Nothing is original: who else had my mechanics idea?

edited July 2016 in Make Stuff!
Hey gang, just a quick fact-finding mission to my favourite brain-trust.

I have some a design idea but it's so stupid obvious that it must be used in other games. My question is: what games?

So, the system works as follows.

Each character sheet has a slot corresponding to a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12.

(a) A player handbook details races, classes, backgrounds (hullo, 5e!).
(b) Players pick an option for each of the three categories [Elf rogue of noble lineage, for example].
(c) Each race, class and background has a list of flavourful "attributes" representing specific abilities, equipment, knowledge or connections.
(d) Players select attributes to be represented in their dice slots on their character sheets.
[Our rogue has "Stealthy" as her d12 die, "Mistress of Elven Blades" as her d10, "Scion of Ancient House" as her d8, etc.]

finally..

(e) When determining the outcome of their actions, players roll 1d20 in addition to whichever attribute dice is appropriate. If the total reaches or exceeds 20 they have succeeded.

Add subsystems to taste.

I believe similar is used in a more freeform way in Dungeon Squad. Is it used anywhere else?

Bonus round: What are the limitations of this system, and what would improve it?

Thanks team!

Comments

  • Slotting attributes into die sizes has been done a ton, with all the Cortex-based systems the first thing that comes to mind (e.g. Smallville, Marvel Heroic). Also In a Wicked Age. Nothing else comes to mind instantly, but I think there's more.

    The Cortex games add the attribute die to some other dice, but none of the other dice are d20s, and I can't remember if any of them use a static target number, but perhaps not, and if so, it isn't 20.

    So, I believe these exact particulars may be unique to you. :)
  • Limitations / improvements:

    In a game where you want luck to matter a ton, and attributes to also be significant, it sounds fine. If I were going to tailor some fiction to this system, I'd aim my scenarios at unknowns and crapshoots with the d20 representing pure luck, and then I'd narrate the attribute roll as degree of competence in performing the action. So, y'know, roll a 12 on your d12 and a 7 on your d20, and you did an amazing thing, but the thing you tried to do simply turned out to be impossible.

    Hmm, on reflection, if you roll max result on max stat and still fail 35% of the time, that might be a bit of a shock. Also, rolling max result on a d8 and failing 55% of the time. Not to mention rolling middle results on those and failing 65% and 75% of the time. The game would have to be really fun to fail at. Success would be pretty momentous. If that's not your plan, maybe move your target number to 15.
  • Bonus: TN 20 is too high. Your 1d4 slot succeeds about 1/6 of the time, and your 1d12 slot succeeds about 2/6 of the time. Is that what you want? Or if you can roll multiple slots at once, seems like that encourages overlapping attributes when I'd guess you'd rather orthogonal attributes.
  • edited July 2016
    Can I skip to the bonus round?

    Limitations / caveats:

    • The specificity/generality of the attributes is important. You could justify "Soldier" being used for all sorts of things. In FATE, characters also have 5 aspects that PCs can use for advantage, but they usually need to spend points to do so, and the aspects are balanced by being potential weaknesses as well as strengths.

    • This system doesn't seem to play nice with character advancement, at least in the D&D "characters gradually become gods" sense of the term. Can your rogue ever become more stealthy? Or less stealthy?

    • The best success chance an attribute can yield in this system is 37.5%.

    • If the "DC" is always 20, then all tasks for which a roll is needed have the same chances of success. This generally isn't a problem in AW or OSR, so it depends on what kind of game you intend to run.

    "What would improve it?" is hard to say without more information about what kind of game and gameplay you're going for.

    Edit: cross-posted with David and Guy, who already made some of the math-related points.
  • To me the key idea in your system is the preferential ordering of character abilities to pre-determined effectiveness slots. It's an elegant idea, and intuitive, although I can't off-hand name a game that does exactly the same thing. D&D has default attribute arrays, but the attributes themselves are fixed and universal, for instance. Heroquest perhaps comes closest, as it's got the default values for keywords and abilities, plus there sort of is a list of abilities you can pair with those numbers, more or less. It's definitely not showcased the way you do it, though.

    The dice ladder thing is old hat, on the other hand; I think it became popular with '90s games like Earthdawn and such. Your specific dice mechanic with d20+[ability die] vs. target number is pretty novel, but it also has its foibles as others have mentioned, and it's not integral either - by which I mean that you could arbitrarily use the ability dice in some other way, too, if you wanted to. How well it serves depends on the totality of the design, maybe this is exactly the dicing mechanic that most beautifully captures the scope of the game.

