Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

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ChrisDDickey
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Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:08 pm

I have a few issues with the list of things that are affected by penalties to "All tests".
I also have a question about what is included in the term "All tests", because the obvious answer "all means all" just does not seem to make as much sense as I wish it did.
The book uses the term "Action tests" (capitalized, which should mean that it has a specific meaning) a lot without defining it. I assume the definition is any test that is an action (even a free action) as opposed to something that just happens such as a roll to resist poison or disease. But it is not 100% clear. I am not 100% sure if Action tests also includes Effect tests and Damage tests, which are usually not actions.
Also, at my table we are groping towards a definition of a type of roll called a "Resistance test", which we feel should be a thing.

Following is a list of effects that impose a penalty to all tests.
Battle Bellow: 131, also Battle Shout and Taunt, Tail Attack, Etc. Harried and Overwhelmed pg 388
Debilitating poison (GM 172) might be all tests, or might be Action tests only. Wording is unclear.
Frighten page 149: ... suffers a −2 penalty to all tests for each success ... target may make a Willpower test against the adept’s Frighten Step. Note that this does not explicitly exempt the Willpower test from the penalty.
Wound Penalties page 291: For each Wound, a character suffers a cumulative –1 penalty to all tests
Defensive Stance pg 384: suffers a –3 penalty to his tests that round, except for Knockdown tests (and optionally "defensive actions")
Knocked down pg 390: suffers a –3 penalty to his tests (except jump-up)

Following is a partial list of things that impose penalties to "Action tests".
paralytic poison's (GM guide 172 and maybe debilitating poison's as well), Air Spear spell, Thunderclap spell, Vertigo spell, Astral Catastrophe spell, Etc.

In addition, there is a whole class of things that say they penalize against every test except the one test they need to succeed at to end the situation.
An example would be the Suffocation spell (pg 306) which is ended by succeeding at a Willpower test. The suffocation spell makes you Harried for all actions except Willpower tests. What is not clear to me is what else does or does not penalize the willpower test? Do things that penalize all tests penalize the Willpower test? If someone is Taunted or Battle Shouted, does that make them more likely to keep suffocating? If somebody is Taunted or Battle Shouted, are they less able to resist the effects of Poisons? it strikes me that these effects should not affect Resistance tests such as these. But in the RaW, I think they (probably) do.


So here are the house rules that we are feeling out. I would appreciate comments (especially official comment) upon them.

Rather than treat each Talent / Condition / Effect as a separate edge case, we are trying to group them into defined groups and then treat each defined group equally.

Resistance tests: These are tests meant to resist some ongoing effect such as a spell or poison.
We have decided that Resistance tests are not affected by Knocked Down. Are they affected by anything other than Wounds? How about debilitating poisons or diseases? IE: if you are debilitated, does the resistance test you make to resist the disease suffer the diseases penalty? How about being Battle Shouted or Taunted? Does this affect Resistance Rolls?
Does it matter if you are making an attribute only test (Depreciated in this edition - but which frankly will sometimes have almost no chance of succeeding if you allow penalties) or if you are using a Talent that substitutes for them? An Iron Constitution test is probably an Action test, and could in theory be affected by lots of stuff.

We are thinking that Recovery tests are penalized by nothing except Wounds (in the special way that the book specifies that wounds affect Recover Tests) and possibly debilitating poison's. In practice this just means that they are not affected by being Knocked Down, since you pretty much can't take a Recovery Test in combat, so should not be in a defensive stance nor Battle Shouted. So when a person is knocked unconscious during battle, they are automatically knocked down and blindsided. Upon making a recovery test to wake up, being Knocked Down does not matter. They are still Knocked Down after waking up. It just does not matter for the Recovery Test. Paralytic poisons do not affect recovery tests, because they affect only Action tests, and a recovery test is probably not an Action test. We are unsure about debilitating poisons, as that penalty might be to all tests. Note that FireBlood is also not penalized for being Knocked Down, but it is an Action Test.

Comments?

Just to restate and emphasize specific questions:
What exactly is an Action test and what is not?
When a penalty is applied to "All Tests", do people actually apply the penalty to all tests? Which tests do you exempt or not exempt at your tables?
If somebody is Frightened by the Talent, and needs to make a Willpower test to shake off the effect, do you apply the Frighten penalty to the Willpower test?
How about other resistance type tests?
If somebody was both Frightened and under the Suffocation Spell, would the penalty for being Harried penalize the Willpower roll to stop being Frightened and the penalty for being Frightened penalize the roll to stop Suffocating? And if they were also Battle Shouted, would it penalize ether or both?
And Recovery Tests?
Are debilitating poisons penalties to all tests or only action tests? Do they penalize tests to further resist the poison? And Recovery Tests?

And of course the problem here is that with some exceptions, the rule-book unambiguously states what should be done on these issues. I just think it is wrong.

badlore
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by badlore » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:22 pm

I think the book could be clearer, but in the section "Game Concepts" it does defines "Effect Tests" in it's own section which for me suggests they are distinct from other tests (i.e. tests which do not represent a specific value).

