Mental Maths

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Wotan
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Wotan » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:13 pm

utsukushi wrote:I've been thinking about this, and it looks to me like there's a difference in the way people who think the math in Eternity is clunky are looking at it compared to the people who don't see where the problem is. Not, like, universally, probably, but I've been looking at the way it's been described in groups where it's causing problems, and.. I don't know, maybe describing the way I look at it would help? Because this also seems to be the way other people who aren't having trouble approach it.

Let's take a case of Firearms 10 vs Dodge 8, but you're in a disco (-4 for weird lighting) and you're trying to hit two targets (-2 Multi-Targets). Your targets are a man and his attack dog (-2 for being Small), but the man is vulnerable (+2). Deliberately making this complicated, obviously. Let's say you roll a 13.

The hard way seems to be to roll, apply that to your Firearms, then apply all the modifiers, and then see if you hit. So that's 10 + 1 - 4 - 2 - 2 against the dog, making it 3 vs 8 for a clear miss. 10 + 1 - 4 - 2 + 2 = 7 against the man; if you had gone with a Short Burst, you would have hit him, at least, but of course you can't say that now. It's not too late for a Possibility, of course, so let's say you do that and roll a 3, which becomes a 10. Now your roll is 23, so now it's 10 + 8 - 4 - 2 - 2 for the dog, for a 10 vs 8 that hits, and 10 + 8 - 4 - 2 + 2 against the man for a 16 vs 8 that gives you a BD of damage.

The way I've always looked at it is to figure the modifiers first and know the difference before you roll. Relative to your Skill, you're starting at -6 vs the dog and -2 vs the man. And that's quick to see, even with this many modifiers - you just add them up once, even as you're noting what they are, and then including the difference between your skill and their Dodge (+2). You can immediately see that adding +2 for a Short Burst would drastically improve your chances of hitting the man, at least, making it -4 and 0. And then you're just rolling to beat 0 on the chart. And you can see immediately where you are in terms of what a Possibility might do for you.

The other 95% of the time when you don't have such weird modifiers, it's even easier. You just see that you're at a +2 (F10 v D8 still). You decide if that means you can risk Multi-Targeting, and if you want to do a Short-Burst to balance that out. Or say you spent the last turn Aiming - you know that's another +4, which you dump straight into a Called Shot. So you stay at +2, but ignoring their armor and getting +4 to your damage. If they don't have armor, maybe you keep the +6 and hope for an exploding Bonus Die instead of the guaranteed +4. It's up to you, but again... the math is all just done as you go, and you ultimately end up rolling for zero, which is super easy to see even on the weird Bonus Chart.

Doing it that way also intuitively breaks up the modifiers vs the die roll. Modifiers all get applied to your skill/target. Then you roll, find your place on the Bonus Chart. If you have an up or spend Possibilities/Heroes/Dramas, you add up the dice and move up the chart.

And then, if you're, say, two points shy of an Outstanding success and want to toss in an Adrenaline card, you do that after the dice are settled. And it's easy to see that once you stop rolling dice, you leave the bonus chart and numbers go directly to your total.

...I'm not sure I'm explaining it well, but I hope so, because I find it much easier than what I'm hearing some people describing.

Excellent post :)
I've tried to encourage my players to do things like this too, and it really seems to help when we're all sticking to a methodology that's at least similar. Before hand it would get confusing, as they & I each worked things out in slightly different orders, and then if we came to different Totals, who's made a mistake, and where? & was it just that I was on my third beer of the evening & getting a little befuddled? :oops: *grin*

(Ideally) Our "order of operations" now goes:
Attack Skill - Target's Defense,
+/- Situational (unavoidable) Modifiers (e.g. wounds, conditions, range, lighting, cover, etc),
+/- Combat Options (Called shots, Bursts, All-Out Attack, etc)
Generate Dice Total
Decide on Card or Possibility play

As you say, calculating the net result points, before the players even start to think about Combat Options, really helps them to see where they are, & what they're going to need to succeed at a given level (whether that's in terms of Combat Options, available cards, or just how high a dice total they're looking at to succeed.)

