Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Strange Mechanics: What Can You Do With 3d10?

    I was reading the Tales From The Rocket House column on (the only good active column unfortunately, but some of the archived ones are cool - read Archetypology if you haven't) a while ago and he mentioned rolling 3 dice and taking either the highest, middle or lowest.  This got me thinking, out of the blue, in the shower yesterday - what all could you do with three dice?  More specifically, what could you do with three ten-sided dice?  I was wondering just how many mechanics could be hung on that single dynamic - so here's a little list I brainstormed.  Not sure what, if any, of this would be useful- I'm just thinking on paper.
    Now, one thing I'll mention in advance is re-rolling.  Any of these systems could be modified by allowing some ability, stunt, feat, expertise or hero/fate point to give you a re-roll of all or some dice.  Since that's a generic possibility I won't discuss it in each system.  Also, for the maximum amount of combinations, I'm thinking that 2 dice are the same color while 1 die is a different color.  So sometimes I'll say "roll same" or "roll odd" if you are to roll the 2 same colored dice or roll one of each color (if it's roll all 3 then I'll just say roll all the dice).

Single Die for Result, Roll Three, Choose High/Middle/Low
    This is the idea from the article I linked to above.  Roll all three dice, and take either the highest, or the middle or the lowest.  Which one could be determined a few ways.  The article talks about externally, normally you take the middle, but if you have an advantage take the highest, if you are at a disadvantage take the lowest.  Or it could come from the character- novice or unskilled take the lowest, skilled/professional takes middle, expert/master takes the highest.  You could even stack shifts, so expert skill is a +2 shift, but a bad situation is a -1 shift, so you'd still end up taking the highest (thus more skill off-sets bad circumstances).  3 or more shifts could be even an automatic 10 or 1, you're in so deep you'll fail, or so blessed you'll succeed, automatically.

Add Two Dice for Result, Roll Two or Roll Three and Take High/Low Pair
    Building on the above, but for a more d20 spread of results.  If you have a middle result (from wherever else you determine that) then roll same and add them together.  If you have a high or low result, roll all the dice and add the highest + middle or lowest + middle.  If you wanted to do the shift mechanics, a shift of +2 or higher could even mean add all three dice, while -2 or lower shifts is add two but subtract the other die.

Two Dice Success (low or high), Third Effect
    A crazy idea to try to set up a little inverse relationship.  You have to be either low or high, player choice or from somewhere else.  Roll all the dice and take the lowest + middle or highest + middle.  This is your chance of success.  The remaining die is then your result - in damage (base then modified or total) or cost or something (hmm, even maybe to-hit location?).  This might be kind of fun.  Choose if you want to hit, but lightly, or maybe miss but hit hard if you do.  A bit more random than a flat modifier, which could be good or bad.  I originally though of this as add the two, but I'm wondering if you could even make it percentile?  That would be tricky, though the high/low die could be 10s and middle die 1's, so I guess it'd work.

Add All Three Dice
    This isn't anything special, roll all three and add them together.  What I'm wondering though is how the probability spread would look.  It seems like this should give you a wicked-high bell-curve.  Three ten-sided dice is, what, 1,000 possible combinations?  So your odds of a 3 or 30 is 1/1,000?  That's a lot smaller than the d20's 1/20 chance!  So for something that you really wanted to hit the middle of the curve, and make outliers rare and unusual, adding all three sounds like it'd do the trick.  It does give a pretty big spread though, from 3 to 30.  I'm sure I've got a program that would show me this, but I'm too lazy right now - this is just a brainstorm anyways.

    This is a bit crazier than the ideas so far.  Roll all the dice, put the odd-colored die in the middle.  Then somehow, choice or hi/lo or whatever, put one die on each side, left and right.  Each side maps to something different, like offense and defense, and then read the dice in both directions.  You can compare, like go so many points difference from the odd die to the side die, or add the side die to the odd die.  Or subtract one from the other.  I don't know what exactly would be the use for this, it was just something that hit me.

