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Odovacer

Using Luck but not the Optional Rule

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Odovacer

This is probably a stupid question, but I've searched Quick Start, Introductory Rules and the Keeper's book. I understand the Optional Rule for using Luck for adjusting certain rolls. What I can't find is whether an Investigator's Luck score is reduced when a mundane Luck roll (or group Luck roll) is called for or used. It seems like it should, but I can't find a mention of it. There's lots of examples of use (the flashlight,  the car keys etc.). Nary a mention about consuming the Luck score though. Thanks.

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ragr

A Luck Roll, either group or individual, is a simple pass/fail based on the current lowest score in the group or individual score. No points are consumed in the Test and neither can points be spent on it. 

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Odovacer

Thank you. I guess it's entirely within my purvue as Keeper to cause the Luck to be "consumed" with each use (particularly if an Investigator asks for one). Since I have as yet to play a session, are there long term, unintended consequences for this consumption I haven't foreseen? I've noted in some threads on forums, Keepers lamenting player abuse of the Luck mechanic, though I believe that mostly concerns the Optional Rule for adjusting rolls.

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ragr

There is no possibility of abuse of the mechanic because it's entirely optional in 7e. If you opt to use it then players will use it but that isn't abusing it. Don't use it if you're not happy with it.

 

Luck will be consumed with each roll in any case as you spend to affect a roll on a 1-1 basis. Calling for a Luck roll is in the purview of the Keeper so charging for its use is a little perverse.

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klecser
7 hours ago, ragr said:

Luck will be consumed with each roll in any case as you spend to affect a roll on a 1-1 basis. Calling for a Luck roll is in the purview of the Keeper so charging for its use is a little perverse.

 

I agree. Luck as a source of mechanic "capital" is in limited supply. Many published scenarios call for Luck rolls for very mundane things, like "did you remember to bring the rope with you that you didn't write on your character sheet." If you start "charging" for these uses, by reducing Luck, you are communicating to players that every little thing they do based on Luck automatically gets harder and harder and harder for them. Why should Luck follow diminishing returns? I'd be real interested to read the "abuse of Luck" argument because it a finite resource with consequences when an Investigator has none. Chiefest among them is that a Party with someone with no Luck almost always will fail Group Luck rolls. "Sneaking through a Serpent Person lair, make a Group Luck roll to determine if there are any patrols nearby." I could see people arguing: "I don't want my players to make these rolls and Luck is allowing them to do so!" The problem there isn't Luck. It's anti-narrative/railroading Keeping.

 

What are examples of things in your mind that are situations for Luck rolls @Odovacer ? I think this is an important question here because I'm getting the impression that  what qualifies as a Luck roll might mean something different to you than it does in my brain.  An alternate way to phrase the question: What is the "worst-case" scenario that you fear? What will your plan be for dealing with that?

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Odovacer
On 14/03/2019 at 06:15, ragr said:

There is no possibility of abuse of the mechanic because it's entirely optional in 7e. If you opt to use it then players will use it but that isn't abusing it. Don't use it if you're not happy with it.

 

Luck will be consumed with each roll in any case as you spend to affect a roll on a 1-1 basis. Calling for a Luck roll is in the purview of the Keeper so charging for its use is a little perverse.

 

Perverse? Sanity is a limited and variable resource as are hit points. So I don't think looking at Luck similarly is perverse.

 

"Abuse" was probably the wrong term to use. Of course if it's available the players may use it. It's their right. I took the term from some online discussions and on reflection I believe the issue was with one-shots where players didn't have to be concerned with the long term consequences of using up all their luck and would use their Luck to affect situations more than they would normally,  if you get me.

 

I'm just exploring the rules. I've yet to play a game. I like the idea of diminishing Luck (how much luck can a person have?). However,  I can see your point that if the Keeper requests a Luck roll, the players shouldn't be forced to consume something they didn't call for. On the other hand,  if they call for a Luck roll to bail them out of a situation,  then I don't have a problem saying it'll cost them a Luck point. 

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klecser
13 minutes ago, Odovacer said:

On the other hand,  if they call for a Luck roll to bail them out of a situation,  then I don't have a problem saying it'll cost them a Luck point. 

 

This is what I was waiting to hear. Players should not be "calling for a Luck roll to get out of a situation."  That is NOT what the Luck statistic is intended to do.

