Core Mechanic

Core Mechanic

Having set the scene in general terms, I’d like to start getting into the details of how I want the game to work. The core mechanic I plan to use for Kannagara is as follows.

For every significant action, the player rolls a number of six-sided dice. She keeps some of them, and adds the values shown to get a total. This total is the mechanical result of the action.

So, for example, the player might roll seven dice, and get 6, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. She might then keep the highest four dice (6 ,6, 5, 4), for a total of 21. Alternatively, she might keep the lowest four dice (4, 3, 2, 1), for a total of 10.

Personae have numerical characteristics, just as in most roleplaying games. In many cases, one of these characteristics is the number of dice to roll, while another is the number of dice to keep.

If the number of dice to roll is higher than the number to keep, this is straightforward. Roll the indicated number of dice, and keep the highest dice for the total. So, if the two characteristics are 7 to roll and 4 to keep, the player rolls seven dice and keeps the highest four; the 21 total in the example.

If the number of dice to roll is lower than the number to keep, the number of dice actually rolled changes. Add twice the difference between the two numbers to the lower number, and roll that number of dice. In this case, the player keeps the lowest dice for the total. So, if the two characteristics are 1 to roll and 4 to keep, the player rolls seven dice, and keeps the lowest four. She keeps four because the characteristic determining the number of dice to keep is 4, and that doesn’t change. She rolls seven because 4–1 is 3, and one plus twice three is seven.

In this system, the number of dice you keep determines how well you can do. The number of dice you roll determines how likely you are to be at the top or bottom end of that range. In the example, the player has exactly the same range of possible results in both cases: any number between 4 and 24, inclusive. However, when she rolls seven and keeps the best four, she is much more likely to get a result at the top end of that range, while rolling seven and keeping the worst four puts her much nearer the bottom.

The numbers of dice are not always set by characteristics. In fact, it might be more common for one to be set by other features of a situation. However, the core mechanic does not change; one number determines the number of dice to roll, and the other determines the number of dice to keep.

The plan is to use this mechanic for everything that includes a chance of failure, or where it is necessary to determine the degree of success. That might be a single action, but it might also be part of a larger action. Larger actions that are a common part of the game, such as creating things, will have a common structure, so that these rolls are always put together in the same way. This consistency should make it much easier to learn the game.

So far, however, I have said nothing about what happens after the player rolls the dice. That will be the topic of the following posts.

3 thoughts on “Core Mechanic

  1. Very nice mechanism! If you’re not very good at a difficult task, you’ll do it very badly; if you’re equal to the task, you’ll do it averagely well; and if you’re good at it, you’ll do better than most. Also, you get to roll lots of dice, which is always a Good Thing ™.

    Here’s a suggestion, however:

    For tests where you have fewer dice to roll than to keep, perhaps consider rewording the rule as, “Add the difference between the two numbers to the higher number”. The system remains mechanically identical, but you have removed one equation, which is simpler. “She rolls seven dice because 4-1=3, and 4+3=7”, is more straightforward than “1+((4-1)*2)=7”.

    1. Camo, thanks for the comment. I like the rephrasing; it’s something I’ve had a lot of trouble with. The rule is basically simple, but every time I write it down, it looks really complicated. Your version looks simpler, so I’ll probably use something like that.

  2. Oh, I second the rephrasing. That was the only paragraph I needed to read about three times to have down. (and I was thinking of explaining it and my head hurt. 😉 )

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: