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My crack at Alternity's Dice Step System

CWalck93

Doom Priest of Peace and Happiness
Validated User
I have been a fan of the TSR Alternity system since it originally came out years ago. With my own weird stop and start problems on my own system for a game I'm designing, I decided to look at the Alternity rule set one more time to see if I can work with it and be happy. Note that I'm not talking about the updated system that is out there. I have looked at it, realized that it doesn't do what I want and discarded it.

What I need an opinion on is if I should adjust the skill check roll from d20 +/- modifier die to a smaller standard die type. I was thinking d10 +/- modifier die.

Anyway, here's what I'm proposing for my take on the Alternity system:

1 - It is being changed to a roll over system.
2 - The Target Number for almost ALL checks is set at 10. This means that somebody without a modifier die will still succeed 50% of the time. I'm okay with this because it helps get the feel of a more high action game that I'm looking for.
3 - Skills are rated now in die type from d4 (Rookie) to d12 (Master). This becomes the base modifier die that is rolled along with the d20. Difficulty modifiers, wounds etc. will increase (in case of bonus) the die type or decrease (in case of difficulty) the die type. The modifier die type can go beyond +/- d12 depending on the situation, just add a new d4 and increase it as need be.
4 - There are no attributes as of right now (this can change). If I do use Attributes in some shape or form, then they will just be modifiers to the die that is developed for the skill. So if Bob is trying to hit somebody in the face and they have Muscle +1 and Fighting d8, then he gets to start with a d10.
5 - For every 5 points above the Target Number (15, 20, 25, 30), the roll will generate an additional success. These successes will modify damage rolls or do good things for the operative. They are not meant to be something like Momentum etc. If you're trying to disarm somebody, you're going to declare it before you roll for the action.

If I use the d10 die instead, then I'm pretty sure the target number gets adjusted to 5 and the extra successes are at 10, 15, 20 and 25. I'm not sure if I like how small these numbers are.

So. Any interesting thoughts or comments that people come up with while reading this? Have you in fact tried something similar out and has it worked for you?
 

Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
I wish you luck here, I feel like alternity has promise but still needs work.

I feel like every 5 points above target number is a bit fiddly and maybe just make it 10 (20,30, etc.) and step up the impact of a success. Maybe just have 20+ be a critical or exceptional success if you are using flat 10 for your TN.
 

johnthedm7000

Social Justice Witch
Validated User
I think this can definitely work, a few notes and suggestions:

  • As It Stands There's Little Benefit to Increased Skill: Grabbing a skill at Rookie level offers a sizable jump in capability, from 50% success to 67%. Every other skill increase offers a marginal shift in capability. Going from Rookie (d4) to Trained (d6) means your odds of success go from 67% to 72%. This is going to tend to reward characters who generalize rather than specialize, which might be at odds with the genre of your game.

  • There Are Some Cool Things You Can Do With Step Dice: One solution to the problem above (while also making your game have less math) is to let the player step the die up or down to get extra effect on a success rather than relying on the difference from the target number. This means that only skilled people can do super-awesome kickass things with their skills (which is in-genre: the medic isn't going to snipe three people with one shot from a thousand yards), and gives a huge reason for players to specialize in the skills their going to use, while encourage folks to have a wide range of skills at Rookie or Trained as well.

    So if I'm a ninja master with a d12 in Weapons I could step down all the way to a d6 and choose:

    1. I slice up all of the mooks nearby with my sweet paired swords instead of hitting just one.
    2. I close the distance between the bodyguards and my target.
    3. I disarm my target as they draw their gun.

    I still have a 72% chance of success for this, so it's not even a bad idea. And less skilled characters could still benefit from this, because even if you're a Rookie or Trained, you can stunt once or twice and the absolute lowest it'll take you down to is a 55% chance.

  • If you're going to stick with difficulty 10, stick with it: Don't fill your core rules with exceptions and contradictions. If the difficulty for rolls is going to be 10, stick with it. Represent increased difficulty by reducing someone's skill die size, and represent mooks with stormtrooper aim by having them roll a d10+ skill rather than a d20 or in groups treat them as a single regular character until their numbers get reduced.

  • Don't Complicate Things: No prior iterations of your game have had attributes; that's a big hint that your game doesn't need attributes. GI Joe Super-Spies isn't a game about the Smart Gal, the Sexy Guy, and the Strong Guy, it's about the Tech Gay, the Honeypot Guy, and the Melee Weapons Expert. Characters are assumed to be exceptional in their raw characteristics and abilities. Otherwise they wouldn't be agents of an evil COBRA analogue out to take over the world. Keep your focus on skills and the stuff that flows directly from them.
 

SMHWorlds

Registered User
Validated User
Don't Complicate Things: No prior iterations of your game have had attributes; that's a big hint that your game doesn't need attributes. GI Joe Super-Spies isn't a game about the Smart Gal, the Sexy Guy, and the Strong Guy, it's about the Tech Gay, the Honeypot Guy, and the Melee Weapons Expert. Characters are assumed to be exceptional in their raw characteristics and abilities. Otherwise they wouldn't be agents of an evil COBRA analogue out to take over the world. Keep your focus on skills and the stuff that flows directly from them.
I agree with this. Attributes really won't add anything to this design, so I would not even bother thinking about them.

I also think you should stick with the D20. In this case it feels like it gives a better spread of results and potential than a D10 would.
 

CWalck93

Doom Priest of Peace and Happiness
Validated User
Yeah, I thought about it a bit last night and the d20 is staying. Also the skill list (from what John has seen) has been trimmed quite a bit and there are no attributes anywhere to be seen.

As far as the increase in die step and probabilities, yes that is a problem. But, the thing that I'm also going to point out is that is just like you are saying in your post John, the die type will fluctuate up or down depending on what they are trying to pull off.

Also, if the task is harder than what they should be able to pull off, the die type can go negative (so somebody who is trying to pull something Epic off and is totally untrained in a skill might be looking a d20-d8 or worse).
 

johnthedm7000

Social Justice Witch
Validated User
Yeah, I thought about it a bit last night and the d20 is staying. Also the skill list (from what John has seen) has been trimmed quite a bit and there are no attributes anywhere to be seen.

As far as the increase in die step and probabilities, yes that is a problem. But, the thing that I'm also going to point out is that is just like you are saying in your post John, the die type will fluctuate up or down depending on what they are trying to pull off.

Also, if the task is harder than what they should be able to pull off, the die type can go negative (so somebody who is trying to pull something Epic off and is totally untrained in a skill might be looking a d20-d8 or worse).
That's an excellent idea, and that makes handling difficulties much easier. You can even describe difficulties in terms of steps down. What I was referring to in my previous post though isn't so much the GM lowering someone's die size based on the stutnts they want to do. I was referring to eliminating different target numbers and having players lower their die type to get additional benefits for a roll. But with that in mind, I'm really looking forward to seeing what else you end up doing with it.

Oooooo....you could use the die you roll alongside the d20 to help determine how much Bingo Damage you do! That would easily and elegantly tie in your position with the amount of damage you do, and thereby ensure that any weapon can be lethal in the hands of someone who's skilled or well-positioned.
 
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