This is the last book I read: http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2016/04/cain/ . Its central section is a sequence of long anagrams: 31 prose poems, each arranged from the same four verses from Genesis into a different sense.

One of the most recent games I ran was Psi*Run; in that, each roll means you're given these six faces that you then have to arrange to make sense as you'd like to.

The two kinds of arrangement had a resonance, I thought; you've got two fives, or a dozen h's, and though you can't change that you can do as you will with them, as far as sense allows. It didn't seem enough to make a post about but Jason Morningstar's friendly post earlier encouraged me. Now I'm thinking, though, what would a D20 game be like if you rolled a d20 a dozen times at the start of a session, and that was the set of rolls you were allowed to use? oh this is an important check so I'll use that 17 (crosses 17 off for now) but making sure you use up some of the low rolls before they're all you're stuck with?

Or if they were the set of rolls each player had?


  • In a sense, some earlier RPGs using playing cards as a substitute for dice worked like this, I think: you were dealt a "hand" and then chose one of the cards you had when making a "check"... Wasn't the Saga system from TSR like this? Anybody?
    One basic problem with this kind of design (in D&D-esque adventure games, at least) is that either the "low" cards don't get used at all or - if you provide an incentive to use them or somehow force players to use up all their cards - they'll tend to deliberately pick up conflicts they don't care about (i.e. false conflicts) to spend their low cards in and lose. Which usually isn't fun, not because losing isn't fun, but because going into an apparent conflict knowing that you want to lose and will certainly lose isn't fun.
    Advantages of cards over dice include: not risking to re-roll them accidentally, suits offering an alternate way of reading a card which can feed into your "incentive to use low cards" subsystems.
  • Good questions. Rafu's got the gist of it about games which use "pre-rolled" results - it's tricky (but not impossible, of course) to get it to feel good.

    I wouldn't use it for adventure fiction, personally, where the tension of uncertainty is a large part of what makes the game fun.

    One of the things that makes it work in Psi*Run is that you roll and assign all at once; this means that you know the relative "weight" of each decision. You can choose to succeed at this one thing, but fail at another, and weighing them against each other is the interesting part. If you're just choosing rolls from a list, though, you have no way to weigh one opportunity against another, since they happen quite removed from one another.
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