04 December 2009

A step-die system

Here’s some sketchy ideas for a step-die role-playing game system that I’ll never actually expand into a full system.

Character attributes, skills, and gear are rated by type of die. Dice with fewer sides are better than dice with more sides. Here they are with Fudge equivalents.

  • d2: Legendary
  • d4: Superb
  • d6: Great
  • d8: Good
  • d10: Typical
  • d12: Mediocre
  • d20: Terrible

Notice that we’ve lost the Fudge step—Poor—between Mediocre and Terrible. We use this natural gap between the d12 and the d20 to represent “unskilled” or “no gear”.

When making a “check”, a player rolls three dice. One each for...

  • Relevant attribute
  • Relevant skill
  • Relevant gear

(Or the game might us a different trio. e.g. attribute, skill, and specialty.)

Add each character’s dice together. Low roll wins.

e.g. Herc—with Superb strength, Superb fighting skill, and a Superb sword—would roll d4 + d4 + d4. Mouse—with Mediocre strength, no fighting skill, and no weapon—would roll d12 + d20 + d20.

In unopposed situations, the judge could either pick a static difficulty number that must be rolled under. Alternatively, a die roll could determine the difficulty. You could even come up with three different aspects of difficulty each represented by its own die.

I like the roll-low for a step die system, although it creates a ceiling. I’m not sure that the more typical roll-high step die is really any different besides swapping the ceiling for a floor.

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