Jul 18, 2018

Three Variations on Other People's Ideas

I wrote a sticky note to myself with the best three ideas I've seen other people come up with so far this week (and it's only Wednesday!) and decided to write a bit about how I would implement them.

The first is from Rob Monroe's G+ feed, and is pretty simple: Use Letter:Number for the cell coordinates on hex maps. So the top left corner is A1, the next cell to the right is B2, and the one below the original cell is A2. Use AA...ZZ etc. when you run out of single letters to use as labels. I like this because it is isomorphic with Microsoft Excel's cell coordinate system. I think it's a great idea because it's one of those things that seems obvious in hindsight but that I'd never thought about doing until Rob mentioned it.

The second is Jeff Russell's idea of "flexible reaction rolls" where you either vary the die size of the 2d6 (or use advantage / disadvantage) reaction roll to represent situational modifiers to the encounter, instead of adding or subtracting a static modifier. The particularly brilliant part of varying the die sizes is to make the source of the variation different for each die. One die is under PC control, and varies based on how much they're trying to make a positive or negative impression, while the other is based on the NPC's sentiments and situation.

Jeff lists a couple of possible modifiers for the NPC die, but I think I'd want to abstract out from the ones he lists. The key thing in terms of modifiers for the NPC die is that they should relate to factors external to the NPC themselves rather than being adjudicated as if they were the sum of the possible subcomponents of their attitude. That is, the NPC die grows larger the more secure their position, or shrinks based on their relative deprivation, rather than summing up the relative importance of them being an angry, aggressive but also easily amused individual. Which of those predominates in the current encounter is determined by the actual result of the reaction roll, not its die size.

The third idea is from the Marquis, and involves getting rid of divination spells and replacing them with a divination ability that produces answers to questions with varying degrees of success. The magic rules in Into the Depths are the part of it that has yet to be playtested - in the next campaign I run, I'm going to be fiddling around with them quite a bit, with the expectation of issuing something with extensive changes.

With the Marquis' idea itself, there are three components:

1) Pick a style of divination. Each kind has a focus it requires and a type of information it provides

2) To use divination, roll 1d6 and add various bonuses and penalties to the roll. Depending on how high you roll, you get better and more clear information.

3) You can learn more kinds of divination each time you level up.

I think I would use a 2d6 reaction-type roll for this (I use a system with three bands of outcome - <5 is negative, 6-8 is neutral, 9< is positive). I might even do something like the above with flexible reaction rolls but am still thinking over whether that might make it too easy to do divination and be too complicated to adjudicate here with all the different types of divination.

<5 provides cryptic symbols with lots of room for interpretation; 6-8 provides an answer with at least one solid piece of information, though you might have to decode what it is, 9+ provides an exact answer with at least one clear, reliable and solid piece of information.

Anyhow, it's been a great week in the OSR so far. Keep up the good work everybody!