Destiny points preview

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Destiny points preview

Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:30 pm

Destiny points preview

Some of you might already know this stuff, I'm not sure whether it's all in the quickstart rules (which I didn't have a chance to get :().

Anyway, I like these more than I thought I would. Spending destiny points is appropriately subtle, and burning one seems to be such a major cost that it's probably not overpowered (I'm wary of a couple of the things you can do with burning, but I'll see the full rules first).

The qualities concept also seems quite cool, and the idea of older characters having more of those and younger ones having more destiny to get by seems rather appropriate to the novels.

Still not totally sold on all uses of DPs, but I won't remove them entirely as I do with many systems.
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Postby Gorrath » Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:47 pm

Does someone who has seen the quick start rules know how many DPs a character starts with?
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Postby morbiczer » Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:58 pm

I think I read on rpg.net (or somewhere else) that most of the pregen characters for the sample adventure have one Destiny Point. (So some most have at least two.)
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Postby Mad Professor Ludlow » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:20 pm

The adults each have one. One of the youths has two, the other has three.
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Postby Zapp » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:53 pm

Bah. SIFRP has taken over the Dark Heresy (40K) variant of WFRP's fate point expenditure mechanism, which is to say that instead of cleanly keeping the temporary and permanent usages apart (in WFRP called fortune and fate points, respectively), it has gone for "spent" and "burnt" (along with a third usage not present in DH) destiny points.

Could someone enlighten me on the advantages of this scheme, which to me seems unnecessarily complicated compared to having two clearly separate scores, with two names, one for each use?

While irritating, this is not an especially big deal as the end results are identical - it's mostly how you label it. All the same, if someone can offer an explanation I'd appreciate it.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:07 am

Ouch. Stuff like this makes my head hurt:

(partial quotes)
Spending Destiny Points
# Gain +1 bonus die on a test. This die can exceed the normal limits on bonus dice.
# Convert one of your bonus dice into a test die.
# Remove a –1 penalty die.


Burning Destiny Points
# Convert all of your bonus dice into test dice for one test.
# Add +5 to one of your test results.


To Green Ronin: Will the main rulebook contain examples on which of these options will be the statistically most sound in different scenarios, or do the player & GM have to do the math themselves each time?

For instance, how do I know when getting a bonus die is more advantageous than converting an existing one into a regular die or lose a penalty die? Or is one choice always better? If so, why have you included all three options?

Or, on burning destiny, how many bonus dice do I need to have before converting them all into regular dice yields more than +5 on average? Doesn't this change with your number of regular test dice?

Generally, why did you include all these options instead of just one way of improving the odds for each category? I would have thought such an approach would have been much simpler, while still retaining (much of) the relative power of each destiny point usage?

Thank you.
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Re: Destiny points preview

Postby Zapp » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:17 am

Skyman wrote:Anyway, I like these more than I thought I would. Spending destiny points is appropriately subtle, and burning one seems to be such a major cost that it's probably not overpowered (I'm wary of a couple of the things you can do with burning, but I'll see the full rules first).

They're almost a direct lift from WFRP/Dark Heresy, and as such, I can offer the following observations:

* The designer has gone wild with options - there are (at least) three ways of spending destiny on what I'd call "improving you odds on a single Test" and more than one way of doing the same when burning it.

* You can expect the "improving your odds on a single test" usage will happen often - on spending destiny.

* As for burning destiny, the original usage (of course) is "avoiding certain death". And my experience is that players will hang on to their destiny points and not burn them on "lesser" stuff. The "choose your own destiny when defeated" sounds intriguing though, and might see usage too.

Of course, there are plenty of unknowns at this stage, such as the power of being able to take an extra lesser action. And, of course, what "investing" your destiny really means. :)
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Postby Patchface » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:07 am

Zapp wrote:Generally, why did you include all these options instead of just one way of improving the odds for each category?

I suspect part of the answer to your question is that players should have the option of improving their odds by spending/burning destiny points even if they do not have bonus or penalty dice for the test at hand.

The "convert 1 bonus die into a test die"/"remove 1 penalty die" destiny spending options aren't overly helpful if you don't have bonus/penalty dice for that test. The same goes for the "convert all your bonus dice into test dice" destiny burning option.

So I guess you need the "gain 1 bonus die" spending option and the "add +5 to your test result" burning option for the tests in which you don't have other means to improve your odds.

