Monday, April 3, 2017

Fixing the Bard's Ability to Transfer X.P.

Coming back around to the bard.

Some might remember that way back in January, I wrote a proposal that a bard's artwork could work as a transference of experience from the bard to the audience, effectively putting one's soul and experience into that work so that a part of it would then be given - in a firm, practical, game meaningful way - to the person who saw or heard the results of that artwork.

A few days ago I put up a table on my wiki that would try to codify this, to propose how long it would take an artist to make an artwork vs. how effective the artwork would be.  The table looked like this.

Let me start by saying there is a big problem with the table, one that took two days to sink in.  First, however, I'll talk about how it was supposed to work.

The bard starts by stating what degree of artwork they want to make.  We'll say that our bard Henri is an authority-level bard, meaning he is unable to make illustrious work or better but he can make anything up to excellent.  Henri is a painter and he decides he's going to make a fine piece of art that will take him, according to the table, 19 weeks.  It would take less if he were an expert or a sage, but he's an authority so there it is.

Each week, Henri makes a check to see how he is progressing.  Note that the heading says "weeks of success" ~ which means Henri must be successful 19 times to complete his work of art.  It could take him many more weeks to actually finish it, which accounts for going over and starting from scratch, going through blue periods and moments of crisis, struggling with the method and so on.  Each week, Henri throws 2d20, one against his wisdom and one against his intelligence.  If he succeeds against both, he has had a successful week and he can move on.

Finally, when the painting is finished, others who view it gain the benefit of 5-8% of Henri's experience.  We'll say that Henri is 6th level and has 30,000 x.p., and we roll a 5 (poor Henri), so that others gain 1,500 x.p. upon seeing the painting, adjusted according to what level they themselves are.  All of that is covered in the link that started this post.

This is fine, except it's broken from the outset.  We'll start that even 38 weeks of work seems a little short for giving someone ~ even an equal level ~ that much experience.  I messed around with the table in all sorts of way and I can see that's still an issue.

A much bigger issue is the question, why would Henri EVER make anything except creditable works?  It takes less time and the payoff is much, much better that working for a long time on something fine.  Henri can make better than 6 creditable paintings in the time it takes to make a fine one, with more than three times the probable payoff.  So the table's concept is garbage out of the gate.

Finally, there's no adjustment here for the artwork being a fail.  Henri knows if he works all this time on the painting, eventually it will be finished and eventually it will pay out.  So there's no stress here, either.

[there is another issue having to do with the viewer/audience, which some of you will have guessed, but I will discuss that in another post]

Now, there's nothing about the table above that can't be salvaged without dumping the % column, so let's start there:

Let's keep Henri having to choose the level of artwork, only let's have that choice mean something. Let's also keep Henri having to roll under his wisdom and his intelligence for each week, in order to be successful.  But let's skew those rolls in a way that rewards MORE work instead of less.

Suppose that Henri's intelligence is 10 and that his wisdom matches the bard's minimum for my game, 13.  And we'll say, for the heck of it, that Henri decides to create a creditable work.

This means he has to succeed at 3 rolls (2d20 per roll, against the two stats).  That's easy.  But now we're going to say that for the artwork to have any value, one, two or three of those rolls must be a double.

That is, the number on the wisdom check and the number on the intelligence check must match; if they do not match, the artwork progresses towards completion but, in fact, adds nothing, zip, zero to its value.

Once Henri has rolled three times, if there are no doubles, the artwork is finished and can't be continued.  Henri might sell it for some income, but it is worthless for experience transfer.

Let's spend a moment talking about rolling doubles on 2d20.  There are 400 possible combinations in rolling two 20-sided dice, just as there are 36 possible combinations in rolling two 6-sided dice.  With 2d20, there are 20 possible rolls in 400 that will result in a double.  With 2d6, there are 6 possible rolls that will result in a double.  Therefore, there's a 5% chance of rolling doubles with 2d20, just as there is a 16.67% chance of rolling doubles with 2d6.

