Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's a Trap!

I've been going through the various variants on the trap game over the last week, trying to understand how they work and how the versions work, but I've been having some problems.  I'm a bit thick in the head sometimes and I have to chew over a thing like a cow chews its cud.

Eventually I just started to do what I do when my mind really refuses to wrap itself around an issue - I make pictures.  This issue seemed to lend itself to a flowchart.  I am a computer dude, so distilling a problem into a flowchart is something I'm trained to do.  Don't try this at home.  I'm a professional.


The blue shapes indicate the optimum path.  The diamonds are decision points - whether to bump, grind, or whatnot.  Each decision point has 4 answers, but only one right.  So for "Guess 1" the player has a 25 percent chance to guess right, and a 75 percent chance to guess wrong.  I follow the whole flowchart down, determining percentages.  Each main decision gets a 'second chance,' as indicated by the Sticky column.

This, I think, is the basic system distilled.  There are a lot of fancy add-ons, but I think that this is it at the core.  Please let me know if I'm on the right track here.

My big worry was that the system seemed pretty hard to beat, even with second chances.  My math indicated that there is a 6.25% chance of success, and a 93.75% chance of failure in the basic system.  That's a tough nut to crack.  So, if I've got this right, there would need to be other factors making some locks easier, and some characters more capable.  I think there is a good library of these things available now, I just want to make sure that, at this point, I am on firm ground.

So, does this chart make sense?

Thanks.

- Ark

(I updated the flowchart as I noticed a computational error.  All fixed now.)

11 comments:

  1. The brutal percentage is not indicative of actual locks.
    --Attempting to make a singular process of a multitude of mechanisms (likely, all custom-crafted) is never going to be perfectly balanced between the gaming aspect and verisimilitude. However, if it operates the way you intend it to, that's all that matters.

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  2. Are the players making uninformed / arbitrary choices at each step? Does (player) skill factor into this or is it all just random? Sorry if I've missed something from a previous post.

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  3. @Timeshadows - The intention, first and foremost, is to be fun. Then it should be not too easy and not too hard. Somewhere in between. :) Yeah, vague, but I need to understand it and play with the numbers first.

    @Stuart - There were several posts from around the OSR blogosphere and I'm trying to understand them all and meld them into something I can use. At first, it would be uninformed, but with experience, the player would begin to notice patterns in similar locks/traps. Telecanter goes better into the theory, but, for instance, Dwarven locks may start out with a certain initial 'answer' that the player could guess, assuming she recognized it as a Dwarven lock. See http://recedingrules.blogspot.com/2011/04/procedural-lockpicking.html for more details, if it interest you. :)

    - Ark

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  4. My star cruisers cant repel charts of that magnitude!!

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  5. @Zombie - LOL! You know, I had to read that outloud in a bad Ackbar accent to myself and laugh all over again. I am a sad, sad (but easily amused) person. :) Thanks.

    - Ark

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  6. I'll be playtesting my system tonight, but I am not sure that this is how it works.

    For traps, you want to jam the lock. This means it's *easier* then actually opening the lock.

    The system works identically to the player opening a lock as far as selecting options, except when they set a pin, they have screwed up, and may 'unset' it, as they would 'unjam' a pin if they were opening a lock.

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  7. Somewhere in all the online bumping and raking was the idea that not all locks will have the same number of tumblers -- i.e., it's not always 4 decision points. Maybe the "easy" ones will only have two (or just one?!?). Again, probably not helping with verisimilitude, but it does create some scalability.

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  8. Yes. Mine have 1-6 tumblers

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  9. Another way you might approach it, to simplify things by a lot, is have every lock use 1 and only one of each move.

    The player has four cards. They lay down Bump, and it's wrong, now they know the first tumbler has to be one of the other three.

    Success would be pretty likely if you make it through the first tumbler or two.

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  10. Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (http://ninjiom-hk.cwahi.net/) may be another choice. i know alot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it's effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it's still good to use on not so serious scratchy throat.

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  11. @-C - So how did your playtesting go?

    @Cygnus - Yes, I've been experimenting with variable tumblers for a new solution. Details to come.

    @Telecanter - I've been thinking aobut what you said and have tried several things. I'll post about it in a bit.

    @Bette - Thank you for your suggestion, however, I do not think that traditional Chinese medicine will be helpful in picking locks.

    - Ark

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