Showing posts from May, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #21: Otherkind Dice

I've run into this concept a few times over the past couple of months so I thought that I should make some kind of reference to the idea in my weekly mechanism blog. Otherkind Dice The basic gist is that you choose a bunch of objectives, then roll a bunch of dice. Upon seeing the result of the dice, the player chooses to allocate them across their objectives, allowing the effects they really want to have a better chance of occurring, while allowing less important aspects can fail. The example given uses 3 objectives for an event, and then rolls three six sided dice. For the three objectives you pick two or three degrees of outcome (Bad[1-3]/Good[4-6] or Bad[1-2]/Neutral[3-4]/Good[5-6]), and once you roll the dice you allocate them across the 3 objectives. The degree of the good effect should be roughly proportional to the degree of the bad effect. Good, my opponent is humiliated; versus Bad, I am humiliated. Good, I win the race; Neutral, an unrelated competitor wins the race;

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #20: Injuries vs Hit Points

I've read a few comments about the notion of "Hit Points" versus "Injuries" in roleplaying games. Some of these comments have been on forums, some have been on other people's blogs, some have been in archived articles. What is the difference I hear you ask? Both a "Hit Point" model and an "Injury" model simulate the effects felt by a wounded character in a roleplaying game. Hit points tend to measure the characters distance between two points of fully healthy and unconsciousness (or dead). Injury models tend to measure how far a character has been pushed away from an optimal condition by tracking a series of specific effects on the character. As far as most commentators are concerned, Hit Points are derived from the mechanisms of wargames. Early wargames began with players moving units of troops around a battlefield, gradually reducing the number of effective troops in a unit as conflict developed and damage was sustained. Once these

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #19: Fate Points

This one's a pretty simple mechanism that has been incorporated into a few games over the years. The basic idea is that characters should be given some kind of currency to put a bit of extra effort into a task. This means that players get the opportunity to show the things that their character really cares about, and really wants to succeed (even if their skills wouldn't normally allow such a success). In the Storytell(er/ing) System from White Wolf, this is reflected through Willpower points. Everyone gets 1 to 10 of these (typically averaging around 5 - 6, while most regular humans have 2 - 3). The system works off multiple degrees of success, and if a character really wants something to succeed, they spend a willpower point to improve their degree of success by 1. Each character and each NPC has their own pool of willpower points that may be used in this manner to adjust the storyline to their advantage. In the d20 modern system, players and GM are assigned action dice. T

Chronica Feudalis

Just thought I'd note an interesting game that has just come up on Story Games. It's called Chronica Feudalis . I don't know how the game will play out yet, but I like its premise. A bunch of monks in the middle ages developed a roleplaying system to reflect the world around them. The current "author" is actually translating the text from ancient manuscripts in middle-english into modern English for a new generation of gamers. Reminds me of the book "The Princess Bride", and a few other great pieces of literature which are presented in the form of a researcher's translations and interpretations of original source material. From what little I've seen so far, it seems to use a similar system to John Harper's Agon, where you roll one or more dice as appropriate to the situation then simply keep the highest rolling die value as your result. It simplifies things by forgetting about modifiers, you just seem to roll more or less dice and aim fo

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #18: Life Path

Let's grab something I loved from an old game... Something that hasn't really been seen in many of the more recent games that I've been looking at (whether independently produced or mainstream). (Yes, I'm doing this because I've noticed that my blog is running behind on it's weekly game mechanisms and some of my own ideas just haven't seemed adequate as I've started numerous times to write this post) I love the concept of the life path in Cyberpunk 2020, I adapted some of it's ideas when I wrote the Eighth Sea. I know that the concept has also been thoroughly explored in games like Traveller and HoL (with both of these games offering options that can kill a character before they even enter play). I like the idea of rolling a bunch of dice to fill put the backstory of a character instantly gives characters a time and place in the setting where they will be developing their stories. It helps to set the tone of the game, gets into players minds tha

Game Mechani(sm) of the week #17: Virtues and Vices

This is an idea I've been developing for playing with the things that maintain some type of hold over a character's actions through the course of play. I call them... Virtue/Vice/Time Commitment Thresholds The concept is pretty simple, it requires the game to be divided into scenes of indeterminate length that are relevant to the unfolding fiction. A number of these scenes being added together to create a session of play (typically a session of play will reveal a complete and distinct storyline). It uses traditional six-sided dice. For every Virtue, Vice or Time Commitment possessed by the character, a single die is rolled at the beginning of the session. The number on this die represents the tension threshold of this character aspect; the higher the threshold, the more likely that the event will play a part in an upcoming scene. All Virtues/Vices and Time commitments have a rating of 7, 5 or 3. If the tension threshold is equal to or greater than the rating, then this tr

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #16: Balanced Story Threat Introductions

One of the elements I used in the Eighth Sea was a system where players could introduce aspects into a story. I did this at a fairly simplistic level with each player being given a limited number of tokens which could be expended to introduce anything into the events at hand (within reason). The context of the Eighth Sea is a time travelling swashbuckling epic. If a player wanted to introduce something into the game that was suitable for the setting it would only costs a single token, eg. A paratrooper is introduced into a scene occuring during a scene in western France during WW2. If a player wanted to introduce something that was a locational or temporal displacement, then they'd have to spend an extra token, eg. A kamikaze pilot or a Gaulish warrior in Western France during WW2. If a temporal and locational displacement occured then a third token would require expenditure, eg. A samurai in Western France during WW2. Such introductions to the storyline were simply surreal div

Quincunx: Power 19

When I first came across the concept of the Power 19, I thought it was a great diagnostic tool for a game designer. It's a series of questions that have been developed to really give someone an idea of where they are at with their games core structure and how it fulfills the intended goals. Based on a quick google search, the origins of the Power 19 seem to come from the Socratic Design Blog (actually, if you're interested in game design, have a check through this hasn't been updated in a while, but it's a veritable treasure trove of useful design tools and ideas), an example of a power 19 in use can be found here . It's a great idea, but it's something that I've just completely neglected to do for Quincunx. Here goes... The game is designed to be played on a few levels, so I'll answer these questions twice. The first response is a superficial look at the game. The second response is a deeper metaphysical accounting of the game. 1.) Wha