Featured image is Goblin by Darek Zabrocki
Life has lately been pretty stressful, and so I’ve decided I need to do something that gives me joy and will be a nice distraction. So starting this blog is that thing.
The month of November is National Game Design Month (aka NaGaDeMon – http://nathanrussell.net/naga-demon/) and so I’m going to take time to finally work on designing a roleplaying game. I have multiple friends who have designed games and so I thought it’s my time to take a stab at it. Here’s my attempt.
The first thing I’d like to address for my NaGaDeMon game is mechanics, or more specifically the base mechanic for resolution of challenges and uncertain actions. Here are the two basic ideals I have come up with for my basic mechanic:
- No dice
- Non-binary results
Item #1 – No Dice – So, in roleplaying dice are almost a ubiquitous necessary item. I’ve just been working lately on the idea that I’d like to use something other than small objects being thrown across the table. I want to do this because I’ve heard that most dice, because of their manufacturing techniques are not really that great at being statistically average. I’ve also seen a few great attempts on not using dice (Amber, Castle Falkenstein, Deadlands Classic, Dragonlance 5th Age, Nobilis, and others). So there are some references for doing this, just nothing seems to have strongly taken over for dice. (You can see this quite evident in Deadlands, since Reloaded uses diceless mechanics far less than Classic.)
But I want the game to still have a randomization feature, so I don’t think I’ll go full diceless (i.e. no randomizer) like in Amber or Nobilis. So I think I’m going to use a deck of cards, rather than dice. Initially this means that it will be easy to work with since you can find standard decks of cards everywhere. But I think ultimately I want to create a custom deck, with cool art that can enhance the play of the game and maybe give a good mood for what is going on. (But more on that later).
Item #2 – Non-binary results – This item has become an interest of mine since reading FFG’s Genesys system and games based on the Apolocalypse Engine. I’d like to use the deck of cards to give results that are more than just pass/fail. A standard d20 roll just tells you if you were successful or not. I’d like for the basic mechanic to tell you more than that. The goal is to allow for some description and roleplaying to happen with the dice, that is more than just I successfully/unsuccessfully picked the lock, or I hit/didn’t hit the orc with my sword). So I’m thinking I’ll develop that cards in the deck provide different options other than just numbers for successes, etc…
So here’s my Base Mechanic proposal:
- A deck of 54 cards will be used.
- Number cards will represent numbers (except Aces)
- Royal/face/ace cards will provide a non-binary result (red means bad, black means good)
- Jokers activate something good that is grander than normal, like a critical, etc…
- Red and black royals/aces cancel each other out at a 1 to 1 ratio
- Jokers and royals/aces do not cancel each other out
Performing a Base Mechanic challenge:
- Draw from the deck until you have two numbers cards from the deck.
- Special abilities may give you the ability to change this base mechanic.
- Base – add the two number cards together, this is your “result”
- Compare your “result” to the “difficulty” set by the GM
- If it’s a head-to-head roll, compare it the “result” of the adversary
- Royals/aces provide roleplaying effects in addition to the compared result.
- Red royals/aces provide negative effects, black provide positive
- Jokers are considered a “critical” and may trigger a special ability
The positive and negative effects provided by the royals and aces give players and GMs a chance to do a little more depth in the result. Maybe the character succeeded but did so with a red royal/ace, so then there is something that additionally happened that was possibly hindering to the party as a whole. So here’s how the results table can look (rated from worst to best):
- Failure w/ negative effect – number below difficulty, and showing more red royals/aces than black
- Failure – number below difficulty, equal red and black royals/aces
- Failure w/ positive effect – number below difficulty, and showing more black royals/aces than red
- Failure w/ critical – number below difficulty, with joker(s)
- Success w/ negative effect – number above difficulty, with more red royals/aces than black
- Success -number above difficulty, and showing more black royals/aces than red
- Success w/ positive effect – number above difficulty, and showing more black royals/aces than red
- Success w/ critical – number above difficulty, with joker(s)
Does this make sense? I welcome your feedback on this, and I plan to flesh it out a little more as I continue to develop this game. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.