The simple fact is, once the setting has been laid and the characters created, 90% of an RPG session is spent resolving conflict in one form or another.
Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, and its various hacks/remixes have an interesting take on this. Yes, it’s a dice-based game (you roll 2 6-sided die), but the resolution explicitly allows for a mixed success. If you roll 10 or higher, you have a “full success” and have only positive outcomes. A total of 7-9 indicates a mixed success – you have a positive outcome, balanced by a negative. Rolling less than 7 means you fail. That does not mean your action actually fails – if you’re performing a skill check on something that is so easily accomplished as to make a roll nearly meaningless (such as opening a door), you may complete your action – but will face significant repurcussions (such as: you break the door so that it cannot be closed, you are spotted or are so loud you attract attention, you open the door to reveal a waiting guard, etc.) You don’t forget how to turn a doorknob.
It’s this range of success to failure, with the ability to decide your outcomes that makes this system so interesting to me.
So, to modify yesterday’s list a bit:
Users/players: One Game Master + multiple players (target will be 3-4 non-GM players). Some players may not be at the same physical table.
Actions: Actions that bring conflict may be Combat, Skilled Action, or Role-play
Conflict: Player vs GM, Player vs Player, and Player vs Environment. The basic steps of any conflict are:
- Full success
- Mixed success
- The repercussions of success and failure follow logic, and roughly outlined (to allow for flexibility for the sake of gameplay and drama).
The difficult of an action will be impacted by a character’s skill level, whether a player-character or NPC. There will also be generic levels of difficulty for non-character-conflict tasks.
Some actions may be near-simultaneously, so we must have the equivalent of an “initiative system”, which allows for clear decisions on what action/player gets priority.
- Resolution should allow for some degree of strategy for both the current action and future actions.
- Players should have significant freedom in strategy. The GM system should be predictable, but all for unexpected outcomes
- Random chance is not eliminated, but the risk should be estimable.
- A truly simple action should be easily achievable. A risky one should be “high stakes.”