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Tell Me About Your Favorite Mechanics

SoonRaccoon

Explorer
I like Ironsworn's progress tracks. They do a couple specific things with combat that I like.

First, it adds book ends to both the start and end of combat. In D&D, combat starts when you roll initiative, and it ends... at some point? But implicitly, it kind of ends with a TPK of one side. Having a discrete mechanical end to combat makes it easier to have non-lethal combat, because you can use it to say, "You pin your opponent to the dirt with the tip of your sword at their throat. They toss their sword aside and raise their hands." Now you can have an ongoing thread with a rival of some sort.

Another fun thing about it is that it turns combat into a small push your luck game. You fill up the progress track, then roll against it to end combat. The more progress, the higher your chance of winning. The longer you continue combat, the more you fill up the progress track, but you also risk being hurt more.
 

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
The core mechanisms of Blades in the Dark (action rolls, resist rolls, and clocks) marry gamist and narrativist play beautifully, while allowing room for negotiated sim too. The book could be organized & written better, but once you have things down it's pretty sweet and as streamlined or drawn-out as you want it to be, on the fly even.

I've been meaning to check it out. I really need to.

Scum and Villainy is a much cleaner explanation of the BitD mechanics.

And that.
 

Staffan

Legend
TORG Eternity's Destiny cards and the way they interplay with combat encounters.

A Destiny card generally gives the player a momentary bonus of some sort – a reroll, a bonus to any or a subset of actions, turning an opponent's roll into a failure, and so on. There are also some that affect how other cards are played or refill your hand and such. However, once in combat or other encounter situation, you can't play these cards directly from your hand. Instead you need to put them into your "pool", meaning face-up on the table in front of you, one per round. Once in your pool, you can also trade them with other players.

The effect is that you build up a collective party resource over the course of an encounter. This lets you turn a seemingly dire situation into something the PCs can actually win, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The Escalation Die in 13th Age serves a similar role but without creating its own mini-game. Whether that's a good or bad thing is a matter of taste.

FATE's Aspects and Fate Points are also a really cool mechanic, particularly as expressed in the Dresden Files RPG.

Depending on the campaign's power level, each character has a certain "Base Refresh". If you have no special abilities, this is the minimum number of Fate points you start each session with. Should you have ended the last session with more than that, you get to keep the excess. Every special ability or "stunt" (a special ability letting you use a skill in a different way than usual or better in a specialized situation) costs one or more of this refresh. Fate points are used to boost rolls and to trigger various abilities as well as some amount of "dramatic editing" ("Of course I brought my handcuffs!").

Aspects are true statements about your character, and are linked to Fate points. One of these is your character concept, another is your Trouble, and the rest are just things that are true. Aspects are generally double-edged swords: they can be both good or bad. In a circumstance where an aspect is good, that's easy: spend a Fate point to reroll something or get a bonus. In a circumstance where it could potentially be negative, things get a little more interesting. The GM can "compel" an aspect by saying "Wouldn't it be really interesting if X happened right now?" The player then has the option to either accept the compel and get a Fate point for their trouble, or reject it by paying a Fate point. For example, if you have the aspect "Defender of the innocent" and you're defending someone, you can spend Fate points to help with the fighting. But in another situation, someone might come to you and ask for help, and to turn them down you need to spend a Fate point.

The effect here is that people with lots of supernatural powers will naturally have a lower Refresh, which means they have fewer Fate points. That means they literally have less control of their fate. From a meta-game perspective, they will need to accept more compels and get into more trouble to get the fate points they need to spend for other stuff. Power has a price.


Wealth checks have been around since at least d20 Modern. Does Spire do something different?
First game I saw them in was Advanced Marvel Super Heroes, published in 1986 (the Basic set also had a Resources stat, but that only gave you a particular income in resource points, you rarely rolled it).
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
First game I saw them in was Advanced Marvel Super Heroes, published in 1986 (the Basic set also had a Resources stat, but that only gave you a particular income in resource points, you rarely rolled it).
I never played Marvel but now that you mention it, I recall DC Heroes from Mayfair also used Wealth as a "stat."
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I really like how silver works in Spire: The City Must Fall, treating it sort of as a stat that can be rolled against. It removes the number tracking of precisely how many coins you have and instead just assumes you can make regular small purchases, and then larger purchases have an element of chance to them that might decrease your silver stat. I know I'm not using the words the game itself uses to describe this, hopefully someone can correct me if I'm explaining it the wrong way.

I was going to post about Resistances and Fallout from Spire. A strong favorite of mine.

Wealth checks have been around since at least d20 Modern. Does Spire do something different?

A little. Silver is one of five Resistances that a PC has. The others are Blood, Mind, Reputation, and Shadow. They represent the different things that are at stake when a PC takes an action. They’re the way you “take damage” in the game.

What I find interesting about it is that you take Stress to a Resistance when a roll goes poorly, or if you get a Success with Stress result. The GM rolls the damage and tells you which Resistance to take it to. Then, every time you take Stress, the GM rolls a d10. If the roll is lower than your current total Stress, then the Stress becomes a Fallout.

