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#32: All About Exalted 2e

ross_winn

freelance geek
Karro said:
Now... to be forthright, I've never played any White Wolf Games, neither Exalted (though all the hubbub has made me consider making a purchase, just to see what it's all about). But I don't understand this statement at all.

How are opposed rolls a poor way to deal with opposed conflict? When two characters are facing off against each other, there's a better way to test who's skills/abilities/whatever is better than... um... testing them against each other?

I can see that with roll-under mechanics this can sometimes prove cumbersome, but isn't Storyteller a roll-over dice pool?

Now... if this is meant that eliminating opposed rolls against static conflicts is a good idea (e.i., not against another character, but against nature or the inherrent difficulty of a task, it does make a poor model, imho).
statistically, opposed rolls create a very tiny range. They aren't testing skills against each other, they are testing dice rolls against each other. Opposed rolls also don't allow for both participants success.
 

Karro

Registered User
Validated User
ross_winn said:
statistically, opposed rolls create a very tiny range. They aren't testing skills against each other, they are testing dice rolls against each other. Opposed rolls also don't allow for both participants success.
I suppose that depends on the dice mechanic being used. With some dice mechanics, the dice affects very little, and the roll is little more than a straight comparison of the skills. As I said, I'm not familiar with Exalted in play (besides what I read on the message board), so I'm not sure how it's dice mechanic plays out.

But your last point is exactly the reason for opposed rolls: in most cases you don't want both participants to succeed, because that just mucks things up.

Let's take a basic sneaking around situation: I roll for sneaking around and not getting noticed. You roll to notice things that are trying to sneak around and not get noticed. Say we're playing a game without opposed rolls, but with two checks against static values. We both pass our checks. I'm successfully sneaking around and not being noticed. You're successfully noticing things that are trying to sneak around and not be noticed. The two are mutually exclusive. In this case, some mechanism has to be introduced to determine whether or not you actually notice me. A common one appears to be a comparison of margin of success. There may be others as well. But a flat opposed roll would have cut the number of steps down.
 

ross_winn

freelance geek
I think you are creating a straw-man. Why not have the observer know something is amiss, and the intruder know that even though he is being as stealthy as he can; someone knows he is there. What about dueling, or card games, or go?
There are conditions that require a resolution, however it does not have to be a win/lose resolution. Also, I think your definition of resolution is limiting your play.

Good luck!
 

Karro

Registered User
Validated User
ross_winn said:
I think you are creating a straw-man. Why not have the observer know something is amiss, and the intruder know that even though he is being as stealthy as he can; someone knows he is there. What about dueling, or card games, or go?
There are conditions that require a resolution, however it does not have to be a win/lose resolution. Also, I think your definition of resolution is limiting your play.

Good luck!
A straw man is a false argument that has nothing to do with actual questions being discussed or debated. See also Chewbacca defense.

The situation described is the opposite of a straw man. It is a very common sort of gaming situation that remarks directly to the question at hand: the utility or else of opposed rolls. I'm arguing that opposed rolls are useful in opposed conflicts. To illustrate this, I provided the example of an opposed conflict. The example provided therefore is entirely germaine to my argument.

Some alternate common gaming situations that frequently occur with typically mutually exclusive results: combat (did I hit and deal damage or did I miss? or alternately, did I get out of the way of his sword, or did he hit me?), casting a spell against someone (did my spell affect him or not?), forging documents, bluffing your way through guards, using disguises, and the list goes on.

The resolution you describe may be a possible solution, but it reads more like the observer won (albeit with a very low margin of success, to only be able to sense something is "amiss") than a description of both winning. If all the stealthy character gets from his success is a realization that he knows he's being watched, that's a pretty poor victory. It then becomes a question of wether a result like this is desireable, and whether this is the best way to obtain such results. Much of this can boil down to player preferences.

Imagine, if you will, that this contest is between not a PC and an NPC, but between two PCs. The stealthy character, having succeeded on his stealth roll, in my experience is naturally going to be pretty miffed that his successful stealth roll doesn't mean he's successfully hidden but only that he knows he's not successfully hidden. Likewise if the observer PC found out his succesful observation roll means that he doesn't observe anything (although in your resolution, in fact he did notice something, just not what he's noticing). While some players will be able to handle this and take it in stride, many others are just as likely to find it confusing and convoluted.

