Gaming Thursday: RPG System 6: Advantage

January 15, 2015

Though our group has chosen to put aside FFG’s Star Wars system, there is still one big thing from it and its unique dice system that I really liked and want to include in my own system: the idea of generating two axes of resolution, one being success/failure, and the other being advantage/disadvantage.

When I first heard about these two axes in some examples of play, I got really excited for it. As I saw it, the beauty of having a dis/ad axis produced in the die results is that it allows for prompted narrative bumps that tweak the story and action in a “fair” way. The easiest example of this would be an instance where a character succeeds the skill test, but rolls disadvantage. With these dual axes, it allows (and prompts) the GM to throw in a narrative twist without being perceived, in the traditional skill check sense, as a jerk. (As in, “What? I just succeeded on my roll and now you’re throwing this obstacle in my way? You’re being a mean GM!”) And this works equally well in the other three situations: failure with advantage (now you’re being a pushover GM!), success with advantage (??!) and failure with disadvantage (rat bastard killer GM! Run!).   No matter the case, these prompts to tweak the story upo make the moments more memorable, and the journey more interesting, whether it be working around a setback or running with a boon.

If you had a luck stat in the game, or a luck/bad luck trait, that could easily be used to influence the dis/advantage roll axis.

Where FFG’s system fell down, in my opinion, was in the frequency and use of the dis/advantage. Nearly every roll generated some amount of dis/ad, and the amount fluctuated wildly from a little to a lot from roll to roll. It was no longer a narrative tweak, an unusual moment, rather it became a constant ramshod of twisting back-and-forth events.   In addition, dis/ad was used was quite differently between combat and out-of-combat situations, with the latter being much more narrative (albeit there was still a list for each individual skill, all different), and the former being very granular, with specific things to spend your values on. It became an almost chore to track who had what bonus/penalty (and even why they would get the bonus) from the minor bits of dis/ad.

With all this swinging and frequency, it ceased to have any meaningful impact and instead became a chore.

However, with a system properly tuned to generates dis/ad with an appropriate frequency, and with only a couple of levels of dis/ad (minor, major), I think it could be an excellent addition to a game system. Even a minor level of dis/ad would be geared to provide something meaningful, and a major generation of dis/ad would be prompted to be something memorable in the narrative flow. You might see at most a dozen or so instances of dis/ad per gaming session, with only one or two being of the major kind.

Now how to incorporate that without using special dice or etc, well, that’ll be something I keep playing with as I work out the die system.

One comment

  1. […] I think is a simple way to do this. Whether this gets too crazy if I also have in a method for advantage/disadvantage, I’ll have to […]

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