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bygrinstow

Destiny Point Flip... vs. One Character, or All Characters...?

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I've had a couple of situations where, as the GM, I wanted to flip a Destiny Point to make a general Perception check or other checks more difficult... Basically, checks where more than one player is making the skill check at the same time for the same purpose.

I can't find guidance in the books for whether the Upgrade in Difficulty affects all the characters making that check, or if I'm meant to target one character only with the Upgrade.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by bygrinstow
typos

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As the GM, you have the power to upgrade the difficulty of dice rolls for the players without spending Destiny.

 

I would just do that and tell them this difficulty is upgraded because of this specific factor. Or sometimes just don't tell them until afterwardw because that may ruin the surprise.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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I'd say that if it is a check that they are all making, flip a DP and it applies to everyone making the check. If you are going to upgrade the check "just because" you should have a pretty good reason, just from GM ethics. I've heard plenty of horror stories about arbitrary difficulties/upgrades.

So, for example, I say "okay, everyone make a Hard Vigilance check [something is trying to sneak up on them and has 3 Agility and 0 Stealth], but I'm going to flip a DP and upgrade the difficulty" I'd apply that to all of them, because I'd count it as more of a group check. Same as if you call for a group check, 1 DP=1 Upgrade.

My reasoning for this is twofold: 1. It means you can really affect something without exhausting your entire Destiny Pool, and 2. With something like a Perception check or Vigilance check, they are probably all looking for the same thing. Therefore, the circumstances would be pretty much the same for all of the PCs, with the only differences being on their end. Then, for them to flip a DP to upgrade their check means that they are having a bit of luck.

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1 hour ago, GroggyGolem said:

As the GM, you have the power to upgrade the difficulty of dice rolls for the players without spending Destiny.

Oooo, do you have a page number for reference on that? My understanding has been that Upgrades are either from specific Abilities and Talents, or happen through use of the Destiny Pool...

TIA

 

1 hour ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

I'd say that if it is a check that they are all making, flip a DP and it applies to everyone making the check. If you are going to upgrade the check "just because" you should have a pretty good reason, just from GM ethics. I've heard plenty of horror stories about arbitrary difficulties/upgrades.

So, for example, I say "okay, everyone make a Hard Vigilance check [something is trying to sneak up on them and has 3 Agility and 0 Stealth], but I'm going to flip a DP and upgrade the difficulty" I'd apply that to all of them, because I'd count it as more of a group check. Same as if you call for a group check, 1 DP=1 Upgrade.

My reasoning for this is twofold: 1. It means you can really affect something without exhausting your entire Destiny Pool, and 2. With something like a Perception check or Vigilance check, they are probably all looking for the same thing. Therefore, the circumstances would be pretty much the same for all of the PCs, with the only differences being on their end. Then, for them to flip a DP to upgrade their check means that they are having a bit of luck.

Thanks for the input and explanation.

The most recent case of this question coming up in-game, was the party flying over a camouflaged ship... They weren't specifically looking for a ship (they were searching for something else), but it was there, and could give them a hefty heads-up if they'd spotted it... I set the base Difficulty at a 2 or 3, but the folks that set the camouflage are badasses that are WAAAYY above the pay-grade of the PCs at this point in the campaign, so it seemed reasonable that their handiwork would go unnoticed by anybody but very seasoned spacers.

They spotted it, by the way.

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Just now, bygrinstow said:

The most recent case of this question coming up in-game, was the party flying over a camouflaged ship... They weren't specifically looking for a ship (they were searching for something else), but it was there, and could give them a hefty heads-up if they'd spotted it... I set the base Difficulty at a 2 or 3, but the folks that set the camouflage are badasses that are WAAAYY above the pay-grade of the PCs at this point in the campaign, so it seemed reasonable that their handiwork would go unnoticed by anybody but very seasoned spacers.

That might be a time for you to increase, rather than upgrade, the difficulty to spot it. Increasing does much more to prevent them from succeeding than Upgrading does.

Straight Success on a check for something else shouldn't result in spotting something else. If they weren't looking for the ship, have them make the check for the other thing, but if they get enough Advantage or a Triumph, say "you notice something that doesn't quite seem to belong... is it? Yes, you think it might be.. Yes, you're sure of it now. A ship, cleverly camouflaged amid the [insert planetary terrain feature]."

