Rewarding Play Styles with Different Dice Games

I keep thinking about D6 Legend, how it traded dice totals for counting successes. I find myself wondering if it would be practical and interesting to use both systems within the same game. I want to do this for several reasons: I want more ways to use the dice, I want to differentiate action applications within the dice game, and I want to vary the game experience to reward different types of players. I want every type of role-player to have a dice game that rewards them.

The prompt for considering this is a game I ran in which one of the players commented that the con and persuasion checks were “like punching people with words”. Both fighting and arguing worked exactly the same way. The player did not feel his efforts to play a social game were being rewarded by the dice when his con check was essentially a one-hit KO.

To illustrate by thoughts in application: melee and ranged combat would use the dice total system to resolve hits and damage. This allows players to total up big numbers.

In contrast: picking a lock or hacking a computer system would count successes. This allows players to succeed with a very slim margin of error.

The result is 1) for a narrative situation that is overcome by force, the players must generate dice totals of 5, 10, or 15 points above the difficulty – which is already set at 10, 15, or 20. The margins of differentiation have a broad (5-point) tolerance. Psychologically, any number above 5 (larger than one hand) is “significant” number, anything over 10 (larger than two hands) is a “big” number, and anything over 20 is “very big”. Success has psychological weight by virtue of large numbers both in the success margin and the total value of the dice. Large numbers emphasize force and imply power.

And 2) for a narrative situation that is overcome by skill, the players must generate 3, 4, or 5 successes out of a dice pool that will on average contain 6-9 dice. The margins of differentiation are very small (1-point) and any single die could be the difference between success and failure. Psychologically, this feeds the gambler’s fallacy – that a near success in a discrete event places you closer to success in successive events. Success has psychological weight due to leveraging the perception bias of the single-point margins. Small margins emphasize fragility and imply skill.

I also want to introduce a third mechanism that will further differentiate social encounters with a system emphasizes variability and implies cleverness. I don’t have that one all the way worked out yet.

© March 4, 2024 Winston
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