Dice mechanics preview

Talk about Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling fantasy series. Winter is here!

Dice mechanics preview

Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:43 pm

Dice mechanics preview

Looks nice and simple. I'm glad they decided to go with a simple six sided dice, equal or beat a difficulty number system. The bonus and penalty dice that don't increase your max/min roll but make you more likely to get a high/low total are an innovative idea.

The intro below is also interesting, and I'm glad that the system's able to handle characters of all societal status, etc. I'd been a bit worried, since the product tagline says that you play an important member of a noble house, which is all well and good but not the whole SoIaF experience.

My only worry so far is whether these sorts of generally simple mechanics (a single skill for fighting? or does that just mean weapon attacks?) will emulate some of the complexity in the books. For example, will the choice for the Red Viper to use light armor and a spear against Gregor Clegane make sense mechanically? And when it comes to things like mass warfare, will strategy mostly be determined by the players, or will it be just opposed 'strategy rolls' or something like that, or a combination of the two? How much effect would good roleplaying and a convincing argument have on a Persuasion roll?
Last edited by Skyman on Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gorrath » Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:30 pm

Looks nice and simple. I'm glad they decided to go with a simple six sided dice, equal or beat a difficulty number system. The bonus and penalty dice that don't increase your max/min roll but make you more likely to get a high/low total are an innovative idea.


Reminds me of the old Star Wars d6! Those were the good times :)
lol


My only worry so far is whether these sorts of generally simple mechanics (a single skill for fighting? or does that just mean weapon attacks?) will emulate some of the complexity in the books. For example, will the choice for the Red Viper to use light armor and a spear against Gregor Clegane make sense mechanically?


Or Bronn against the guy in full plate!
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Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:05 pm

Reminds me of the old Star Wars d6! Those were the good times

Haha, yeah, SW d6 was a great game, the first RPG I played extensively. If SoIaF RP was like that but darker and more realistic (with the fief management mechanics added in) I'd be very happy.
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Re: Dice mechanics preview

Postby Steve Kenson » Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:03 am

Skyman wrote:My only worry so far is whether these sorts of generally simple mechanics will emulate some of the complexity in the books.

Well, keep in mind the design journal preview is just of the core game system. There are entire separate chapters on fighting, intrigue, and warfare, for example, that expand on the basics and provide the kind of detail you're talking about.

To take the Red Viper of Dorne as an example, he's not just a rank 4 Fighter, but also a rank 2 specialist in Spears, with the Qualities Fast, Spear Fighter, Shield Mastery, and Spear Mastery (amongst others), meaning he gets two bonus dice fighting with a spear, has a higher movement speed, can attack faster and further with a spear, inflicting greater damage, and gains a greater defensive bonus. That's not even counting his superior Athletics (with specialty in Acrobatics) and other abilities.

So, simple system, but lots of permutations.
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Postby Skyman » Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:36 pm

Sweet. I've also been hoping for a reach system to show Gregor's advantage beyond just strength, though that might be too much of a d20 tactical movement type thing (and to be honest I don't want it to stray too far in that direction - it's a fine line and I'm sure GR will do a good job with it). Ooh, and I just noticed you said the Red Viper can attack further with the spear... very interesting, it sounds like I may get my wish.

I really like the sound of the Qualities and specialties, they seem like a good way to detail unusual characters but leave the base system simple, so new players aren't overwhelmed (whereas something like GURPS requires you to read lots of crunchy bits, even for a simple character).

Thanks for the input Steve.
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Postby ACodispo » Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:00 pm

On the bonus/penalty dice: weirdly enough, the Wheel of Fate mini-rpg which was developed by the FateRPG community and can be found on the Evil Hat wiki, used bonus dice exactly as SIFRP will, and has a similar penalty dice mechanic.

It's a great mechanic. Wheel of Fate is very very light, so I am excited to see a fuller system built on this core mechanic. I wonder if it was coincidence (zeitgeist?) or inspiration? I'm thinking the former, but it would be cool to know that Green Ronin was paying attention to developments in the world of the FateRPG.
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Postby Maester Luwin » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:17 pm

Hey everyone! Sounds great! I also just wanted to say hi to Skyman! Long time & no see brother of Westeros! I hope life & the Seven have been treating you well! Maester Luwin
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Postby Skyman » Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:46 pm

Yeah I'm doing well Luwin, just finishing up Junior year of college. :) I'll be on summer break soon, so I might start thinking about rpgs... I haven't been doing play by post lately, but I'm strongly considering going back to RPOL and running a game of SoIaF RP if I like it as much as I think I will. (I'll check this board for interested parties I'm sure)

I hope you're doing well too, look forward to some of the old Westeros RPG community reforming soon!

PS I'm looking forward to seeing how you might stat out some of the Swords of the North characters in the new system. ;)
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Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:39 am

Of course, such a system makes it bloody hard to know the actual probabilities involved...

Quick: what is the chance of making that Agility Test?
(That is, you roll six dice, keep best three, trying to reach a sum of 15)

What's wrong with percentile dice where you can instantly see you chances...? :)



Answer is 34.7%. Point is this took me (and my BlitzMax code snippet) a considerable time to figure out.
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Postby Steve Kenson » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:32 am

Zapp wrote:Of course, such a system makes it bloody hard to know the actual probabilities involved...

There's a fair amount of discussion of this in the core rules on setting Difficulties and such, to provide the Narrator with some guidelines.
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Postby Ser Imp » Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:30 pm

I like what I've read so far. Can't wait til the Quickstart PDF is available (no Free RPG Day-friendly stores nearby) and I can plot and plan for my Best Westeros Campaign Ever.

Unless I misunderstand the system, the core dice #, bonus dice #, penalty dice # thing might get a touch cumbersome in play; but it doesn't sound too bad at all. I'm very happy a Westeros-specific system is used!
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Postby Tharen the Damned » Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:31 am

Form playtest experience:

Ser Imp: the system is not cumbersome. The rules where core dice, bonus dice and penalty dice come from are quite easy to understand. The dice you roll for different challanges mostly remain static except for penalty dice. Think about it in D&D terms as your "skill ranks" and "modifiers".

Skyman: In the playtests my players tried to model their martial oriented PC after Ser Gregor and the Red Viper. Very Cool. The Heavy armored PC with his heavy weapon against the lightly armored one with his light weapon. I don't remember who won in the "deathmatch" but it was an even fight.
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Postby Ser Imp » Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:23 am

Thanks, Tharen. Re-reading the die system description makes it a bit more clear.

As for Modifiers, are they entirely independent from the number of dice you roll? Like, if a wounded character was climbing a wall in the rain he or she would apply initial test dice, might add bonus dice, and then apply penalty dice for the wound...but a Modifier for the rain (dunno, +4, say) would apply to the Difficulty number?
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Postby _x_ » Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:31 am

Hey there Skyman. Nice to see you again, and I'm surprised you could not work pbp games into your college year. One or two games (as a player) don't take much time.

@Steve: Thanks for the info, though I would like point out that the Viper was actually _better) with the sword rather than the spear. He only used the spear because hit was the only way to counter Greggies reach. Rock, paper, scissor thing. The sword was his preferred weapon (though he was wicked with the spear as well).

Just saying i hope you took that into consideration, and that a RV writeup has him at least equally good in the sword if not better.
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Re: Dice mechanics preview

Postby Pencil Pusher » Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:28 am

Steve Kenson wrote:To take the Red Viper of Dorne as an example, he's not just a rank 4 Fighter, but also a rank 2 specialist in Spears, with the Qualities Fast, Spear Fighter, Shield Mastery, and Spear Mastery (amongst others), meaning he gets two bonus dice fighting with a spear, has a higher movement speed, can attack faster and further with a spear, inflicting greater damage, and gains a greater defensive bonus. That's not even counting his superior Athletics (with specialty in Acrobatics) and other abilities.

So, simple system, but lots of permutations.


I think you just answered all my questions. I didn't even have to ask. Thanks.
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Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:42 pm

Hey there Skyman. Nice to see you again, and I'm surprised you could not work pbp games into your college year. One or two games (as a player) don't take much time.


