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January 18, 2012 / Wythe

d6 RPG: scale of numbers

Here are some notes from the early days of the d6 RPG. P.M. said:

Scale of numbers: 1–6?

I like the idea of being class-based rather than stats-based. I personally always designed characters that way (though I guess it wouldn’t be a stretch to say we didn’t really play traditional D&D). What this is really reminding me of is those out-of-the-box D&D type games. You have a fighter, and elf, a thief, and a wizard. Everything is already made for you, your job is just to decide when to use this spell, when to use that potion, how to arrange yourself in the dungeon, etc. The problem with those kinds of games is that they are boring, not because of the lack of character development, but just because the plots are shit and the DMs have no real say in what happens. I think it is fine if characters have roles to play, and those roles define their general abilities.

What is important to think about is what stats mean to certain types of players. I can be playing a character who has a mediocre intelligence but still does intelligent things (like figure out a puzzle or solve a riddle) because of the gray area between characters and role playing. I like to solve puzzles so I help my character solve puzzles. However, if I was playing some super smart rogue character I would ask the DM if I can get any pointers on how to solve the puzzle, meaning my character is helping me solve the puzzle.

I think this is something that is missed by a lot of new people to these types of games (which is by no means their fault, it is one of the eccentricities of role playing). In these regards stats play a very important role in what players feel like their characters can do. Your character can life this thing up because he is really strong. It isn’t because he is a fighter, he is a fighter because he is strong.

What I feel like we are going for is a reversal of that, roles define ability scores (as patrick put it). so what we need to ask ourselves is in this game what role do ability scores serve? Are they just for certain scenarios when we roll? Do they need to be modified? are they simply guidelines for the players?

I don’t think we need to wed each archetype with a stat. What purpose does that serve? Is it going to help gameplay or make things more intuitive? These are honest questions.

also, -6 to +6 is bad I think. I know that the values line up almost directly with the ability point modifiers from D&D, but having negative score values doesn’t make people happy. I would just keep it 1-6, with a 2 or 3 being average. and that means really average, like blah. so if you are really fat and slow you would have a 1 in speed, but if you are just a normal desk jockey you would have a 2. If you are a person who used to play sports but doesn’t anymore maybe you would have a 3 in body. a 6 in body would be on an olympic athlete. Does that mean the best olympic athlete?

One last thing I have never liked about die rolling in D&D is the variance. Patrick brought up the idea of rolling 2 d6’s when trying to accomplish something. I like it! it means characters are much more likely of getting average rolls which rewards characters that are good at something.

For example, in old D&D let’s say I have 10 ranks in a skill (swimming). I need to make a DC of 15, it is a rough current. I have a 2 in 10 chance of failing.

Other buddy needs to make the same check, but he only has 1 rank in swimming. He has a 7 in 10 chance of failing.

I don’t feel like these numbers support the realities of the scenario. A really good swimmer is so unlikely to have an issue, and a really bad swimmer is very likely to have an issue.

Now if you did the same thing rolling 3d6’s instead of 1 d20 the chance that the good swimmer would fail is 10 in 216 (or 5%) and the chance the other guy would fail is around 90%.

Obviously we would have to figure out the right sort of numbers for this (DC checks, # of ranks, etc), but what this generally means is that your chances of getting a 1 are waaaaaay less likely.

P.D. said:

What about this: Ability scores sale of 1 – 6. To make an ability check, you roll d6 equal to your rating, and add. Average DC for things is 6. So, if you have a 1 in Str (terrible) and you try and Climb a Rope (DC6) you have a 1 in 5 chance of making it. If you have a 2 in Str (average) you’ll make it most of the time. If you have a 3 (worky outty) you are confident you’ll make it. And for something harder, you raise the DC. It gets over 6, and people with 1’s are guaranteed to fail…which makes sense. I think ability scores = #of d6’s rolled for a relevant check.


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