If they were looking for the ship, just set a difficulty for spotting the ship. If it is so well camouflaged, maybe the check should be Daunting.

In that situation (for finding the ship specifically) I might make it an Opposed Perception vs. Survival check, using the Survival of whoever was in charge of camouflaging the ship. Other skills might apply instead of Survival, though.

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In context:

It was a small icy plateau with a ship parked on it, and that ship camouflaged with a "blanket" (so to speak) that emulated the snowy covering the plateau. The thing they were looking for required no skill check -- it was a given that they'd find it. But do they notice this other, odd thing...? That's where the check came in, though I'm sure they thought they were making the check to spot the thing that I was going to give them anyway. It wasn't difficult to spot the "lump" on the plateau, but it was worth a check to see if it registered as anything other than a simple terrain feature. So I went with not-a-Daunting check, but Upgraded by bad guy expertise.

What you're saying makes sense, too.

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In a case like that, and especially since it doesn't really matter who does or does not detect the thing, only whether someone does, it would be more appropriate to have a single check (using the best available pool, or in the case of being on a ship, whoever is manning the sensor-related station) with a boost die added for every extra set of eyes. Having EVERYONE make a check means an unwarranted flood of advantage/threat (and starts making high Vigilance a de facto requirement so that high-difficulty 'spot' checks like this don't hammer the PC group with masses of the latter).

Edited by Garran

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On 12/9/2019 at 2:55 PM, bygrinstow said:

Basically, checks where more than one player is making the skill check at the same time for the same purpose.

To add to @Garran s point, I generally don't allow this, no matter what game.  All you're doing is guaranteeing success (which seems to have happened).  It's like combat...the more attacks you bring to bear, the more the odds of success.  Those "badasses that are way above the PC's pay grade" can't repel firepower of that magnitude...  :ph34r:

If each PC is looking for something different, I will certainly allow a check for each, because then each roll has specific consequences.  But not a general passive check for one item/event.  Adding boost dice for a general Assist, or making a dice pool from the best Attribute and best Skill rank (skilled assist), is a better way to go.

5 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

My understanding has been that Upgrades are either from specific Abilities and Talents, or happen through use of the Destiny Pool...

If the roll is contested, they would be rolling their Perception against the bad guy's Stealth or Deception, or maybe Survival if it's a wilderness area.  The bad guys probably assist each other too, so the PCs would be rolling against whatever their dice pool is (flipped to negative).  So if the bad guys have a dice pool of YYYGGB (you *did* say they were badasses  :) ), the PCs would be rolling against RRRPPS.  Adding a DP flip at that point is pouring lemon juice on a paper cut...

But to be clear, you can do whatever you want.  If you feel the conditions warrant an upgrade (because you have in mind something to leverage on a Despair) go for it.  Jumping over lava is inherently more dangerous than jumping over a puddle, and you don't have to flip a DP (especially when there might not be one available for you) just to reflect that.

 

Edited by whafrog

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I appreciate the advice, but we're getting into the weeds a little bit with this, discussing the Difficulty of one example situation and all that, when the question was about Destiny flip Upgrades...

The other pools you're suggesting all make sense and I've used those approaches in other situations. I'll check out the Order 66 podcast, which I was unaware of.

But suppose there's  an unhealthy atmospheric situation that calls for a Resilience check -- from everybody -- on their own, no "I'm going to help that other PC" situation at all... If there's an as-yet undiscovered plot element (their immune systems have been compromised, maybe?) an Upgrade to the difficulty of the Resilience check via Destiny Pool could be one way to deal with it (i.e., Despair could mean medical emergency), and it sounds like we agree that such a flip should apply to all the characters making their individual checks, right?

Please take me at face value when I say, for the situation at hand on the ice plateau, for the tone of my game, for the pacing of the moment and other factors, going with everyone making the check vs not-an-opposed Difficulty and it being Upgraded made the most sense. As an example of a piece of that equation, the Upgrade tells them "something's up" that's more than meets the eye, and, importantly, it's a very Star Wars thing, because it would be exactly the right moment to say "I have a bad feeling about this..." as they search for their missing friend. Their success simply means the narrative unfolded in an unexpected way, and I prefer for that to happen occasionally...

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2 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

I appreciate the advice, but we're getting into the weeds a little bit with this, discussing the Difficulty of one example situation and all that, when the question was about Destiny flip Upgrades...