[Please forgive these comparisons. People are more familiar with the odds on 2d6]

However, for our success to count, the doubles that Henri rolls for making an artwork must also be equal to or less than both his wisdom and his intelligence.  That means there are only 10 possible doubles that enable Henri to give his art value: a mere 1 in 40 chance.  So yes, Henri is going to produce less valuable art than someone with an 18 in both intelligence and wisdom: just as a fighter with an 18 in both strength and constitution is going to do better than one with a 10 strength and a 13 constitution.

But okay, so what?  Roll a double, not, Henri can spend 19 successful weeks making six so-so paintings or he can spend it making one so-so fine painting.  If every double produces the same bonus to the experience he can transfer, what difference does it make?

Ah.  Obviously, we have to look at that bonus.

Henri attempts a credible painting and, lo and behold, he rolls a double in his third week.  Yes!  How much transfer does Henri get?

Well, I have to base this on someone spending 6 years working on the Mona Lisa (Da Vinci painted a lot of similar paintings that never amounted to a thing except to art historians) giving a 20-30% transfer.  That's a masterpiece, 305 successful weeks from a sage, by someone who probably had a 19 in both intelligence and wisdom, so six years and a bit to roll an average of 15.25 doubles.

If we allow each double to generate 2%, that works out.  But I have another idea.  A better idea.

Suppose that for a first double, we offer 0.3-1.8% of the bard's experience available for transfer (3d6 x 0.1).  If Henri rolls a 10, that's 1% of his 30,000 x.p., or 300.  Not bad, since it would take Henri an average of 13 credible paintings to get a single double.

But what if he gets a second double?  Is it 2 x 0.3-1.8%?  No, I don't think so.  A second double on one art work means either it is an ambitious project or the bard really was on fire.  The second double gets a 0.1% bonus!  Yes, I know what the reader is saying: big deal.  But what if every subsequent double gets a similar bonus?

Very well, look at the table on the right.  With each cumulative double to be obtained in a given artwork, the overall average of that particular double increases. At best, a credible work can manage three cumulative doubles before the work is completely done.  This doesn't mean it can't be a pretty amazing work; but the chances of rolling three doubles on 2d20 in a row, all of which are below one's wisdom and intelligence, is pretty low.  Henri has a much, much better chance of getting three (or even two in one work) if he tries for longer and longer works.

And if it is an immense project, something that really will take years (including the destruction of failures or merely the attempts before hitting the mark - like Michaelangelo's multiple attempts at David) has the chance of really mounting up points with a lot of doubles.

Am I making bard transfer artwork incomprehensibly difficult?  Oh, you bet!  I want it to be the Holy Grail, not something a bard character churns out without reflection or suffering.  The mere fact that a bard could waste 20 weeks of their life and game time trying to create a juggling move or forty stanzas of epic poetry, only to fall flat on their face audience-wise, will really make a bard pause before making the effort.

Remember, we want the player bard to have the artist experience.  That includes failure, just as it does for a fighter.  But it also includes the very, very rare piece of incomprehensible genius that causes the world to stop and take notice.  That takes time, it takes suffering . . . and it takes risk.

There's a reason why a lot of artists are prone to suicide.


The Rubberduck said...

If I understand this correctly, there is a small but unfortunate error in the math.

Since failed rolls simply mean no progress, that means that failed rolls also have no bearing on the chance of rolling doubles. So Henri's chance of rolling doubles isn't 10 in 400. It is 10 in 130, since the rolls that fail don't count (any Int roll higher than 10, or Wis roll higher than 13).

So Henri would spend longer time finishing a creditable painting than Da Vinci, but he would have a greater chance of making an xp transfer with that painting.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ah, I think I understand what you're saying. You mean, there's a 10 in 130 chance regarding SUCCESSES, discounting all other rolls. Yes, I suppose that is true.

Giordanisti said...

That's a good point, rubberduck. Because someone with a higher stat is more likely to get a "success" roll, they'll finish the art faster, and thus have fewer chances to roll doubles. Hard to see a way around that immediately, though maybe it makes sense. A really capable artist would be too bored with simple art to even bother making it creditable!

James said...

Well, art is kind of about failing until you get it perfect, so in some ways rewarding failure over moderate success feels appropriate

Giordanisti said...

*"valuable", not creditable, is the word i meant above.

Okay, Alexis, the problem is deeper than i thought. Basically, this system rewards bards who have lower intelligence and wisdom in a weird way. For the sake of argument, let's say you could have a bard with 3s in both stats, and somehow this bard became a sage. He starts working on a piece, rolling away. It takes him FOREVER to get any successes, BUT when he does get a success (both rolls 3 or lower) there is a VERY good chance they will be doubles (1 in 3). Compare this to a bard with 20 in both stats. He will succeed on every roll, but the chance that his success leads to a double is only 1 in 400. Thus, though the idiot bard will take years where the genius takes weeks to finish something, the idiot will likely have many, many times more total doubles.

Failing in this system only increases time spent, but succeeding counterintuitively makes you less likely to produce something of value.

James said...

As such a bard: 1. Cannot exist, and 2. Would take an average of 300 weeks to even complete a creditable work of art, it seems not worth worrying about.

I know you are positing an extreme to show a point, but the advantages gained by failure are balanced by how much longer a work of art would take to complete (Alexis's post implies the work would have value even without any xp transfer, though what its value would be is difficult to gauge).

But if you want, compare a minimum Bard (10/13) to top-end (19/19):

Chance of success -
19/19 is 99+%
10/13 is about 59% (there is a 30% chance of failure on Intelligence 10, and I just added the 9% chance of failing on Wisdom 13)

Chance of doubles -
19/19 - 4.75% (19 in 400)
10/13 - 2.5% (10 in 400)

What does it add up to -

Assuming an "excellent" work of art (50 weeks):

19/19 finishes in 50 weeks with an average of 2.4 doubles

10/13 finishes in 80 weeks with an average of 1.25 doubles (remembering that only doubles on successful weeks count).

Edited for a mathematical error I caught.

Giordanisti said...

Your math is not correct, james. Since only successful doubles count, the chance of a double GIVEN a success for your two bards are 19/19^2 for the better, which is a 5.2% chance of a double on a success, as opposed to 13/13^2 for the weaker bard (let's says both stats are 13 for clarity), which is a 7.6% chance of a double on a success. That means that over the 50 successes required, the weaker bard will on average have 3.8 doubles, while the stronger will have 2.7. Yes, the stronger gets it done much faster, but it's still weird that the weaker bard gets more doubles, which means the artwork is more valuable.

Possible solution: higher doubles rolled count for more.

Giordanisti said...

That is, if you succeed with two 17s, you get a better bonus than succeeding with two 4s.

Giordanisti said...

To try another way of phrasing it, a stronger bard will always have a smaller proportion of his successes be doubles, simply because he succeeds so often. This relationship is unavoidable under the proposed system.

James said...


A question that would shed some light here. Per the roll each week, can you get the doubling bonus:

A. Once, if the Int check = Wisdom check
B. Twice, if the 2d20 rolls for Int equal each other, and/or if the 2d20 rolls for Wisdom equal other. Success for the week us still required.
C. Three times, combining A and B
D. One of the numbers above is right, but is misding a key element.

Also, if multiple successes occur in one week and are possible, is only one counted or do they all count?

Tim said...

Following the math above, I have two very rough suggestions:
1. A bard with low intelligence or wisdom counts doubles as a success but without the experience bonus. This "flattens" the spread (everyone has the same chance of doubles) while only providing the bonus to the bards with higher stats. Low stat bards will also finish the work more quickly than before. Cf. a natural 20 against an enemy requiring higher than natural 18'to hit' becoming a regular hit.

