• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

What are your favourite single game mechanics?

Tallifer

Adventurer
I really love the Friends mechanic from "Adventures in Oz: Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road." Winning and keeping Friends through doing favours opens up more and more opportunities to receive favours from said Friends. The antithesis of murder-hobo-ry.
 
Action resolution in Burning Wheel (which can be ported to other systems eg Classic Traveller):

* Intent and task action declaration;

* Say 'yes' or roll the dice;

* Success is success on both intent and task; failure is narrated by the GM by reference to intent and/or task as will keep things moving and maintain or increase the pressure;

* Let it ride (ie results stand - no rerolls).
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
* The “Light Clock” in Torchbearer and how all of the other game mechanics are integrated perfectly with it and how, working in concert, they bring home the intended play experience (cognitive space inhabited, mood, theme, pace).

* Same thing goes for Blades in the Dark with its holistic integration of all of its system machinery which engenders bold, devil-may-care scoundrels, each uniquely twisted, as they try to climb an unforgiving, corrupted hierarchy.

Everything is crucial (like Torchbearer), but I think the management of the feedback loops of Heat: Wanted Level, Stress: Trauma, Entanglements, and Downtime are my favorites (yes, more than all the stuff in the Score!).
 

Yaztromo

Villager
Simple simple: rolling 2d6 for skill checks or fights (adding the result to characteristics and the like).
The simplest dice and a very articulated and "realistic" outcome. Realistic in the sense that, if I try at some task in real life, it is more likely for me having an average result rather than a top result or a bottom result.
 

Wightbred

Explorer
13th Age Escalation Die. I use this or a variation of this mechanic in every game I run.
I really love the concept of this, as the intensity of the fight rises to a crescendo and it stops them dragging on. But I’ve never tried it because it seems like adding an extra bonus is fiddly compared to mechanics like advantage.

I have thought that maybe increasing the minimum damage you get on a dice roll from 1 to 2 etc each round might be an option. Any advice on making it work, or other ways to implement it?
 
The speculative trade system in Classic Traveller.

More broadly, the interplay of (i) character (ii) world (iii) starship - and how they can be reduced to a simple hexadecimal string - is some kind of weird rocket fuel for the imagination. Ideas just seem to explode out of this matrix. I confess to being rather in awe of Traveller.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
FASERIP table system, specifically the AMSH version.

Palladium Fantasy 1st ed revised's Attack and defense mechanics. Was ruined by personal SDC...

5E's advantage/disadvantage.

Aspects (fate) and MHRP's distinctions (similar enough).

Mouse Guard's formulaic adventure building. makes for fast but fun short-sessions.

L5R 5's Roll and Keep with symbolic dice.

Justifiers' Buy Back - you have an instant reason to participate suitably in the adventure - you want your freedom, slave? Earn it.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
I really love the concept of this, as the intensity of the fight rises to a crescendo and it stops them dragging on. But I’ve never tried it because it seems like adding an extra bonus is fiddly compared to mechanics like advantage.
It can see where it might get fiddly, I suppose. I guess I circumvented that by using the following:

In my rarer and rarer Face-to-Face games, I use a photo cube which is basically a 3.5 x 3.5 large cube that I can change out the inner printout on to reflect the different games. It's so big and prominent that the bonus has yet to be forgotten after something like the first session of using it.

In my far more frequent online Fantasy Grounds games, I have an Effect programmed in that I plop on each character in the combat tracker that automatically increases their To Hit rolls by the Designated Amount for 5e. For the AGE system, once I finish getting all the data done, I have a Story entry with Chat Lines in it that I can click on to throw the current Escalation into the Chat Box. Inelegant at the moment, but I'll figure out a better method by time I finish entering the Data.

I have thought that maybe increasing the minimum damage you get on a dice roll from 1 to 2 etc each round might be an option. Any advice on making it work, or other ways to implement it?
Sorry, no, I don't have any other advice. Though I think that adding to damage would work great in shortening combat.
 
Disclaimer: Favorite is not quite the same as best.


  • Preparedness skill in GUMSHOE. Particularly for Night's Black Agents, it allows players to get to the action with only as much pre-planning as is fun for them, and smooths over disagreements about what a character "would obviously have brought with
Very interested in this. How does it work? Maybe I can port it to other games.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I really love the concept of this, as the intensity of the fight rises to a crescendo and it stops them dragging on. But I’ve never tried it because it seems like adding an extra bonus is fiddly compared to mechanics like advantage.

I have thought that maybe increasing the minimum damage you get on a dice roll from 1 to 2 etc each round might be an option. Any advice on making it work, or other ways to implement it?
There is no advantage in 13th Age (it came out before 5e), so the Escalation Die feels like any other bonus, not fiddly.

You caught on immediately how it prevents combats from turning into a grind. Well, the math is set up so that the PCs have a disadvantage for the first round or so. Think if it added 0 (first round) and then the +1-6 in subsequent rounds (also to save DCs in 5e, in 13th Age those are attack rolls like in D&D 4e), but you actually started with a -1 or -2 to everything.

So the other effect is that people will not always throw their big novas early in the combat, they often wait for later so they hit more. It changes the dynamic and gives more valid strong paths.
 

Zhaleskra

Explorer
World Tree . . . succeeding TOO WELL on a skill check can have unforeseen consequences. Not only did you beat the threshold, you beat it by 30 or more. The example given was of a singer entertaining a crowd, who gets potentially unwanted attention from a female in the audience. I like the idea that succeeding by too much can also be bad.

Same system: using the wrong skill to achieve the right result for the wrong reason. Telling a bedtime story using History instead of Storytelling and boring the kid to sleep.
 
World Tree . . . succeeding TOO WELL on a skill check can have unforeseen consequences. Not only did you beat the threshold, you beat it by 30 or more. The example given was of a singer entertaining a crowd, who gets potentially unwanted attention from a female in the audience. I like the idea that succeeding by too much can also be bad.

Same system: using the wrong skill to achieve the right result for the wrong reason. Telling a bedtime story using History instead of Storytelling and boring the kid to sleep.
I used to lull my granddaughter to sleep talking about trigonometry. 😂 Though inwraopen it in Native American myth before getting into the actual math.
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
Very interested in [Preparedness]. How does it work? Maybe I can port it to other games.
GUMSHOE defines each character's skill as a set of pool points. Players spend from the pool to make it easier to over come a target difficulty. So Preparedness is a skill a player has and may have pool points in (generally from 0-10 or so, but 12+ is not uncommon for higher power games).

The skill works like this: When a player thinks of some piece of equipment they would like to have at this point in the game, but didn't explicitly mention, they can make a preparedness check to have it, with the difficulty being set by the GM. In GUMSHOE the dice used is a d6, so a difficulty of 4 is the standard -- a 50-50 chance of success if you do not spend.

As a GM, I would make the difficulty of something 2 if it's something they really ought to have, but might be fun if the didn't remember to bring it; 4 if it's something they might have brought, 6-8 if they would have needed very clever forethought to have it, and higher if it would be essentially an amazing stroke of luck. Recall that a pool of size 6 is quite normal, so players could spend 3 and only need to roll a 3 on d6 to hit a difficulty of 6, so the game does aim at hyper-competent people. This skill's pool refreshes between scenarios -- not sessions -- and I tended to run 2-3 sessions per scenario, so people would spread it out a bit.

If I was adapting this to d20 games, I might try something like this:

Preparedness. Make a check to determine if you had prepared by bringing an object you describe with you. The GM will set the difficulty based on how available the item is, and how likely i would be for you to bring it (so bringing rope to a mountain-climbing expedition would be trivial, whereas bringing ancient history books to a bar might be hard). If you fail the check, you expend one use of this skill. The skill has a bonus provided by INT, and the number of uses per day is equal to your WIS bonus, minimum one.

Feat: Ready for Anything: You have a +5 bonus to Preparedness checks, and once per day may re-roll the skill check.
 
GUMSHOE Preparedness stuff.
Thanks! I'll try and figure out a way to port it to Scion. I really like it and it would relieve me of the need to say, "well... you DO have epic Intelligence, so it's possible you brought that..." and then not know how to handle it in other situations.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Labels from Masks. Shifting stats to reflect a shifting sense of self in teenage superheroes. Absolutely brilliant.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
I really love the concept of this, as the intensity of the fight rises to a crescendo and it stops them dragging on. . .Any advice on making it work, or other ways to implement it?
Another way: use it in horror games, for the BBEG (or MacGuffin, depending on your plot/theme). I called it the Tension Die, and as it increases, it adds to the BBEG's damage capability. It also increases your odds of a close encounter with the BBEG.
 

FaerieGodfather

Registered User
Advantage in Honor + Intrigue. To represent the back and forth of a frenetic fencing duel. You can give a point of Advantage to negate a hit, there are other ways you can gain or lose it. If you hit 0 Advantage, you lose and your opponent gets to decide how-- I do not recall, at present, whether or not there are restrictions to this.

On a related note, Boon and Flaw dice in Barbarians of Lemuria and its variants. It's like a less swingy version of D&D's Advantage/Disadvantage, where you roll an extra d6 and keep the best (or worst) 2.

The XP Mechanic in Barbarians of Lemuria. BoL characters acquire loot like D&D characters, but to get XP for the session, the player has to explain why they're broke again already. You can earn bonus XP for making your losses colorful and characteristic.
 
Last edited:

Zhaleskra

Explorer
Found something I missed in High Adventure Role Playing (HARP) Fantasy as I generally don't give too much thought to the general items list. On the description for the hammer, there's a note that it can be used as -30 mace. As bonuses and penalties tend to be given in 5s (except in difficulties, where it's 20s), that would make it in D&D a mace with a -6 penalty. Still, if you don't have an actual weapon.
 

Tallifer

Adventurer
I know players like to roll to Save, but I loved Attacks versus Reflex/Fortitude/Will that sped up the round of combat or trap resolution.
 

Advertisement

Top