[Input Request] Players "Push it to the limit" Rule

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I've been trying to figure out how to handle the situation where a player looks at a check and says "I'm going to do something crazy, because I don't think I'll make that check normally" and describes some risky "pushing it to the limit" addition to the description of their action.  Here's an example:

The player is being pursued by the police while he is on a motorcycle, ducking and weaving to try and escape.  The challenge [one red, two purples] looks a bit intimidating so the player says "Actually, I'm not just going to go fast, I'm going to go really fast, and cut into the oncoming traffic lane a few times to shake them." I say sure, and upgrade the check twice, now it's [three reds].

Here's the question: What kind of reward should that player get for taking a "riskier but higher chance of success" initiative? Blue dice? Check upgrades? Additional greens?

Too low of a bump and it just washes out (and this discourages fun, creative solutions) but too high and it breaks the game.

If I were to guess, it would be [blues] equal to the number of [purples]>[reds] that the player voluntarily takes.

Edited by dresdinseven

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Sounds like what might fit the bill is a Heroic Ability, although you'd probably have to tailor one. Another possibility is to reward them with free Advantage for each difficulty upgrade, so that IF they succeed, they will have a significant success.

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Looking at it from a probability perspective, upgrading the difficulty of the check while matching the number of upgrades with boost die appears to have several effects. Success/Failure rate is (relatively) unaffected, chance for advantage is significantly increased while chance for threat is greatly reduced, and, the obvious one, chance for despair is increased greatly.

I'd say that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to house rule. It will definitely make checks more interesting.

(Tests were made using a pool of YYGG against the example RPP difficulty)
AnyDice probabilities used for research:
Base Check
Same Check with Rule Applied

Edited by arMedBeta
forgot test params

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Make no sense to me providing bonus for a difficult check while he want to do something difficult. Difficult checks would provide a better prize, just it. If i'm providing more bonus, it's not that difficult at all.

The player can describe better, which would provide some blue dies for the test, and it's fine.

But in the situation you described, he's just Accelerating the vehicle. If he have the Full Throtle talent (from Star Wars), he could increase the max speed by 1, if he pass through a Driving/Piloting vs 3 purples.

I'd add 0 to 3 black dies due the transit. 1 upgrade by the police sounds ok as well.

Opposed check: Driving (+booster due vehicle Handling, +booster due narrative description) vs Driving (+setbacks due the transit, +setback due the stress?).

Remember: +1 upgrade if the speed is 3 or 4. +2 upgrades if the speed is 5 (p. 221).

Reposition maneuver + Dangerous driving action ?

Assuming they would use both the Reposition maneuver, just ask for some checks based on wat the player want. If the motorcycle has a better top speed and handling, and if the has the Full Throtle talent, he would have speed enought to despite the cops OR pick a better way in the road and make the chase stop.

In the regular situation, he just want to increase the speed to a high level (talent needed). Any maneuvers to make the cop's live difficult, need a specific test.

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I think you miss the idea behind the rule setup.  The idea is to give the players an extra lever to pull in a situation, the do-or-die situations where they  accept a higher chance of Despairs hitting them for a higher chance of passing the check. So yes, it does mean they will have a higher chance of success, but there's a major risk in it. Critical Injuries, plot twists, loosing equipment/NPCs, things that make a story move forward.

Also, I choose the driving one as a quick example. But I'm not touching the Star Wars drive/flight rules with a ten foot pole, and the example you posted is an illustrative reason why, it's a total mess when a single dice roll is all that's needed to move a scene to completion.  And I don't want to have to go "no no no, you need X talent to do this thing you describe". The talent would let them do it without making the whole situation a gamble.

I run things pretty fast and loose when it comes to vehicle chases (because for me, they just get in the way) so I would just peg the difficulty at how many cop cars are in the chase (just reduce it to a 'threat level' abstraction).

I'm thinking a d10, since they get used for crits and players 'should' have them, and it makes them a little more punchy than Red dice (but just for Despair).

Also, @arMedBeta thanks for doing the dice math!

Edited by dresdinseven

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WFRP 3e basically had what you are asking for. There were ‘stance dice’ and you could choose to adopt varying degrees of cautious and reckless stances. What type of stance you could adopt, and by how much, was defined by your career(s) and the dice replaced skill dice IIRC.

The dice had extra symbols, for example the cautious dice had a ‘delay’ symbol that reduced initiative if it came up. I’m pretty sure they were ten sided, as it happens.

It sounds to me like you want a ‘push your luck’ mechanism. Maybe allow a player to chose to add an ability dice in exchange for stepping up difficulty? Or maybe allow the player to add one success to their total in exchange for adding two threat prior to the roll?

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Myself, I had a similar idea, with a different approach. At I first I was contemplating on a magic-specific talent:

Wild Magic [Ranked] Tier ?

Reduce the difficulty of all your magic actions by the talent rank, then upgrade it by the same amount.

I can imagine generalising it, though, and making it optional with a drawback, like:

Push to the Limit [Ranked] Tier ?

When taking an action that requires a skill check, you may spend X strain as an incidental to reduce the check's difficulty by X, then upgrade it by X; X can't be higher than the talent rank.

