Based on the last playtests, it looks like the dice dynamics of my Vivid system are falling into place. The players have found it very easy to grasp the rules, and it’s been very easy to run the games – fast, good action pace, and according to players Bots and Gelo, even though they finished the combats quite quickly they felt a healthy fear of defeat.
So what works and what doesn’t?
Replacing bonus dice for description with Risk Dice, which also require additional description to use, has worked well. I no longer feel I’m handing out freebies or being subjective, and the players were cool with the idea of proposing their own complications or negotiating them with me before the rolls.
The Risk Dice also reinforce a dynamic I like, which is that the players must feel they are gambling. Games of chance are innately appealing to the human brain it seems, even to the geek brain, as long as there is the perception that the odds can be swayed in one’s favor. The fact that either they or I could roll multiple sixes at any time also heightened this feeling of playing for high stakes.
I’m still fine-tuning the amount of resources available to player characters and the die ratings I give their opponents. Because to my mind, more formidable = longer to defeat, I’m starting to think of defining my encounters in terms of how long they should ideally last, rather than giving concrete numbers for how much Resistance (hit points) an opponent has. Minor encounters should last 1-2 rounds, major encounters 3-4, epic encounters should last quite a bit longer, maybe 6 rounds or more.
Perhaps what I’ll do is simply arm the GM with whatever is needed to keep the encounter going to the target range of rounds. On the other hand, this could make players also metagame by simply calculating how many rounds they need to last. Is this bad? Or is it good because it gives them a guide for how they should manage their resources? What if the GM secretly rolls for the length of a challenge as 1d3+n rounds, or 1d6+n for more epic encounters?
If I do this, this means that the Resistance for major monsters will be open – it’s whatever the GM wishes. The players however will not be short-changed in this, as a longer battle, requiring more Victory Points to win, simply gives more Renown afterward as the Victory Points are translated directly to Renown. Which should end up posing the players the question, is the fame worth it or should I run now?