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POSSHUM V1.2

POSSHUM V1.2

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Published by Johann Eicher
Role-playing system using independent probabilities for difficulty checks.
Role-playing system using independent probabilities for difficulty checks.

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Published by: Johann Eicher on Dec 17, 2008
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.:
POSSHUM
v
1.2
:.
a roleplaying game system
J. Eicher and D. vd Merwe
The '
P
robability
O
S
uccess using a
S
tandard
H
uman
U
nit
M
easurement' system was designedto give the DM and players greater control over the difficulty and outcomes of complex tests of skill. Based on the popular D20 system of 'Difficulty Classes' it seeks to provide the same easeof use while being more expansive in its application and achieving greater resolution. The basicPOSSHUM approach to establishing the difficulty of a specific action is by multiplyingcomponent probabilities together.To do this however a 'Standard Human' has to first be defined as a healthy 25-year old male in the year 2008who has experienced a 'normal' and simple upbringing having the full scope of normal human physical,emotional and mental capabilities.A 'Standard Human' is thus considered to be able to respond to all challenges as a normal healthy person intheir mid-twenties could and is functioning at 100% 'Standard Human'. Characters should be created bymodifying a 'Standard Human'. That is, starting with a value of 10 (or 100%) for all the Base Attributes.Addition of modifying skills/feats can affect Base Attributes making the person into something more than'Standard'. The players do not get to roll for attributes nor is it necessary to hand out a number of Attributepoints for a player to assign as he pleases (thou of course the DM could do this if he wanted to create a partyof highly powerful characters). A character who through training/serendipity/genetics/augmentation attains anattribute at 200% is responding to situations governed by that attribute with double the proficiency of a'Standard Human' (e.g. a person with 200% Charisma will be able to act, at their best, with twice as muchcharm as a normal human). As a character's attributes grow beyond this point they delve further into the lifeof a 'Super Human'.
A Establishing the RDR
''.
For the firstexample we'll use the simple case of a StandardHuman, say a healthy 25-year old male (said to beoperating at 100% normal human capability) jumpingover a hurdle. Now this shouldn't be a problem for ahealthy person in their mid-twenties and we'dprobably be justified in saying that one such personshould have a 1 in 10 chance of failure taking allpossible extenuating factors into account (e.g. wind,loss of traction, a momentary distraction). Thus, the'Standard Human' has a 0.90 probability of succeeding at jumping over the hurdle, let's call thisthe POSSHUM value. Using 2d20
*
this works out toa Required Dice Roll or 'RDR' value of 4
*2d20 gives greater resolution than 1d20. In the case of a Standard Human having anywhere from a 1% -2.5%chance of fulfilling a task using a single d20 wouldrequire a DM to round off the RDR value to 20.However a character that has say, a 4% chance of completing a task suddenly has to roll at least 19 on ad20. That is, rolling 19 or 20 is considered a success(0.96 x 20 = 19.2), which is 10% chance and far morelenient than 4%. The 2d20 system however (after rounding off) would require the player to roll at least38, which is a far more realistic 5% chance of success.
(40 x (1-POSSHUM)). In this case the average 25-year old character would be required to roll at least avalue of 4 on a 2d20 roll to successfully clear thehurdle.If however, the character had to perform another action while jumping over the hurdle like taking aphotograph, we have two probabilities to deal with.Let's say that the 'Standard Human' has a 1 in 15chance of messing up an individual photograph (e.g.by cutting out someone's face, putting their hand infront of the lens). This corresponds to a POSSHUMvalue of 0.93. As the actions of jumping over a hurdleand taking a photograph are independent actionsand their associated POSSHUM values take intoaccount all extenuating factors involved in therespective skills we can multiply the two values(which are just probabilities) together and used in thefollowing equation to calculate RDR:
RDR
1.
©2008
Angry Badger Roleplaying Games
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=
40
×
1
 Hurdling 
 POSSHUM 
×
 Photography
 POSSHUM 
=
40
×
1
−
0.90
×
0.93
=
40
×
1
0.837
=
6.52
7
 
Therefore, a 'Standard Human' would be required toget at least a 7 on a 2d20 roll to succeed at hurdlingand photography simultaneously.
B Applying character mods
.
ThePOSSHUM values are calculated for a 'StandardHuman' but what happens if the character beingplayed is not 'Standard' (a healthy 25-year oldmale)? In this case the character's percentage of reacting appropriately in a given situation is modifiedeither in the positive, to represent things such astraining in a specialised field or an outstanding baseability (e.g. a Dexterity higher than 10, which isconsidered standard) or in the negative in the caseof handicap. The previous example calculated theProbability Of Success for a Standard Human to takea photograph while hurdling. Let's start with thesimple case of jumping over a hurdle only and use acharacter who is a trained athlete. This person wouldvery likely be responding to this challenge at 130%of a Standard Human and would in fact multiply his2d20 roll appropriately:The RDR for jumping over a hurdle is 4,thus our new character makes his 2d20roll, let's say he gets 10. This value isthen multiplied by 130% (or 1.3) yieldingan effective result of 13. In this way hisexceptional athletic ability is factored intothe calculation and he succeeds by alarge margin.In this scenario the player has to roll at least 4 on a2d20, anything less is considered a critical fail but weshall see how additional complications can makeeven trivial actions difficult.To illustrate how the POSSHUM system works withcomplex characters as well as complex situationslet's give our star athlete a handicap. Let's say hehas Parkinson's disease which reduces hisphotography skill significantly down to 40%. Anormal, healthy 25-year old we said has aPOSSHUM of 0.93 for taking a photograph and in asecond scenario, photographic hurdling, wemultiplied the POSSHUM values for hurdling andphotography together and calculated an RDR of 7.The same thing can be done with the character'sattributes that are being tested to determine how tomodify the 2d20 roll:In this case our character has exceptionalathletic ability, 130% of a StandardHuman but unfortunately his photographicability is handicapped at 40%. Thus bymultiplying the two values together we getthe probability of our tragic hero's successat taking a photograph while jumping over a hurdle, that is, 52% or 0.52. Thereforewith an RDR of 7 the player now has toroll at least 13 on a 2d20 to succeed (7 /0.52 = 13); anything less will result in thecharacter either being distracted, or losingtraction and slipping, or dropping thecamera in mid-spring or any otheinvention of the DM.In the second scenario, though still fairly trivial, it hasin fact become significantly more difficult to for thecharacter to complete the task at hand. ThePOSSHUM system models reality nicely because just as it is almost twice as difficult for the player toroll a 13 instead of a 7 (the RDR for a StandardHuman with 100% athletic and photographic ability) itis arguably twice as difficult for an athlete afflictedwith Parkinson's disease to jump over a hurdle andsuccessfully take a photograph.
C Determining constituenT probs
.
 and mods
One can clearly see how thePOSSHUM system can be used to model thesimplest and even most complex scenarios bymultiplying together constituent probabilities. Oneobvious hurdle (as it were) to overcome is how todetermine the difficulty of constituent actions and theeffect of modifications to the character. For instance,how are we to know that a Standard Human has a 1in 15 chance of failing at hurdles?
Dealing with difficulty and mods
.
 