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ragr

Agree again with klecser; Luck is not the same as San or Hit Points and shouldn't be viewed that way. It's a specific, optional resource called upon in a small number of clearly defined situations. Luck will naturally diminish when used as stated.

 

As for one-shots, yes you will get big Luck dumps by players - I've done it myself in a con game, spending 60 points in a particularly perilous situation and it resulted in a great piece of narrative addition to the game. Naturally, and quite rightly, for the rest of the game I was a virtual pariah in the eyes of the other players and it created added tension and a spectacular payback at the end of the game. Without that Spend though, I'd have been out of the game within the first hour; no fun in that.

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klecser
11 minutes ago, ragr said:

As for one-shots, yes you will get big Luck dumps by players - I've done it myself in a con game, spending 60 points in a particularly perilous situation and it resulted in a great piece of narrative addition to the game. Naturally, and quite rightly, for the rest of the game I was a virtual pariah in the eyes of the other players and it created added tension and a spectacular payback at the end of the game. Without that Spend though, I'd have been out of the game within the first hour; no fun in that.

 

This. The primary question both players and Keepers should ask themselves is: What actions can we all take that will make for an interesting story? Interesting stories frequently don't turn out the way that Keepers expect, and that violation of expectation can be a big source of anxiety.  But Keepers need  to also consider the potential anxiety caused to players by engaging in actions that can make it be perceived that the Keeper doesn't want the players to succeed. A Keeper may not INTEND that, but they may be inadvertently communicating that through their decisions.  It is possible that a player could deliberately spend Luck in a mean-spirited way. But that is a problem with that player's approach to role-playing, not a system problem. The fix for that is communication with players, not alteration of mechanics.  Sometimes I feel like mechanics are used as a scapegoat for Keeper/player conflicts so that people don't have to engage with the real issues. I'm not saying that is true of the TC. It is an omnipresent challenge of the hobby.

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Odovacer
1 hour ago, klecser said:

… Players should not be "calling for a Luck roll to get out of a situation."  That is NOT what the Luck statistic is intended to do.

 

Forgive me, I come from rules oriented systems for RPG, boardgames, CCGs and table top wargaming. Call of Cthulhu seems like a bit of fresh air. It's rules lite, very narrative and free flowing. I do get that and I'm pumped to play a game,. Really pumped and I can't remember the last time I was this excited to start a new game. I'm certainly not against bending rules or putting the dice away for playing an RPG. I've done it lots. I just like to have a clear, fair, consistent vision.

 

If a player asks the Keeper, "Do I have a crowbar in my trunk?" or "Did I leave a box of bullets in the glove box?" or whatever, aren't they essentially calling for a Luck roll? (Assuming the Keeper doesn't hand wave the situation for the players).

 

I've read through quite a few scenarios and I see the Luck mechanic as structured into the story line. That's a no-brainer. It's the arbitrary use I'm trying to get a handle on.

 

Also:

 

1 hour ago, ragr said:

Agree again with klecser; Luck is not the same as San or Hit Points and shouldn't be viewed that way. It's a specific, optional resource called upon in a small number of clearly defined situations. Luck will naturally diminish when used as stated.

 

But only diminished when the Optional Rule for affecting certain dice rolls, correct?

 

1 hour ago, ragr said:

As for one-shots, yes you will get big Luck dumps by players - I've done it myself in a con game, spending 60 points in a particularly perilous situation and it resulted in a great piece of narrative addition to the game. ... Without that Spend though, I'd have been out of the game within the first hour; no fun in that.

 

I'm absolutely in favour of the spectacular narrative outcome. Some of my best D&D moments resulted from hand-waved situations, on the spot rules modifications which resulted in frenzied die rolls and frantic moments.

 

On 14/03/2019 at 14:05, klecser said:

…  I'd be real interested to read the "abuse of Luck" argument because it a finite resource with consequences when an Investigator has none. Chiefest among them is that a Party with someone with no Luck almost always will fail Group Luck rolls.

 

I forgot about the Group Luck rolls and the player with the Lowest Luck in the dynamic. Which is what ragr noted above in his experience. So, there are natural consequences for using your luck. And that is one of the keys I was looking for. Again, no real game experience :)

 

Thanks for all your points. Very helpful.

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andyl
10 minutes ago, Odovacer said:

If a player asks the Keeper, "Do I have a crowbar in my trunk?" or "Did I leave a box of bullets in the glove box?" or whatever, aren't they essentially calling for a Luck roll? (Assuming the Keeper doesn't hand wave the situation for the players).

