Sunday, July 12, 2020

A Novel RPG Resolution Mechanic

I came across a homebrewed tabletop RPG based on Magic: the Gathering. In particular, it has a really neat resolution mechanic.

As background, there are five colours in Magic: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green. Each represents parts of the world. For example, among other elements, White is order, Blue is knowledge, Black is death, Red is raw emotion, and Green is nature. If you arrange the colours in a circle, adjacent colours are considered allies, and opposite colors are enemies. For example, White is allied with Blue and Green, and is enemies with Red and Black.

This RPG uses a Fate deck composed of 2 land cards of each colour, and 1 Wastes (colorless). If you attempt something difficult, the Game Master first chooses the color your challenge belongs to. You then draw a card from the Fate deck. If it matches the color of the challenge, it's a success. If it matches an allied color, it's a partial success. If the character you are playing belongs to the same color, you get an extra draw and you take the best result.

For example, if your character is attempting to research something, that's Blue. Drawing a Blue land is success. Drawing White or Black is a partial success. Red, Green, or the Wastes is a failure. If your character is Blue, you get two draws, making it likely you'll get a partial success at least.

This is a very clever mechanic. It matches Magic: the Gathering intuitively, especially the color wheel which all players know well. As well, it's an 18% change of full success, and 36% chance of partial success. I find the clean use of partial successes particularly interesting, because partial success often lead the players to solve additional problems and makes the story more memorable.

Of course, this mechanic isn't really suitable to a numbers-heavy type of game. It looks to be more appropriate for a lighter, story-telling game.

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