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12 thoughts on “ABSOLUTE SUCCESS: 101+ vs. 111+

  1. I tend to see the difference between 101 and 111 as more significant and I think I know why.
    First up, buying 2 ranks per level is not normal in my games. I think Character Law calls it Rapid Development or something similar to buy two ranks per level.

    Buying one rank in many skills over two ranks in a more narrow range makes a big difference to total skill bonuses. A 5th level character is not looking at 50-54 plus stat and prof bonus, so maybe a total of +75. I see more like 30 for skill plus extras so a total of about +55. In either a 101 or 111 system that is touch and go for a ‘normal’ difficulty task under stress.

    You tend start characters at about level 5 but I start characters at level 1. This means that a character attempting anything even slightly difficult is left needing an open ended roll every time at the lower levels. Dropping from 111 to 101 means that successes happen at least sometimes without needing an open ended.

    Finally, there is the ‘Eleventy-one’ factor. I am possibly the only fantasy role player out there that doesn’t actually like Tolkien and the 111 break point seems like a pointless nod to Bilbo and the starting point of LotR.

  2. Two ranks per level is pretty normal in my games, but I also start at first level and am not opposed to absolute success coming down to 101+. Think it’s too easy? Make tasks more difficult. Simple locks should be easy to pick (barring bad rolls, of course), but it’s easy enough to start introducing more difficult locks as players advance. RM has enough offsets in the way of modifiers to keep players from turning into jacks of all trades (although RMU may shift that balance, which would in my mind be a Bad Thing).

    Oddly, I’m also not a huge fan of Tolkien. I admire his world-building to a degree, but the rest I can take or leave. I suspect I’m one of the few fantasy RPG types who also doesn’t care for elves…

    1. I tend to see elves as orcs that went to public school.

      I like to be able to use a wide range of difficulty factors and reducing the success bar to 101 means that a greater range of difficulties can be used by the GM sooner and there still be a chance of success.

      I am going to write something about skills and skill learning on Tuesday.

  3. Not fans of Tolkien? Heretics! (I am required by law to say that, being a medievalist and all).

    I’m with Peter on this one. Making the threshold 111 just makes those earlier levels so much more frustrating. And you also have to consider ordinary people trying to do things. If 111 is the threshold, then ordinary people (with minimal to no stat bonuses) are going to have a harder time being competent at anything. One has to wonder how anything would get done.

    Just my 2 cents of course.

  4. My players are highly specialised concerning their skills. With advancing levels it turned out that keeping maneuver rolls interesting is quite a challenge. I decided to calibrate the maneuver difficulties to the parties skill set. I select the difficulty so that the party has a specific chance to succeed. For average checks half the party has a decent chance to succeed. For easier checks nearly everyone has a chance. For very hard checks only the most skilled member has a realistic chance to succeed. I did a small spreadsheet where I enter the character skill bonuses. As a result I get 5 difficulties per skill. From -2 (much easier than average) , over 0 (average), up to +2 (much harder than average).

    This system made it much easier to design adventures. I can plot them without considering the party level or specific specialisations. Nevertheless the roll are still interesting for my players, even if they have a high skill bonus.

    1. So are you using a system where if you wanted a lock to be ‘hard’ to pick then the player needs to roll something like 80+ regardless of the actual skill bonus of the characters.

      If the plot called for a weak lock the the target number may only be 60+?

      1. What I do is I define that it should be a ‚hard‘ lock. Based on the party‘s set of individual ‚pick lock‘ skills my spreadsheet figures out if it should be a ‚medium‘ maneuver or a ‚absurd‘ maneuver by keeping the chance to succeed constant. This has the advantage that rolls are still interesting even if you have a character with +90 pick locks.

        This ‚calibration‘ how I call it is done per individual skill.

  5. Sorry for the long delay folks. My area was hit with a bad storm (80+mph wind 8″ rain, then snow. Power outages for 4+ days now.)

    I’m glad to see great discussion taking place. Everyone’s ideas and gaming mechanics work great for their games and that’s what should always be followed, but let me reply to some really good questions that were brought up. Please keep in mind, this is the method we use and that I feel works great for our group.

    2 Ranks per level. Buying 2 ranks per level is very common in my game. I encourage players to invest into those skills that are “affordable” because those are the skills that “come more naturally” to that profession. Those are the bread and butter skills for that profession. An Assassin should buy 2 ranks in Sense Ambush, Use/Remove Poison, Ambush. The burglar should buy 2 ranks in Pick Locks, (Lock Lore maybe), Tightrope Walking, Rope Mastery. (Burglars are compared to “2nd Story Man” in RMC-I), the Baker should buy 2 ranks per level in Cooking, ummm… Food Lore, Herb Lore? Whatever else would be pertinent to a Baker. LOL Those professionals attempting the pick lock skill would (should) have the better stats (Agility/Reasoning) with appropriate stat bonuses to augment the skill and maybe, possibly, a set of +5 or better lock picks, as well as the profession’s level bonus for Subterfuge skills, and so on as the adventuring continued. Even the lower level PCs are getting decent bonuses to help augment Pick Locks, but it falls back to lower skills = more challenge to succeed.

    Peter, you use a level-less system too? I can see where level bonuses would differ here and make the 111+ system not well suited. A little off topic here, but how do you handle the Level bonuses that professions would normally receive?

