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Author Topic: My Idea for a Pool based RPG  (Read 1860 times)
ZeOtter
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« on: December 29, 2005, 03:37:22 PM »

I posted this on my Live Journal at: http://www.livejournal.com/users/zeotter/

The idea just hit me while I was reading the Martial section in the Burning Wheel RPG book (and because of that I have to deeply thank Luke Crane and the rest of the Burning Wheel creators).

Attacking and defending are both rolled at once from pools. When you create a character you don't have Attributes (Strength, Wits, Vigor, Charisma) or Skills you buy, but each purchase at character creation adds a dice to a Pool.

It works kind of like Burning Wheel where you burn a character with life paths but instead of all these different numbers to different things the path's add dice to a pool. Characters are made up of different Pools for Attack, Defense, Social, Mechanical, Body Control, Criminal, etc... The players can add more or change the name of the Pools as they like to reflect the world they are playing in. The point is these Pools are what define the characters abilities, and govern what the player rolls to determine the outcome of an action. They can be generalized like Attack or Social or they can be more fine tuned like Long Sword or Fast Talk as they prefer.

The Pools can work together as well, the Body Control pool and add a limited number of dice to the Criminal pool when someone is trying to sneak around. The lack of a pool can also be a detriment to a character if they are attempting something they don't know how to do.

Using dice from a pool means you are lowering the amount of available dice in that Pool, when dice are used they do not "refill" in the pool automatically. Depending on what Pool is used and what action is attempted will determine the rate that a Pool gains back dice. There also can be a Willpower stat that is used to give a few extra dice when you are running low and are in the middle of a dramatic scene where you need dice.

This whole idea germinated from a combat example I ran through my head. In the example you would roll your Attack and Defense dice at the same time as does your opponent, from that you determine who won the round, when you win a predetermined set of rounds you have won the combat. The number of rounds is based on your advantage or disadvantage in combat. Lets say you are fighting a small think like a wild dog, you would need only 1 or 2 round for that. But lets say you are fighting an ancient dragon you may need upwards of 10-15 rounds where the dragon would only need 1 or 2 against you. Bonuses could be based on how well you narrate the round exchange, which could you a small edge in combat but still wouldn't tip the scale in a battle you have no hope of winning.

I believe that is most of it to break it down I need:
  • Life Paths and what Pools they add dice to
  • How the Pools can be generic and still have meaning?
  • How Pools interact with each other, how one Pool can add dice to another?
  • What is the penalty for not having the correct Pool?
  • How do Pools advance with experience?
  • What is the limit on Pools?
  • How do you refresh Pools exactly?
  • What are the criteria for the refresh rate on a Pool?
  • What dice to use for Pools
  • What Target Number to have for those dice?
  • What am I missing???




For Combat I need:
  • Do Attack and Defense Pools need to be better defined into individual weapons and defenses (armor, shield, dodge, etc...)?
  • What edge to give those who narrate the round well?
  • Do I penalize those who do not narrate well?
  • What is the base for the scales of how many rounds you need to win?
  • What happens when multiple attackers attack a smaller or single defender?
  • What effect do high quality weapons or armor, better terrain, or other favorable conditions have?
  • What am I missing???

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Karl Kreder

I have not wasted my life away on RPG's. I have wasted away my life working for someone else...
ZeOtter
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2005, 07:56:30 PM »

I was hoping to have enough of this put together for tomorrow night (Friday Dec 30th, 2005) for a play test of the core mechanics.  Any advice is very welcome, and I will give an after action report this weekend to let everyone know how it goes.
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Karl Kreder

I have not wasted my life away on RPG's. I have wasted away my life working for someone else...
dindenver
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Posts: 928

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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2005, 09:26:26 PM »

Hi!
  I had a similar issue with my Talent system. What I decided to do was add another criteria: scope. The pool can have different mechanics depending on the scope of the pool. Pools with very limited scopes (e.g., can only be used to attack with a Broad Sword) should be exceptionally powerful, but of limited use. Pools with far-reaching scopes (e.g., encompasses all interpersonal skills) can be used in almost any situation, but will have a limited power to influence the in-game environment from a single use.
  Or maybe the power level is not in-game effect, but how often it refreshes?
  The beauty is that if the system is well defined in analog terms, then the players are free to define what are narrow and unfocused scopes depending on the needs of their individual game.
  As far as pool interaction, maybe you can have a system where the actual scope and the effective scope is different. For instance a pool that was broad in scope but also had a disadvantage (like it can only be used if there are still dice remaining in another pool) might be more powerful and operate as if it were a more narrow scope?
  Well, I hope this helps, good luck man!

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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
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ZeOtter
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2006, 03:21:55 PM »

Thanks dindenver for the words of encouragement and advice, they are greatly appreciated.  Sorry it took so long to get back to this post, I was busy over the New Year Holiday.

We play tested this core mechanic it a quick pickup game on Friday night (12/30/05 just to be accurate).  What I found was interesting, the players seem to pick up the idea of the pools but quickly got confused when they tried to apply what they know about RPG's to the mechanic. 

Just to refresh, my mechanic is simple, there are no Attributes or Skills just pools.  From those pools players pick how many dice they want to use for a task, and they count up how many dice met or exceeded the target number.  There are a few more nuances to the game, but that is the basic gist.

The main problem we focused on was trying to figure out when the pools refresh, we discovered this when the first combat came up.  The real issue was how to refresh the pools, the players chewed through their dice in 2-3 rounds of combat.  I ended up giving them 1/2 their attack dice they rolled back if they hit their target, or I gave them back 1 attack dice if they only defended that round.  It ended up being attack on round, miss the next, defend the next, attack again, etc... 

Also after the game some of the players expressed it didn't make sense to them the fact that they would use dice from the Observation pool and not get those dice back until they did something to refresh them.  Their argument was so I search for some with 3 out of 5 of my dice pool, so now I only have 2 dice till I rest to search for something again.

I did run the game before all the rules were set because I wanted to see where it would go, and if their were huge gaps in my logic.  I think the only stumbling block is the refresh issue.  Maybe I should refine my pools to cover Attributes and Skills, and break the refresh rules into those that cover Attributes and those that cover Skills.  I am still kicking things around a bit and will hopefully come upon a solution.

Thanks again for you help, and if anyone else has an idea please feel free to share it.
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Karl Kreder

I have not wasted my life away on RPG's. I have wasted away my life working for someone else...
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