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Justindoodler

Perception Checks and Ambushes

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So I see this quiet a lot on actual play.

"Ok, you are walking through the wood. Make a Perception check. Ok with that fail, you are completely surprised." 

Now I understand why people may do this - after all thats  pretty much  like any other game I have run. But I think people are doing this wrong. According to the skills section (p63) Perception is specifically used for looking for hidden things or studying a scene, but not for this- thats Vigilance. And even then, its not how things are done. 

According  to page 95, anytime anyone wishes to launch an ambush, that simply triggers an initiative roll. Anyone making the ambush makes a Cool roll, while unsuspecting targets make a Vigilance roll. Anyone acting before an ambusher spotted them. 

Edited by Justindoodler

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I missed that in my read through. Which is a relatively elegant way of doing it. An ambusher has probably stacked a few advantages (dark, above the victims, etc.) And got a few blue dice. This really allows that to shine.

 

Nice post thanks.

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I agree it would be Vigilance if you want to give your players a chance to see the ambush before it happens. Vigilance should be used more than for just initiative.  As you noted there's nothing in the rules that makes this check mandatory before the ambush happens. It just depends on how you want the story to go.

Edited by Flobio

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I can see a talent making possible for the character using Stealth instead of Cool to determine his own initiative check, maybe with some bonus.

Anyway, I like the idea to be the initiative check itself, it's more practical to be honest.

But this was a problem to me the first time I've played Star Wars, cause me and my friends are used to play D&D and there the stealth attack is a little different in my opinion.

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Well it gives a reason to invest in Cool. I think Stealth does come into play, but more about avoiding combat than setting up an Ambush.  So an opposed Stealth vs Vigilance check for someone to sneak past someone. If that fails, then it's Cool tests all round as everyone gets ready  for battle. 

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I understand using Cool to an ambush, but the ambush per se is much more about keep unseen until the attack moment and the concentration to keep quiet in part of the concentration.

In both Cool and Stealth is supposed that the character are aware of the oponnent and try consciously avoid him as much as possible until the final act (the attack or the moment to leave the place).

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On 12/21/2018 at 9:34 PM, 2P51 said:

I just assign a Difficulty on the initiative roll to the ambushees, makes it likely the ambushers win and keep the ambushees rocked back on their heels for an encounter, which makes sense.  It also allows for the 'sixth sense' aware super vigilant character to feel that way mechanically.

Im not for that, the difficulty of a check is fixed, it can be upgraded , increased or decreased, but in the main situational advantages and disadvantages should be adding boost or setbacks , so I would use these instead , so if you have people in the dark Id apply the setback for visibility to their initiative rolls, but a well prepared ambush could give the ambushers a boost or two 2 boost on one side and 2 setback on the other can give about. a 20 percent swing on results, also works per the raw of the difficulty being a fixed thing.

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5 hours ago, 2P51 said:

You can do as you like, but it works great.

Of course but to give an example recently used by O66 on their recent episode on difficulties the difficulty of doing a stealth check in pitch black darkness , or across a flood lit and otherwise empty football pitch is exactly the same regardless of other circumstances, the difficulty for initiative checks is fixed at simple, this doesnt change from time to time.to suit the circumstances, as circumstances are taken account first and foremost by boost and setback dice. To give some examples of how I would do it

The party is in low light walking into an ambush, first off they are using vigilance unless for some reason someone has a talent that says otherwise. They have a setback because of light unless they have night vision. The opposing side has one or two boost and perhaps they also warrant an upgrade due to preparation, giving them either a swap for a yellow or an additional green to the pool, those however that dont have night vision also suffer a setback. This is enough of a swing to put , on average an additional success and advantage (and a 1 in 12 chance of  a triumph) for each person ambushing over the PCs rolling a similar amount of dice for their initiative roll. One thing I do like is that the base difficulties for performing the same task shouldn't change in  this system