Any tables with players who struggle with the mechanics really could do a lot worse than to give Utsukushi's suggestion a go. :)
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Gargoyle » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:49 am

utsukushi wrote:I've been thinking about this, and it looks to me like there's a difference in the way people who think the math in Eternity is clunky are looking at it compared to the people who don't see where the problem is. Not, like, universally, probably, but I've been looking at the way it's been described in groups where it's causing problems, and.. I don't know, maybe describing the way I look at it would help? Because this also seems to be the way other people who aren't having trouble approach it.

Let's take a case of Firearms 10 vs Dodge 8, but you're in a disco (-4 for weird lighting) and you're trying to hit two targets (-2 Multi-Targets). Your targets are a man and his attack dog (-2 for being Small), but the man is vulnerable (+2). Deliberately making this complicated, obviously. Let's say you roll a 13.

The hard way seems to be to roll, apply that to your Firearms, then apply all the modifiers, and then see if you hit. So that's 10 + 1 - 4 - 2 - 2 against the dog, making it 3 vs 8 for a clear miss. 10 + 1 - 4 - 2 + 2 = 7 against the man; if you had gone with a Short Burst, you would have hit him, at least, but of course you can't say that now. It's not too late for a Possibility, of course, so let's say you do that and roll a 3, which becomes a 10. Now your roll is 23, so now it's 10 + 8 - 4 - 2 - 2 for the dog, for a 10 vs 8 that hits, and 10 + 8 - 4 - 2 + 2 against the man for a 16 vs 8 that gives you a BD of damage.


Yes, but this hard way is also the intuitive way, it mirrors similar processes in countless other RPGs, and also exactly the way the rules instruct you to do it.

The way I've always looked at it is to figure the modifiers first and know the difference before you roll. Relative to your Skill, you're starting at -6 vs the dog and -2 vs the man. And that's quick to see, even with this many modifiers - you just add them up once, even as you're noting what they are, and then including the difference between your skill and their Dodge (+2). You can immediately see that adding +2 for a Short Burst would drastically improve your chances of hitting the man, at least, making it -4 and 0. And then you're just rolling to beat 0 on the chart. And you can see immediately where you are in terms of what a Possibility might do for you.

The other 95% of the time when you don't have such weird modifiers, it's even easier. You just see that you're at a +2 (F10 v D8 still). You decide if that means you can risk Multi-Targeting, and if you want to do a Short-Burst to balance that out. Or say you spent the last turn Aiming - you know that's another +4, which you dump straight into a Called Shot. So you stay at +2, but ignoring their armor and getting +4 to your damage. If they don't have armor, maybe you keep the +6 and hope for an exploding Bonus Die instead of the guaranteed +4. It's up to you, but again... the math is all just done as you go, and you ultimately end up rolling for zero, which is super easy to see even on the weird Bonus Chart.

Doing it that way also intuitively breaks up the modifiers vs the die roll. Modifiers all get applied to your skill/target. Then you roll, find your place on the Bonus Chart. If you have an up or spend Possibilities/Heroes/Dramas, you add up the dice and move up the chart.

And then, if you're, say, two points shy of an Outstanding success and want to toss in an Adrenaline card, you do that after the dice are settled. And it's easy to see that once you stop rolling dice, you leave the bonus chart and numbers go directly to your total.

...I'm not sure I'm explaining it well, but I hope so, because I find it much easier than what I'm hearing some people describing.


