2005-04-05 : Coin-based Resolution Rules

I just posted this in a thread in the Forge's birthday party (which by the way, come and have cake with us) and Christian asked me to post it here, so:

Joshua [Neff] wrote: (Hey, Vincent, you don't mind if I steal your mechanics, do you? I'd totally give you credit.)

Please feel free. But give them a good play first of course - you'll find that they have a distinctive, deliberate pacing that works great for Dogs but may not suit your Elizabethan fantasy a'tall.

I'm working on a game right now whose resolution is based on the same process and the same principles, but it plays quicker and less decision-intense. Check it:

You get coins from your character sheet. Pennies nickels dimes and quarters, in some mix. So do I. I put mine in a cup, you put yours in a cup. We cast them.

For now we ignore tails and look only at heads. Who has the biggest head? Say my biggest head is a dime and yours is a quarter: you do. (Resolve ties by ignoring tied coins.)

Raise: The biggest head means you're the challenger. You have your character do something mine can't ignore.

Block or Dodge: I have to answer your challenge. We look at all of my heads. Added up, do they match or beat your biggest head? Say my heads are: dime dime nickel penny penny. $0.27 beats your $0.25, so that means I get to say how my character blocks or dodges.

Take the Blow: Or say my heads are: dime nickel penny penny. $0.17 doesn't beat your $0.25. Now we look at my tails too. Say my tails are: dime penny penny. Which of those do I need to add to my heads in order to match or beat your quarter? The dime. So I take the blow and discard my dime.

If I block, dodge, or take the blow, we put our coins (less my discarded dime, if I took the blow) back into our cups. We cast again and keep going until...

Give: Or say my tails are: nickel penny penny. I can't match your quarter; my heads plus my tails come only to $0.24. I lose the conflict.

So that's faster and more freewheeling than Dogs' dice, but along the same lines. It does this cool thing where I go three times in a row, then you go then I go, then you go a couple times, and I've depleted my coins enough that your quarter will beat me for certain, but then your quarter comes up tails, then it comes up tails again, and you have to spend it to beat my dime because you're out of nickels...

This is, by the way, totally not for Red Sky A.M.

1. On 2005-04-05, xenopulse said:

Well, thanks :)

I do think this is very cool. I'll use it with the kids to teach them some useful math. So overall, it's an example of something that you just can't do with dice—unless you make an odds/evens distinction, but that skews whether it's more likely to succeed or not.

It seems to me that the pool needs to be somewhat small, or the resolution could drag out for a long time. For example, if we both have six quarters, chances that all of them turn up tails for one of us (and therefore fail to See the quarter of the other) are only 1/64. Contrary to Dogs, coins are only used up when you Take The Blow, so even with three quarters, I statistically only lose a coin every 4 exchanges (it takes an average of 8 tosses to come up with three tails, and since we both toss and compare, we should get there every 4 tosses).

So it seems to me that balancing the different amount of coins will be the biggest challenge.

UNLESS you ignore those coins that are tied for highest coin, in which case it would all work out much differently, and suddenly the smaller coins become much more important.

Would you give people the option of activating traits for extra coins during the resolution?

Overall, thanks for another example of creative mechanics. You probably have already thought this all through, anyway :)

- Christian


2. On 2005-04-05, Vincent said:

Yes, you ignore tied high coins.

The initial pools will range from say $0.35 to $0.70. In this range, you don't have enough quarters for them to really dominate anyway - they come up tails too often. A quarter-heavy pool will hit strong when it hits, but miss a lot; a dime-heavy pool will be more reliably good.

(This is cool for this particular game for game-specific reasons. Don't ask! I'll tell when I'm ready.)

I haven't decided about adding coins to your pool mid-conflict. It depends how the coin economy works out overall; I have a few ideas to try out before I decide.


3. On 2005-04-05, Ben Lehman said:

Oh, you *so* do not get to be designing two cool games at once.

Talk about raising the bar.



4. On 2005-04-05, Vincent said:

So here's a weird thing. This game comes on me, and I'm like - dude, this doesn't feel like a practice game. But the timing is all wrong, on account of Red Sky AM. What gives?

And then I'm like - Ohhhh... I get it. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.

And now I'm like - dude, two games? Crap.


5. On 2005-04-05, xenopulse said:

Well, cool. I had been thinking about how to make a not-so-linear version of the Dogs system, and of course, your version is great. I think re-rolling (or tossing) during the conflict gives people more of a sense of suspense, because you don't see right from the start that, with a low roll all over, you've basically already lost (unless you have escalation in place to help with that, which is why Dogs works so well).

With coins being involved from the start, this almost feels like it's asking for a "bidding" or "investment" kind of approach, where people determine at the conflict outset how much they care and want to invest, and then lose the discarded coins.

Anyway, much rambling, little point. Thanks for sharing :)

- Christian


6. On 2005-04-05, anon. said:

And now I'm like - dude, two games?

Vincent, remind me to kick you in the shins next time I see you.  Maybe that will help make me feel better about not being as awesome a designer.



7. On 2005-04-05, Vincent said:

Maybe you ought to hold off on kicking me in the shins until my two games are more than talk and bull.

My shins would thank you!


8. On 2005-04-06, kreg said:

aww MAN, the Spare Change system is slickity-slick, Vincent!  Now, this would marry so INCREDIBLY well with a street-level magic game...something like "Knights of the Road, Knights of the Rail" meets Downtown New York City with a fist full of "Fisher King".

OH, also PS, here's the perfect cup for 'casting':

(slogan on the side is SOO apropos for a group of homeless heroes thanklessly protecting the unknowing public...)


9. On 2005-04-07, Vincent said:

Further playtesting reveals exactly what to do with those tied high heads: turn them face-down.


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