Saturday, August 13, 2011

War In The Heavens pt. 5: Dice...Oh Yeah!!

Anyone who has listened to The Laughing Stick podcast even a little is probably aware of my love for mechanics. I love rules systems and mucking about with them. So when I sat down to work on the mechanics of this game, I kind of had information overload. I mean, which dice mechanic will I aim for? How will it interact with the fluff?

Starting out I made an arbitrary decision to use dice pools. I did this because I like dice pools. I like dice pools a lot. I am aware that other dice systems work just as well, so my decision was purely about my tastes. Because of this I will not go into too much depth as to why I chose to use a dice pool. I will say this though, I don't like a dice pool greater than ten. So I think that will be my limiting factor. Ten dice is about as many as you can hold in one hand, so that will be my limit.

When using dice pools there are several different methods for calculating success. There is the simple method of rolling the dice and adding the numbers together. There is setting a target number on the die and any die that comes up that number or higher(or lower, I guess) counts as a success(World of Darkness), or a hit(Shadowrun 4th). Then there is the slightly different roll a certain amount, but only count a smaller number(Legend of the Five Rings). Also there was the system used in Brave New World, where you roll a number of dice, but only one of them is used(the highest die). There may be other dice pool mechanics that I have forgotten here, and I may look into other specifics as I go along, but for now this will work.

So the first break down I had was whether to use successes/hits or target number/add up. When I first came to this I had thought to use the successes model, as I am most familiar with it in play. But as I thought about it, I realized I might be able to do more with adding the dice together. Specifically when I was looking through Legend of the Five Rings, I kind of fell in love with the Roll/Keep system they use there.

I have played in many Roll/Keep systems in the past(LotFR,7th Sea...a lot of 7th Sea). One thing that I loved was the choices involved in a simple roll of the dice. Before you roll you can decide to raise the difficulty in order to do a greater effect. Then when you roll you can only keep and count a certain number of the dice so you have to decide which of those you will keep. And this is where my problem came in. as there was no downside, or alternate effect, for going over the target number there was no reason to choose anything but the highest numbers shown.

This is fine enough I guess, but I always felt it was a lost opportunity for interesting choices. So I started toying with the idea of precision, the idea that going over the target number could be just as bad as going under it. Meaning that the idea would be to get as close as you could to the target number.

Now, this will add a bit more complexity to the rules. I am still working on the idea, so I can't guarantee that I will be going with this idea. Though it is intriguing and I feel like it is where I want to go. One idea I had was to have a range of success on either side of the target number(either three or five at this juncture), but I am unsure as to how that will play out. As I am only about three or four mechanics posts away from alpha testing, here's hoping I can test it and give you all a report as to how that idea works.

On a side note I have been watching a lot of the cartoon Sym-Bionic Titan(great show, go watch I have decided that there will be mecha in my game. I loves me some giant robot! Oh yeah!

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