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Ubiquity is really easy to min max
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The GIT!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Runeslinger wrote:
Ubiquity runs with no rules changes at my table and I enjoy that a lot.

Your points are interesting Runeslinger but I would also interpret a number of them as really just subtle forms of house-ruling. Just because you haven't written an additional rule for the game doesn't mean that you're not making rules decisions at the game table that are not covered by the game system. You obviously are as your example of how to use experience points demonstrates (a system I also use BTW).

Runeslinger wrote:
Anyway... with the primary example of difficulty levels making things seem too easy, or forcing the GM to focus on negative modifiers in a sort of arms race against bonus-hungry players, what can we say? Does it all just come down to play style? I do think it is a huge part of it. The culture of gaming has shifted perceptibly over the three decades I have been at it, and it is entirely possible that what I see as strengths of the system are viewed as flaws even by its creator~ Who knows?

I think the answer is to not focus on making the source of tension in the game be the success or failure in a duel or gunfight with competent and super-competent combat characters. I think it lies in providing interesting combats on the road to solving a mystery, uncovering an ancient secret, helping a lackey find true love despite the machinations of a despicable noble, and protecting the King in both word and deed.


Hmm...this statement kind of feels opposite to what you wrote on the blog you linked earlier (OGRes) in which you state...

"Where I see us losing is in the rise of games that are games in name only; where the threat of failure is so remote as to have been essentially removed altogether. These so-called games, particularly in the enshrinement of cooperative rather than interactive play and the resultant decline in the role of the GM, have managed to turn the thrill of victory into the requirement of victory. To my point of view that is like settling in for an evening of chess and deciding beforehand who will win."

Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you are saying Confused in which case I apologise ahead of time.
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The GIT!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TAG Wiggy wrote:
A few semi-random thoughts for the discussion pot.

All the talk has primarily been about succeeding too easily in die rolls. Ubiquity does have the added feature that sometimes you need more than one success to truly succeed. Combat aside, 1 success in an Investigation roll might learn very little compared to 5 successes. Of course, you can elect to take more time for a higher pool, but sometimes time isn't on your side.

This is a very good point and an area I have not given as much thought to as I should have.

TAG Wiggy wrote:
There's no reason Ubiquity can't have varying difficulties for genres/playing styles, either. In a gritty game, difficulties might be higher (or Skills limited to Level 3, or whatever), in addition to fewer Style points being awarded. In an over-the-top heroic game, where you actively want to encourage crazy stunts, then difficulties might be lower.

Again (and as always) an excellent point. Savage Worlds has also gone down this route with its latest iteration and it is something worth considering. I find it interesting that some people are very much against the idea of writing house-rules which, of course, is very much their right. I do feel, however, that game systems can develop in a positive way through using house-rules to strengthen the mechanics but I do also recognise the dangers of over-doing it.

TAG Wiggy wrote:
The above point also boils down to playing style, which, as we all know, is a bugbear. Smile If a player wants to try a cool stunt but its constantly told it's difficulty 6, he'll likely stop trying unless he has the right Skill at a high rating. Then you risk getting the boring "I shoot, I hit" mentality of certain other games, rather than "I swing on the chandelier, kick a thug as I'm passing, and land leaning on the fireplace in a nonchalant pose as I check my fingernails for dirt."

I guess that's what Style Points are for. I like the idea of having task difficulties that some characters just don't have the skill to achieve; for me that's the real world but Style Points are there to enable the outrageous and they encourage good role-playing otherwise the player doesn't get 'em.

At the end of the day I like running exciting games with outrageous actions being performed and I will reward players for attempting such actions (as CanuckAlchemist will be able to attest). I also like a game to have the feeling of being routed in reality in which the heroes can also struggle with some of the more mundane aspects of day-to-day life. I guess I like a slightly grittier feel to my games but, despite how this thread may indicate otherwise, I have not house-ruled my game to death and pretty much most of the time I just reference the GM screen and we move on.

The one area I have concentrated my attention is the magick system. This isn't because I think it is bad - quite the opposite in fact; I love the magick system and it is one of my favourites in any system. That said, I wanted to create a little more consistency in how I make some of my decisions so I wrote a few house-rules (including a miscibility table for alchemy). Some may perceive this as me imposing unfair restrictions but others (I hope CanuckAlchemist will be in this camp) will find the rules as just another interesting challenge while at the same time knowing that the rules also apply equally to their enemies.

Another area I have tweaked is a damage location chart and I have also adopted an And/But die which I have plagiarized from another thread on a different forum. I think I can safely say that some of our combats have been incredibly entertaining and interesting and very unpredictable. What my group likes about this is that any untoward occurrences aren't just based on GM fiat but on the randomness of dice which represent the randomness of the situation they are in. To my group it just feels a little fairer.
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CanuckAlchemist

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the random element of the And/But dice, it changes up the roll, hit, damage and can cause new elements to be dealt with in the middle of combat.

Swashbuckling actions get Style Points as a reward. So our more dextrous fencers vault railings, slide down bannisters and tumble into attack positions. Others do a nice fencing manouever and then Glasgow Kiss their opponent. Personal style and character consistency are rewarded. Obvious attempts at being a style point whore are quite rightly derided and mocked. (Because if you cannot laugh at yourself and others, why play? )

I would argue the point that TheGit has not used the more than one success rule. My alchemist character has been researching and doing crypto analysis and have rolled at several stages along the way. If I rolled poorly I made some ground but had not cracked the code, and had to spend more time and resources on the task. In effect I had not made enough successes.

I have messed around with the magick system to see what it can do, (as a look at my posting history will attest), so house rules to prevent an arms race and one shot kill scenario are a necessity. A called shot with 20 dice left over is not a good scenario for player or GM. And Alchemists ROCK when allowed time in their lab. I love extended duration potions. 12 hours of being very good at something with +0 complications.
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The GIT! wrote:
Runeslinger wrote:
Ubiquity runs with no rules changes at my table and I enjoy that a lot.

