Success Scale and Stat Change

Posted in News, and Process
Tagged: balancing, rolls, stats, success

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My whole idea for the D6 being the only die in the system stems from the concept of making GUTS+ as simple to play as possible, so I’ve been unhappy with the Success Scale for Check rolls for a while for a number of reasons:

  1. The more dice you roll, the more math you need to do in your head to understand where your roll lands on the scale
  2. The more dice you roll, the lower your probability of getting a Positive Success roll gets
  3. The way stat distribution works forces you into these problems much faster than they should
  4. The “1 die per 3 stat points” concept leaves 1–2 dangling stat points that don’t really affect anything

As I tried to think of a way to address these problems, I realized that the answer lies in the fact that the D6 is the only type of die you roll. Instead of scaling the Success Scale with the number of dice you roll, the success scale should remain the same, meaning that each additional die you roll contributes to the overall success outcome. For example, if you roll 3D6 for one of your stats and the results are 4, 6, and 1, the roll equates to 1 Full Success, 1 Positive Impact, and 1 Negative Impact. The GM can then puzzle out an outcome in their head much faster, i.e. “Well, the Positive and Nevative impacts cancel out, leaving a Full Success, so you succeed!”. Or if you roll 4D6 and end up with 3, 4, 4, and 2, then the result should clearly be a success because more successful dice were rolled than failures.

Ultimately this is just a different way of thinking about the same system, but I think it simplifies the process a lot and should help the GM keep the game going at a comfortable pace without having to stop and do arithmetic.

While I think this change is good for Check rolls, I still think that the Contest roll works perfectly fine as it is. To make things a bit simpler, however, I will be updating the rules for Contest rolls to suggest matching up the dice to show which dice values surpass what dice to remove some of the work, if you are less inclined to do quick arithmetic in your head. (I know I’d personally prefer this method to trusting my brain to do the math right!)

So where does this leave double rolls? I think the best way to handle these bonus rolls is to allow the player to use the value to modify any of their dice for that roll. For example, if you roll 2D6 and get 1, 1, but your bonus roll from getting a double is 6, you can distribute that 6 between the 2 dice, raising the roll to 4, 4 to ensure a full success! Sure, it’s a little bit of math, but I think this is the option that feels the best in the moment.

That takes care of problems 1 and 2, but what about 3 and 4? For those, I need to adjust how Stats work again. I feel like I’m constantly trying to balance Stats because they’re so integral to the game, but this time, I think I’m approaching the best option: decrease stats, increase experience requirements. This was a hard decision to make, because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like playing with huge numbers to feel super powerful when they reach a high level, but with “simplicity” as the goal for GUTS+, I figured it would ultimately make everything a bit easier to grasp.

Enough stalling: Stats now affect the number of dice you roll directly. You roll 1 D6 plus an additional D6 for each Stat Point you have on the given skill. That’s right, if you have 1 Stat Point in a Stat, you roll 2D6. If you have 2, you roll 3D6; 3, 4D6; and so on up the line. This way, there’s no Stat Points dangling meaninglessly between every 3 points you need to add a die—you just get that many extra dice!

With this change, however, comes the need to ensure characters don’t get too strong too fast. To accomplish this slowdown, I’m thinking of 2 changes: 1) increase the number of Experience Points needed and 2) change how Experience Points are awarded. Increasing the number of Experience Points is easy, but for awarding them, I think I’m going to lean into the “learning experience” concept. Currently, Experience Points are awarded for both Positive Impact and failure, but because of the change to Check rolls posited above, there are more chances to roll dice that have a failing value.

So instead of rewarding Experience Points on a fail/success basis alone, I’m going to leverage the fact that there are 2 types of Experience Points like this: every die that rolls a failure for a Check roll awards 1 general Experience Point (i.e. the type that allows you to create a new stat or increase any stat), and every Check roll that results in a failure awards 1 Stat Experience Point to the Stat you are rolling. This combined with the increased Experience Point threshold will make for a nice balance between pacing Stat growth and making failure less discouraging while also preventing success from becoming too powerful. (Note: Experience Points will only be earned from Check rolls, as Contest rolls are a test of what Stats you already have against the Stats of another rather than an attempt to utilize or improve those skills in isolation—also, it’s way easier to get a Stat Experience Point from a Contest roll and impossible to get a general Experience Point in a comparable way).

It’ll take some time before I’m able to update the Player’s Handbook, but that’s where I’m planning on moving it. If you have any thoughts about this change, let me know! If you think there’s a better way to handle these issues than what I’ve come up with, then please also let me know that! I can use all the help I can get. :)

Update: I have applied these changes to the Player’s Handbook, but I am still open to feedback and ideas!

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