Mechanika Inwazja Note 160125 Three Cr Questions

The conflict resolution mechanics can be made in various ways, but it really answers one of the three questions below (that is, I haven’t seen the fourth question yet):
- Did my character make it?
- Will my character do it?
- How far am I willing to go to make it happen?

Of course, this can be also superpositioned on the “task resolution” versus ”conflict resolution” axis; for the purpose of this particular note let us look at the three questions above in isolation (task resolution would be “did my character do what they wanted” while conflict resolution would be “what has actually happened” in terms of cutting off the possible branches of the story).

So, on to the three questions above and the significant differences.

“Did my character make it” is the most straightforward and familiar mechanics. For example, you are Conan the barbarian and you want to get aboard the ship which is trying to flee. You test your character (in this case, Conan) in terms of his body (let’s call it “fortitude check”) and compare it with the target goal. For example, Conan has “10” fortitude, he rolls 1d6 and the difficulty is 12 (means “very high”). If he rolls 3-6, he will get aboard the ship while if he rolls 1-2 he will not; the ship will sail away and he will be stranded. Something like this is the base of most role-playing games.

"Will my character do it?” Is quite an unusual one; I have seen it in “Poison’d” first. Basically, “did my character make it” tests the character against some kind of adversity assuming that the character is able to do something or not. “Will my character do it?” operates on different assumption – here, we test the character’s “soul”, the psychological approach of the character. We assume a character is able to do everything assuming that they are determined enough.
In “Poison’d” you have four attributes (A, B, C, D) and tests are like (A-B = T1, B-C = T2, C-D = T3, D-A = T4). This means that the stronger is one of your parameter the weaker of some of the tests (because if A is very high, T1 is high but in the same time T4 will be low (as D-A will be below zero)). What is important here is testing against the psyche of the character.
Imagine if Conan would test his “bravery” or “tenacity” - it is not a test of his abilities; it is a test if his mentality allows him to get aboard this ship. The mathematics can be like “did my character make it”, but the result and interpretation will differ very much.

The third question is interesting and it is something we are doing quite now in our mechanics. “How far am I willing to go to make it happen?”. To explain it, let’s return to the Conan example.
Conan has “10” fortitude and the target test is “12”. He rolls 1d6. 1-2: failure, 3-6: success.
So our Conan rolled ‘1’. Failure. He can buy a reroll. For example, as a cost he has crashed into a stand of apples; he is bruised (reduce some hit points or something). But he can roll again. He rolled ‘2’. Failure. Buy a reroll or accept the failure. Let’s buy a reroll; this time Conan pushed a noble out of his way into a pile of something nasty; the noble will remember when Conan returns. Roll again; ‘4’. Success.

So this time Conan has managed to get aboard the ship, even if bruised and earning a random enemy. But note how much this situation differs between “Did my character make it?” and “How far am I willing to go to make it happen?”. In the first one, Conan was able to do it or not. And the third one accepts the failure as a cost – it can be an escalating cost – but the player decides when to stop.

Imagine this situation on the session: the character (Pauline) is a doctor. A normal human. Not a professional race driver. And here she is, driving to get in time to the patient.
The difficulty to get there: 15
Pauline’s driving skills: 5 (+/-2 from random component).
This time you do not buy a reroll, this time you buy another roll (to sum them all). So:
She rolled 3, then 3, then 5, then 4, then 3 (total 15+3->18). She had to buy four rolls. In effect:
- her car got damaged
- her car got totaled
- she got a nasty looking wound in the process
- she escaped from the police; they will be looking for her
She sacrificed some of her health, her car and she will have troubles with the police in the future. But even if she is not a very good driver the player is still empowered; it is the player who decides how far is the character willing to go. That way even if a game master sets too difficult of a challenge, the player can still try completing it.

In conclusion, different games call for different mechanics. This is not about dice or about storytelling; this is about proper connecting of a game feel (of other, what it is supposed to be, that game feel) with the question posed by the mechanics. And then choose a proper implementation of the question - do we buy rerolls (giving player another chance) or do we buy additional rolls (asking player to pay the resources for more benefit). Many different implementations have advantages and disadvantages; it depends on what you actually need in your system. But if you did not ask the question “what do I want from my conflict resolution mechanics” you are doing it wrong.

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