I’m running a published adventure (Children of Lilith for Tribe 8) and we’ve reached the second time where it says something along the lines of: And now it is time for the inter-tribal Olympic Games.
So basically there is going to be a whole bunch of tournaments, contests, races etc etc. Lots of wrestling, archery, jousting and various other sports of a fighty-shooty nature. The players want their characters to take part. The book offers no advice on how to run this!
I’ve encountered this lack of guidance before on how to do the game mechanic in scenarios where there are contests and competitions, even if they are non-fighting ones like rally races or Bake Off.
My issue is based on the fact that there are supposed to be dozens or hundreds of other competitors. Maybe thousands, if the players want to enter the RPG equivalent of the London Marathon. And the other entrants are supposed to include talented and experienced contestants. The Grand National doesn’t have kids on seaside donkeys, it has professional jockeys on racehorses.
So if the players enter their racehorses into the Grand National, how do I run it, from a game mechanic perspective?
In games in the past I’ve done it in a minimalist way, but this feels very unsatisfactory, misses out the 40 NPC horses in the race, and means a player will always get the gold medal/racing cup in any sporting event in an RPG:
GM: Roll your Horse Racing skill
Player 1: I succeed by 10%
Player 2: I succeed by 14%.
GM: congratulations Player 2, you have won the Grand National.
Or I could roll individually for the other 40 horses… No, wait. I couldn’t. That would be dull beyond belief.
Or I could get the players to roll for stages of the race: first 5 fences, second 5 fences, etc. But that:
Mucks with the probabilities, and - depending on what skill levels look like in any given system - can guarantee the players will always fail. A 90% Riding skill is a 53% chance of making it thru 6 stages of a race. A 75% Riding skill is 18% and a 50% Riding skill is under 2%.
Annoys the fek out of me as a player when GMs do it in non-sporting context… like you have to make 5 navigation rolls in a row to get your spaceship from Earth to Alpha Centauri.
Still doesn’t take into consideration the NPC contestants, except that they get to ‘cheat’ by not rolling dice!
Or I can invent some sort of accumulator? There are 40 horses. The number of successes you get determines your placement in the race. That obviously works better in systems like World of Darkness, where you have a dice pool which can generate several successes per throw.
Anyone thought of a decent way to tackle this problem? Or seen one in an RPG?
The PCs want to take part in archery contests, knife throwing, wrestling matches, fencing matches, possibly some races and possibly weight lifting.