So if you try to hit someone, yes you roll and get a value, but in the game that translates to a success or a fail, not an amount of damage or an amount healed. So rolling to hit or beat a TMD with spellcasting are Action Tests.

Perhaps one of the best ways to determine if a test is an Effect Test or an Action test is to apply the "Rule of One" to it: i.e. can the test fail on a roll of all 1's. Under the "rule of one" section it states this cannot be applied to Effect Tests, but talks about your Action Dice instead. So if you're rolling for damage you cannot fail to do damage (armor aside) with your roll - you've already hit.

Action Tests do not include Effect Tests or Damage Tests (which are Effect Tests).

In the "Situation Modifiers Table" (p.387) the column that describes the numeric penalty is headed "Action Test Modifier" so being harried, or under the effects of a spell that inflicts the harried effect applies a penalty to Action Tests, not Effect Tests. It makes it harder to swing your sword and hit something, but if you manage that you do not suffer a penalty to the damage. In the section on being harried it gives an example where the attack test and defense is penalised. Granted, it does not explicitly say to not penalise Effect Tests too, but given Effect Tests have their own special definition you would think it would do if it meant that and it is explicit about the other two negative impacts (action test and defense modifier).

You've listed Knocked Down and Overwhelmed as modifiers applying to "all tests" too but I think these are all situational modifiers that affect Action Tests only and not Effect Tests.

Resist tests are Action Tests, you're rolling to succeed at something. The rule of one dictates this can fail, so it's an Action Test, not an Effect Test.

Recovery Tests are explicitly defined as Effect Tests in that section so any penalty stating it affects Action Tests (e.g. Harried) does not affect them.

So that leaves penalties defined as affecting "All Tests" e.g. Battle Shout. Our interpretation is that "All Tests" or just "tests" is shorthand for "All Action Tests" so excludes "Effect Tests". If you assume "all tests" those things become doubly punitive over everything mentioning "Action Tests" and it seems inconsistent that the things you mentioned should be so.

Also, because some effects explicitly state that they do not apply to something (e.g. the Strength test required to break free of the Binding Threads spell); we play that if it's not explicitly stated the penalty does apply to the test required to get out of something.

This is how we play and seems to be consistent to us anyway. Interesting to know an official position if we're totally wrong :)

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:07 am

Thanks Badlore. I was wondering if I was every going to get a reply to that post!

You are correct that Knocked Down and Harried do not say "all tests", instead they both say "penalty to his tests" without using the word all. Saying that this means Action Tests Only seems reasonable.

I like your definitions of Action Tests and Effects tests. I wish that the book had made it.
At first I was thinking the simplest way to distinguish them would simply be to say that Action Tests have a target number and you count the successes. Effect tests don't have a target number and you are simply using the resulting number. However there may be some edge cases that I would need to think about.

But I thank you for giving your definitions which are helping to clarify my thoughts.

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Mataxes
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by Mataxes » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:03 am

It's been a hellish couple of weeks for me, so apologies for not getting to this myself.

Badlore's summary works fine, and is pretty much how I run things myself.

There is one thing, however, where penalties should not apply: if you are under an effect that grants penalties (most commonly with fear effects, but there might be others) and you can make a test (usually Willpower) to shake them off, the penalties do not apply to that test.
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Telarus
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by Telarus » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:39 am

I have always run Effect Tests as a subset of Action Tests (all Effect Tests are Action Tests, but not all Action Tests are Effect Tests - i.e. when numerical result doesn't matter and the Rule-of-Ones applies, as mentioned). Simpler for me at the table when tracking effects with durations.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:36 pm

Mataxes wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:03 am
There is one thing, however, where penalties should not apply: if you are under an effect that grants penalties (most commonly with fear effects, but there might be others) and you can make a test (usually Willpower) to shake them off, the penalties do not apply to that test.
Thanks for the clarifications. So just to be 100% clear, It is not that these "Resistance Tests" are not subject in general to all sorts of penalties that most rolls are subject too, it is that they are in specific not subject to the particular penalty that they themselves impose, but they remain subject to all other penalties. Correct?
If somebody was both Frightened and under the Suffocation Spell, the penalty for being Harried (imposed by the suffocation spell) would penalize the Willpower roll to stop being Frightened and the penalty for being Frightened would penalize the roll to stop Suffocating?
And if they were also Battle Shouted, it would penalize both resistance rolls?
Being Taunted makes you more susceptible to poison?
My understanding is that the consensus answer to all of these is "Yes".

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:40 pm

By the way, would you say that Great Leap was an Action Test, or an Effect Test?
I am just using this as an example to get the distinction straight in my mind.

On the one hand, you never say "you need to jump 5 yards, you made it with two extra successes", and if you roll 2 ones on your test, you do still successfully leap 2 yards (into the middle of a chasm, but you did leap). So by that logic it is an Effect Test.
But on the other hand, if you are leaping a chasm and really, really need to leap all 5 yards to the other edge, it Sounds like an Action test. Anything less than 5 is a failure.

