A different dice mechanic?

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Jens

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A different dice mechanic?
« on: June 10, 2014, 10:16:33 AM »
I'm probably beating a dead horse here but a search of the forums didn't show exactly the same idea used before.

A big caveat is that I haven't re-read the AW book for a while so I don't really remember how PvP conflicts are supposed to be resolved. I remember it as being fiction first? However the people I play with semiregularily have the idea of initiative hardwired into the backbones of their black murderhobo souls and think that solving stuff as they come up hint at some kind of "unfairness".

An idea I had was to exchange rolls for a single dice. A result on the lower half=missed, upper half=yes, but, and top result=10+
Add the actual stat to the roll as normal. So on a D8 1-4=missed, 5-7=yes, but 8=success.
The bigger the dice, the less impact of the stat. However in a PvP situation the biggest die wins. So on a D4 roll stats are amazing but you'll be trumped by bigger dice.

Neat? Stupid? Unworkable? Already hashed?

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As If

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Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2014, 11:38:59 AM »
Already hashed.  The typical approach in a combat scene is simply saying "What do you do" to everyone all around the table, and then figure out the order based on speed, distance and drama.  The PC who says he's shooting a gun should probably happen faster than the PC who says he's running 50 yards across the field.

You're not gonna break anything by using dice instead, but you might end up with the first PC running 50 yards BEFORE the other PC gets a chance to fire his gun.

Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2014, 02:34:56 PM »
This is unclear to me. Are you talking about making a single-die roll for initiative to decide what order the regular moves happen in?

Rolling for initiative to decide the order for moves is just moving the point at which random unfairness happens. Using a different set of dice doesn't change that.

PvP combat in AW is sometimes less about who wins the fight than about what the stakes are. Seize By Force normally yields an exchange of harm. In PvP, that means one PC's move reflects both PCs making an attack. So instead of rolling for initiative, you're rolling for advantage, and because of the success terms for the move, you're not rolling to see who shoots first, but rolling to see what happened to the stakes. It's both faster than making 4 or more separate rolls and it serves the story better.

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As If

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Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2014, 05:05:50 PM »
Nicely said, @Borogove.  It's difficult for me to imagine a situation where the fiction hasn't established one character already doing something that the other reacts to, or already having an advantage (whether positional, situational, emotional, tactical or psychological).  It would have to be uncallably close, and very specific circumstances for me to even feel a need to roll this.

Imagine character A with a holstered gun sneaks into character B's bedroom to steal the keys which are on the foot of the bed.  But the doorknob squeaks and character B is a light sleeper with a gun under the pillow.  Imagine that the players both say "I want to draw, aim and fire" at the exact same moment.  What should the MC do? 

I still don't feel I need an initiative roll.  First, I'd tell them "Okay, you both rapidly draw your weapons and point them at each other."  Then I'd ask them some questions to figure out what's really happening here.  The players are collaborating in this fiction too, dig?

"Character A, do you actually intend to shoot character B, or are you more interested in just getting the keys?"

"Character B, do you actually intend to shoot character A?  Or was that just a reflex and you're surprised to see who it is?  Or do you just want to make character A leave your room by threatening to shoot?"

It doesn't really matter which order you ask them in, because either way, the answer of the first player asked will tend to be echoed by the second.  (And if it isn't, then you've got some awesome players and powerful drama is coming your way!)  If it's anything other than "both say shoot", the next roll will probably be a Manipulate.

If they're both actually intending to shoot, then this is a Seize by Force and there will be an exchange of harm.  Which one is seizing?  I'd say the one coming in.  Why?  Because this is not a game of micromanagement over microseconds of positional combat scenarios.  There are other games for that.  I'm backing up.  I'm reading “seize something” broadly as the game instructs, and the thing character A is seizing is the keys.  For character A, that was the whole point of this scene in the first place.  This gives me ONE ROLL to determine the outcome, instead of getting all crunchy with stuff the system isn't designed to support anyway.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 05:35:10 PM by As If »

Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 10:50:59 PM »
I'm actually a little unclear now. So far I've only seen responses to the initiative idea, but none on the alternative dice mechanic, and I feel the need to understand that mechanic a little better before passing judgment as, say, "hashed" or "not hashed".

For example, how would one get a bigger die? Is it another stat that determines it? Or do you just have to choose? Taking the time to choose which die to roll would probably distract from the fictional choices you have to make. If no other stat determined which die to roll, you could simply start high and let it get bigger every time you got a hit, and smaller every time you got a miss. So say you start with a d8, then you rolled a 4, your next die would be a d6 (meaning that your +x stat would help you succeed much more next time), but if you rolled a 5, then your next die would be a d10 (meaning you'd be somewhat more likely to get into trouble). Any +2 or +3 stat would be extremely powerful at lower die levels.

It seems to me that there's some real value to your game play right there, even without any initiative element thrown in. I suppose if you find yourself unsure about how the PvP situation should play out, who should go first, and you can't seem to find the right questions that As If was talking about in order to find the most logical sequence in the story itself, then you could use the higher result as an initiative marker. But then again, I can imagine some initiative results being hard to interpret, such as if I rolled a 4 on a d4 (a success), and you rolled a 5 on a d10 (a miss), then your "miss" would come before my "success"? What would that look like? Maybe only hits would count? Misses would automatically go last?

In any case, I think it's worth exploring for certain implementations of a Powered-by-the-Apocalypse game, but you'd have to think carefully about the intention and what effect you want the die mechanic to have on play. These are just some of the ways I see, but you might see something else :) 

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Jens

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Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2014, 05:47:56 AM »
Thanks for the replies. Of course it should be handled in AW like you write, and that's how we've done it in play.

I was a bit unclear in my first post. I think my gut feeling was that this dice mechanic was more for a AW-derivative with a more genuine head-to-head perspective rather than to solve initiative issues in AW itself.

So it's like David writes, I was wondering more about using this actual mechanic rather than solving initiative in AW. I should have framed the question better.

Stepping up or down the dice depending on earlier results is a wonderful idea. My initial thinking was that players had to choose between stat-increases or stepped down dice as an improvement. This would basically mean gearing either towards trumping NPC and situations or winning over other PCs.

The idea is simple, which attracts me, but is it interesting to have to choose between these two?

I guess I'll file this away as interesting until I find something that screams for it.

Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 02:36:01 AM »
I think you could easily just try it in any AW game you're in and see what it does to the game. My hunch is that (assuming you use my step up/down version) it'll add a bit more ebb and flow to each character's individual arc. If you wanted, you could also make it so that the whole group shared a single die, which then went up or down depending on the result of the last person to roll it. Could be interesting!

The reasons I don't recommend letting someone choose which die size to use is, first, that d4 would always be best against NPCs if you have any +stat bonus at all, and d20 would always be best if you have a -1. In PvP, the choice maybe somewhat more complicated. Second, though, the choice of which die to use isn't related to the fiction at all, and therefore it distracts from it. A player will be thinking, "Okay I hope I can sneak around the Gunlugger there, so do I need to Act Under Fire? Okay... oh wait. Which die do I use... um... a d6 I guess? Now, can I roll yet?" You see? That "oh wait" moment weakens the moment of suspense and takes you out of the story a bit.

Anyway, hope that's helpful :)

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Jens

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Re: A different dice mechanic?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2014, 09:05:38 AM »
Oh, that is so very true about the delay regarding action. Thanks again for your comments.