26 January 2012

There can be only one (mechanic)

I know he's not a highlander but he's got a sword. That's almost good enough, right?

I'm torn between two systems: Either d10 against a static modifier, or d10 against the GM's d10, with opportunities to roll again or whatever. All other things being equal, which would you prefer?



The first one is the way it's been done for ages. There are a bunch of tables saying how difficult a thing is, and you look at it, and then you roll and try to roll better than it. It's kind of mechanical, and actually requires nearly as much GM fiat as the dude making it up on the spot. It's just better hidden. It's easy to understand, and lets you play percentage games when you want to.

The second way is what I'm trying to do in The Odds Are Against You, because I'm using cards and you can play your high card when it's an important moment and your low one when you want to save your high cards for later. You, basically, get to choose your own odds. If you want to be sure to win, play a 10. If you'd like relative certainty, play a 7 (you have a 70% chance of winning the card flip.) It reverses the roles a little, which is kind of what I'm after.

But which do you think would be more fun?

3 comments:

  1. I'd guess that having the GM make up the difficulty on the fly is the most fun. Just share your reasoning with the players. "You want to do X. Factors A and B are helping you, but factor Q is a real hindrance. So, roll a d6 and get a 5 or 6" or whatever. This tends to reward smart play and helps to get the players thinking outside of the stat boxes. They'll start looking for any little factor that might help to improve their odds. Essentially, it tends to improve player immersion, and that's where the fun lurks.

    Definitely don't spend time looking up any static modifier from a table, it interrupts the flow of the game.

    Rolling a d10 vs. the Gm's d10 is essentially a 50/50 chance of success, but the opposed die roll adds an element of suspense that I really like. It's especially fun for situations where a PC is directly competing with an NPC, arm wrestling, chess game, or whatever. Maybe throw some ability score modifiers in there too.

    The high card wins mechanic sounds interesting, but I've never used it at the gaming table. I've had fun playing Pitch and Spades, but I can't say how well it mixes with role playing. My concern would be that players could get fixated on the mechanics of the cards. Do they loose focus on the events in the game while they're deciding which cards to play and which cards to keep? Maybe it works great, I have no idea. So long as you and the players are having fun, that's what counts.

    That's my opinion anyhow. Take it or leave it.

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  2. Ron Edwards's Trollbabe used a d10 resolution with re-rolls, each failure giving you a different staturs (discommoded, injured, incapacited, death).

    IMHO using cards as tokens on the player's side and d10 on the GM side is a pretty nice idea, giving the player thus more creative authority.

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  3. 'My concern would be that players could get fixated on the mechanics of the cards. Do they loose focus on the events in the game while they're deciding which cards to play and which cards to keep?':

    I'd say there a quite a few reasons TSR's SAGA system tanked, and this is likely one of the prime ones.

    'IMHO using cards as tokens on the player's side and d10 on the GM side is a pretty nice idea, giving the player thus more creative authority.'
    Oh, Story Gamers. Never change... ;-)
    I love how people how don't like 'fiddly' subsystems not calibrated to laser-like mechanical focus will propose stuff like this that is *far* more disrupting of immersion than any die roll ever could be.(I seriously had one of my local members of this tribe attempt to incorporate *Guitar Hero* into his gaming. Went about as well as you'd expect.) :-) But novelty is its own reward, I guess.

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