One of the awkward parts of playtesting is trying to figure out whether something is an isolated incident, or a trend. The sample size for any RPG playtest is so small, and the subject matter so nuanced and variable, as to make statistical analysis of the feedback extremely difficult - a single player having a lucky or unlucky night can throw everything off. Is something happening because that's how the dice are falling for that particular group, or does it actually mean something? What impact does the specific interpretation of an individual GM have to the results, and how can that be measured or accounted for?
This is part of the reason so much of my effort overall is making sure the rules are comprehensible - the more we can establish a common ground for playtesting, the easier my job becomes subsequently.
So, recent discussion of problems with the cycling of Momentum - both here and in other sources - has resulted in me spending a considerable amount of my time wracking my brain, analysing different possibilities, running personal tests, and so forth, to try and figure out what the heart of the matter is, detached from matters of GM interpretation. In earlier testing, and in other 2D20 system games so far, these issues haven't seemed to be particularly pronounced, at least not to the degree discussed here... but that may also be because of those same problems of statistical inconsistency, and the smaller scale of those playtests. In my experience, a degree of "spend Momentum for extra dice, roll, generate Momentum, bank some of it" is healthy, at least so long as there are sufficient other things to spend Momentum on, and peaks of difficulty, as to leech surplus Momentum from the pool periodically... but in at least a few cases, for reasons that I don't have sufficient data to do more than speculate about, this cycling of Momentum is making things too easy, and additional uses of Momentum are either insufficient to leech points out, or those other spends are being ignored in favour of saving Momentum primarily for bonus d20s. Either way, it's something in need of action, and an area where I need more specific feedback, and some consideration of alternatives.
Below are several considerations. I'd like feedback on each of them - individually, and in combination, if possible - as a variety of additional perspectives will be helpful in coming to a conclusion.
Re-rolls are too easily available for d20s.
The rules so far provide the ability to re-roll any number of d20s on a Task in a few circumstance, normally tied to fulfilling a particular criteria (providing assistance, or buying additional dice in a specific way on a specific type of Task). Those are too potent; a change is under consideration so that any ability that currently allows a character to re-roll all their dice pool now only allow the character to re-roll a single d20.
The only exception to this will be spending a point of Determination, which will gain the exclusive ability (still limited by Values as normal for Determination spends) to re-roll a whole dice pool (as one of its uses).
This change, I'm fairly content with making, but it's worth including here for completeness.
There may be insufficient incentive to use Momentum on a Task rather than saving it for bonus d20s.
As a potential resolution here, I am considering a change whereby a character cannot save more than half (rounding up) the Momentum they have generated on a Task. Bonus Momentum (increases to the amount of Momentum generated, such as from Talents, or from using a starship's Power) still cannot be saved, and do not count towards calculating how much Momentum can be saved.
I'm not sure on this one. I like that there are some Tasks which exist solely to generate Momentum for everyone else - amongst other things, it's a good way to reflect a leader or commander type character coming up with a plan or making an inspirational speech. It also limits the amount of 'fuel' for other Immediate spends, like increasing the difficulty of opponent's tasks (which I rarely hear about in feedback), keeping the initiative, or taking extra Minor actions, though this might just mean that players are more frequently pressed to pay by adding to Threat.
Additional d20s may be too useful for their price, or too cheap considering their benefits.
A simple change, but one with potential for massive impact: it would cost 2 Momentum, instead of 1 (still with the ability to pay for it by adding to Threat), to buy a single bonus d20. Alternatively, it would cost 1 Momentum for the first bonus d20, 2 for the second, and 3 for the third (either way, it increases the cost of 3 bonus d20s to 6 Momentum).
I worry here that the utility of bonus d20s may be sufficiently high that this just leaves less Momentum for other things, and we've previously (in earlier iterations) run into issues with players not having a worthwhile use for a single point of Momentum.
The cap on 5 for Task Difficulty is arbitrary and constricting.
A simple one to resolve - remove the cap, allowing Difficulties of 6, 7, or higher. It would require a little extra text warning that those higher difficulties are not for the faint of heart, but that's not a massive hardship.
So, thoughts, analyses, discussions?
[Last edited Oct 10, 2017 23:51:43]
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures
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