Alternate "assist" mechanics suggestions?

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Alternate "assist" mechanics suggestions?

Post  Zarhon on Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:38 pm

Assists, in the current system, seem to be a bit lacking, both in non-rigid application and inspiration/motivation. To quote from another thread:

Stuff about assists:

Zarhon wrote:
ZamuelNow wrote:Pending on the situation, the argument could be present to why the one with the higher score isn't the one attempting the check in the first place.
Wasn't this mentioned somewhere already (might be another thread, or on skype) as a problem that will be addressed via the new system?

I do agree that the current assists certainly need some 'updating', whether to rule out and clarify some of the details (crits, confirmation DCs, rolls that are larger than the original...), or to make assists more enticing in general - they're just not that exciting or significant (compared to most abilities or MP uses).

In practice, I've seen a majority of players use assists as such:
- After a nudge/suggestion from the DM, to make an 'important' roll succeed. If there isn't a nudge, or it isn't obvious the roll is about to fail, the assist usually don't happen.
- Any value a bit under 15, since DC15 is the 'go-to' DC for succeeding almost anything trivial. DC20 is treated similarly, being the next tier of challenge, which usually comes close on an average roll.
- The skill used to assist is almost always the one being used by the assisted player, which is a lack of creativity / lazy / defeats the RP purpose. Confirmation DC for these are either DC15 (simplest assist), or 'match/out-do the player's roll' which is hard to do.
- Creative methods of assisting are rare, usually to assist via your 'main skill' due to the other skill values being too weak (e.g. assisting an engineer with +15 arcana instead of +5 mechanics). Persuasion is most common/flexible, if it's high.

This discussion, as well as another on Skype, lead me to try and design alternate, enhanced methods of handling assist rolls.

1) Skill challenge assists
One of these ways focuses on using skill challenges as a method of assisting:

- When a player has to do a skill, he can choose to make it a challenge.
- This makes it three rolls instead of one, but at a -5 DC, to compensate for the extra rolls and increased chance of critical failure.
- Now, the player can just treat this as a normal skill challenge, and do them all by themselves.
- Alternately, he can have assistants help him. This could be done in two potential ways:

a) Three rolls done are by the player being assisted (lets call him 'MP'). Should any of these rolls be beneath the required DC to pass, the assistants can step in, rolling confirmation rolls to see if they provide them the benefit of a further reduced DC (per player) on that particular roll, or a direct bonus to the roll, leading to passing that roll. Each player would be limited to assisting only one of the three rolls. Whether it can be re-attempted if it fails, on another roll (effectively making the limit one successful assist) is up to balancing debate.
b) Three rolls, of which at least 1 has to be done by MP. He can also roll the other two, but if he falls under the required limit, he can be assisted for that roll by another player, either boosting him, or 'replacing' him outright. Thus, the skill challenge lets assistants 'step in' for the MP.

2) Stat/skill application to assists
- Skills being used, or stat values of such, should have some significance in an assist roll. It's pretty boring to see everyone roll arcana to assist the guy doing arcana, and it gets silly when one player crits or outright trumps the MP's roll.

- One method could work by applying bonuses based on the MP's skill and those of the assistants:
a) When you confirm an assist for a player, the value used has its bonus halved and added directly to the roll (so, someone with 6 arcana assisting gets to put +3 to the MP's roll). This way, assisting with your best skills leads to bigger bonuses to assisting, inspiring creative flavoring or usage of skills to match the best bonus.
b) This may lead to it being a bit unbalanced though. To avoid it being broken as such, the value added to the roll could be limited to the one used by the MP, whilst the confirmation roll is merely there for confirmation purposes. Example: You assist someone who is doing mechanics. You have mechanics 6, which you feel unlikely to pass the confirmation DC. You decide to use persuasion instead, as the method of assisting, which is 15. With a +15 to the confirmation roll, you easily confirm the assist. Now, the player you assisted gets +3 to their roll, half of your mechanics (+7 from persuasion might be too much of a bonus for just assisting). Easy confirmation, but low bonus, unless the MP's skill is also high for you.

3) Betting - risk vs reward, complex vs simple
- This method would focus on the purpose of assisting - giving someone a bonus to pass an important roll.
- When you assist, you can 'bet' a value you want your assist to provide (e.g. provide someone +4 bonus, instead of just the static +2).
- When betting as such, this changes the confirmation DC accordingly. Betting for a higher bonus would makes the confirmation roll harder. You can also ask for a smaller bonus, for an easier roll (e.g. a +1 bonus, to get a DC10).
- To prevent abusing the feature, or attempting too high bonuses, this would have to have an element of risk, in the form of a penalty - if you try to get a too large/impossible a bonus (e.g.  a +10 assist bonus, for, a DC45), and fail by too large a value than required (10-15 points difference from rolled and DC value), you end up applying a penalty instead (flavored as assisting to the point of detriment, or taking on a challenge too large for you to handle).
- Example: Your friend needs +3 to succeed his roll, and you're the only one there to assist. You can specify a +3 bonus as 'the bet', which puts an increased DC of 20 on confirmation roll - harder to confirm, but better bonus. Additionally, if that player fails the roll by 10-15, they apply a -1 penalty instead, making it a slight risk. Alternate scenario would involve three players assisting - each could alter their assists to give only a +1 bonus. This would reduce the DC to a laughably easy 10, and make it devoid of any risky penalty, succeeding to assist via 'strength of numbers'.

I've opened up this thread to allow alternate ideas as well, on Zamuel's suggestion.

Any feedback on how you view assists? Ideas of your own? Feedback on the above ideas?
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Re: Alternate "assist" mechanics suggestions?

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:08 pm

In my campaigns, I tend to have the assist DC as a static 20. Harder to reach for some skills but keeps things consistent. However, I really like the betting concept. It makes things a fair bit more dynamic when players want to pitch it but has a defined risk. It also helps remedy part of the issue of someone with a bigger bonus "wasting" their assist.

I also think there may need to be a bit of a parallel discussion about the RP side of things. Assist rolls (well, any roll) should not be dry. There should be some description to what the player is actually doing in the assist. And arguably the assists should be varied unless it specifically makes sense for only one skill to be used.
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Re: Alternate "assist" mechanics suggestions?

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:30 pm

In all games I've seen that any skill that can be justified is used for the assist... Even just using persuasion for "cheerleading" to help.
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