On A Breakthrough

Okay, I know last time I said I was going to talk about Attributes and Skills but that was BEFORE I had a bit of a breakthrough with the dice pool system. Spoiler alert – this post might be somewhat disjointed and also either really short or incredibly long. We’ll find out together!

Below is the first run of the core mechanic for the untitled game that I should really titled so I can stop saying “the untitled game”. It’s rough around the edges and not playtested, but I like it so I’m going to run with it for now. Some kudos to GURPS, Dark Eye, one of the Serenity RPGs (I’ll have to double check which one later, the book is downstairs) and Shadowrun/V:tM for the inspiration.

First, the GURPS influence – you have a default dice pool of 3 dice. I do have plans to add an advantage/disadvantage style of mechanic to it later on, because I dig that mechanic and would like to use something similar to it. But for now, you have 3 dice. But what do you do with them? And also what three dice? This system is dumb so far.

Well, that’s because I didn’t tell you about Attributes, because I’m ahead of myself here. I won’t get into what the Attributes are because honestly I don’t have a finalized Attribute spread yet, but what I do know is How They Work. Instead of having an attribute with modifier (like 13/+1 in D&D terms), your attributes are expressed as a die size. Hey, this is the Serenity inspiration! Instead of having 14 Strength, you would have Strength d8. Or d10 – currently I’m using d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. I think d20 would completely wreck the curve, but that might be my advantage mechanic….

Anyway, back on track brain! So we have 3 dice and we have Attributes expressed as a die. We put those together and that’s part of the dice pool system in play – your dice pool is 3 of your Attribute dice put together. But what three?

Here’s where the Dark Eye inspiration comes in – every Skill in the game is attached to 3 Attributes. It could be either 3 completely different attributes, or 2 attributes with one repeated (so either “Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom” or “Strength, Strength, Charisma”) – no skill will have all 3 attributes the same. When you make a skill check, you grab the three dice for the attached attributes, and roll them! Yay, we have a mechanic!

But, wait…. do we sum them up or count successes? For now, I’m going to be building it as a summed dice pool. I tinkered with a success pool but got myself turned around several times in determining roll-over vs roll-under and the progression of both Skill and Attribute. For the time being, the Skill is expressed as an integer that’s added as a bonus to the total. But I just had another idea about the Skill also being a die, and being added to the pool as an advantage mechanic… Not now, brain!

Let’s take a quick look at how this would work in play!

Kanyu Digget, the Greatest Bard of All Time, wants to play the lute to impress a crowd. He has the Lute skill at 3, and the attached attributes for Lute are Dexterity, Dexterity, and Charisma (just throwing them out off the cuff). He also has a Dexterity of d8 and a Charisma of d10. He grabs 2d8 and 1d10, rolls them all and gets 3, 6, 7 for a total of 16 and then adding his 3 Lute skill gives a grand total of 19. This would be opposed by the crowd’s Heckle skill roll (or something similar) – the mechanic would be the same, and for a crowd I’d plan on using an averaged Attribute set for ‘commoners’ or something along those lines. I know, it still has empty spots in the design but I wanted to get this written down now while I was thinking it through and had it fresh in my head.

TL;DR I came up with a mechanic by smashing several different ones together, and I like it. Maybe it’s stupid, but it’s mine. And… part of those other systems too. But mostly mine because I hodgepodged it together.

Your regularly scheduled Attributes and Skills post should be up tomorrow!

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