Friday, June 19, 2009

Re-rolling dice

OK, This is more than I normally post in a day, but I figured this is a timely discussion as its going on in several places.

First off is the flaw. Inglorious and uncharacteristic deaths. Somehow the high level character who can be engulfed in flame, shot with a thousand arrows can slip on a wet stone in a stream, knock himself out and drown in 3 inches of water.

Now part of this goes into the nature of what exactly hit points or the like are? In my case I'm explicit. You have luck points, representing the supernatural and uncanny ability to have every storm trooper miss, every arrow land a half inch behind you in the dirt and every bit of cannon shrapnel zing a fraction of an inch around your body. In the "Default Setting" this luck is the result of the interest of the trickster deities, but it could as easily be the threads of fate, the blessing of the gods or some kind of time travel paradox where you have to live long enough to back in time and be your own grandpa struggling to keep the timeline in place. Not truly important mechanically.

The solution I have is fate (and to a degree) destiny points. Fate points being that same inhuman luck able to manifest in other aspects, such as the slippery rock. The same forces that let the goblin arrows miss help you keep your balance.

This comes up with re-rolls. Now mechanically a re-roll is not any different than adding modifiers. Its another way of making the end numeric result more favourable. So I can't assume there is any logical hatred of re-rolls in that sense. Hell in piecemeal a trained warrior can re-roll his damage and choose the better result, not as any kind of "the curve of the blade changed" just as a mechanical way to get a higher number. The same theory as a modifier, but it still allows minimum damage while not letting you exceed maximum damage. After all, an arrow hitting the same location (your throat) by intention or random chance is not any more or less deadly.

The issue I conclude (hopefully not wrongly, I apologize if I'm putting words in ones mouth) is the nature of this luck. In my mind, once a sword blow or bullet that connects is less likely to kill your character than anyone else with the same armour and build, you are using such luck already. I have no compunction with butchering sacred cows myself so I don't see any problem with being explicit about what a "hit point" is.

For anyone not considered with the debate over the use, I'm going to throw down a little more description below:

Fate Points allow the following:
A re-roll of a die or set of dice
To regain a handful of luck points
To add something plausible and not already described to the game*

* How does this work? Lets say a character is jumping off a cliff to avoid pursuit, assuming the GM had not described the cliff as "sheer", he could declare there is a small ledge he could attempt to land on. Its plausible and the GM hasn't said there isn't one. Alternatively he could not spend a fate point and simply look for a ledge and let the dice (or GM fiat) land where they may.

How does one gain Fate Points? One adheres to trope, and generally improves the feel of the game. In the base case this uses the "Awesomeness" mechanic, which I think will have to be my next post tomorrow. Basically you encourage the characters to pull fun and impressive stunts, to gain re-rolls to save for later. A give and take.

Destiny Points allow the following:
To choose the results of a die or set of dice without rolling.
To fully replenish ones luck points
To bypass a targets luck points with an upcoming attack
To include something along the lines of Deus Ex Machina*

*How does this work? Lets assume the character in the previous example had already had the cliffs described as "Sheer". He could leap over the side of the cliff and spend a destiny point to declare he happened to land on the back of a passing (and now confused) giant eagle.

How does one gain Destiny Points?
As a general rule you don't, if you are on some epic quest (like taking a ring to mount dhum) you might be given one, and you should never have more than one. They aren't something you can waste and are akin to possessing a potent magical item or a lesser wish.

Why do they work as they do?

First off they allow for consistency in design. The characters can now shrug off various dangers equally, even if they are arbitrarily shelved into a different category of "attack".

Secondly, the ability to use "Carrot and Stick" means that there is a good way to encourage players to do cinematic big damn hero actions that aren't the most logical choice, without making it mandatory. It creates choice instead of a problem. You can let the villain monologue and adhere to trope (gaining re-rolls) or you can shoot him in the neck while he's talking and get him flat footed.


1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of player-empowerment points in helping create heroic fiction. Burning Wheel's artha system takes the idea of "fate" to a whole new level - the results are some really dynamic, exciting, and at times unpredictable results.