You explained it fine, but the fact that it took that long to explain something sort of clashes with the conclusion that "it's easy". And it's certainly not intuitive. I've actually used this method a few times, and it works ok. The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

That doesn't mean the method is bad, it's good, but it's not necessarily the best way for everyone or all the time. Lately we've taken to scribbling numbers down on paper, "showing our work" like in math class. It's a little annoying that we have to do that, but it does help speed things up and avoid confusing ourselves.
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Arcesilaus » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:50 am

Gargoyle wrote:The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

This is a small thing, but I figured it's worth mentioning: everyone at my table has at least 3 d20s. The original roll doesn't move after rolled. If someone is Up or uses a Possibility, then the player rolls another d20 (physically changing it to a 10 when it needs to be) and then a Drama card, for example, means ANOTHER d20. Occasionally dice are more dice are borrowed when someone's going for a Glory. This removes the need to remember the roll, since it stays on the table for as long as needed. I hope that helps.
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Gargoyle » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:11 am

Arcesilaus wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

This is a small thing, but I figured it's worth mentioning: everyone at my table has at least 3 d20s. The original roll doesn't move after rolled. If someone is Up or uses a Possibility, then the player rolls another d20 (physically changing it to a 10 when it needs to be) and then a Drama card, for example, means ANOTHER d20. Occasionally dice are more dice are borrowed when someone's going for a Glory. This removes the need to remember the roll, since it stays on the table for as long as needed. I hope that helps.


It does, may try that. thanks
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Wotan » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:09 pm

Gargoyle wrote:The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

I've found that doing things in the order I posted above, so that all the other maths is done, before any dice are rolled, or cards played, really helps with this kind of issue too. *shrug*
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby utsukushi » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:58 pm

Gargoyle wrote:You explained it fine, but the fact that it took that long to explain something sort of clashes with the conclusion that "it's easy".

To be perfectly honest, I think that has more to do with how I think and write. Wotan wrapped the whole thing up very nicely and much more cleanly. I just... ramble. (And, um, was just about to do it again, so I'll just leave that there.)

I've actually used this method a few times, and it works ok. The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

And I have to say that if you're having the problem you described here, you're not doing what I'm suggesting. The minor maths should be out of the way before the first roll is made. Like Wotan said - first you figure out the `inevitable' modifiers. That tells you where you are. Then the player can decide on `optional' modifiers, depending what they want to risk or if they need some extra help.

Then you roll the die and see where the Bonus Chart puts you. And then you can roll another die and/or play some cards if you want to. From what I've seen, once people are playing things like Adrenaline or Supporter, that's because they're within a couple points of what they want, so they're past adding whole dice to it, so it usually stays nicely stratified: You roll dice and then you play cards. Which, as I said, also makes it easier to remember that you follow the Bonus Chart while you're rolling dice, and then abandon it for your pure skill total when you go to direct cards.

Keeping all the current dice (and cards!) clearly placed on the table is definitely a good idea, though, especially if you have people changing their minds about what they've done.

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Re: Mental Maths

Postby Gargoyle » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:13 pm

utsukushi wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:You explained it fine, but the fact that it took that long to explain something sort of clashes with the conclusion that "it's easy".

To be perfectly honest, I think that has more to do with how I think and write. Wotan wrapped the whole thing up very nicely and much more cleanly. I just... ramble. (And, um, was just about to do it again, so I'll just leave that there.)

I've actually used this method a few times, and it works ok. The biggest issue I've had with it is while doing all the minor maths forgetting what the original roll was and then the player retroactively decides to roll a possibility, not spend a card, and so you have to make sure you remember the die roll too, but they've already picked it up and forgot it, so we have to go back and figure that out...

And I have to say that if you're having the problem you described here, you're not doing what I'm suggesting. The minor maths should be out of the way before the first roll is made. Like Wotan said - first you figure out the `inevitable' modifiers. That tells you where you are. Then the player can decide on `optional' modifiers, depending what they want to risk or if they need some extra help.

Then you roll the die and see where the Bonus Chart puts you. And then you can roll another die and/or play some cards if you want to. From what I've seen, once people are playing things like Adrenaline or Supporter, that's because they're within a couple points of what they want, so they're past adding whole dice to it, so it usually stays nicely stratified: You roll dice and then you play cards. Which, as I said, also makes it easier to remember that you follow the Bonus Chart while you're rolling dice, and then abandon it for your pure skill total when you go to direct cards.

