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February 14, 2009

My sources say yes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — inky @ 11:32 am

Going by the principle that anything with dice you can build an rpg around (with fuzzy dice, for instance, you could play a rousing game of Desert Bus), how about using a Magic 8-Ball as a resolution mechanic?

Looking at the standard 8-ball answers, they have a couple useful properties. One is that you succeed about half the time, which is nice, and another is that some portion of the non-succeeding time it’s not a failure either (“Ask again later”). In addition, although they break down roughly into 10 successes, 5 failures, and 5 neutrals, the actual wording is different enough you could do some amusing arguing about them with the GM, or throw in some “yes, but” and “no, but” partial successes/failures. Like “Yes – definitely” is clearly a total success, whereas “You may rely on it” means you get the intent of what you asked for, but the other person can throw in a little something extra. The neutrals could mean a variety of things depending on the situation: a tie, or the situation changes such that the contest is no longer important, or even a cue to cut dramatically to another player’s scene and ask again about this one later.

I’m not sure how you’d handle skills in this system. Perhaps something new where skills define how much you can attempt to resolve and the mechanic tells you whether you get it or not. Like, a novice fighter can ask the 8-ball “do I wound the orc with my sword?” and if it says no, well, then, I guess not (though you could perhaps still stun the orc or something). But the expert is allowed to ask “do I behead this entire legion of orcs with one sweep of my broadsword?” and if it says no, then they have to fall back on some more minor effect, but they have more room for a partial success: “I guess not, but I can do it in a few sweeps, it just takes longer” or “I guess not, but I do behead half the orcs”

And, of course, the major advantage of using the magic 8-ball for an rpg is that arbitrating divination spells becomes extremely easy.

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