Event Resolution

So, your lead character is fleeing an enclosing squad of the Lord Doctor's creatively sadistic Pain Enforcers, and dashes into an alley hoping to give them the slip. But its a dead-end, and before they can back out the Enforces close off escape. They advance grimly, the walls are slick and the foes are many. What will you do now? And how well will you do it?

If the outcome of a scene is in doubt or a player wants to change the direction of events, some means of resolution is needed. This game uses dice for such things (yeah big surprise) in three different variations: the Simple Toss, the Road to Glory and Dueling.

Note that these resolution systems are intended to be widely applicable. Despite the name, Dueling isn't just about fighting and in fact there is no separate mechanic for resolving combat. Neither is their any for trade, research or what have you. As far as this system in concerned those are all conflicts resolvable by roughly the same means.

Further note that the time scale isn't fixed for these resolution methods. Probably most often they will be used for scene-level resolution, one narrative unit such as a single challenge, a fight or a conversation. But they can cover any span necessary, from an entire court case to a long journey over wild country. The truly ambitious could even dice out the rise and fall of empires. The Road to Glory is especially intended for covering such extended affairs. Also, I've worked to make "initiative" and other question's of who goes first a non-issue in this system. Resolution is always a simultaneous affair.

Whichever method is used, and to whatever ends, the GM will want to be clear on a few things before dice hit the table. There are no hard rules for defining the following, but the GM and players will want to informally discuss the situation until all these matters are clear.

  • Immediate Intent: what are all of the characters involved trying to make happen right now? What do they want the results to be after the dice are rolled?
  • Means & Tools: what skills and gear is the character using to get things done? How appropriate are they to the task? Does a character have something that gives them an advantage, or are they lacking something essential for the job at hand?
  • Complications: what particulars might be influencing the situation? Does something about the environment make things tricky, or is someone working directly against the Lead's aims?
  • Long Term Intent: how does the current scene relate to the character's bigger plans? Is it a crucial step in a continuing endeavor, an inconvenient obstacle, or an oppurtunity being seized?

Clarifying these matters before the dice are tossed will help make sure everyone is on the same page, that the GM understands how the lead is going about their business, that the player understands what the GM thinks is important in the scene and that both the player and GM know how a bad end is different from a good one. Most importantly, it helps prevent any after-roll arguing.

Simple Toss

Most situations are pretty straightforward, things like "does she make it over the wall", "does he charm his way past the guard" and "do I punch out the priest in one blow." These are questions to get out of the way quickly, so they're handled by a single throw of the dice.

To make a Simple Toss, perform the following steps.

1. The player declares which Skill they're using.
Choose the Skill most appropriate to the task. The GM can disallow an inapt choice and request another (though the player can work around this through spending Fortune Stones on a Funky Skill Use).

2. the GM assigns a Difficulty for the situation.
Difficulty is a negative number representing how tough the situation at hand is, the larger the tougher. A zero Difficulty means a routine task offering no unusual difficulty, a -2 Difficulty is tricky, a -6 Difficulty is notably challenging and so on. Determining Difficulty is the GM's prerogative in most situations (until play-testing gives me a clearer idea of what works).

3. If the player wants to spend Fortune Stonesl, they do so now.
Note that the player has to specifically spend stones before the dice are rolled.

4. Two dice are tossed and their results added together.
What they generally call in the trade "rolling 2d6".

5. The numbers from all of the above are added together and compared to the Arch of Triumph.
Skill - Difficulty + Stones Spent + 2d6. Shouldn't be too hard.

Arch of Triumph

First of all, its called an Arch because that's what I want to look like as a snazzy graphic once I get someone skilled in such matters to make it for me. For now though, its rendered as merely a crude chart. Graphic design aside, the Arch is simple to use. Just look up the number that resulted from the above steps and see what that translates to on the chart. What the result actually means in the context of the situation is subjective, though often it will be fairly clear based on circumstance.

