I'm working on an RPG system that uses 2d6 roll under Skill for resolutions. On paper this system looks really good so far, but I have one major issue: Degrees of Success, especially when it comes to Contest (Skill vs Skill) resolutions.
Your character's Attribute + Skill (e.g. Charisma + Persuasion) form a Target Number that's between 2 and 12. You roll 2d6, sum them, and the sum has to be equal to or lower than the Target Number. Rolling a 1 has a special positive meaning, rolling a 6 has a special negative meaning. Additionally, 2 ones are always a success, 2 sixes are always a failure, regardless of Skill.
Imagine 2 parties contesting each other:
- Character A has a Target Number of 5 (pretty bad), and character B has a Target Number of 10 (pretty good).
- Character A rolls a 5 and succeeds. Character B and rolls a 6 and succeeds.
- Character B has the better Degree of Success, as the margin between the player's roll and the character's Skill is bigger than for Character A.
If you say that lower is better, a character with Target Number 2 (very, very bad), who rolled a 2, will always have a better Degree of Success over a character with a Target Number 12 (very, very good), who rolled a 3.
Skill contests mainly occur in combat scenarios, or when two characters are competing against each other. This involves both PCs and NPCs in any combination.
Additionally, the degree of success can be used for any skill check a character attempts. Especially, when the skill check includes a time component, the degree of success is a measurement of how much time did it take?
Clarification for single ones and sixes
A 1 in the current iteration creates what I call an Opportunity, which is a positive side-effect (whether or not the roll was successful). Same goes for 6 what I call a Threat, which is a negative side-effect. So on a double 1 you automatically succeed, and get 2 Opportunities and vice versa for double 6.
This mechanic makes it hard for me to opt for the Blackjack/higher is better variant, as it would seriously flip around meanings of lower is better vs higher is better. If there is a better way of adding additional mechanics to the game to make a
roll <= Target Number-system more elaborate, then I might just go with the higher is better variant.
My approach was to subtract the rolled number from the character's Skill. You have a Target Number of 6 and rolled a 4?
6-4=2. You have a Target Number of 11 and rolled a 3?
11-3=8. It works, but I'm worried that this resolution will be
too slow for actual play - we all know these sessions that last for hours and nobody is able to count straight anymore.
The best solution would allow a player to determine the Degree of Success/Failure in the same step to see if the character succeeded or not.
Roll under, but as high as possible. This works best, if there are no special faces/digits you can roll. Unknown Armies works great, as the only thing special is rolling doubles, and the chance of rolling doubles increases the higher your Skill is.
In my case, where a 1 has a special effect, Blackjack resolution imposes a problem, as you want to roll as high as possible.
Is there a system, that has roll under but as high as possible, including special effects on special faces?
Idea - inverted Contests
When you roll a contest, instead of trying to roll under your Target Number, you have to roll over the opponents Target Number. This way, you are more prone to failing against an opponent who's better than you, and a better chance of success against an opponent who's worse than you. Additionally, rolling higher is better. Ties result in a stalemate - this is also nice, as the bell curve of 2d6 means, that average characters will more likely stalemate each other, which I think is not unrealistic. It also enforces the aspect of you're trying to be better than somebody else, not better than everybody else or a specific task.
The issue is that the special meaning of 1s and 6s (Opportunities and Threats) would either have to switch sides, meaning that a 6 you roll would cause a Threat for the opponent, or switch meaning, i.e. a 6 in a contest is suddenly an Opportunity, not a Threat anymore.
On paper I think this idea is pretty good, but they major flaw is the flipping/inverting the whole aspect of the whole roll mechanism when rolling conflicts.
Also it doesn't allow for degree of success for normal checks per se, because normal checks are still roll under.
Are there already systems that do this or something similar? Or do you think this would be too complicated to resolve?
Other systems that handle Degrees of Success for rolling under mechanics:
- Call of Cthulhu: You have certain threesholds (half your skill, 1/5 your skill) at which you score an increased Degree of Success. - very coarse when you only have 2d6 instead of a 1d100 (but could work)
- Unknown Armies: Basically like Blackjack--you roll under your Skill threshold, but as high as possible. Doubles (11, 22, 33) are criticals. - sadly doesn't work, as ones and sixes have a special meaning. Flipping the meaning (6 is good, 1 is bad) also is iffy, as it's flipping the understanding, that you have to roll under a threshold.
What other systems or resolution systems are there, that tackle this problem?
I'm looking for feasible solutions on how to implement degree of success in a roll under system. Especially-but not necessarily limited to-in regards of my special rules for single ones and sixes, including the automatic success/failure on double ones and sixes.
Ideally, existing RPG systems already implement these mechanics and proved to be practical in analog play (not computer aided).