09 May, 2010

Vector Theory #18: Filters, Mirrors and Otherkind Dice

Also, are you familiar with otherkind dice? I've been reading about them recently, and they seem flippin sweet, but I'm having trouble fitting an otherkind dice conflict into your theory. Or are they just a way of producing mirrors on the fly?

I've been thinking about using Otherkind dice as one of my Vector Theory examples for a while. But if you've been following the blog, you'll see that I've only just refined things enough to start talking about specific game mechanisms through the analogy.

If you look through the comments on Neutral Filters, you'll see that I recanted the idea of "A Penny for My Thoughts" being a system of neutral filters...

The new paradigm for the analogy states that filters adjust the mechanisms used to confront obstacles within a story, while mirrors adjust the direction in which a story flows.

These two need not be mutually exclusive.

Otherkind Dice are special, I looked at them last year in my Game Mechani(sm) Series. They can literally be used both ways, depending on how they've been set up by the game designer. This is one of those points where system really does matter.

Ghost/Echo uses a form of Otherkind dice. A minimum of 2 dice are rolled, 1 for the action's goal and 1 per danger associated with the action (a minimum of 1 danger, but there could be more).

The dice in Ghost/Echo are reflective surfaces (which I was going to get to later).

I'll explain my thinking here...

A Reflective surface isn't quite a mirror, think of it more like a transition between mediums...air to glass, air to water...some photons reflect off the interface between mediums, no changes to their spectrum or intensity, they just head in a new direction. Some pass through the interface into the new medium where filter changes might occur.

For Otherkind dice, you roll the dice then assign the results...

Goal Die
A high result (5-6) sends the story in a direction chosen by the successful player. This might immediately channel the story through an additive filter (providing a bonus to a character), it might direct the story toward an even better series of choices, or it might simply provide insight regarding the wider picture.
If the assigned die has a moderate result (3-4), the issue is unresolved, there is still a chance for things to go into the hands of the players or against them.
If the assigned goal die has a low result (1-2), this sends the story in an unanticipated direction, the characters are on the back foot.

Danger Dice
If the assigned die is moderate (3-4), the danger associated with the die becomes an ongoing stigma for the character. It applies a permanent change to their capabilities, an ongoing risk that will have to be resolved through later actions before it causes a permanent change in the storyline's direction.
If the die roll is low (1-2), a complication comes to pass, this immediately impacts the story in a negative manner. The specific danger associated with this die stops being a mechanical effect (potentially able to modify the story) and shifts to a narrative effect.
If the assigned die is high (5-6), the danger doesn't come to pass. It has no further impact on the story, either mechanically or narratively.

To complicate things further, there are a few methods for using Otherkind Dice in a game. This is just an example of them in the context of Vector Theory, but I hope it makes sense.
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