I agree, though, that, in the cases in which you do have bonus and/or penalty dice, figuring out which of the options to spend your destiny points is the best to improve your odds seems rather difficult. :-?

(Though my guess would be that the "convert one of your bonus dice into a test die" option gives you the best chances on most occasions. And no, I didn't do the math... 8) )



A couple questions for the folks that already own the Quickstart rules:

1. I'm especially intrigued by the Qualities (investing destiny). Are there any examples of such qualities included in the Quickstart rules?

2. One of the uses of burning destiny points is

Permanently remove the penalties associated with a negative quality.


Does anyone know anything about those negative qualities mentioned (what they are, when a character acquires them, etc.)? Are said negative qualities the usual drawbacks we know from other systems (like maimed, bastardy etc.)? Are any negative qualities included in the quickstart rules?

Thanks for your answers! :)
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Postby higgins » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:34 am

Zapp wrote:For instance, how do I know when getting a bonus die is more advantageous than converting an existing one into a regular die or lose a penalty die? Or is one choice always better? If so, why have you included all three options?

Mind you, I haven't seen the Quick Start rules, but this seems pretty straightforward. Converting a bonus die into a test die seems clearly the best option -- you can actually add the results of a greater number of dice. Don't have bonus dice available when needing to perform better? Then you'll have to settle for the first option -- the bonus die. You rolled really high results, but would lose them because of penalty dice? This is what the third option is for.

Zapp wrote:Or, on burning destiny, how many bonus dice do I need to have before converting them all into regular dice yields more than +5 on average? Doesn't this change with your number of regular test dice?

Average roll of a d6 has a value of 3.5. The more you have bonus dice, the better off you are choosing the first option. If you only have one bonus die, then pick option two, as you need to roll a 6 for a better result. If you have two dice, it becomes testing your luck more or less. The average roll has a value of 7, which is marginally better than +5, but you might get +12 from that... or +2. You get the picture. Oh, and the +5 option still holds if you don't have any bonus dice.

Zapp wrote:Generally, why did you include all these options instead of just one way of improving the odds for each category?

Well... The rules you point out say four things to me:
a) You can boost your chances with a destiny point.
b) If you have bonus dice, you gan boost to a greater effect.
c) The more bonus dice you have, the better off you are at boosting.
d) Instead of gaining extra dice, you may opt to keep the one you would have lost due penalty dice.

And it strikes me as a quite clear concept.
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Postby Patchface » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:05 am

higgins wrote:Converting a bonus die into a test die seems clearly the best option -- you can actually add the results of a greater number of dice. Don't have bonus dice available when needing to perform better? Then you'll have to settle for the first option -- the bonus die. You rolled really high results, but would lose them because of penalty dice? This is what the third option is for.

Which, btw, raises the question: Can you spend (or even burn) two destiny points on a single test, like for example getting a bonus die with the first dp and converting that bonus die into a test die with the second dp?

I don't expect the answer to that question can be found in the quickstart rules. Or can it?
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:16 am

Well higgins, you've posted on the "Dice mechanics preview" thread, so you must be aware of the intricate statistics involved.

I'm not saying you're wrong. You do seem to take the choices very lightly though - I couldn't make those claims without lengthy analysis first.

Which was my point.

Just as you don't get several ways of improving your odds in cases where you get a bonus die*, I suspect the idea of having several alternatives on how to spend your destiny should have been axed during design & playtest.

---

*) for example, if the GM told you your Athletics roll is slightly easier than default. You can have either of
1) two bonus dice to your Test,
2) a straight +4 modifier to the result, or
3) negating the two Penalty dice you already had

Of course this would drag down gameplay to a crawl, having to do the maths each time you were given bonus dice (as shown in that other thread, the value of bonus and penalty dice varies).

Now, I postulate the same thinking might be true for destiny points as well. Would the game have been any worse without this "freedom" (that, for each specific case, has one best choice, only that this isn't trivial to calculate)?

I'm not giving a definite answer here. I'm more interested in hearing the designers view on this: did they playtest the alternatives? have I missed a crucial reason for why the variety is needed? and so on... :-)
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Postby higgins » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:47 am

Patchface wrote:Which, btw, raises the question: Can you spend (or even burn) two destiny points on a single test, like for example getting a bonus die with the first dp and converting that bonus die into a test die with the second dp?
Designer Journal wrote:As with spending Destiny Points, you may only burn one at a time. A burned Destiny Point can achieve any one of the following results.

