Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trigger Discipline: The Dice Game

I had to run into town for an errand today, and swung by a local game store. I wound up recruiting a couple of the other patrons for impromptu playtests of TD's new core mechanics as a standalone dice game, sketching out the "board" on the back of a notebook page. As I'd hoped, the system proved fairly playable on its own merits, and the players in both tests commented on how simple it turned out to be once you'd played a turn or two. (In other words, it's alot easier to *show* people how this game works rather than telling them. I might try to put together a demonstration video using my webcam, if I can work around the hurdle of said webcam being builty into my laptop)

To play the Trigger Discipline dice game, both players take 3 d10s and place them how they like on the three spaces on their side of the board (the ones separated by the two dividing lines). They use one hand to cover up theirdie placements until both sides are ready to reveal them. Next, players roll the dice they allocated to Row A (i.e. Traits). Every die that comes up with a result of 8 or less is a success; if one player gets more successes, they have won that row, and place a die in the center to mark this victory (in longer-lasting matches it becomes important to place two dice when your margin of victory was greater than 1). The process is repeated for row B and row C, except that the dice have to lower to be considered a success; 5 for row B and 2 for row C. (To play the game with six-sided dice, change the values from 8-5-2 to 5-3-1).

Once all dice have been rolled, the round goes to the player who won row C. If there was a tie, it goes to the one who got row B, and then to the victor for row A. At the end of the round, both players make a side roll using a single d10; a result of 5 or less means yourdie pool's size increases by 1, up to a maximum of 7. If one of you won the round, that player instead gets an extra die if their side roll comes up as 8 or less. If a player wins a round and already has a fulldie pool, they get a bonus die on the next round that's allocated and rolled after all other die rolls have been made (giving them a chance to break a tie, or create one in a row that the enemy only won by a margin of 1).

If a player wins two rows (and neither are trumped by a row the opponent won) they've scored a Double. This earns them a Victory Point, 3 of which are needed to win the match. If they win all three rows, they score a Triple and earn both a Victory Point and a bonus match win! First player to get 3 match wins has won the game.

Several fixes were made mid-playtest; I changed the scores from 3/5/7 to 2/5/8, changed side roll win bonus from 7 to 8, added the mechanic for the post-roll bonus die to avoid prolonged stalemates. At this point, I think the numbers involved have been tweaked enough to approximately produce the results I'm after in Trigger Discipline. When the second playtest was coming to an end, I was still concerned about the length- though I didn't keep track of time, the game was certainly feeling long, and I fully expect the length of each round to double when the winner is also getting to narrate his hot-blooded mech pilot's attack. But then I weighed in a couple other factors- that this was the most involved form of the conflict rules (with two full-fledged main characters doing battle, rather than one main character fighting a weaker challenge represented by prearranged die assignments), and that I'd expanded the scope of the dice game to something that approached an entire RPG session in order for triple successes to count for something. Taken by itself, a single match now seems to allow for a full range of possibilities- from battles over in moments (He puts all 3 dice into GAR and gets nothing, I put 1 die into each row and all 3 succeed) to long, drawn-out slugfests, with both those extremes being possible but not *too* likely.

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