Equipment and Risk Aggregation

#1
Hey there. Long time listener, first time caller.
For the past several years, I've built a little homebrew RPG I run with my friends and at conventions. It's a steampunk/wuxia setting, and it runs on a White Wolf-esque pass/fail dice pool system. The dice themselves are coins, with heads read as success and tails as failure. As such, results tend to cluster pretty tightly around half of the coins thrown; ten coins are going to get you a lot of fives, and not a lot of tens or zeroes. There's a critical failure/critical success system in play as well for scoring well above or well under your target number.

Recently, I've started playing around with a system of risk aggregation. In lieu of tossing ten coins on a check, they could choose to throw five coins and double the number of successes (making a 10 or a 0 much more likely), or even wager the entire roll on one coin (ensuring that the result is either a ten or a zero with nothing in between). It gives players a way to represent the difference between say, circling an opponent throwing jabs and low kicks (a low-risk low-reward strategy), feinting a double leg and throwing an overhand right (somewhat higher risk and reward), or leaping across the ring with a spinning drop kick (a very high risk high reward strategy).

So what I'm trying to puzzle over now is a fluid way to integrate equipment bonuses into this system. Being a steampunk RPG, I feel as though have a robust and flexible set of equipment rules is a necessity. As it stands, most equipment has two or three ratings associated with it, usually with one representing power and one representing usability (ie, attack vs damage on weapons, speed vs handling on vehicles) that are added to a core skill check in different circumstances. I don't love it as a system, but it's been alright so far.

What I'd like to have is a way that equipment bonuses can be structured in such that different pieces of gear are more suited to high-risk high-reward and others are more suited to low-risk low-reward strategies. IE, if someone was driving a slow and sturdy ATV, it would be best used with low-risk rolls where he's using all of his Engineering coins to to pilot it; if someone was driving a dirtbike with a rocket strapped to the back of it, it would be best used with high-risk rolls where the player is only roll one or two coins.

The best I can come up with is by having equipment offer either a bonus number of coins on the roll (giving more variability) or a bonus number of successes (giving no variability). IE, the above ATV might offer a flat +2 successes on a driving check, whereas the rocket bike would offer an extra four coins (giving an average of +2, but with a fair amount of variability). Which, like my current system, falls at "it's okay, but I don't love it".
Hopefully that made sense? It's rather late at the moment, and I live in perpetual fear that my ideas are complete gobbledegook.
 

John Out West

Registered User
Validated User
#2
System seems solid enough, reminds me of FateCore.

So if i understand it, the system is essentially:
Flip Coins: Heads = Success & Tails = Failure. More heads means more/greater success, but Failure does not negate from your successes. Ten coins seems like an insanely high number to be tossing for every check, and I have some ideas on how to change that, but I don't want to give unsolicited mechanics so I'll stick to the question.

For equipment, I don't see why you'd settle for one mechanic, especially of Equipment is integral to the characters themselves. Having different equipment with drastically different abilities sounds like fun, especially in how it could mesh with other Class/Race abilities.

For possible equipment abilities I made this list:
Increase number of coins
Double Amount of Successes (But half total dice tossed)
Add Successes
ReRoll Failures
Bet on Conditions (Such as, effect takes place only on 5 successes)
Conditions (Such as, if one more success would make the check a success, then gain one more success.
Double amount of Dice, Failures negate successes

Or in vehicle terms:
Rocket Bike gains +4 coins on Roll.
Motor Bike results are doubled, halve the total dice rolled.
ATV rolls gain +1 to all related checks.
Hatchback Rerolls two failures per check.
Golf Cart gains +2 Successes if natural roll is 5 successes.
Reliable Truck Gains +3 Successes if it would otherwise fail the check.
Nitro-Scooter gains +10 coins on roll, but Failures reduce the total amount of Successes.

I'm still not sure if I understand your system based on rereads of the original post, but hopefully this helps.
 

Just Me too

Registered User
Validated User
#3
I like the idea of rolling less dice but multiplying the result to model increased risk. I assume you could also roll more dice but divide the result for less risk as well.
I am also going to assume that the number of successes matter or there is not much reason for the players to pay attention to the risk mechanic.

But on to your question about equipment,
For more cautious appropriate equipment like your ATV you might want to give a minimum number of success if they are taking a normal or less risky approach.
While for risk appropriate equipment like your dirt bike with rocket strapped on might give extra successes if a certain number of successes were rolled but also subtract an amount if under (the same or different number) of successes were rolled.

