Double Obstacle help, test logging, and extra successes

After perusing the various threads and rulings on these forums, I think I like the following way to explain how Beginner’s Luck and helping and test logging interact. Essentially “BL gives a special +Ob penalty that doesn’t affect level of test”.

Web app to calculate margins of success, etc.:
(artha, penalty, and double params are optional. “double” param is 0 for a normal test, 1 for a double-obstacle test, and 3 for a quadruple-obstacle test.)

Beginner’s Luck
If a character does not have a relevant skill, she may make a stat test with one of the skill’s root stats instead. As usual, this stat test may be helped by someone else’s stat, though if the helper has the relevant skill she must help with that skill instead. Apply a special +Ob penalty to the Beginner’s Luck test. This penalty has two characteristics:
[li]Penalty Doubles Base: the penalty is equal to the base obstacle, so if the relevant skill would have been against base Ob 2 with (say) a +1 Ob penalty for disadvantage, then the Beginner’s Luck penalty is +2 Ob for a total of Ob 5
[/li][li]Advancement As Artha: the penalty does not count when figuring out the test any player will log, so if the relevant skill would have been against a total Ob 3 (Ob 2 with +1 Ob disadvantage), but the Beginner’s Luck test is a stat against Ob 5 (Ob 2 with +1 Ob disadvantage and with +2 Ob Beginner’s Luck penalty), it still only counts as against Ob 3. This is just like artha expenditures not counting toward your total dice rolled when figuring out which test to log.[/ul]
[/li]The test logged is either toward opening the skill, if it would be routine for the stat (remember not to count the special Beginner’s Luck +Ob!), or toward advancing the stat, if it would be difficult or challenging for the stat.

Concrete example:

Alice and Bob are facing an Ob 2 Stealthy test. Neither have the skill opened, both have Speed B4. Alice will test and Bob will help. Alice has an armor penalty of +1 Ob. She rolls a total of 5D against Ob 5. For purposes of advancement, she sees that 5D against Ob 3 is Routine, so she marks a test toward opening Stealthy. Bob helped and sees that his 4D against Ob 3 is Difficult, so he marks a Difficult Speed test.

Edit: the following is cleared up in subsequent posts
What I’m not sure about is how margin of success works, and whether the “advancement as artha” applies to the other sorts of double obstacle penalties:
[li]No tools
[/li][li]Stat versus skill
[/li][li]Both (Ob 2 with a +1 Ob disadvantage would test against Ob 9 but log a test as if against Ob 3?)

Edit: this table was confusing even to me. The confusing bit was that in a versus test, you must win by at least 1 to succeed (winning by 0 is just a tie). But what is your Margin of Success? If you win by 2, you get 2 levels of effect, or 1 extra level of effect. Anyway I’ve changed it to “wins by”.
Edit: looks like you don’t need 2 successes to get +1 MoS on a Beginner’s Luck check. Modified table results to show this.

What happens when Beginner’s Luck tests versus Beginner’s Luck? In part this also gets into the question of margin of success on versus tests with Ob penalties. I think a ruling on the following cases would cover everything. A “Y” in the “A’s BL?” column indicates that A rolled using Beginner’s Luck.
|Strike vs Block|A’s successes|A’s +Ob|A’s BL?|B’s successes|B’s +Ob|B’s BL?|Wins by
|#1|3|1||3|2||Alice wins by 1|
|#2|3|1||0|2||Alice wins by 2|
|#3|3|1||5|2||Bob wins by 1|
|#4|0|1||5|2||Bob wins by 3|
|#6|7|1|Y|3|2||Alice wins by 4|
|#7|3|1|Y|3|2|Y|Alice wins by 1|
|#8|7|1|Y|7|2|Y|Alice wins by 1|

I don’t understand the table. Are all of these BL vs BL or only some?

BL vs BL should just be a straight versus test, yeah? Because they’re basically just versus Stat tests.

The two columns “A’s BL” and “B’s BL” indicate whether A or B are rolling Beginner’s Luck for the test. So only in the last 4 examples is A rolling Beginner’s Luck, and only in the last 2 cases is B rolling Beginner’s Luck.

BL vs BL doesn’t quite work as a straight versus test, I believe, because a) when margin of success matters I don’t think beginner’s luck rolls get +1 MoS per +1 extra success, and b) obstacle penalties for either side and what looks like a “can’t go below zero” rule also complicate things in ways I hope to be able to succinctly explain but can’t quite yet.

Also, the nice explanation of “Beginner’s Luck is just a special +Ob” doesn’t work for computing margin of success since it takes two successes to get each +1 MoS. See especially graduated -wises. :slight_smile:

Why would a BL test not get MoS on a 1:1 basis? You don’t get double-penalized; it’s not double Ob AND you need 2 hits for a success. You double the Ob, then add penalties. That’s now the Ob. You roll normally.

I mean that’s one of my questions, how does that work? But here are two intuition pumps:

  • When rolling a graduated -wise test, you test e.g. The Kingdom-wise at Ob 0 and the GM feeds you information based on how many successes you got. That sounds a lot like MoS to me. If I have The Kingdom-wise B5 and roll 4 successes, though, I expect quite a bit more information than if I roll Beginner’s Luck Perception B5 with 4 successes.

  • Let’s roll Sword to Strike. I have B5 with some Persona, get 5 successes. That will do a Superb hit! But if I just roll Agility instead and get 6 successes, that will also do a Superb hit? Is it really just +1 Ob to get a Superb Sword hit with Beginner’s Luck rather than actually having it opened? Sounds more like a crossbow than a sword… So when I have Agility B5 and I finally open Sword and I don’t have any FoRKs, I get quite sad…

Generally speaking, when a person is rolling beginner’s luck for a graduated wise test, then you cut the number of successes in half. So it your example, the person with the skill gets whatever information 4 successes gets you and the person rolling beginner’s luck gets whatever information 2 successes gets you.

