Friday, January 29, 2010

Gambling for Checks

Earlier I've written about using alternate mechanics for skill checks:

Upon a little more thought, I was thinking that it might be appropriate to use this mechanic as a class or archetype specific one. That's one neat thing about AD&D: each class has its own mechanics, which makes them feel unique. Clerics have the turn undead table, magic-users vancian magic, and fighters use the THAC0 D20 roll more than anyone else. Thieves have their percentile charts, but I've never been a big fan of those.

What if you used a Klondike poker style mechanic for a trickster/rogue type archetype? That seems like it would perfectly reinforce the desired feel of the class. The trickster is a classic archetype that goes back through the earliest literature.

The scenes in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," where Loonies casually roll for almost every transaction, are really flavorful in a book and I think it could be equally flavorful for an RPG.

One issue is that manipulating the odds in Klondike is obscure. The easiest way is to deal with ties: If ties are a tie (resulting in a reroll), then the chance of the player winning at 50/50. If ties go to the house/DM, then the DM has an edge of 5%. If ties go to the player, then they have an edge of 5%. I am not sure how rerolling dice or rolling larger pools would manipulate the odds (although I can tell in which direction they'd move). Another method might be to manipulate information if betting is involved. For example, a skilled character might have the privelege of last action (like being the big blind in Texas Hold 'Em). This lets them see what their adversary roles before they place a bet. If unskilled, then they might have to place their bets with no such advantage.

Alternatively, you could just keep the odds pretty much 50/50. This encourages roguish types to only use their special skills against very hard tasks. For example, if the normal chance to succeed is much less than 50%, then the rogue's gamble is a big improvement in the odds. If the chance to succeed is much greater than 50%, then its a foolish gamble. That could also be interesting as a mechanical way to reward (and permit) the trickster archetype to bite off more than he can chew!

However the details are worked out, I think its an intriguing idea for a class-specific mechanic. Double or nothing!


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