Degrees of Success (and other Mutants & Masterminds concepts)

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Degrees of Success (and other Mutants & Masterminds concepts)

Post  ZamuelNow on Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:56 am

(first draft warning)

Mutants & Masterminds runs off of the concept of most DCs succeeding or failing based on the level of success or failure instead of being binary.  For every multiple of five above or below a set DC, the result can be improved by the GM up to a threshold.  There's a few benefits to operating on a non-binary skill check system.  Perhaps the biggest benefit for Living Legends/Aspirations of Harmony is that it allows lower DCs and lower skill modifiers to still have worth.  A low success still means you get something out of it while a higher roll or a crit allows a more robust amount of information or more complete victory over an obstacle so there's still reason to specialize.  This probably most comes into play with skill challenges.  Rather than throw just one massive DC at the players that they need to overcome, it can be broken up into a series of smaller skill checks with a minimum needed to succeed in a best X out of Y format. A high degree of success can be counted as multiple successes.  The skill challenge can be modified as things progress so players could face buffs and debuffs based on situational factors or perhaps the skill needed might change to represent an alteration of the goal.

The most obvious drawback of using degrees of success as opposed to purely binary roll results is that it's simply more work in some situations.  This can be mitigated by choosing to stick to binary results when it makes sense ("roll Endurance to not drown") and limiting the number of degrees for other checks.  You generally only need a minor success/failure and a major success/failure, plus whatever wonderful madness you reserve for crits.

Taking all this into account, lets use a show example of this in action.  How about a tornado?  They have a number of uses ranging from water collection to cloudbusting or even capturing henchmen.  A single weather crafter can make a small one but a big one takes a team effort.  You could just throw a giant DC of say... 150 at them or you could break it up into a collection of smaller DCs.  It allows the ability to work towards the bigger goal in steps or as a group.  A single check that fails badly enough still has the threat of failing the entire skill challenge.  However, smaller portions allows teammates to be included where they might not have before.  Also, high degrees of success still allow a specialist to shoulder a lot of the burden so there's fewer chances to fail.
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Routine Checks

Post  ZamuelNow on Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:40 pm

In a followup to the concept of degrees of success that's technically its own topic, some situations call for routine checks. In some situations it makes sense to have DC 10-15 checks, especially if it involves a group. But what about the specialists? Someone with a skill that's naturally higher than the DC itself should theoretically succeed 95% of the time. In these cases, such mundane actions wouldn't be extraordinary, they'd be just part of a daily routine. A GM can opt to allow such players to automatically succeed the check in neutral or favorable situations. This changes in high stress situations that should arguably have other penalties going on. A master thief could be allowed to simply open a common door lock on a night in good weather. However, picking that same lock during a storm while the thief is poisoned and trying to avoid police detection should probably still require a roll.

Most GMs are probably already using this mindset without realizing with Perception. After all, you don't need super vision to tell it's a sunny day. However, nearly all skills can use this to some capacity ranging from a tough character not needing to make some kinds of Endurance checks to a medic being able to passively make some forms of Heal diagnoses.
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Devices & Equipment

Post  ZamuelNow on Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:25 pm

This system allows reflavoring abilities into all sorts of things but it's built in a way that mostly assumes they're permanent.  But what about the hero who uses exchangeable items such as power armor, lassos, or utility belts?  Mutants & Masterminds had three overlapping concepts for this idea: Removable Devices, Easily Removable Devices, and Equipment.  The variance comes from how easy the item is to remove, how mundane the item is, and the subsequent point discount received from these factors.  Devices/Equipment are one way that a player that build a vehicle or transport vessel.  For Living Legends/Aspirations of Harmony this can probably be better simplified to the concept of removal and a single point discount, instead of a fluctuating point discount.  Living Legends/Aspirations of Harmony has an ability that allows this to be better simplified--Companions. They can already be destroyed with revival options and be captured as an independent entity.  Using this as a base, they may be granted the following flaw:

Device (3)
This creature is considered a Device.  It has the Mechanical ability, may not move or act without player input, can not roll or make assists for the Sense attribute, and gains a -1 point discount for every 5 points spent, rounding down.  While it does not get its own Magic Points, it may use Magic Points from a willing player that controls it.
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