    As others have noted, it's impossible to make a value judgement on the mechanics without the rest of the game. I can see the game for which the system as outlined is already perfect, for instance, but then I can see how you could take it to many different directions, too, depending on what you were trying to accomplish.
  • edited July 2016
    Anima Prime: pick 3 skills, make them up if you want, assign them to dice pool effectivenesses 2d, 3d, and 4d.

    Fate: pick 10 skills, maybe from a universal list or maybe made up for the campaign/setting, assign them to bonus effectivenesses +1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, and 4. Edit: Like JDCorley says, this is the Fate Core skill pyramid.
  • The Fate Core skill pyramid is the pre-determined effectiveness slot system.
  • edited July 2016
    Vampire: the Masquerade assigns attribute scores by priority, with the same constraint that they end up all different; many games do it, often tempering this unnatural feature with adjustments and freely allocated stat points. One or more of the alternate ability score determination methods in AD&D also use fixed scores.

    The difference between a die size and a numeric stat value is merely cosmetic; it is fair to say that the attributes of the example rogue are "Stealthy" 12, "Mistress of Elven Blades" 10, "Scion of Ancient House" 8.

    What's more special is constraining stats to feasible die sizes rather than merely to a range, allowing the fairly unusual mechanic of throwing a single die of that size, instead of using the stat value as a threshold, dice pool size, etc.

    From this point of view, adding a d20 to the "dStat" reduces the novelty, since the resolution mechanic can be seen as a commonplace d20+skill linear scale roll, with extended variance but an obvious average bonus of (stat value+1)/2.

    The only interesting and novel design dimension that comes to mind is probability distribution engineering. For example, with the same average (and presumably the same cost), there might be a nice mechanical difference between a fearsome but unimaginative robot with Sword +30 (fixed), a skilled duelist who knows two extreme styles and can switch between Sword +20d2 (safe and boring) and +2d24+5 (dangerous but often rewarding), an average veteran with Sword +8d6+2 and a reckless madman with Sword +2d30-1.

  • Yeah, this does give you a "trapezoidal" distribution shape instead of the "plateau" distribution shape you get with d20+skill, but that doesn't matter if you're comparing against a constant TN. In fact, in terms of probability, this is essentially no different from a d20+skill roll.

    d20+d3 and d20+2 have the same 15% chance of meeting or exceeding 20. The only difference with even-sided dice is that they'll have _2.5% and _7.5% chances instead of the _0% and _5% chances that odd-sided dice and flat bonuses yield.

    You're rolling extra dice for no reason :~)

  • You're rolling extra dice for no reason :~)
    This was my reaction, too.

    Otherwise, its robustness depends somewhat on how well-defined your various "traits" are, and how they are assigned.

    It's also sometimes frustrating to deal with a "pyramid" kind of distribution, because it limits possible character concepts. Depends on the game, of course! Sometimes it's just fine.

    I believe that the Alternity game may have used this exact dice mechanic, so that may be worth looking at.

  • This is fascinating!
    Limitations / improvements:

    In a game where you want luck to matter a ton, and attributes to also be significant, it sounds fine. If I were going to tailor some fiction to this system, I'd aim my scenarios at unknowns and crapshoots with the d20 representing pure luck, and then I'd narrate the attribute roll as degree of competence in performing the action. So, y'know, roll a 12 on your d12 and a 7 on your d20, and you did an amazing thing, but the thing you tried to do simply turned out to be impossible.

    Hmm, on reflection, if you roll max result on max stat and still fail 35% of the time, that might be a bit of a shock. Also, rolling max result on a d8 and failing 55% of the time. Not to mention rolling middle results on those and failing 65% and 75% of the time. The game would have to be really fun to fail at. Success would be pretty momentous. If that's not your plan, maybe move your target number to 15.
    You read my intentions for this system perfectly - neatly encapsulating the spirit of the thing. Could I paraphrase you if ever I write something out of this?

    I agree it would be a shock to fail even with a natural 12 on that d12. The subsystems to taste I might add would be to make a critical hit on the attribute dice to have some effect even if the roll is lost - gain XP, "No, but.." outcome in your favour, gain a bonus on your next roll, re-roll the 1d20 - maybe a choice between any of these, or a different one for each die size (as a 1d4 crit is easier than a 1d12's).
    Bonus: TN 20 is too high. Your 1d4 slot succeeds about 1/6 of the time, and your 1d12 slot succeeds about 2/6 of the time. Is that what you want? Or if you can roll multiple slots at once, seems like that encourages overlapping attributes when I'd guess you'd rather orthogonal attributes.
    Ack! Is it really so slim as 1/6, 2/6. That seems to contact with David's numbers above, or am I number blind? Would offering positive outcomes on attribute dice regardless of the d20 effect the odds better?
    Can I skip to the bonus round?

    Limitations / caveats:

    • The specificity/generality of the attributes is important. You could justify "Soldier" being used for all sorts of things. In FATE, characters also have 5 aspects that PCs can use for advantage, but they usually need to spend points to do so, and the aspects are balanced by being potential weaknesses as well as strengths.

    • This system doesn't seem to play nice with character advancement, at least in the D&D "characters gradually become gods" sense of the term. Can your rogue ever become more stealthy? Or less stealthy?

    • If the "DC" is always 20, then all tasks for which a roll is needed have the same chances of success. This generally isn't a problem in AW or OSR, so it depends on what kind of game you intend to run.

    "What would improve it?" is hard to say without more information about what kind of game and gameplay you're going for.
    Good questions!

    • would like the attributes to be specific and for there to be a lot of flavourful options. I feel it would allow characters to be more unique. So "Soldier" might be broken down into "I led men in the last great war," "I survived the horror of the trenches," and "My reputation in hand-to-hand combat is well deserved" - these all have the broad uses that "soldier" might but tilt in more Wisdom/Charisma, Constitution/Int, and Strength/Charisma respectively.

    •Yeah, an XP subsystem can get thrown in there! What do you want? AW style XP-on-a-critical-miss? Points move dice up a size? And/Or give you a new d4 option?

    • "This generally isn't a problem in AW or OSR." Yep.

    • I'll get back to you on that one.

    Right, it grows late and I am a slow typist. More tomorrow, but thanks! - you guys are great!
  • If I were going to tailor some fiction to this system, I'd aim my scenarios at unknowns and crapshoots with the d20 representing pure luck, and then I'd narrate the attribute roll as degree of competence in performing the action.
    You read my intentions for this system perfectly - neatly encapsulating the spirit of the thing.
    OK, if the dice are fictionally semantic then they're not necessarily superfluous. But I'm not sold on the degree of competence being so variable; it seems to me that if you're good at something but maybe you're not so good at it under this very specific circumstance, then that's just another form of bad luck. Unless your dice rolls establish precedent, like, "I rolled a 6 on my Forester d10 for climbing this tree, so that means I just get a +6 on tree-climbing rolls from now on". In general I love the idea of rolls establishing precedent, but I'm guessing that's not what you're going for here.
    • Yeah, an XP subsystem can get thrown in there! What do you want? AW style XP-on-a-critical-miss? Points move dice up a size? And/Or give you a new d4 option?
    What do you want? :)
  • Bonus: TN 20 is too high. Your 1d4 slot succeeds about 1/6 of the time, and your 1d12 slot succeeds about 2/6 of the time. Is that what you want? Or if you can roll multiple slots at once, seems like that encourages overlapping attributes when I'd guess you'd rather orthogonal attributes.
    Ack! Is it really so slim as 1/6, 2/6. That seems to contact with David's numbers above, or am I number blind? Would offering positive outcomes on attribute dice regardless of the d20 effect the odds better?
    http://anydice.com/program/8e99

    1d4 is 17.5% ~= 16.7%
    1d12 is 37.5% ~= 33.3%

    David was giving odds of success given that you rolled max on your attribute die (or middle on your attribute die). I was giving odds of success overall.

    Depends on what you want yours odds to end up being and how much you want success to depend on skill. To just raise odds of success, lower TN. To raise perceived contribution of skill, maybe try either a) lower d20 size and lower TN a bunch, or b) grant auto-success on attribute rolling 6+. Here's a clumsy but workable link to play with the latter: http://anydice.com/program/8e9b
  • I like the idea of making each die roll semantically/distinctly meaningful.

    Success on one die means one thing; success on the other means something else.

