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Author Topic: Use These Dice!  (Read 14270 times)
MKAdams
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« on: February 20, 2008, 04:46:31 PM »

So I was looking at some of the stranger dice available on the market, and I found these: Double Dice.  They're translucent, hollow dice with a smaller opaque die inside, so when you roll the one die you get two different results, an exterior result and an interior result.

That's pretty awesome.  There are plenty of ways to use these dice in existing games, but the inherent metaphor of the dice is so cool that I'd like to see a game designed to make use of them.  But I'm busy.

So I was thinking that instead I'd offer a bounty of a full set (d6, d10, d12, d20 in blue, green and red, a $10.50 value!) of these Double Dice to whoever writes the most awesome one(ish, fits in a comment) page rpg that 1) makes use of the metaphor of the dice and 2) makes me ::throws devil horns:: at least once.

I'll open the contest RIGHT NOW and I'll close it on March 3rd at 12:01 AM, so that's like 12 whole days.
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2008, 07:37:10 AM »

Where do we send said RPGs?  Just post them here?
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
MKAdams
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Posts: 36


« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2008, 10:11:15 AM »

Yep.  That's the idea.
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2008, 11:01:06 AM »

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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Nev the Deranged
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Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2008, 04:25:47 PM »

Man, why couldn't you have finished that two days ago so we could have tried it at GPP?
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MKAdams
Member

Posts: 36


« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2008, 04:53:51 PM »

GreatWolf?

I am SO throwing the devils horns.  Great entry.

I hope there's some more (::hint! hint!:Smiley because a contest without competition Does Not Rock.
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2008, 05:59:38 PM »

Be patient, now. I won't promise anything, but do wait until the deadline; I might have something if time allows...
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2008, 06:08:20 PM »

Man, why couldn't you have finished that two days ago so we could have tried it at GPP?

I did, actually, but I forgot that I had it.  A pity, too.

quote author=MKAdams link=topic=25794.msg248522#msg248522 date=1203987231]
GreatWolf?

I am SO throwing the devils horns.  Great entry.

I hope there's some more (::hint! hint!:Smiley because a contest without competition Does Not Rock.
[/quote]

Heh.  Well, given that Ralph Mazza gave me the heads-up on this one, I'm thinking that you'll have at least one more entrant.
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
David Artman
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2008, 01:51:29 PM »

At first, I thought, "Um... it's just 2dX; nothing unique at all." Then I read:
1) makes use of the metaphor of the dice
...and then saw the "internal" die as past and "external" die as present in the first offering, and I thought, "OK, I get it; let's watch."

I won't slam together a game, but the most literal "metaphor" I can think of with these dice is for something along the lines of social interraction resolution mechanics. For instance, suppose they are literally "internal" and "external" reaction dice, to be rolled based on the rules (good or poor) of some kind of social challenge. The die4 size could drive "success level," while the outer die result shows what sort of face the loser puts forward; while the inner die dictates what he or she REALLY thinks afterwards. For instance, a brow-beated bureaucrat might throw a 1dd12 to adjust some kind of "favorability" metric: the inner die is a 2, the outer is a 9: the bureaucrat will seem to be very favorable, while secretly intending to sabotage the works the first safe chance that presents itself (misfiled form, I'd guess, from my experience with them!).

Oooh, another notion: the outer die is a counter-keeping die; and every time the mechanics force the possessor to change the die value, and change in the interior die takes effect. Sort of like "jenga dice" in that the player's dexterity plays a part in changing the die value, with mechanical rewards and penalties for inner-die results.

Anyhow, just spitballing... and marking the thread for future reading! Wink
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2008, 04:16:34 PM »

All right, here's my entry. This is post #1 of 2.

INSTAR DYNAMITE

Concept

Each player-character works for the same corporation. It's a big bland corporation with many sub-groups and a vague function, some sort of consultancy + partnership + planning or whatever. The characters are in their mid-twenties, unmarried, with no children. Their positions may vary depending on what they were hired for, but they have not moved up significantly in their positions since then; basically, they're not very successful people although not in danger of being fired. Each has agreed to a program offered by some subcommittee from Human Resources, to become a New You.

The New You will be competent, successful, exciting, and fulfilling. The character even got to choose what it will be like. They achieve their dreams and the corporation gets a personnel-asset - what could be wrong with that?

The trouble is, now things begin to go right for each character after all, and the way the New You works is a bit different from advertised. The character has been implanted with an instar, the larval form of a mysterious creature that will literally develop into a new version of its host from the inside, taking over his or her life entirely.

