11 February 2019

RPGs as collections of minigames and why different games might want to have different mechanics.


Years ago I read something about putting as much player facing information on the character sheet and to make it obvious what they were and their chance of success. Well I think I did.
Anyways I ran into another post about the same sorta thing re dice mechanics. 

It was this style of reasoning re transparent vs opaque dice that sorta pushed some of the BRP/RQ/KAP derived nature of Mechaknights. All the skills were roll under percentiles so it was clear how likely a PC was to succeed. Were to revisit that particular iteration of a mecha game, I'd probably use a d10 or d20 because I really hate rolling percentile dice, but that's minor.
An interesting thing about what Luka calls transparent is they are linear, and swingy, and that's not something to shy away from. Not only is it easier to have an idea of the odds, but the results can be more exciting. 

And the opaque dice mechanics obfuscate the odds of events. There is also the weighting of results towards certain values, bell curves etc. 

This gets me thinking about the idea that different parts of a game, or even different games within a game, yet another thing Luka's written about that I've long thought about too, could, and maybe even should, have different mechanics. In, uh, retro-dnd(?) combat is a d20 rolling high, thief skills are roll-under percentile, the non-human's all have X in 6 skill like abilities, and frequently ability scores get used for skills with a d20 roll-under. One good reason to do all these disparate mechanics is that they separate these aspects from each other. But having all these different dice mechanics is also off-putting. If they weren't we wouldn't have so many different games that have unified resolutions system, including DnD.

So I've been thinking a lot of thoughts about scratchbuilding an ersatz Macross rpg. It has to have aerial combat that is quick and exciting. It probably needs mecha fisticuffs rules. And it definitely needs at least one set of rules for the Power of Song/Culture. To me it would feel boring if the weird space magic that music becomes as the franchise progresses used the same kind of mechanics as the combat and social interaction portions of the game. Although it could be argued that social interactions might also warrant being treated similar to space music magic. Macross is a franchise that is superficially mecha, but it honestly about interpersonal drama and the power of friendship conquering the enemies of humanity. Except for Macross Plus, which is weird, but I love it the most, both versions.

I don't have very concrete ideas where I'll be starting with this, probably something KAP, DnD, or PbtA derived thing.

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