A Shift in Directions

When I first designed the Story Point System, I made the dice system as simple as I could.  You rolled a 12-sided die, and on a 7 or more, you succeeded.  If you wanted more dice, you had to pay for it, and it gave you better odds of success.

It was a simple mechanic, and it served me well, up to a point.  What I soon discovered is that a 50% chance of success on a die, when people started using 3 or more dice, soon became an almost sure thing.  The chance of players (or the game master) failing at anything sort of flew out the window, and this became a serious problem.

Recently, I came up with a modified mechanic to use with the ‘Advanced Story Point System‘.  This new system is what is going to be used in the Fox Magic Companion and in the Cloak and Dagger games.  It is a simple adjustment, and I think it will keep the game simple, while allowing for the flexibility I need in the game engine.

1)  Conditions no longer give (or remove) dice.  Instead, a Condition adjusts the Difficulty.  This means that instead of needing to roll a 7 or more to succeed, you might be required to roll an 8 or higher, or may get lucky and need a 6 or 5 to succeed.  This adjusts the stakes.

2)  Rather than simply having the actual value rolled determine your success, how well you do is determined by how much over or under the new Difficulty you roll.  So, if you need to succeed on a 5 or more, and you roll a 4, that’s a narrow failure, but if you roll 11-12, that’s a true success, as if you rolled a 12 in the old system.  If you need an 8 or more, you aren’t going to get that ‘perfect success’, because the best you can do is roll 4 higher than your Difficulty.

I think these two adjustments will make the game better – it makes Conditions more important, and it also means that spending attribute points for more dice will be much more of a thing in the advanced system.  Since Opportunities adjust Difficulty, rather than give more dice, players are going to want to spend attribute points to get the dice they need.  It also means Complications are going to be seen as a bigger threat, since they will reduce the chance of getting those ‘perfect’ successes.

This new system will be playtested at CanGames this year.