Vir's Archive

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tweaking the ORE for TDE. FTW! (Mechanics)

Its time to talk about the baseline mechanics.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I plan to use the One Roll Engine (ORE) for TDE.  Tehere are a lot of things to like about the ORE.  Its a dicepool mechanic, with an upper limit so the dice and thee math never get too crazy.  Its a tried and true system, applied to a number of setting and genres.  Its also tied to a couple games I dearly love -- Monsters and Other Childish Things and Godlike.  Its also the house engine (to some extent) for Arc Dream Publishing -- which is home to some of my favorite people int he gaming industry.  So, all in all, using the ORE just feels right.

I am about to jump into some very weedy stuff on the ORE and its background mechanics.  If you are familiar with the ORE and how it works, check it out HERE

Of course, I can't leave well enough alone.  While I feel that the ORE is a very solid mechanic, there are parts that I don't like.  I don't like that the quality of a success is the most random part of the roll.  The Height of a roll is the part the character has the least control over.  Improved stats and skills lead to things being done quicker, not really done better (thats note entirely true, but its safe to say that the speed of an action is improved faster than the quality as stat+skill improves).  I strongly feel that as a character gets better at something, they should reliably improve the quality of their successes.

This leads me to a fairly drastic rules change (its no longer a tweak) - switching Height and Width and what they mean to success.  What I am exploring is the idea that a longer width means the quality of the success is better, and the Height dictates the speed by which something is accomplished (10 being fastest).  I;ve floated this idea to some people smarter than me, and the switch seems mechanically sound.  It does play with the probabilities slightly, and modified how Hard Dice and Wiggle Dice play with the results, but I can live with that.

So, thats our baseline mechanic.  Stat + Skill dicepool.  No more than 10 dice rolled at a time.  The gal is to get a pair.  Anything beyond a pair gives the roller (GM or PC) the ability add "extras" to the result (stuff like extra damage, a particularly skillful result, making something enduring, gaining back an expended resource -- whatever the roller can come up with that is appropriate to that challenge).

If you get a pair, the task was successful.  If the player gets two pairs (or more) - they can choose which matching set they want to use.

From here , I have a lot of ideas.  Complex challenges will remove dice from the dicepool along something like this:

No Roll = Easy Task
+1 die for an Easy but Dramatic Task
No Modifier for a Difficult task (this is the baseline modifier and assumption of challenge)
-1 die for something hard
-2 die for something really hard
-3 die for something that only an expert can complete, and even then with a good change of failure
-4 die for something extremely difficult, even for a veteran
-5 Hail Mary!


Other ideas I am kicking around is that the players can voluntarily remove dice from their pool before a roll to get other advantages (called "benefits" or just "benes").  Remove (or "sacrifice") a die to add +1 to the final Height (including pushing a result over 10 on the Height).  Remove a die to attempt multiple actions (in this case, you pull out a die for each action you want to attempt and hope you get more than one pair).  Remove 2 dice to get a free Savvy Die (SD) starting at 1.  Add more Savvy dice to add another die at 2... and so on (so, 6 dice spent on a roll can give three SD - one at 1, one at 2, and one at 3).  No more than one SD for each value.  You might also remove a die to improve your defensive stat.

...stuff like that.

Then, when its time for action, all the players and GM pick up their dice, secretly remove their dice they want to spend on "benes"

Oh yeah, the kicker to Benes?  You dont have to declare before hand what you are spending your sacrificed dice on.  You can see the result of the dice and then decide what you spent the sacrifices on.  If you sacrificed 3 dice and the results weren't what you were looking for, you can change your plans and use those three sacrifices any way you want.

So, f'rex:

I have a dicepool of 7.  I initially decide I want to buy my first SD (a value of 1).  I pull out two dice from my dice pool (the sacrifices) and set them aside.  When the GM calls it, I roll the remainder of my pool.  The results come up 2,2,5,8,9.

Okay, so I didn't get a 1 and so that SD I was planning on is useless.  Instead, I decide to use the two sacrifices to improve the Height of my pair - moving the pair's Height to a 4 (rolled a 2 + 1 sacrifice + another sacrifice).  The GM looks around the table, identifies the highest pair - and asks if anyone is going to beat that pair's Height with spent sacrifices... my 4 is no where close to that result  so I wait for my turn.

If I had rolled a 1,1,3,5,6.  Then we are talking!  The SD matches the 1s - not only giving me a pair, but a triple Width match.  Though slow, whatever I tried to do I did quite well.  When it comes to my turn I tell the GM I had two sacrifices and use them for a SD.

Of course, you dont have to use your sacrifices if you don't want.


These changes are pretty significant and range from tweaks to outright punches in the face of the ORE.  There is still a lot to consider mechanically, but so far, the baseline of switching the Height and Width seem to make sense.

Stay tuned, I got some more ideas up my sleeve.