Another good example - walking over a 10cm inch wide beam in perfect conditions 30cms off the ground should be rated at the same difficulty in this system even if that 10cm wide beam was 1km off the ground in torrential rain in the middle of a thunderstorm while being shot at in the dead of night. The base difficulty for these two tasks are identical, the circumstances around them make the latter way less likely to succeed, the fact you could fall and die should warrant at least one upgrade from the narrative danger inherent in the height, the wet conditions should add 1 or 2 setback, the winds another 1-3 setback and being shot at into the bargain should be a setback for distraction(not counting any added from advantage rolled on the combat check)

Now using the original idea for difficulty Id date this has hard as walking a 10cm beam would be likely to fail for anyone untrained, but a reasonably good gymnast should manage to do it the majority of the time

So 4 Agility 3 coordination would manage the beam in good conditions 73% of the time, adding 5 setback for conditions and upgrading 1 purple to red reduces that chance to 36%.

I know in the star wars system that it is quite specific that the difficulty of a task doesnt change just because other separate variables are in play, this is where boost/setback should be used and perhaps upgrades if the task has an added element of risk , not sure of Geneays stresses this also, I know the beam example I give is rather extreme but initiative is always a simple check, which is not to say negative dice dont factor into the check, but the difficulty should always remain simple (even if purple are added later due to an upgrade for whatever reason)

of course your mileage may vary, Im just putting across the RAW side of it (at least as described in the NDS system as used in the Star Wars RPG)

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I'm well aware of the rules, and all rules can be made better. I doubt I was invited to playtest a couple dozen books to just be a rubber stamp.

I assign the base difficulty according to range same as shooting. I also add for environmental factors. My way makes it more relevant to have a character heavily invested in Vigilance, as well as, elevates the value of some Talents like Rapid Reaction, and therefore by default makes iniative more rewarding for that character when they are still able to react first in a lethal ambush. It makes iniative more interesting. My way makes the "spidey sense" character far more valuable to a group.

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On 12/25/2018 at 7:13 PM, 2P51 said:

I assign the base difficulty according to range same as shooting. I also add for environmental factors. My way makes it more relevant to have a character heavily invested in Vigilance, as well as, elevates the value of some Talents like Rapid Reaction, and therefore by default makes iniative more rewarding for that character when they are still able to react first in a lethal ambush. It makes iniative more interesting. My way makes the "spidey sense" character far more valuable to a group.

Given this change, in an ambush scenario (Cool vs Vigilance) could characters that net one or more failures fail to act at all in the initial round of combat (No initiative slot is given)? Then, at the start of the second round, make a standard Cool vs Cool Initiative roll to determine the order for the remainder of the encounter.  This could provide an 'extra' action to ambushers if they can increase the difficulty of the Initiative roll sufficiently.

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Generally speaking I use vigilance checks to spot an ambush before it happens.  This gives a party a chance to detect the ambush ahead of time and make a tactical response, such as avoiding the ambush or setting up their own counter-ambush.  On rare occasions I will let them use Perception.  Primarily if they specifically say something like "I look for ambushes as we enter the valley.".  If something about the environment makes a characters stop and specifically look around I'll allow a perception check. 

Occasionally, just to change things up I'll have the ambushers role their stealth against the parties vigilance.  This gives the ambushers the occasional chance to get a despair and have a little hilarity of their own.  I normally prefer to have characters roll, but sometimes it's to the PC's benefit if the ambushers do (or just more fun.)

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Initiative is inherently a competitive check (the highest roller wins).  I have allowed ambushers to use their Stealth skill to determine initiative versus the player's Vigilance.

Part of the reason that I do this is that I often run into situations where the die pool totals don't well reflect the situation.  For example, if their Perception is lower than their Vigilance there is no advantage to looking for and spotting an ambush in advance- which is counter to common sense.  Same issue with Cool and Vigilance- my players hate to be surprised so they often take ranks in Vigilance, but then they want to use Vigilance all the time because they're at a disadvantage when they're aware that a dangerous situation may arise (using Cool).

So my solution has been to allow a Perception check when they're actively looking for an ambush and then give them a choice.  Anyone who succeeds on the Perception check may take a maneuver before Initiative is rolled and if anyone succeeds on the Perception check then the ambushers may not use Stealth for their initiative (which cancels out boost dice that apply to having a good ambush spot, cover, etc -they have to use Cool).  The choice is they may use their Perception check in place of their Vigilance check for initiative.  So if they rolled well they can keep it.  If not they roll Vigilance as normal and have a shot at a better result.

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I'll add that Concealment dice should frequently come into play in ambush situations (assuming the ambushers have attempted to conceal themselves). Concealment is a curious multi-purpose mechanic in Genesys: it can be Boost dice for a Stealth check, or Setback dice for an Initiative check (vs. concealed opponents), or on ranged attack rolls against concealed/obscured targets. Unlike defense, there is no stated upper limit for Concealment (although physical invisibility is valued at +4 Concealment in the RoT book, and I'd suggest an upper limit of +6). It's worth reviewing the rules for Concealment on page 110 of the CRB if you want to spice up your sneak attacks.

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On ‎12‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 6:13 PM, 2P51 said:

I assign the base difficulty according to range same as shooting. I also add for environmental factors. My way makes it more relevant to have a character heavily invested in Vigilance, as well as, elevates the value of some Talents like Rapid Reaction, and therefore by default makes iniative more rewarding for that character when they are still able to react first in a lethal ambush. It makes iniative more interesting. My way makes the "spidey sense" character far more valuable to a group.

I love this. I've toyed around with the problem of high Vigilance characters actually doing better on Initiative when ambushed, which seemed non-sensical. This seems an easy fix.

Instead of difficulty set by range, what do you think about making the ambusher roll an action to see how well the ambush goes? This could use Warfare, Deception, Stealth, etc depending on the situation. Each success gives a difficulty to the ambushees? Failure?

Edited by Sturn

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I like the idea of setting a Perception difficulty to spot the ambush based on range, circumstances, and skill combined.

So maybe the ambusher(s) have their base dice set by range (an ambush at long range is PPP), upgraded by the leaders ranks in Stealth/Cool/Warfare etc, Setback applied for cover, darkness, elevation etc. Maybe players get boost dice based on the numbers of enemies (+B if more than the players, +BB if significantly more) or if they have no cover etc (I'd actually probably have boost and setback dice cancel out here to reduce the die pool involved). 

The nice thing about this is that it does simulate how much easier it is to spot a threat that is close to you or when there are multiple threats they could notice.

 

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Posted (edited)

Here's a suggestion:

The Vigilance check made by the party being ambushed has a difficulty based on the Stealth skill of the party doing the ambushing. Add Setback for Terrain. The ones doing the ambush just roll Cool.

This means its quick, easy, and a single roll.

Thoughts?

Edited by GM Hooly

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On 12/25/2018 at 7:13 PM, 2P51 said:

I'm well aware of the rules, and all rules can be made better. I doubt I was invited to playtest a couple dozen books to just be a rubber stamp.

I assign the base difficulty according to range same as shooting. I also add for environmental factors. My way makes it more relevant to have a character heavily invested in Vigilance, as well as, elevates the value of some Talents like Rapid Reaction, and therefore by default makes iniative more rewarding for that character when they are still able to react first in a lethal ambush. It makes iniative more interesting. My way makes the "spidey sense" character far more valuable to a group.

Do you factor in things like cover into play? Say the NPC is hiding at Medium range on a 2nd story rooftop behind a rooftop air unit. Would the PC's be rolling against just 2 purple or 2 purple, 1 black?

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This is starting to sound really complicated. Is the game going to meaningfully benefit from adding so much complication to ambushes? Are ambush scenarios so common in your games that they need this kind of detail? For me, these are both "no" but I imagine some others are playing in the Trapdoor Spider roleplaying game.

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1 hour ago, GroggyGolem said:

2P51's method seems pretty simple actually.

I think I'm just combining all of the various suggestions together in my head into a mess of rules (not unlike how 1e AD&D rules came about...) rather than just looking at one poster's suggestions.

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