March 23, 2011

Vivid 3.0: Resource Management & Sanctioned Cheating

I’m making the Vivid RPG as a genre-generic but play style-specific game, specifically to encourage cinematic role-playing. Role-playing shouldn’t stop when an action scene begins, it should intensify and charge up the whole table! So my quest for the past several years, when I had time to work on the system or playtest it, has been to find ways to encourage player behaviors and develop player experiences I want using my mechanics.

To add that feel of a desperate race against time and hostile forces, I wanted to add resource management to the game – but it had to be simple.  Thus the idea of Assets.  You can ‘tap’ relevant Assets for extra dice to roll for character’s actions.

However, tapping the Asset drains it – you temporarily lower its rating by one for every die you took.  The internal logic here is that you’re exhausting a resource – tapping physical assets like ‘Strong as an Ox’ or ‘Pantherish Agility’ leads to fatigue, tapping armor to save your character’s life makes the armor weaker, and so on.  And because I’m keeping the numbers pretty low, it encourages players to think and plan according to their character’s strengths.

Which leads to the other mechanic that I rely on to encourage desired player behaviors.  I want my players to really entertain me – after all, as GM I’m in the game for fun too – so I want my players to get creative with their actions and their narrations of them.  So I introduced sanctioned cheating: if you can describe your actions so well I either see an advantage for your character in it or I’m really entertained  by it, I’ll give you bonus dice! You get more dice to roll without having to pay for them.  After all, who can resist a freebie?

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