10 February, 2015

Non-Standard Dice

I love the dice in Star Wars: Edge of Empire, but they're a very specific beast for a very specific game. It's possible to hack them into other systems and settings, but that can be a lot of work, and sometimes that feels like a bit of a betrayal to the game that being over-written with this die mechanism. I've never been a big fan of hacking games for the sake of hacking them, I figure that if you're going to do something properly, rebuild it from the ground up rather than just kludging one set of rules into another situation.

The thing I like about the Star Wars dice is the fact that they provide so much data with a single roll. There are positive dice, capable of giving you...neutral results, advantage results or success results (and sometimes an advantage and a success). Then there are negative dice, capable of giving you...neutral results, disadvantage results or failure results (and sometimes a disadvantage and a failure). Positive dice are typically detemined by your abilities, and negative dice are typically determined by your opposition (either their abilities, or the situation at hand). You tally up the total advantages and disadvantages, camcelling them out until one type remains, then do the same for successes vs failures.

In the end you get a few potential outcomes...
Neutral (everything cancels): The attempted action makes no difference to tthe situation.
Advantage(s) (but everything else cancels): The action didn't directly make things better, but it might help the next person who rolls (or might give a better chance on the next roll), or might make the next roll more difficult for an opponent.
Disadvantage(s) (but everything else cancels): The action didn't specifically make things worse, but it will either make things easier for an opponent's next action, or will make a follow-on roll harder for an ally.
Success(es) (but everything else cancels): The action basically succeeds in the expected manner. Maybe it just succeeded, and maybe it did so convincingly, that all depends on the number of successes.
Failure(s) (but everything else cancels): The action fails, and the character attempting the action suffers some kind of penalty from the attempt. Maybe a little backlash, maybe a lot, it depends on the number of failures.
Success(es) with Advantage(s): Not only did the action succeed, but it ended up with some kind of benefit that assists someone else. In the case of an attack action, the success might be a hit, while the advantages might activate a critical.
Success(es) with Disadvantage(s): The action may have succeeded, but it did so at a price and now opponents find their next rolls easier (or it becomes harder for allies to succeed in their rolls).
Failure(s) with Advantage(s): The action failed, but it got some of the way there, and even though the person acting has suffered some kind of repercussions their allies might now find things easier (perhaps they caused a distractionwhich takes the heat off everyone else).
Failure(s) with Disadvantage(s): the actions failed, and not only did it fail, but now the opponents gain advantages in their next actions (or the action failed in such a way that any follow up actions by allies are harder). 

So many options that link straight back into the storytelling, from a single roll of the dice.

I've basically got the same range of options as potential dice outcomes in FUBAR, but the die rolling works a bit differently and I don't need specialised dice to do it. FUBAR also has the benefit of allowing the player to control the destiny of the outcome a bit more by allocating dice in different ways once they've been rolled, but some players don't get this concept (so it's certainly not for everyone).

In my attempts to enhance the "Tooth and Claw/Voidstone Chronicles" game mechanism, I've been looking back to this type of resolution mechanism. Here, the players roll a variable number of dice, choosing a level of risk they want to accept, vesus the potential desired outcome. More dice means more chance of a better success, but more chance of a more spectacular failure also. 

This in turn led me back to Bug Hunt, where players can choose the low risk path to collect bugs where they have a low chance of success, and a low chance of failure...or they can venture into more dangerous areas of the board for the potential to gain more lucrative bugs. 

But Bug Hunt uses specific dice...and there lies the dilemma.

I could use a modified version of this game's mechanism in an RPG, but...

Do people want another game where there are specific dice that aren't really usable outside this game system?

Is it going to be too unwieldy to use a chart or some other method to covert die numbers to result symbols? (for example...on a white die, a 1 is a fail, and a 6 is a success...on a green die, a 1 is a fail, a 2 is a disadvantage, a 5 is an advantage, and a 6 is a success...on a yellow die, a 1-2 is a fail, and a 5-6 is a success...on a red die, a 1 is a pair of fails, a 2 is a fail, a 3 is a disadvantage, a 4 is an advantage, a 5 is a success, and a 6 is a pair of successes...on a black die, a 1-2 is pair of fails, a 3 is a fail, a 4 is a success, and a 5-6 is a pair of successes). 

More thought necessary on this one.

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