This is when Stress becomes a specific drawback. Very commonly, you may suffer a Blood Fallout, which can be something like “Bleeding” which has ongoing penalties, or “Broken leg” which means you broke your friggin leg. Or you may take Mind Fallout like “Permanently Weird”, which means you take on a character trait that may be problematic for you.

With Silver, it would mean you’ve taken some kind of financial hit. You’re in hock to the wrong people, or you lose a prize possession.

The amount of Silver Resistance you have (meaning essentially bonus slots that you can take Stress and it doesn’t count toward Fallout rolls) is a general indicator of your wealth and lifestyle.

What I like about this system is it creates a variety of consequences that the PCs face. Things happen to them as they progress through the game… things that last and which you can point back to and say “oh yeah, that’s when my character began to go mad” or “that’s when I lost my armor”. There are actual consequences to the PCs actions that linger and shape the subsequent events.

It’s a great system, and doesn’t get the attention I’d say it deserves.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I was going to post about Resistances and Fallout from Spire. A strong favorite of mine.



A little. Silver is one of five Resistances that a PC has. The others are Blood, Mind, Reputation, and Shadow. They represent the different things that are at stake when a PC takes an action. They’re the way you “take damage” in the game.

What I find interesting about it is that you take Stress to a Resistance when a roll goes poorly, or if you get a Success with Stress result. The GM rolls the damage and tells you which Resistance to take it to. Then, every time you take Stress, the GM rolls a d10. If the roll is lower than your current total Stress, then the Stress becomes a Fallout.

This is when Stress becomes a specific drawback. Very commonly, you may suffer a Blood Fallout, which can be something like “Bleeding” which has ongoing penalties, or “Broken leg” which means you broke your friggin leg. Or you may take Mind Fallout like “Permanently Weird”, which means you take on a character trait that may be problematic for you.

With Silver, it would mean you’ve taken some kind of financial hit. You’re in hock to the wrong people, or you lose a prize possession.

The amount of Silver Resistance you have (meaning essentially bonus slots that you can take Stress and it doesn’t count toward Fallout rolls) is a general indicator of your wealth and lifestyle.

What I like about this system is it creates a variety of consequences that the PCs face. Things happen to them as they progress through the game… things that last and which you can point back to and say “oh yeah, that’s when my character began to go mad” or “that’s when I lost my armor”. There are actual consequences to the PCs actions that linger and shape the subsequent events.

It’s a great system, and doesn’t get the attention I’d say it deserves.
Very cool!
 

Pedantic

Legend
It's not terribly sexy, but I really like Take 10/Take 20. Having an absolute value you can point to that provides a reference for how skilled you are, given time and space to practice and err is very convenient, and take 10 is a solid mechanic for action outside of a clock.

I'd like to see a D20 skill system that defaults to using those values and translating them into actions players can take, moving rolling onto back burner as something only done when you're pushing your luck.
 

Ondath

Hero
It's incredibly simple, but I quite like Bell curve resolution tables. Both old school D&D (reaction rolls) and modern narrativist (PbtA default roll) games do this, and while I like the spread of a straight d20, the bell curve is really useful when I want consistent results. I brought reaction rolls to my 5e game and I like how it changed the way I run social encounters. I'm also using a more PbtA style roll when the players want to add something to the story: So I know that the result will be middling on average (meaning players can't derail the entire campaign on a lucky roll), but an incredibly rare roll gets rewarded.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
It's incredibly simple, but I quite like Bell curve resolution tables. Both old school D&D (reaction rolls) and modern narrativist (PbtA default roll) games do this, and while I like the spread of a straight d20, the bell curve is really useful when I want consistent results. I brought reaction rolls to my 5e game and I like how it changed the way I run social encounters. I'm also using a more PbtA style roll when the players want to add something to the story: So I know that the result will be middling on average (meaning players can't derail the entire campaign on a lucky roll), but an incredibly rare roll gets rewarded.
I really like 3d6 encounter tables for this reason.
 

Staffan

Legend
A little. Silver is one of five Resistances that a PC has. The others are Blood, Mind, Reputation, and Shadow. They represent the different things that are at stake when a PC takes an action. They’re the way you “take damage” in the game.

What I find interesting about it is that you take Stress to a Resistance when a roll goes poorly, or if you get a Success with Stress result. The GM rolls the damage and tells you which Resistance to take it to. Then, every time you take Stress, the GM rolls a d10. If the roll is lower than your current total Stress, then the Stress becomes a Fallout.

This is when Stress becomes a specific drawback. Very commonly, you may suffer a Blood Fallout, which can be something like “Bleeding” which has ongoing penalties, or “Broken leg” which means you broke your friggin leg. Or you may take Mind Fallout like “Permanently Weird”, which means you take on a character trait that may be problematic for you.

With Silver, it would mean you’ve taken some kind of financial hit. You’re in hock to the wrong people, or you lose a prize possession.
Hmm. Interesting. So Silver in the Spire is more of a reactive stat that governs how/when bad things happen to your financial status, rather than a proactive stat you use to get things done and/or acquire things? That's certainly different from how most other games I've seen where "money" is a stat do it.
 

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