This is a winding, twisting and turning journey. I hope you have the patience to follow along.
I have a joke. It goes something like this:
“In D&D, fighting takes forever. Ten seconds of game time takes four hours of real time. Meanwhile, seducing the barmaid takes one roll. Just one roll. Obviously, this is a game system written by virgins.”
It’s an unfair characterization, I realize that. But the point remains. Fighting takes forever. Everything else takes one roll. Why is that? Why?
I just realized why. Because of consequences.
The consequences of a fight are deadly. Literally. You lose your life if you lose the roll. That’s why contingency plans like hit points, dodge rolls, armor class, saving throws and all the rest are thrown in: so the player doesn’t feel cheated by losing his character with one roll.
I mean, if everything was the same, you’d resolve the fight the same way you resolve the barmaid. One roll. Because the consequence of seducing the barmaid is a roll in the hay. The consequence of losing the fight is losing your life.
So, what if we re-focused the entire resolution mechanic on that. Consequence. What is the consequence?
For example, if I’m in a duel to first blood–a non-lethal duel–why not just make it one roll? Sure, we can throw in a couple of bells and whistles so you can modify your dice, modify your opponent’s dice, and all that kind of stuff, but it all comes down to one roll.
Seduction. My Beauty + Art vs. your Beauty + Art. Higher roll wins. Just that easy.
Fight scene. My Prowess + The Sword vs. your Prowess + The Sword. Higher roll wins. Just that easy.
The only question is: what are the consequences?
That’s where wagers come in.
New rule. Risk is always set to 10. Always. All circumstances. Everything rests on wagers.
You want to tag someone with your sword–give them a good nick, no wagers.
You want to hurt them enough that they’ll feel it for Seasons–three wagers.
You want to kill someone… five wagers.
Both you and your target roll dice. Prowess + The Sword. Higher roll wins.
If the winner can’t beat 10, his strike misses.
If the loser can’t beat 10, he can’t apply any of his wagers.
The loser can apply half his wagers against the winner’s wagers.
If the winner gets five wagers, he can kill you. Three, he can hurt you badly. No wagers, he got a good cut.
No hit points. No armor class. Just pain.
I’m thinking about this…