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so, and I'm kinda skimming through this, so I might be off - but Seventh Sea used to have what sounds like a vaguely similar situation

So, you would have a task, and the GM would assign a difficulty to the basic task (like attacking an enemy) - at which point, the player could voluntarily CHOOSE to add "raises", essentially raising the difficulty of the task, in exchange for a greater degree of impact should they succeed (the most basic check being, if you attacked an enemy mob, the difficulty was say...10 - the player could voluntarily CHOOSE to raise the difficulty by 5 point increments, and each increment would do damage to another member of the mob IF the overall attack hit, allowing you to wipe out 3, 4, 5 guys at a time depending on how good and how lucky you were)

I've actually used this in star wars (contrary to the rules system as written), essentially giving the players a...gradient...of choices (for easy, you get x amount of stuff if you succeed, but if you choose avg, you get x+y, and if you choose hard, you get x times 2, or some such) - you could allow a player to voluntarily add difficulty to their check, in exchange for getting higher and higher degrees of success for whatever it is they're attempting

I guess, the point I'm making is, that it's partially up to YOU to set the standard for what a minimal success is...for your police chase example, YOU have to set the minimum standard for, lets say, keeping the cops from running you down - potentially, that check could go on forever, so you've got to establish a difficulty for at least getting a *partial* lead on the cops, which would be slightly higher

then, the player says "screw that - I wanna blow these mothers outta the water with the craziest A-Team van-flipping stunt you've ever seen" - at which point most of your table will ask "what's an A-team?" at which point you should make all your players take a dark side point. Then, have the player decide how many upgrades they're going to assign, each upgrade either...I dunno...giving them more distance from the cops and/or making a greater impression on the cops, or causing more collateral damage, or being a more spectacular evasion that will be talked about for years to come...whatever the player wants...

the cost, of course, being, that if they blow it, all those extra threats and disasters get heaped on their heads

keeping in mind, btw, that ONE player's success/failure shouldn't be able to screw the entire party/adventure - even if there's a disaster, maybe they still manage to evade the police, but only by driving through the pet store, horribly maiming puppies and kittens on the 8 o'clock news so that the character is wracked with guilt and the whole city despises them...

*shrugs* point is, there are LOTS of ways to make sure that disasters are still successful so that the story can move forward while still making sure that the player feels the consequence of failure (or vice versa, should they succeed) - just gotta have a versatile imagination

that rant may/may not have helped...sorry - just sorta wandered off topic after a bit...

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Ok so you set the difficulty and the player then goes to the effort of describing in detail what they want the scene to look like based on the what they are trying to do.

Did you ask the player what they think would be an appropriate adjustment to the pool?

Did you ask what the extra speed would have looked like in the scene so you had a better idea of what to add Challenge, Difficulty or Setback Dice for?

Did you ask input from the table to add epicness to the scene?

Did they spend a Story Point?

Did you spend a Story Point?

If it were me, I would have said:

”Well due to the extra speed you are going at, have two setback, but because of that amazing description, have a boost Dice because that scene sounds EPIC!”

Don’t codify something that doesn’t need codifying. Go with feel. Who cares if players succeed or fail, as long as EVERYONE at the table is having fun.

Edited by GM Hooly

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I can't agree more @GM Hooly

In a World post 3.x craze of millions of codified modifiers, and with things like Adventurer's League, Living Communities, Community Games, West marches, and all the other "Organized Play" style games. It's often forgotten that the rules only need to be exact and codified enough to **facilitate** the fun of the group as a whole. Each group will have the same RAW and RAI, but their own group application of those rules will often be very different. And that is 100% ok.

Codify what you have to, wing what you can, and value the fun for the group at the table over everything else.

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I casually reward super risky behaviour and good describing with some boost dice.

If they they only attempt the super risky without describing their stunts, then they will feel the red rolling.

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On 5/4/2018 at 5:34 AM, dresdinseven said:

I think you miss the idea behind the rule setup.  The idea is to give the players an extra lever to pull in a situation, the do-or-die situations where they  accept a higher chance of Despairs hitting them for a higher chance of passing the check. So yes, it does mean they will have a higher chance of success, but there's a major risk in it. Critical Injuries, plot twists, loosing equipment/NPCs, things that make a story move forward.

This is everything that's relevant for answering this, and it does make perfect sense that you can up both your risk and chance of success at the same time, in your chase example it's ultra high risk driving (it could go very badly wrong) but it also ups the difficulty for those giving chase (it could equally go very badly wrong for them and you've just raised the stakes big time, they've also got to match you in guts as well as risk) thus giving you an extra way the escape might succeed, and on the logic of why improve and impede a roll for the same reason- it could go very badly or very well or all manner of other possibilities for both parties (you may even decide equal opposing rolls don't cancel each other out in the same way they usually would but actually hit both sides in some way story-wise, however the strict interpretations of the roll determine who if anyone actually came out on top actual consequence wise), another example it's a bit like going direct to your arch-nemesis if they're on the run- it might be a possibly foolish act of extreme courage, but it's put you right where they are and shown them you mean business...

It's how heroes roll!

(on an equal roll)

You cut it too fine and bang, it's a bumper to bumper smash but luckily you'd braced yourself for it and a quick reaction saves it from being head on carnage as you swerve off to the side into a just-about controlled skid forcing your pursuers into the most critical emergency stop they've ever had to do. Which proves slightly late but enough to stop things getting really messy. Everyone's just had an incredibly narrow escape but....

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Since the player made a good description that led to upgrading two purple dice to red dice, adding two blue dice to the pool seems the right reward. What the pc wants to do doesn't make it more difficult but make it more challenging. That's exactly the purpose of upgrading difficulty dice. Adding boost dice is the right thing because it's better if the pc succeed leaving chaos, car crashes, cars piling up and many people injured or dead. Ok he'll escape this police chase but he's going to climb high in the most wanted scale.

And that's what's fun. It create drama. It create potential story arcs. Evething's that loved by GMs and Players.

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Seems like a perfect place to say "Okay, the increased risk grants you an automatic triumph if you succeed, but automatic despair if you fail".

This is a talent in the Star Wars Hotshot tree- but I've used it in other instances to illustrate high risk/high reward events.

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