Sunday, January 25, 2015

Setting traps with Red & Blue dice mechanics

I could have called this post "emergent dynamics with opposing die rolls", but then we'd miss out on the fun of setting up a trap and seeing what comes around for lunch. I'm going to talk about delaying the success roll until something actually steps on the trap, but still having enough information on the outcome to know what to lure into the trap.

In a previous post I talked about the opposing die rolls in Red & Blue dice mechanics and the feature of keeping the outcome secret while still giving the players a hit of the task performed. Now before you go all ballistic about fudging dice and keeping die rolls hidden and what not, let me tell you that this time around I'm not going to hide the die roll. Well I'm not going to hide it behind a GM screen that is, I'll hide it in time by rolling only when the prey steps on the trap. How's this different from a single open roll? Read along, I'm about to get to that point.

In many games the GM sets a task difficulty and the players roll against it. The outcome of this roll dictates the result. Did the trap catch the prey? Did the prey get away? Yet it fails to inform the player how well did the character set the trap! We do know that against a specific prey the trap failed or succeeded, but was it due to the size, skill and cunning of the pray or the quality of the trap?

This is where the Red & Blue split dice mechanics come into play. The player rolls for the character's skill regardless of the task difficulty. If the character is an expert hunter then the roll with be done with a very favorable set of dice. On he other hand if the character is just figuring things out, or worse yet applying something seen in a movie, the roll will be done with a less favorable set of dice. What's important here is that the character has a clue as to how well the trap was set. Did the setting favor the character with all the materials? Is the branch strong enough? Was there good rope at hand? Is the counterweight heavy enough? Those are things the character can see and from them conclude the quality of the trap.

Now we move onto the prey. The game mechanics contemplate the usage of 4d6 plus a set of subtracting dice depending on skill. Since this is beyond the scope of this post I'll make an example with 2d6, 3d6 and 4d6, dice sets we are more familiar with.

Let me equate simple trap knowledge with rolling a 2d6 and expert with rolling 3d6. Let me also equate the difficulty of catching a rabbit to 2d6, a fox with 3d6 and a boar with 4d6. Now, the expert hunter sets a trap, the player rolls 3d6 for the skill check and gets an 8, a sad roll indeed (not much better than a basic skilled hunter rolling 2d6). Maybe nature wasn't on the hunter's side this time, the rope at hand is too thin, the trees to weak, whatever. The hunter knows the trap is not the best he's set. With this information at hand the player then decides what to lure into the trap. A rabbit which will feed the party a day at best? A fox that will supply the party for a few days? Will the character risk the trap against a boar which would feed the party for a good two weeks?

The player decides to go for the rabbit. It's better to have at least some food than none at all, and the party needs to keep moving. Hopefully the hunter will have better luck next time. Thus the party works on luring a rabbit into the area, the GM rolls 2d6 at that point and gets a 7. Since the 8 for the trap beats the 7 the rabbit is caught and the party gets to eat that night.

A day later the party has moved along the forest and sets camp again. The hunter sets up a trap and gets a 15! A very good trap indeed! More confident of this setup the party goes on to lure bigger prey. The GM can make things interesting by rolling for what prey there is at hand. A boar is presented by the GM to the party. Will the party lure it or let it pass in favor of some smaller prey?

You finish the hunt. If your party decides to try and capture the boar roll 4d6 against the 15 for the trap, if you decide to lure a fox in then roll 3d6. Good luck with your hunt!

Read more about this by downloading the latest playtest release of Saints & Sinners

No comments: