Because I’ve been writing about this game as I go along in a very piecemeal process, a lot of the systems have evolved as I set them down to “paper” from whatever I’ve been brainstorming in my head. The good thing about this approach is that it has let me focus on the different aspects of the game, making the process less daunting; the drawback is that there is a certain disconnect between the parts, and especially between things that are still in my head but not written down yet. Dice mechanics is the biggest item falling into that category at the moment; without knowing how the dice move during the game, a lot of the things I have already described just float in mid-air above the game. It’s time to bring them down to earth and tie them together. Let’s talk dice.
At the risk of this sounding like a preemptive apology, the dice mechanics is the one area where I am very unsure of how efficient the system is. Visualizing the complex interactions of dice probabilities is not something that my mind can do without considerable effort (I’m just right-brained, what can I say). The dice mechanics I settled on for this game are a mishmash of a couple of games whose dice mechanics I like and admire. Enough game designer angst, let’s go.
Drawing on the original source of inspiration, this is a dice pool-based system at its core, though it has a couple of modifications drawn from some more experimental, small-press games.
Characters have a pool of dice equal to 10, corresponding to the total score of their Humanity/Beast stat. Humanity dice and Beast dice should be of different colors, and as Humanity is lost during the game, Humanity dice are swapped out for Beast dice to reflect this.
Whenever you wish to perform any task, from fast-talking your way past the security guards to using your vampiric powers to end a fight in one fell swoop, you roll dice from your pool. You get to decide how many dice you want to allocate to a particular action, and the particular mix of Humanity and Beast dice, then roll. Note some actions have a minimum Humanity and/or Beast dice component that you must use before allocating more dice to said action. The maximum number of dice you can allocate to any action is 10.
Once you have settled on the amount of dice you wish to allocate to an action, you roll your dice. Any Humanity die that comes up a 7 or higher (7, 8, 9, 10) scores one success. Any Beast die that comes up a 6 or higher (6, 7, 8, 9, 10) scores one success. Yes, it is easier to succeed when you use the power of the Beast inside, but there are consequences. If you roll a 10, you may re-roll that die to see if you score another additional success.
The Game Master sets a difficulty for each action, determining the number of successes you need in order to accomplish it. There are no modifiers; a Game Master simply sets the level of difficulty taking into account all the applicable circumstances. The range is:
- Easy (2)
- Average (3)
- Challenging (4)
- Difficult (5)
- Hard (6)
- Extremely Hard (7)
- Almost Impossible (8)
- Epic (9)
- Legendary (10)
A player may spend one point (and only one point) of Willpower per roll to either get one assured success (if spent before making the roll) or re-roll any one die (if spent after the roll). Note that when re-rolling a die after the fact, it can be any die, whether it scored a success or not. Also note that more points of Willpower may be spent for other effects before or after the roll; the one-point limit applies only to affecting a single roll of the dice.
When counting successes, note which type of die scored the most, if Humanity or Beast. That will inform the manner in which the action was successfully achieved when it is time to narrate the outcome.
In any situation where there is a conflict (and in this game, it’s all about conflicts, not individual tasks, though a larger conflict can be broken down into smaller parts) both parties involved make their rolls and compare number of successes. Whoever has the most successes wins, and the difference between the number of successes of the winner and the loser is the amount of damage inflicted on the loser on their Willpower stat.
If there are more Beast dice successes than the character has current Willpower points, it triggers a possible Humanity loss. If there are more Beast dice successes than Humanity dice successes, this also triggers a possible Humanity loss. This is a separate roll and I have not settled on the precise mechanics of it yet.
I think that’s the basics right there. I know I still have to develop the subsystem for Humanity loss, so if you have suggestions, feel free to make them. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind more math-inclined minds to take a look at all this and offer any comments they can offer. I think the sources from which I’m drawing the dice mechanic elements are good and sound, but then I’m combining them here and it’s that hodgepodge that worries me.
Let me know what you think.