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A Contest of Skills Rule for Microlite74

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A somewhat unusual situation has come up in my campaign, several characters have been coerced into entering a race with a large sum of money -- and more importantly the honor of one of their noble patrons -- at stake. This is one of the few cases where some times of neither player planning nor a single skill roll really seem to be a good way to resolve the situation in both an interesting and fair manner. I thought about this on and off for most of this week. I finally came up with the following "Contest of Skills" rules based on the skill system used in my Microlite74 game.

Contest of Skills

A contest of skills is handled similar to combat, except the opponents aren’t trying to kill one another; they are trying to defeat their opponent with their skills. Like in a combat, opponents in a contest of skills make an initiative roll for each round to determine who "attacks" first in the round. Instead of making a roll of attack bonus vs. Armor Class, each contestant makes the appropriate M74 skill roll based on his class and background. If the attacker’s result is equal or higher than the defender’s result, he causes “skill damage” equal to 1d6 + stat bonus of the stat used by the skill. Skill Damage is removed from a set of Contest Points. At the beginning of the contest, each contestant's Contest Points which are set equal to the score of the stat used by the skill plus the character's level. When a character’s Contest Points fall to 0 (zero) or less, the contest of skills is over, and the loser is defeated (knocked unconscious, humiliated, loses the bet, etc). Contest Points cannot normally be increased during a Contest of Skills – unless someone successfully cheats.

This system is general enough that it could be used for just about any non-lethal contest from the foot race to the top of Dorset's Hill and back in my game this afternoon to a poker game, a singing contest, or even a boxing match. However, it's also very simple and easy to modify if needed to fit a specific contest. For example, in a multi-player poker game, the winner of a round (a hand of cards in this case) could roll "damage" separately against each opponent as different opponents might have dropped out of the hand at different times losing different amounts of poker chips.

I have no idea how well this system will work in play, but I will get a first impression this afternoon. I know it has worked fairly well in my solo testing.

12 comments:
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Timeshadows said...
August 28, 2011 at 12:15 PM  

"Contest Points cannot normally be increased during a Contest of Skills – unless someone successfully cheats." -- Can outside characters offer support, such as in an argument where a friend validates an assertion with facts; or where a champion is cheered back a few CPs; etc.?

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Randall said...
August 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

@Timeshadows: I'd give a bonus to the skill roll for the type of aid from other characters you mention, but there's no reason that a GM could not choose to give back a few lost CP if that makes more sense in a particular contest. M74 rules are meant to be flexible.

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Timeshadows said...
August 28, 2011 at 1:37 PM  

Neat. Thanks for the reply. :)

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Randall said...
August 28, 2011 at 2:03 PM  

@Timeshadows: I appreciate the questions as I want to put Contest of Skills in the new edition of M74 (assuming it works at least "okay" in practice) and questions make me look outside the "box" I tend to think in.

My game starts in about an hour and I'll get to see this in action with players who know nothing about it. I just hope the air conditioner is up to 9 more people in the house, given that it's 107 outside now ::boggled look::

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Timeshadows said...
August 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM  

Yikes!
--I hope the AC did well.

Please let us know how the Contests fared. :)

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Randall said...
August 30, 2011 at 12:26 PM  

The Contest of Skills rule worked well. Dividing the action into "rounds" not only provided a bit of tension but allowed those characters not actually in the the race to notice -- and get evidence of -- the eventual winner cheating.

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Timeshadows said...
August 30, 2011 at 1:01 PM  

Great. I'm glad to hear it.

Do you feel like providing rough details as to how it played out and how those outside of the contest were able to determine the cheating?

If not, thanks for the update regardless.

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armornick said...
September 2, 2011 at 6:41 AM  

Dear Randall

I don't know if you're gonna read this but I'm trying anyway.

I don't know how useful this is, but I've got a fully bookmarked version of your Microlite20 RPG Collection. You can download it here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1811708/Microlite20-RPG-Collection-Spring-2010-Revised.pdf

Just wanted to let you know, maybe so you can distribute this on your site, since the version you have now is a bit broken.

Yours Truly
armornick

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Randall said...
September 2, 2011 at 6:56 AM  

@Armornick: I just downloaded the copy from my site without any problems and from a quick galnce through it, it looks fine. Given it's 600 pages I could have easily missed something. Could you be clearer on what is the matter with the copy here? Thanks.

@Timeshadows: I'll try to find time to do a writeup this weekend. I'm horrible at campaign writeups -- the reason that you seldom see them here.

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armornick said...
September 2, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

The bookmarks in your copy don't seem to work. It could be that the error is in my PDF reader, though.

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Timeshadows said...
September 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM  

Randall: I don't mean to put you out or anything. But, if you would, I'll gladly read it. :D

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Andrew D. said...
September 7, 2011 at 9:36 AM  

Sounds similar to the "Non-Violent Combat" option from my Microlite 20 Fantasy Expansion (www.dominowriting.com/games.html). Great to see that the option, or something like it, works in the real world.

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