Alternate Game Systems

  • All the talk of different systems than generic WoD this or that makes me wonder how a game system based off cards would do. Every 'scene' you are dealt a number of cards and the cards are random in that they may be 'succeed' 'succeed with style' 'overwhelming success' 'fail' 'fail badly' 'epic fail' type of things, and depending on which cards you play on any given 'round' could determine the outcomes.

    So like if you are dealt 5 cards in a scene (arbitrary number) it could result in like 1 succeed, 2 fails, 1 epic fail, and 1 overwhelming success.

    Every action you attempt you can choose to leave the results up to a straight up stat/trait comparison, or you can play a card. The thing is the cards are without a doubt the best way to go about things because they give perks for using them.

    Take epic fail, you play the card when you try to do something, and it rewards the player somehow, maybe with xp, or cookies, or something like hero points that can be used. If you play epic success then you succeed but it rewards the person you played the card against.

    Might be interesting thought exercise here.

    Any other alternate game systems besides standard dice rolls that interest people?

  • The idea of using 'cards' instead of 'dice' seems like an incredibly semantic distinction considering in both cases it's a computer generating a random number. :)

    That aside, I think giving people more choice in how they can influence their skills is interesting in theory. You can do this with "bonus chips", "luck points", "cards" or whatever.

    In practice I have a hard time imagining it working out too well. MU skill rolls either happen infrequently (99% of the time) or in a giant deluge (like during a combat scene where you might have 20 rolls in one session).

  • Castle Falkenstein tried using cards, mainly for more of a LARP feel at the table, and enough people asked for dice mechanics that they came up with them.

    Cards are fun to play with, fun to explore and look at, but on a text game they lose a lot of that. I coded a pretty decent visually stimulating text interface for FreeMarket RPG, which doesn't use a typical deck of cards but feels more like what would happen if you asked a board game creator to create a system for an RPG, and the nice thing about board games is that they almost never rely on a rules-master; the rules have to work on their own.

    Or LARP systems. Why don't we use more of those? We are, effectively, a computer-aided LARP.

    I personally think that a light-touch MUD system is good for the hobby, something where we realize that the entire game lives on a computer so why not let the computer do all the work. Push that "computer-aided" part further, and let the LARP part happen as it will.

    I would also like to see how Mouse Guard RPG would work online, because while it's far more traditional, it hits lighter and easier notes, far more tabletop LARP than what we normally try.

  • @thenomain said in Alternate Game Systems:

    Castle Falkenstein tried using cards, mainly for more of a LARP feel at the table, and enough people asked for dice mechanics that they came up with them.

    R. Talsorian Games deliberately chose to use cards for thematic reasons too. Aside from that, having a hand of cards also means strategic decision-making. If you have a hand of shit cards, you're going to need to take some failures; however, if you have a mixed hand and you know you may need some success in the future, you can take some failures to increase the number of good cards in your hand. Plus, NPCs don't get the hand; they just pull from the deck.

    So, think of it as having a set of results to use when you wish. Makes for an interesting game dynamic.

  • Give the cards flavor text if some sort to inspire the outcome line that TSR saga story system. Use a tarot deck or something with more unique/face cards.

  • @ganymede

    What the game didn't do was help people figure out how to play. My gaming group, who loved original Changeling for instance, absolutely hated the CF card system. They attempted things specifically to fail them so they could dump cards from their hand and force a re-draw. So.

  • @thenomain said in Alternate Game Systems:

    where we realize that the entire game lives on a computer so why not let the computer do all the work.

    One thing to note - in my experience, MUSHers don't do too well when it comes to trusting the computer when it comes to skills.

    Entirely too many actual conversations (give or take):

    "Should I pick Good or Great for my Firearms?"

    "Well which one describes your character more?"

    "F-- that. I want to know how many dice I get for each one."

    "There are no dice. This is a computer RPG. The probabilities of success at different difficulty ratings are posted <here> if you really care."

    "This system sucks."

    Couple years later...

    "OK! The system now uses dice. Each rating rolls 1d8."
    "Argh. I failed and I can't see the dice results. This system sucks."

