Wednesday, October 20, 2010

non-resolution mechanics

I'm a big fan of the Call of Cthulhu/Basic Role-Playing resistance roll chart, whereby you compare two 3-18 type stats and get a percentage to roll.  So my 10 Power versus a spell with a hex cast by an 11 Power witch gives me a 45% chance to resist.  You can use that for all sorts of thing.  You can do Strength versus Strength for wrestling.  Poisons can be rated 3-18 versus the Con of the victim.  Hazards can be rated for ninja-ing past them with Dex.  All sorts of good stuff can be resolved this way.

The only thing I don't dig about the RR chart is its binary output: You win or I win.  Sometimes I want a third option where people are still wrestling on the ground and neither has quite reached the gun or the poison is ravaging their body but they can still get off one last action.  2 dice rolls are the easy way to get these results.  The players roll, the GM rolls, and a tie is interpreted as some sort of standoff or incomplete resolution.  But if you want to keep the basic RR chart methodology, here's an alternative I whipped up.  Click to make it legible.

The basic thought at work here is that the closer the two stats are to each other, the more likely an unresolved result.


  1. I like it, and I agree with the need for a "not won, not lost" result. I also tend to like mechanics that produce "success points" that measure progress to a goal, but that works better for things like picking a lock or searching a room than for wrestling, etc.

  2. I like this table a lot. If my RQ3 game ever gets back on its legs, I'll give this table a try.

  3. That's really good. If a situation calls for levels of success, you could also add a level of success/failure for each 20% they beat the target number. Then it can make sense to roll for extreme situations to just how badly someone gets beaten.

  4. Anonymous2:20 PM

    Why not have both sides roll?

    Both succeed or both fail-it's a draw and the struggle continues.

    One suceeds, the other fails-obvious outcome.

    Also give whoever rolls the highest on a draw a 10% advantage next round. Allow them to maintain or increase it if they continue to roll higher, but still draw with their opponent. It allows for the advantage to swing back and for for dramatic narrative possibilities.

  5. Nicely done, Jeff.  I'm a big fan of the Resistance Table as well (and have been since the old "which things can you load into the wagon" lesson in the original BRP booklet - oh, that pesky triceratops!).  When I've had to do things where it wasn't all-or-nothing I've used the "two rolls, compare results" solution, and that works fine.  But having the table laid out like this is definitely handy.

    @Gratuitous Saxon Violence That's a nice idea, too. I like the concept of modeling "getting the upper hand" without cutting straight to a winner. Good thinking!

  6. "Why not have both sides roll?"

    I'm a lazy ass who doesn't want to roll off against players all the time.

    "Both succeed or both fail-it's a draw and the struggle continues."

    Perfectly legit method.

  7. This post made me realize how easy that chart could be ported over to a D&D campaign.

    I'll need to think more on this.

  8. I don't remember if it's in the rules or not (I don't feel like getting my BRP tome from the shelf right now), but couldn't you just say you have to get a certain amount of "wins" or successes on the table?

    Say you are wrestling and comparing STR. You get one point of Fatigue for every five rounds, and you have to win four STR vs STR rolls. First to four is the winner.

    How about that?

    That's always how I used the Resistance table.

  9. Oh, and by the way.

    Excallent chart, Jeff!

  10. I like the idea of opposed dice rolls, with different sized dice, but in essence it's similar to this -- compare attributes and roll to see if you win, lose, or tie.

  11. I like to used the Metal Attack Matrix from Gamma Word (and Mutant Future) as a Chaosium-styled resistance chart (I also note base Defense as [score +10] so it can quickly subtract the opposing score to derive a Target Number).

    I really like your idea of a neutral result.

  12. In CoC, we always replaced the chart with:

    Both parties roll a d20 (going for low) against the stat.

    Whoever makes it by the most, wins.

    If it's a tie, it's a tie.

  13. (oh, and if both fail, it's also a tie, though often the GM would make rulings based on who failed the least)

  14. (or in other words, I agree with your assertion that 2 dice rolls is the easy way to get those results, and consider it the end of the story) :)