12 February, 2015

Playing with Dice

My current thoughts are with the 'Other Strangeness' game about mutant animals in a subdued cyberpunk dystopia (ie, a place only slightly different to our world).

That's what I was thinking about with my last post about the dice and outcome mechanisms used in Star Wars: Edge of Empire (and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 3rd Ed). I'd like to see a result mechanism that gives far more than just a success/failure result, and more than the other common mechanism output form with multiple degrees of success or failure.

I'd also like to see this game offer the player a bit more control of their character's destiny when they roll the dice...accepting sacrifices in order to push things a little bit further.

I could do this with two colours of fudge dice (marked -,0,+), where the main dice determine success, neutral results or failure, while secondary dice determine advantages, neutral results or disadvantages. I could also use the same mechanism that drives FUBAR (and that was the original intention behind this game), but now I'm contemplating a slightly modified system.

There's a school of thought that states no die roll should result in a non-event. If there is no result from an action, then what was the point of undertaking the action? I don;t particularly subscribe to this school of thought, because there is always a chance that something good could happen (or something bad), every time those dice are rolled. The neutral results aren't a bad thing, as long as they still contribute to the story in some way.

In the time since I last posted, I've even considered a way to use a hybrid system that could be easily resolved on normal dice, or could be tailored to a custom die.

Here's what I'm thinking at the moment.

'Other Strangeness' will still use the grammatical mechanism I described for it last year. A player states what they want their character to do in terms of a verb (a skill action they have practiced/mastered), an adverb modifier (an inherent trait), a noun (a tool they may be using for the task), and an adjective (about the situation they are in). They roll a base of 2 dice, and as long as the character performing the action has the designated words associated with their character, they gain bonus dice to the action.

In a system closer to FUBAR, we might take the best two dice and allocate one to determine how well the action succeeded, while the second die is used to determine what is sacrificed in the process. But FUBAR has always had an issue with multiple degrees of success. I've rearranged the system in numerous subtle ways, but every issue fixed brings up a new problem. So I'm thinking of pulling things a bit further away from that model.

Still using 6-sided dice, let's generally keep the FUBAR / Fudge system.

1-2 = fail
3-4 = neutral
5-6 = success

But, I've already stated a desire to move away from neutral results. If players pick up dice, I want something to happen.

So let's add advantages and disadvantages to the die.

Odd = disadvantage
Even = advantage

That gives us a final set of die results equal to...

1 = fail with disadvantage
2 = fail with advantage
3 = neutral with disadvantage
4 = neutral with advantage
5 = success with disadvantage
6 = success with advantage

With even chances of positive or negative results, having more dice isn't really an advantage, This needs to be addressed.

I'm thinking of using exhaustable traits. If a player uses one of their character's trait words in an action, they may choose to exhaust the trait word for the remainder of the scene in exchange for discarding a die they don't like. A player may still use that word to describe their character's actions in future, but if they exhaust an already exhausted trait word, the word is discarded from play for the rest of the game.

There's more to it, but that's where I'm starting.
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