first second on my list of undone Monitors tasks is a mechanic for working together. This is a pretty important one, because there are many things you can logically cooperate on and expect to improve your chances: breaking down doors, intimidating people, keeping watch... it's a decent list. There are also tasks where cooperation as such isn't quite the thing, but where a more skilled person may be able to alleviate the inexperience of companions: climbing mountains, cooking, sailing, and so on.
My first inclination is to split these up into two types: Collaboration and Synchrony. Assistance is a further sub-type of Synchrony. These terms are for convenient discussion, and not jargon I particularly plan to include in the final game.
In Synchrony, characters are working towards the same shared goal, but the success or failure of each character is essentially independent. This is the most basic type and is resolved like any other action: each character rolls their dicepool and determines the result. In some cases, only one character need succeed; in other cases we are testing for failure.
- Keeping watch
- Sweeping a room for clues
- Noticing someone following the party
- Sneaking past guards
In Collaboration, each person taking part can make a full contribution to the work, and the actions of each character contribute cumulatively to the overall success. As such, characters may roll and sum their successes to determine the overall results. Note that as a result, a team of characters with training (one automatic success) will perform to a high degree even before rolling.
These kinds of tasks will mostly tend to involve either things that a single character could not do at all, or time-dependent tasks when time is important. In the case of time-dependent tasks, each set of rolls might represent some time interval (one hour, say), so that even a single character would eventually succeed. In a few cases, the task might be possible for one character but much easier for several.
- Breaking down a door
- Hauling a vehicle from a swamp
- Searching through records or safe-deposit boxes
- Intimidating a suspect
- Distracting a security guard
A security door or wall might easily have a difficult rating higher than a character can achieve - perhaps 10 or 15. No character should be able to lift a substantial vehicle, even in a fun adventure game, but three or four might reasonably be able to drag one from a marshy grave. It would take one character hours to pore over the contents of an politician's office, but a team might find the data they need fast enough to prevent a dangerous bill going through. One decoy might have a decent shot at distracting a guard, but several working in coordination can draw enough attention to divert a whole team so their ally can slip inside unnoticed.
The number of characters who can meaningfully contribute will be judged by the GM - for example, typically only two characters can try to force a door at once unless they're using a battering ram, as there just isn't space for more.
The GM might also rule that some characters cannot contribute at full strength, but can still offer a portion of their dicepool.
Incidentally, door-busting might be modelled in several different ways. One would be a threshold, where the team must reach a certain number of successes to force it open. Another would be a cumulative time-based task as they chip away at its fabric, with the door getting weaker over time, and successes representing Wounds inflicted. This would really depend on the kind of door. A third option would mix the two: a door might have 10 Wounds, but successes equal to half its current Wounds on a single roll would force it open.
In Assistance, a knowledgeable or experienced character provides direct help or guidance to others that increases their individual odds of success.
- Climbing a mountain - the expert can indicate handholds, check equipment, watch for mistakes and give a helping hand as necessary.
- Travelling safely through a tropical swamp - the expert can find safe routes, and watch for signs of illness or exhaustion.
- Sneaking through cover - the expert can gauge routes, signal the right moment to move or duck, guess when guards may turn, and so on.
- Lab work - the expert can ensure work is set up properly, monitor procedures, and double-check results.
I see several possible ways to handle this.
First option: A character with training relevant to the task may allocate any unused successes to untrained allies they could reasonably assist, before they roll. This would limit an expert's ability to help with difficult tasks that require more of their attention. It would be relatively difficult to help more than a very small team. The expert would have to guess who most needs assistance, but that's seems fair enough - it wouldn't prevent dramatic failure. On the downside, you'd have to remember that the expert rolls first, and all players would have to remember this and hold off on rolling - easier said than done.
Second option: A character with training relevant to the task may allocate up to half their own dicepool to untrained allies they could reasonably assist, before they roll. This would limit an expert's ability to help with difficult tasks that require more of their attention. It would be relatively difficult to help more than a very small team. The expert would have to guess who most needs assistance, but that's seems fair enough - it wouldn't prevent dramatic failure. They would also be liable to sabotage themselves by helping others, but that's realistic. However, it may not be genre-appropriate.
Third option: A character with training relevant to the task may provide a dicepool bonus equal to one-half their own pool (rounding down) to each untrained ally they could reasonably assist. This model assumes that the expert can help all of their teammates simultaneously. On average this is likely to grant one or two additional successes to allies. Assuming Monitors all have a minimum pool of 2, and at least 3 in many cases, this would increase their likely successes from 2 to 4. A team with one expert would each have a better-than-average chance of succeeding at a moderately challenging task. Note that this means one of an average 3-4 reptile team would likely fail it! Downsides include the need for calculation, however slight, and the fact that a trained character can easily give allies a 2-success boost while getting only the guaranteed +1 themselves.
Fourth option: A character with training relevant to the task may provide one additional die to each untrained ally they could reasonably assist. This model has the great advantage of simplicity. It offers a modest benefit to the whole team.
All versions of this ability will tend to make teamwork less of a burden. There's a regular problem that in many cases, it's easier for one skilled member of a team to complete a task than for everyone to participate - but this can mean splitting the party. Sneaking past guards is the classic issue here. Here, the expert contributes to the success of teammates.
This rule would also make diversity in parties more beneficial. Quite often, having a diverse pool of talents is more of a drawback than a benefit: a party who are all competent at similar tasks can concentrate on doing that kind of thing well, whereas a less focused party can end up unable to do anything well, or with most of the party always standing around waiting for one to perform. Because only untrained characters benefit, there's less (but still some) advantage to having similar specialisations, while there's a mechanical benefit for everyone in having a range of talents so that the assistance boost is available in a wide range of circumstances.
I suspect option 3 would be mechanically the best in terms of providing actual help, but I will probably implement option 4 for sheer simplicity.