Well now that the Christmas season has quieted down I’m back to weekly games. Specifically playtesting a few Fickle changes in a brand new campaign.
Instead of the previous post apocalyptic zombie campaign we’ve moved onto alien invasion. Pretty fun so far! This time everyone is playing themselves, in the sense of that is their character (compared to some random person they make up). We started on a normal work day, then had an alien ship land over a central city landmark, put down a shield covering the city, and start attacking/stealing people. So a bit less grounded, but I’m trying to keep the alien technology consistent (and mysterious, as the players fight an unknown foe). My hope is they’ll eventually wage a guerrilla style war against the aliens to drive them out.
Otherwise most of the playtesting worked well, and I’m down to only one last mechanic to refine. So in the mean time here are the v0.4 Fickle RPG rules.
What has changed? Well…
- Reactions have been added, codified, and balanced. They use the same base difficulty of Normal, and allow entities to perform meaningful (ie: Stamina damage) actions in response
- Moved to round-robin 1-turn-per-player structure instead of a global “player turn”
- Switched from D12 “Fate Dice” to a 50/50 “Fate Coin”, which either wins or loses
- Split resolution into Check (player vs environment) and Competing (player vs player)
- Added a “Notes” page to the back of character sheets
- Cleaned up formatting in the rulebook, including adding “Storyteller tips” for the game master
The two biggest changes are Reactions (described at length in previous posts) and the change to round-robin style turns. Previously the idea was 1 Storyteller turn, then 1 generic player turn. The players decided amongst themselves who acted in that window. I’ve learned this is sometimes called “Hot Potato Initiative” as the players pass the initiative freely among themselves. The problem was this sometimes (…more often than I’d like!) kept the spotlight on one player, and left the others kind of twiddling their thumbs. Reactions helped a bit with this (since enemies could focus on the uninvolved players) but that was a bit of an artificial band aid fix.
So instead the game has moved to a traditional round-robin style turn structure. The “first turn” still belongs to whoever makes sense, then play rotates left from there, with the Storyteller getting a turn after each player turn.
Fate Coin Ideas
Now for the Fate Coin. Like I mentioned the idea is a 50/50 chance of some crazy, impossible, likely overpowered idea working. On failure everyone in the group loses 1 Stamina from all Categories.
Currently the players get 1 Fate Coin per 2 players (rounded up). Which feels a bit awkward to calculate and track.
So what I’m seriously considering, and will be playtesting this week, is changing to a more “push your luck” mechanic with the Fate Coin. With this new approach the players would get only 1 Fate Coin. BUT that coin isn’t “used” or discarded on success/fail. Instead they can keep using the coin, but the Stamina loss on failure goes up by 1 each time. So the second use has a potential 2 Stamina loss, third is 3 Stamina, and so on.
Really makes for a thematic feel to Tempt Fate, and I do like the push your luck approach (and felt the game needed a tiny bit of it).
Critical Success – Tiny Other Idea
A tiny other idea I had, but likely won’t end up doing, is Critical Success. The idea is if the total of your rolled Fickle dice is X, you win! X could be a set number, like “lucky number 7”, or chosen on a per-character basis. This rule would apply for the players only (not the Storyteller).
Upside is the excitement and surprise of winning when you think you are gonna lose, or when you’re drastically outmatched, as well as yet another decision point in resolution (in terms of balancing underdog vs lucky 7). Downside is you can’t just quickly figure out your total successes, and also need to do math to total the roll.