A Penny for Your Thoughts

Here are some wicked groovy FitM Stakes Resolution rules you can use tonight, if you wanna!

Otherkind Dice

Use when somebody says "my character accomplishes this..." and somebody says "...but it's not a given." They can be the same person or different people.

First, identify the accomplishment at stake. If the person said "my character punches him," ask why. If the person started with the reason, like "my character gets past him, by punching him down," you're set!

Second, identify two or more things that the character is risking. It might be helpful to say something like "but the danger is..." For instance, "my character gets past him, by punching him down, but the dangers are that he'll hurt me, and that Millicent will see me fighting and be mad at me."

The punch is a given; the character punches the guy successfully. What you're going to resolve is the other three things: does the character get past him? does he hurt the character in the fight? does Millecent see the fight and get mad?

Third, roll 3d6. After you've rolled them, assign one each to the three things.

Assign one of the dice to the accomplishment at stake:
1-2: the character does not accomplish it. The character punches him but doesn't get past him. Update the circumstances and roll another conflict, or go forward with the accomplishment totally unachieved.
3-4: the character makes progress toward the accomplishment, but doesn't achieve it outright. Update the circumstances and roll another conflict, or go forward with the accomplishment partly achieved.
5-6: the character accomplishes it!

Assign the two remaining dice to the two dangers:
1-3: the danger comes true.
4-6: the danger doesn't come true.
If the 1-2/3-4/5-6 scale works for the dangers too, feel free to use it.

So say I roll 1 3 4. How do I assign them? It depends on my priorities, of course. Maybe what matters most to me is Millicent's regard: I assign 4 to that danger, so it doesn't come true. Maybe what matters next is getting past the guy, who cares about a black eye: I assign 3 to getting past the guy, we'll roll again, but pow! he gave me a real shiner.

Say instead I roll 4 6 6. I do the butt dance of victory!

Optionally: Sometimes we negotiate for extra dice up front. The deal seems to be, if you can justify 1 extra die, you get it; to get 2 extra dice, you have to justify very well or really really want it. Sometimes we negotiate for extra dice after the roll but before assigning, but that's less common and I can't think what the rules for that are.

Charles: see how there can't ever be an implausible result? We choose some plausible results, then roll and assign dice to find out which one comes true.

On 1-11-05, Vincent wrote:

These aren't, some of you might notice, exactly the rules that appear in Otherkind - no biggie.

We found, especially, that we all wanted to talk all the time, so we ditched the "who talks" part.

On 1-11-05, Chris wrote:

Hey Vincent,

I think that its really neat that you condensed the idea down to this. I'd like to try these out sometime. One thing that is very neat to note: this mechanic facilitates Narrativism very easily, just in the fact that, as a player, you are constantly making choices as to what is more important to you everytime you have a conflict roll.

It would also be very easy to slap on an "attribute/trait/skill" rule for the extra die rule, and some kind of personal consequences(aka damage) rule like in Trollbabe or The Shadow of Yesterday.

Very cool.

On 1-11-05, Charles wrote:

Indeed, that is a very cool mechanic. I will definitely introduce my fellows to it, and see what they think. This is also an ideal mechanic for GM-less gaming.

See, there are mechanics I like, I just don't know them.

On 1-12-05, Charles wrote:

And, its low enough mechanics that it stays unintrusive (for those of us who say "oh god, dice?"). I sold Barry on it pretty much instantly, and I even partly sold Sarah on it after a bit of backtracking (she was like, "Why three things?" So I was like, "Okay, say its just two things, one good, one bad?" and she was like "Okay, maybe." Then we talked some more, and we got to why you add more things (sometimes the situation needs it, and also it allows you to throw in rare events).

This is one thing that occurs to me, and it is probably already fully recognized, but it struck me as neat:

Lets say we only do a one goal, one thing to avoid set up. If we use your numbering, then there is a one in 9 chance that I don't get what I want, and the bad thing happens as well. If I toss in two bad things, then the chance I get nothing drops to 1 in 27. Throw in a third bad thing, and the chance drops by 1/3 again. But each time, the chance that something bad happens goes up. If we allow for adjusting the odds further, then we could throw in "I'm trying to avoid dying while I do this, 1 I die," and have the chance of dying be very small, but still there and, by risking death, we get an even greater chance of success (although we still increase our chance that something bad happensas well).