Hey _x_, good to see you as well. It's not so much that I didn't have 5 minutes in my day that I could have used, it's that I tended to either be too exhausted to give a quality post, or I would have to leave where I was working to post and would be in a rush rather than writing leisurely, etc. Didn't think I could play up to my standards. That said, I think my hardest year is behind me so I might be able to do a couple pbps for this next.
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Postby mrfusion » Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:38 pm

Folks have been comparing the dice mechanic to d6, but it is really lifted from Over the Edge. I'm curious if weapon damage will be calculated the same way as that game. (attack roll - defense roll) * weapon multiplier.

OtE is one of my favorite systems. It is nice to see it get some new life!

EDIT: there is one difference betweeen the OtE mechanic and SIFRP - in OtE penalty dice cancel out bonus dice before the roll on a one for one basis. The result being that you may have bonus dice or penalty dice on a roll but never both at the same time.
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Postby mrfusion » Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:40 pm

Wow I was tired last night. Penalty dice are really quite a bit different between OtE and SIFRP. Say you had a roll with 3 dice plus two bonus dice and one penalty die. In OtE you would just roll 4 dice and take away the lowest (3 regular + 1 bonus dice). In SIFRP you roll 5 dice (3 regular + 2 bonus dice), and take away the three lowest.

In SIFRP a roll of 3 regular dice with 1 penalty die (3-1p) is exactly the same as rolling 2 regular dice with 1 bonus die (2+1b). In both cases you roll three dice and discard the lowest one.

I *think* that makes penalty dice much more harsh in this game than in OtE. IIRC in OtE a single bonus or penalty die averages out to a +1 or -1 respectively. In this game, a penalty die lowers your average roll by 2.5... if my math is right.
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Postby Patchface » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:02 pm

The game looks very promising so far. I'm very happy about Green Ronin's choice to use the good old D6, especially if that means banning the dreaded D20. But that's just me...

It's kinda funny how everyone compares the system to other games/systems. My first thought when I read through the dice mechanics preview was something like, "Ah, so that's where Steve Kenson's Shadowrun past catches up with him at last". Of course, there are substantial differences between SIFRP and SR as well.

There's one thing about the mechanics that I could see causing problems for some gaming groups: I expect that quite a few players will give their characters fighting abilities of 5 or 6 (some may try to sneak in a 7 as well). This could potentially slow down the game in combat situations, as everyone will have to add the results of 5 or 6 D6 on a regular basis.

(And some players and GMs I've known are somewhat deficient at mental maths. :wink: )

Any playtesters/designers here who can set me at ease? Thanks and keep up the good work, everyone!
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Postby Zapp » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:04 am

mrfusion wrote:Wow I was tired last night. Penalty dice are really quite a bit different between OtE and SIFRP. Say you had a roll with 3 dice plus two bonus dice and one penalty die. In OtE you would just roll 4 dice and take away the lowest (3 regular + 1 bonus dice). In SIFRP you roll 5 dice (3 regular + 2 bonus dice), and take away the three lowest.

In SIFRP a roll of 3 regular dice with 1 penalty die (3-1p) is exactly the same as rolling 2 regular dice with 1 bonus die (2+1b). In both cases you roll three dice and discard the lowest one.

I *think* that makes penalty dice much more harsh in this game than in OtE. IIRC in OtE a single bonus or penalty die averages out to a +1 or -1 respectively. In this game, a penalty die lowers your average roll by 2.5... if my math is right.

So, if I understand you correctly (I have no knowledge of On the Edge) an OtE penalty die negates one bonus die and removes one result die, or what?

While I await clarification on that, I can confirm your latter example, but I am unsure why you would make such a comparison?

The impact of a penalty die in SIFRP is less pronounced the more dice you have to roll. Dropping the lowest of 100 dice would almost always be equal to a -1 modifier. Dropping the lowest of two dice is much closer to the theoretical -3.5 modifier.

Obviously, I haven't seen anything of the game, but this should make very skilled characters less susceptible to penalty dice than complete newbies. Not only in the absolute sense (losing one out of two dice is much worse than losing one out of seven dice) but in the relative sense as well (the die you lose out of two is much more probably to show a high score than the die you lose out of seven).