Split Decision redux
    This is from an idea I read over at Daniel Solis' blog (which has some awesome games he's developed).  The idea is to choose a side, his uses 4d6 in two colors, and that works a lot better than this idea does I'll admit.  So you roll odd, and each color represents something different (evil or good, dream or reality, and so on) that you'll gain an xp point/development towards.  Then you roll the last die and choose which side to put it towards and gain the xp/whatever for.  Add the dice for your chance of success (ignore the solo die).  This is a character mechanic, to represent the angel and devil on your shoulders, and for when succeeding at the immediate action might cost you something down the road.  It's tricky to work into a good system, it works best to model times when there is not one clearly superior choice but rather either way brings consequences.  I have been racking my brain for a good way to use this since I first read it and have yet to find something I like.  Anyways, this is sort of that but with different dice.

Roll and Swap
    Okay, what about rolling the same dice and swapping the odd die for one of them?  Likely for adding a total, though might possibly work with percentile.  This is obviously good if you can control the swap, only taking it when it helps your total - if its a forced swap or only when the odd die is low then it could work as a penalty.  It's pretty much the high/middle/low system though, just named funny.  Okay, never mind.

    Three dice would let you do a blackjack-styled roll high but under.  Might roll two and then choose weather or not you want to roll the third.  I guess you could keep your total and re-roll somehow.  Or a high skill/ability/stunt/point might let you re-roll one die on a bust.  Would need a margin of success to force you to risk it and try to roll high.

Group Dice Pool
    Roll all the dice, but choose one to put in a group dice pool.  The idea is to create pairs or triples or runs (1,2,3 or 4,5,6 or such) that can give a bonus.  This is a kind of conflicted mechanic in my head, if you keep all your dice then you can take the highest two as your result, otherwise you keep the dice you don't give away.  If that really matters, maybe not.  Maybe if you keep them all you add them all, then you could also give away 2 or even all 3 of your dice.  This is to let the group somehow work together.  It actually came from a group idea I had with cards - poker style with a river of cards that each player used in building a hand, but the trick is that the players have to discard some of thier hand to create the river.  So you can be a team player and discard to help everybody, or keep a really good hand for yourself.  Just something more dynamic than a "+2 aid another" effect.  Possibly the group dice could also go to a background effect - like stopping the evil cultist's ritual, while the player dice went to the battles and maneuvers with the cultist's minions?  With only 3 dice to roll it's just really hard to do any kind of matching, so you'd need the whole party or at least two player's dice to make sets with.

Die minus Die
    This is another way to combine two dice with a center around zero, for a Fate-styled resolution system.  Roll two dice and subtract one from the other.  This could also go in the same style of hi/mid/lo by rolling all three and saying highest minus lowest or vice versa (even middle minus high/low).  This does go from +/-9, which is a lot further than Fate's +/-4, and might be a bit too much of a spread depending on your base number.

    That's all that I can think of, for the moment at least.  A few different possibilities, maybe even some things that might be cool, and all just using 3d10 which any gamer worth the title has.  I admit I like d6's just because they are so readily available, but for most of these ideas I think I'd stick with the d10s for the extra granularity.  Another thing about rolling dice is that while it's fun, it also takes time.  The more dice you have to roll and compare or manipulate the more time it takes at the table, during which possibly nobody else is doing anything except for watching you, which is less fun for them typically.  So keeping the dice few and making the most use of them, like only needing 3 dice for all these different systems, sounds like a good idea to me- a way to add some color to different tasks without fumbling through a bag-full of dice looking for the right ones.  I'm still tinkering with TB's resolution system, I have yet to find something I like and right now am considering using a few different dynamics depending on the situation.  It's a tricky thing, you have to consider the possibilities you want and the feel it gives the players.  I do like a few of these ideas though, so I might end up using one or two of them.
    Well, just to throw this out there.  Maybe it'll give you an idea as well.  Feel free to comment below.

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