    For instance:

    Success on the "skill" die means that you use your experience to achieve a meaningful consequence. You put your knowledge into action and leveraged it to do something related to that field of knowledge. This always takes a 4+.

    Let's call it the Expertise die.

    Success on the d20 (the Fate die) is all about circumstances, luck, and the whims of the gods. Here, you must roll a number determined by difficulty or whatever other rubric (perhaps influenced by prior rolls).

    Could be as simple as 5+ for when you have the upper hand or are prepared for this action, 10+ by default, and 15+ when things are not in your favour. Or whatever you want your game to encourage: 5+ for when you have the help of a friend, 10+ when you're on your own, and 15+ when you're outnumbered or a friend betrays you.

    You only really screw up when both fail, which makes your skill really meaningful.

    Otherwise, the Expertise die gives you some kind of bonus or effect based on what you're doing. For instance, if you're using magic it means you applied the correct effect, contacted the right spirits, and maintained control over the magic. In combat, perhaps a Soldier skill allows you to maneuver to your advantage or protect an ally.

    The Fate die creates a fortunate outcome, in the style of a "no, but". You didn't get what you wanted, but there is a silver lining, a positive outcome which you could use to your advantage.
  • Thanks again to everyone whose posted, even if I didn't respond to you. So sorry for not returning to this thread, I was thinking long and hard.

    Having given your comments some of the aforementioned thought and I've come back with the beginnings of something (he presumes).

    My design parameters are:
    That dice are important, physically as well as conceptually, and we should showcase the tactility of the table-top. Even if die are being thrown in pools, we should treat each mysterious polyhedral with respect and consider how we read each result.

    Ok, that was a lot of waffle but here's the general idea going forward:

    (a.) Each check thrown contains at least 2 dice.
    (b.) A d20 is always thrown and this represents the character's fate or fortune.
    (c.) A lesser polyhedral (d4-d12) is also thrown, representing the character's abilities, preparedness or tools. There will be flavourful lists to choose from. This dice is considered a success if it reads 4 or more.

    (c.2) Depending on the nature of the second die, there may be a third that gives a value for the utility, strength or magnitude of the roll. This may be a constant, such as a sword always doing d6 damage or used discretionally to add granularity to the second die result, such as how many children come from a player's successful attempt to seduce a barmaid.

    (d.) the objective is to roll 20 or higher with the combined score of the two primary die.

    (d.2) If you rolled 3 or less on the second die, you fail the check. But, depending on the reading of the d20 it could be a "no, but" or "no, and" situation.
    Similarly, if it's agreed that your d20 roll is too low despite getting 4+ on the second die it may be a "yes, but" or "yes, if" situation.

    (d.3) Critical hits do... appropriate things. Critical misses are held as "a bad thing in store" for that player in the next scene, such as being surprised in combat.

    (d.4) Other players can aid the check-making player by opting to "help" by rolling a d20 of their own. The player can choose their own result or the aiding player's, but both d20s must be rolled together. A result of 4 or less on the aiding d20 fails and the player character's help was actually a hinderance. The aiding player must choose either to have bad things happen to their character now, or bad things happen to the check-making character in the next scene.

    ...
    Ok, going to stop there because it'll be a rulebook otherwise. But does anyone see merit in the above?

    I like the "help" rules a lot (to toot my own trumpet) and would want to bring more of that type of player choice into my design.

    Anyway, easy to use and keeps a little arithmetic in the mix (like all good d20 systems).
  • Since it sounds quite similar to my suggestion above (and the helping rules are almost exactly the same as in my game The Bureau), I'm going to say I like it. :)

    However, I'm not fond of the "hold back a failure to cause trouble later" rule. I find that kind of thing feels pretty artificial in play.

    Also, if you're trying to roll 20+, with the die sizes you specified you'll have a very, very, very low success rate. I don't know if that's what you're intending, or not!

  • Since it sounds quite similar to my suggestion above (and the helping rules are almost exactly the same as in my game
    And what's the title of this thread again? :D Who is "a creative?" We're all just inventive thieves. Speaking of which, I will now go read The Bureau and see how you have the exact same helping rules but don't do the "hold back a failure to cause trouble later" business. Which is artificial in play, I'd agree, but I was thinking of embracing the artificiality and incorporating an "pass the miss die" doom-token element. It's a game, people, let's do rituals and chits!

