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Untrained skill checks.
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Blogotron
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:52 am    Post subject: Untrained skill checks. Reply with quote

Alright, untrained skill checks are FAR too difficult to pull off. At 1d4-2 you may as well not even try. We discovered this while playing a low fantasy campaign wherein no one took healing spells or any sort of healing skills. Idiots. Initially misremembering the untrained check I merely said make a Smarts roll with a -2 penalty. Even our Smartest PC failed over half of the time.
For my own game i am going to allow PCs to use certain skills untrained using their Attribute scores but being penalized one Die to a minimum of 1d4-1.
Certain skills or attempts would, of course be impossible, but for those circumstances where it would seem a PC might have a reasonable chance of success despite no formal knowledge I think this would at least make attempts bearable, rather than untenable, as they currently are.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds fair in the short term.

However, I guess the players have learned their lesson...?

In a low fantasy game, the solution might lie in unusually high quality healing herbs that raise the user's Healing skill by a die type, so even an untrained character is rolling a d4 in their skill. When it comes to things like Tracking or Survival, then it's time to hire an NPC ranger of some kind.
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Blogotron
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed and much appreciated. The idea of herbalism is already large part of the game (Midnight, where magic use is punishable by death in most cases) and your solution is a nice introduction to the uses of healing herbs and wise woman poultices!.
I agree with your limitations and I imagine imposing such limitations will only matter when the PCs choose to go off of the reservation.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:31 am    Post subject: Re: Untrained skill checks. Reply with quote

Blogotron wrote:
Alright, untrained skill checks are FAR too difficult to pull off. At 1d4-2 you may as well not even try.


Not forgetting your wild die too. There is always a chance you can roll up.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The chance of succeeding on a 1d4-2 is a little less than 1/4 (You need a 4 plus anything other than a one on the next die... so 1/4 * 3/4 = 3/16)

The chance of succeeding on a 1d4-2 and a Wild Die of 1d6-2 is a little less than 1/3. (You need either a four and anything other than a one on the d4, or a 6 on the d6...the chance of getting neither of those is one minus the chance of missing on the first (13/16) times the chance of missing on the second 5/6) = 1 - (13/16 * 5/6) ~= 0.32)

Those aren't great odds, but if they don't have the requisite skill, I'm not sure they deserve great odds. Certainly what you propose shifts the value of high attributes pretty strongly. Why even take a d6 in a skill when you can get the same result by having a d8 in the attribute? Even having a d6 attribute gives them a d4, which is about a 62% chance of success. It seems like you'd be discouraging the players from spending any points at all on any skill where you'll allow them to default this way.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is your first campaign with Savage Worlds? I think your players have already learned a valuable lesson. In a game without magic healing you need to know the Heal skill. Especially since you are adding the wounds as a negative modifier to their roll. So a PC with three wounds being healed by a guy with no Heal skill will be rolling d4-5 and a d6-5 (Wild Die). Usually that equals a dead PC.

In a campaign it's much more effective to take a lot of skills at d4 & d6 and raise them as Level Ups as you raise your Attributes. In my opinion, Savage Worlds deals with "power gamers" by making a lot of skills important and if a player wants to dump all his starting skill points in just Fighting and Shooting he's going to pay for it in the game.

This is not to say that your players did that (although they might have) but hopefully as they play they will learn that a more natural and even spending of skill points will benefit them more in the long run of a campaign.

For a one shot game it makes sense to spend 6-8 skill points to have a d12 Fighting if you are a fighter. In a campaign spending 3 skills points (if you have a d8 Agility for example) and getting a d8 Fighting so you have 12 more points to spend on other skills is the way to go.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I have to wonder whether the Wild Die was used as well. It's a bit more common for GMs to wonder if unskilled attempts aren't too easy as players have a 32.3% chance of success and a 54.1% chance if they spend a benny to do something they have never trained in.

Healing could certainly alter than perception though as it is the one skill that is almost always penalized (wound penalties), but it is a unique skill in that regard. Still, no one taking any healing is kind of a player choice instead of a system issue.

As noted above, basing the unskilled roll on an Attribute roll at one die type lower seriously devalues Skills. There have been some other options discussed but for different reasons (not to make unskilled easier exactly). I'd like to clarify the situation a bit more to better understand before offering any specific advice if that's possible.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
I'd like to clarify the situation a bit more to better understand before offering any specific advice if that's possible.


Another question when you answer Clint too. What style of game are you going for?

Specifically for Healing, in an over the top Pulp style game you could use a setting rule for recovering quicker from Wounds. While in a modern game you could use the rules from Moscow Connection one sheet for gritty damage.

Healing is the one skill that I change based on the Setting.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boldfist wrote:
Another question when you answer Clint too. What style of game are you going for?


Actually, he did say...

Blogotron wrote:
We discovered this while playing a low fantasy campaign...


