Sunday, February 3, 2013

Striking Out: Making My Own Game


Like all rules-tinkers, I eventually started out trying to come up with my own rules-set. I've tried a few different things over the years; variants, conversions, card systems and diceless. Not really satisfied with any of them, I sat down and started picking out the elements that I wanted out of a game.

-“one rule to rule them all’ mechanic, such as TWERPS roll d10, or Talislanta’s chart. I believe it better to have one mechanic that can cover all situations than 1,001 different mechanics to cover 1,001 situations. In my experience, players always want to go with option 1,002.
This is covered on page 401 of Rules Appendix C
-While most games handle low level characters well, by the time they reach higher levels, the Gamemaster has to start dialing up even the most minor encounters to 11. This results in Difficulty Number of 76 on a roll of D20. Or in the case of dice-pool games, the character ends up rolling 37D6 just to pick a lock. At this point, I find the system becomes too absurd to play, which is not fair to the players who have put a lot of time and energy into developing their characters.
Why not just make 10 louder?
-No endless pages listing skills or abilities in character creation.
Has a 75% Skill Level in French Cooking,
-avoid, if possible, the basic Roll Dice + Stat vs Difficulty Number, engine that seems to drive 98% of all games.  
Or there is this...
-As much player input as reasonably possible. This means allowing them to create the character they want (within limits). Plus giving them a mechanic, like Brownie Points in the WEG Ghostbusters system, that allowed them to have input into the actual plot.
"You want a toe? I can get you a toe, Dude"
-a hit point system that actually makes sense. 
Now, would this represent an actual injury, or just time and fatigue spent in combat?
-allowing for a sense of humour without it disrupting play (probably the most difficult thing to manage). 
My ideal DM
 With that in mind I picked the simplest mechanic I could think of; roll one six sided die. I still faced the problem of stat bloat as any system I could think of resulting in higher level characters rolling things like D6+13.This frustrated me for a while until I realized that I could avoid the problem by changing the object of the game from rolling over/under a Target Number, to rolling a specific number on the die.

This resulted in a very simple chart. In any situation where the character must roll a dice, the Gamemaster decides if the task is Easy, Medium or Hard. The player must then roll one six sided dice and get a result of 1-3 for Easy Tasks. 4-5 for Medium Tasks. 6 for Hard Tasks. This allows the GM some flexibility by declaring that picking the lock would be Hard for a Barbarian, but Easy for the Thief.

Characters skilled in a specific Task, such as a race car driver with the Pilot: Nascar skill who is spending his afternoon making long left turns, then needs to roll 1-4 for an Easy Task. 4-6 for Medium Tasks and 5-6 for Hard Tasks. This works because it is not about rolling as high as you can. It is about landing within the specific number range. If a task is Easy and the player rolls a 5, then they have failed. 

That is the basic system for the system I call ROLLCORE.

Next: Creating a Hero.

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