The other pools you're suggesting all make sense and I've used those approaches in other situations. I'll check out the Order 66 podcast, which I was unaware of.

Apologies, I didn't answer you question directly. In a case similar to this (though I wouldn't let them al roll or waste DP this way) i'd upgrade all player's checks.

The reason I mentioned the difficulty is that properly setting it makes your question pointless.

As the GM you have the right to set any pool you want including setbacks, upgrades too. You are describing the world and give the players the difficulty based on the hindering factors (setbacks) and possible catastrophic outcomes (upgrade for despair). You don't need to mechanically explain why is it that way, it is. You can see going throught this, the players making the same check (why you shouldn't do that, especially in perception/vigilance case is already said before me), face the same negative pool without you spending DP.

You should spend DP to upgrade, when you want to add the chance of despair in the roll, but you can't explain it without breaking the world's logic, thus giving the players some compensation.

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Hmmm... If I can just Upgrade any time it sounds right to me and I would only use it to "break the world's logic", if I then essentially choose to never break the world's logic (hadn't occurred to me, frankly), then the only reason for a GM to flip a Destiny point from Dark to Light is to boost an NPC's skill in a check. That seems... lopsided?

Reading page 21 (EotE), Applying Task Difficulty, it says "Difficulty Dice are most often upgraded into Challenge Dice when facing skilled opponents [as discussed above in this thread], particularly challenging circumstances*, or when Destiny points are invested to me a check more challenging."

My take on that one phrase (marked * by me above) is that that refers to things like Piloting checks (for example), where your speed and silhouette are setting the Difficulty. The bottom line I'm seeing is that, unless another game effect is kicking in, Difficulty is set in purple dice, and to Upgrade those dice via "narrative", I'm jus' gonna hafta flip a Destiny point, as said in the last part of the quote. Maybe we disagree on this methodology, but

 

In any case, I can still foresee in some cases flipping it to Upgrade Difficulty for PCs (a crucial, moment, where Despair is a real possibility). I can foresee the occasional need for everybody to roll a check of some kind against the same difficulty. How these two things interact is the crux of my gist. ...or is it the gist of my crux?

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The way I treat it is that I never upgrade the difficulty unless it is mechanically called for or I flip a DP. There may be occasional exceptions, but in general, that's how I operate.

1 hour ago, bygrinstow said:

My take on that one phrase (marked * by me above) is that that refers to things like Piloting checks (for example), where your speed and silhouette are setting the Difficulty. The bottom line I'm seeing is that, unless another game effect is kicking in, Difficulty is set in purple dice, and to Upgrade those dice via "narrative", I'm jus' gonna hafta flip a Destiny point, as said in the last part of the quote.

I would agree with you on that. For something that has "particularly challenging circumstances" and doesn't have a mechanical justification for an upgrade, I flip a DP and apply it to the difficulty. For example, the PCs want to jump a gap. I say, "Okay, that'll be Hard difficulty, with 2 Setback for winds. But, I'm going to flip a DP to upgrade the difficulty." I'd then apply that to all of their checks.

I like to encourage free flow of Destiny Points. They are there for a reason, so you may as well use 'em. They add a lot of fun to the game, in my experience, so the more you use them as a GM (though you must be careful not to screw with the PCs too much, or they'll never spend 'em back), the more the PCs will use them. Sometimes it can be particularly useful to help drive the story along. "Hmm... you want to slice into the system? The administrator has (Improved) Defensive Slicing 2, so it's upgraded twice. I'm going to flip a DP and make that 3. Oooo, you rolled a Despair! They get a piece of your slicing signature, you might be getting a visit from the the Hutt's goons soon."

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4 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

If there's an as-yet undiscovered plot element (their immune systems have been compromised, maybe?) an Upgrade to the difficulty of the Resilience check via Destiny Pool could be one way to deal with it (i.e., Despair could mean medical emergency), and it sounds like we agree that such a flip should apply to all the characters making their individual checks, right?

Personally I wouldn't do that.  In the game mechanics, a DP flip is basically equal to a Triumph or Despair (that's the first die result that allows an upgrade to be passed around).  If you let it apply to the entire party, you could also justify doing it for, say, combat, where you, say, give all the NPCs a defence rating.  So your scale becomes arbitrary.  In your example, I'd just upgrade the initial roll for everybody because that reflects the general danger.  Then if you want to a target a PC with an additional DP flip for some reason, you can still do that.

