Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Short Note on Iterative Rolls and Probabilities

When a game's combat system calls for a lot of rolls to resolve one combat (which in Forgish is called Task Resolution), this reinforces the probability curve of success and failure. On one roll there's always the chance of something going terribly wrong or incredibly right (critical failures and critical successes in many games). If the one roll stands in for the entirety of the attempt, then the entirery of the attempt is assumed to be a critical result. In a series of those same rolls, the chances that one critical will happen are increased while the chances that every single roll will be a critical are drastically decreased. In short, the multiple-roll combat is (a) more predictable but (b) more likely to include critical results. It also helps to reduce character death, since game mechanic probabilities are usually very slightly skewed towards the PCs or at least the defender.

Full Light, Full Steam uses one-roll combat (and all other conflict resolution), but the "dangers" of unpredictably deadly results are mitigated by a couple factors. First off, the die mechanic is very predictable itself, with your typical results varying only one or two points along a ten point scale. There are few surprises (until you add in Thematic Batteries, which are totally under player control anyway, so there's variance, it's just player-controlled rather than dice-fiat). Secondly, and I think rather importantly, while the one-roll combat will tell you if you won or lost the fight, it rather explicitly does not kill the loser. I could rant at length on the topic of disengaging 'loss' with 'death' but I won't here. The point of the matter is, the dangers of one-roll conflict resolution are, in this example, mitigated, and the process (hopefully) will provide quick resolution while still allowing the players the chance to elaborate and experience all the turnabouts that they are used to enjoying.

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