    Starting levels. Whether level 1 or level 5, if the PC has fewer skill ranks, it equates to lower skills, less time training and perfecting that skill. Even a level 5 PC who decides to buy Tightrope Walking for the first time will buy 1, possibly 2 ranks in the skill. If a level 5 Burglar decides, “Hey, I’m going to try to walk across a rope today” he will, as well he should, be just as bad at it as a level 1 PC with 1-2 ranks in Tightrope Walking. Fewer skill ranks, lower skills equates to having a challenging time to succeed, even for something Medium Difficulty (+/- 0) , but sometimes someone gets lucky. Even blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. The early levels are supposed to be mildly frustrating. The PCs are just beginning their adventuring life and have little or no experience. They are level 1 and the adventuring life is challenging. If it was easy, anyone could do it. The growing pains are real and I love the lower levels for this fact. I gear the challenges for my group of Level 1’s in the Medium to Easy difficulty range. That seems commensurate with what that group should be tackling. Their rolls, unbeknownst to them, are getting +20, +10, +0 added on. Anything easier than that, I just have them roll to see if they’ve fumbled.

    Difficulty Factor. I/we use this all the time. Medium Difficulty +0, Light +10, Hard -10, Easy +20, etc. but that affects all PC’s across the board, Level 1’s and level 5’s alike. The lock is Hard? -10 to roll to pick the lock. Lock is easy? +30 to rolls to pick that lock. The playing field is level again. Whether you are highly skilled or a novice, that lock is +30 to pick and that lock is -10 to pick. If the player invested in Lock Lore, I’ll give a little bonus to the lock pick skill as well. The more skilled PC will have a better chance to pick the lock on the first attempt but that’s not to say the novice can never pick that lock, it will simply take more attempts. The novice trying to pick a hard lock should have a hard time doing it. It’s a hard lock!

    I/we do differentiate between the Partial, Near, Success, and Absolute success degrees and this is probably why I’m such a fan of the 111+ Success model. This is all referenced from RMC-II. I also discovered this weekend that I have been using the incorrect terminology. My apologies. 76-90 Partial Success, 91-110 Near Success, 111-175 Success, 176+ Absolute Success.

    There are degrees of success and the opportunity to try again with a bonus to the roll, so even the raw novice has a chance to succeed, if not on the first attempt or by open-ending, then on the subsequent attempts. 76-90 range, the PC can try again with a +20 to +30 to the roll. That certainly helps the novice. 91-110 Near Success, the PC can try again with +30 to +50 to the roll. Then there is the success range where the PC succeeds. LOL. There is also the Absolute Success range that rewards great attempts and that adds a bonus. There is a bonus for attempting to pick that same lock in the future, or tightrope walking was so profound it gains you notoriety. Maybe not something a burglar wants.

    RM isn’t punishing the lower skilled PC with the 111+ threshold. There are varying degrees of success and a bonus to attempt again. The bonuses varied depending on the skill and what was described in RMC-II. I feel that RM is helping the novice PC reach the success range by allowing additional attempts with bonuses and not simply saying “close, but it’s considered a complete fail, try again with no additional bonus.” It just takes the novice 2 or 3 rolls where the skilled player succeeds in 1 or 2 rolls. It isn’t hard set like D&D where you roll vs. a target number. Ex. D20 vs. 15. Yes/no, succeed/fail. There’s no “almost succeeded” value. You roll a 14, you failed as badly as if you rolled a 2. In RM, you rolled 91, close, you can feel the tumblers clicking into place, but you’re just missing it, you think you can get it though. You can make another attempt at +20. Here, story comes into play. Does the player have enough time to make another attempt? The guards are making their rounds…. Try again at +20 and risk getting caught, or come back another day?

    1. Spectre: i hope you are safe and didn’t suffer any damage from the storm.

      I think perhaps you are more anenable to partial successes because you are so generous in giving second chances with significant bonuses. If you just use the core rules though, i don’t think they are so generous (RM2 ones weren’t), which adds a greater level of frustration.

      I’m not sure which method is best, but at least i understand now why your players don’t get as frustrated.

    2. I have ‘professional bonuses’ by the rank rather than by the level.

      So if you got +2/level in RM2 then you would get +2 per rank for the first 20 ranks. This makes lower level characters slightly more capable (a character that did start with 4 ranks in a key skill would get +8 as a prof bonus compared to a single +2) but the total bonus would still max out at +40. That cap is reached sooner. In addition it has a big impact in skills where a high level character buys just a single rank in a skill.

      I had a thief that found a +20 spear. I bought a single rank in Spear (+5) my stat bonus was +23 and my professional bonus was +40. So I instantly went from zero to +88OB. Under my own rules that would have been +20 weapon, +23 stat, +5 skill, +2 professional for +50OB.

  6. Hurin, Thank you. Sadly another heavy storm on its way today. The chief is assigning emergency crews to man all stations and apparatus. My house is going to get hit again and the insurance adjuster still hasn’t been out to my house yet.

    The Partial and Near successes are from RMC-II. There is a section that gives the results from varying levels of success for a good number of skills. It certainly does help the lower skilled PC’s make some headway. They can still fail with Failure, Absolute Failure, and Blunder. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Thankfully I’ve only seen someone fail that miserably twice in my gaming life. One was a Blunder on locate Secret Opening.

    Peter, I like the way your method aids new players, then self-balances at higher levels. I may take a look into something similar to that for my group. They are still level 1 PC’s at the moment.

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