Chance in Hell

Just a fun little mod to make things less predictable.

Chance in Hell: All Challenging tests are open-ended, but each die that comes up a 1 cancels a success in the final tally.

Reason: So the unskilled NPC farm girl who finds a loaded pistol and, trembling, points it at the PC could possibly kill him dead if he doesn’t take her seriously. So that NPCs can do surprising things a little more often. To tempt PCs to try more foolish stuff and fail and generate cool consequences.

By the RAW: The farm girl literally cannot hit, or her hitting is presented as the consequence of failure on a PC’s test, or we award her Artha as she’s suddenly become an important character in the story.

Why can’t she hit by the RAW?

I’ve played a PC who has capped a few NPCs without having the skill. Aiming is your friend.

You know, she’s got a 3 Agility and needs four successes. Or she’s got a 4 Agility but it’s dark. Or whatever.

Aiming’s a good idea, although I wouldn’t normally allow it on a simple test. I suppose she could shoot the PC Carefully if he’s not taking her seriously.

This sounds way, way cooler to me.

You realize that this actually makes the odds worse, right? You can get more successes, but your average number goes down.

This is what Fate points are for.

Alex, I didn’t mean that the three options I gave were bad - just that they were the current options. It does make things more arbitrary, though. When does an NPC become “significant?” If the farm girl becomes significant when she points a gun at a PC, does the cardinal’s guard become significant when he gets his sights on the PC as the PC escapes with evidence of the cardinal’s evil plot? The proposal I’m making would let the GM put that decision back to the system or the dice rather than making it himself, which could be better or worse according to your philosophy.

Wayfarer, for characters without Fate this rule would change the odds for success at a Challenging test from 0% to a small positive number. Since it wouldn’t be employed in Routine or Difficult tests, it wouldn’t ever reduce the odds unless I made it affect Challenging tests where Artha is being spent.

Snapshot is basically impossible for characters with low skills, and the nature of snapshots precludes aiming. This rule would make snapshots a possibility for characters with weapons skills of 3 or less.

A character with B3 Intimidation tries to Incite a character with B4 Will. Forks, help, blah blah. Raise the Will until it fits. By RAW the target is so well composed that he won’t ever respond to a barb by the inciter, but with this rule there’s a chance in hell that he will.

You get the idea. NPCs sometimes get stuck attempting challenging tests. PCs may occasionally be caught with no Fate. Maybe in your game some things are just impossible. If you want to throw a little gambler’s thrill in, I think this rule would do it well.

You’re right. I wasn’t thinking about the Challenging part.

It’s worth considering what the odds changes are. The chance of hitting n+1 successes with n dice on an open test is around 8%; it changes slightly depending on n and gets lower with high numbers. The expected value of one open die is 0.6. If 1’s subtract (and I’m assuming only 1’s on the initial roll, not open rerolls) the expected value of a die drops to 0.5. I haven’t re-crunched numbers, but the chances are equal (1/12) for getting two successes on one die and then drop much more rapidly.

OK, non probability answer:

For that situation, I would essentially “say yes” to the NPC and frame it as a test for the player.

The poor farm girl lifts up the pistol and despite her shaking hand is about to shoot you. She can’t miss! What do you do?

Well, yes. I’d say getting shot by an NPC peasant girl is actually mostly in the realm of failure consequence. On the other hand, I think a possible choice is to shoot first, and Bloody Versus is not an unreasonable way to resolve that. It doesn’t work if the poor girl literally can’t hit.

Bloody Versus, or simple versus, doesn’t have the she can’t hit problem.

I think it’ll work well. As has been said, it’s a minuscule chance, and it only happens for challenging tests without Artha anyway. I can see players getting a bit more reckless too, and that’s always fun. Burning Wheel campaigns usually tend to follow the path of “ineptitude leads to misfortune, which leads to character growth and the struggle to do better.” This house rule seems in line with that. :slight_smile: