Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TnB RPG: The Core Mechanics

I've decided to start posting abbreviated portions of the rules for the Tankards and Broadswords RPG that I've been developing. I've come to the conclusion that this isn't something I really have any wish to "publish" like so many are doing, for the simple reason that so many others are, in fact, publishing their own RPGs. Rather, it's become more of an exercise in defining what I like in terms of RPG mechanics and building an RPG that's right for me and my own GMing style.

However, I do want some feedback on how others perceive the mechanics I'm working on, and with that goal in mind, I'll be posting portions of the rules here. This won't be the rules as written in my main rules document, but rather pared down to the basics to keep things brief.

To start off, we'll take a look at the core task resolution mechanics of the T&B RPG system.

The Standard Roll
Any time a character has to take an action that makes use of a Skill, Peril, or Status value, the player rolls two six-sided dice (2d), combines the results, and adds the relevant character related value (Melee, Endure, Infamy, etc.) plus any modifiers. This is compared to the situation's Break Point, a value determined either by the situation at hand (climbing a wall) or resistance on the part of another character or creature (avoiding detection while hiding).

The Break Point
Situational Break Points typically start at a base of 7 for tasks of mild difficulty, but increase in value for harder tasks, up to 12 and even beyond for truly Herculean tasks. Break Points determined by another character or creature are generated by using an opposing Skill or other special ability to generate the Break Point (for example, a Defense roll to oppose a Melee roll). In less than clear-cut situations (such as one character sneaking while another tries to detect), the GM will decide which character generates the Break Point (since a tie has to go to one party or the other).

The Balance
When the results of the character's roll are compared to the Break Point, if the character's roll is greater than or equal to the Break Point, the roll succeeds. If the result is lower, the roll fails. The degree to which the roll succeeded or failed is known as the Balance, and can have in-game consequences depending on how great the success is or how awful the failure (Balance involving failed rolls is known as "Negative Balance").

The Weighted Roll
In unusual circumstances, a character or creature may make a weighted roll. The player or GM rolls the dice as normal, but if the roll does not come up as a double (i.e., 2-2, 5-5, etc.), the lower of the two die values is re-rolled and added to the higher die. For example, if the player rolls and gets a 3 and a 5, the 3 is re-rolled, and whatever comes up (whether it is better or worse than the 3) is added to the 5. The total is then added to the character or creature's Skill or other value, just like the Standard Roll.

The Chance Roll
There are many times when a situation calls for a degree of chance to be involved, but it has little to do with a character's Skill, Peril, or Status values. Rather, it is simply a possibility of something happening that the GM is leaving up to chance, rather than a declaration. In these cases, a "1d/X+" roll, or Chance Roll, is made. The player or GM rolls one die (1d) and has to meet or beat the "X" value. For example, a Chance Roll of 1d/5+ means that something occurs on a roll of 5 or 6 on the six-sided die.

And that's pretty much it. Characters and Creatures use Standard and Weighted rolls for their Skill, Peril, Statue, and special ability checks, and the Chance roll handles, well, situations of pure chance or base probability. Standard and Weighted rolls are made against a Break Point, which is determined by a static value or the opposition of another character or creature. The degree of success or failure in a Standard or Weighted roll is known as the Balance, which can be positive or negative, and can have an in-game effect on how things turn out.

Truth be told, there is nothing revolutionary here, and that's actually how I like it. There's a reason certain task resolution mechanics keep cropping up in RPGs; some methods just work better in play than others. I figure if 2d6+Value vs. Difficulty was good enough for Traveller some 30+ years ago, it's good enough for me. There's very little math and most of the addition involves single-digit numbers, but at the same time it isn't so simple as to be a "heads I win" mechanic.

Thanks in advance for any feedback folks are willing to give. Next time, we'll talk about Character Archetypes and Character Creation.

4 comments:

taichara said...

Just dropping by to say I still like this set of mechanics very much.

Still have my copy, also.

Mike D. said...

I like these mechanics too, especially the "weighted roll" and "chance". Very cool. I love any system that relies on the ol' d6. If I can rob Monopoly or Yahtzee to play the game, all the better.

Harald said...

This looks a bit like a system I developed some years ago, and my rationale was quite like yours -- nothing revolutionary, and right for my style.

My system uses 2d6, with the dice being open ended, and a roll of double ones, "snake-eyes", causing a fumble. Apart from that it would appear the two systems, or at the least the core mechanics, have much in common.

Whithout having had a chance to test your system it's hard to give proper feedback, but from what I see here it looks like you have a solid and nuanced system. I am looking forward to see how you've solved character creation and progression.

Badelaire said...

Thanks for the input guys!

@Harald,

I had considered fumbles and exploding dice, but at the end of the day a) it's just more rules, and b) exploding die mechanics can lead to some fairly ridiculous situations. If someone wanted to house rule it for themselves, I wouldn't care, but I didn't include it in the core rules.

I'll see about posting Characters in a day or two.