A large part of deciding on the difficulty of individualactions is at the DM's discretion but can be madesignificantly easier by dividing the constituent actionsbetween three classes. The first class we shall callBase Ability Actions (BAA). This class contains allactions that are not governed by any skill in additionto the 6 standard ability scores: Strength, Dexterity,Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution and Charisma. Anexample of the first class would be jumping over ahurdle. The action of jumping is inherent to humans,any normal person can do it. The second class weshall call Skill Ability Actions (SAA) and it contains allthe actions that require specialised training in a skill.The third class, Intuitive Ability Actions (IAA), is for allthe sundries, those abilities that are quirks providedby an intuitive ability, genetics or anything in additionto the base abilities or academic study. Theseactions usually grant the character an exceptionalability that doesn't require rolling the dice such as'Combat Reflexes' which provides additional attacksof opportunity.Earlier we said that a person trained in athleticswould be far better at hurdles than the StandardHuman, in fact we estimated that he would be 130%better. Now the d20 system has a collection of skillsand feats which are abilities and ability modifiersrespectively. Skills are learned abilities that enablethe character to perform actions which a Standard
2.
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Angry Badger Roleplaying Games
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Human would not be able to. Feats modify either Base Abilities or Skills for example: a person with the'Heal' skill is able to practice field medicine while aStandard Human couldn't, the 'Self-Sufficient' featgrants the character a +2 on heal checks. The
ruleof thumb
is that each modification point in d20 is theequivalent of 10 % (or 1 point) in a POSSHUMgame. A player begins with a Standard Human andadds skills/feats/handicaps to modify the character.So the 'Self-sufficient' feat which grants +2 on healchecks in the d20 system is the equivalent of 20% inPOSSHUM.For the sake of simplicity in POSSHUM a feat suchas 'Athletic', which grants a +2 bonus on Climb andSwim checks would merely grant the character a +2to Dexterity because the Standard Human can bothClimb and Swim (at least, being taught to swim is apart of a standard modern upbringing). Whereas theskill 'Pilot 1' would grant a Standard Human theability to pilot light aircraft. This would bring thecharacter's piloting ability up from about 5%
*
to100%. Any advanced training in piloting an aircraftwould modify the character's piloting ability.In this way we can simplify our previous scenario byallowing the character's simultaneous actions of  jumping and photography to be governed by hisDexterity which would be modified in the positive byhis athletics training (up by 20%) and in the negativeby his Parkinson's (down by 40%). The final value for his Dexterity would thus be 80%.
Character Mods
If our character happenedto have advanced athletics training specialising inhurdle-jumping we could say that his athletic skillwhich was initially at 120% (because he had theAthletic feat) gets pushed up to 140% in the specificcase of hurdling. Thus, whilst jumping over a hurdleand only for the application of jumping over hurdlesthe character's DEX score increases by 20%. Notethat this would be at the DM's discretion.When an action demands only a learned skill (of which the first level usually grants the character 100% ability) the DM does not take Base Attributesinto account: the random fluctuations of characteand environment are governed by the role of the dice(e.g. Piloting a light aircraft through an alpine valley
*The reason an untrained person is granted a 5% proficiency in flight is that a Standard Human who candrive a car arguably has a 1 in 20 chance, givenenough time, to start a plane and get it off the ground.Of course, sustained flight, aerial manoeuvring,responding to weather patterns, aeronautics,navigation, landing etc. should very appropriately bedesignated a significantly lower chance of success. 0% proficiency is reserved only for those cases in which itis utterly impossible for the character to fulfill the task at hand (e.g. he is a quadriplegic).
would be governed by the character's 'Pilot' skill andonly that skill as the skill encompasses his ability toperform all the functions relevant to the skill of piloting).The tables below offer a helpful guide to character modifications but bear in mind that the values are atthe end of the day entirely at the DM's discretion,these values have been tested and work in a realgame situation. The following table is incomplete andprovided as a guide for DMs.
D Combat
.
The basic combat system inPOSSHUM is based on the simple 'roll-against-roll'technique using a single d20. The attacker rolls anattack-roll, the defender a defence-roll. Both rolls aremodified by BAA, SAA, IAA, Armour Class and BaseAttack Bonus. The only adjustment required is thatthe NPC opponents out of a book like the Monster Manual might need to be adjusted relative to theStandard Human scale.
E Criticals
. .
In POSSHUM critical rolls for actionsother than combat are excluded. The probability of rolling 20 on both d20s is
120
×
120
=
1400
which is asignificantly lower probability than 1/20 on a singled20 roll. One calculates the equivalent probability asfollows, where r equals the roll required on both diceto yield a probability of 1/20 (or 0.05%):Thus, '4.47' or less has to be rolled on both dice for acritical failure and equal to or higher than '20 – 4.47= 15.53' on both dice for a critical success. If weround this number down to 4 it yields a 1/25 chanceof critical failure or success rolling 4 and below or 17and above on both dice respectively. Rounding up to5 yields a 1/16 chance of critical failure or successrolling 5 and below or 16 and above both dicerespectively. These numbers do not adequatelyapproximate the 1/20 chance of criticial achieved bya single d20 roll neither do they provide sufficientresolution as a characters will succeed at performingextremely difficult actions with far too much leniency.For instance, an action that has a 2% POSSHUMvalue would be automatically achieved by aStandard Human character who scores a criticalsuccess roll of 16/16 on a 2d20. This is theequivalent of increasing the probability of success to20%! In fact, any time a player rolls at least 20% on2d20 he succeeds. For this reason critical rolls areonly retained for combat in POSSHUM.
3.
120
=
20
×
20120
=
20
2
 
120
=
20
=
20
 
120
=
4.47
 
©2008
Angry Badger Roleplaying Games
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