  • @faraday said in Alternate Game Systems:

    "OK! The system now uses dice. Each rating rolls 1d8."
    "Argh. I failed and I can't see the dice results. This system sucks."

    I used to keep a brute-force randomization checking system so I could run it and post the results on the bboard. Faced with a myriad of numbers, most people accepted that the system was working as intended. Though say what else you want about WoD players, they accepted that they volunteered to play the system with eyes wide open. The downside of that is they tend to spend the rest of their days trying to game it for the outcome they think they deserve. So yeah, no system is perfect.

  • @thenomain Yeah I did that too. Didn't help. But I'm glad it worked for you.

  • Part of what was enjoyable with Everway, when I played, was your sheet was very simple. You got 3 tarot cards for Virtue, Fault, and Fate. Then assigned 4 numbers to 'elements' (which translated to thought, action, might, feelings) and those numbers acted more as initiative than anything else.

    Ultimately, outcomes were decided by the ST drawing tarot cards and narrating things along.

    On a MU*, this would rely too heavily on STs. However, a card system as described would put the power more into the players' hands.

  • @faraday said in Alternate Game Systems:

    @thenomain Yeah I did that too. Didn't help. But I'm glad it worked for you.

    Well to be fair, doing it here is inviting criticism for the sake of criticism. If it was people on the game then eh, we do our best and we move on.

  • @faraday It's not semantics because dice are a completely random system and you get to choose how the cards are played. Sure you might not have control over what cards you get, but if you get a bunch of cards you don't like? Don't use them. You're not required to play a card, but you do have some agency in what cards you do play.

    Or instead of making it random, everyone gets a /set/ amount of cards, 1 of each type.

    I like random systems, because randomizing things is good, but with cards it's not pure chance every time you try to do anything at all.

  • @Thenomain It was numerous people across several games spanning multiple years. Which is why I brought it up here as a 'lesson learned' about MUSHers and computer-based skill systems.

    @Lithium I think you missed my point. Yes, giving players agency in how they use their skills is different than a purely random system. But it has nothing to do with cards or dice. Falkenstein is a card-based system with no agency, for example (*). There can be dice-based systems with agency if you have a pool of "success points" or "luck points" or "auto successes" or anything like that.

    (*) At least I think it was Falkenstein. Perhaps I'm misremembering. It was some system anyway.

  • @faraday Ahh I have no exposure to that cards of falkenstein or whatever it is, was more just shooting ideas out there for stuff that might be more original and less... well min-max sheety.

  • @faraday said in Alternate Game Systems:

    Falkenstein is a card-based system with no agency, for example

    I don't know what you mean by "agency" in this case, but it's more like a system where you roll a whole bunch of dice at the start of the scene and as the scene progresses you pick which die (only one) to aid you. You can only re-roll when you're out of dice.

    To add a layer to that, if you use 4 different colored dice, and each skill has its color, you get a bonus if you match the die you use to the color of the skill.

    So in a way, it's a randomized luck pool, plus one dimension.


    Now that I mention it with dice, I can imagine an interesting tabletop system.

    Each skill has a die type.

    At the start of an event, you roll one die per skill, regardless of the skill or the die.

    Through the scene, you can use any die's result with any skill. If you match the die to the skill type, you get that die's value.

    If you mis-match the die's type to the skill's type, something interesting happens. Depending on the deeper system, some examples are:

    • Die counts as '0' but you get to add your Attribute anyhow.
    • Soft failure with the mis-matched die, hard failure without a die.
    • Critical failure with +1 die (of that skill's type) next refresh.

    You'd keep the number of dice type down to a Castle Faulk "4 suits" and number of skills at about a WoD-level "8 per type". Say: 4, 6, 8, 10. (Drop the 12. It would cause far too many mismatches.)

    This also assumes a WoD/CF/Fate-like assumption that you have access to skills even if they are at '0'.

    The big drawback I can see here is that people would be rewarded hugely for keeping their character even, or put a disproportionate weight on Attributes in an Attr + Skill style system.

    I still think it's worth some system-building.

    (edit): The more I think about it, the more the "color" thing would be better. So if you have 3 Social (blue) skills and 4 Physical (red) skills, you roll 3 Social dice and 4 Physical dice. You can match a red die to a blue skill, but you'd be at a disadvantage or something else interesting would happen.

