Help with Botch guidelines & examples per ability

I wish someone could give me some hints about the botch procedure. Perhaps this is yet found somewhere in the forum, but could not find it.

1.- How many botch dices are rolled?

Unless specifically specified in the rules, I need some fast&easy system, so I' ve decided to roll as many botch dices as the difficulty "magnitude" of the roll.

The "difficulty" magnitude of the roll is the magnitude of the spell or 1/3 of the difficulty for abilities, rounding up. For example:

Casting a spell level 25, 5 botch dice
Climbing a wall difficulty 12+, 4 botch dice
Failing an attack dice roll versus a TOTAL Defense roll= 20, 7 botch dice

This way, perhaps there is a lot more botch dices than average, but it does not matter, it just needs to be compensated with the effects of the botch.

2.- Once you get a botch, you can spend confidence to avoid it (unless a long term activity). Lets asume the botch goes on.

3.- Finally, you decide the level of the tragedy, depending on the number of 0`s rolled.

So here we are. My imagination has a limit, my wish-list is to get some ideas for increasing botches per skill. The problem is determine different levels of the botch.
I ve found some good hints for combat botches in Lords of Men (page 126). Weapon Breaks, Hit ally, and so on. Lets say, what could be the difference between getting a single 0 or 5 0`s while doing a Leadership, a Swim or a Chirurgy roll.

Lets say Area Lore.
1x0: Lost some hours; 2x0: Lost 1 day, 3x0: Lost half week, 4x0: Lost 2 weeks

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

EDIT (19 Sept 2015)
I try to make a quick resume of some posible increases in the amount of botch dices, with Basic stressful / time critical situation = 1 Botch Dice

In combat +2
Extreme Heat/Cold/Wind +1
Too much/low Sound/Light +1
Doing something against your personality / Fear +1
Unstable Ground +1

Hostile Aura + Extra Botch dice depending on the Aura Level
Using Raw Vis + Extra Botch dice depending on the Number of Pawns used

Normal, stressful circumstances involve one botch die.

You add botch dice based on the conditions that are present or adverse to the action being taken. Combat, generally probably adds another botch die, YSMV.

  1. Making the number of botch dice a function of the difficulty just makes it more likely to fail in some spectacular manner. This is definitely not in the Rules As Written (RAW) and I wouldn't want to play in such a saga. You say it doesn't matter, but a single botch is pretty bad in almost all situations. Casting a 25th level spell and having to deal with 5 botch dice means I'm not going to want to cast them unless I've invested a lot of time and effort into mastering it, just to avoid such a high risk. Consider that casting in a different aura adds the magnitude to the botch dice, you're in a Faerie 7 aura? Add 7 botch dice. It's a 25th level spell under your system and you have 12. That's pretty insane. And if it's a ritual, under your rules, would you also be adding botch dice vfor the number of pawns of vis used in it? Even more punitive.

  2. That's not a bad use of confidence, I generally like it, especially in cases of a defensive botch, changing the botch defense total of 0 with a 0+ Defense is a great deal.

The rule of thumb I use is to allocate one botch die for each additional stressful or error-inducing problem.

For example:

Casting a spell in a stressful / time-critical situation = 1 botch die.
Visibility is limited = +1 botch die.
Slippery ground = +1 botch die.
Narrow footing = +1 botch die.

Thus, fighting in limited visibility with narrow, slippery footing is a 4-botch-dice scenario. Same with casting a spell in similar conditions.

Note that spells get extra botch dice from things like hostile auras and use of vis, so botch dice numbers can get big quick.

Casting a spell while inside an insanely hot, burning church in a level 7 infernal aura with cloying smoke that is both hindering visibility and making it hard to breathe while molten lead droplets rain from the ceiling and infernal spirits keep howling around you while battling a demonic swordsman? That's 13 botch dice if it is a normal infernal aura, and potentially 20 botch dice if it's one of those nasty double-botch auras. Definitely don't want to be rolling a 0!

The house rule I use is one stress dice, with an extra dice being added then something very significant justifies it; and generally speaking each additional dice represents an order of magnitude of increased risk. Adding a few smallish risks doesn't add a dice each.
I generally dislike the probability that a character might screw-up regularly, and like the games to be more heroic or cinematic. Need to encourage risk to help pull that off.
That said, it took me a long time to move away from 4e botch rules too and sometimes I forget that those older rules are not raw now.

The longer I play and SG, the less I like the overall rules, such as they are, for botching. I don't object to the concept of a spectacular failure, per se. But in Ars, where it is common, if not suggested in the rule book, that grogs exist to protect the magus until he can deal with a threat with his magic, and his magic fails spectacularly causing the magus to go into Twilight, it can come very close to a TPK situation (everyone except for the magus who is immune to damage while in Twilight, but when he comes back he might be in big trouble without his entourage). And I generally prefer that players choose when their magi and companions exit the saga, perhaps aided by signs of bad luck, such as a botching often in combat, especially on the defensive side.