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4 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Personally I wouldn't do that.  In the game mechanics, a DP flip is basically equal to a Triumph or Despair (that's the first die result that allows an upgrade to be passed around).  If you let it apply to the entire party, you could also justify doing it for, say, combat, where you, say, give all the NPCs a defence rating.  So your scale becomes arbitrary.  In your example, I'd just upgrade the initial roll for everybody because that reflects the general danger.  Then if you want to a target a PC with an additional DP flip for some reason, you can still do that.

So your Upgrade in that case would be GM-fiat -- do I have that right?

I'm not seeing support for such a GM-fiat in the rules, per se. There is some haze in the book's phrasing, admittedly.

Your concern is that if I do it for a specific kind of check in specific kinds of circumstances, it could then roll-over into broader use of multiple checks vs. multiple circumstances (all the PCs attacking all the NPCs, as one example). Have I interpreted that correctly?

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32 minutes ago, bygrinstow said:

So your Upgrade in that case would be GM-fiat -- do I have that right?

I'm not seeing support for such a GM-fiat in the rules, per se. There is some haze in the book's phrasing, admittedly.

There's more than haze...it's a damned fog sometimes :)  But that's intentional.  You'll notice a lot of gaps where they don't specify all the possible situations for a rule.  There are no strict rules, and rules-lawyers will have a hard time with the game.  There are plenty of people who don't upgrade by fiat, and plenty who do (I'm even pretty sure I heard an Order66 podcast way back with a designer saying that was fine).  There are reasons on both sides, but ultimately I think it boils down to how you scale your challenges and whether or not you are consistent.  I might upgrade by fiat (not often, but on occasion if a situation has special danger) but I also might apply fewer setback, or make other challenges less difficult or just structure my campaign differently...taking the one choice out of context isn't really going to help you decide how to run your game.  Ultimately you have to decide for yourself.

And on that note, there is a LOT in this game where you will have to decide for yourself.  When you distill it down, this game is really lean and mean compared to others.  It's more about "core principles" than lists of rules to apply in XYZ situations.  (Combat is pretty well-defined, because...numbers.)  All you have to keep in mind is the scale of things, the scope of the impact your decisions are having, etc.  Once you have that down, you won't even need the rule book.  I ran a campaign for over a year, and about the only thing I looked up was the crit chart.  I never take it with me when hosting out-of-home.  I guess the point of all that is, don't worry too much whether or not a specific ruling is in the rule book.

50 minutes ago, bygrinstow said:

Your concern is that if I do it for a specific kind of check in specific kinds of circumstances, it could then roll-over into broader use of multiple checks vs. multiple circumstances (all the PCs attacking all the NPCs, as one example). Have I interpreted that correctly?

Yes

 

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Edge of the Empire, CRB, page 9 in the section on The Game Master:

 

Quote

Ultimately, the GM's word is final. If the GM makes a ruling, the other players should accept it and keep the story moving.

 

Edge of the Empire, CRB, page 17 in the section on Difficulty (emphasis mine)

 

Quote

While the characteristic and related skill training are defined by the character attempting the task, the difficulty of a task is set by the GM.

 

Edge of the Empire, CRB, page 20 section Modifying a Dice Pool:

 

Quote

Any number of factors may warrant modification of the dice pool, such as obstructing terrain, poor lighting, tactical advantages, time constraints, superior equipment, special talents, unlocked career abilities, investment of Destiny Points, or critical injuries.

 

 

There's also a box on pg 21, called Increase, Upgrade, or Add?

 

Bottom line is as the GM you have free reign to set the difficulty and add in boost or setback depending on factors. More rarely, you can upgrade the difficulty of checks, though more often that will come from specific rules or character abilities.

 

Also there's the whole thing where rules are guidelines and you do whatever works best for your table thing (EotE CRB, pg 288 box called Fun First, Rules Second!)

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Thanks for the perspective, Whafrog.

FWIW, I mostly refer to the GM screen only during play, and then just for crits and occasionally for inspiration on using Triumph, Despair, Advantage, etc. when nothing's jumping out as appropriate to the moment (there are enough fiddly little uses of those things that I sometimes forget an avenue that I could be throwing them at).