2 or Less Blunder Very bad things happen; not only do you fail, now its worse
3 - 5 Fail Whatever you were trying, it doesn't work
6 - 8 Mixed Inconclusive results, no clear advance or retreat
9 - 11 Pass Success, things go according to plan
12 or More Triumph Masterfully done, you reap an extra bonus

Maneuvers

Clever leads will realize they're much likelier to get what they want if they can stack the deck a bit in their favor. Kicking sand into the face of your attacker, approaching the magistrate most open to financial inducement, finding the book with the best translation of the formula. Fighting dirty, calling in a favor, distracting the opposition. All these are considered Maneuvers, extra effort that increases your chance of final success.

Automatic Maneuvers
Some Maneuver's are automatic. If you have the opportunity to use them, you may do so and add a (usually) +1 bonus to your Simple Toss. For instance, if the Lead is trying to impress a lady of the court and it has been established already that he's wearing a crisply impressive uniform, he gets to add a bonus for that. Likewise, if the Lead leaps into a fight armed with a fearsome coruscating energy blade that can slice through armor like paper, they'll definitely get a bonus for that (maybe even a +2). Obviously, special pieces of gear are the most common source of automatic maneuver's, but less material factor's can matter as much. If the lead is trying to intimidate someone, and confronts them with a menacing voice at midnight in their foe's hitherto impenetrable bedchamber, it seems fair to say they have an advantage.

Tossed Maneuvers
Other Maneuvers, the result of quick thinking and deft action, require a supplementary dice toss to justify. In such cases, the player must make the roll for the maneuver before the roll for the overall situation that is being resolved.

For instance, say a lead has gotten into a drinking contest, and wants to lessen his opponent's advantage (i.e. cheat) by watering down his drinks. The drinking contest is the subject of the main Simple Toss. Tipping water into the glass while no one is looking is a Maneuver to be rolled for first.

The Skill the Lead uses for the Maneuver need not be the same as the one they'll use for the main dice toss; indeed, they'll probably want to avoid it. Thus they most certainly can use their Intimidation Skill to better their chances of winning a pugilistic bout (trash talk, y'know) Also, the lead can attempt as many Maneuvers as they want, in the hopes of building a greater bonus to the final roll. However the more Maneuvers they attempt the greater risk they incur.

The Difficulty for a Maneuver is based on the Difficulty of the Primary Situation
I won't go so far to say that they will always be equal, but they probably will be, sometimes they'll be harder (trying to pocket a stolen coin while dealing a hand can't be any simpler than just dealing) and very rarely easier.

Every subsequent use of the same skill incurs a cumulative -1 penalty
Thus in the boxing example above, the second Intimidation Maneuver would suffer a -1 penalty, the third a -2 penalty and so on. Most importantly, the Skill declared for the main dice toss counts as the first use of that Skill, even though that roll hasn't been made yet. So in a swordfight, one's first attempt to use the fencing skill in a Maneuver begins with a -1 penalty (the actual primary use of the fencing skill, after all the Maneuver's have resolved, is not penalized).

Every subsequent Maneuver after the first incurs a cumulative -1 penalty
The second Maneuver takes a -1 penalty, the third a -2, and so on.

All the preceding penalties are cumulative with each other.
Which is how the consequences really add up. The lead in a swordfight using their fencing skill to execute a bit of trickery does so with a -1 penalty; the second such trick has a -3 penalty, and so on, all in addition to the base Difficulty of the situation.

Results of a Maneuver Toss
Succinctly, If the Maneuver succeeds the character gets a bonus to their final roll. However, if the Manuever fails, the final roll also automatically fails and the entire situation is lost. How deep a risk are you willing to take to look good in the end?

Blunder Utter catastrophe; too much effort spent on being fancy
Fail your ruse trips you up
Mixed no bonus earned, but lead can attempt another Maneuver
Pass +1 bonus to final roll
Triumph +2 bonus to final roll

Teamwork & Ganging Up

Road to Glory

Duels
Attentive readers will note that, until now, the only people rolling dice are the players. In Simple Tosses and the Road to Glory the GM can just lean back and mandate a few numbers and leave the vulgar tossing of bones to the folks on the other side of the screen. Not so when Duelling.

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