An instar is the term for each stage of arthropod larval development. Technically, the creature in the character is a parasitoid, i.e., it develops within a host and consumes the host to mature. To be clear, in this game, the character is not killed and the creature does not emerge from his or her body. Instead, if the process is completed, the instar (or rather adult) will now be this body's only volitional force and abilities; the original character will only exist as a helpless "rider" from that point on.

Character creation

The character is expressed in game terms by a list of trivial skills. Make up twenty of them, with the only constraints being that they serve no immediately-obvious professional or status-based purpose. However, they should indeed be real things to accomplish, not nose-picking or something like that. Given that there are twenty skills to make, treat these parameters a bit kindly and don't get hung up on perfecting every skill within them.

The character is presumed to be only marginally competent at absolutely any other imaginable skill. He or she can get by at the job or socially, but often does so by avoiding conflicts and ignoring opportunities.

Add content and refine these two statements, which at the beginning of play have become strong elements of the character's self-image. (1) "That kind of stuff that never happens to me," and (2) "I'll never get to do that."

Use the Portrait Illustration Maker to illustrate your character. It is slightly biased toward Japanese and anime designs, so aim toward more naturalistic features which reflect the setting you and your group have chosen. If you prefer a different program, feel free to use it, but every player should use the same program, and it should be just a bit cartoony rather than wacky or completely clinical. Print out the character's portrait in color and stick it onto the character sheet.

The New You has four attributes, each of which is an immensely applicable quality. It has no specialized knowledge or true expertise in anything.

In his or her consultation with the New You specialist, the character has chosen four of the following, which represent his or her idealized notions of the person that cruel fate has denied them: Good-looking, Calm and Confident, Powerhouse, Athletic Whiz at (sport), Great Sense of Humor, Great Spin (everyone thinks what you said was innovative and insightful), Natural Leader, Insider (fake professional knowledge of anything), Sexual Dynamo, Endearingly Kooky, Impeccable Taste, Fearsome Physical Opponent, Touch of Menace, Quick Mind (e.g. math, memory), Artistic Knockout at (medium), Cutting Comeback (verbal version of Fearsome Opponent), Organized Time Manager

Distribute 6 points among the four attributes. A single point means it has a value of 6; two points means it has a value of 5-6, and so on. Each must receive at least one point, so the only two possible score profiles are: 6, 6, 5, 5, or 6, 6, 6, 4.

Setup and situations

There are two ideas at work in playing out situations in this game.

* Characters experience new, exciting opportunities, the very things they would have sworn "never happens to me."
* Instars are in serious conflict with one another, generating huge adversity during play.

The GM is actually the nice guy! The first idea is the primary GMing task. All he or she does is to keep providing and enriching opportunities. Typically, the GM will speak to all the players in sequence to do this, describing rough locations and situations for each one, and probably inventing some NPCs.

The second idea lies in the hands of the players, as each states how his or her instar, working through its host, will provide obstacles to other characters, whether purposefully or not.

Therefore each player operates a bit schizophrenically: (1) stating his or her character's actions as well as (2) posing opposition to other characters via the drives of his or her character's instar. This interference may be intentional or not on the part of the character/instar, and it may be direct or indirect. In the latter case, the player will probably invent an NPC or two as well.

This dialogue then kicks back to the GM, whose new task is to refine and finalize the new scenes, in many cases consolidating two or more characters into the same scenes, if it makes sense. Now each scene is played out primarily through the dialogue of people whose characters are in it, in typical role-playing fashion. The players simultaneously play their own characters as well as the NPCs they may have brought into the situation. The GM plays various NPCs and manages locations and characters' presence in them.

It's useful to think in terms of opportunities, goals, and conflicts. An opportunity is the biggest: it's a situation which corresponds to the character's daydreams and former aspirations. It is composed of a series of goals, or perhaps accomplishments that need to be completed. Attempting to reach these goals leads to conflicts to be faced. The expectation is that given all the input into the situations, the characters will certainly be hitting conflict after conflict in the context of a given goal, ranging from trying to get a date with the cute co-worker at the water cooler (opportunity), to dealing with sabotage of one's computer by an all-thumbs technician (interference).

Any scene may shift locales, include the passage of time, or give rise to an immediately-necessary new scene. Switch around at perceived break points. When every character has played through the resolution of the given positive opportunity, which should require quite a few conflicts per character (at least ten recommended), then it's time to step back to the first GMing task again. By "play through," I mean that the opportunity has been thoroughly resolved - the character has done well or poorly in facing it, and some aspect of that experience has become part of his or her history, but the basic opportunity is now over and done with.

