…or, if you’re not hip to the lingo, National Game Design Month!
I’ll be trying my hand at this, and blogging about it as I go. Today, some groundwork. I know I have an idea, or rather two separate ideas, that might or might not go together. One is a premise, and the other is a mechanic. We’ll deal with the mechanic first, as that’s one of the harder parts.
The concept as it stands right now is to turn the classic RPG idea of “character classes” on its head. This is an idea I’ve batted around previously, both here and abroad – instead of being a wizard or a warrior or a thief, you have access to wizard dice, warrior dice, and/or thief dice, and you roll those dice when you want to take an appropriate action.
What this system allows, in theory, that a rigid class structure doesn’t is to cross-train and synergize your abilities. If you’re a thief with some magical talent, you can describe how your breaking and entering is enhanced by the spells you cast to get to roll both your thief dice and wizard dice, adding them together to get a better effect than you would independently.
This does require us to define specific roles ahead of time and map them to the dice, and that means we have to be mindful of the types of dice available (unless we want to resort to online virtual dice rollers that can generate any type of die), and it also forces us to consider what the dice mean and how that applies to the roll. Does one “class” naturally have less ability to succeed than others? We would hope not, if we’re interested in balancing the two against each other; otherwise, everyone will just choose to get the most effective dice and forgo all the rest.
As I’ve envisioned it so far, the dice cost a number of “character points” equal to the number of sides on the die, so bigger dice cost more. That kinda levels out the playing field a little, and you can buy lots of little dice as opposed to one big one, but it still doesn’t provide quite the egalitarian sense to all of the different roles as I would like – preferably, the roles should be relatively efficacious in their fields of specialty, so that the choice is what you *want* to play as opposed to what gets you the biggest mechanical benefit.
I’m thinking we’ll need to add another axis to this graph – size of die and perhaps color of die, mapping the roles to the colors and not the shape/number. In the example above, then, wizards and thieves and warriors all have access to d4, d6, etc., but wizard dice might be white whereas thief dice are green and warrior dice are blue. This means we have to put a little more thought into how one acquires these dice, since you’re not just choosing to split up your points among your roles any more.
Or are you? You can just as easily say “I want an arcane burglar, emphasis on the burglar, so I’m going to buy bigger dice from the thief pool and just a few small dice from the magic pool”. Hmmm. This could work.
I’ll sketch up a possible framework and come back.