[Runequest] RQ 6 Failed Athletics

Lawrence Whitaker lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com
Thu Sep 11 05:24:55 EST 2014


>
> I guess it depends on how 'vested' we are in the concept that a crit must
> *somehow *deliver an exceptionally beneficial result, and a fumble must
> *somehow *deliver the opposite.


Well, if rolls are being made when there's a genuine need to assess the
level of outcome - ie, dramatic or perilous situations, then you do have to
have that investment.

 I mean, sure, absolutely one can rationalize that a crit on Read Language
> grants a special insight, but if the character is just trying to figure out
> which road sign points toward Sog City I'm not sure how valuable that is?


In a simple, straightforward situation like this, the GM needs to decide if
a roll *is *actually necessary. If the characters could be reasonably
expected to figure out what the sign means with a little head-scratching,
then a roll probably isn't required at all. However, if that sign pointing
to Sog City is written in Durulz blood, and there's a duck in the party
trying to make sense of what it says... a crit could lead to a lot of fun.
Depends on the circumstances.

To refer back to the original climbing example, I'd rather as a DM have the
> "balk" decision in the hands of the player as much as possible.  The player
> knows his climb%, and can reasonably evaluate the risk.  To make actually
> falling such a small chance (only on a fumble) IMO significantly reduces
> the risk (and thus the narrative drama) of act itself.


I agree. If the climb is reasonably easy, the climber reasonably competent,
the conditions good and no external pressures - either make it an auto
success or grade the roll as Easy or Very Easy. If the situation is tense
though - the climb is in wet weather, with no rope and with a gang of
bloody-thirsty Sog City guards coming to eviscerate the poor old duck, then
make it clear that a) not only is a roll needed, it's a Hard or Formidable
grade; and/or, b) if the roll is failed mid-climb a fall is inevitable,
along with the attendant damage. To differentiate the consequences of a
straight fail from a fumble, the fall, in these conditions, will be at
rolled damage while a fumble would result in either maximum damage or the
guards pouncing on you while you're lying in a broken heap.

As you say, YRQMV and there's more than one way to skin a cat. Or duck.

On 10 September 2014 13:38, Styopa <styopa1 at gmail.com> wrote:

> All of the above is absolutely true, to a point.
>
> I guess it depends on how 'vested' we are in the concept that a crit must *somehow
> *deliver an exceptionally beneficial result, and a fumble must *somehow *deliver
> the opposite.  I mean, sure, absolutely one can rationalize that a crit on
> Read Language grants a special insight, but if the character is just trying
> to figure out which road sign points toward Sog City I'm not sure how
> valuable that is?
>
> To refer back to the original climbing example, I'd rather as a DM have
> the "balk" decision in the hands of the player as much as possible.  The
> player knows his climb%, and can reasonably evaluate the risk.  To make
> actually falling such a small chance (only on a fumble) IMO significantly
> reduces the risk (and thus the narrative drama) of act itself.
>
> As always, YGMV.
>
> On Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM, Lawrence Whitaker <
> lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Thank you for clarifying.
>>
>> referencing the originally-presented case of jumping over a chasm.
>>>  Failure = likely death.  Fumble can't really get much worse, can it?
>>
>>
>> I believe I showed in my earlier post how this can handled: "In the case
>> of the latter I'd be getting the character to spend a Luck point to just
>> manage to catch the precipice on the other side with his fingertips and now
>> be hanging perilously in the hope that some kind soul will help him out."
>>
>> One need not use Luck Points either: it would be entirely reasonable to
>> rule that the failure has resulted in clinging to the precipice, whereas a
>> fumble would result in a fall with damage. The failure scenario offers a
>> chance at survival; so no, failure *doesn't* mean likely death.
>>
>>  Examples where (except for extraordinary circumstances) a critical
>>> success brings the character no substantially better benefit than a simple
>>> success: Read language.  Rolls for holding one's breath. Casting a 1-point
>>> magic spell.  Throwing (ie a grappling hook).  I'd expect there are others.
>>
>>
>> Read Language: Success - you understand whatever it is you're trying to
>> read. Critical - the subtext is immediately clear providing additional and
>> potentially valuable insight into the mind and intent of the writer.
>>
>> Holding One's Breath - this is an Endurance roll. To quote from the
>> rules: "A critical Endurance roll usually indicates that the character
>> has managed to shrug-off the worst possible assault on his body." So the
>> character holds his breath for longer than normal and is able to withstand
>> the pain and pressure. I'd say that's *especially *importantif you're
>> having to hold your breath to effect an escape or resist poison gas...
>>
>> Casting a 1-Point Spell - Again, from the rules: "If the Folk Magic roll
>> is a ҉҉Critical Success: the spell’s Magic Point cost is zero." Crucial,
>> I'd say, if Magic Points are at a premium, or regained very slowly.
>>
>> Throwing (a grappling hook) - The throw results in a particularly
>> accurate or precise purchase that makes the hook difficult to spot by the
>> guards on patrol. Or the sentries don't hear the grappling hook 'clunk' as
>> it find purchase. Or the position of the hook is such that it can be easily
>> retrieved from the ground...
>>
>> Really, it isn't difficult to craft circumstances for most skills or
>> situations where a critical success *does *provide a far greater
>> advantage than a straight success - or a failure over a fumble.
>>
>> On 10 September 2014 12:06, Styopa <styopa1 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> In this case, a fumble is inconsequentially worse than a failure.
>>>
>>>
>>> Sorry, but you've completely lost me here. In what context is a fumble
>>> 'inconsequentially worse than a failure'? Climbing? Jumping? Parrying? I'm
>>> honestly not clear on your meaning.
>>>
>>> [Steve]: referencing the originally-presented case of jumping over a
>>> chasm.  Failure = likely death.  Fumble can't really get much worse, can it?
>>>
>>> Likewise there are rolls where a critical success is nonsensical or
>>>> meaningless.
>>>
>>>
>>> Again, can you provide some examples?
>>>
>>> [Steve]: Examples where (except for extraordinary circumstances) a
>>> critical success brings the character no substantially better benefit than
>>> a simple success: Read language.  Rolls for holding one's breath. Casting a
>>> 1-point magic spell.  Throwing (ie a grappling hook).  I'd expect there are
>>> others.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 9:33 AM, Lawrence Whitaker <
>>> lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> And that's where the "failed climb roll means you didn't even start"
>>>>> sort of disappoints at a gut level.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> As Lev quoted in the OP, the entry for Climb under Athletics says that
>>>> a failure means that the climb attempt is *aborted *- but this isn't
>>>> the same as 'didn't even start'. It will depend on the context. If you're
>>>> just beginning an ascent and fail the  roll, then you won't have gained
>>>> enough purchase to get your feet off the ground - so, in that context, the
>>>> climb wouldn't have started. However, if the ascent means multiple rolls,
>>>> then a failed roll means you will stay put for whatever length of time is
>>>> being measured between climb attempts. The attempt has, indeed, been
>>>> aborted and no progress made.
>>>>
>>>> In this case, a fumble is inconsequentially worse than a failure.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Sorry, but you've completely lost me here. In what context is a fumble
>>>> 'inconsequentially worse than a failure'? Climbing? Jumping? Parrying? I'm
>>>> honestly not clear on your meaning.
>>>>
>>>> Likewise there are rolls where a critical success is nonsensical or
>>>>> meaningless.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Again, can you provide some examples? The skills chapter provides a lot
>>>> of guidance on what happens with both criticals and fumbles and does, at
>>>> the very start, explicitly state that a critical is a spectacular success
>>>> and a fumble a miserable failure (whilst also noting that GMs should decide
>>>> the specifics). In combat, levels of success are measured against each
>>>> other to determine the number and types of Special Effect available. In
>>>> more mundane tasks we've tried to provide examples of the consequences for
>>>> each skill described so that GMs have a clearer idea of the benefits or
>>>> consequences of a crit or fumble - but I'm really confused by this
>>>> 'nonsensical or meaningless' statement.
>>>>
>>>> On 10 September 2014 07:46, Styopa <styopa1 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> "...a Failure represents your inability to complete a task - no harm
>>>>> done, whereas a Fumble results in something disastrous and harmful...."
>>>>> And I think that's the inconsistency of what Lev's pointing out, the
>>>>> explicit RAW linkage between success/failure and the consequence.  The
>>>>> consequences of failure are ALWAYS context-dependent, full stop.
>>>>> By that same logic, a simple "failed" parry should just mean you fail
>>>>> to parry, not that you get harmed - which is patently absurd.
>>>>> And that's where the "failed climb roll means you didn't even start"
>>>>> sort of disappoints at a gut level.
>>>>>
>>>>> No, I see where Lev's at on this one: the skill roll merely says that
>>>>> you succeed or don't.  "Crits"/"Fumbles" simply give you an additional
>>>>> layer of granularity that can imply (but do not exclusively mean)
>>>>> exceptional success or failure.  For some tasks, simple failure IS going to
>>>>> be catastrophic...that's what makes them scary, and rarely-to-be-attempted.
>>>>>  In this case, a fumble is inconsequentially worse than a failure.
>>>>>  Likewise there are rolls where a critical success is nonsensical or
>>>>> meaningless.
>>>>>
>>>>> Of course, this is a detail of semantics, and "YGMV" and anyone can
>>>>> ignore/use/infer whatever they want.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 2:27 AM, Pete Nash <the.iqari at gmail.com>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> I disagree with the claim that the meaning of failure cannot be
>>>>>>> context
>>>>>>> independent. I think that consistency of what a failed roll means
>>>>>>> can and
>>>>>>> should be sought. Especially in the same skill!
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> All I can say is that the intent of the rules is this: a Failure
>>>>>> represents your inability to complete a task - no harm done, whereas a
>>>>>> Fumble results in something disastrous and harmful.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> In the case of leaping a chasm using the proposed alternate
>>>>>> roll-again-for-distance rule, a simple Failure _could_ result in the
>>>>>> character plunging to their death... and its difficult to envisage what
>>>>>> additional disaster occurs with a Fumble, save for automatically falling or
>>>>>> pulling another PC over the edge with them.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Now I'm not against the alternate rule, its actually quite elegant,
>>>>>> but it's against the spirit of RQ6 in general to unduly penalize players
>>>>>> for attempting an action. As always YRQMV and if rolling again for distance
>>>>>> works for you, then go for it!
>>>>>>
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>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> --
>>>>> -Steve
>>>>> (my personal email)
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> Will there be time enough and World for me to sing that song?
>>>>
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>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> -Steve
>>> (my personal email)
>>>
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>>
>>
>> --
>> Will there be time enough and World for me to sing that song?
>>
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>
>
> --
> -Steve
> (my personal email)
>
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-- 
Will there be time enough and World for me to sing that song?
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