Another thing that strikes me is that the feedback the stealthy character got from his stealthy roll seems more related to his awareness or something similar. While it's perfectly acceptable to have this as part of the stealth roll (how can you possibly remain hidden if you aren't aware of what you're hiding from), it almost seems incidental to the success or failure of the stealth check itself. (This bears little on the discussion at hand, really, but it struck me as interesting so I thought I'd at least mention it.)

On the other hand, the resulting situation does seem more tense for both PCs... one knows something's out there, the other knows he's on the verge of getting caught. But I don't think a result like this is impossible with an opposed-roll mechanic. First off, it's a fallacy to suggest that opposed rolls never produce ties. The probabilities of an exact tie may perhaps be rare, but they are not impossible. Ties may be more or less probable depending on the dice mechanic being used. Second of all, using only a single opposed roll to determine the results of such a situation may be an overly simplistic approach. As a corallary, in most combat scenarios, it seems that a large number of players would not want the results of the entire combat scene to be determined on a single roll: these players seem to like the back-and-forth of playing out a combat scene with many opposed rolls. Likewise, if we want to have an interesting and tense stealth scene, we could easily turn it into a series of rolls where an objective is being actively pursued (for instance, sneaking past the guard, which requires multiple instance of moving and hiding without being seen). This sort of extended contest may be possible with static checks, but it seems easier to grok, for your average player, with opposed rolls. With each movement closer to the guard, the stealthy character is increasing the risk of each roll; with each failure to notice the stealthy character, the guard is losing more and more ground. Each time the guard is successful, the character is forced to retreat or stop his advance. It is easy to use a simple margin-of-success or -failure (how much over or under the opponent did you roll) to determine how successful or how bad the failure for each is. In a situation like this, the successful character's margin of success is equal to the failing character's margin of failure.

As to your other examples:

Dueling is a combat. If you're trying to boil down an entire combat scenario to a single roll, then perhaps a single opposed-roll mechanic is not the best solution. But most game systems don't do so. When extending such a contest over several rolls, its much more likely to get a "tie" (in this case, considering a tie to be the moment when the risk of continued dueling is no longer acceptable to either party for whatever reason).

Card Games: most card games require a lot more luck than skill anyway, so using a skill roll to model a card game probably isn't the right way to go about things (unless one is cheating... and then the contest isn't about the game, but about noticing the cheating or keeping it under the table). Even so... if you want to illustrate the results of several sequential betting hands, an extended contest of multiple rolls does the trick nicely. I may not walk away having lost everything... heck I may walk away with more than I brought to the table, but I could still "lose" the evening to the player who walks away with more. Each individual pot, though: usually only one player wins the pot. Alternately, depending on the nature of the game in question, players may want to opt to actually play the card game...

Go: A game of go is another great example of having an extended contest. I don't know go strategy well enough to offer examples of how to model this, but it might be possible to divide the game into a series of matches where the players struggle for control of one part of the board or another. It would then be possible to have a tie when neither player has any moves left, while both retain an equal amount of control over the board.

Anyway, my point is that the statement that "opposed rolls are a poor way to deal with opposed conflict" just lacks the logical oomph to make any sense. There are some situations where using a static check is superior to making an opposed roll. But there are definitely other situations where an opposed roll is superior to making a static check. Which is used may largely be a matter of taste, but taste hardly ever passes the muster needed to make an absolute statement (and the quoted statement certainly has the air of sounding abolutist). In this case, besided sounding illogical, further scrutiny seems to reveal that it only holds water for a subset of the gamer population. Again, citing my lack of experience with Exalted, it may well be that with the way old Exalted handled opposed rolls, the lack of such situations makes new Exalted superior. That may also be just opinion. But let's take D&D as a counter-example (one with which I am familiar). In many cases, playing D&D as written requires players to make static checks in opposed situations; this frequently leads to confusion in play, and most players I am familiar with simply ignore the static-checks and treat them as opposed skills. It is simply more sensible to them, and produces more comprehensible results that require less hand-waving and GM fiat. While this evidence may be anecdotal, it is sufficient to prove that the quoted statement can hardly be cited as holding true universally.

