Kenneth describes how we should view The KB3 Traveller Task System as a "sweet spot" system.
...I didn't go wrong.
The system does stand as it is, without changing a thing.
See, with all the talk back and forth over the last week [Ed. - early 2001], and me trying to please everyone with an option of no E-Die for those who don't want to use it, and an option for static target numbers for those who didn't want random numbers, I lost the logic of the system.
My thinking had returned to "higher-is-better" thinking - what I'm used to.
KB3 is a "sweet spot" system. The logic behind a system like this is that a controlled, directed, effort is needed. You need enough to attain your goal, and anything over that is a waste of effort.
I thought of an analogy that fits "sweet spot" thinking well, and I thought I'd share it with you.....
The brawler is a "higher is better" kind of fighter. He's going to throw everything he's got at you, and the more effort he expends, the more likely he'll win. He may have a lot of wasted attacks that do not damage his opponent, but he succeeds through pure brute force, bowling over his obstacles.
If you turn and see the martial artist, you see another type of fighter. He's looking to throw that one, controlled strike that will defeat his opponent. He wants to slap his fist out like lightning, hitting with his two front knuckles, slamming his opponent in the throat, downing him in one blow.
This martial artist is not a "quantity" (the more hits the better) fighter. He's a "quality" (well placed, controlled, knowledgeable attacks are better) fighter.
The martial artist is looking for the "sweet spot".
Like a bullet piercing a man, doing damage through kinetic energy - you need enough power to penetrate armour and damage your target, but a lot of energy is wasted and is just carried through (thus the KE rule in T4 that limits slug damage to 3D after armour penetration).
He said, basically, that the chance that Greater Success will occur gets lower, the more skilled you are. And, he's right if you go with strict "higher-is-better" thinking.
I'll illustrate, using the example he used: we've got Joe Normal, Stat-7, and we're going to throw an Average task (we'll use a static 7+ roll for easier example purposes) with skill levels 0-6.
Average throw requires 7+ to succeed;
Greater Success made if throw is less than or equal to 7 (Stat);
E-Die not being used.
BUT, THIS IS NOT WRONG IN KB3!!!!!!
It is reflecting the "sweet spot" nature of the system. Joe only needs to make a doggone 7! There at the end, we're throwing 7 dice in order to make a roll of 7 or better!!!!
We're throwing too much at it. We're wasting the character's energy and ability. The "sweet spot" logic of the system is kicking in.
Look at those percentages on the task success!!! We're wasting our skill "energy", blowing through, not using our skill to our best advantage!
Throwing 7D to make 7+ is the "higher-is-better" in us talking. We're not used to the "just-enough-is-best" logic of a "sweet spot" system.
Still, a Traveller character SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED for having a high skill. Quite the contrary, he should be rewarded.
And believe it or not (it even slipped past me - and I wrote the doggone rules!), KB3 does handle this situation nicely as written. Take a look at the revised summary I posted a couple of days ago. There are Options for using your skills. KB3 characters don't have to blindly use their skill points to gain D6 to throw at a target. You can also reduce your target number with your skill points. You can increase your stat for measuring purposes too.
Those Skill Options allow you to take full advantage of your skill - but instead of it being built into the system like it is in a higher-is-better set of mechanics, KB3 allows a player to "pick" his best advantage.
Some people will have a different taste for this. Some want to just throw dice, decide on the pass or the fail, and keep on trucking.
But, for you other types of players and GMs out there, like me and my group, KB3 will give you another way to go - another option. Players have a say in how their advantages work for them.
You can "blow" a target number over, if you like, throwing all your dice at it (as we did in the example above). Or, you can use one of the four Skill Options to better tailor your skill to the particular task at hand.
I'll show you what I mean.
Let's go back to Joe Normal. He's still got Stat-7, and we'll still roll an Average task using a static target number of 7+. But, this time, we'll use the KB3 Skill Option on some of the throws, and this time - using the "sweet spot" logic to our best advantage - we'll actually INCREASE the chance that Greater Success will happen.
We'll say that the task at hand is not that important to Joe. Our first concern, using KB3, is "are we going to achieve success", so we have to use enough dice to afford ourselves a comfortable margin. The target number is 7+, and Joe wants to succeed. But since success is not that important to him, we'll top out at 2D versus the 7+ target number, using the Skill Option to reduce our target number once we're throwing 2D. Joe is comfortable with the high failure rate (if he wasn't, he might throw 3D instead).
See, as a player using KB3, you're more involved with how your character attempts a task. I've found that my group likes this sort of thing (and KB3 is, ultimately, for us), but I am also positive that this idea will be so foreign to some of you Traveller players out there that it will immediately turn you off.
Hey, to each his own. Some people actually "like" the TNE rules in Traveller!
(That was a little joke, by the way.)
But, if this idea even intrigues you a little bit, I encourage you to try it. It makes for very, very fun gaming.
So, let's run the same rolls we did above, but this time, we'll use one of the KB3 Skill Options.
Average throw requires 7+ to succeed;
Greater Success made if throw is less than Stat-7;
E-Die not being used;
KB3 Skill Option 3: Reduce Difficulty Throw used on some throws.
|2||2D||7+ to 6+||72%||6,7||31%|
|3||2D||7+ to 5+||83%||5,6,7||42%|
|4||2D||7+ to 4+||92%||4,5,6,7||50%|
|5||2D||7+ to 3+||97%||3,4,5,6,7||56%|
|6||1D||7+ to 1+||100%||1,2,3,4,5,6,7||100%|
Analogy of a Sweet Spot, copyright © 2001 Kenneth Bearden.
Compiled and edited by David "Hyphen" Jaques-Watson.
Used by permission.