Your points are interesting Runeslinger but I would also interpret a number of them as really just subtle forms of house-ruling...


Wiggy always has good ideas. Perhaps we should check out his ties to Richelieu more carefully...?

I am not sure how I can answer The Git!'s questions without descending into the nitty-gritty, and once there I am not sure what value it will have to the thread at large so, I won't be offended if no one reads this post. Honest.

I guess a good starting point is terms. I think I may think of the terms 'min/max' and 'houserule' differently than The Git! does. As The Git! is always right, that makes my position less tenable, yet I shall endeavour to persevere. My understanding of min/max is efficiency and optimisation of character building so as to put the minimum number of points into a skill to get the maximum benefit. It requires a complete understanding of the minutia of the game system. It isn't about being able to build a specialized character/one-trick pony and then work them up to have extra tricks. The way Ubiquity is laid out, the majority of min/max efforts will be spent trying to optimally balance one's Attributes, and then capped with choosing which of the Talents you will choose over all the great ones which will support your concept. It's different than a point-buy system like Storyteller where there is a mechanical perk to having a trait of 4 and so everyone and their dog had to create a 'dump stat' in order to get their prime traits to 4. Ubiquity is definitely about building a specialist, but somehow in its straightforwardness, it doesn't hit me as min/maxing. That, obviously is open to interpretation.

Likewise, to me a houserule is one which changes how things are done in the system, not so much ruling in the absence of rules. For example, in the experience section of the rules it states costs for XP purchases and rates for earning XP, it advises the player to focus on things that fit the story and character, and then says the GM is to approve trait increases. I don't houserule XP in Ubiquity, I run it as written - adding and removing nothing. To me, a houserule would be something like having the group agree to dispense with XP and have the characters 'go up a level' according to details on a chart. Another example of a houserule would be, "In our game, rapiers all have +1 to parry and +1 Defense for the hand." I feel a bit like Bill Clinton trying to redefine "is" but that is indeed how I think of these terms and any difference there will shift the reaction to what we read into each others' posts.

The last question was about the OGRe post (thanks for reading!) and I understand why the section quoted by The Git! might seem odd in the context of what I am saying here. It is a misinterpretation, but a very forgivable one, I think.

That quoted section is about lethality in games, and the general drift toward 'safer' games. The two games I had in my mind at the time of writing were Gumshoe and D&D4th edition. I am all for genre-specific setting restrictions such as 'no on screen death in a Star Wars RPG' or 'Fighters can wade through a sea of orcs' but I struggle with the idea that the game should protect players from failure. The players should always be challenged even when the characters are not.

My blog post was not about genre so much as general games, so here is the distinction I would have drawn if it were: In a growing number of games, character death and failure are seen as bad. Characters are expected to overcome the challenges and reach a successful conclusion. The players are protected from the chance of failure. In a genre game like AfO or HEX, characters are expected to be extremely competent and face impossible odds. The players' ingenuity and flair will determine if they are successful or not.

In Ubiquity, we are making pulp heroes and that comes with a certain level of competence versus the villain's rent-a-crooks. In AfO we are la creme de la creme of fighting men in the nation, known for swordplay, feared as markspeople, and envied for drinking and dating capacity. Making swordfights more difficult prevents that genre element from functioning as it ought, and leaves the player open to saying, "I have 15 dice but..." and that isn't cool. I support the characters' in-genre prowess, without pandering to them. I don't make the difficulty of action higher, I make the situation more difficult. I try to include the possibility for the prime skill to matter and appear when I set things in motion, but do not set out to have that ever be the focal point of the scenario. It doesn't come up in combat so much as that is an opposed roll with clearly defined effects, but in other areas the threshold of difficulty combined with the degrees of success can make a very significant challenge for any character. It can be hard to juggle genre and challenge (Call of Cthulhu, HEX, Star Wars, Fantasy, etc), and so that is why I recommended the idea of including more examples of play rather than messing with the feel of the genre emulated by the existing set of difficulties and degrees of success.

In a noir game, I would expect the mechanics to allow for brutal emotional and physical beatings of the characters, but death should be special. A dead character cannot suffer much angst and self-loathing. In a WW2 game, I would expect character lives to be constantly at risk.
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS: The idea mentioned by The Git! and CanuckAlchemist of an And/But Die sounds intriguing and fun, plus seems like a good way to reduce bias in narration.

Perhaps that should be a new thread?
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Jeffrywith1e

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Runeslinger wrote:
PS: The idea mentioned by The Git! and CanuckAlchemist of an And/But Die sounds intriguing and fun, plus seems like a good way to reduce bias in narration.

Perhaps that should be a new thread?
Agreed. I'd like to hear more about the And/But die.
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The GIT!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right...first things first - nice answer by Runeslinger. I can't say I agree with everything he says (but that's probably already obvious by now Wink ) but he does make some very good and valid points.

I still believe Ubiquity is a system that is easy to abuse as written but I have always maintained that it is also an excellent system. I would suggest that it can be more challenging for an inexperienced GM to run than it may at first appear and strongly support Runeslinger's suggestion of more examples in the rulebooks.

Second - And/But dice. As suggested I will post a new thread explaining how it works. Let's be clear - it's not a houserule; just a method of creating an extra element of randomness that is really system neutral Razz
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The GIT! wrote:
I would suggest that it can be more challenging for an inexperienced GM to run than it may at first appear


I totally agree with this, and even an experienced GM will probably have to leave their preconceptions at the door and play test the system in order to get a sense of how it flows, its core assumptions, and the whole Style point effect.
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