Keeping all the current dice (and cards!) clearly placed on the table is definitely a good idea, though, especially if you have people changing their minds about what they've done.


Gotcha, bit more clear and I'll reevaluate the process when we play next weekend. It's little things that can help a lot, so I appreciate it.
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby JohnK » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:35 pm

Hullo, Mica,

mica wrote:We have a novice player and beer player. They are very used to just stating that they want to do and chucking a dice and seeing if it is a success. This is fine for many other game systems where dice result are a direct add-on or a skill check but Torg takes it a lot further. Are they going to use a card or two, use a possibility and don’t forget all those situational modifiers etc.
This can easily bog things down especially if they see a low roll, then start totalling everything up, then decide its possibility time then have to re-total everything a second time, then decide hero card etc.
This has resulted in a couple of the players stating that the game is unnecessarily clunky.


Hmm... I had a couple of players who were like that with original TORG, but they eventually came to terms with the game. Torg Eternity is, imo, a much more streamlined affair and has almost no clunk to it at all that I can see. Heck, my 14-year-old goddaughter understands the basics of the mechanics, and likes the fact that one has choices.

Insofar as bogging things down, poppycock! The game plays extremely fast, and it doesn't require a lot of thought (except perhaps to deciding what Destiny cards to play in a given situation).

That said, novice players (and do you mean novice gamers or novice to TE?) can learn, and other players can teach them to play systems that require a bit more thought. Beer players, well... no comment. ;)

Here's the real question: Are the players, for lack of a better term, lazy?

mica wrote:
I have been considering a dry-wipe board (laminated table with individual player stats) so at the start of a combat, players can note the villain stats in the blanks on the table and get net results. This should save time recalculating everything every time. I’m seeing this as a short-term training tool for getting into the habit of calculating net result before chucking a dice.

How do your players handle the mental maths?


Just fine, actually. :)

Seriously though, Torg Eternity requires basic math, yes, but it's not something that's beyond the normal 12- or 13-year-old. The strategy and tactics element, that's a whole 'nother matter. Your solution is above is workable, no doubt, but I suspect it may slow the game down as these values are re-calculated at various times.

That said, if players can't or won't do the mental math, that's what GMs are for. :)
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby JohnK » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:40 pm

Hullo, Count Thalim,

Count Thalim wrote:Most of mine are fine, but I do have one intermittent player who struggles with the system. Normally on adding the skill to the roll and then comparing that to the chart or similar.
It's usually pretty obvious when she does it and the other players are quick to assist. Thankfully she has no problems with that.


Yep, that's where my players got bogged down at the beginning, with the exception of the one player who is left in the Friday night group who had played old TORG back in the day, and remembered the "roll D20, consult the Bonus Table" law of TORG. :) This is something that my players got used to as they continued to play, and I suspect this is true of most game players who come to TORG. New game mechanic requires a bit of time to adjust to.

Count Thalim wrote:Do your fights tend to only have one villain at a time?
Just thinking about your table if you have 2 different villains, say a mob and a stormer, each with Melee, unarmed, trick, maneuver, etc...
It might speed it up during the fight, but would it slow it down too much at the start.


Yep, that would be my concern about using the tables as mentioned.
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Re: Mental Maths

Postby JohnK » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:41 pm

Hullo, fougerec,

fougerec wrote:The biggest thing for players to remember is that the die roll is not modified by cards or modifiers.

The rest of the math I do and just tell the player so they only need to calculate their total.

"The target is large and vulnerable, you're all out Attacking so you're at +8"

"You're concentrating on a spell and using Magistar to cast two more spells. You're at -4."

I found are first few sessions rougher as people are used to modifying the die roll. 14 games in and it's smooth as can be.


This is pretty much how I do things with my three gaming groups. Some of them grok the rules and do the calculations now, others still prefer me to handle things.
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