Scope and constraints of play

The story takes place in the context of work and working life. Locations do not all have to be at work itself, but they shouldn't skip off to Tahiti either. Details of characters' work space, daily schedule, living situations, and general life-style are left to play itself, as the player essentially offers or vets any necessary information as it comes up.

Using skills by definition requires some finesse, as the character's skills typically aren't well-suited to the rigors of the situations afforded by a given opportunity. If the player wants the character to use a skill, though, he or she will have to use some imagination to see how one of the many skills might be tweaked or kitbashed into an action that actually applies after all. No one person has final authority over whether a skill's use is legitimate; instead, if one or more people shout "Oh come on!" as a snap reaction, that's probably enough indication to pick another skill.

The New You program specialist or any indication of the program's existence is never seen again after character creation. There are no New You NPCs or other instars in play. And as an important side point, characters cannot spot the presence of the instar in anyone else.

The instar never acts against company interests, nor does it ever violate its basic hierarchy (ousting and sabotaging competitors and immediate superiors isn't the same thing). Also, the instar intellectual and social abilities are ultimately not substantive. It cannot innovate, develop insight, or improve things; when it uses (for example) Great Sense of Humor, or Insider, the actual content turns out to be nil upon reflection. Successful instar ability use pretty much gives everyone the right impression, that's all. Its physical abilities are legitimate, but again, they tend to be stronger on visual style compared to actual long-term impact.

The instar-inhabited character cannot leave the company or act against its interests, period. Nor can he or she describe, explain, or really even mention the thing inside. Those optons are overridden at a very basic neural level by the instar.

(more coming)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2008, 04:17:13 PM »

Post #2 of two

Basic resolution

Double Dice are used for resolving conflicts in the game. The outer die is the character's skill roll, and the inner die is the instar's ability roll.

In all cases, higher is better. Resolution takes two things into account, with slightly different rules for any of the following three situations. Also, success values may change in different ways for each situation.

You do it!

The character is basically giving over the reins to the instar. However, he or she must bring some skill to bear in the situation, chosen by the player, as the instar cannot act without some kind of initiatory action on the host's part. Once begun, the instar will abandon that action and bring its considerable talents to bear using one of its abilities as chosen by the GM.

The ability's success range is actually not relevant in this case, because its action will in fact succeed. The roll is made for two reasons. First, the outcome is relevant to possible changes in the scores, explained in the next section. Second, if the ability is being opposed by another instar, the roll must beat the other instar ability roll to succeed. Even if an instar's action is blocked by opposition of this kind, the action is still observably competent and impressive.

A successful action of this kind is consensually co-narrated by the GM and player, with the latter being sure to provide some thoughts or reactions from the character. Note that the action succeeds at the general goal of the original action, in its own way without regard to the originally-chosen skill.

Help me out here!

The character would like to keep the reins of control, to use a skill of the player's choice, and to utilize some aspect of the instar as a boost in using a particular skill.

Use the higher of the two dice, comparing it with the skill's success range (typically 4-5). Success is narrated by the player; failure is narrated by the GM with input from the player.

If another player-character is involved in the conflict, then the high value must also beat the second character's roll if it is successful. The value of that roll is determined by whether the character is using Help Me Out (high die of the two), You Do It (instar roll), or I'll Do It Myself (skill roll).

I'll do it myself!

The character deliberately shuts out the influence of the instar, using a skill of his or her choice. The GM chooses an instar ability that it would like to bring to bear on the situation.

To succeed, the skill roll must fall within its success roll as well as beat the instar ability roll. If it does so, then the player narrates without GM input. If the skill roll is in its success range but does not beat the instar, then the GM narrates with player input. If the skill fails, but the instar roll is in its own success range, then the player narrates with GM input. If both fail, regardless of which is higher, the GM narrates without player input.

If another player-character is opposing this action, then the skill roll must tie or beat an opposing skill, or beat an opposing instar ability. Note that two successful skill uses may result in a mutually advantageous compromise, if that's how the players narrate it, which cannot happen when even one instar ability is involved.

Make sure to see how skills and abilities may change depending on which option is used and depending on what happens.

Character and instar development

As the instar grows and develops into the full New You, its span of success values increases, and its host's skills begin to disappear. The character may embrace this process or try to delay or stop it. The following three mechanics show how the game numbers change with ability and skill use.