And I presume it's the same game from the write-up in the General Chat section.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Untrained skill checks. Reply with quote

Blogotron wrote:
We discovered this while playing a low fantasy campaign wherein no one took healing spells or any sort of healing skills. Idiots.

Mr. Green Mr. Green Mr. Green Come on... High fantasy or low fantasy, where do you think you can go without a "healer" character??
It's the first thing, the basics! I do the fighter, you do the healer, he does the assassin, he does the charismatic useless leader!

(ok, I'm joking, I love to impersonate charismatic leaders, everytime I can play as "player", and not as "master")

PS: a wonderful edge for an "healer" in a low fantasy is the homonym weird edge. A must have for your player Wink


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Boldfist wrote:
Another question when you answer Clint too. What style of game are you going for?


Actually, he did say...

Blogotron wrote:
We discovered this while playing a low fantasy campaign...


And I presume it's the same game from the write-up in the General Chat section.


Hmmm... I saw the "We discovered this while playing a low fantasy campaign wherein no one took healing spells or any sort of healing skills" and thought they might have been playing something else too? Especially since Blogotron said "For my own game i am going to allow PCs to use certain skills untrained" again assuming they'd be playing something other than the low fantasy game he mentioned. It seems like Blogotron will be running his "own" game. It may or may not be a low fantasy one.

Although either way I agree that defaulting to Attributes isn't the best option. I was just wondering what the settings are that they were playing in?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Game setting: Midnight, though I am borrowing heavily from Solomon Kane (weapons) and Warhammer RPG (Chaos leaving a visible mark and cultist a constant threat atleast prior to the outbreak of the final war that destroys 75% of the population).
http://www.ats.unifans.org/

The game is dark and while not low fantasy its certainly not Dragonlance High Fantasy. Though I have not seen Evernight (eagerly awaiting the reprint) I think it might compare favorably. This style promotes the players to be self-sustainable as help is rarely available and magic is rare, though not weak.

To amend my post. Rolling a one on the attribute die usually results in some form of critical failure/fumble during critical actions ( firing into melee or spell casting come to mind) Well in the case of using skills untrained you roll your related attribute, minus one die, BUT a roll of 1 or 2 on the attribute die results in a critical failure, the nature of which is up to the GM. Rolling a 2 on the Wild die has no ill effect but Snake Eyes might result in something truly terrible.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blogotron wrote:
To amend my post. Rolling a one on the attribute die usually results in some form of critical failure/fumble during critical actions ( firing into melee or spell casting come to mind) Well in the case of using skills untrained you roll your related attribute, minus one die, BUT a roll of 1 or 2 on the attribute die results in a critical failure, the nature of which is up to the GM. Rolling a 2 on the Wild die has no ill effect but Snake Eyes might result in something truly terrible.


Hmm, so if I have a d6 Attribute, I'll roll a d4 untrained.

I have a 50% chance of a critical failure (1 or 2 on the d4)
I have a 25% chance of a standard success with the d4 (4+ on the d4)
I have a 12.5% chance of success from the Wild Die (25% of a 3 on the d4 and a 50% chance the Wild Die will be 4+ then)

So, if I understand correctly, that's a 37.5% chance of success and a 50% chance of critical failure for the d6 Attribute.
Versus the 32.3% chance of success and a 4.2% chance of critical failure.

That's actually a bit worse, so how would a maxxed out d12 Attribute look. The player would roll a d10 untrained, so...

Critical Failure - 20%
Success - 75%.

So the option is really going to be success or critical failure with a very slight chance of a normal failure. Might not be the intent sought.

What about this...

Players roll one die type less than Attribute to attempt a skill untrained, but they don't get a Wild Die (a 1 on the Trait die counts as a critical failure).

That way only a d12 Attribute (rolling a d10) provides a somewhat better chance of success at TN 4 over a d4 in the skill (70% vs. 62.5%), but it also has a higher incidence of a critical failure (10% vs. 4.2%).

That might work.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think, as has been mentioned, the problem in this case lies with the players, not the system.

Why not allow a one time skill shuffle? I often do that after a campaign starts; it's hard to understand how your character plays until you've used her for a couple sessions.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:

I have a 50% chance of a critical failure (1 or 2 on the d4)

Off topic slightly, but where in the rules does it state what a critical failure is? I'm seeing that a double 1 is a critical failure, but in the quote I'm understanding its a result of less than one, but where is that laid down?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Murgh Bpurn wrote:
Clint wrote:

I have a 50% chance of a critical failure (1 or 2 on the d4)

Off topic slightly, but where in the rules does it state what a critical failure is? I'm seeing that a double 1 is a critical failure, but in the quote I'm understanding its a result of less than one, but where is that laid down?


It isn't in the rules. You were correct; in the core rules, only double 1s is a critical failure.

That was refering to one of the stated changes to the core rules to get a new way for how untrained checks work in the earlier post, specifically...

