Orthogonal Linked Tests

Alright - so @Gnosego proposed/brought up this kind of linked test recently. Definitely my group has proposed these before and I’ve been hesitant to use them since they felt a little bit stronger than linked tests, but he also points out that they are basically worse help, and so I’ve softened to them a little.

I’ve been thinking through them a lot - and often times I question things like “OK, I’ll help your Stealthy with my Oratory and see if I can get the crowd onside and looking at me”. Those are obviously linked, but sometimes feel like separate intents, so a Linked Test (or granting advantage) feels a little better.

The above paragraph also reminds me that I could easily just say “Cool, we’ll resolve the Oratory first, and if the crowd seems pretty fired up, for good or ill, at the end I’ll give you an advantage die”. Which is, in the end the same thing.

The other thing that works here is that it allows people using beginner’s luck to help - which is a pretty powerful change. I suspect that soon I’m going to have a loud elf singing out their heart over the rigging of a ship, with an untrained crew, and I’d like to make it feel like the crew is influencing things, so having them able to give dice would be nice, and this feels like the easiest way (though the +1Ob feels like it might cancel out the effects).

How have people used these before? Am I right to be scared of them? Should I just allow them and come-what-may?

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I’m scared of them too!

Speechifier: “At this party we’re throwing, I’m going to give this speech extoling the virtues of my lady so that the people here become as loyal to her as I am.”

Tailor: “I want to help him! I’ll sew him some fancy new duds so that he makes a strong impression! The clothes make the man, afterall.”

Me: “Oh, you wanna make him some finery, or just spruce up is current duds?”

Speechifier: “I don’t have finery! I was but a poor wastral before my noble lady, in her beneficence took me be --”

Me: “Yeah, yeah. Tailor, I think making a whole ass outfit is beyond the scope of helping with this speech. [Though not necessarily] Would you like to link in a test to make the clothes? Fancy clothes is Ob 4 Sewing.”

Tailor: “Hell yeah!”

Me: “Cool. If you fail, the clothes will look good – but won’t hold together forever. You’re gonna wear the clothes, Speechifier, or do you want to avoid the risk but also the reward?”

Speechifier: “Such a tender gift of labor and love, how could I refu --”

Moneybags: “I want to help too!”

Me: “Great! How?”

Moneybags: “Money. I’m gonna cater this motherfucker. Everyone’s gonna be fat and happy and real receptive to what our friend here has to say.”

Me: “Only skills can help skills. Would you like to make a linked test – Into the sewing test? That’s not what he’s described at all. The sewing test into Resources? Also doesn’t seem right… – into the Oratory? A sumptuous meal, for a bunch of people, will be Ob 3, failure and the audience will he fat and happy – and drunk. And, of course, you’ll be taxed.”

Moneybags: “Let’s fucking go!”

This is gonna be obvious advice – I hope not insultingly so – but check out the Codex (Page 148). It had some great reminders for me about the nature of Linked Tests. Namely, that they’re every much legit, Intent/Task, Fiction-Influencing, Spicy Failure test as any other. Just with some connective tissue thrown in:

Pretend that my example Linked Tests above weren’t Linked Tests. How would you treat them? Success at Sewing creates an outfit. That guy has that now; it’s in his sheet. Failure and it’s gonna fall apart at an inopportune moment; maybe a seam splits at the shoulder for +1 Ob to Agility and Agility-Rooted skills. Resources success means people are fat and happy; failure means they’re also drunk – you might expect fights, jeers, sex. That’s all still true with a linked test, but there’s also advantage or penalty questions for the Oratory test at stake.

I don’t think the Codex section talks about “Orthogonal” Linked Tests as I’ve described… But there are the foundations: Linked Tests as a substitute for Help when the latter is inappropriate and LTs that set up further advantages down the line (Weaving a bolt of cloth for sewing later on is an example. That could have made my example even more complicated!) These imply a procedure that’s more fluid than the standard, “All sequencial tests, in sequencial fiction, with sequencial consequences.”

Also, maybe try to let the central test person reject or accept the linkedness before the dice are rolled. There’s nothing like gearing up for an important test only to have three of your closest friends stack a bunch of Ob Penalties on you by trying to “be helpful” with Beginner’s Luck tests!

I agree - that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about! Separate tests with separate intents and tasks - but all rolling into one grand finale. And I agree about the advantage/disadvantage thing.

I think the relationship to advantage and disadvantage makes sense, and makes these seem more adhering to the intention of the writing - and so formalizing that onto linkedness seems ok.

But so - you use them but are also scared of them?

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Yeah, I tend to be paranoid about stuff. Probably for the same reason you were wary of them. Nothing to see here. Probably.

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To me, the procedure is very natural, “Are you helping? No? Don’t have a skill you feel you can employ? Okay, can you think of a linked test?” – They’re the same questions I ask myself when I’m a player.

(Sorry for the double post, but I saw that you had already seen my previous message. So an edit seemed risky.)

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Linked tests must still have their own intent beyond giving a bonus. They should ideally also be discrete in time. Likewise, the failure should be distinct beyond the eventual penalty.

I’m a big fan of linked tests, but the framing should always be “what kind of prep can I do” versus “I cant help, but can I link?”

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Yeah, I could have been more clear about that. I think about this stuff when time is broad enough that prep is an option.

Though, I also tend to think of preparation as having a home in Help as well: The example Linked Test of sharpening tools and cleaning out a person’s workspace in the Codex could also be done as Help, to my thinking.