Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tweaking the Core Mechanic.



I've had to alter the core mechanic to address an issue. I won't link to the old mechanic to prevent confusion, but the current version is at the end of this post. The only thing that's changed is how Profit and Waste are calculated. If you just want to know how things have changed, skip to The Changes, below. 
 
I like the way the core mechanic originally turned out, except for one issue that kept nagging at me. In situations where you had to roll high to succeed, you were more likely to get a lot of Profit even if you barely rolled high enough to meet or exceed the opposition's roll. 

Example:  Using a d6 Reality Level, assume you need a +5 to deliver your Effect. You have 4 FOCUS Dice and 3 BURDEN Dice. You're highly skilled, but your opposition is stronger and rolled well. 


To meet this roll, you'd need to get a 6 on your highest FOCUS die, and a 1 on your highest BURDEN Die. This means that you would automatically get 3 Profit on your Test if you succeeded, because every FOCUS die would meet or exceed the BURDEN roll of 1. 

So fighting stronger opponents would make it less likely to hit, but more likely to kill them in one blow. David and Goliath notwithstanding, it doesn't feel right for every genre. 

With the help of zedturtle on RPGnet (again), and Bloody Stupid Johnson on TheRPGSite, I think the problem is solved. 

Both of them suggested that instead of determining Profit and Waste based on the highest die in the opposite pool, that you find Profit by comparing to the FOCUS die that you use for determining success and failure. Similarly, you'd find Waste based on the BURDEN die that helps to determine success and failure. This has the side effect of making it more likely to get both Profit and Waste on a Test, which can mitigate the issue. 

Bloody Stupid Johnson further suggested that you be allowed to choose which FOCUS and BURDEN dice you'd use for success and failure. For example,  if you rolled [3,4,5,6] on your FOCUS dice, you'd get to choose between using 6 and getting no Profit, and using 3, and getting 3 Profit, or anything in between.  It wouldn't be an arbitrary decision, obviously, you'd choose the most optimal option. 

This would mean that in order to succeed sometimes, you'd have to choose to take more Waste and less Profit.  

Further, it solved the problem- you'd be less likely to get Profit on a Test that you needed to roll high on, and vice versa. 

This was very cool so far, but I realized that in situations where you needed to roll a high Attribute modifier,  such as +5 on d6s, the rest of your BURDEN dice would be Waste. This is because to get a +5 on d6s, you'd need FOCUS [6] and BURDEN [1]. Every value on a d6 meets or exceeds 1, so any extra BURDEN dice would automatically be Waste.  

Doing it this way just reversed my initial problem, and I wanted a chance for an unqualified success on a difficult roll. Sure,  Profit and Waste can cancel each other out, but you can't always rely on that, especially when you have more BURDEN than FOCUS. Sometimes Waste would be a foregone conclusion, and I wanted to avoid that. 

So I altered things so that you determine Profit and Waste based on the dice that exceed the dice you choose, rather than allowing dice that meet or exceed the values you choose. 

This means that if you rolled FOCUS [3,4,5,6] and BURDEN [1,1] and you needed a +5, you could get it with no Waste. There's no chance of Profit when you need a maximum roll, but that's acceptable. The opposed rolls in the system allow for more situations where you will be able to Profit against a more powerful foe. 

My favorite aspect of this version of the mechanic is that when fighting stronger foes, you're more likely to deal less of an Effect to them, and when you're fighting weaker ones, you're more likely to deal more of an Effect. That's exactly how I wanted the game to work. 

So, without further ado, here's the new core mechanic. Again, the basics are the same, but calculating Profit and Waste are different. 

The Basic Mechanic, for Review


Making Tests

When you make a Test with no modifiers for aptitude, situation, or handicaps,

1. Roll 1 white "FOCUS" die, and 1 black "BURDEN" die.

2. Subtract the rolled value of the black BURDEN die from the value of the white FOCUS die.

3. Add the final value of your test to your appropriate Attribute's Rank.

4. Compare the result to your opposition's Result.

5. If your result is higher you Win the test, if your Result is lower you Fail, and if your results are equal, you Match.  When you Win, only you apply your Effect, and when you Match, both parties get to apply their Effects.

FOCUS Dice

When you are above average at something or the situation make something easier, you receive up to 5 additional white FOCUS dice. Add these dice to the 1 that you would otherwise roll for an unmodified test . This gives a possible total of 6 white dice. Roll them and choose any die you like as your FOCUS die, and then perform steps 2-5 as you would for a Test without modification.There is an incentive to choose the lowest value you can that allows for success because of the way Profit works.

BURDEN Dice

When you are below average at something or the situation makes something harder, you receive up to 5 additional black BURDEN Dice. Add these dice to the 1 that you would otherwise roll for an unmodified test. This gives a possible total of 6 black dice. Roll them and choose any value you like as your BURDEN die, and then perform steps 2-5 as you would for a Test without Modification.There is an incentive to choose the highest value you can that allows for success because of the way Waste works.

You can have up to 6 FOCUS dice and 6 BURDEN Dice at once, for a total of 12 dice to be rolled.

The Changes


Profit

When you roll a Test, choose any FOCUS die that you like to serve as your FOCUS die for determining success or failure. There is an incentive to choose the lowest value that allows you to succeed.   

Any other FOCUS dice with values that exceed the chosen die are considered Profit. Dice that match are not Profit.

Profit can be added to the Rank of any Features in the Effect you're Testing. When an Effect has multiple Features, you can divide your Profit dice among those Features any way you like.

Profit can't raise an Effect or Feature of an Effect's final Rank beyond 5.

Profit can also be used to activate certain bonus Effects altogether, such as knocking a foe backwards when hitting them with a club. 


Finally, Profit can be given to the opposition, where it serves as Waste. This is the only option for using Profit when you Fail. The GM can use it for his or her NPCs or activate negative events in the environment. 
 
Waste

When you roll a Test, choose any BURDEN die that you like to serve as your BURDEN die for determining success or failure. There is an incentive to choose the highest value that allows you to succeed.   

Any other BURDEN dice with values that exceed the chosen die are considered Waste. Dice that match are not Waste.

Waste is subtracted from the Rank of any Features in the Effect you're Testing. When an Effect has multiple Features, you can divide your Waste dice among those Features any way you like.

Waste can't lower an Effect or Feature of an Effect's final Rank below 0 (Non-existent).

Waste can also be used to activate negative Effects or complications in the scene such as breaking the table that you're fighting on top of, or starting a fire.


Finally, Waste can be given to the opposition, where it serves as Profit. This is the only option for using Waste when you Fail. The GM can use it for his or her NPCs or activate positive events in the environment. 


Getting Both

It is possible to receive both Profit and Waste to your action. Profit can cancel Waste out on a 1 for 1 basis at your option, but you can also apply both to separate Features of Effects. An example of this might be adding profit to the damaging Feature of an Attack, but subtracting from its duration or taking a consequence.