Thursday, December 07, 2023

Game Design Part 3 - Four Key Options

Moving forward and working under the assumption that players will use a shared dice pool, the first question that I have is, how? How are the dice used? I don’t want to create a system where higher dice rolls are clearly better than lower ones or vice versa. If the choices are obvious, then they aren’t really choices at all.

I’m thinking about a core set of four options. That may seem like a small number, but we are just getting started. To expand on this, perhaps each player character archetype has two or three power groups, and this block of four options exists inside each one.

I have no idea what that looks like yet, but I’m going to begin creating a rough framework and then figure out what dressing fits the best on top of it. Here is how I see the four key options thing looking. These assume the use of six-sided dice.

     Option A: Assign a die greater than 3 to this option.
     Option B: Assign a die less than 4 to this option.
     Option C: Assign an odd numbered die to this option.
     Option D: Assign an even numbered die to this option.

In this setup, I feel like there’s some interesting interactions. Options A&B as well as Options C&D are each mutually exclusive with an equal chance of each occurring, but Option A can potentially share its die with either C or D, and the same is true of Option B. However, these pairings aren’t equal. 

Option A creates the array 4, 5, 6. In that array, there is only one odd number. This means that Option A is more likely to share a die with Option D than Option C. We can state that Options A and D are complimentary. Likewise, Option B’s array of 1, 2, 3 has only one even number. Option B’s compliment is Option C.

I not only have four distinct choices, but they are mathematically paired into two sets of two complimentary choices. I like that. Sets and subsets of things are usually easier to grok when people are learning to play a game. They also provide me with focus as a designer.

Perhaps two of the options are based on physical abilities and two on mental abilities. Perhaps two of the options are based on personal values and the other two on personal goals. I don’t know yet, but I have something to think about.

(Once again, I find that the first thing I’ve done is fiddle with the dice mechanic. At least this time, I’m not simply trying to find another way to say, “I roll to hit.”)

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