    Also, if you're trying to roll 20+, with the die sizes you specified you'll have a very, very, very low success rate. I don't know if that's what you're intending, or not!
    Well if either die is a critical hit, that's a success. And perhaps, if I like the helping rules so much, the game can be made to be more dependent on team-work. I recall enjoying the individual weakness of PCs contrasted with their combined strength in Mouseguard.
  • I like the idea of building in teamwork as a necessary factor in order for success to be likely. Very appropriate for certain types of games!

    As for the helping rules, mine are almost the same as yours, except it's the *helping* player who gets to make the choice, not the one who is being helped.
  • edited August 2016

    As for the helping rules, mine are almost the same as yours, except it's the *helping* player who gets to make the choice, not the one who is being helped.

    "The aiding helping player must choose either to have bad things happen to their character now, or bad things happen to the check-making character in the next scene."

    So does mine. ;)
  • Oh, so what does the rolling player choose a die for, then?
  • They'd choose either their result or the result offered by the helping player's dice; the equivalent of rolling two dice and picking the higher.

    As the chance of reaching that DC20 is low, I suppose players could be encouraged to work as a team and stack helping dice (so being able to choose the best out of two, three, four etc results), with perhaps the entire party trying to aid one roll. "The hoard is behind us! Everyone, shove this door!"

    These kinds of mechanics are likely to be overused (in a purely gamey sense), especially if it's very difficult to do a thing on your own. To aid some weight to team strategies I had been thinking that there should be some consequence or risk to involving more and more people. Perhaps: if the number of "fail" results in the "help pool" exceeds the number of "successes" then the party is disorganised and slow, even if it eventually succeeds (The orc hoard can make an attack of opportunity, or the elven diplomats take note of the squabbling).

    I think pushing into this territory is going to see me having to retool my initial steps.

    The Bureau is boss! I actually enjoy the Character Traits the most: elegant and compelling.
    The self-sacrifice (or exposing oneself to risk) bound up in the helping mechanics is definitely something I want to emulate.

  • Nice! Good stuff. I think this is potentially quite interesting territory.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
  • edited August 2016
    Thinking it over, I think you're getting into weird territory with having the dice each mean something separately AND the objective of rolling a 20 or more.

    It could work if handled right, but it's a bit wonky. Let's say I'm rolling a d10 (presumably a very good die to have!). My odds of various outcomes are... well, I'm not sure how they work together.

    The d10 either says:

    * (3/10 chance) You didn't do well. You failed the check.
    * (7/10 chance) You did well. "The die is considered a success."

    The d20... has to be added to that to determine something. Let's say the d10 is a 7:

    1-12: It's a "yes, but" result.
    13+: It's a full success.

    More generically:

    Our combined chances of a "yes, but" are 0.7*0.6=42%.

    Our combined chances of a "yes" are 0.7*0.4=28%.

    Let's say we rolled a 2, instead. Now the d20 says:

    1-17: Failure.
    18-20: "No, but."

    More generically:

    Our combined chances of a "Failure" are 0.3*0.85=25.5%.

    Our combined chances of a "No, but" are 0.3*0.15=4.5%.

    That's all pretty good, except I don't think you'd want "no, but" results to be so rare.

    Combining the totals of the dice with the results rolled on each is a bit funny. Basically, the d10 roll is determining the "difficulty" for the d20 roll, and it's not clear why this is a good thing. What do we get out of it?

    Is there another level of meaning we can get out of the d20 roll, separately from the total? I think you'd like to, but I don't know what that meaning is. So, what did you have in mind?

    (On a sidenote, I'd love to hear a mathematical explanation for why my hypothetical odds, above, add up to 100%! Coincidence?)
  • edited August 2016
    It's because those probabilities seem to be of the form P(A | B) with complementary values for B (0.7 and 0.3 sum to 1). Although I'm not sure why you picked 0.7 and 0.3!

    Edit: So yes, just coincidence.
  • edited August 2016
    Thanks! Explains it.

    As for: 0.7 and 0.3 are built into Potemkin's system (4+ is a "success").
  • edited August 2016
    Ok, so this is tentative but how about:
    A basic check system of rolling two polyhedral dice (d4-d20) - one for "Attributes," one for "Assets" - that need to beat a DC of 10.

    We can immediately see that players using anything less than d10s is going to have difficulty, so we need robust team-work mechanics such as the above.