2. Using Giordanisti's suggestion, remove the variable XP transfer per double (3d6 x 0.1) and replace it with a flat multiple based on one of the bard's stats (e.g. Da Vinci might now confer 1.9% while Henri confers 1.0%), and then use a percentage of that multiple for the subsequent rolls, say a tenth.
Essentially, the better bard will produce a higher percentage on each double. Using Giordanisti's numbers for the average doubles of the 13 intelligence and 19 intelligence bards, the final numbers would be 1.3+0.13*2.8=1.664% experience bonus and 1.9+0.19*1.7=2.223% experience bonus.

Ultimately, though, it's possible that these are contrived edge-cases and the system itself works just fine in practice with bard players who are going to want high stats to do other bard things well. When I have some more time I may try tossing a few things together and simulating the creation of a few works of art in R to get a better sense of the averages.

James said...

I want to wait for Alexis's input before saying more, because his answers heavily influence the math, but thete are key considerations being left out

Alexis Smolensk said...


I have been thinking over both problems that The Rubberduck sees: 1) that bards with lower stats have better odds to produce work that offers an xp transfer; and 2) that bards producing works in shorter periods provides less opportunity for xp transfers to occur.

Giordanisti's proposal, outlined in depth by Tim, has merit: that higher doubles rolled count for more. My concern in this is that a bard with very high stats will produce works that transfer prodigious amounts of xp, breaking the game. There are some game-breaking elements in this already and I don't wish to make them worse.

I have this proposal for (1). Suppose that doubles that count as failures SUBTRACT from the xp transfer. Henri rolling a double-14 would act as a detriment. Not a full detriment, but perhaps a flat 0.3%. The lower the bard's stats, the greater the chance of rolling a negative, but overall the progress is upwards.

I then have this proposal of (2). If a higher knowledge bard WANTS to spend more time on an artwork (an expert take 3 weeks to do a credible piece of art instead of 2, then why not? As long as this is stated ahead of time, I see no reason against this. Of course, the work would have a lower sale value.

Determining the sale value was mentioned. My trade table already calculates the value of an ordinary artwork; and has, in the past, used a very simple multiplier to give value to quality and better artworks. That adjustment would need to be changed to fit this system, but this would not be difficult.

What else?

Oh yes, James' questions. I'm sorry, James, those are fairly confusing. The "double" is the intelligence check matching the wisdom check. Your remaining three statements, B, C and D, have me baffled. Finally, there's no possibility of multiple successes occurring in one week because we don't roll more than once per week.

James said...

Sorry, maybe I don't understand the mechanic? Is it just a d20 roll for each Intelligence and Wisdom?

I somehow thought it was 2d20 for each Intelligence and Wisdom.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I then have this proposal of (2). If a higher knowledge bard WANTS to spend more time on an artwork (an expert take 3 weeks to do a credible piece of art instead of 2, then why not? As long as this is stated ahead of time, I see no reason against this. Of course, the work would have a lower sale value.

Sorry, that's confusing. Let me try again.

Let's say a sage wants to produce a worthy artwork, one that would take the sage only 4 weeks. This lowers the sage's opportunity to create the xp transfer, so the sage proposes he produce a worthy artwork in 7 weeks. This is no problem, the sage is allowed to do this.

However, at the end of the 7 weeks, the art would have the monetary VALUE of a worthy artwork ~ whereas the sage COULD produce a quality artwork, of higher value, also in 7 weeks. With the same possibility of xp transfer. So why would the sage choose to produce work of lower monetary value for no gain?

Still, I accept the logic that the sage might want to.

Alexis Smolensk said...

James, it is one d20 for intelligence and one d20 for wisdom. 2d20. If they match, it is a double.

James said...

Okay, then the math isn't really broken.

James said...

19/19 Bard double chance = (19/400) x (399/400) = 4.76%

10/13 Bard double chance = (10/400) × 351/400) = 2.19%

Excellent work:

19/19 = 2.37 doubles in 50 weeks
10/13 = 1.25 doubles in 57 weeks

James said...

The mythical 3/3 Bard gets 0.25 doubles in 180 weeks, by the way.

James said...

Er, slight math error above.

10/13 Bard double chance = (10/400) x (251/400) = 1.57% double chance

Excellent work:

10/13 = 1.25 doubles in 80 weeks

Drain said...

I like what you propose here, Alexis.

If you're worried about breaking the system with the xp dole, ponder upon keying the artist's output to another variable, perhaps? Instead of the value of created artwork being a percentage of the creator's own xp, having it instead be a small dynamic multiplier on the xp of those experiencing the work?

Maybe factor in to some extent the Wisdom and/or Intelligence of the "public", such that an ignorant will take away little while an enlightened mind might engage more fully, up to extrapolating some measure of death of the author?

I don't know that it would be better or more realistic, it's just a thought.

Giordanisti said...

Can you clarify, Alexis: if you get multiple doibles on a single work, does the cumulative +0.1% bonus apply to EVERY double on that work, oe just itself? That is, if a work has three total doubles, is the first normal, the second at +0.1%, and the third at +0.2%? Or are all three at +0.2%? Your table seems to imply the latter, that the average of EACH double is increased by having more of them.

Another question: let's say a party has time to kill. They take off 3 years from adventuring. The bard goes for a huge project in that time, and rolls a ton of d20s one after the other. Some are successes, some are doubles, etc. Then it's over, and we know where the work stands, it's done. This feels... Not tense enough? It seems like as long as the party is okay with saying time has passed, and with paying for lodging, the bard becomes a sort of dice machine, mindlessly rolling until he gets what he wants. Abstracted time is the only penalty for failure, whereas the fighter, say, risks death. Do you have a different idea of how this would play out?

Giordanisti said...

James, your math is still off. You have to first consider the odds of a success, then how many of those successes happenes to be doubles.

A 13/10 bard will get 50 successes in an average of 153 weeks (.325 chance of success, .65*.5)
A 19/19 bard will get 50 successes in an average of 55 weeks (.902 chance of success, .95*.95)

Of the 50 successes that the 13/10 got, on average, 3.8 doubles (50 * 10/10*13)
Of the 50 successes that the 19/19 got, on average, 2.6 doubles (50 * 19/19*19)

James said...

Let's take your math (though I did factor in success, if you look, we just arrived at different numbers). You spend 98 extra weeks for 1 2 more doubles. Whereas the better bard could get almost 2 additional works done, with 2 6 doubles on each.

Doesn't seem too off to me.

Giordanisti said...

I get that, James, that the extra time is still a boon. What breaks my suspension of disbelief, though, is the fact that the xp transfer is supposed to represent individual artwork really being powerful and affecting. It doesn't make sense that a wiser and more intelligent artist has to resort to making multiple, less powerful pieces to keep ahead of a slow-working dunce.

James said...

In the same time frame it takes the dunce to complete an excellent piece of work with a 4 doubles (4.8 multiplier), a genius can create a brilliant piece of work, and will obtain an average of 8 doubles (11.2 moultiplier) on a significantly more valuable object.

I just don't see the problem.

Giordanisti said...

Don't compare apples and oranges. Two bards, same level, making the same calibre of art. If one has higher stats, that one should be STRICTLY better at making that calibre of art, not faster-but-at-lower-quality. Technically, the greatest art in the world, using the above system, would have been made by a 10/13 bard sage working painstakingly on an "exalted" piece, regardless of how long it took to make -- that would be the single piece with the most doubles. That is enough of an inconsistency for me to want a tweak to the rule. Alexis's proposition of negative doubles is promising, I'm going to hack at the math behind it a little bit.

James said...