I'm not worried about the "one flip, all rolls" spilling into broader, sloppier usage. The application is really very narrow as it exists in my head, and at present I'm blessed with players who are comfortable going with the flow. They aren't going to rules-lawyer me, and I'm long enough in the tooth at this point to address the behavior directly when I do meet up with it, rather than think of it as stemming from the game.

I'm used to and comfortable with games that say "do whatcha want!" -- but I do find this system a little schizophrenic with some things being very "narrative" driven and other things being crunchy as all get out. If my campaign goes on long enough, I WILL develop dice-money instead, where you just roll to see if you can acquire that equipment you want, and develop a system for handling equipment upgrades through the use of Advantage in combat, instead of hard points, but that's a whole 'nother discussion... ; )

Edited by bygrinstow
clarity

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2 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

I do find this system a little schizophrenic with some things being very "narrative" driven and other things being crunchy as all get out.

Agreed.  The only "crunch" I've kept is personal combat, and even then I try to be more flexible in application.  Space combat, Morality/Duty/Obligation, and to a certain extent, money, have been jettisoned in favour of other systems of resolution.  But to me that's the strength and beauty of the system, the core principles apply to any situation as long as you understand how the scaling works.

Edited by whafrog

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20 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

In any case, I can still foresee in some cases flipping it to Upgrade Difficulty for PCs (a crucial, moment, where Despair is a real possibility). I can foresee the occasional need for everybody to roll a check of some kind against the same difficulty. How these two things interact is the crux of my gist. ...or is it the gist of my crux?

Probably I didn't express myself properly, in flipping DP and "breaking logic" I meant that you upgrade for "dumb luck" not because the circumstances or the opponents strengths warrants it.

My only problem is, why isn't already an upgrade in the pool, if the situation warrants it?

You are right, i think it IS lopsided for the GM. The players get a great deal out of it, to introduce narrative facts - you are the GM you can do it already. Make a nemesis roll despair, as they can't do it otherwise. Sure, there are probably cases, when you want to upgrade a roll against a stormtrooper, or bounty hunter, but you could just as easily give him opposing skill, dodge, adversary talent, that does the same everytime, for free.

Still, in the end, the only thing that matters that people have fun at the table. There is no one right way.

Edited by Rimsen

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7 hours ago, Rimsen said:

My only problem is, why isn't already an upgrade in the pool, if the situation warrants it?

My approach/understanding is that I set the Difficulty where it's not already laid out (as in Opposed checks), and that that methodology is: Determine a number of Difficulty Dice, introduce Upgrades based on mechanics (Talents, etc.), add Boosts and Setbacks as appropriate to the circumstances. Done.

-- those mechanical Upgrades include the mechanics of the Destiny Pool. It does not include Just deciding that some red should be in there. Maybe I'm being too strict, but it's worked fine so far (both PCs and NPCs have had a fair share of success and failure in big and small things), and I feel like if pumping in some Challenge Dice were part of setting the Difficulty, there'd be some reference to it in the Difficulty Levels charts along with with Simple, Easy, Average, Hard, etc. and direct examples would on hand under Applying Task Difficulty.

I'd never say just adding some red to your pool is wrong. It's just not fitting into the game in the style that I'm running it. What's been happening at the table feels very Star Wars, so I don't feel any need to switch up that approach... Maybe when the characters each have 150+ XP under their belts, I'd feel differently. We'll see.

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2 hours ago, bygrinstow said:

Maybe I'm being too strict, but it's worked fine so far (both PCs and NPCs have had a fair share of success and failure in big and small things), and I feel like if pumping in some Challenge Dice were part of setting the Difficulty, there'd be some reference to it in the Difficulty Levels charts along with with Simple, Easy, Average, Hard, etc. and direct examples would on hand under Applying Task Difficulty.

Not to flog a dead horse, but that bolded part is where the core rules are misleading.  If you get one of the modules, like Beyond the Rim, there are constant references to checks of a specific difficulty, with charts on how to spend threats and despair.  So it might read "This is an Average (PP) check...and on a Despair you might do X".  Per "the rules" there is no way to get a Despair from PP, so ... 

In fact, it's worth picking up a module or two just to see how the designers meant the rules to be applied.

Anyway, not saying what you should or shouldn't do, just that you can if you wish.

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