So is it always an Action Test, Always an Effect Test, or sometimes one and sometimes the other?
What other talents or tests might be tricky to categorize?

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:39 pm

The reason I am trying to get so detailed is I have been making a character sheet for Roll20, and have been pretty successful so far in making buttons that keep track of what step dice to roll. I was wondering if I could make a series of buttons such as a "Willpower resistance" button, but in order to do that would need to have a list of things to ignore. If the RaW is that it needs to ignore one condition or modifier that will definitely be present, but what that one thing is differs from effect to effect, but it should not ignore any other conditions that may or may not be present, well, I guess the user is just going to have to figure out that step number of that resistance test themselves without the sheet having any clue as to how to calculate it for them.

I have been working on and using my Roll20 Earthdawn sheet for 2 years, but the issue of modifiers to rolls is one of the last issues I need to revisit and get working to RaW before I publish the sheet to the Roll20 world. So what I am trying to do is put this issue into algorithmic language such that it is both correct to RaW and easily enough understood that casual users can correctly enter a talent into their character sheet. I wish I could have all the talents hard-coded into the sheet so that the users don't have to re-enter each talent and make choices as to which attributes to give each talent. But for copyright reason that can't be done without specific permission from FASA. This means I need to come up with simple rules that a user will be able to correctly fill in.

So below I am going to list what I am ether doing now, or am thinking of doing. The goal is to be as near as possible to correct, yet simple enough that when presented with a talent description in the book, casual players will choose the character sheet options that will make the power work correctly.

I would greatly appreciate comments as to all aspects.

I have a dropdown list that allows the user to select what type of power this is and what types of modifiers to apply.
So the new list is:
None, Action Tests, Effects Tests, Attack, Attack Close Combat, Damage, Damage Close Combat, Initiative, Recovery, No Roll.
None means that no modifiers whatsoever affect the roll. No Roll means that no roll is ever made with this talent (such as the versatility talent itself)
Attack and Attack Close Combat are specific subsets of Action test and are affected by anything that affects Action tests, as well as things that affect their own specific categories.
Damage, Damage Close Combat, Initiative, and Recovery are subsets of Effect tests, and are affected by anything that affects all Effect tests, as well as things that affect their own specific categories.

In addition there are Four check-boxes. "Defensive" and "Resistance" are checked if these tests are NOT penalized if the character is in a defensive stance / Knocked Down respectivly.. "Vision" and "Movement" check-boxes determine if a talent IS penalized if Movement or Vision are impaired.

So if I understand what everybody is saying...
Action Tests:
  • -1 for every wound,
  • -3 for being in defensive stance (unless the defensive action check-box is checked)
  • -3 for being Knocked Down (unless the Resistance check-box is checked - The resistance button being checked also means that the user is asked what one specific penalty to ignore.)
  • -2 or -4 if impaired movement or vision and the appropriate checkbox IS checked.
  • -2 Long Range
  • Penalties for being Battle Shouted, Frightened, Taunted, Tail Attack, debilitating and paralytic poisons, etc. etc. etc. Basically anything that says All tests or Action tests.
Effect Tests:
  • -2 Long Range (it specifically says both Attack and Damage tests)
And absolutely nothing else?
Not Wounds?
Not being Knocked Down?
Damage tests is not reduced by the attacker being in defensive stance?

Every table I have played at has done as Telarus has and applied all the penalties under Action tests to almost all Effect tests. We have been playing that Wounds affect EVERY ROLL in the entire game a character can make. And that defensive stance affects both the attack roll and damage roll, just like aggressive attack does. It sounds like Badlore and Maxaxes are saying not to do any of that.

And once again, Resistance Rolls (a subset of Action Test) we have been not being affected by anything except wounds. We started off saying they were not penalized by being knocked down since nobody tells a sick person to stand up so they can get better. And while I can see a Taunt making it so I can't concentrate upon my Iron Constitution talent, I don't see how a taunt could make it so my body can't fight off a poison using raw TOU. I am willing to hand-wave that away with a "ok, magic, weird stuff happens", and make Resistance tests affected by everything except being knocked down and the one specific thing they are resisting, but just want to triple check that is what is correct because there are members of my group that are passionate about this.

And can I just mention how much I hate it that "All Tests" seems to be shorthand for "All Action Tests" as opposed to meaning all tests.

So does this all seem workable and correct to the RaW?
Thanks to everybody helping me get this straight.

Purplefixer
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by Purplefixer » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:16 pm

These are HUGE CHANGES to the way we have been running things in the Marches, it's true. Which penalties apply to which tests definitely needs to be spelled out more explicitly in the book!

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Penalties to "all tests" vs "action tests" vs Resistance tests.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:03 am

Initiative is an Effect Test.
Players page 372 says: A character whose Initiative Step is involuntarily reduced below Step 1—for example, through Wounds or magic—
This seems to be saying that wounds reduce Initiative, and thus presumably other effect tests.

Wound Penalties, page 381 says:
This penalty does not apply to Recovery tests—those are already affected as described above.
Which implies that Wounds would apply to recover tests except that recovery tests specifically apply penalties to recovery tests differently.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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