 

In a way.  Sometimes I would let them roll luck, sometimes I would just say yes -- if you are a mobster you probably do have bullets in your glove box, sometimes I bounce it back to them if it is a situation they control - is it likely that you have a crowbar in your trunk, if so why?

 

Sometimes I nearly always ask for a luck roll if it is a situation outside the player's control such as the players asking if there is a knife handy on a kitchen counter-top in a house they are investigating. 

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ragr
1 hour ago, Odovacer said:

Also:

 

But only diminished when the Optional Rule for affecting certain dice rolls, correct?

 

Yes. What you'll probably find is that the players will set their own Luck dynamic and the score will fluctuate. Some will spend often, others will be more conservative, saving it for 1-5 point fails only. Some like big spends and dramatic statements, others shy away from that. Some will be frivolous, others will hoard. It will be in their control though and that's really where you want it as Keeper. I've had no concerns about Luck at all since 7e emerged and I've honestly experienced no problems at all. I suspect you'll be fine with it.

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mvincent
6 hours ago, ragr said:

As for one-shots, yes you will get big Luck dumps by players - I've done it myself in a con game, spending 60 points in a particularly perilous situation and it resulted in a great piece of narrative addition to the game. Naturally, and quite rightly, for the rest of the game I was a virtual pariah in the eyes of the other players and it created added tension and a spectacular payback at the end of the game. Without that Spend though, I'd have been out of the game within the first hour; no fun in that.

 

Quoted For Truth. I too was once concerned about Luck spending abuses in my Con games, but I'm not anymore for this exact reason. Players pay money for Con games... they might as well enjoy them.

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klecser
5 hours ago, andyl said:

In a way.  Sometimes I would let them roll luck, sometimes I would just say yes -- if you are a mobster you probably do have bullets in your glove box, sometimes I bounce it back to them if it is a situation they control - is it likely that you have a crowbar in your trunk, if so why?

 

andyl has started us off with some examples addressing your concern.

 

6 hours ago, Odovacer said:

If a player asks the Keeper, "Do I have a crowbar in my trunk?" or "Did I leave a box of bullets in the glove box?" or whatever, aren't they essentially calling for a Luck roll? (Assuming the Keeper doesn't hand wave the situation for the players).

 

Yes. Now, why is that a problem?  There are several ways that you can resolve this situation. One way is: "Do you have that item written on your character sheet?" "No." "Ok. Stores open at 8 AM tomorrow morning."  You can also hand-wave it and straight up say: Yes, you do!"  What you do depends upon the balance of storytelling and challenge you want in a game.  In CoC, building dramatic tension can be a really powerful thing. It may seem snide to say "you gotta wait until tomorrow to buy it," but the function of that doesn't have to be putting needless roadblocks in front of the player. It could be that they just started this investigation, they went in unprepared, and you are cluing them to the fact that they need to prepare better.  Or, if it is at the end of the session, everyone is exhausted and wants to get to the action. Under those circumstances you might say: Yeah, you happen to have one there. And Luck rolls come in for the "in betweens."

 

The purpose of the Luck statistic is not to give players a means to be able to avoid having to work to accomplish goals. It is ultimately up to the Keeper how they want to manage Luck. That doesn't make the system flawed. It makes it so that a Keeper has one more tool in their toolbox to work with.

 

At the end of the day, CoC Keepers need to help their players understand expectations for how to play an investigative role-playing game. Luck is not there to remove that aspect of Keeping.

 

Edit: Respect to mvincent's QFT and I agree. (Following is not directed at any particular person: just practical musings) Why NOT let players enjoy Con games?  Any game? Why remove agency from them to influence the outcome of a story, given that it isn't that big of an influence anyway? What's the worst that can happen?  They blow all of their Luck to get an Extreme success after rolling a 92? Why is that bad? Why don't Keepers want that?  Why DON'T they seem to want theri players to succeed? I've said this recently, but if people want to enjoy Keeping more the quickest way to do that is to accept that the players are telling the story just as much as the Keeper. The answer to "How will this session turn out?" should always be "I don't know!"

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DoctorXer

To me luck is a great mechanic that saves an investigator from a disastrous event the would have prematurely ended a scenario. Plus you can weave the incredible action that saves them into the story. 

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