A Troublesome RPG

Posted by on June 20, 2012

How do you encourage players to make interesting story choices?

Imagine a mechanic that encourages delayed gratification, that frequently poses this question:¬†Should I get what I want now, or ensure I’ll get what I want later?

We can accomplish this with a simple in-game economy of tokens to represent this delayed gratification: coupons that players can earn and trade in for success.

Let’s include a simple randomizer: the six-sided die. This implies some weighted odds for success.

So, let’s imagine a few rules:

  1. Describe your character as specifically as possible. You do not need to stat your character, but you’ll want to be clear to the other players.
  2. Any time you want to accomplish something difficult, roll a six-sided die.
    1. You can make the roll Easy or Hard.
      1. On an Easy roll, you get what you want if you roll a 2 or higher.
      2. On a Hard roll, you get a Plot Point and you get what you want if you roll 5 or 6.
  3. If playing with a GM, the GM can declare a task Troublesome for you. If playing without a GM, the group can declare a task Troublesome. This usually happens when a character attempts a task particularly unfit for that character (a weak character attempting to arm-wrestle a hulk).
    1. A Troublesome task requires a roll of 3-6 (Easy) or 6 (Hard).
  4. You can trade in a Plot Point to bypass a die roll and automatically get what you want.


(And I hereby release this under a CC-BY-3.0 license, so expand and play with it as you wish. I’ll continue to ruminate on this and post as I get more ideas.)

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