Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oracle Game Engine Dice Mechanics

I’m developing a fantasy roleplaying game -- something combining elements of the old-school retro-clones with a framework to more easily introduce a younger generation to gaming -- with a unique dice mechanic for resolving actions and combat. Admittedly I’m not a game systems guy; my strengths come in designing setting and adventure material. So I’m approaching this game engine premise with a good deal of trepidation, especially since it’s a central element for the game under development. For the sake of easy reference I’m tentatively calling the game engine the Oracle System since it focuses on the reading of dice and the interpretation of results with character-specific special abilities; the fantasy roleplaying game in question is tentatively titled Basic Fantasy Heroes.

Oracle Core Mechanic

Every character or monster has a die rating representing the number of six-sided dice they roll to undertake any task where the outcome remains uncertain: jumping over a pit, bashing open a door, searching a room for hidden treasure, and fighting adversaries. Most player heroes begin with 3 dice; foes at this level typically have as many or fewer dice than player characters.

When heroes attempt any task with a chance of failure -- including combat -- they roll their dice and consult the results. Dice showing a 4, 5, or 6 are successes for task resolution or hits in combat; those showing 2 or 3 are defend results; and 1 is a wild result.

Successes/Hits: Each result indicates a success or hit. Most tasks require only one success to accomplish; hits determine not only if an attack finds its target but how much damage it deals.

Defend Results: These indicate a hero’s potential for defense in combat; for normal task resolution they count as misses. In combat each defend result cancels out one of the opponent’s hits up to the value of the hero’s armor (leather = 1, chain = 2, plate =3, shield = +1). For instance, a hero wearing leather armor (1) can only use one defend result to cancel one opponent’s hit even though he might roll two or three defend results in total.

Wild Results: For many rolls a wild result simply counts as a miss; however, depending on a hero’s distinguishing special abilities (called specialties: see below), they may count as hits or defend results or activate some other special power.