So, you’ve got background, you’ve got character, you’ve got stats... what’s last?
The only thing we’ve not talked about so far is fighting and other rolls to ‘gain’ something. Contested checks are great fun, but unless you have a great grasp of the underlying basis of your game, and what you *want* from it and its setting, contested checks are also the hardest thing to design.
And unfortunately, they’re also the area I’m weakest in. So instead of explaining how they work, I thought I’d save you a bit of time and tell you about a disaster I had designing my CSI style game.
So, picture the scene. I’ve got this kick ass mechanic that lets you accurately decide how long something is going to take to solve, and a chart that lets you ‘rank’ your investigation by how long it takes to solve something – there’s even a mechanic to decide if the person escapes or commits another crime. It all works. I’ve got rolls for science checks and XP bonuses for people to award if the description and ‘jargon’ is right.
And then I got onto capturing the criminal, if she/he hasn’t escaped.
The problem I encountered was that I could not weight the rolls to show that the criminal was/wasn’t a mastermind and was/wasn’t adept. Some crimes were vicious – others were planned. And unless the GM had separate tables to roll against, invariably, the CSI’s, no matter how weedy, kicked his/her ass.
The thing is, the more varied the game, and the encounters, the harder the contested rolls will be to design. In the end, I left that freeform – it’s part of the GM set up right at the beginning. There’s 12 tables to pick from, and the GM picks one from each row of three – and that covers every conceivable event that you’ll hit for ‘fighting’ – and that forms part of the ‘bad guy’ character gen. It’s not the most satisfying solution, but it works. So, I’d say that if you’re not getting what you want approaching it head on, try it from another side. You never know – it might work better if you make it more rigid – or if it’s too rigid – make it less rigid.
This week, Kai lied last week and is still on FINAL, LAST CHANCE edits for Glass Block. She’s also thinking hard about what to write next week And yes, she’s considering how to share the CSI game too – if her brain doesn’t asplode first.