Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Group Decision Making in Solo Games

As I noted in the last write up of The Ever Expanding Dungeon, I tested out a mechanism for handling how the group makes decisions.

My rationale is that, as the only player in charge of 4 or more characters that make up the party, I need someway of making non-obvious decisions account for the individual desires of the various personalities, without sitting there arguing with myself. The latter, for all of the role-playing joy it would give, doesn't really remove my own preference from the equation.

In cases without a clear majority in favor or against an idea, the method I used, which emerged from the comments on this post, was:

  1. Add up the CHR scores of those in favor, i.e. "yes"
  2. Add up the CHR of those not in favor, i.e. "no"
  3. For those that are 50/50 because I just don't know which they'd choose, but I believe they'd side one way or another, roll on the Mythic Fate Chart for 50/50 and then add their CHR to the appropriate side.
  4. For those that are truly 50/50 because the character themselves wouldn't have a preference, ignore their CHR.
  5. Subtract the smaller sum from the larger and the result becomes a modifier on the Mythic Fate roll. Add the value if the difference favors the "no" side, and subtract if favors the "yes."

In play, it's fast and easy to use, but being a typical gamer, I can't help think it could use some tweaking.

Primarily, I'm bothered by the fact that it doesn't really account for the strength of the preference. A "Very Unlikely" and a "Somewhat Likely" have exactly the same weight.

Here's an idea that struck me while riding the train to work this morning. It uses the following chart to modify the base Charisma score:

  • Impossible: Charisma + 5
  • No Way: Charisma + 4
  • Very Unlikely: Charisma + 2
  • Unlikely: Charisma + 1
  • 50/50: Charisma does not get included in the test*
  • Somewhat Likely: Charisma
  • Likely: Charisma + 1
  • Very Likely: Charisma + 2
  • Near Sure Thing:  Charisma + 3
  • Sure Thing: Charisma + 4
  • Has to Be: Charisma + 5

*For those who are 50/50 but I roll for to find out their preference prior to rolling for the group - they are treated as Likely or Unlikely. That's arbitrary, but it seems to work.

Then just follow the steps 1-5 above, but use Charisma + modifier instead of just Charisma to account for the weight of their preference, in addition to their persuasive ability.

Normally, weighting is done with multiplication but with whole numbers, that resulted in some really huge modifiers that didn't seem at all correct. Using fractional weights worked well, but would necessitate the need slowing down to do the multiplication by hand or using a calculator, plus rounding the result (before or after the summation?).

I played with a couple of test scenarios and different CHR values, and simply adding whole numbers is far faster and gives a good result that I can work with.

One final option that I haven't tested:
If the PC is wounded below 50% of HP, then +1 (or +5?) to whatever they would choose. I figure, if someone who is badly wounded wants to continue, or to fight, or to run, or to rest, it seems like the party should give them some additional preference. After all, they're most likely to die if things go wrong.
Of course, this assumes a primarily Lawful or, at least, Neutral, party.


  1. Very interesting system. It got me thinking: how about making a charisma check for each character who cares about the discussion and, if successful, then add the modifier based on strength of preference? In my opinion, the more charismatic characters should be more likely to influence the discussion and the flat modifiers benefit more the characters with less charisma.

    1. Hi Ricardo,

      I like that idea. It does add some additional dice rolling, but not overly so, and with a small handful of d20s of different colors, I can roll the whole party at once. Rolling vs Charisma seems to test the PCs ability to sway other PCs to their way of thinking and award the bonus or not accordingly. I like the variability that could introduce.

      I was looking at the bonus as a PC's willingness or unwillingness to concede to the other side's arguments, based on how important the result was to them. Their CHR score alone would determine their ability to sway the group. So a low Charisma PC by default has low impact on the group, but if they're really set on something and they stick to their guns, others might concede out of admiration for the commitment or, perhaps, exasperation.

      Either method,seems like it lends support to a narrative of why the decision went one way or another and accounts for differences in charisma and weight of preference.

      Thanks for commenting!


  2. Another interesting idea for running a party of adventurers. (I missed the comments discussion in the other post because I hadn't left any comments myself and therefore didn't get notified of further comments. mea culpa. ha!)
    This reminds me of discussions at work. Yes, charismatic people will be listened to, but it's also true that if someone (even non-charismatic people) has special/expert knowledge relevant to a particular decision they might be listened to more in those cases. There's also something to be said for the fact that sometimes a person (or persons) is willing to fight for something and can sway decisions that way, too. So, for me (a non-charismatic person, admittedly), taking other factors into account, in addition to charisma, is the more realistic way to go. Seems like that's easily done by adjusting the chance up or down based on any relevant factors, such as knowledge, commitment or strength of feeling, personalities, relationships, levels of authority, etc. Of course, it would be all too easy to over-complicate things, too. Seems like your in-play examples in these posts work well and add some even more interest to the game, both for you as the player and us as readers/followers. I will have to keep these ideas in mind when (if?) I ever get anything going on my own solo rpg'ing.


    1. Hey Fitz-Badger,

      It is indeed too easy to over-complicate: even as I was working out this version of the process, I was thinking of adding in intelligence to the mix and maybe even wisdom. Since I'm trying to play a game, not play an accountant, I opted to just stick with what I have (for now!).

      If I can offer one benefit of solo-rpgs to encourage you to get started it's this : you can play solo-rpgs, with few exceptions, pretty much anywhere when you have just a little bit of time, a randomizer and something to write down your notes.

      This is especially true if you use the 9Qs as presented on SoloNexus - each question, or even each subsection of each question, is a discrete scene that can play out in as short or as long a time as you like.