I hope it helps and good luck on the game.
 
#4
System seems solid enough, reminds me of FateCore.

So if i understand it, the system is essentially:
Flip Coins: Heads = Success & Tails = Failure. More heads means more/greater success, but Failure does not negate from your successes. Ten coins seems like an insanely high number to be tossing for every check, and I have some ideas on how to change that, but I don't want to give unsolicited mechanics so I'll stick to the question.

For equipment, I don't see why you'd settle for one mechanic, especially of Equipment is integral to the characters themselves. Having different equipment with drastically different abilities sounds like fun, especially in how it could mesh with other Class/Race abilities.

For possible equipment abilities I made this list:
Increase number of coins
Double Amount of Successes (But half total dice tossed)
Add Successes
ReRoll Failures
Bet on Conditions (Such as, effect takes place only on 5 successes)
Conditions (Such as, if one more success would make the check a success, then gain one more success.
Double amount of Dice, Failures negate successes

Or in vehicle terms:
Rocket Bike gains +4 coins on Roll.
Motor Bike results are doubled, halve the total dice rolled.
ATV rolls gain +1 to all related checks.
Hatchback Rerolls two failures per check.
Golf Cart gains +2 Successes if natural roll is 5 successes.
Reliable Truck Gains +3 Successes if it would otherwise fail the check.
Nitro-Scooter gains +10 coins on roll, but Failures reduce the total amount of Successes.

I'm still not sure if I understand your system based on rereads of the original post, but hopefully this helps.
These are really good suggestions and I appreciate them! I'm definitely going to start playing around with some of them.
You've got the gist of the core system; for what it matters, the number of coins thrown are based on skill rank, with 10 being at the high end.
 
#5
So, after playing around for a bit, here's where I'm at:
Essentially, I'm trying to create a matrix of factors that be mixed and matched to create unique flavor and match the personalized DIY aesthetic of a steampunk game. I'm doing this largely with a series of tags that play off of each other in various ways. They tend to come in pairs, which is great, because the I Ching and yin/yang polarities are a re-occurring theme in the game.

1) Equipment bonuses are marked as either "Stable" ( add X number of successes) or "Unstable" (add 2X number of coins).
2) From there, those bonuses can be marked as either "Complex", "Simple," or "Standard." "Standard" items function exactly as above. "Simple" items are weighted toward minimizing risk, and allow X number of failures to be flipped to success or 2X to be re-rolled. "Complex" items are weighted toward maximizing success, and allow X number of successes to be doubled or 2X to be rolled again. *
3) There are a couple of miscellaneous probability conditions based on John's suggestions that I quite liked. "Dangerous" items double the number of successes, but failures are subtracted from your success total. "Lucky" items let you make a guess as to what your result will be before rolling, and if you're correct, your success condition is upgraded by one (ie, from success to critical success, or from critical failure to mixed failure). Possibly a "Reliable" tag that acts as an inverse to "Dangerous", that allows to re-roll all of your failures but haves the number of successes (or something akin to that).
Close-quarter weapons can be (but don't have to be) divided as being either "Offensive" or "Defensive". "Offensive" weapons double their bonuses when attacking, but add nothing when defending and countering (there are fairly robust rules for counter-attacking in combat); "Defensive" weapons do the opposite. Similarly, ranged weapons can be broken into "Long Ranged" and "Short Ranged". I may eventually find similar "Aspect divides" for vehicles, tools, etc.

*My biggest issues are with section 2).
The problem arises with figuring out how to weigh "Complex" and "Simple" equipment vs "Standard" equipment. It stands to reason that the "Complex" and "Simple" bonuses should be higher, because they are inherently limited by the number of successes on a given check. But, the dice pools are large enough that most checks entail a large number of successes and a large number of failures. So if a "Standard" gun adds 2 coins, and a "Simple" gun let's you re-roll four failures, the "Simple" gun is essentially adding 4 coins on most rolls.

I love the idea of equipment being weighted more heavily toward maximizing success or minimizing failure based on difficulty of use, but this is clearly not the way to do it. I fear that the Complex/Simple divide is adding too much complexity for very little depth, especially compared to the other qualities.



Once again, I apologize if this is all incomprehensible.
 
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