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Author Topic: the Master loves his dice mechanics  (Read 3676 times)
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: October 25, 2002, 02:49:29 PM »

On the http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3926">Blake's playtest game thread, Mike wrote:

BTW, if it's not clear, I was the one who designed a lot of the die mechanics.

And he absolutely did. I came to him with the Intimacy/Desperation/Sincerity bonus mechanics using d4/d6/d8, and the core scheme for the various subtractions and additions of traits that determined opposing pools, but I was thinking the pools were d12's compared Sorcerer-style, highest die rolled. Mike argued a strong case for the d4 mechanics that appear in the playtest rules document.

As I described recently in the http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3116">What Does Master Czege Require? thread, I've been prompted by our group's current playtest to a concern with the make-it-or-break-it significance of the bonus dice, and asked Blake to use a variant core dice mechanic, summing not just 1's and 2's rolled, but 3's as well. I implemented that same change for our group's fourth session of playtest a week ago, and was pretty pleased with the reduction in player anxiety surrounding the bonus dice. The bonus dice should be significant, but not make-it-or-break-it, and the balance seemed to have been nudged just about perfect by the modification.

Despite that, I don't consider myself indivorcibly wedded to the current dice scheme, or to the use of d4's. If a change would produce a slightly higher chance of an underdog winning over a superior sized pool, I'd seriously consider it. Based admittedly only on the one game session, it still seems to me just slightly too predictable for the larger-sized pool to win over the opposition. What I wouldn't want to do is have any effect on the following:

1. Now that the Intimacy/Desperation/Sincerity dice seem to have just the right significance in relation to the core dice, I wouldn't want to increase or decrease that significance.

2. I wouldn't want to positively or negatively affect the incidence of ties. Scott Knipe has said he things the coolest thing about My Life with Master is how ties are handled, and I have to say I'm personally very happy with the tie handling mechanics myself. In most games, if you get a tie result it's an annoyance. You have to reroll, perhaps, or you have to compare the sizes of the pools rolled, or compare some character attribute. And however brief, there's a delay. In My Life with Master, ties make their own unique and interesting contribution to conflict resolution. They create an escalation of suspense. In our game, Ambrose's attempt to get some Love from an old woman he had just rescued from the rapist, Jack Hervey, was interrupted by the sudden appearance of the bloodthirsty rapist himself when Danielle failed the Overture roll. We've had scenes interrupted by the surprise arrival of the Master, and to the slack jaws of the players, by the half-perceived risen ghost of Molly Irish. We're averaging maybe three tie results every two sessions, and I think that's just about the perfect frequency. Affecting the occurrence of ties was my major concern in deciding whether to go forward with the "everything but 4's" mechanics, and I was very gratified to see no significant change.

Perhaps my perception of the larger pool winning predictably using the current mechanics is a product of the late stage of the game, with players slinging around Self-Loathing scores of 8+. I'm inclined to evaluate it with further playtest, simply because everything else now seems balanced just about perfectly to my taste.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2002, 04:09:06 PM »

All great.  As I wrote in that other thread, my use of a different die mechanic throws my evaluation of that aspect of the game into suspicion.  The back-and-forth between me and Mike about the d4's shouldn't be taken as major carping or crit.  Incredibly, the game worked with the wrong mechanic, and worked very well at that.  That's a huge indicator in my mind that MLWM only needs minor polish before calling it good.  Mike's comments have cleared up my lingering confusion.  Though I admit I'd prefer d6's, I'm certainly not sold on it.

Again, thanks for all the feedback on the playtest and the opportunity to comment.  A couple of my players have already asked when we're going to run "Son of Master of Nightmares."  That's heady praise for a game none of them had heard of two weeks ago.

Best,

Blake
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2002, 12:13:57 PM »

You know, Paul, you're assessment of what's important in a roll has come so full circle, that your original mechanic might be better now than what we currently have.  Perhaps d10 instead of d12 (helps with the rarity issue and makes the bonus dice advantage that much more obvious).  

Mike
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2002, 11:16:19 AM »

Hey Mike,

You know, Paul, you're assessment of what's important in a roll has come so full circle, that your original mechanic might be better now than what we currently have.

Would you care to elaborate?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2002, 01:53:57 PM »

Well, back then we were worried about the effect that the "Sorcerer" mechanic had as far as always allowing an underdog to come from behind. Now you seem to actually want that, so the "bonus" dice aren't so absolutely crucial. So, perhaps it would work better than we at first thought.

Can't hurt to try.

Or I can propose some d6, mechancs. Hero Body dice? Roll d6, and raise the stat value by one for each six, and lower it by one for each 1. Gives a range from 0 to 2x, centered fairly heavily on the center. Might be too tight. But it's fast (1s and 6s cancel). For a similar effect, but far more variable, go evens/odds, up/down. (Standard deviation goes from about .3 per die to .5). That should work a lot better.

Still doesn't have the flat tails like the "Sorcerer" method does, however.

Mike
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