Ever since I designed The Great Steeplejack Chase I’ve wanted to use the action/move dice pool in a roleplaying game. I think it has a lot of potential so here’s my first attempt at shoehorning it into a resolution mechanic.

The system uses a roll-under, count successes dice pool mechanic. Just like in The Great Steeplejack Chase each character has a dice pool (I was thinking d10s would we easy enough to find and would offer a nice spread of numbers).

Either the dice pool would represent on a general measure over overall character strength (sort of like one die for every character “level”) and a character’s dice pool would grow as the character develops though the campaign. Or, every character would have the same sized pool and overall character strength would be measured by the number of times in during a conflict that the character could refresh his pool. Either way, to prevent unwieldy dice pools the pool would have to be capped at a reasonable size (perhaps 10 dice). In the first option, once characters reached the dice pool cap, they could get an ability that refreshes their pool a certain number of times per scene.

The turn structure is exactly like it was in the Great Steeplejack Chase. Each character gets as many actions as they wish, but each action will either use up dice for the turn, or use up dice for the encounter.

To attack, characters roll any number of available dice from their pool attempting to roll under a governing attribute. All dice that do roll under the attribute count as successes. A defender operates likewise, choosing any number of available dice, rolling under an attribute and counting successes. The attacking and defending dice are lost for the current turn and successes cancel each other. Any leftover attacking successes knock dice out of the defender’s pool and make them unavailable for the rest of the scene. When a character runs out of dice, the conflict is over.

It’s important to note that, as far as actions go, defending is free in that it can happen at any point in the turn and it is entirely voluntary. The attacker can only attack during his turn but only attacking successes knock dice out, any extra defending successes are lost.

Of course, in addition to the simple back and forth of attack and defend, characters can spend dice (making them unavailable for the rest of the scene) on special abilities. The exact type and power of special abilities would need to serious testing, but they’d probably end up looking something like keys from The Shadow of Yesterday.

On top of all of this, I’m toying with the idea of characters being able to attack attributes directly which would lower an opponent’s chance of success in the future (perhaps a good use for special abilities). I’m also thinking of several different methods of applying temporary penalties to the dice rolls themselves. Either lowering the face value of all dice rolled, forcing a character to toss out the highest rolled die or even forcing a character to roll an extra success.

In the case of unopposed conflict, the GM would also have a dice pool. Instead of attributes to roll under, the GM would also have a difficulty level that operates on the same scale as the player attributes (1-10). Then, the conflict proceeds exactly as described above.

It’s my hope that the above mechanics (or something similar) can be the base of the two games that I’m currently working on: Tales of the Great City and Sword Mage. Previews for both games should be following shortly.

Porting Steeplejack Mechanics

Ever since I designed The Great Steeplejack Chase I’ve wanted to use the action/move dice pool in a roleplaying game. I think it has a lot of potential so here’s my first attempt at shoehorning it into a resolution mechanic.

The system uses a roll-under, count successes dice pool mechanic. Just like in The Great Steeplejack Chase each character has a dice pool (I was thinking d10s would we easy enough to find and would offer a nice spread of numbers).

Either the dice pool would represent on a general measure over overall character strength (sort of like one die for every character “level”) and a character’s dice pool would grow as the character develops though the campaign. Or, every character would have the same sized pool and overall character strength would be measured by the number of times in during a conflict that the character could refresh his pool. Either way, to prevent unwieldy dice pools the pool would have to be capped at a reasonable size (perhaps 10 dice). In the first option, once characters reached the dice pool cap, they could get an ability that refreshes their pool a certain number of times per scene.

The turn structure is exactly like it was in the Great Steeplejack Chase. Each character gets as many actions as they wish, but each action will either use dice for the turn, or use dice for the encounter.

To attack, characters roll any number of available dice from their pool attempting to roll under a governing attribute. All dice that do roll under the attribute count as successes. A defender operates likewise, choosing any number of available dice, rolling under an attribute and counting successes. The attacking and defending dice are lost for the current turn and successes cancel each other. Any leftover attacking successes knock dice out of the defender’s pool and make them unavailable for the rest of the scene. When a character runs out of dice, the conflict is over.

It’s important to note that as far as actions go defending is free in that it can happen at any point in the turn and it is entirely voluntary. The attacker can only attack during his turn but only attacking successes knock dice out, any extra defending successes are lost.

Of course, in addition to the simple back and forth of attack and defend, characters can spend dice (making them unavailable for the rest of the scene) on special abilities. The exact type and power of special abilities would need to serious testing, but they’d probably end up looking something like keys from The Shadow of Yesterday.

On top of all of this, I’m toying with the idea of characters being able to attack attributes directly which would lower an opponent’s chance of success in the future (perhaps a good use for special abilities). I’m also thinking of several different methods of applying temporary penalties to the dice rolls themselves. Either lowering the face value of all dice rolled, forcing a character to toss out the highest rolled die or even forcing a character to roll an extra success.

In the case of unopposed conflict, the GM would also have a dice pool. Instead of attributes to roll under, the GM would also have a difficulty level that operates on the same scale as the player attributes (1-10). Then, the conflict proceeds exactly as described above.

It’s my hope that the above mechanics (or something similar) can be the base of the two games that I’m currently working on: Tales of the Great City and Sword Mage. Previews for both games should be following shortly.

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