Despite this, the good reviews of Exalted 2nd have intrigued me... and given a flush of cash, I might invest in it (right now that hypothetical flush of cash is a long shot, but still...). However, I can already easily imagine myself house-ruling it to allow for opposed roll checks.

[Edit] 1. Apologies for the long-winded response; I got on a roll, there. 2. I'm not sure if stylistically this comes off the right way, but it was written with the intent of engendering good-natured and friendly debate, and extending that debate; I realize that my examples, arguments, and counter-arguments may not win over the opinions of the opposition, but I would like to assert that the opposition's opinion is not a fact, but in fact is an oppinion. Incidentally... I'm wondering right now how would model such a discussion/debate in a game... 3. To the end that I'm trying to progess a friendly debate, I ignored the "your definition of resolution is limiting your play" comment. At first glance it looked like a veiled insult. Whether or not that is correct, acting upon it would hardly have done any good.
 
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ross_winn

freelance geek
I think that the major point that we differ on is the idea of conflict. I am of the opinion that conflicts do not need a "winner" or a "loser". The chances of a ties in a d20 system with a single die roll is something near 0.5%, with equal skills IIRC. I think that most players assume there has to be an opposed roll because they were taught it does in D&D (to use your example) or Traveller (as I was).

Believe me I felt the same way that you did for years. Yet when I saw how much better the game was when those rolls were eliminated, well now I feel just the opposite. I think that the main attraction is that it requires the players and the GM to come up with narrative or expository reasons; and this greatly enhances play. In only one session, and in less than two hours my players had completely changed their thinking, and were suggesting some excellent win/win, or lose/lose effects that worked within the story.

Give it a try, and do it with Exalted 2e if you get the chance. It is the most original fantasy setting ever published in an RPG in my opinion.

By the way, I appreciate the clarification of your tone in the posting, it makes it easier to reply. I too want a reasoned discussion. I hope I don't seem too much of a jackass myself; looking like one is bad enough.
 

Karro

Registered User
Validated User
I suppose we are products of our upbringing.

Anyway... actually not everything is an opposed roll in D&D. There are some things that I think should be but which aren't. I always play it that way anyway, because that's what's intuitive.

So, I think it's not just the d20 way of looking at things. I think it's the western, individualist, machismo attitude way of looking at things. There are winners, there are losers, and if there's a tie we go into overtime ;)

Anyway... gaming-wise, so far in my experience having to "come up with narrative or expository reasons" for something just feels a little too much like GM fiat. I guess that's a very gamist* attitude. Cognitively, it also just makes more sense to me to test opposing skills with an opposing roll. When both are static rolls it feels to me not like two characters are challenging each other, but like they're challenging some unseen third-party, who will then decide which wins or loses (or ties) based on it's own whims. In my simple little mind, having a superior skill doesn't count for much in this situation, since the whims of this unseen third entity could easily sway against you by making the challenge harder for you, while making it easier for the person with less skill. A direct test of skill, one against the other, feels a lot more natural. From this point of view, it's not about the probability of whether ties are more or less likely (I could easily devise an opposed skill check system that makes ties more likely), but about the psychology behind the roll, and the meaning imbued in the roll.

*Note: I do not specifically subscribe to the GNS model... probably because in my own estimation I lie somewhere in the middle... I play role-playing games to take on the role of a character in an imaginary world with the primary purpose of telling interesting stories with my friends all within the context of a game which has rules that make this imaginary world make sense. A little bit of G, a little bit of N, and a little bit of S to make it all go down nice and sugary-sweet.
 

ross_winn

freelance geek
I am not a GNS guy either, but I think our styles may be too different to come to a consensus. As for being too much like GM fiat, GM doesn't own Fiat, they own Opel. Anyway, just give it a try, you might even like it. :D
 

Karro

Registered User
Validated User
ross_winn said:
I am not a GNS guy either, but I think our styles may be too different to come to a consensus. As for being too much like GM fiat, GM doesn't own Fiat, they own Opel. Anyway, just give it a try, you might even like it. :D
I knew as soon as I wrote that that a car joke was coming.
 
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