Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Update

so I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing with the dice mechanics in kon. I’ve realized that diesteps and modifiers are throwing things off so I’m focusing my attention on auto successes and failures.

Here’s where I’m at currently:
I’m doing away with modifiers in exchange for numbers that will generate automatic successes and failures. I’m also sticking with 2d6, with a hope die and despair die.

You roll hope vs despair for every challenge, but the difficulty adds numbers that will act as automatic successes and failures.

I have two variants of this current idea. Each of them have a range of difficulty; 0 difficulty in both of them is just hope vs despair. Past that, you add any positive modifiers from skills or other statistics, and you subtract any negative modifiers based on difficulty, enemy stats, etc.

The first variant is based a little more on craps, but I think its a little clunkier. Here’s the range:

+2: 7,11 auto success
+1: 7 auto success
+0: no auto successes or failures
-1: 2 auto failure
-2: 2,3 auto failure
-3: 2,3,12 auto failure

The second variant is a bit more balanced in my opinion, but not quite as colorful. Its based on the fact that 7 is the most probable number to come up when you roll 2d6 because it has the most combinations. 12 and 2 are the least likely follwed by 11 and 3, and so on. The difficulty scale will look something like this:

+5: 12,11,10,9,8 auto success
+4: 12,11,10,9 auto success
+3: 12,11,10 auto success
+2: 12,11 auto success
+1: 12 auto success 0: no auto successes or failures
-1: 2 auto failure
-2: 2,3 auto failure
-3: 2,3,4 auto failure
-4: 2,3,4,5 auto failure
-5: 2,3,4,5,6 auto failure

So there’s that. Basically I just want a system where your rolling hope vs despair with some kind of difficulty modifier without things getting too complicated or clunky. I’m not looking to do something different just for the sake of being different. So my question to you, my fellow mines, am I heading in the right direction with this? Its hard to tell from my vantage point whether I’m making things way more confusing than they need to be.

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July 23, 2007 - Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing

13 Comments »

  1. When faced with the choice of balanced versus colorful, I choose colorful. Remember that conversation about the experience of play?

    As an aside, this does put me in of Fastlane, which uses Roulette for conflict-resolution. There’s a review here that should give you an idea of how it works.

    Comment by ptevis | July 23, 2007 | Reply

  2. I agree with Paul. Go for color. Plus, if you say success is based on craps it’s pretty easy to remember.

    Comment by commondialog | July 23, 2007 | Reply

  3. I’m really surprised actually. I was leaning towards balance, namely because I wasn’t sure people would make the connection between craps and homelessness. Everyone I talk to goes with the first one however.

    I’m nervous about the first one because in previous playtests where those numbers were always auto successes and failures no matter what the difficulty, people were a little confused because there was too much going on in one die roll: they had to add their modifiers, see whether hope or despair were higher, AND they had to check the number to see if it was a two, three, seven, eleven or twelve (not to mention the die-steps threw things off)

    Having gotten rid of many of these extraneous elements I think things are simpler, but I still worry that the numbers are a little weird. There’s no way to know until I try it out, so I’m going to try to get a playtest in this week.

    I’m also interested to get more opinions on the matter

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. I don’t know if it would be of any help, but one of my earlier Master Plan episodes talked about questioning mechanics: http://masterplan.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=183796

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 23, 2007 | Reply

  5. If you’re worried about people figuring out whether their dice have the meanings they’re looking for, give them something visual on the reference sheet.

    (Picture these numbers as die faces showing pips)

    Okay, so, let’s dig into the “unbalanced” thing a bit here, because I think there’s a way to make that work for you.

    At +0 you’re even steven, no chances of auto success.
    At +1 you have a 17% (6/36) chance of automatic success
    At +2 you have a 22% (8/36) chance of automatic success.

    At +0 you’re even steven, no chances of auto failure.
    At -1 you have a 3% (1/36) chance of automatic failure.
    At -2 you have a 8% (3/36) chance of automatic failure.
    At -3 you have a 11% chance (4/36) chance of automatic failure.

    My first thought here is to look at the sequences here. For positive bonuses, 0, 17, 22 is the progression of auto success. That first +1 is huge. For negative penalties, 0, 3, 8, 11 is the progression of auto failures. No one step is huge, but the second one from 3 to 8 is the biggest of them.

    This creates a sort of language, one that tells me that I really, really want to fight to get +1 instead of +0 if I can manage it, since that’s the largest improvement in my prospects. You could pair this with an overall ethic of “it’s much easier to get a -1 than it is to earn a +1”, which honestly I think is appropriate to your setting conceit — it’s easier for the man to grind you down than lift you up. So think about reinforcing this with system — bonuses are scarcer or harder to earn (requiring payment in blood), penalties are easy to come by.