It doesn't specifically say that you can't burn and spend destiny for the same action, but I'd assume it's so.

Zapp wrote:I'm not saying you're wrong. You do seem to take the choices very lightly though - I couldn't make those claims without lengthy analysis first.

Yes, I know I took it lightly. I presented the impression I had. If someone would come and correct me that things simply weren't as I thought, we would establish quite clearly that the system, taken intuitively, is misleading.

Zapp wrote:Just as you don't get several ways of improving your odds in cases where you get a bonus die*, I suspect the idea of having several alternatives on how to spend your destiny should have been axed during design & playtest.

---

*) for example, if the GM told you your Athletics roll is slightly easier than default. You can have either of
1) two bonus dice to your Test,
2) a straight +4 modifier to the result, or
3) negating the two Penalty dice you already had

Of course this would drag down gameplay to a crawl, having to do the maths each time you were given bonus dice (as shown in that other thread, the value of bonus and penalty dice varies).

Well, since the number of steps for figuring out your result is already huge, it doesn't really surprise me that other lists are as large as well.

Especially since step 5 in the journal includes several substeps:
1) if any, subtract penalty from your ability to figure out how many dice you need to sum
2) sort out a relevant number of dice with best results from the all dice rolled
3) sum the relevant dice up
4) add the modifier, if any

If you have 8 dice or more, the substep 2 becomes quite cumbersome... For me at least. And this is also the reason I love success based mechanics with a static TN. Figuring out the successes in nWoD is a breeze, and even more so when you use painted dice.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:07 am

Thanks for taking the time to answer, higgins!

I guess you're discussing "roll n dice, count up your successes" systems there at the end, right?

Myself, I come from the world of d%. What I consider to be a breeze is comparing the 1-100 result I got with my skill score - "oh, I got a 59. That's lower than my skill of 60% so I guess I made it" :wink:

What's really neat of course is how easy it is to calculate the probability of success: with a skill of 60 this is... well, 60%... :roll: 8)

And if you get a bonus of +10%, gee, now I must roll 70 or lower, so the probability of success is, let's see... 70%... :P

I understand the WoD system makes it easy to calculate success, but is it any easier than the SIFRP system when you want to know the actual probabilities involved? (You don't really have to answer that)
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Postby Pencil Pusher » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:20 am

I'm with Higgins.

The options seem merited and pretty intuitive on the fly (from what little we can see). Of course, my other game is Hero system and while I am a math dunce I've been running power pools or throwing 16 d6 and counting body for years.

My quick take...

High Die Pools with High Penalty = reduce penalty die.
Strait Roll that fails = +5 to Roll
Heavily advantaged roll (special weapon, feat, surprise) with low base roll = convert bonus diet.

I wouldn't make any assumptions before I see the game though.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:48 am

Thanks for sharing, PencilPusher!

You're great at displaying that, with experience, I can too become confident in choosing whichever alternative is best at any given situation. i'm not entirely convinced, but time will tell.

However, your post doesn't address why there needs to be all three options.

To clarify - what would be the disadvantage of a SIFRP-like system, but where a spent destiny point would only give you one kind of a bonus.

This could be the "Gain +1 bonus die on a test. This die can exceed the normal limits on bonus dice." or a straight +2 modifier to the roll or whatever other generally useful bonus.

The question is: what is the worth of having those two other options as well? You say "they seem merited" - how?

(From my horizon, there aren't a real big plus side, only the significant drawback that the choice itself forces me to calculate non-trivial statistics for each and every case. But I could look at this from a too narrow angle... which is why I'm asking the questions on the forums :-))
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Postby higgins » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:54 pm

Zapp wrote:I guess you're discussing "roll n dice, count up your successes" systems there at the end, right?

Yup.
Zapp wrote:I understand the WoD system makes it easy to calculate success, but is it any easier than the SIFRP system when you want to know the actual probabilities involved? (You don't really have to answer that)

Obviously, nothing beats the statistics of a percentile system. :lol:

But just to be precise, you're pointing to an oWoD thread, where TN's (target numbers or difficulties) changed. Sometimes you needed to roll over/match 5 or 6 or 7 etc... to achieve successes. nWoD streamlined this into constant TN of 8 and while the calculations simplified, it also sped up identifying the successful dice, as you're looking for the same numbers no matter what action you rolled. In fact, they even sell dice where 8-9-0 are brightly painted to make the successes even more obvious. I re-painted my existing dice though. :)

Zapp wrote:However, your post doesn't address why there needs to be all three options.

