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Your favorite escalation die type of mechanics

TakeoBR

Explorer
I'm looking for games that implement some version of the escalation die mechanic seen in 13th age. For those unfamiliar, it's a bonus to attack rolls that increases as the fight goes on. I'm also interested in hearing about homebrew versions you might have tried.
What did you like/dislike about It?
Does the escalation die always reset completely after each fight?
How do you feel about requiring escalation levels for characther abilities?
What type of fiction does this mechanic work best for?
 

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MGibster

Legend
The Escalation Die from 13th Age is both simple and helps speed combat up making it less tedious. For those of you who might not know, the Escalation Die starts at 1 and gives all the PCs and +1 to their roll, when it goes to 2 and everyone gets a +2, and I think you can see where this is going.

Conan has something called Momentum. When you roll a number of successes that exceeds what you need those excess successes become Momentum. You can use that Momentum immediately or you can save it and another PC can use it to do extra damage, improve the quality of success, shorten the amount of time it takes to perform a task, etc., etc.
 

angille

Explorer
I'm really loving the GYRO (green/yellow/red/out, pronounced "hero") system in Sentinel Comics.
  • each action scene has a status tracker, which advances from green to yellow to red.
    • scene environments generate more dire twists as the scene progresses.
  • each hero has a status trait, which changes depending on which status the scene is in, but also how much health the hero has left.
    • each hero has a number of color-coded abilities, and must wait for the right status to activate them.
it's a brilliant and elegant extension of the simplicity of the escalation die. it codifies the superhero trope of "well why didn't they pull out the Blazing Sword at the start of the fight and finish it quickly?" and it adds a satisfying level of strategy (in choosing the abilities) and tactics (in manipulating either the scene status or your own).
 

I'm rather fond of SCRPG's GYRO as well. I even went so far as to order color trackers from Litko. (One space hallway pieces, really.)

For all the same reasons as @angille mentions.

I also like that not all villains use the same mechanic, either.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The most interesting escalation mechanic I have seen recently isn't a die. It is a scene mechanic baked into the entire system down to character generation.

The characters and scenes have a status - Green, Yellow, or Red. If a character goes past Red, they are out of the scene. If the scene goes past red, something bad happens, and you get a new scene.

Character abilities and dice are based on this status - as the scene gets to greater danger, or they get more beat up, more character abilities become available.
 

TakeoBR

Explorer
The most interesting escalation mechanic I have seen recently isn't a die. It is a scene mechanic baked into the entire system down to character generation.

The characters and scenes have a status - Green, Yellow, or Red. If a character goes past Red, they are out of the scene. If the scene goes past red, something bad happens, and you get a new scene.

Character abilities and dice are based on this status - as the scene gets to greater danger, or they get more beat up, more character abilities become available.
Interesting, where's this from?
 



GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Horror-genre escalation: every time your BBEG gets a kill/does something scary, its escalation die goes up. The die provides a damage/attack bonus to the BBEG, not the players.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've had some fun with the 13th Age Escalation die to shake it up as well.

I had a number of ritual effects going on that the characters could try to stop in addition to the battle. Each of them was also a penalty to the Escalation die - which started at a -3. So the players were under a massive handicap and needed to figure out if they wanted to try to focus fire to try to eliminate some incoming attacks, to try to deal with the ritual effects that would be lessening every round anyhow.

Ia a Derro city in the Underworld there were under constant mental attack. In order for the Escalation Die to advance each turn one character had to come up with a personal moment of joy and jubilation from the campaign, with no repeats. And quickly. Else it didn't advance.

One thing people who didn't play 13th Age may nto realize is that the math started off stacked against the characters, so the first few ticks of the die were overcomign aversity. Great for building tension rapidly, but also very tactical - do you use a big nova power early when it can get a lot of foes, or wait until it's more likely to hit.

A few other mechanics like the Escalation Die - Marvel Heroic Roleplay (and all Cortex+ and now Cortex Prime) had a Doom Pool that got fed based on your rolls. It was the opposite of the 13th Age one, in that it was Escalating Tension. And it lasted, it wasn't per battle. It was what you rolled against as "the environment", so it got harder to do things, foes could take dice from it to use against you, and if it ever got to 2d12 the scene was over in some big way bad for the heroes that the GM would narrate.

Along the same view of increasing tension, Dread is a horror RPG that uses Jenga for resolution - you either succeed or you die.

Interesting how the ongoing ones are toward increased tension as you get closer to the end of the scenario, while the combat one is loads of initial tension that if you can withstand leads to a heroic breakthough and resolution. I wonder if you could combine those two concepts.
 

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