A surprisingly very sophisticated mechanic in which the player thought process very much mirrors the character thought process: "Am I willing to die trying to do this? Am I willing to embarass Aunt Millie trying to do this? Maybe! [rolls dice] Oh Hell! You know, I'd rather die than embarass Aunt Millie, and I must succeed. So I'll use the 5 to succeed, the 4 to not embarass Millie, and all take the 1 and die doing it!"

That is the another thing that it strikes me is, to me, a very important thing for mechanics to have if they involve any thought: thinking out the tactics involved in using the mechanics should reflect the thought processes of the character as much as possible, or else it should take place to the side. If I have to think about conserving my magic game tokens, they need to represent some aspect of the character's interactions that the character is trying to conserve, or else they need to be used in some phase of the game where I am not focusing on an IC stance. If I have restricted tokens for using in scene set up, fine, or if I have restricted tokens to use from audience stance (like fan mail in PtA), fine, but I shouldn't have restricted tokens designed to maintain play balance that I have to use while operating mostly in IC stance. "What do you do next?", "Well, I only have one scene stealing point left, so I guess I'll save it for later." Doesn't work for me.

Probably, this is another one of those things where you're going "Well, duh. None of us writes those kinds of mechanics these days, they've been established as sucking" or else your going, "No, No, IC stance doesn't exist," but so it goes.:) Actually, I feel like this discussion has been hugely productive, and I'm getting a much better feel for your gaming theory.

On 1-12-05, Vincent wrote:

Especially for a co-GMed game! Say that I Vincent both a) have a character at stake in the outcome of the conflict, plus b) am partly responsible for determining how likely the outcome is. That's a real-world conflict of interest. I do my best to assess the odds accurately, but I have to spend a lot of time and energy second-guessing, even before I say anything out loud. Then after I say it out loud, everybody else has to weigh it for bias, and then we have the big argument about whose character is really more competent than whose.

Now instead, I can contribute a possible outcome: "y'know, I think we should add a die for 'Zarya guts you like the slimy fish you are.'" Maybe there's a brief negotiation about whether we'll include it, but nothing like the negotiation we need to have if I'm saying "y'know, I think there's a +15 to Zarya gutting you like the slimy fish you are." Or worse, diceless: "y'know, I think that it's most plausible that Zarya gut you like the slimy fish you are."

Nope, now I can contribute the possible outcome painlessly and then be happy with your roll and how you assign your dice. The mechanics allow us to have intense in-game conflict of interest without screwing with our real-world unity of interest - something that's not easy to do when everyone's the GM.

On 1-12-05, Chris wrote:

Hey Vincent,

I remember Ron saying somewhere that "random artwork" only works when there's a way of editing it- you know, like splatter painting, etc. We only see the random stuff that actually turned out good, instead of just, random.

It seems as if this mechanic, Otherkind, and Dogs focus on that same fashion. The dice provide random elements, but the group is conscious and aware of what the in-game effects will be by assigning/using the random elements in a given fashion. That this form of play depends on knowledge... whereas some of the strategic and gambling elements of gamist play depends on what you -don't- know.

Just an interesting observation.

On 1-12-05, Meguey wrote:

I'm just here to grin at how cool this mechanic is and how glad I am that I can use it to make my play more planned-random

On 1-12-05, Ninja Hunter J wrote:

I like that it's a different, but related, to, what's-at-stake/fallout, but it's way simpler. This is the kind of mechanic you can play with kids, as a few weeks ago when Seb and Elbow wanted to role-play and I had to come up with mechanics off the top of my head. If I recall, that's how you came up with this in the first place.

On 1-13-05, C. Edwards wrote:

Used this mechanic last night for a spontaneous round of play on the Indie-netgaming irc channel. Only two of us actually played, unfortunately, but the mechanic allowed for a wonderful amount of collaboration regarding stakes and outcomes. It almost gave the impression that the game had the creative input of more than two individuals. That is, to me, the main draw of this and similar mechanics. You get the feeling of depth and of a dynamic story in action that goes far beyond the amount of input required to achieve that feeling. So, maximum returns for minimum effort I suppose.