Blogotron wrote:
...BUT a roll of 1 or 2 on the attribute die results in a critical failure...

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Murgh Bpurn wrote:
Clint wrote:

I have a 50% chance of a critical failure (1 or 2 on the d4)

Off topic slightly, but where in the rules does it state what a critical failure is? I'm seeing that a double 1 is a critical failure, but in the quote I'm understanding its a result of less than one, but where is that laid down?


It isn't in the rules. You were correct; in the core rules, only double 1s is a critical failure.

That was refering to one of the stated changes to the core rules to get a new way for how untrained checks work in the earlier post, specifically...

Blogotron wrote:
...BUT a roll of 1 or 2 on the attribute die results in a critical failure...


Specifically I was referring to the Firing into melee rules and the Casting rules wherein a one on the trait die results in a critical failure (I do not recall any other cases). I do think those untrained in a skill that is still attemptable should critically fail more often than they succeed but I see your point. My rule would basically FORCE the players to pick up a skill that they feel would be too much of a liability...

I like your rule of lowering the Attribute die by one and dumping the Wild Die but would also include that no raises are possible. What bothered me was the fact that with a D4-2 you succeed only on double aces. Again it is not a problem withthe rule so much as its a problem fitting our style of play, although many of the posters are correct that skills are far more useful in SW than in D20 ( where only about 5 or 6 skills held any real value). I think that I might allow our PCs a Skills redux, particularly since we noticed our missing player's skills did not add up to 15, even with his racial skills.

Thank goodness SW is not as math intensive as Champions...or even D20 or else my players would never make the learning curve. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Murgh Bpurn wrote:
Clint wrote:

I have a 50% chance of a critical failure (1 or 2 on the d4)

Off topic slightly, but where in the rules does it state what a critical failure is? I'm seeing that a double 1 is a critical failure, but in the quote I'm understanding its a result of less than one, but where is that laid down?


It isn't in the rules. You were correct; in the core rules, only double 1s is a critical failure.

That was refering to one of the stated changes to the core rules to get a new way for how untrained checks work in the earlier post, specifically...

Blogotron wrote:
...BUT a roll of 1 or 2 on the attribute die results in a critical failure...

Thanks for the clarification. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blogotron wrote:
Specifically I was referring to the Firing into melee rules and the Casting rules wherein a one on the trait die results in a critical failure (I do not recall any other cases).


Well, to be specific, those aren't true "critical failures" by the definition of the system; they are additional defined effects for those particular situations, and in both cases, it is still possible to have a worse result from a "real" critical failure.

Blogotron wrote:
I like your rule of lowering the Attribute die by one and dumping the Wild Die but would also include that no raises are possible. What bothered me was the fact that with a D4-2 you succeed only on double aces.


Hmm, what do you mean exactly?

With a d4-2, the character would actually succeed if either die aced, not both of them. You only need a success on the Wild Die or the Trait die.

If it was played that both dice needed to succeed, then no wonder it was impossible for the players to make an unskilled check. Heck, I'm surprised that skilled checks went well as the Wild Die would actually be hindering success instead of helping it.

And if not, then since the margin of difference between a success and a raise is 4 points, so acing can never result in a success and then an automatic raise.

I just don't see restricting the raises when the roll as a whole, which includes the odds of getting a raise, have already been restricted. Even the other system with reducing the Attribute a die type does the same thing. Just feels a bit like penalizing the players even more for the same thing and creating an exception to the basic rules to do so. Something to consider I think anyway.

Blogotron wrote:
Thank goodness SW is not as math intensive as Champions...or even D20 or else my players would never make the learning curve. Wink


Eh, it's not the math, but the theory that can be tricky to adapt to. A lot of games are designed around purely mathematical balance, but SW is designed with play balance in mind as well. Meaning that the math itself is balanced against keeping the game fun to play.

That can lead to occasions where "this rule seems wonky" or "why is this an exception to the basic rule" and the answer typically is "because it makes the game more fun to play; just try it and see."

Course, the answer isn't always that it does, but that's simply a factor that not every system is for everyone or even every game, and it'd be silly to try to be (heck, it's not like we only play Savage Worlds). I do think that given a bit of experience, SW is easy for a GM to adapt to fit their style of play, and that's really a goal of the system. The whole idea of Setting Rules is that no generic system can fit every setting or type of game, so a GM needs to adjust the system to add the particular flavor each setting needs. The same thing really applys to gaming groups. Every group has its own individual flavor as much as any setting, so adjusting to fit that is as much of a necessity.

Hmm, Clint's just going all "blah blah-blah blah-blah" this morning, isn't he. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reading it that Blogotron is penalizing the bonus die on an ace roll with an additional -2, so rolling a 4 with -2 and another 4 with another -2 and then a 3 with yet another -2 ends up with a net result of 5.

If so, that would definitely make unskilled checks a lot harder!

But perhaps I am misreading the situation.
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