I agree that this would be interesting to know. :)

The Destiny Points mechanic has a great resemblance to the Drama Points from The Riddle of Steel, and there it also presented a multitude of ways to use them... And now that you bought it up, I tried to recall what could one do with Drama points. Then I picked up the book and checked my memory... and indeed, from improving the odds of a dice roll, I remembered only one option of the four presented... The other options, which had nothing to do with improving the dice roll odds, I remembered just fine.

So, yeah, I proved to myself at least, that only one option would be definitely easier to remember... even if the other options make perfect sense when reading the rules.
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Postby Pencil Pusher » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:20 pm

Zapp wrote:However, your post doesn't address why there needs to be all three options.

To clarify - what would be the disadvantage of a SIFRP-like system, but where a spent destiny point would only give you one kind of a bonus.


I'll take a wild guess [WAG] on the design point of view, since your question is unknowable until a book of a few hundred pages in in our hands. Many systems with specialties fail because they aren't really special or they are too special. The balance is fickle.

Assuming that the game isn't broken out of the box.

The options for playing around with Bonus Die through Destiny Points could be a system design to encourage specialties. Really, why would I take Special Sword X for 5 points when I could by Combat Monster for 10 points? That bonus die is worth far less to me than a die I keep.

Testing against 4 dice with no bonus is always better than 2 die + 4 bonus die.

It almost never makes sense to buy specialties unless they grant something better than normal but when they grant something better than normal they almost always careen into broken territory. This might be a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink to get you over the hump of buying them. An occasional instance of holy Godzilla I am glad I have that specialty but not one that goes all Rambo at all the times.

There might be other reasons that I can't even begin to deduce from the bits and pieces posted in various places. The system seems very free - the designers could have decided that they want to allow multiple options with the DP to reinforce that design decision along with some accompanying text that says. "these are just a few of the ways you can use DP. Reward creative use."

GR has a proven record of good (maybe great) design. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. However, I'll evaluate the product on its individual merits.
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Postby Tharen the Damned » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:33 am

Maybe I can shed light on some questions:

Converting Bonus Dice vs. Adding Bonus dice.
Say you have an abillity rank of 3 and 3 bonus dice in "Threadposting".
- If you choose to convert a die, you can now roll six dice but keep the four highest instead of only three.
- If you choose to add a bonus die, you can now roll seven dice, but only keep 3 of them bcause your rank is only three.
The latter is more liekly to yield a high result with a max of 18 (3 x 6) but the former can result in a max of 24 (4 x 6)

Remove penalty die
In the above example, with a penalty die you would roll 6 dice and coul only keep the 2 highest because you have 3 ranks, but 1 penalty die. The penalty dice are deducted from your ranks!

Other options
Theser are also very cool or useful. For example Armor penalty can be a killer. Think of being on you back in muddy terrain in your trusted plate with a few Ironman out for you blood. You really want to make sure that you get up and in a good position...

Burning DPs.
Well, this is kind of last resort usage.
Take example from above.
- +5 to a single test: Player knows that this will be a Test he HAS to pass. So to make sure he gets the result he wants, he burns a die to get this +5 bonus. Therefore he rolls 6 dice, keeps 3 and adds 5.
- convert all bonus dice. Player tries a test that is impossibl to pass with his ranks. So he wants to roll 6 dice and keep al six to get the best possible result.

Qualities
Qualities are cool! They can be compared to Feats in D&D. They let you do things that others can not do.
Many Qualities are grounded in your heritage and also help to difine you.
So if you are from the Iron Isles you can take special qualities that only Ironman can take. Or you have the blood of the first man in your veins. Then you can tak a quality that no other can take.
Then there are those qualities that help you define your martial style. Think of the Mountain an the Viper. The Viper certainly has invested some DPs in the Spearfighter qualities chain and the Mountain has invested in Long Blades and Armor Mastery.
But then there are the social qualities too. And there I see Littlefinger who has some serious investment in these qualities.
And lastly there are those qualities that help to define what path you PC will take in life. Are you the heir of a great house or do you have the green sight like Joyen? Do you own a Valyrian Sword, passed from Father to son for generations or do you have a loyal servant and friend who follows and protects you?

But then we come to the negative qualities. Like in many WoD books you can trade off some disadvantage to get another advantage. I see that Tyrion got himself the "Dwarf" negative quality for example.