    That said, from a strictly designy standpoint, you could at least smooth out the above with a little bit of reordering — though really it would just move the big bump from +1 to +2. I’d suggest considering moving from the extremities inward, instead of “linearly” up or down the sequence of numbers. Which is a really opaque way of me saying 1) still do the bonuses are hard, penalties are easy thing, and 2) reorder your sequencing as follows:

    BAD TOTALS
    2: 1+1 (Auto failure on any -1 or worse)
    12: 6+6 (Auto failure on any -2 or worse)
    3: 1+2 (Auto failure on any -3 or worse)

    GOOD TOTALS
    11: 5+6 (Auto success on any +1 or better)
    7: 1+6, 2+5, 3+4 (Auto success on any +2 or better)

    With this reordering, you then get these probability progressions:

    At +0 you’re even steven, no chances of auto success.
    At +1 you have a 5.5% (2/36) chance of automatic success
    At +2 you have a 22% (8/36) chance of automatic success.

    At +0 you’re even steven, no chances of auto failure.
    At -1 you have a 3% (1/36) chance of automatic failure.
    At -2 you have a 5.5% (2/36) chance of automatic failure.
    At -3 you have a 11% chance (4/36) chance of automatic failure.

    I’m gonna bet that this second progression a) feels more balanced, b) still works fine with an easy penalty, hard bonus set-up, and c) retains the flavor of craps in a way folks can follow so long as you present it visually, since it moves from least number of die combinations towards greater number of die combinations, consistently.

    My $0.02. 🙂

    Comment by fredhicks | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  6. Fuck me, I really screwed up that comment.

    Earlier on, when I say (Picture these numbers as die faces showing pips) you should have seen the following:

    BAD TOTALS
    2: 1+1 (Auto failure on any -1 or worse)
    3: 1+2 (Auto failure on any -2 or worse)
    12: 6+6 (Auto failure on any -3 or worse)

    GOOD TOTALS
    7: 1+6, 2+5, 3+4 (Auto success on any +1 or better)
    11: 5+6 (Auto success on any +2 or better)

    That would make the rest of the post make much more sense. Stupid “cut” when my brain said “copy”

    Comment by fredhicks | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  7. That actually was really helpful ryan, thank you.

    It got me thinking about whether my system really reflects what my game is about, which it doesn’t really. My game is about being Lost, which evokes key words like confusion and fear to me. Though hope and despair factor in as a theme, they’re ultimately not doing their job to convey what I want them to.

    I don’t think I need to throw out Hope and Despair (and if I did that would be like starting at square one again). I do think I need to connect the die rolls to memories somehow.

    I’m thinking about adding in something about gaining or losing memories based on rolls. Also, maybe your actions throughout the game can change what your final memory will be.

    I kind of feel like having a backstory that’s not set in stone gets across the wandering around in the dark atmosphere I’m trying to get across.

    …as I’m writing this I’m also starting to realize I’m kind of ripping off Ryan.

    well…I’ll keep playing around with this and see if it gets me anywhere (preferably not having my characters wandering around in a surreal palace of memories)

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  8. …as I’m writing this I’m also starting to realize I’m kind of ripping off Ryan.

    You are welcome to to do so. Man, I really need to get the next draft of my game out for you to read, as maybe I’ll make you (a) feel more comfortable if you’re looking to mine ideas I discarded or (b) get new ideas.

    I don’t think I need to throw out Hope and Despair (and if I did that would be like starting at square one again).

    It would be really scary to start over at square one so close to the Ashcan Front — I know, because I had to for Know Thyself. I think you and I both underestimated how far along our games were, and the only reason I’m anywhere close is the fact that I’ve been playtesting it almost every week for the past month and a half. So, I totally sympathize, Jeff, but don’t shut out an idea just because it means starting over — at least write it down in case you have to come back to it.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  9. Fred-

    I like the idea of bonuses being really good, but hard to get. Also the reordering makes sense.

    Were you suggesting a diagram for every combination?

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  10. I mean this:

    Comment by fredhicks | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  11. And in case that doesn’t come through, here’s the image: http://www.deadlyfredly.com/kingdomofnothing.png

    Comment by fredhicks | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  12. wow that’s really cool! When its laid out like that it is a lot easier to digest. Thanks man!

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  13. Right. That’s part of why I decided to go ahead and show you what I meant — visual presentation is *huge* for getting across concepts which are in essence “visually simple, textually complex”.

    Anyway, no problem, and glad to help.

    Comment by fredhicks | July 25, 2007 | Reply


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