    I'm still enjoying the idea of juggling a static DC system with a "pass/fail on 4+" system simultaneously - So a player may not beat the DC, but may get two "passes" that can perhaps be used to react to the negative consequences of their check.
    "My attack on the orc doesn't get through, but I spend my two successes to leap away from the counter and adopt a defensive stance!"
    I think there could be fun granularity from multiple, simultaneous readings of single pool-rolls.

    Keeping the DC static feels right to me, and opens up interesting ground if we move that point where the GM decides the challenge of a task to a different area of the design. If, for example, we design so that the PCs are more loosely defined and instead of having the tired "I'm Sneaky - d10" trait/dice system we opt for a contextual/discretional model where we know that a character is sneaky but is it worth a d10 in all situations?
    I like a model where players are negotiating for larger dice as we set up and lay down the stakes of a challenge.

    So d4 would represent the bare minimum relevancy of a trail, where as d20 would be it's perfect, formal usage. So the sharp-shooter maybe can get a d4 to assist in a forensics investigation of a crime scene (she knows how guns work, but not much about forensic science) but would use a d20 to see if she can get gold in an Olympic shooting competition (the trait is totally relevant and there are no conditions to effect her using it). I could see a fun bargaining for better dice going on at table, with the GM potentially laying out conditions or raising the stakes for better terms.

    I've realised that (a) I'm being very conversational with my descriptions and have no idea if I'm making sense at all, and (b) I've not even looked at the probabilities.
  • One thing that might help in this case is using "roll under", so that die types scale more smoothly.

    The problem I was pointing out above is that you can't have independent "success on each die" and "success based on the total", because they interact in weird ways (or, at least, you have to make sure it's doing what you want).
  • What does a pass/fail on the assets die tell you? Or is only the cumulative result relevant?
  • Yeah, that's the tricky part. In my original suggestion, I would "map" each die to a specific feature or function. These could be kind of like "Moves" from AW or whatever.

    e.g.

    Casting a Spell

    * Expertise Die - Success means you control the spell: it has the desired effect
    * Fate Die - Success means that the spirits are favorable, or that no unintended targets are affected

    Fighting Hand-to-Hand

    * Expertise Die - Success means you accomplish a desired objective
    * Fate Die - Success means that you emerge from the fray unscathed

    etc.

    That kind of thing.

    Now, you *could* try to work in a third threshold based on a combined result. For that to work well, I think you'd have to get closer to matching die sizes. It doesn't make a great deal of sense to roll a d4 for your Asset and a d20 for Luck, as it makes your skills almost irrelevant. But d6 for Skill and d8 for Circumstances, that kind of thing could produce an interesting "combined total" result you could use for another metric.
  • edited August 2016

    Let me try break what I'm seeing down some:

    Players have a character sheet with two categories of information:

    1. "Attributes" - which are general innate abilities, like being Strong, Stealthy or Magical.
    2. "Assets" - being specific extrinsic implements, like Throwing Javelins, Thieves' Tools or Knowledge of Resurrection Rituals.

    Attributes and Assets aren't quantified numerically. A character is Strong, he doesn't have "Strength 16." I want to invite the GM and Player to critically engage in how being Strong works for this character - is it the untested, showy brawn of a gymrat, the sinewy strength of real labour, or the hardened gristle of a professional warrior? We can move into a play-space that's all about those power-questions, mining the fiction and character positioning.

    When players want their characters to achieve an immediate goal but have to overcome a challenge they should roll a check. Rolling a check involves gathering a small pool of dice, rolling and interpreting the results as a group (again, inviting criticality).

    You get one die from an applicable Attribute. This is either a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 or d20, depending on how well the GM feels your Attribute applies to the situation, d4 being the least appropriate and d20 being a perfect marriage of ability and conditions (it's a rarity e.g d20 Dexterity might be awarded to do a well-practiced acrobatics routine in a kitted-out sports hall after a good rest and warm-up).

    Similarly, you get another die from Assets if that's applicable to (Yes, your cloak helps you be more stealthy). Attributes and Assets values are both conditional, so an Asset could be "the heavy rain today" when you're rolling a check to loose the orcs tracking you through the forest. An Attribute could be "I have blonde hair" if that was somehow the most relevant asset to the check. It's all about the fictional positioning and further defining characters and the world in general play (rather than just in character creation).

