Created By: FoolsEditAccountSeptember 10, 2011 Last Edited By: AndygalAugust 11, 2012

Random Chance Ability

A skill or ability in a Video Game that has a random chance of succeeding.

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Trope
Needs A Better Title, Needs A Better Description, Should We Have This One

A subtrope of Unpredictable Results. While the Random Effect Spell is a a spell that always succeeds, but with random effects, this is a specific skill or ability that has set results, but a random chance of succeeding at all. In addition, it usually requires a large investment of Mana, is Cast From Hit Points, or has a chance of backfiring or something similar, though if the skill succeeds, the rewards are usually great.

May overlap with Random Effect Spell if it has random effects as well. Related to (but generally less reviled than) Luck Based Mission. The Random Chance Ability can still incite ire if handled incorrectly, however, especially if it's used by an enemy.

Examples:

  • Many Useless Useful Spells are useless because they have a high chance of failing, turning them into these.
  • You wouldn't expect this from such a strategically-oriented, deterministic game, but The Reconstruction has one, used by Falitza. It's called Procure Status, an Enemy Scan that has a high chance of failing outright, as well as requiring the user to enter melee range and take a large chunk out of her already-low Hit Points.
    • There are also a number of utility spells, usually ones that inflict Standard Status Effects, that have a random chance of working, or, even if they do work, a random chance of actually inflicting a specific status.
  • Every challenge in Fallen London is a Luck Based Mission, but there are certain ones that are totally dependent on luck alone. These usually have greater rewards, but your chances of success cannot be improved.
  • Pokemon: One Hit Kill moves (Guillotine, etc.) have a base 30% accuracy, the lowest of any move in the game. A few other moves like Dynamic Punch and Inferno are guaranteed to inflict a Standard Status Effect when they hit, but only hit 50% of the time.
  • Breath Of Fire: "Risky Blow" always lands a critical hit, but only if it hits, and the user is told this is a low percentage of the time.
  • Most Fire Emblem abilities activate on a random chance basis when two characters fight. Pray your opponent's ability is not Nihil.
  • Virtually every skill in Battle For Wesnoth is this, as every attack has a completely random chance of hitting (determined by terrain). In particular, though, are magical attacks, which always hit...if they succeed. There is always a 30% chance that the spell will fizzle. It's still much better than your chances normally, though.

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Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • September 10, 2011
    Stratadrake
    What about Random Effect Spell?
  • September 11, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    ...Rrgh. Why can I never find the trope I'm suggesting even when I do a search for it.

    I think this is still distinct enough, though; the Random Effect Spell doesn't necessarily carry the connotations of great risk or investment, which my proposed trope does. I'll tweak the description a bit.

    Edit: Or maybe not. Eugh, does anyone think this is distinct enough or should I just discard it?
  • September 11, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Bad Trope Namer, by the way.

    Is this is simply about skills with a low chance of success?
  • September 11, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    Hm? Why is it a bad Trope Namer? There are actually quite a few trope namers that aren't actually a full example of the trope.

    Anyway, yes, I suppose a trope about skills that don't have random effects, but do have a random chance of succeeding at all would work and be a possible subtrope of Random Effect Spell.
  • September 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    "Gambit" has special connotations on TV Tropes for a plan or strategy. Videogame skills/abilities can't use the term -- they are always a "skill", "ability", "spell", or "move".
  • September 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    I see. Fair enough. What do you think would be a better title, though?
  • September 12, 2011
    Balmung
  • September 13, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Good enough. BTW, with regards to the distinction from Random Effect Spell, Random Effect Spell generally has a guaranteed chance to hit and do something (though you never know exactly what), while here, the outcome may be fixed but the actual probability of it hitting is low.

    Examples I can think of:

    • Pokemon: One Hit Kill moves (Guillotine, etc.) have a base 30% accuracy, the lowest of any move in the game. A few other moves like "Dynamic Punch" and "Inferno" are guaranteed to inflict a Standard Status Effect when they hit, but only hit 50% of the time.

    • Breath Of Fire: "Risky Blow" always lands a critical hit, but only if it hits, and the user is told this is a low percentage of the time.
  • September 13, 2011
    Teddroe
    Do random negative effects count? If so the infamous tripping mechanic from Super Smash Bros. Brawl might fit.
  • September 13, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    Random negative effects probably fall under Random Effect Spell, I think.
  • September 15, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    I hate to do this, but...BUMP.
  • September 17, 2011
    ChaosVincent1
    • most Fire Emblem abilities activate on a random chance basis when two characters fight. Pray your opponent's ability is not Nihil.
  • September 25, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    *sigh* BUMP.
  • August 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    "attempt to do something is not always successfull": not a trope.

    drown it or someone wants to salvage something?
  • August 10, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Maybe I have some examples, but first... Would it count if the ability has two effects, one that always hits (damage if it's an attack), and another that only has a chance to appear?
  • August 10, 2012
    acrobox
    High Risk High Reward : Something that doesn't usually work, but when it does its amazingly useful / powerful. If it doesn't, nothing happens at all.
  • August 10, 2012
    abk0100
  • August 11, 2012
    Andygal
    Echo Bazaar has had its name changed to Fallen London, so I fixed it.
  • August 11, 2012
    Koveras
    My problem with this proposal is that in most tabletop RPGs, ALL abilities have a chance to fail. Does that mean, we can include pretty much every tabletop game that uses dice here?
  • August 11, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^ which is why i called chairs on this, as it is.

    I didn't discard it because even if "may or may not hit" as such goes to chairs, there still can be tropable parts to salvage, e.g. "sliding scale of randomness vs. determinism", ^^^^^ random secondary effects, etc.
  • August 11, 2012
    abk0100
    If you want to convince people that this isn't a trope, start by actually reading the description. Don't just make up a straw definition ("attempt to do something is not always successfull") and then expect knocking it down to be good enough.
  • August 11, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Uhm, actually, if to understand the idea of the proposal, one has to read through the detailed description, then the working title and particularly the laconic need fail to properly reflect its contents.
  • August 11, 2012
    sigh824
    Hama, in the Shin Megami Tensei series, kills anyone instantly but it has a small chance of actually working(nil if fighting a boss).

    Also in Dragon Quest IX, the revive spell may not work.
  • August 11, 2012
    animeg3282
    Crap, I know this has happened in Final Fantasy .
  • August 11, 2012
    acrobox
    ^^^ Yeah i'd change both the name and laconic because those can apply to everything that isnt guaranteed to work. the point of this should stress that the chance to work is incredibly, or at least comparatively, small next to other options.
  • August 11, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    ^ Where is the line between "incredibly small" and "merely uncommon"? I think "activates randomly" (rather than by explicit choice, whether or not it can fail) is a better focus.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable