Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FtA: Systems

So I think I've got a good idea of what the world looks like, and I know the direction I want to take the game, and the feel I want to give it, so now it's time for the number crunching.

I guess the easy way to go is to hang this on the d20 system, and add some custom charts for what I'm looking for.  It's simple, reasonably intuitive, and lots of people use it.  It will eliminate at least one roadblock that would prevent people from picking it up - that they don't want to learn a new system. 

But there's a part of me that's saying, if you're going to create a game, why stop halfway? 

The current trend in RPGs seems to be "rules lite", and I like that - I don't want someone to have to devote a weekend just to learning how to play the game.  If I"m going to go heavy on something, it should be setting and background.

I always liked White Wolf's system of dice pools set against a difficulty number.  It simple and intuitive, easy to pick up and was integrated perfectly with their background. 

There's the One-Roll Engine which uses d10 rolls, and successes are based on the number of matched pairs that come up.

Hell, Nuomenon, the weirdest rpg ever invented uses dominos!

So I guess I'm looking to come up with a system that requires as few charts as possible, but is easy to learn, and allows me to tie it to the setting as much as possible.

I'll be thinking hard on this one.


  1. I'll always prefer a d20 system for running a game. It's easier to adjust probabilities on the fly. I know that every point I adjust a d20 roll is equal to 5%. By comparison, changing difficulty from 8 to 7 when the PC has a die pool of 5d10 makes success easier... but without a calculator I don't know how much easier exactly. Maybe I'm just old and set in my ways. I like using weird systems as a player though.

    Perhaps you could use Playing Cards?

    I'd assume that our post-apocalyptic descendants would find decks of cards from time to time. It's not too much of a stretch to think that they might use them as a means of divining fate, similar to how we use tarot cards. You could tie that into having the players draw from a deck of cards at the table in order to determine the results of their PCs actions.

    Here are some probabilities that you never asked for.

    Draw =/< Ace: 7.69%
    Draw =/< 2: 15.38%
    Draw =/< 3: 23.08%
    Draw =/< 4: 30.77%
    Draw =/< 5: 38.46%
    Draw =/< 6: 46.15%
    Draw =/< 7: 53.85%
    Draw =/< 8: 61.54%
    Draw =/< 9: 69.23%
    Draw =/< 10: 76.92%
    Draw =/< Jack: 84.62%
    Draw =/< Queen: 92.31%
    Draw =/< King: 100.00%

    Draw RED =/< 8: 61.54/2 = 30.77%
    Draw SPADE =/< 8: 61.54/4 = 15.385%

    You could even add some jokers as wild cards if you like.

  2. That's interesting. I can conceive of playing cards as a randomizing agent, but I can't see the shap of it, if you know what I mean? Like I can't picture how they would work in the context of an RPG. Are there games that use cards out there currently? I imagine there must be, I think I'd need to see how they're used in other systems to be able to figure out how to work them into mine.

  3. @PSH - yup - Savage Worlds uses a deck of cards for initiative. We are going to have to hog-tie you and force you to play Savage Worlds one day so you can join the fold. :)

    - Ark

  4. The link in my post above takes you to a discussion on the Enworld forums about games that use playing cards. In there are links to games like Deadlands, vs. Monsters, and Dust Devils, among others. This should take you there if my link isn't working...


    Seems like most (but not all) of those are Wild West type games. I don't really know how any of them work mechanically, but I've always been a fan of making stuff up.

    Contested roll: Arm Wrestling(Str)
    You draw a card, add your Str, and try to get higher than your opponent who does the same. Face cards automatically win. If you tie, or both get face cards, then stalemate for that round.

    Combat round:
    Attacks are declared, then everyone draws a card. Face cards = dodged all attacks, but did not hit. Low cards hit higher cards, damage equal to low card. Armor soaks some damage. Spades are trumps, act as if lower than any other suit. Multiple attacks = draw a second card after the first is resolved, compare to your opponents last card unless they get another attack too.

    ... or whatever. I'm just dreaming stuff up, but it seems like it might be cool.

  5. I've got to change the color on the links here, I breezed right by that link.

    Interesting stuff, though. It does seem pretty cool, I'll have to keep thinking on it.

    One thing I've been thinking about is to use dice pools, and run the results sort of like hands of cards in poker. The win chart would look like this:

    No Hand (no pairs, no straights)
    2 Die Straight
    2 Of a Kind
    2 Pairs
    3 Die Straight
    3 Of a Kind
    3 Pairs

    And so forth - the higher "hand" wins. If they both come up with 2 Pairs, then the highest Pair wins.

    I dunno, it's very early here, and that may not make nearly as much sense as I think it does.

  6. It makes perfect sense to me.


    If you are making poker hands, wouldn't it be easier to just use playing cards? Then you wouldn't have to teach everyone a new win chart. You could just draw cards equal to your die pool, best poker hand wins.

    Huh, I don't even know why I am pushing playing cards. I love rolling them bones.

  7. Hrm. If you use traditional poker, that limits the hand size to five, and I'm imagining the system developing something along the lines of World of Darkness, with attribute + talent = dice pool. That would mean limit the size there. I could rework things, maybe. Hmmmm.

  8. Oh, I meant draw equal to your dice pool, then use the best five cards.

    But don't do that.

    It would probably slow down play too much. Besides, now I'm doubting that playing cards are post-apocalypticy enough.

    Just do whatever you think would be the most fun. Don't listen to my crazy ramblings, I'll try to convince you to roll dead batteries and shards of DVDs before long.

  9. Haha that would make for a great game!

  10. For various reasons having to do with wonky probabilities I'm not in favor of dice pools or card drawing.

    Also as Quibish pointed out the cards are usually used to encourage a different stylistic theme . . . but his DVD shard and battery system certainly would set the right tone.

    My preferred system is always a basic "dice+Modifiers" mechanic. Not saying that old d20 is the end all and be all in this vein, using it does mean that you have a lot of already built resources to tap.

    There are a bunch of lite d20 spinoffs I've stumbled across that might or might not be directly useful or provide inspiration:
    Core Elements
    Microlite20 and associated spinoffs.
    Also, there's always Fudge or Fate, although I think you might need a license for those.

    The PDQ system is another lite mechanic I noticed recently (free version here). Might also need a license though.

  11. I'm still not altogether convinced that the batteries and dvd shards won't be the way I end up going!

    I do like the elegance of the d20 style of play, really, and I still may end up going that way, but I'd like to play around with the mechanics a bit and see if I can't come up with something that's unique to this game.


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