A big lab this time on a big topic: failed resolution, of any kind, for any given set of rules. This is no small thing and may rate as the single most undeveloped topic in the entire activity, to date. Before talking about bad, good, constructive, unconstructive, fun, not fun, or any such thing, we had to back way up and discuss what it even is.
I can’t promise that we actually got anywhere or concluded anything with this discussion, but I do think that some air was cleared and some issues were brought forward. “Reflection necessary for reflection,” perhaps.
Some notions came to me during the session which I didn’t get to, or didn’t want to divert to myself.
For actions which are ordinarily understood as “I can do this,” or at the most extreme, “Anyone can do this,” then the probability of success really isn’t about competence in a positive sense. I think we should recognize it as the diminished chance of failure. Although mathematically it’s merely an inversion, (e.g., saying 25% chance of failure instead of 75% chance of success), I don’t think it’s trivial semantics. I think it’s a much better way to understand what the dice or relevant procedure is even there for.
To be more specific, think of the possible reasons for “failing less.”
- One may be literally more skilled, experienced, or competent in some way, in terms of a level playing field, i.e., basis for comparison. This works very well for narration when one doesn’t fail.
- Similarly, one may interpret “not failing” in terms of pure plot protection, especially for moments in which the action/effects are a bit strained to describe in terms of skill – think in terms of older D&D saving throws, for which being “higher level” can only be interpreted as “you’re more important.”
- Or, should failure should happen to occur, adverse circumstances are already stated and known, or available for incorporation, and are therefore “said again” to explain it.
- Or adverse details are stated de novo, as part of narrating a failure, and even though we had no idea about them before, they make sense in the moment in some way, or are inherent to the action and therefore can be invoked.
I am pretty sure that some of the other participants have similar summaries or conclusions, so I hope they’ll provide them too.