Repeated attempts with non-botching stress die

There are a number of situations where you succeed if you beat a certain difficulty with a stress die without botch dice.
One example is penetrating magic resistance with a mastered spell at R:Arc.
Another is dispelling a spell with Unraveling the Fabric of .
A third is hitting a target a mile away with an arrow, assuming you are Cautious with Bow - and have enough arrows :slight_smile:

It just seems "wrong" that you can just keep rolling until you succeed... and note that if every attempt takes a round, and you are at it 8 hours/day for a month, you are about as likely as not to roll at least five 1s in a row followed by at least a 5, i.e. to roll at least 160 on your stress die. Is there any canonical way to resolve this, and to provide penalties to "excessively repeated" attempts, other than common sense and troupe agreement?

Heh, is frowned upon enough in most stories. YSMV though. in games I've run I've hit players with unexpected consequences of gaming the mechanics. If you need 5 1s to succeed then you're really not going to pass, plus that should be a situation that leads to botches and strangeness.

A simple way to fix it is to make those scenarios stressful. Ask JL.

Yes, 100%.
So unless you have a player who absolutely wants to rule-law you because "It is not forbidden by the rule", that should be enough.

If you want something supported by rule, any activity can be considered as tiring after a while.
I don't practice archery anymore, but I can tell you that after shooting 50 arrows, you are not as fresh as you were when you started. It does not take much strength, but concentration. If you are well trained, you can endure much longer I am sure, yet as innocuous as it seems it takes some resources. So it would be reasonable that for any activity requiring some modicum of concentration, you take a Fatigue level per hour of activity.

Otherwise, you strictly follow the rule: there are no rule to say that after trying X many hours, the magus will succeed without the player having to roll dice. So then, the only way to resolve the issue is to have the player rolls every f***ing dice. 360 dice for one hour...

I made some quick statistics :mrgreen: Assuming that he needs to achieve five 1s in a row, followed by any number giving a result between 64 and 320 (even more since he could still roll a one, but I wanted to keep the math simple)
He has a base chance of 0.1^5 per attempt, so 0.001 %, better than the lottery, yet...
Assuming one attempt per round (10s), that 360 attempts an hour, he has about 0.4% chance of success. (The math is the following: chance of not rolling 5 1s in 360 attempt: (1-0.1^5)^360, so chance of having at least 5 1s is 1-(1-0.1^5)^360).
If he keeps doing that for 10 hours, his chances increases to 3.5%.
Once he breaches the 100 hours mark (so 36'000 attempts), his chance will be 30.2% to have rolled 1 followed by another four 1s...

Since there is no rule preventing a magus to attempt that, but there is equally no rule to shorten the process that you can succeed by sheer dumb luck and persistence, the only way to solve this issue is to play it out...
I would say, with your friends, you decide one day to make this sacrifice and bite the bullet and to waste three hours of good gaming and you make him go through the process. I believe once should be enough to solve forever the issue.

By the way, that's how the companions and grogs of a magus trying to achieve a stupidly high score through only luck should feel: they are looking at an idiot who keeps repeating and repeating the same formula until something different happen than the one hundred times before. Only truly desperate person would ever try that.

If having the player actually, physically roll the dice doesn't seem enough, ask him to do a push up before each attempt. :laughing:

Sadly, that doesn't work as well with games played over electronic media. But feel free to say "This is beyond your capabilities. It doesn't work, no matter how often you try."

SG fiat is a great tool when used properly.

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Yes, I absolutely hate the fact that the rules allow for a Monte Carlo approach to success when there is no penalty to failure. It's just contrary to fun if a player attempts to actually do it. In my experience, though, it's an attempt by the player to justify that something has happened or will happen, because it is theoretically possible within the bounds of the rules as written. That's also against fun, because it removes any effort on the part of the character to achieve an unlikely result. Unlikely results are the places where stories work best.

That being said, I'm not a huge fan of botching, either. Botches tend to come at the worst possible time for me as an SG, when I'm rooting for the characters to succeed and progress the story. A botch might be an opportunity for a story, I get that, but they also require that I have a response to the effects of the botch ready, too. Not always an easy feat.

Isn't this already covered in the core rules by the Concentration ability? From page 64:

A failed Concentration roll then would give an SG a clear basis for saying 'no, sorry, you can't keep trying, you are just not going succeed at this'.


A couple of problems with that approach. The spell never fails, it just doesn't reach a high enough result that satisfies the player's requirements. In nearly all cases where I've seen this discussed, it's presumed that the casting score is greater than the spell level, which makes the die roll moot. In both of the OPs examples, the spell is still cast, though it has no effect and the bow is still shot, though the arrow doesn't reach its desired target. Are these considered failures? Certainly not in the case of spell casting.


Hmm. I actually like this approach very much. Straightforward and applicable to more than just magic.

GM: You were attempting to cast a spell on someone, and you failed to do so even though the spell worked.

That counts well enough for me.


Archer: What do you mean I failed? I successfully shot the arrow! The fact that the barn dodged doesn't matter....



Oh good! I like this.

My solution is that "casting a spell multiple times, trying to get a different result, is by definition a Ceremonial casting."

Or alternately, "You've already tried your best. something magically significant needs to change in order to get a different result on your attempt." So if they want to wait until sunrise/sunset, or spend some vis, or something - let them re-roll the quality die. Otherwise, they only get simple die rolls.

Also, each try takes time. If the player wants to spend the whole day standing somewhere, re-casting the same spell 1000 times... well. Crazy wizards, yes. But I'd definitely call for concentration rolls, at the very least.

Also, If there's only a 0.00001% chance of succeeding, as a GM I'm not allowing the player to try more than once or twice. It's plain impossible for your Magic Theory understandings.

In our saga the rule is: you can try 1 or 2 times, after it becomes stressful because you are not getting what you want. And when it becomes stressful, the 0 for a botch test is always something the player wants to avoid.

This way we avoid that issue.

For items, however, it plainly remains. But for items, unless it's finesse-related, they always do what is needed, and if it's finesse-related, then it's stressful, and yes, you can kill yourself with a badly botched finesse roll, or lose your lab, material or whatever the (annoyed) SG decides (if needed; often the player just realize he is going way out of the normal feeling of a game).

Present house rule in the PbP Saga I'm starting here:
Spell Mastery and the Monte Carlo simulation
The rules state that one may use a stress die to cast spells, if they have mastered a spell and are in relaxed situations, in order to get a chance at an exploding die roll. This is fine, however, one is never relaxed when working on a Monte Carlo situation, to cast a spell until they get a desired exploding die roll. Casting a spell more than 3 times in a row will result in all subsequent attempts at casting being in a stressful situation, with full risks of botching. After 9 times casting (the same spell), each subsequent casting will incur an additional botch die. (If you can't tell, I hate the premise of the Monte Carlo simulation available within the RAW).

This avoids the double rolling situation of concentration rolls being a gateway to further casting. It allows players to try multiple times, if they desire. There just becomes an element of risk, and that risk increases the more they push themselves. Note, these rules do not apply to combat, only the repeated casting of the same spell to chase an outlier result in the "relaxed" environment. Rules that apply a reduction to botch dice still apply.

I don't think we ever roll anything but Stress Dice.
Even for Mastered Spells, which just have reduced number of Botch dice

Well, there's that argument to make, too, that all rolls should be stressful, and nonstress situations should probably just be Ability+Characteristic+6... But that is a house rule.

I can already see this going well.

By this time, I'm giving the player MANY additional botch dice, since their concentration had run ragged did to repetition. There is no longer no risk for botching.