theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)
Game rules and messing with same.

I'm not much of a rules wonk.  Generally speaking, if a game lets me do what I want, I'm happy.  If it does so and gets the hell out of my way so I can do my stuff, so much the better.  The less fiddly stuff for me to do behind the screen, the better it all turns out in the end.  This is why I like systems like Ubiquity (from Hollow Earth Expedition) and Cinematic Unisystem, and Feng Shui.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that last one.  For years, Feng Shui was my go-to gonzo cinematic adventure game: easy to run, easy to reskin, hard to break.  I used it for the first two of my "Heroes of the New Wave" one-shots, and I honestly think this past year's game suffered a little from a change of system.

The things is, Feng Shui has some notable defects.  While it was the first game that really quantified the notion of "Bringing the Awesome" in a philosophical way, it didn't always manage it in a mechanical way.  While it encourages crazy over the top action, it still imposes some difficulty penalties that make the whole thing a little counter-intuitive.  Granted, the GM can handwave a fair bit of the non-combat bits, but when you need hard and fast numbers and the chart says that your awesome cool stunt will incur a -4 penalty, then you're kind of screwed.

(For those unfamiliar with Feng Shui's system, it's basically Stat + Skill + 1d6 - 1d6.  Except that sixes explode and re-roll, which can throw up a wide range of probabilities centered on zero.  Characters can spend Fortune Dice to get an extra positive d6, but they're fairly rare.)

So, last week, I was looking at Savage Worlds, which looks neat and I really need to play it someday soon.  It uses the natural progression of polyhedral dice to cover increased capabilities.  So a d8 skill is better than a d6.  Which got me thinking, "What if I tried using some other polyhedral dice mixed in with the six siders in FS?"

And thus, my idea was born, with a little inspiration from Exalted.  Which is only fair since a lot of the folks who created that game worked on Feng Shui.  Basically, I keep the same die roll resolution for everyday tasks.  If a PC does a minor stunt (interacts with the scenery or describes the action in a cool manner), he get a d8 for his positive die.  If he does a major stunt, he gets a d10.  If he brings the complete and utter over the top awesome, he gets 2d6 (the same as using a Fortune Die without having to spend one).

Someone on RPGnet asked how I'd use this rule for NPCs, and honestly, my short answer is "I won't."  It's too much work and can lead to abuse.  Sure, I'll describe cool and crazy stuff on my NPC's behalf, but it's window dressing.  Second, if I'm the arbiter of the players' crazy stunt ideas, that's one thing.  If I'm suddenly supposed to rate my own and give mechanical benefit to my NPCs?  That's more power than I need as a GM.

I have no idea if this will work, but my gut tells me it's worth pursuing, provided I get a chance to try it out.


theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)

December 2015

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