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Diceless Binary Randomizer

Started by aghori, November 02, 2003, 11:40:24 PM

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This comes from a post reply I made at another forum. Take four different sized coins, from smallest to biggest their values will be 1, 2, 4, 8. These are the coins' values when face results, otherwise its 0. Players throw the four coins at once and then add the faces' values together, and thats it.. a 0-15 randomizer with only 4 coins.

Anybody has used this on a RPG before?.


(Generally I think "Indie Game Design" isn't for just discussing a singular mechanic out of context, fyi.)

So this is good for rolling d4s/d8s/d16s/so on, but otherwise just emulates dice.

Not to different, except (a) talking in binary will scare some folks off, but (b) talking in binary might be extra suggestive for the medium you're working in [i.e. Gobi's Tribal Mythic Robot game *could* use binary for flavor, but I'm not sure what it would add], and (c) there are mechanical opportunities in "bit-shifting" left or right, effectively doubling or halving your number.

I could see that you could use this for task checks WITHOUT converting out of binary. That is, the "1s" digit could talk about trivial failure/success, the "2s" is for average, etc (up to "epic" or whatnot). The difficulty is simply 0010 or 0100 or such, and making a task amounts to (a) having something slightly above the difficulty threshold (i.e. 0101 v. 0100), or (b) completely surprassing the difficulty (i.e. 1000 v. 0100). You shouldn't have to bother with actual addition of numbers, but you can look at it from a numbers point-of-view (convert to base10) to take into account balancing/cost/whatnot issues.

As I said, you can have a mechanic for altering thus number in simple ways: perhaps pay a token to alter a bit, add +1, or push the value in a direction.

I could see this mechanic in particular working for a specific kind of cyberpunk game: based more around various kinds of hackers (rather than Shadowrun-esqe mercs) in a high-tech-low-life scenario (hence the use of variously analog coins in a digital scenario). Perhaps allow the coins to only be spent in digital/hacking situations, to show the rift bitween virtual/real-world power?

Some thoughts.

M. J. Young

It's a suprisingly linear outcome from multiple dice, as it were. I can see it being useful for those pickup games in truck stops and such to which we're all accustomed (aren't we?), but probably would relegate it to an "alternate resolution method for use when dice aren't available"--which means you're looking at trying to design a system that uses a d16 normally, and the conversion is awkward at best.

Although I can see the color options, I think most gamers would consider the handling time rather high, at least until they got the hang of "to beat this, you need to have heads on this coin or better" as the way to identify resolutions. (Also, the complexity would be greatly increased if target numbers fall between the powers of 2--if you need 14, that means you must have heads on three coins; if you need three, heads on either of the top two succeed, but  heads on both of the bottom two also do so, and this kind of figuring takes longer.)

Again, just some thoughts. Did you have a game in mind?

--M. J. Young


I experimented a bit with the bigger coin being "the sign bit" and the rest 4,2 and 1 so there is a range from +7 to -7 with double chance of 0. Its a bit faster as in some situations only by seeing the sign bit success or failure can be asserted, also its much easier to add together 1,2 and 4 and gradually the 8 combinations are memorized.
QuoteAgain, just some thoughts. Did you have a game in mind?
I am at a brainstorm stage now after a paradigm shift halted the game I was working on. The new embryo game is about interdimensional mercenaries.