It's like if a percentile system said something like this (I'm making up the numbers as I go): "if you have a 20% skill, a penalty means you take a -9 modifier while if you have a 70% skill, a penalty means you only take a -2 modifier".

In the first case, you end up at 11%, almost half your original skill. In the second, the penalty is barely noticeable - you still have a 68% chance.

(I trust you realize by now why I made my earlier post about the statistics being nearly impregnable in a system like this one... :wink: )



In fact, let's check my make-up numbers (using my basic simulator):

Rolling 2d6, dropping lowest yields 4.4 on average. The result w/o penalty would of course be 7, which is a 2.6 loss (or -37%)

Rolling 7d6, dropping lowest yields 23.0 on average. The result w/o penalty would be 3.5*7=24.5, which is a 1.5 loss (or -6.1%)

While I admit I expected the latter loss to be closer to 1.0, it's still worthwhile to mention how the same penalty drops from 2.6 to 1.5 as you go from average to world-class.

Translated into my percentile example, we get: "if you have a 20% skill, a penalty means you take a -7 modifier while if you have a 70% skill, a penalty means you only take a -4 modifier". Fascinating stuff, eh?


So your math is about right... for the untrained character! :-)
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Postby mrfusion » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:28 am

Zapp wrote:So, if I understand you correctly (I have no knowledge of On the Edge) an OtE penalty die negates one bonus die and removes one result die, or what?


In Over the Edge penalty dice work like this. Say I'm making a roll of 3 dice with two penalty dice. I roll five dice, then remove the two highest dice and total the remaining 3 dice. If I rolled 5, 5, 4, 3, 2 my total would be 9.

You can get a free version of the OtE system at:
http://www.rpglibrary.org/settings/thundarr/
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Postby higgins » Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:25 pm

mrfusion wrote:In Over the Edge penalty dice work like this. Say I'm making a roll of 3 dice with two penalty dice. I roll five dice, then remove the two highest dice and total the remaining 3 dice. If I rolled 5, 5, 4, 3, 2 my total would be 9.

Well, I think it's easier to say that both bonus and penalty dice are added to the pool, and they cancel each other out 1:1. In any case, your result is the sum of your original dice pool worth of dice. Having bonus dice means you get to sum the higher results, having penalty dice means you have to sum the lower results.

As for the SIFRP system... I haven't seen the Quick Start yet, but my limited experience with WEGd6-influenced system was clunky at best. Adding numbers up weren't too intuitive, but that may just have been the lack of practice. I was hoping for a d10 success mechanic with a fixed TN, but that would just have been too awesome to be true. :yar:

Can't wait for the Quick Start pdf though. :)
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Postby Zapp » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:32 pm

Ok, so in OtE a penalty die means you get to roll one extra die, but must lose the highest result?

While here, a penalty die means you must lose the lowest result (with no extra dice).

3d6 = 10,5
3d6 + 1 OtE penalty = 8,75. Penalty amounts to -1,75 (17%)
3d6 + 1 SIFRP penalty = 8,45. Penalty amounts to -2,05 (20%)


7d6 = 24,5
7d6 + 1 OtE penalty = 22,3. Penalty amounts to -2,2 (9%)
7d6 + 1 SIFRP penalty = 23,2. Penalty amounts to -1,3 (5%)

The numbers are clear. While a single penalty obviously impacts the roll with fewer dice harder, OtE penalties are more uniform across the board, while SIFRP penalties are harder on the newbie (in addition to the aforementioned effect).

Whether this means you can say SIFRP penalties are harsher than OtE ones or not is up to you. Though I'm leaning towards a "no" myself, if only because the more dramatic (hence significant) rolls are likely to be made by skilled heroes under difficult (hence penalized) circumstances.
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Postby higgins » Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:19 am

Zapp wrote:Ok, so in OtE a penalty die means you get to roll one extra die, but must lose the highest result?

Correct. And bonus die is the same, except that you lose the lowest result.
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