As for your weapon example, yep that’s how it works. You actually see this sort of thing in the sports world a lot. A person has so much natural talent that he rises to a high level of play without taking the time to learn good technique until he or she gets stomped by the person with good talent and great skills. The drop in success when you open the skill represents your character having to unlearn all of the old cheats and actually training to do things the right way. With such a low exponent, you’ll train up again in no time.

  1. Okay, but that seems like an edge case to me. As a GM, you can easily avoid that problem by using listed Wise obs. Is it a problem if it never actually comes up? Full disclosure: I never use graduated tests. I set a base Ob then let let players spend successes on Working Patiently.

  2. Yes. Your base Ob is 2 on your BL Strike. MoS is whatever you get over 2.

It did actually come up. That is a recent roll in an online game we’re in and the GM chose to go with a graduated-test. We are just double-checking that we adjudicated things properly, as the GM is new and we are all helping each other keep the rules straight.

I am away from my books but this thread seems to support the BL getting normal MoS stance.

I think Margin of Success on fixed obstacle tests is different from Open/Graduated tests. In Open tests, it is about what obstacle you manage to hit, not “did you beat the obstacle?”, that’s why they are halved there on BL tests, because if you only came up with 3 successes on a BL test, you wouldn’t have hit a base ob 2 test.

Margin of Success, meanwhile, is not concerned about what hypothetical obstacle above the one you already hit you could hit, it is merely concerned with how many successes you got over the obstacle you did hit. Something that is independent of if you are rolling beginner’s luck or not.

At least, that’s my take on it.

I got you. Didn’t mean to say it’s “wrong.” I just personally don’t like them. I think the 1/2 success rule works fine for a graduated test, yeah. It’s an easy way of doing it.

I think I have an algorithm that gives results of a test. I’ll put up a page tonight or this weekend so you can try it out. Or this weekend maybe. I’ve updated the original table with its results. I still have to work out how 3+ participants works formally, and how some of the edge cases might work with logging tests.

Edit: my original table was designed to illustrate corner cases in how I thought BL worked, some of the entries are not super illustrative now that I know extra successes give MoS 1:1.

Here’s a better one: Alice rolls 8 Beginner’s Luck untooled successes with +1 Ob, Bob rolls 2 regular successes with +1 Ob. I think exactly one of two things happens here: They tie, or Alice wins with MoS 3.

(Or easier, 4 Beginner’s Luck, do they tie or does Alice win with MoS 1?)

I’m assuming this is a vs test. If tools are a factor, then here’s how you work it:

Bob rolls first. He’s got +1 Ob, so he has to meet that first. Alice’s Ob is based on whatever Bob gets over his Ob penalty. In your example, that’s 1.

Alice is rolling BL against Ob 2 (Bob’s successes, doubled), with a penalty for no tools - Ob 4, with a +1 Ob penalty. Total Ob 5. If she got 8 successes, that’s MoS 3.

Why that, rather than this, which is like the graduated test:

Alice rolls first. She’s got +1 Ob, so has to meet that first. Bob’s Ob is based on whatever Alice gets over her Ob penalty. She’s got 7 successes left, so divide by 4 round down and that’s 1.

Bob is rolling against Ob 1 with a +1 Ob penalty. Total Ob 2. With 2 successes, that’s MoS 0, which in a versus test is a tie.

Because you’re unneccessarily taking away a success from the unskilled character. Even if you roll Alice first, with her 7 net successes, you can’t figure out her base Ob until her opponent rolls. It still works out the same, with her having 3 MoS. You only count Alice’s successes as 2 (or 4, in this case)-to-1 for the successes that Bob actually gets. So, Bob’s 1 net cancels out 4 of Alice’s, leaving her with 3 left over.

Okay, now make Bob unskilled. He has 1 extra success, which is like half, but is still twice as big as Alice’s successes which are like fourths. So we’re gonna say Alice wins by 5 here?

And then Alice logs a test as if she rolled against Ob 1, and Bob as if he rolled against Ob 2? Because Bob certainly can’t have set Alice’s base Ob to anything more than 0.

All in all, the algorithm here is: determine the base Ob you’ll set for other people by finding the maximum base Ob you could theoretically succeed at, assuming fractional Obs are allowed (note that this is the same as a graduated test!). Everyone checks to see if they succeed against everyone else by using the base Obs they were given, and those who succeed determine their margin of success. Losers’ margins of failure, if needed, are the negation of their opponents’ margins of success. Everyone logs tests using the highest base Ob they were given, rounded down, without of course multiplying due to double/quadruple Ob penalties.
(use 0, 1, or 3 for regular, double, or quadruple Ob in the aliceDouble or bobDouble parameters)

Yes, Alice gets 5.

Edited OP to add link to web app calculating who succeeds, margin of success, and what tests get logged. Let me know if you find mistakes!

Here’s a question. What happens in a versus test if both parties have huge +Ob penalties, but one rolls less badly?

In this simple versus test, Alice Strikes and Bob Blocks.
Alice: 1 success, +4 Ob penalty
Bob: 1 success, +2 Ob penalty

Alice definitely does not succeed. I’m not sure, though, whether:

a) Bob succeeds with MoS 0, or
b) Bob succeeds with MoS 2, or
c) Alice and Bob tie

For Strike versus Block it doesn’t matter whether Bob succeeds with MoS 0 or they tie, same outcome. But that distinction would matter for, say, a versus Oratory test.