I've mused about this before, the idea of a defense botch not having the defense total being treated as a zero and setting it to the defense base defense total (still probably bad), but instead setting a timer on the overall life of the character, allowing the player and SG to come to some agreement as to how the character ultimately exits the saga. It gives the player some control over the narrative but honors the fact that there was a spectacular failure at a really bad time, just that the effect is deferred.

Yes, Agree totally JL. Kind of related is my stance on character death, which is to say that an unplanned death is often anticlimactic result for a player, so either avoid them or make them mean something. How? Well I've no great answer that works across all styles of game yet.

Here are some examples or estimates of my base assigned botch dice:

1: Casting a spontaneous spell in a safe location. Anything else with some risk but in a controlled setting.
2: Casting a spell in a relatively safe location but not under as much control, such as on a raft on a relatively calm river.
3: Attacking or casting a spell in combat.
4: Attacking or casting a spell in combat in poor conditions, such as during a downpour.

My solutions to the threat of the botch is to be gentler with the effects of the botch than I certainly could be and to give a way out if there's a chance of a TPK like that suggested. The one I still dislike is the mentioned total of 0 for a Defense Total. You could have a +20 from spells, Abilities, etc. and roll a botch to drop that to 0. If a non-botch 0 would have resulted in a Light Wound, now your dead. Too extreme. Maybe something more like the roll counts as -5 but can't take the total below 0 or something like that.

What about giving the chance to survive a fatal wound by taking a good amount of aging points? The character is incapacitated and gains a number of aging points proportionated to how much he goes "below zero". This saves the character from sudden death, but significantly shortens his overall lifespan, giving the player the chance to prepare a meaningful exit strategy.

I try to make a quick resume of some posible increases in the amount of botch dices, with Basic stressful / time critical situation = 1 Botch Dice

In combat +2
Extreme Heat/Cold/Wind +1
Too much/low Sound/Light +1
Doing something against your personality / Fear +1
Unstable Ground +1

Hostile Aura + Extra Botch dice = Aura Level
Using Raw Vis + Extra Botch dice = Number of Pawns used

I agree Total defense 0 is a killer, same as the Open ended several 1's in a row. Lets say a group with 5 grogs botches his defense against another enemy group, every one is dead in just one shot. In order to increase the long term survival of the players, I decided a few house rules:
1.- Double the "Incapacitated" value. So, a normal character gets increasing level of wounds with damage up to 5, 10, 15 and 40 instead of 20.
2.- Use an optional rule of getting a Flaw plus being incapacitated instead being killed.
3.- Still need to agree to limit the roll of doubling 1's to a maximum of +20

Hostile auras vary by aura type. Most are additional botch dice equal to the aura strength, but there are some that apply twice as many botches. A faerie aura with this kind of effect may also mitigate the results a bit.

Adding +2 botch dice simply for being in combat seems harsh. A combat is a stressful situation, but personally I'd count 'in combat' as being the stressful situation and not add any botch dice beyond the default 1 for stress. Obviously if the combat has further factors these might add more botch dice (bad footing, sun in your eyes, driving rain, in a crowd, partially restrained, feet turned into duck's feet, etc.)

Total defence of 0 is only killer if:
a) the attacker rolls really well
b) the attacker is naturally really scary in combat (e.g. a dragon)
c) the defender is naturally really weedy in combat (e.g. no armour or passive defences)

I find the optional flaw rule is sufficient.

Putting 'dead' at 40 damage means you may as well simply rule that damage can't inflict dead unless the SG decides it does.

Also, why do you need to agree to a maximum dice limit? Not to say you shouldn't, but the odds of a dice value above 20 showing up are pretty low, and the odds of a dice value above 30 are exceedingly low. If you are seeing consistent strings of 1s on combat attack rolls, the die itself might be faulty and skewed towards 1.

For the purposes of combat resolution, unless there are other combatants that win the day incapacitating (16 damage) is dead. A basic weapon, such as an axe has +4 attack and +6 damage. Assuming an average die roll that's a score of 16 In damage, which will incapacitate someone without any armor, and this is ignoring dexterity,strength and any skill on the attacking side and any soak bonuses on the defending side. I could make the argument (and will, if necessary) that in many cases that these will be a wash. So, on average with easily acquired weapons, defense total of 0 is very often death for even average combatants.

It's a bit genre-specific, but I've always liked the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG game mechanic, in which no one ever important actually died unless it was dramatically appropriate - rather, when they took enough damage, they would not be playable for a set amount of time: either they were dead (and awaiting resurrection), or they were in a coma, or they escaped and were working on their cunning revenge plan, or whatever.

The length of time they remained unplayble was dependent on how many...well basically Plot Points (karma points? I forget the name) the player decided to spend on resurrecting them. If you had a lot, you could rez them in the next adventure. If you had none, it would take years.

Agree. I tried and made some grogs with +17 attack and +10 damage using inexpensive spears and hachets.

Agree. The idea of getting flaws + incapacitated instead being killed is to solve this problem. The flaw earned should be minor or major depending on the amount of damage.