2009-06-09 : Adequacy, Cause and Effect
Here's a subsystem from a game I just made up (similarities not especially coincidental):
When your character attacks, describe the attack and roll d20. If you roll less than your opponent's ADV (Armor Defense Value), your character hits! The GM describes the hit, and you roll your character's weapon's damage die for damage.
We all know what happens with these rules. "Describe the attack" and "describe the hit" notwithstanding:
7 damage! I attack.
Now, what we want, recall, is for somebody to say something interesting instead. There are two ways I see to make that happen. I've been focusing on this one:
Make rules that give the details of the attack and the hit or miss causal power.
GM, on a hit, choose one of these, based on the details of the attacker's attack and the defender's position:
* The defender stumbles and falls.
* The defender backs desperately away.
* The defender's guts spill out.
* The defender's foot is half-severed.
* The defender's skull is cracked.
* The attacker's weapon wedges in the defender's ribs.
* The attacker slips and looses her footing.
* The attacker has to draw up or she'll overreach.
(Some of these have mechanical implications, but not necessarily all of them.)
See how the GM will just naturally ask the player "how are you attacking?" and take the player's answer into account?
I attack. 6 damage.
You hit. Wait, what was your attack?
Uh, I thrust at his face with my knife.
Cool. [checking the list] You cut open his cheek but your momentum's significant. Do you draw up or overreach?
Okay! That's the first way: make rules that make the fictional details into fictional causes.
The second way I see, I haven't talked about:
Minimize or do away with real-world effects.
It looks like this (similarities, again, not at all coincidental):
When your character attacks, describe the attack and roll 2d6. The defender's player says what happens. If the GRIM die beats the SLAPSTICK die, the defender's player makes what happens be something grim; if the SLAPSTICK die beats the GRIM die, she makes what happens be something funny.
See it? There are no hit points. The attack has no effect except a fictional one, so there's no "I attack. I miss. I attack. I hit. 6 damage. I attack" for it to collapse to.
I attack. SLAPSTICK.
Okay ... what was your attack?
Uh, I thrust at his face with my knife.
Ha ha! He was charging toward you but now he tries to reverse. He windmills his arms and his feet shoot out and he slides between your legs. He pops up on the other side of you, back to back, like waaah!
Somebody help me list games that work this way! Tales of the Fisherman's Wife. The Otherkind dice. Is this how Bacchanal works, overall? How about Steal Away Jordan? Breaking the Ice? It Was a Mutual Decision? I think it's how MonkeyDome works almost exclusively - hence my example - but correct me, MonkeyDome people.
...Know what? I'm going to stop there, I'm not going to get to adequacy after all. I need to talk to Emily about this.
Questions welcome, meanwhile, and do help me list games whose rules work without real-world effects.
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