And lastly to the number of DPs a PC has: It depends on your age. As a young person, you have not yet decided which path in life you will take and your destiny is still to be forget. Older PC have tempted Fate and forget their path in life already. Therefore young PC receive more DPs than older PCs.
But, older PCs have had muh more time in life to aquire knowledge and learn their trade, be it the way of the sword or that of the courtier.
Young PCs do not have as many abilities as older PCs and can not reach the mastery older PCs can have.
What I want to say is that the game mechanics allow you to play in a group with the 10 year old heir of the Castle, his 16 year old bastard brother and the 35 year old Master of Arms and the 65 year old Maester.
All are viable and nobody is mechanically much weaker compared to the other! Though they are very different in their outlook and abilities, that is for sure!

Ok, I have to stop my rambling. I just love this system and have to pimp it! :D
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Postby Zapp » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:41 am

Consider it pimped! However, because noone has actually tried to explain why all three options are present, let me try to rephrase my question:

Thank you for explaining the differences between "Converting Bonus Dice" vs. "Adding Bonus Dice" vs. "Remove Penalty Dice". Now, my question is: why are all three options present?

Wouldn't the system be simpler and more stream-lined if only one option (say, Adding Bonus Dice) were available.

Yes, you wouldn't get as much for your destiny buck in some cases. But how come this was deemed significant enough to justify presenting the player with a choice of three options in a system where calculating odds are already fiendishly complex as it is?

With only a single option, the need to calculate which option improves your odds the most, would be totally gone. Sure, you would still have to be able to identify those cases where a single bonus die wouldn't do you much good, but that seems (to me) a much simpler and quicker task.
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Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:26 pm

Well, sometimes you can't add any more bonus dice (if you already have a number equal to your test dice), and sometimes you don't have any bonus dice to convert, so both adding bonus and converting should probably be in there.

I'm not sure if dropping a penalty needs to be in there, although it is stronger and quite useful when you've got some penalty dice, which is often a time for heroics and things like destiny points.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:11 am

Alright, so we are at least down to two choices (if I read you as aggressively as possible :wink: ).

Now, what would be broken if destiny points could break the normal limit on bonus dice? That is, remove the "convert" option and allow extra bonus dice no matter how many you have already?

And for that matter: why not replace all three options with a simple static bonus (+2 say) to the result. This way you'd always know exactly the benefit of a destiny point, and you'd be rid of the thorny calculations altogether?

What I'm getting at is still the fact that calculating probabilities in a dice pool game isn't easy. If someone of you with experience could make a case that the option to choose is almost always very straightforward in practice, that would help immensely.
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Postby Skyman » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:35 am

To me it doesn't seem like it'll be super hard. If you have any penalty dice, take that one. If you have your maximum bonus dice, or you want to shoot for a higher maximum result (it's going to be really difficult to hit something but you want to give it a shot) convert a bonus die. If you have a good chance of making a roll but just want to make sure, add a bonus die. I wouldn't actually calculate out all the averages, don't think you really need to - it's more about the situation and what you're trying to achieve than the average result.

Although admittedly the penalty die one I'm not quite as sure about. I think they're generally more powerful than converting or adding a bonus, but I'd have to make sure on that with a few calculations. In play I doubt it'll be necessary though.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:59 am

This is exactly what I am asking of the rulebook - a discussion on which of these choices you should pick.
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Postby Aran MacFiona » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:45 pm

Zapp it's a role playing game not a probabilities calculus math test (or however you call "calcul de probalités" in english. The purpose is to play the role of a character you created and enjoy it. It is not spending time computing probability curves to be sure to choose the better option for each die roll. Please when you sit at the table forget you're math nerd and enjoy the story told by the gm and ALL the players.

And about your question : why those options for destiny point ?

1st answer is : Because !
2nd answer is : Why not ?
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Postby Skyman » Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:25 pm

Although I do agree with you Aran, Zapp does have a point, in that having lots of mechanical choices can encourage players to focus on the math rather than the rping. Lighter systems tend to encourage more character focus (and I, for example, find it a bit harder to roleplay sometimes in d20). Although of course I rp more in GURPS, and that's pretty rules heavy, so the attitude does matter...

I don't really think this'll be a big problem though. Destiny points aren't something you're using all the time, and I don't mind spending some energy thinking about which option to use for one or two major actions per session.
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