The significance of the /0 and 0 columns in Zebs.

Full Bleed's picture
Full Bleed
November 9, 2008 - 11:32pm
For some time now I've been toying with the idea of creating a Star Frontiers game system file for Maptool.  It opens up a few possibilities when using the Zebulon's Resolution Table system.

That said, I'm going to kind of do this in little pieces.  Since I don't feel like going into storage and digging out my Zebs book right now, I'm just using the remastered docs... and I'm not even reading it cover to cover, which may explain why I'm asking these questions.  ;)

First of all, I like the Resolution Table system, except that I don't want to have to look at the table all the time.  So I want to set up Maptool to just tell me when something is successful and how sucessful it is.  This means that I need to set up the success ranges of all of the columns.  Thus it follows that I need a name for a column like /0 and I'd like to better understand why there is a /0 and a 0 so that I can properly account for it.

Can anyone explain why there are two zero columns?  From what I can tell, /0 simply sets a base point for an "unskilled" attempt at something... which is all well and good enough.  But why wasn't just "0" used for that?

Does anyone know what the developers of the game called the /0 Column?

Comments:

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
November 10, 2008 - 7:22am
I do not know.
I'll try to look it up in the original rule book.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
November 10, 2008 - 8:10am
I don't know either, never used Zeb's but if you want a copy of the original rule book it can be found here: http://www.starfrontiers.com/rules/
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
November 10, 2008 - 9:16am
I can recall thinking the same thing when I first read through ZG; if I recall, there is a brief reasoning in there.  I will try and find it, will let you know when/if i do.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
November 10, 2008 - 10:15am
Purusing the Zeb Gude text turned up the following two references to the /0 column.  First in Ranged Weapons under Skill levels:

Any character who uses a weapon without possessing the necessary skill for that weapon uses the 0 column for his base column and suffers a -1 Result Shift. No matter how many positive column or result shifts apply to the situation, his strike column can never shift to the right past the /0 column and he can never get a Cobalt result (unless he rolls 01 or 02). The strike column can, however, shift left all the way to the -X column.

And then again in the Melee Section:

Any character who has no skill levels in melee weapons or martial arts uses the 0 column on the Resolution Table and suffers a -1 Result Shift. No matter how may positive column or result shifts apply to the situation, his strike column never shifts to the right past column /0 and his result area can never be higher than blue. The strike column can, however, shift left all the way to the -X column.

So it looks like a cap on unskilled use of a weapon.  There doesn't seem to be a reference to this cap of unskilled use of a general skill, however.  At least not that I found in my quick scan of the rules.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
November 10, 2008 - 12:33pm
I found the same as Terl, I couldn't find anything about unskilled caps either.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

Corvus's picture
Corvus
November 10, 2008 - 1:37pm
/0 is the true reason Zeb's Guide failed, since it means "divided by zero".  We all know what that does.

Seriously, I had some free time and I figured I'd go take a look.  I get about the same as Terl and Rum Rogue.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. -- Carl Sagan

Full Bleed's picture
Full Bleed
November 10, 2008 - 3:30pm
Thanks for the info guys.

Ok... so it sets a ceiling (or wall, which is probably what the "/" is supposed to be) on an unskilled Ranged or Martial weapon use.

It's interesting that there is also a -1 Result Shift too.  I actually like this rule.

I didn't get that out of my reading of the Zeb's Remastered, so this clarification helps a lot when trying to understand what they were going for.  But I think they kind of stepped all over the concept of "simplification" with this one.  The Resolution System does create a cool way to figure out the success and degree of sucess with a single roll, but it makes people rely too much on consulting the table (or memorizing it.)

It creates an unecessary problem when trying to simplfy column access.  For example, it will be easier to call a column result with a basic formula that looks at:  Skill Level +- Various Column Shifts = Strike Column

In the above forumla, an action with a Skill Level of 1 with a - 2 Column Shift is equal to Strike Column 0.  So: 1-2=0.  A very unattractive method.

I could give each column it's own name, then associate an arbitrary column number with the name so that the simplified math could be used, but then I'll end up with something like Strike Column -3 = -4.  Seems a little silly just to be able to maintain the awkward column nomenclature that they created.

What I will probably do is just change the resolution table so that the 19 columns read from -7 to +11, with only one Zero Strike Column and no "-X" or "+X."  Then I can just set it so that most unskilled attempts start on a -1 Strike Column with an unskilled ceiling being the 0 Strike Column.

Come to think of it, various weapons and skills, based on their complexity may actually warrant an entirely different "unskilled" starting point to begin with... though this is obviously getting into the realm of being a "House Rule" so I'll have to mull that one over.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
November 10, 2008 - 7:00pm
Full Bleed wrote:
Come to think of it, various weapons and skills, based on their complexity may actually warrant an entirely different "unskilled" starting point to begin with... though this is obviously getting into the realm of being a "House Rule" so I'll have to mull that one over.


I thought Zeb's was just a bunch of house rules?
Wink


Full Bleed's picture
Full Bleed
November 10, 2008 - 10:26pm
w00t wrote:
I thought Zeb's was just a bunch of house rules?
Wink


That's actually a pretty fair way to look at it since no product actively supporting it ever came out.

The best part is that once I build these rules into my MT settings file, I won't ever need to look at the resolution chart.

I've actually decided to house-rule a couple other things that I think will work better with the intent of the Zeb's system.

1)  I'm abandoning the 4 success result categories.  Instead, I'm going with a more accurately scaled Success Range.  I think this is what the original developers were shooting for anyway, but given the nature of the system they probably felt they had to simplify it into 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25%.  But with a computer working out all the computations, so long as a roll falls within the "Success Range" of a Strike Column, there is no reason I can't compute an 87% success result.

2)  I've also decided to bell-curve the chart's failure chances to mirror its success chances.  This opens a -8 to +11 range (which just happens to create 20 strike columns instead of the default 19.)  The fact that someone rolling all the way down in a -X strike collumns would still have a 25% chance for some success never sat well with me.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 11, 2008 - 5:54pm
Full Bleed wrote:
It creates an unecessary problem


Zeb's Guide excelled at that trait...
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website