Friday, January 18, 2013

Die Selection system

Today, I'm going to build on what I said in my last postabout good RPGs only using a minimal number of different dice rolls. Now, you may not believe it, but I have tried to design my own homebrew RPG system in the past, although unsuccessfully. Oh, who am I kidding, of course you're going to believe it. The point is, I do have some basics thought up.

The main thought of that system was to put as much decisive power into the GM's hand as possible and minimise the effect that a character's stats would have on that character's player's roleplaying, and the way I did that was by simplifying the number parts of that system as much as possible. Part of that simplification was the Die Selection system.

The point of the DS system is that each roll is tied to an attribute, usually a character's stat, and that attribute can have one of three values, which are 0 (null), + (plus) and - (minus), with null being average, plus being good and minus being bad, obviously. This has the effect of simplifying character stats, since their attributes' values are only given by one of the three symbols, not a numerical value, thus achieving the second goal stated in the previous paragraph.

The roll itself uses two dice, and although I'll be using d10s for reasons I stated in my last post, they can be of any kind. The only rule is that they have the same amount of sides and different colors.The way it works is that you roll both dice and, barring unusual circumstances that I'll talk about soon, you select which one applies as the result based on the attribute tied to the roll. If the attribute's value is:
  • plus, the higher number rolled applies.
  • minus, the lower number rolled applies.
  • null, the die that was selected beforehand applies.
That last example is why the dice need to have different colors. For example, let's say that you have a blue die and a red die, then you can say that "For all my null rolls, the blue die will apply". But then why even roll the red die? There is a reason for that.

Critical successes and failures (or crits and botches for short) are a big part of any RPG system, which is why I added them into the DS system, too. But I had to find a way that would implement them in an easy way that would give you the same chance of a crit or botch regardless of the roll atrribute. And I found one. So the way critical rolls work is, if the sum of your rolled numbers is 3 or lower, you have rolled a botch, and symmetrically, if the sum is 19 or higher, you have rolled a crit. Critical rolls are resolved before the die selection, meaning "crit" or "botch" is a result of the roll instead of a numerical value, not in addition to. As for what they mean, well, there are multiple ways to handle them. You could say they're autimatic successes/failures, you could have a confirmation roll à la the d20 system or you could come up with your own far more original solution. I'd say let the GM decide.

Now I'll be the first one to damit that this system is far from perfect. One thing in particular that rubs me the wrong way about it is the way how a minus roll will almost never result in anything more than 4 and a plus roll will scarcely drop below 7. But then again, that's kind of the point and let's be honest here, if you find yourself in a situation where a minus roll is inevitable, you've probably done something wrong. Or the DM hates you.

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