanisms.

 

Too right, but I like your rules of thumb.

 

I hope there are more example rules in the Beta addition, if even some designer's notes along the lines of "when you want a potential for things to go terribly wrong, consider adding a chance for Despair to show up."



#8 LethalDose

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 06:50 AM

Vivec said:

if even some designer's notes along the lines of "when you want a potential for things to go terribly wrong, consider adding a chance for Despair to show up."

Yeah, but also remember that "potential" is about 8%, which isn't very reliable.

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#9 gribble

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

Gah! I was trying to find a post I left on the Beta forums about exactly this topic, but the Beta forums are gone!

Anyway, here are some guidelines I use:

1) You modify the base difficulty if there is something inherent to the task itself that is more difficult, if performed in ideal circumstances or environment.

2) You upgrade the difficulty if there is something inherent to this particular attempt at the task that is making it less likely you will succeed (or more likely to have a catastrophic failure), than the general case.

3) You add setback dice if there is something about the environment or circumstances of your attempt at the task, not inherent to the task itself, which would hinder your chance of success.

Some examples:

1) Task: Shooting at an experienced Bounty Hunter, through a smoky battlefield. The base difficulty is based on the range to the target and silhouette of the target, as the inherent difficulty of hitting something vaguely humansized and shaped at a given distance is constant to the task. You upgrade the difficulty based on the skill level of your opponent, as this is something inherent about this particualr attempt at the task (as opposed to the general task of hitting a humanoid at medium range). Finally, you add setback dice for the environment (smoke), which isn't directly related to your shooting, but still makes it much less likely you will hit your target.

2) Task: Attempting to convince the populace of Coruscant to aid you agianst the Empire without reward. The base difficulty for trying to convince a group of people to aid you would be based on their attitude towards you and what you're offering in return. This is upgraded due to the heavy imperial presence and support on Coruscant, making it more diffcult to convince Coruscant residents to do anything which might attract the Empire's attention and/or wrath. Finally, there is an Imperial agent who has been spreading rumours about how untrustworthy you are - this is an external factor to the task itself, which nontheless has a negative impact on your roll, hence adds setback dice.


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#10 LethalDose

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 12:52 PM

Well, I'm glad to hear somone else had roughly the same ideas I had, just wish I could remember where they were from.

As for this:

gribble said:

Gah! I was trying to find a post I left on the Beta forums about exactly this topic, but the Beta forums are gone!

They've been moved and are now a sub-forum area of this forum.  Go the the Edge of the Empire's main forum page and check just below the news bar , or just click here.

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#11 gribble

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:46 PM

LethalDose said:

Well, I'm glad to hear somone else had roughly the same ideas I had, just wish I could remember where they were from.

I managed to find a sidebar on p17 of the Beta rules, "Increase, Upgrade or Add?" which covers it. Weirdly enough, it has almost identical wording to our posts (even though I didn't read it until after I posted), though it goes into a lot less detail about upgrading, saying simply that is usually isn't necessary unless the rules call for it. I like my interpretation though.

:)


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#12 LethalDose

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 05:24 PM

gribble said:

I managed to find a sidebar on p17 of the Beta rules, "Increase, Upgrade or Add?" which covers it. Weirdly enough, it has almost identical wording to our posts […]

It was the second part of that sidebar that glossed over the important part about describing why the GM would upgrade difficulty.  The section reads:

"Upgrading (or downgrading) dice is not usually necessary unless a specific rule or ability calls for it.  These situations are defined by the individual abilites, and are generally not applied arbitrarily by the GM."

I was hoping to find text that supported our statements that the target's skills (your BH example) or something otherwise intrinsic about the task (as contrasted to the conditions extrinsic to the task, e.g. environment, etc) that justifies the GM applying difficulty upgrades.  

That information isn't in sidebar, and I still haven't found it elsewhere.

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#13 fjw70

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:44 AM

It seems the easiest way to go is:

 
1) Set the base difficulty of the task under perfect conditions.
 
2) If a rule specifically calls for a downgrading or upgrading of the pool then do it.
 
3) Everything else is setback and boost dice.
 


#14 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:57 AM

Just personal experience, but it seems that setback dice are just easier to add, especially if the player is in a hurry to roll the dice.  Same too with boost dice as opposed to upgrading to a proficiency die.

Skimming through the thread, it seems like beyond the chance for Triumph or Despair, the difference between boost/setback Die or upgrade to proficiency/despair are fairly minor.

That said, I do like gribble's short list as to when to upgrade and when to add setback dice.  Especially when you consider there's a number of talents whose sole purpose is to negate those extra setback dice.


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#15 LethalDose

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:55 AM

 

Donovan Morningfire said:

Just personal experience, but it seems that setback dice are just easier to add, especially if the player is in a hurry to roll the dice.  Same too with boost dice as opposed to upgrading to a proficiency die.

Skimming through the thread, it seems like beyond the chance for Triumph or Despair, the difference between boost/setback Die or upgrade to proficiency/despair are fairly minor.

That said, I do like gribble's short list as to when to upgrade and when to add setback dice.  Especially when you consider there's a number of talents whose sole purpose is to negate those extra setback dice.

Cool.  Most of thats fine, but this part?

Donovan Morningfire said:

Skimming through the thread, it seems like beyond the chance for Triumph or Despair, the difference between boost/setback Die or upgrade to proficiency/despair are fairly minor.

No.  This isn't true.

This statement makes it sound like adding setback dice and upgrading difficulty reasonably interchangable except for the despair, and they're not.  These are two separate pool modification methods that represent negative penalties from different sources.  It's been stated repeatedly.  Simply, there are real, numerical differences in how the dice behave that don't go away because it would be convenient if they did.

Now, the difference between adding setback and a difficulty upgrade is admittedly smaller than the difference between adding a boost and a skill upgrade, but that's like saying an Cadillac Escalade is smaller than a Greyhound bus.  While the statement is true, the former is still pretty substantial.  And if you want to see the size of the latter difference, well we pretty much beat that into the ground.  [I'd link to the original thread that has the results, but the forums are horridly misbehaving.

-WJL

 


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#16 Yepesnopes

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:39 PM

For those of you who may be interested, here you can find the difference in probability of success (and of obtaining advantages / threats) as a function of the different dice of a dice pool.

 

Cheers,

Yepes


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