You do it!: If the ability roll is equal to or higher than the skill roll, then the instar success range increases and the skill success range is diminished, e.g., it becomes 5-6 from 4-5-6, then 6 from 5-6. (Successful or unsuccessful usage, in the case of opposition, is irrelevant.)

Help me out here!: If the ability roll was higher than the skill roll, then the skill success range is diminished but the instar success range stays the same. If the skill roll was higher, then no values change. (Again, successful or unsuccessful usage is irrelevant.)

I'll do it myself!: Upon a successful roll, the skill success range increases and the instar ability stays the same. If the skill fails, both skill and ability values stay the same. However, see below in "Final outcomes" for what happens when this option is used repeatedly for a given skill. (Unlike the above two cases, the relative values of the two rolls are irrelevant; the key is success or failure of the skill.)

Story and character outcomes

A given character's story is composed of opportunities which arise and are resolved through a series of immediate and consequential goals, with many conflicts faced within them. By definition, they will result in many changes in the character's life as it proceeds. There's a "resolve and evolve" cycle for each character, and in many cases it intersects and interferes with the events in the other characters' stories.

There are two kinds of changes within this cycle: fictional consequences and mechanical consequences.

The fictional ones are basically an organic outcome of all the narrations, whether of scene setups, of character dialogue, or of dice rolls. A few conflicts down the road, the character may have changed positions in the company, be living in entirely different circumstances, and otherwise simply be seeing and doing stuff he or she wasn't before.

The mechanical ones all concern the relationship between character and instar. They include eliminating skills, adding new skills, or eliminating instar abilities.

A skill may be fully eliminated if its value is 6 and is then diminished once more. If this happens to ten skills, then the New You process is completed and the instar develops to maturity. Its abilities are now fixed at their current numerical values. The New You does not use Double Dice, but rather a traditional six-sided die, using abilities only. The character is, for all intents and purposes, gone. He or she is now merely an internal, nonvolitional witness to the life of the New You. The player continues to play, acting only in opposition to other characters. Specifically, he or she must act to oppose the actions of the character hosting the currently most-effective instar.

A character may add new skills. Define the new skill, which is not constrained in concept (i.e. it does not have to be trivial). Use Do It Myself. The skill will automatically fail, but if the skill roll beats the ability roll, then it may be entered onto the character sheet with a success range of 6.

The character may reduce the instar's abilities by using Do It Myself repeatedly with a given skill. Entering into this process requires a deliberate statement; once that is made, a given skill is checked each time it is used successfully with Do It Myself. After two consecutive successes, the instar gets nervous and tries to force Help Me Out Here resolution, with the GM naming the ability. The action will switch to that resolution mode unless the character explicitly refuses. If he or she does so, and if the skill is successful with Do It Myself, then the ability success range is diminished by 1. If an ability's value is 6 and this is accomplished, then the ability is gone.

If all four instar abilities are eliminated in this way, then the character continues, using a solid d8 for skill resolution only. The player no longer acts in opposition to other player-characters from this point onwards.

Unless the character tries to suppress and eliminate the instar, the eventual outcome will be the production of the New You.

Play ends when all player-characters have either become their New You or defeated their instar.

Best, Ron
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 04:33:51 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2008, 05:34:17 PM »

Wait, one quick correction that didn't make it into the file: instead of ten skills, it's one-third (round down) of current skills gone = New You. That adds a little meat to learning new skills.

Best, Ron
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MKAdams
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Posts: 36


« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2008, 09:16:30 AM »

Ron: Wow, that was a real headscratcher.  I'll admit, I'm not finding it easy to wrap my head around the game play there, and was having some trouble just grokking the basic concept.  Last night as I was walking my dog, I thought about the TV show Aeon Flux, and the weird skinny robot things that Trevor inserted in people to make them model citizens, and it *clicked*, and I found my way into your idea.  Which means I can now throw the devil horns.  Though I'll admit, this game is a bit "prog rock" for my tastes, and not really "metal" enough.  But I think you're going to win the "Required The Most Intense Reflection For Ken To Comprehend" award (which comes with no dice, sadly).
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2008, 04:34:35 PM »

It's a shame there's no d4, or at least a d8 to allow a smooth progression of die size from d6 through to d12.

I'm trying to wrap my head around a couple of concepts at the moment, hopefully I'll have an entry in within the next couple of days.

V
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2008, 07:05:57 PM »

Hey man, you chose the funky dice, and that guarantees that you get a funky game. You ::throw the devil horns::, and I'll ::embarassing funk dance move:: back atcha.

Best, Ron
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