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Author Topic: [Sorceror Remix] Trying a single-die mechanic  (Read 1104 times)
DevP
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« on: April 14, 2006, 10:39:19 AM »

I came up with an alternate mechanic for Sorceror the other day and posted about it at StoryGames; that evening I playtested it with a friend Henri, to great effect! I'm going to talk about some stuff about my ideas here, then post about the playtest in the Playtesting forum. (I've edited the wording from the original SG post.)

What I'm after: I really like the themes in Sorceror, and a great many of the methods and mechanics as presented. Rollover bonuses and the discrete steps of demon contact/summoning/binding seem cool to me. (Now that I understand more of the combat system, I like what it does, as well.) And the system as such is built so that the stronger player (the person rolling more dice) has an advantage but not a dominating one; there are many avenues, throughout the text and mechanics, for the underdog to pull through, and I think this is good. (There's a rule about using a Willpower rule to overcome large penalties, and had a fantastic time using that in a game.)

However: the die mechanic in Sorceror, as presented, simply has a high-handling time for the groups I played it in. We did it right (just looking for higest dice, not sorting them all) but I think it's just a subjective call here that I'd be happier with a different mechanic. Also: while the given die mechanic is "swingy" in a good way (as above, underdogs can triumph), at times it felt a bit too much so (I'd like hard-earned bonus dice to have a little more impact in play). So I'd like to also shift this balance.

Here's what I have so far:

The Rules: Wherever you used to roll N dice on your side in Sorceror, instead roll a single d10*. Announce your results: if the number rolled is less than or equal to your N, you get that many successes. If the result is greater than your N, that's 0 successes. (You may want to announce this along with the die result you rolled, like "0-on-8" or "0-on-7".) The winner is the one with more successes; take the difference between the two results to see how many successe she got. If both players had "0" successes, the player with the higher rolled result wins with a single success. If it's still a tie* on both dice, it goes in favor of the player character, or else to the underdog (with the lower N going in), and barring that simply reroll.

Quote
You have a Stamina 5, I have a Stamina 3. We both roll, and then we announce our results:
(a) You get a 4 ("4 successes"), I get a 3 ("3 successes"). You win with 1 success
(b) You get a 3 ("3 successes"), I get a 4 ("0 successes on a 4"). You win with 3 successes.
(c) You get a 7 ("0 successes on a 7"), I get a 5 ("0 successes on a 5"). You win with 1 success.

Bonus Dice: You increase your N by the bonus, and roll as normal. (If this results in a higher N than the die type - e.g.. rolling for a power of 12 - that's alright, and simply means that the player will be getting between 1-10 successes of this die roll.)

Combat: Similar to the normal version, but with the main wrinkle being in aborting to defend*.
(1) Everyone picks actions to attempt this round.
(2) If anyone wants to try for rollover bonuses (ex: use Cover to aid my Stamina roll), do that now to figure out the bonus to the actual roll.
(3) Everyone rolls their die, and that's their initiative as well as their action. Go in order from most successful result to least successful result. (Among the 0-successes results, sort by die result, highest-to-lowest.)
(4) If you are attacked before you've taken your action, you can either:
(4a) "Suck it up" (and keep your action): roll a d10 with an N of 1 to try to defend.
(4b) Abort your action to defend; both the attacker and the defender reroll their dice to see if the attack is successful.
(5) Repeat.

I tried to make the mechanics above reflect some important parts of the Sorceror die mechanic. You can't have more successes than the number of dice you're rolling, and in most cases an underdog can still pull out a win. (Even if you're only rolling with 1 die, both you and your opponent might roll a 1, which is "1 success" for each of you, which is a tie that the underdog wins.) This is more skewed against the underdog (who could hold is own on a single d10), but there's still some chance for him.

Things I want to elaborate on (that I've marked with *):

* Dice. The d10 made the most sense to me. In playtest we tried both d10 and 12, and haven't yet found a dramatic difference. (We'll still be looking.) Ron suggested using a d20. We briefly tried it, but it felt that we'd have too many of the "0 successes" results using that method, given the scores as they were. That said, it made sense that maybe if we doubled all other scores in Sorceror, you could use a d20 while keeping the play the same, and also incurring far fewer ties. I'm wary of a dramatic change to the stats, but I'll give it a shots if ties keep coming up.

* Aborting to defend is very different in these rules, which I haven't in fact playtested yet. The problem is this: what if I'm attacking you with a 4-successes result, and your Stamina is 2. Even if you abort to defend (rolling with an N of 2 instead of 1), you have a very, very poor chance of doing much at all of soak up my attack, and have no chance at all of blocking it altogether. If an abort-to-defend forces both you and the attacker to reroll, that makes the choice more useful for the defender, and contributes to more interesting choices in general. I think.

Finally, I've (drastically) changed the wording quite a few times already, and probably will keep doing so. I'm trying to make this feel simple, although it may just be one of those things that is easy only once you've internalized.

Feedback I'd like: Is my thinking right, in relation to these asterisked parts above? If you've played Sorceror above, can you see playing a successful game with it?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2006, 06:34:39 AM »

Hey everyone,

Let's keep the discussion of these points over where it started, at the Story Games website. If you're interested in pursuing the topic at the Forge, I'll see ya in the Playtesting forum.

Best, Ron
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