Archive for the ‘Mechanics’ Category

I’ve often been dissatisfied with the way that most games handle contested rolls. It comes down to, hey roll your dice and you get a decent success. The GM then rolls his dice, and by happenstance, rolls better than you. That’s it, your character’s out. The rest of your group derides your character for his lack of ability, even though you rolled a better than an average roll and their characters had no better chance.

I am prone to equate this to combat being reduced to each combatant making an attack roll and whoever rolls the highest wins…. ugh!!!!!

I have toyed with the idea of making a social combat where each participant whittles away the resolve of the other individuals in a contest of wit, charisma, and intelligence. With the amount of time that I have seen combat take, I am leery at creating another type of combat.

So to that end, I’ve decided to use a diminishing roll where the participants can choose to re-roll at the cost of dice in their dice pool.

For example:

Rancid and Coleman approach a traveling caravan that eye the two suspiciously. Coleman lays a hand on Rancid’s arm, knowing the grizzled wastelander was less than cordial with others.

“We’re looking to trade for some water, would you happen to have any?” Began Coleman.

“We have a couple liters we can spare, but it will cost 10 blue chips.” The caravan master kept a rifle pointed at the duo, but Rancid couldn’t tell if it was loaded or just for show.

Coleman scoffed, “that’s highway robbery. I’ll give you 3 blue chips for 3 liters.”

The player rolls Coleman’s bartering of 7 and gets a success. The Game Master (GM) roles the caravan master bartering of 5 and gets 2 successes.

“Ha! without water you’ll dry up in sun.” The caravan master knew he had the upperhand. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll cut you a break  and I’ll give it to you for 9 chips.”

The player decides to roll again, he pays 1 die for having to reroll, bring his total to 6. He achieves 2 successes, not enough to sway the caravan master. He pays another 2 for a reroll, bringing his dice total to 4. In a last ditch effort, the player rolls and gets 4 successes.

Coleman sees that the caravan master is playing them; his offer of 5 chips was flatly refused. Eyeing the caravan master’s rifle Coleman changes his tactics, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll give you 3 chips and two rounds for that thirty-aught-six.”

The GM decides to reroll for the caravan master. Paying one die for the reroll, the caravans die total is reduced to 4. The GM rolls 2 success, not enough beat the players roll.

The caravan master’s eyes widen, he considers it for a minute but decides it is too good to pass up.


Two of the caravan hands bring out the water, as Coleman hands over the chips and bullets. The caravan master smiles as he slides a round into the empty chamber of his rifle.

“Pleasure doing business with you, you see anyone on the trail, you tell them Coyote Bill will hook ‘em up.”

Last night we were discussing movement in combat and had decided on moving 1 square for each odd phase movement and 2 squares every even phase movement. There are six phases each measuring about .5 seconds in time. A square is 1 meter.

According to this formula, we were moving 3m per second. This falls in line with the games movement where the average character walks at 10m per 3 seconds. I decided to do some math and looking up speeds of 100m dash:

  • Cheetah 5.6s
  • World Record 9.58s
  • Athlete Sprint 14s
  • Jog 30s
  • Brisk Walk 60s
  • Walk 74s

I played with some numbers and I rounded them off to do a movement for 1 combat phase (half-second)

  • Cheetah 10m
  • World Record 5m
  • Athlete Sprint 2.5m
  • Jog 1.6m
  • Brisk Walk .6m
  • Walk .35m

This falls in line with the characters movement, but I didn’t like the math involved. I like more of a simplistic approach, so I cam up with the following movement rates for OverBurn.

  • Walk – a casual walk moves .5 meters (this is generally people unaware that combat has ensued).
  • Fast Walk – A fast walk in combat moves 1 meter or 1 square and takes a -1 penalty on any actions.
  • Jog – A jog in combat moves 2 meters or 2 squares and takes a -2 penalty on any actions.
  • Sprint – A sprint in combat moves 3 meters or 3 squares and takes a -3 penalty on any actions.
  • Insane Bolt – A character making an insane bolt move at 5 meters or 5 squares and is incapable of taking actions that require a dice check.

I think this is simple enough to remember and allows enough movement through combat to keep it dynamic. Characters are allowed to move, even if they don’t have an action that phase, but cannot move to prevent another character from acting. Overall I’m very happy with the way it works.

