I wonder if any of the big bloggers have as much trouble getting accurate/nice post titles as I do? Anyway, onto the subject at hand.
I was reading a new RPG recently called Threshold: Tragic Superheroes (the beta of which is here) and although that game didn’t really impress me all that much, it did strike a bit of inspiration in my head.
I enjoy rules-light systems for the most part. However I do on occasion like complex rules in my systems. Few rules, but the rules that are there are only simple on the surface, so to speak. The main expression of this is I have (somewhat unconsciously) become a big fan of multi-function dice rolls in a game. A player rolling whatever dice a game has and getting several results from that one roll.
Not a lot of games do that sort of thing. Mostly it’s roll for a single task, see if you succeed or fail and maybe get a margin of success/fail. Then move to the next thing you need to roll for. In Threshold you roll two dice for actions and try to get higher than the number set by the GM for a pass/fail. However, if either of those dice roll a 1 then you get collateral damage in some fashion. This collateral damage happens whether or not you succeed on the roll.
My own homebrew system based on Risus: The Anything RPG has a pretty complex combat system. Each person rolls one handful of d6s and that roll is a combined Initiative, Attack, and Defense roll for a what could be considered several rounds. It being a homebrew system and that combat roll being the major part I’ve added/tweaked it still needs some ironing out. Yet I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve also just started to experiment with putting the wandering monsters check as a side-effect of other rolls the players attempt.
To me it is much more interesting to have one roll of dice that is read several different ways than to roll several handfuls of dice in a row. In my opinion it also seems a bit more realistic. Very rarely do you do one thing at a time, but one attempt that affects a number of things at a time? Much more engaging in my opinion. In my (admittedly limited so far) experience it also saves on time. The combats in my homebrew system so far have been really fast.
No big point or statement here. Just writing down another realization of my personal tastes in RPG design. I like rules-light, but that doesn’t mean those few rules have to be simple.