  • @faraday said in Alternate Game Systems:

    @thenomain Yeah, on reflection it wasn't CF. It was some other system that used cards but didn't have a "hand". The cards were basically just "dice with memory".

    One of the cooler concepts in CF that can be applied is the idea that magic is a limited resource that runs in cycles, so when you draw from a ley line you basically do not see that particular combination of suit/value from the magic deck until it gets re-shuffled.

    A lot of board games run on this principle, too. In 7 Wonders or Terraforming Mars, you know that if you bury a particular card then that card is gone, forever. You can do it to prevent someone else from gaining its advantage.

    I'm with you that as a replacement for dice, a deck of cards makes no sense, though Fate Core sells one. As a game mechanic with some other effect (c.f. 'ongoing effects' mentioned above or in another thread), it would make a lot of sense. And...Fate Core sells one.


    That doesn't stop the problem that card-and-hand-management code on a text game is ugly and awkward.

  • @faraday

    I posted a response that got eaten by bad connection, unless it's going to appear while I'm typing this.

    CF's magic system was based on the lay line, which worked in cycles, so it was thematic that you would not see a color/value combination until the deck was reshuffled.

    There are board games where you won't see the card ever again, as well, mostly used as a way to either create tension in the decision-making process or so that you can bury the card and prevent another player from having it. The former is more interesting than the latter in most RPGs, but may also have an effect in a creative GM-less PvP system which almost all board and card games really are.

    Otherwise I agree. A deck of cards as a dice system doesn't seem that interesting to me, though Fate Core sells one. Where it might be interesting is if the card is mixed with another effect, as mentioned above and/or a different thread, pressing that "limited decision" button. And...Fate Core sells one.


    It doesn't help that card-/deck-management code for Mu* is ugly and cumbersome.

    (edit): It's not that you can't create a system that does the work for you and outputs, say: Either +3 or Carry Forward.


    That reminds me: @Lithium, have you ever looked into Apocalypse World or any of the many, many Powered by the Apocalypse games?

    The main problem with them is they are designed for a small group at a table. I don't know how they'd scale, but I'd love to find out.

  • @thenomain I have not looked at them no, I have heard of them, being bandied about here but everyone who mentioned them always said they wouldn't translate well so I've never invested much time into them.

  • @lithium said in Alternate Game Systems:

    @thenomain I have not looked at them no, I have heard of them, being bandied about here but everyone who mentioned them always said they wouldn't translate well so I've never invested much time into them.

    That's part of the problem: The only system that will translate well is a system made for the format. The only systems made for Mu*s are those in Mud-likes (including Evennia), Faraday's, and a few other smaller games like Aether.

    I'd like to entertain that LARPs can also make the translation well, but the only game I know that tried was Sanguine Nobilis, and it could be easily argued that the game did as well as it did because of staff.

    The point is that if you really want to innovate, you can't take a tabletop RPG system whole-cloth, but you can (and indeed should) take tips from them. It's advised in many fields that if you want to improve, see what other people have done. Vincent Baker has been thinking outside the box in RPGs for a very long time.

    The tips I take from Apocalypse World are:

    • Keep the theme and setting in everyone's minds through every single news file and event
    • It's an RPG system where even the GM has a set of subsystems so everyone has a far better idea what the GM can and will do with them
    • That it's possible to have an RPG system where the players happily volunteer to be the target of each other's antagonistic behavior

  • @thenomain Well right, which is why I was considering something else entirely. The idea being it wouldn't be hard to code up a random deck of 'cards' and then when initiative is rolled, it deals out a 'hand' which could then be played. Would it be ideal? No, not really. Honestly as far as combat systems go, ideal for this environment is probably square in the lap of MUD's and MOO's but those have their own issues.

    I know a lot of people don't like it, but outside of Fate points themselves, I do think Fate actually works pretty well in this format, in my opinion. A few hacks could probably do it well, one of the advantages of the Marvel TSR game is that it too could actually be coded, no such thing as multiple actions, defense could be worked in...

    But it has other flaws.

    The idea of this thread though wasn't just to comment on my idea, but to hear other ideas other than what we've already got.

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