How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

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How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#1 Postby islan » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:11 am

From what I can gather, before anyone rolls anything, it is determined who it is that is attempting the action and who it is assisting in the action. They then both roll the same skill with the same modifiers and the acting person gets a +1 bonus for every success and Raise the assistant makes.

Now, the problem with that is for the acting person to get any bonus at all, the assistant must at least make a success; but if that's the case, the assistant would have succeeded at the action had they been acting on their own instead of assisting! And if the assistant doesn't make a success anyway, the acting character might as well had performed on their own.

I started thinking about making it so that whoever rolls the highest becomes the "acting" character, with everyone else becoming assistants. But honestly, the only help that would be is in, at most, getting an extra Raise on the attempt (and in most cooperative roll situations, I can only see that as being rarely useful).

So, is my interpretation mistaken? Or does cooperative rolls need to be reworked?

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#2 Postby Cutter XXIII » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:54 am

I think you're missing a bit. There are times when it's not so useful, but there are also times when cooperation is just about the only way to get things done.

Recently, in my Deadlands game, we had a guy with 3 wounds, and the doctor had 2 wounds as he tried to heal him. The other characters didn't have the Healing skill (so, with d4-2 couldn't do anything by themselves). Only the doctor was qualified to be the "acting character." Under the doctor's direction, they started gathering gauze, boiling water, making the patient comfortable, etc., while making rolls to assist and spending bennies to make sure they got at least a success.

In the end they managed to turn that -5 modifier into a -1, and the patient was healed of all but one wound. Without that cooperation, the failed Healing roll probably would have Incapacitated him.
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#3 Postby mac40k » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:56 am

The key phrase is time sensitive. Sure, one guy could complete the task on his own, but it might take all day and then some. By cooperating, the time to successfully complete the activity is reduced. It's up to the GM to decide by how much.

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#4 Postby Tavis » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:58 am

The uses I have found for co-operative rolls are as follows:

1) In situations where either a number of successes are required to achieve the ends desired (four successes needed to make it across the icy lake)

2) In cases where time is of the essence and a raise will cut that time down

3) In cases where a raise will provide increased success (Notice rolls for searching a room, for example)

4) In situations where a Skilled character is aiding an unskilled character to do something (In which case the unskilled character - who would be the leading character in this case would have an additional -2 to the roll, for being unskilled, but the assisting character can help the unskilled one achieve a success ... perhaps where both characters are climbing a cliff)
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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#5 Postby Clint » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:00 am

islan wrote:Now, the problem with that is for the acting person to get any bonus at all, the assistant must at least make a success; but if that's the case, the assistant would have succeeded at the action had they been acting on their own instead of assisting!


Which is exactly the reason the rule works as it currently does.

There is less drama in an "urgent task" where if multiple players roll and any one of them succeeds, then the entire attempt succeeds. Even with a bonus from an aiding character, the lead character still has a chance of failure, which is where the tension and excitement of the situation comes into play.

Not to mention how those aiding could turn a normal success into a raise for an increased effect from the roll.
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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#6 Postby islan » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:18 am

Clint wrote:
There is less drama in an "urgent task" where if multiple players roll and any one of them succeeds, then the entire attempt succeeds. Even with a bonus from an aiding character, the lead character still has a chance of failure, which is where the tension and excitement of the situation comes into play.


But why would players actually opt to make their "urgent task" more dramatic with a greater chance of fail? For instance, take the example in the book under Cooperative Rolls where the two characters are making Investigation checks. Players would be far better off investigating on their own rather than helping one another, as it be much more likely for them to succeed.

Cutter XXIII wrote:Recently, in my Deadlands game, we had a guy with 3 wounds, and the doctor had 2 wounds as he tried to heal him. The other characters didn't have the Healing skill (so, with d4-2 couldn't do anything by themselves). Only the doctor was qualified to be the "acting character." Under the doctor's direction, they started gathering gauze, boiling water, making the patient comfortable, etc., while making rolls to assist and spending bennies to make sure they got at least a success.


Okay, so the main thing of that example is that the doctor had Wound modifiers that the other characters weren't experiencing. However, not only were the other characters rolling d4-2 for being unskilled, but should've also been receiving an extra -3 penalty for the wounds of the guy they are trying to heal. So they are all rolling d4-5 and therefore have to roll a 9. Now, you said they spent bennies in attempts to get at least a Success, but had they been trying to heal the guy on their own they would have actually succeeded in healing one Wound if they at least managed to roll that 9. So, for example in that situation, the assistant could work hard and get a 14, which gives the Doctor a +2 bonus, but then the Doctor could still botch the roll with his (-5+2=) -3 penalty; in which case, the d4-2 assistant would have been better off doing it himself!

Now I can see one bonus: characters who are rolling to assist in Cooperative Rolls are not affected by such things as Critical Fails or Natural 1 on the Skill Die; at least I assume, as it is not stated. In other words, they can't hurt the outcome, and they are still able to apply their Wild Die result in the cases where their roll of a Natural 1 would otherwise have had disastrous results. But that is still a very specific instance.

PS

I'm starting to think the best way of changing Cooperative Rolls would be to have assistants not be affected by external penalties (using the doctor case as an example, the assistants wouldn't receive the extra -3 penalty). I am also pondering the idea that whoever rolls highest automatically becomes the lead person, as that has worked very well in other roleplaying games I have put it in, but I am becoming quite uncertain if that would work in Savage Worlds.

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#7 Postby darkpaladin45 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:31 am

How I explain it to my players is that the character that is assisting is only making the roll for the assist, not the actual action. Because of that, the roles have to be defined before the action is taken. This typically plays out in-game as the character with the strongest skill takes the action, and the characters with the weaker skill assist. Yes, there are going to be times when the acting character will fail, but it happens.

If you were going to use your "everyone rolls, and highest takes the action" rule, I would consider adding a penalty of -1 for those assisting that do not succeed on the roll. Otherwise, it could degenerate into every character at the table rolling on the off chance that they get lucky on the dice. You could also limit those being able to assist to only those that have a die in the skill.

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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#8 Postby Cutter XXIII » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:36 am

islan wrote:However, not only were the other characters rolling d4-2 for being unskilled, but should've also been receiving an extra -3 penalty for the wounds of the guy they are trying to heal.


No, they weren't healing anyone. They were boiling water and collecting bandages. No minuses for that. (To my mind, that's not a change to the rules, just the GM adjudicating a situation in a way that makes sense.)

And they cannot try to heal on their own. They're Unskilled. That's the point of cooperating.

And it also occurs to me, just from a practical standpoint, how many doctors are going to work on one patient at a time? How many people are going to pick the same lock? Sometimes you need to cooperate because there's just not enough space for more than one character to work.
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#9 Postby Snate56 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:53 am

I see where he's comming from, though.
He's not talking about how many people you can cram around a doorknob, but the very mechanics of the roll. If I roll a d4-2 and get several aces, then the job's done already and the skilled guy doesn't even have to roll.
And the explanation of being unskilled only works if you can't make unskilled skill rolls, whereas in Savage Worlds, you can.


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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#10 Postby Clint » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:55 am

islan wrote:
Clint wrote:There is less drama in an "urgent task" where if multiple players roll and any one of them succeeds, then the entire attempt succeeds. Even with a bonus from an aiding character, the lead character still has a chance of failure, which is where the tension and excitement of the situation comes into play.


But why would players actually opt to make their "urgent task" more dramatic with a greater chance of fail? For instance, take the example in the book under Cooperative Rolls where the two characters are making Investigation checks. Players would be far better off investigating on their own rather than helping one another, as it be much more likely for them to succeed.


That's presuming there is a choice that players can opt to take. The whole point of choosing to "help a friend complete some kind of urgent task" is that multiple characters cannot simultaneously perform the same action and would in fact interfere with one another.

Take investigation. Ever go into the library the night before a paper was due and other people have the books and resources needed. If they work alone, no one gets the paper done, but if they work together (cooperative roll), then they can pass around the resources and help each other ("Oh, I read that; it's in this book!"). Sure, if they all somehow simultaneously had access to the same books at the same time, they could all work independently, but that is not always an option.

I think the disconnect here is the idea that the Cooperative Roll rule exists to always improve the chance of success. It doesn't.

It exists to improve the chance of success when only one person is capable of performing an action within a limited time frame.
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#11 Postby Clint » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:05 am

Snate56 wrote:I see where he's comming from, though.
He's not talking about how many people you can cram around a doorknob, but the very mechanics of the roll. If I roll a d4-2 and get several aces, then the job's done already and the skilled guy doesn't even have to roll.


But they aren't making the roll to perform the action; they are making a roll to help someone perform the action. If they roll several aces, they succeeded at helping, not the action itself.

Snate56 wrote:And the explanation of being unskilled only works if you can't make unskilled skill rolls, whereas in Savage Worlds, you can.


Only if the GM allows it. Much like making a Cooperative Roll is only possible if the GM allows it in the situation.
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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#12 Postby islan » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:10 am

Cutter XXIII wrote:No, they weren't healing anyone. They were boiling water and collecting bandages. No minuses for that. (To my mind, that's not a change to the rules, just the GM adjudicating a situation in a way that makes sense.)


By the rules, they were making a Cooperative Healing roll, and as stated here: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.p ... oll#194305 -- and I quote: "Characters making cooperative rolls face the same penalties as if they were making the roll normally."

Clinit wrote:I think the disconnect here is the idea that the Cooperative Roll rule exists to always improve the chance of success. It doesn't.

It exists to improve the chance of success when only one person is capable of performing an action within a limited time frame.


Okay, that is definitely probably where a disconnect is happening. But that doesn't change the fact that, if an assisting character makes a success, they might have well had done it on their own, and as a player I would personally feel cheated if I uber-raised a roll only to have the leader fail or even just get a success and no Raise.

As another example, consider characters that want to push over a boulder. This is declared by the GM to be a Strength -4 check for one person, so all four characters decide to push it over together. Now, three of the four characters could all succeed at their Strength check, but so long as the leading character fails (probably with modifier by that point), the rock remains in place.[/i]

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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#13 Postby Tavis » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:16 am

islan wrote:But why would players actually opt to make their "urgent task" more dramatic with a greater chance of fail? For instance, take the example in the book under Cooperative Rolls where the two characters are making Investigation checks. Players would be far better off investigating on their own rather than helping one another, as it be much more likely for them to succeed.


Further to the other comments regarding this - assuming that both characters have the same investigation die, then, assuming that there are adequate resources for them to both make the roll at the same time, then they both have the same chance to get a success.

Which means that they'll both get the same information.

If they work together their chance for a raise is increased - which might well garner them additional information within the same time frame.

Of course, they won't know beforehand whether or not a raise will have any additional benefit. If they both roll as individuals and finish just one point shy of a raise ... and they miss a useful piece of information that they would have found with a raise on the roll they can't go back and say 'oh, we were doing a co-operative roll really ...' to give one of them the +1 bonus that would have granted a raise.

And then the library is closed, and there's no more time for research, or the Police have arrived and are securing the crime scene, or the heavy rain has come in and the tracks can be followed no more, or ... enough with the examples.

But still, all are time bound situations where it is desirable to achieve a raise on the roll.
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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#14 Postby Cutter XXIII » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:16 am

islan wrote:
Cutter XXIII wrote:No, they weren't healing anyone. They were boiling water and collecting bandages. No minuses for that. (To my mind, that's not a change to the rules, just the GM adjudicating a situation in a way that makes sense.)


By the rules, they were making a Cooperative Healing roll, and as stated here: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.p ... oll#194305 -- and I quote: "Characters making cooperative rolls face the same penalties as if they were making the roll normally."


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#15 Postby ferret » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:26 am

if an assisting character makes a success, they might have well had done it on their own

The other day, I was helping a friend of mine lay some wood flooring. I was assisting him. Did I help? I think so. The job went faster because I was there to help lay the wood, make simple cuts with a saw, clean up clutter and so forth.
Could I have laid the floor if he were not there? No. I didn't have the skill. Even unskilled, I couldn't have done it. I didn't know how. Only after I studied under him could I do it (Knowledge: Flooring, D4).
The same applies to Cutter's example of the medic.

The rule exists for those situations in which an unskilled person can assist a skilled person do something better. There are some things that you just can't do if you don't have the training, no matter how lucky or determined you are.

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#16 Postby Lord Inar » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:46 am

A compromise (culled from Star Wars) is to make the assist roll a flat TN=4, under the idea that it is easier to successfully take direction to help the act than it is to do the act itself.

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#17 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:47 am

I've modified Cooperative Rolls a lot for my own games, but I've found the general mechanic to be useful. If the purpose of the skill is to get a simple "4" for success, it doesn't seem to make as much sense. However, a goodly portion of the time, my players are trying to do things above and beyond a "simple" application of their skills, so the objective is not merely to succeed, but to get one or more raises (because it's that "extra benefit" of the raise that they really want).

At times, I will allow a player to help with a skill that's different than the primary, applicable skill. Someone is trying to hastily build a mold to make a physical copy of an artifact for some sort of crazy scheme the heroes dreamt up, and Mr. Eagle-Eyes is using his Notice skill to watch for resin that might be leaking out through the plasticene seal, or whatever. I like to encourage my players to think up ways to support each other, so that if there's a critical task, it doesn't just fall to the one person to make a lucky roll; everyone can feel like he's contributed in some concrete way.

I have sometimes bent the mechanic of the Cooperative Roll to allow for cases where a player has two skills that apply to a given task, and one might supplement the other. I'll let him roll one skill as the primary skill, and roll some supporting skill (for instance, a Knowledge area he hardly gets any use out of otherwise, but is especially relevant to his Repair task) to assist the main roll. It's not "as written," but the basic mechanic is something I can work with.

If it's a case of multiple people trying to push a rock, I try to remind myself not to resort to die rolls all the time to see IF the rock gets pushed, the door gets shoved open, etc. Rather, X people with Strength d6 can push the rock ... and if you've got someone with Strength d10, well, he can do the work of two. I might however have them make Vigor tests afterward to see whether or not they're Fatigued from the effort and in need of a short break to recover (which might not be an option if this action is an immediate prelude to combat).
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#18 Postby SlasherEpoch » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:48 am

I rule that cooperative rolls take the time of a single action. Multiple rolls take the time of multiple actions. That's the impetus for my players.

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Re: How are Cooperative Rolls ever useful?

#19 Postby ron blessing » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:16 am

Cutter XXIII wrote:
islan wrote:
Cutter XXIII wrote:No, they weren't healing anyone. They were boiling water and collecting bandages. No minuses for that. (To my mind, that's not a change to the rules, just the GM adjudicating a situation in a way that makes sense.)


By the rules, they were making a Cooperative Healing roll, and as stated here: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.p ... oll#194305 -- and I quote: "Characters making cooperative rolls face the same penalties as if they were making the roll normally."


I'm the only Marshal at my table, amigo. :wink:


I'd call this "assembling and equipment bonus!" :P

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#20 Postby islan » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:26 am

I'm starting to think I am going to with the houserule that assistants don't roll at all, but give an automatic +1 to the leader, +2 if their Trait is d8+. That would keep from having the Student Besting the Master situation, and certainly works well for the Doctor example, but I also plan to be loose with it. Such as in the case of the Investigation example, I would actually have both characters roll, but give them both a +1 bonus as they help one another.


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