Friday, 15 July 2011


I am the Warden!!

We don't just want to succeed, do we? Nah, we want to kick ass. Clubbing someone over the back of the head is fine and dandy, but it's not as good as knocking them unconscious. And that also applies to clubbing someone on the back of the head in a roleplaying game.

Welcome once again to the blog and another installment of "What Crap Has He Come Up With Now?" Oh, I have the biggest, smelliest pile of crap for you today and some homework for extra credit. Today, we're going to talk about success levels.

The Hits Just Keep On Comin'
When you make an active roll against opposing dice (or difficulty dice), you succeed if you roll higher than your opposition. This grants you 1 hit and commonly represents the necessary energy and effort needed to pull off the attempt. But it gets better the higher you roll. For every 10 points rolled higher than the opposing roll, you gain 1 additional hit.

In combat, the application is fairly simple. Each hit allows you to drop down your opponent's health by 1 point; depending on the nature of your opponent (nasty supervillain or common thug), you'll need to dish out some more damage to drop the bugger or he'll fall after just 1 or 2. So the better you roll, the harder you hit.

Outside of combat, hits can also apply. When you climb a wall, you progress 1 Move option for every hit you roll. If you just beat the difficulty roll, you can move 1 Move option up the wall. For every additional hit, you move even faster. Each option and attempt will include its own applications for hits.

Reactions Are Hits With Style
Let's go back to combat again, because this is where things get fun. When you hit an opponent, you can exchange hits for reactions based on the chosen option and training available to your character. A reaction is an additional effect or condition you place on the target as a means to gain advantages and power over them. Reactions do not take effect until after you hit the target, so you don't have to know exactly what you're going to do to the bastard until after you beat his defense. If you want to push the guy off a cliff, you have to hit him first then use the Push reaction to move him back.

Each reaction comes with a prerequisite number of hits to pull it off. Going back to the Push reaction, it currently sits at a requirement of 2 hits: you need to exchange at least 2 hits on a target in order to push him back, meaning at least a roll of 10 or higher over the opposing roll. Other reactions can be made with just 1 hit and complicated ones requires at least 3. Or you can forego all the exchanges and just beat the crap out of your enemy.

Reactions are an important element to the Optional System's combat system, providing the strategy of other games while maintaining the rapid-fire pace that's been working out incredibly well in playtesting thus far. As your character advances in his career, you can spend training points to gain more reactions with weapon attacks, spells, and more. They can also act as a fundamental piece to a character's puzzle. We made a conversion of the D&D warlock into the OS and made the Cursed reaction. At a cost of 1 hit, the warlock can curse the opponent to gain access to additional reactions and options usable against the opponent, such as setting him on fire, causing his dead body to explode, or animating his corpse when he falls. In this way, reactions become the "success levels" found in numerous other RPGs with a more concrete application (I find).

Homework? WTF?!!
OK, maybe not homework. Let's refer to it as a "voluntary aid." I'm looking for feedback and comments on the role of probability in RPGs. How essential do you think it is? Does the entire concept of dice determining difficulty seem too complicated or overblown to you? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page if you have the time.