RPGaDay2018 Day 21: What Dice Mechanic Appeals To You?

So I should probably have discussed the d100 l talked about yesterday today. So you know that I like the open ended roll system so I am going to pick something different today.

I am going to the Solo rules yes/no system.

This is mechanic has two elements, the dice roll and the likelihood factor.

So we have a very simple scale from “No And” which means that what you hoped for isn’t true and in fact it is even worse for you to “Yes And” which means what you hoped for is true and there is even better news. You must all know this by now as I have discussed it many times before.

The element that stops this dice roll being completely random is how likely you think something is going to be. The more likely you think it is the bigger the bonus you add to the dice roll, the less likely then the bigger the penalty. The only limitation is that the extremes of the bonus or penalty never completely eliminate the possibility of the opposite result. Nothing is ever a guaranteed yes or guaranteed no although it can be an extremely unlikely.

So with that simple specification this dice mechanic is completely dice independent. Anything that gives a range of high to low will work.

For the Game Designer the same mechanic gives a lot of choice in granularity. I have seen yes to no scales include ‘Maybe, If’, ‘Maybe, But’, ‘No and…’, ‘No but…’, ‘Yes and’ and ‘Yes but’ in addition to simple yes/no answers.

These solo systems can just as easily be used in a random adventure way with a real GM letting the dice control the adventure and interpreting the results in an improv sort of way as they can be in a true solo game. The secret is, as with all improv and solo play, to take the result and move the story forward.

It is that last bit of ‘moving the story forward’ that makes this the greatest dice mechanic of all. Using just this mechanic one could create an entire world and run an entire campaign with no prep and not knowing what the central plot is.

You could start with world building questions like “Is this a fantasy setting?” then get your answer, then “Is there magic?” get your answer. If the first answer was a No you have options for modern day or scifi. You could get really strange combinations like a modern day setting but in answer to ‘is there magic?’ you get ‘Maybe, if…’ as and answer. What does that inspire in you as GM?

Regarding prep, you just don’t need it as long as you can pull in stock monsters and NPCs. It is much more important to keep a record of loose threads. Imagine a player says “Is the innkeeper pleased to see us?” and the answer comes up ‘No’, why is that? This dice mechanic is literally driving better role playing and in that example better NPCs right down to the ‘little people’, the innkeepers, shop owners and everyone and anyone the players notice. Why isn’t the innkeeper pleased to see the player characters? Is he scared, angry? what is the next follow up question? eventually nearly every one of these becomes an adventure hook if the characters focus their attention on it but it is all driven by the interaction of the players and the same simple dice mechanic.

So my answer is the basic solo yes/no engine.