Despite everything that has been happening, I have been trying to keep up on my six-month plan for OverBurn. While my notes are a scattered and unrefined, I have to call a success for May. I was able to finish my three goals for that month.

  • 6 month Plan
  • Chapter Outline
  • Core mechanics
I wanted to have more of an actual rough draft for the the core mechanic, but I have found that putting my ideas to cohesive words to be more difficult than I thought. To recap, here are my goals for this month.
  • Archetypes
  • Races
  • Skills
I am well on my way with this section as I have nine basic archetypes, or classes if you will, and four unique species; I don’t know why we call them races.
The mechanic I wanted to discuss in this article is ‘Initiative’. Initiative plays a crucial part in combat and there are several types to consider: Fixed rating, roll once per combat, roll every round, count down (rolled or fixed), count up, speed or advantage. The initiative that I am leaning to is a simple d6 roll and you count down from 6, this is different that the count down method, but it gives a pecking order to initiative. Why did I choose this method? because it is quick and easy. It allows for the round to be more dynamic as different people take the lead each round and must contend with unexpected combat shifts. It also keeps initiative quick so that it is not another aspect that bogs down combat.
There are some additional rules that I am adding to make combat more interesting. For one, a character cannot take an action against someone who is die-a-metrically opposed on the die. This means your init and your opponents init can not add up to seven. If you are going on a 6, you cannot attack someone going on a 1; if you are going on a 3, you cannot attack someone going on a 4; etc. I do not think this will be overly detrimental to players, but should add a few interesting situations. I am curious as to peoples opinions of Initiative and what they prefer to use. Also, if you have any questions on the ones I have listed, I will be happy to elaborate.
Through my many years of gaming, I’ve always had a problem with ‘experience’ systems. I never realized this problem; it normally just materialized into a frustration with the game. I have since discovered the beauty of Fibonacci. So what is Fibonacci? I like to call it the rule of life, the system is related to the golden ratio and a basis for how living things grow. I am not a Mathematician so my answer may not be 100% accurate (but that’s it in a nutshell).
So what does this have to do with experience in a role-laying game? Well, in my opinion, the problem with most experience systems is that they allow characters to quickly ascend to levels that puts them above the mean of the game. This lends to a unsatisfying scenarios as many of the challenges are beneath the player. Fibonacci allows a game master to put a limit on progression without actually placing a limit. There becomes a point when acquiring the next level is just not as feasible. Lets compare a Fibonacci experience system to D&D 3.5, as I still haven’t had the urge to buy the 4th edition books.

Level 1 0
Level 2 1,000
Level 3 2,000
Level 4 3,000
Level 5 5,000
Level 6 8,000
Level 7 13,000
Level 8 21,000
Level 9 34,000
Level 10 55,000
Level 11 89,000
Level 12 144,000
Level 13 233,000
Level 14 377,000
Level 15 610,000
Level 16 987,000
Level 17 1,597,000
Level 18 2,584,000
Level 19 4,181,000
Level 20 6,765,000
As you can see, by the time you hit 20th Level it will cost 6.7 mil+ as oppose to 190,000 it costs in D&D. I know what some are saying: “That cost’s too much.” and for D&D, I agree with you. But for a RPG that you pump experience directly into skills/powers, this rule is great. It prevents people from overloading one skill/power. Players who want to get the most for their experience will spread it around causing something that is difficult to find, a well rounded character.
This is the system I decided to use for experience in OverBurn. I also present this video which helps illustrate Fibonacci.

One of the many aspects of gaming I have run into is the propensity to turn combat into statistics. I love new players because they attempt to visualize combat in actions and not bonuses or penalties. I often see new players stand and enact what they envision their character doing, where more experienced players a willing to let the die roll speak for their succes.

To this end, I am leaning towards a damage system with levels. This adds at least a little flavor to damage when a character rolls. I based the levels from wound levels used in hospitals. I made some revisions so that all the levels start with a different letter (for speed and brevity in the game). The levels I have thus far are:

  • Light Wound
  • Moderate Wound
  • Excessive Wound
  • Serious Wound
  • Crippling Wound
  • Fatal Wound
The damage right now is based on a Fibinacci system, much like the entire game is. The more successes you get, the amount of damage goes up dramatically. I hope I can make the system exciting, without making it unbalanced. but only play-testing will tell.