Master Mines

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What’s the Real Conflict

Okay, this is going to sound really weird for a game where combat is going to be a major part, but I’ve really been thinking a lot about my resolution mechanic.  It started as I was authoring my section on chargen. 

Basically I am going with Attribute + Passion + Skill = dice pool of D10s.  Roll for dice for successes, 6+ is a success.  *Yawn*  I toyed around with the idea of a going with something like the Cortex system (move in die steps.)  I thought about a D20 like system with one dice and a lot of pluses.  *Yawn*

And so I really got to thinking about what NGHB is about.  I want this to be a game about the story arc of a character, not a bunch of rolls.  I know that’s not where I started, but it’s where I am heading.  I realized that I was not so much bored by the mechanic as to the types of conflicts I fear that it will engender.  I don’t want NGHB to get bogged down into endless rolling. 

While I do think that combat is part of it, I believe that the characters will be at a point where they don’t need to kill a bunch of mobs before reaching the boss fight.  Besides, tons of endless rolling will get away from what I really want.

So I am thinking that what I really need is a strong section of scene framing and having the GM drive the game towards what the game is really about.  So I am toying with the idea that there is no failure.  If a player wants to do something and there’s no GM veto, the character does it.  Perhaps there can be a system of degree where a player can roll to determine by what degree they succeed, but I am thinking not.

I think I am going to do away with non-contested rolls.  I really don’t want there to be a roll unless it is between two people who are in conflict such as in a battle or a perhaps a sneak or something like that.

I do wonder how that strikes everyone and I wonder how well it meshes with risking the passions.

Any thoughts?

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October 27, 2007 - Posted by | Mecha

10 Comments »

  1. I had a followup thought to this. In anime, I’ve noticed that a lot of the battles that don’t really matter are just recycled animation. I was thinking about having part of character growth be pat stories of how they take out lots of inconsequential characters (laser sword, lots of missiles, etc.)

    I don’t know how much of a reward that is or tie in mechanically, but I think it fits the anime genre.

    Comment by commondialog | October 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. It’d be interesting (but that’s probably about all it’d be) to keep a record of how a past combat went, mechanically speaking, and have the option of just replaying it.

    Comment by misuba | October 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. Yeah, but in this stage of the game, I am okay with interesting…

    Comment by commondialog | October 28, 2007 | Reply

  4. To be honest, I would vote that interesting is not really beneficial at this design stage. Stay with the simplest thing that’d feel the right way in play. And uh, I would actually like to hear more about how you’d like combat to feel for the players.

    Comment by misuba | October 28, 2007 | Reply

  5. That’s almost– say yes or roll dice. The small difference could lead to a large difference.

    I think if the GM can outright say no in a game where we are collaboratively trying to tell the story, aka story now, you are going to get feelings of unfairness. If the only time I fail is when the GM says no, I might start to get frustrated. If the GM is enlightened, however I the player define enlightened, then it might work for our particular group. However for all groups…?

    Now if you intend the game to be a GM brings the story, aka story before, then this rule may work, but I think it is reliant on you to make very clear what type of game it is. So far I wasn’t under the impression this style was what you were shooting for. Is it? I’ve got no stake in it either way, but it will certainly be helpful to understand in giving advice.

    I personally think it’s much better to let unsure actions rely on unsure methods. (dice, cards, coin toss, tetris, whatever)

    Comment by iamclyde | October 29, 2007 | Reply

  6. Clyde, forgive me as I am still sort of Story WTF???… 😛

    On the surface, I feel like the idea is very close to say yes or roll dice, but what I really want to say is only roll dice if it matters. I even go back to the base example from my passions redux: I want to be the greatest mecha pilot. You don’t get to be the greatest mecha pilot by blowing up rookies. You take down the big boys.

    I have had several sessions lately which where the players were into the game, but we had played for almost two hours without a single dice rolled or conflict resolved via the stated conflict resolution mechanic. And I felt no compuncture to go to dice/coins/cards because the story was moving fine without it. I’d like to capture that if I could.

    A lot of that comes from playing several games and reading in several more that failure of a challenge means only that the GM gets to say what happens. So if I have a big handful of dice and I roll poorly, the worst thing that happens is that I lose narrative control. In the case of Andy K’s Game Chef entry, I can fail a combat roll, but if I really want to win, I can. I just take extra damage.

    I guess I see that as ultimately being silly. If I can roll and there’s no consequences, why am I rolling? Didn’t I just stop story telling to have a roll? Wouldn’t just playing have been better.

    Do you have a good link to the story now/story before? I know you and Rich were talking about it at Qdoba, but I was arguing with the dude to get some guac.

    Comment by commondialog | October 29, 2007 | Reply

  7. This all sounds pretty good to me, do you have any directed questions on it though? I mean on a simple yes/no I’d have to say yes but I feel like I’m not really addressing what you really want to know.

    By the way I don’t have any idea really how risking passions works, so it’s hard for me to offer feedback on that.

    Comment by robertbohl | October 29, 2007 | Reply

  8. I think my real question hidden under all the narrative was is there a mechanical way to support not rolling. Part of me feels like a roll-happy gaming group will roll no matter what.

    But I think it’s a good rule to have next to yes or roll the dice.

    Comment by commondialog | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  9. I have had several sessions lately which where the players were into the game, but we had played for almost two hours without a single dice rolled or conflict resolved via the stated conflict resolution mechanic. And I felt no compuncture to go to dice/coins/cards because the story was moving fine without it. I’d like to capture that if I could.

    Consider the following: games naturally support long stretches of non-mechanical narration — at least, when they only tell you how to narrate when using a mechanic. You can’t really capture quite what you did with mechanics, since it was something ya’ll did outside of mechanics. I think if you stretch too far in this direction, you’ll be chasing after an unattainable goal.

    Take these thoughts about long, mechanic-less narrations, and ask yourself this: “why did we go back to the mechanics?”

    In Burning Empires, I felt like we never really went away from the mechanics, because even with the scenes where we didn’t roll dice, we were told how many of those we got per episode. I wonder if you’re looking at (or will look at in the future) something similar, so I thought I would share that comment.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  10. You can certainly structure rules such that rolls are not permitted unless certain circumstances are met. For example, PTA could have a rule that you can’t have a conflict unless it threatens the character’s Issue. The trick is working it such that it doesn’t make the game lame.

    Comment by robertbohl | November 5, 2007 | Reply


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