Asking for feedback on concept

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Asking for feedback on concept

Post by wbush3 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:39 pm

I came up with an idea for creating a type of group challenge for my Earthdawn group, and would like some feedback on the concept. What is posted below is a rough draft of how Group Challenges would work.

- Group Challenge Tests -

Sometimes there will be an obstacle or challenge that would require, or be more easily handled, if more than one person attempts to do so. This is a Group Challenge Test. Group Challenge Tests are not meant to be used for situations where failure would result in harm to the PCs.

First the gamemaster must determine a Difficulty Number for the Group Challenge Test, the number of successes the group must attain in order to overcome the obstacle or challenge, and the length of time each pass in the challenge takes. Each time the players attempt to succeed at the Group Challenge, this is called a pass. After each player taking part in the challenge has rolled their Action Test, and determined success or failure, that is the end of that pass. If the group has not gained the minimum number of successes in the pass, another pass begins.

The gamemaster then informs the players of the nature of the challenge, how many successes they need to overcome the challenge, and how much time each pass takes up in the game.

Each player may choose to take part in, or not, the Group Challenge. Those that do decide to take part, must decide what skill, talent, or half-magic ability they will use in each pass of the Group Challenge. They must explain to the gamemaster how and why they chose to use what they decided on. The gamemaster may decide that what the player chose doesn’t neccessarily fit the nature of the challenge. If that happens, the player must think of another way to participate.

In each pass, each player will take their turn at making their chosen Action Test, comparing the result against the Difficulty Number set by the gamemaster. Each success is noted, and once the group has gained enough successes, they have completed the Group Challenge.

The group is searching for a shrine to Thystonius in some ancient ruins that are overgrown with jungle foliage. The gamemaster informs the group that to find the correct building, they will be participating in a Group Challenge. The gamemaster then tells the players that they will need to get a total of eight successes, and that each pass will take a half hour of game time.

The gamemaster has set the Difficulty Number at 6 for this particular Group Challenge.

Player #1 decides that they will use their Craftsman: Mason skill to help find the building, as they know the type of building they are looking for, and such a skill would allow the player to exclude buildings that don’t match the one they are looking for.

Player #2 decides that they will use their Knowledge: Passion Lore skill to help find the shrine, as they could determine where the Questors would have preferred to build the shrine, and what iconography they would have used to decorate it.

Player #3 decides that as a Warrior, their character could use its Half-Magic ability because Thystonius is often followed by warriors and the shrine would likely be built in a good defensible position within the ruins of the ancient city.

With the players deciding what they will use, the gamemaster approves and the first pass begins.

Player #1 rolls and gets a result of 12, netting two successes.

Player #2 rolls and gets a result of 7, netting only one success.

Player #3 rolls and gets a result of 15, netting two successes.

At the end of the first pass, the group has earned five successes against the eight that they need. A half hour has passed for the characters in game, and they continue searching for the shrine. The players will now roll on a second pass, hoping to get the three remaining successes they need.

The passes will continue until they do, with time passing in game for the characters as they search. The tension of this Group Challenge could be increased if the players were in a race against other NPCs who also are looking for the same shrine, or if they have a deadline of some sort. Group Challenges can add to the game by allowing more than one player to take part in a challenge, and giving them the chance to find creative ways to use their abilities in a given situation.

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Re: Asking for feedback on concept

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:56 pm

It seems great to me, and I think it could even be simplified a bit more. My only thought is that if they are going to eventually succeed no matter what, then I would go narrative for the whole thing and skip the rolls.

My suggestions:
- have a time limit and a consequence for missing it. Night falls and you must make camp and try tomorrow. The Horror has time to create more traps. Bandits arrive.
- have complications for when everyone fails on a pass. Sprained ankle, minor encounter that uses resources but isn't really dangerous (like a venomous snake with 10 HP), drop your pack down a sinkhole, mule dies.
- have complications for Rule of One - maybe it just eats another player's success.

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Re: Asking for feedback on concept

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:55 am

I have played with a GM who used a very similar system, but instead of calling them 'group challenges' he called them 'mini-games'. There were a few differences.
  • Rather than decided 'the target number is (whatever)', The base target number was always 6, but this would get harder depending upon how well he felt the skill being used fit the challenge. So to extend your example he might say "OK, masonry and Passion Lore are excellent fits for this challenge, your TN is 6. Warrior Half magic is kind of a stretch for locating a shrine of Thystonius, your TN to use that is 9. I would highly recommend this modification to your system.
  • He did not allow the same talent/skill/whatever to be used by the same character two passes in a row. So for the 2nd pass they would need to find other tests to make.
  • He had consequences for failure, sometimes it was just that you erased one of the successes of somebody else (oh, you don't need to check those buildings, I already checked it!). There was also always a consequence for not winning, or at least not winning fast enough. Slimcreepers suggestions are good.
  • He would not allow characters not to participate in the mini-games. This always annoyed us, since failure to succeed had a penalty, and sometimes a character would not have even a single related skill, let alone two. (What do you mean I have to go out looking for clues? Can't I just sit quietly by the campfire not bothering anybody instead?)

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Re: Asking for feedback on concept

Post by ragbasti » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:33 am

We employ basically the same thing in a current campaign I'm playing in.

If we try to achieve something that takes the effort of more than one person, then our GM just announces what options there are to participate and the amount of successes needed.
If we end up with more successes, then he determines additional outcomes. Otherwise we simply succeed.

The players are pretty free to pick their skills/talents to help.

We mostly use this for finding things but also had a case recently where we needed to barricade ourselves from an incoming attack.
GM let us roll whatever necessary to fortify the intersection leading to us and gave us 10 rounds to accumulate successes.

When the wave of creepy crawlies got to us, they first had to beat our number of successes to pass the barricade. This gave us enough time to escape and close off the tunnel for good before we got overrun by a horror-crazed tide of rats.
It was really fun and of course our GMs made sure that we felt "pressured" instead of just letting us do 10 rounds of dice rolls without any fluff added to it.
He had a small number arrive early just to give us a bit of a distraction - overall an amazing encounter where fighting was not an option

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Re: Asking for feedback on concept

Post by wbush3 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:05 pm

Thank you for all of the great feedback, I will be looking at adjusting the draft as well as doing a playtest. :D

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Re: Asking for feedback on concept

Post by Geekabilly » Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:59 pm

wbush3 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:05 pm
Thank you for all of the great feedback, I will be looking at adjusting the draft as well as doing a playtest. :D

I have nothing to add to what's been said except I think this is a great idea ;)

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