My local group’s played multiple one-shots of Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars games. You know, the ones with the fancy dice.
I liked some things about the system, but I definitely felt character creation was needlessly crunchy compared to the basic mechanic of “roll dice and interpret them like entrails”. I had all these dice, though, fool that I am (if you’re in a similar boat, or about to be, I’ve heard their dice roller app is very convenient). What to do?
The Skeleton of an Idea
I’m not ashamed to 1) blatantly find inspiration in other games or 2) admit it when I do. This next bit is partly me trying to make the Year Zero Engine feel less futile with less dice, mixed with some Burning Wheel Bloody Versus and some Ghost/Echo. It’s nowhere near “real game” status, but it’d be playtestable.
You’ve got a dice pool. Maybe stat or approach (or whatever) in d6s, stepped up to d8s and d12s by skills, talents, distinctions, etc. Let’s say you’ve got an Appropriate Stat of 4d6 and can swap out two of those with one d8 and a d12 from Your Appropriate Skill, for a final pool of d12+d8+2d6.
If you’re Doing Stuff and someone doesn’t want you to do that stuff, go to the dice. The thing is, you have to split your pool between the blue/green/yellow dice (the ones that get you successes and advantage) and the black/purple/red dice (the ones that are going to confound your opponent).
Let’s say it’s a race situation. You might just choose all success-oriented dice – a yellow d12, a green d8, and two blue d6s – and hope to roll more successes than your opponent. Maybe you play dirty and sweep their leg or tip over a fruit stand to block them, though, so perhaps you swap your green d8 for a purple d8 and hope to roll some failures or threats to apply to your opponent.
I like the tactical element in this little seed of an idea. I like that it feels fairly intuitive to divide a pool into “do your thing” and “stop your opponent”. I don’t like that I’d have to refactor the rest of the game around this idea, or that it requires the fancy dice (you know how it is – people like their dice). In my heart of hearts, I want to adapt this kernel to use regular polyhedrals but keep that easy split between progressing and impeding.
In related news, I’ve refined my pulp action game idea to the point where I’ve accepted that it’ll probably look a lot more like Fast & Furious.