The Aurora RPG Engine – Part 10

Additional and Common Subsystems and Considerations

To round out and complete the resolution system…

Opposed Rolls.  To make an opposed test, both characters make independent rolls against the standard target number.  As individual rolls, each are separately modified as appropriate to the situation for that character.  If a circumstance or influence would affect both characters equally (for example, Wet Ground during a tug-of-war), then it can be discarded, with no modifier to either of their rolls.  (If one of the characters is wearing Cleats however, they may get a bonus…)

Once the tests have been rolled, the results are compared to each other:

Both Characters Fail:  Well, that’s embarrassing.  The situation (likely) remains static, with no effect or outcome on either side.

Initiating Character Succeeds, Defender Fails:  The initiating character succeeds as though they had rolled a regular test and succeeded.  MoS is determined normally.

Both Characters Succeed:  In this situation, compare the MoS results between the characters.  The character with the higher MoS succeeds, with the final MoS being the difference between the respective MoS values.  In most cases, ties go to the initiator (succeeding with an MoS of 0), however in certain cases the result may instead indicate a draw or a stalemate.

Initiating Character Fails, Defender Succeeds:  The defending character succeeds just as though they had rolled a regular test and succeeded.  Often this results in no effect or no specific outcome, depending on the nature of the test (or if the reacting character was even “aware” of the situation); however, in certain circumstances it could be appropriate in the game for there to be a result that benefits the defender.  For example, if the opposed test was for melee combat, the defending character may have made a successful counterattack.

Regular or Opposed Roll?   Most tests in a game will be of the regular type.  Opposed tests should be reserved for when characters (PC or NPC) are actively (in other words, both are aware of each other) acting or re-acting in opposition to each other, or when it is a showdown between the PCs and major NPCs.  Sneaking past guards, for example, is often better handled as a standard test (modified for the quality and competence of the guards, further modified by how many guards there are and the environment of the sneaking) rather than an opposed roll or, worse, a series of opposed rolls against dozens of guards.  Sneaking past the mastermind (definitively a major NPC), however, can be dramatically appropriate as an opposed roll, doubly so if they are actively on the lookout.

That is not to say every action against an active NPC needs to be an opposed test.  For many genres, ranged attack rolls are best handled as a regular test – there is little difference between shooting a person versus shooting an object at range – while melee attacks could be opposed.  For more cinematic and kinetic games, however, both types of attack could be handled by opposed rolls, allowing the target character to doge the attacker’s aim and heightening the feeling of a showdown.

Extended Tasks.  For tasks that require extra effort and/or time, an extended task can simply be handled as requiring a certain (total) amount of success to complete, handled over multiple successive tests.  For every successful test, the player gains 1 tick towards completing the extended task, plus an additional 1 for every point of MoS.  Once the required number is reached, the task is complete.

In addition, multiple characters may be able to assist and add their work towards completing the task, with each adding their MoS towards the total number of successes required.

Assistance from Other Characters, Option 1.   When a character offers to assist another character, they must offer their support prior to the skill check being made.  The assisting character makes an independent skill test; if they succeed, the character being assisted can add one die to their pool for the task, plus an additional die per point of MoS.

The GM may impose a limit on how many characters may logically assist in a skill check.  Additionally, certain game tones and genres (plus GM discretion) may inflict penalties if the assisting character fails their roll (or only if they fail their roll very badly).

Assistance from Other Characters, Option 2.  By adding to the character’s dice pool, Option 1 as described above has the side-effect of making it easier to succeed at a task with assistance.  If it is more appropriate for the genre and tone of the campaign, rather than adding to the task-takers die pool, a success by the assisting character instead adds one (plus one per additional MoS) to the MoS of the task if (and only if) the acting character succeeds on their own skill roll. This allows assistance to aid in generating greater success, but doesn’t render the base task any easier.

Fumbles and Critical Successes.   The idea of a Critical Success or Failures are generally not as needed in a system using MoS and MoF.  A high MoS already fuels and provides for amazing outcomes, while rolling poorly likewise results in narrative downfalls.  However, if it is appropriate for the genre and tone of the campaign, here are some ways to incorporate critical results:

  • If half or more of the dice (round up) come up as 6s, count as a Critical Success.
  • If half or more of the dice (round up) come up 1s, count as a Bane or Glitch (something narratively bad happens).
  • If you have a Glitch and do not succeed on the test, count as a Critical Glitch (very very bad).
Handling Vehicles, Equipment, and More as Aspects/Traits.  Items in game can be considered as a kind of Aspect or Trait, allowing something to happen that ordinarily couldn’t, and/or providing modifiers to skill rolls.  In this way, having a Car as a trait allows a character to drive and move at a speed that someone on foot could not.  If it is also a Sports Car, it may provide a bonus to maneuvers due to it’s great handling characteristics.  And if it is a Slick Sports Car it may also provide a bonus to bluff your way into an exclusive nightclub (or impose a penalty if you’re trying to question someone who finds displays of wealth distasteful).

Vehicles, Equipment, and Zero Rating.  Following the example of a Car versus a Sports or a Slick Sports Car above, it is easiest if items, equipment, and vehicles in the game are “Zero-Rated”.  That is, unless otherwise noted, an item (and its inherent Aspect/Trait) is a perfectly average item of that type.  It may allow something to happen, and may influence certain types of tests, but otherwise it does not add or subtract modifiers for using it, especially when in competition against other items of a similar type.  Items of better, or worse, quality are then differentiated by adding additional Traits to it.

For example, in a Star Wars campaign, the X-Wing could set as the baseline for the zero-rating.  Flying it, firing its blasters, and dodging incoming fire while piloting it wouldn’t incur any bonuses or penalties to normal piloting tests.  But a Y-Wing might be given the Lumbering Trait with one dot, indicating a single step down the ladder whenever maneuverability or speed would be important to a test or contest.  Conversely, the A-Wing might get the Agile Trait with two dots, granting a two-step bonus in the same situations.

Meta Currency: Plot Points, FATE Points, Bennies, Force Points…   If appropriate for the campaign style and feel, meta currencies play very well within the Aurora core resolution engine!  Some ideas of their effects include: adding dice to the pool during a test, doubling the effects of a Trait/Aspect, allowing a reroll of individual dice or of the pool as a whole, activating special abilities, or being a way to directly influence and/or write something into the narrative.

Conflict and Combat.  In many (if not most) games and game systems, the rules and subsystems for conflict are prominent and extensive enough to warrant their own chapter.  There are many different ideas and ways to set up a conflict (be it social, economical, psychological, physical, or etc) or combat system, each possessing a different feel and influencing gameplay in different ways.  Which one is appropriate for a campaign depends greatly on the genre and tone of the world/campaign and the story being told.  Here are a few considerations that have the greatest impact on the feel of the system and thus the game:

  • Are conflict tests all-in-one type rolls (where equipment is just another aspect/modifier to the dice pool), or are there separate values for items (like weapons and armour) that have their own interactions after the fact (boosted by MoS)?
  • Is damage/outcome tracked narratively? Are there wound states with cumulative penalties?  Or is it handled by fully ablative Hit Points or similar idea?
  • Are ranged attacks and melee attacks handled in the same? Do they have different resolution methods?  (Likewise, for non-combat conflicts is, for example, oration handled the same way as bureaucratic maneuvering?)
  • Is range handled precisely or narratively (or at all)? Is position relative to another important (for flanking, etc) or not?

As noted, there are many games from which to crib and use as a starting point in designing a conflict system appropriate to the campaign at hand.  The aforementioned Cortex Prime SRD is once again a great resource, detailing several options for handling conflicts that cover many of the different styles.

Creating the Base Pool
| Index |
Postscript – Breaking the Core Mechanic (In a Good Way)

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