Considering it would take 11 years for such a Bard to complete such a project, and the difficulties of getting such a character to sage, and the sheer amount of work such an undertaking represents, maybe that is warranted?

I just think you are blowing off the extra time it requires as insignifucant. It takes 3x as long to produce work that will provide 1.5x XP. Seems fair to me.

James said...

Sorry, a 10/13 Bard would take 77 years to complete an exalted project. Dying first might be an issue.

On a similar vein, even a Da Vinci would take 27.5 years to complete an exalted project.

Joey Bennett said...

You could always count the total failures, and upon reaching a certain threshold, declare the work ruined, eliminating all progress made, all monetary value, and any accumulated 'doubles'

Giordanisti said...

All i'm saying is it's inconsistent. It's not intuitive. A small change would fix it. I'm in support of that small change.

Two fifth level bards are challenged to write the best limerick they can for the king (a creditable piece). There is no time limit, but they have only one shot. One bard is a 19/19 genius, the other a 10/13 dunce. You cannot tell me it makes sense that the dunce will win most of the time.

James said...

We don't agree and have stated our argunents. Though your scenario makes no sense.

Why no time limit? That eliminates half of what us interesting (a more skilled Bard could be more ambitious and attempt a higher degree of difficulty piece).

And yes, every hypothesis you offer conveniently ignores time, as if lodging and food are free. If they were, artists would be much less prone to suicide and depression.

Giordanisti said...

You're right, we've had our piece and derailed this thread enough. Good arguing with you, James!

Giordanisti said...


I answered the first of my previous questions by looking more closely at the chart.

Another question (i am sorry about how huge this comment thread is getting!): what exactly distinguishes each category of art? Or rather, what's "better", a creditable piece with two doubles, or an excellent piece with only one? Are the categories forms, like a cantata vs a symphony, or are they simply indicative of the size of artist's ambition ahead of time? It kind of seems like there are two or three measures of quality, including the stated category, the size of the xp transfer, and the monetary value.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, I have not had access to my blog for many hours now.

I have enjoyed the discourse between you, James, and you, Ozymandias, primarily because you are both right. Those are the best arguments.

I shall try briefly to take each side, just for a moment.


From an intrinsic view of actualizing the experience of an artist, Oz is correct to point out that talent is talent. The doubles may "work" on a game level, but there are always dozens of things that work on a game level and it makes sense to attempt to adjust things so that talent AND time flow in synch.

Slower should not have the benefit of better for one simple reason: artists change as human beings over time. The less-wise/less-intelligent artist who spends longer and longer on a given piece very rarely produces something better from having spent a lot of time banging their head against the wall. Rather, they get bored, they get distracted, they quit working altogether. Chinese Democracy took 25 years of production and does not reflect the original band's flavor of artistic creativity (though I personally never liked G&R, mine is not the only opinion). It reflects the work of a bunch of wallowing, fat, all-to-comfortable has-beens whose change in perspective is appallingly evident in the final work. I'll just say it clearly: if there is a modern artist with a 10 int and a 13 wisdom, it's Axl Rose. Fucker can't even spell his name.

We can make rules for the game that doesn't allow this sort of shit to get polished, right?


James' argument could be a very good reason why so many of the greatest pieces of art - books, juggling acts, screen performances and especially music - are rife with "one-hit wonders."

I'll pick a safe choice there and argue for Jane Eyre, though I hated that book for all kinds of reasons. It is lauded to the skies, however, as is To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye, two other one-hit wonders that I also hate, that every English-speaking school kid in North America is encouraged to love as the best literature ever written. And while none of these did a thing to educate me (as there are better books with the same themes that are harder for junior-high schoolers to read), they did impart a HUGE contribution to the experience of many, many people.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Another question (i am sorry about how huge this comment thread is getting!): what exactly distinguishes each category of art? Or rather, what's "better", a creditable piece with two doubles, or an excellent piece with only one? Are the categories forms, like a cantata vs a symphony, or are they simply indicative of the size of artist's ambition ahead of time? It kind of seems like there are two or three measures of quality, including the stated category, the size of the xp transfer, and the monetary value.

