RPGs and RNG juking

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RPGs and RNG juking

Postby Sieben » Wed May 20, 2015 6:28 pm

I've played cRPGs since I was a kid, but it only became apparent recently how poorly RNG is implemented in traditional D&D style systems. For example, very high impact rolls, such as critical multipliers and hit-or-miss on expensive spells, have a large impact on combat (particularly the beginning of combat).

When I play a module on "very hard mode", I often find myself loading and reloading encounters until I get a favorable string of RNG hits. Conversely, RNG can screw you over in encounters that you would normally steamroll. For example, a kobold sneezing critically on a squishy toon. I think reloading is a nice feature to have (and in fact, all RPGs kind of have this feature. Even on iron-man mode, you have the option to reload from the beginning; it's really just a time sink barrier). But the purpose of "trying again" should be to attempt something different, not to repeat a strategy until it works because of variance.

Oldschool everquest is an example of an RPG where encounters proceed predictably despite RNG. Of course, this is because fights are drawn out with large health pools, and you have a very high ability to control the strength of creatures you engage. Outright resists of direct damage spells are still swingy, but the magic-resistance system is closely tied to level difference, and the only time you're nuking dragons is when you have so many players that it all smooths out.

This criticism is not aimed at any one game in particular. It's probably been brought up a lot before, but I just wanted to see what developers/CRG aficionados thought about single player games with large RNG elements. In particular, why is RNG even a good mechanic? In dungeoncrawl type games, RNG rewards you for over-solving encounters to mitigate against unfortunate rolls (See XCOM). But there are other more obvious ways to reward players for tight play, particularly since RNG can also reward sloppy play.
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RPGs and RNG juking

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Re: RPGs and RNG juking

Postby BlueSalamander » Sat May 30, 2015 12:08 pm

I like the RNG as an RPG mechanic because it brings variety, unpredictability and excitement. I'm much more likely to reload because I played poorly during a combat encounter than because of a feeling that the RNG was not favourable to me.

I wouldn't overestimate the importance of the RNG in combat. Sure, on a single attack or a single spell, depending on the RNG you will either completely succeed or completely fail, but when you look at a whole combat encounter or a whole module, you will get both goods rolls and bad rolls in equal amounts and so the RNG becomes less important in determining the outcome.

It's like the difference between rolling 1d20 or 3d6. If you roll a single d20, your chance of getting 20 is 5% but if you roll 3d6, your chance of getting 18 is just 0.46% and you are much more likely to get an average number.
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