    [A third die could be added and I'd previously been considering making it some kind of fate or luck randomiser, but I think Story would be better served if this was something like an Instincts or Theme die. So say a player's character had the instinct "Kill all the Orcs!" then he'd get a third die for checks involving killing orcs. Or hitting up a character's "Love always prevails!" Theme then any check where she's invoking love's triumph she gets another die for her pool. I've not quite worked this out.]

    The check is rolled. If the sum of the results is equal or greater than 10 then the challenged faced by the character to achieve an immediate goal has bean overcome. We left the orc trackers behind in the forest; the acrobatics display was completed and impressed the audience.

    I think this system would lean heavily on "helping" rules and on opposing rolls - rolling verses the GM's dice-pool representing an NPC or even general threats (a severe ice storm (d10) with a d8 "the pass is dangerous in winter!" asset could be fun to roll against as a survival-based character).

    I could see a whole skirmish against the bad-guys being hinged on the fighter's goal to cast the villain into the fiery pit with rest of the party stacking on their help dice (and getting narration rights) on his main move.

    The problem I was pointing out above is that you can't have independent "success on each die" and "success based on the total", because they interact in weird ways (or, at least, you have to make sure it's doing what you want).
    What does a pass/fail on the assets die tell you? Or is only the cumulative result relevant?
    The total of the pool is to see whether the immediate challenge was overcome to achieve the immediate goal. The group also considers the results of each die individually to determine the lasting effects of the check going forward.

    If an Attribute or Asset die's result is 4 or greater it is considered a "Positive," if it is lower than 4 it is a "Negative."

    So having a d10 and a d6 for being a strong fighter wielding a sword attempting to injure an orc warrior and rolling a 8 and a 3 respectively would be interpreted as successfully hurting the orc with a "positive" attribute outcome and a "negative" asset outcome.

    So perhaps, in fiction, we could interpret positive/negative results as the character obviously displaying their worth as an opponent, maybe intimidating the orc with their strength - a real threat - but also that the blow overextended the characters reach and we should roll to see if the orc can recover from his surprise and pain fast enough to take this small advantage.

    You see, ongoing fiction and positioning and building the story even when we're kicking orcs in the face.




  • What's the difference between Attributes and Assets?

    It sounds like they could easily and simply be merged.

    Your system comes down to "judge the fictional positioning and assign a die size which sounds right".

    The example of Attribute and Asset in your post (fighting an Orc) is really not clear to me. Maybe try again?
  • The number one thing preventing me from being a game designer: I'm not very good an communicating my mechanics. ;)

    The essential difference between Attributes and Assets is Innate/General v. Extraneous/Specific respectively.

    So Conan has "Strength of Many Men" as an Attribute (it's innate to him and general in application) and "Sword of My People" as an Asset (it's extraneous and has specific uses).

    Gandalf is "Wise and Learn'd" (Attribute) but also knows "The Roads and Paths of Middle Earth" (An Asset, as a specific sub-category of his being Wise and Learn'd).

    Loosing an asset could, I imagine, be a common result of failure - whereas loosing an attribute would be much more grevious.

    Yes, perhaps they could be merged - but I'm fairly certain there's a real difference in play between Who You Are and What You Have. Whether I'm hitting that distinction in the best and most fun way is the real question.

    I'm entirely happy with a system whose core is about leaving fictional authority with the players, not the designer. The system can (and should) build on that supposition, to aid the players in framing and drawing out narrative, rather than trying to define what that narrative is at its inception.


    Ok, so: My fighter attacks the Orc!
    My fighter is Strong and has a Sword. The group and I have worked out from previous battles that I can roll a d10 for my Strength (my attribute) and a d6 for my Sword (an asset).
    I roll. I get a 8 and a 3 respectively (11 total).
    Great, I've beaten the DC of 10. My blow hits the orc.
    Now, the d10 score is over 4 so we consider it a "Positive," whereas the d6 is under 4 so it's "Negative." These + and - are used to colour my move and define my fighter's position going forward.
    So maybe I want to spend my + to announce that my strength is intimidating to the Orcs, but the DM may suggest that my - means I'm also overextended and vulnerable to the next Orc attack.

    A little spend economy crops up here: whatever the roll I either have -/- which the DM can use to mess with me or push hard moves, +/- that can either cancel itself out or get mixed fictional results, or +/+ which I can use to my advantage or aid others.

    Making more sense, or is it back to the drawing board time?
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