Good, let's tackle this.

I want to be sure we make a big distinction between "value" and "experience." The experience of an artwork can be imparted in a single visit. We can be sure we stop by and see The Night Watch because we happen to be in Amsterdam, and that may astound us, but is that value or is that experience?

It is hard for us to understand the effect that would have had on an audience in 1642. We do not think like people who lived continuously in a world that when the sun went down, it was dark most of the time (and hazardously expensive to make it otherwise), without media, without much novelty, etcetera. Seeing a painting of this dimension, of a sort that did not exist anywhere in the world prior to its rendering, would have been eye-popping and even a little disturbing. Like looking into a doorway that showed a scene miraculously frozen in time.

But how long does it take before that experience is gained to its maximum degree? One viewing? Two? We would see it if we were in Amsterdam but would we make the trip just to see The Night Watch? (It would definitely be a favorable reason for me to choose Amsterdam over, say, Frankfurt). Would we make that trip over again three years later because we had to see it again? Mm, no, probably not. We'd go to look for something else.

The value, however, remains wholly unchanged. That painting must survive because it has the power to render experience to generations far past our lifetimes. What it can tell us, personally, is minimal; what it can tell the whole world is immeasurable.

Therefore, an artwork can have little or nothing to show in the way of experiential benefit, but yet be impossibly difficult to measure in terms of its pure value.


Alexis Smolensk said...

I deliberately made the table so that "masterpiece" would not be the highest form of art - and so that "exalted" would be works of incomprehensible effort. Remember that my bardic list of art forms includes architecture. A construction like the Pyramids would easily fit the "exalted" category ~ and would take all 27 of those years that James calculated.

But how much experience is that, by the arguments I've made thus far. Any? Other than awe, is there a message there? A set of determiners to explain how to swing a sword better?

Perhaps not. But there is a message in the sense of, "If the world includes things of this magnitude, made by humans, then perhaps there is no difference between a human and a god. Perhaps, I have better reason to swing my sword than just to swing it; perhaps, in pursuing my purpose, I swing it with the heart of a lion, the vigor of a windstorm, the certainty that I am in the right place at the right time because I am ME."

Knowing that would certainly make us better at anything. And this is the sort of thing that was hoped for when the students of Cambridge and Oxford would advance forth to learn from the continent (not that I suppose most of them did much more than what presently happens on a modern-day package tour, 8 countries in 11 days).

The actual names on the categories of art don't matter; they're just convenient sign-posts. This is better than that. This takes longer than that. But "better" is based on what do you want to achieve? A goofy little artwork like ~ to use a modern example ~ would be:

"This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend, some people starting singing it not knowing what it was, and they'l continue singing it forever just because it was the song that never ends . . ."

There's a three-double credible work right there. Horrifying, annoying, instantly recognizable, a terrible ear-worm if you get it in your head and a song that has brought untold value to billions of little children who can sing it for hours at a time.

But it ain't no Shakespeare. But Shakespeare makes very poor children's theater ~ unless you mock it up with lions and gut every aspect of the actual content out of the thing ~ personally, I forget the part where the ghost of Hamlet's father tells him that it's really okay that we kill people because their dead bodies will help the grass grow. If someone wants to pass along that line from the original text, however, I'd be thrilled.

On some level, this is still art and it is still horrendously difficult to catalog it. For one thing, how does a 17th century vendor sell a juggling move? Or Crecy Cathedral? Monetary value only applies to some kinds of art. And this doesn't even get into the difficulties of calculating for orchestral pieces or stage plays, which require multiple artists and support people to make the final "work" happen. Which too can't be sold, except in a form that doesn't remotely resemble the experience of being there.

So yes, it's a little muddy. But on the whole, let's try to keep it as simple as possible and not ask too many questions for which the game does not need answers.

Giordanisti said...

Alexis, you seem to have mistaken me for Ozymandias, king of kings. In fact, I am humble Giordanisti.

I did some math on the idea of negative doubles, and while it softens the above mentioned problem, it doesn't do away with it as neatly as one would like. If you will, I have an alternate system proposal.

The bard rolls 2d20 every week, as normal. However, the first time ANY double is rolled (1 in 20 chance, like a critical hit), not just a successful double, the bard is considered inspired. The roll automatically counts as a success, and from that roll on, you keep track of how many weeks in a row the bard succeeds, in effect riding off his inspiration. The size of the streak determines the xp transfer bonus. When the bard finally fails one week, the inspiration dissipates, and it's back to plugging away at ordinary successes until the next burst of inspiration.

This system favors geniuses, as streaks are easier for them, but anyone has a chance to make something great. Furthermore, the deeper into a streak you get, the tenser each roll is, as your cumulative xp transfer mounts. I don't know exactly what the numbers would be, but that seems easy enough to figure out. Perhaps a cap is in order to prevent 19/19s from breaking the game, but such people are extremely rare, and deserve to consistently make incredible art anyway.

But they still need that first double to ride on.

What do you think?

Giordanisti said...

I had some time, and I threw a little math analysis into my above idea (hope it's alright that i'm pitching an alternate notion, tell me to take it elsewhere if you'd prefer).

Expected streak with 18/18 stats: ~4.17
Expected streak with 15/15 stats: ~2.05
Expected streak with 13/10 stats: ~1.46

These seem low enough to be workable to me, even with two eighteens. Furthermore, I like the idea of a bard getting on a small streak, and using the sage abilities of Purgation and Vigor desperately to stay inspired with those roll bonuses, which would give even low-statted bards the flexibility to get some solid xp transfer.

Even if you aren't a fan of this idea, i think i'm enamored enough to use it in my game, haha.

Alexis Smolensk said...

My apologies, Giordanisti. And to you also, Ozymandias. You must both be wondering what's wrong with me.

Alexis Smolensk said...


At this point, I've got to think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. Please feel to go your own way on this, that's the nature of our individual worlds; but I think it is more trouble to get the same effect the player is going to feel with the system I originally proposed.

One player won't be running multiple bards with multiple stat levels; likely, there won't be multiple players running bards in a given party, either. The comparisons you've been fighting for won't be self-evident while the game is being played. Your efforts to fix this seems more about your need to play the design metagame that seeing how these will actually play in the game.

The "streak" idea is reasonable ~ but I also think it will create two kinds of arguments: 1) from players who just don't get it, meaning you'll have to do their accounting for them; and 2) from disputes as to how long a streak has lasted. I may also get arguments regarding how many times a bard has rolled doubles, that's true. But this seems like less of an accounting problem for a player who is perhaps less enthusiastic about math, accounting or accuracy.

I wish you luck with your idea, but I think I'll keep to my simpler proposal.

Giordanisti said...

All fair. I'm absolutely on the obsessive side when I het a rule idea running around my head.

James said...

I forgot architecture counted as an art form. And I should say, the 27 years wasn't a complaint, just an "oh my" realization as I was number diving.

I like the top end being virtually unattainable. Not every Bard should be capable of exalted works, after all.

Overall, I like the system. It sounds fun.

I meant to ask, why do "worthy," "excellent" and "masterpiece" have multiple rows?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, that's easy James.

The progression of time is based on the Fibonacci series. When I then looked for words to describe the levels with a thesaurus, I was dissatisfied with the remaining options. The ten words that I settled on seemed to progress in value, but I lacked other words that fit into the spaces left over - so in some cases I allowed one word to work for two rows.

A minor masterpiece vs. a major masterpiece, for example. Or lesser vs. greater. Or secondary vs. primary. Or whatever sub-distinction works.