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Light Conflict Resolution Mechanics

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So, I'm currently working on a roleplay forum that is meant to have a very mission-based overarching plot system.  It's set largely around a single spaceship, and the direction of the overall plot is determined by mission results.  I didn't want missions to be automatically insta-win, and to have some chance for failure, complications, or success, so I'm looking at implementing some game mechanics.


And I think they're just fun.  


In developing this system, I've looked a lot at pbta (powered by the apocalypse) games, since they tend to be more narrative focused and are about interactive storytelling.  Plus, I have a lot of experience with running pbta games.  


Goals for this System

  • No GM required.  Players should be able to resolve actions entirely on their own, as well as dictate what happens next.  While I want room for a GM for some missions, I do want this system to be accessible to players in their private threads or player-run missions.  
  • Simple action resolution.  Every action should be resolved with a single roll.  There shouldn't be any back and forth required, since that can slow down a play-by-post game.  
  • Room for some character customization -- largely in inventory or attributes that allow for narrative positioning (i.e. You get a special force field tech that you can use in scenes now -- no force field tech if you don't have this item)


Conflict Resolution

This is something optional (unless maybe in staff-run missions) and is left largely in the hands of the players.  But the idea is that if a character is taking an action where the outcome is unknown, or the action is risky or contested, they'll roll 2d6, and add an appropriate attribute to that roll (attributes are still being determined, but they'd range from -1 to +3).



1-6: Failure

7-9: Success with a complication/problem

10+: Full Success


Results don't necessarily tell the character whether or not their individual action actually failed (though it can mean that!)  But rather, it helps direct what direction the story/mission events go in next.  For example, an expert sniper might roll a failure when attempting to take out a target.  They could say that they successfully took out the target, but right at that moment another guard arrived early on patrol, saw their buddy go down, and suddenly the entire base is on alert and the teammate that was trying to quietly infiltrate has been spotted and their cover blown.


If I go with the above, I'd have a table of potential results for "Failures" and "Complications/Problems".  It would never be a complete list of course, and they'd just be ideas and people can come up with anything that matches the narrative of the scene.  But for example, some failure ideas might include: can't move (you're tied up or captured or paralyzed), escalate the situation (the fire you were trying to contain rages out of control, a riot starts), separated from the group, enemies are reinforced (complete the ritual for overwhelming power, more enemies show up with spaceships and firepower), etc.  


A complication/problem means that the character most likely achieved what they were aiming for, at least in part, but there was a complication or problem along the way.  For example, their action is countered, they're distracted, your movements or progress are impeded, you're provoked into further action, or a compromise is imposed on your success -- you can only succeed if you allow something else to happen.  


So, the above is based on Basic Moves from pbta games, and basically takes the outcome of that move out of the GM's hands and puts it into the player's.  Though while those games have multiple moves, each themed with varying potential results (Directly Engage a Threat, Defend Someone, Take a Powerful Blow, etc.), I've started with just one basic move that covers anything, with a very open-ended result.   I've toyed with adding multiple moves since they tend to add more flavor, but having the one broad Do the Thing move that covers any kind of action would be simpler.  


Thread Flow

The other thing I've considered is how this will actually play out in threads.  The fandom I'm basing this roleplay on is a lot about teamwork, so I really wanted to also leave the option open for characters to be able to directly assist other characters with their rolls.  But that normally entailed some back and forth when playing a game like this at the table, and that was something I really wanted to avoid.  


Soooo, I was thinking of structuring threads like this.  


1. Character A is faced with a situation, and decide that they want to do something about it.  They narrate what their character is doing/attempting and rolls the dice.  They get a success.


2. Character B narrates the outcome of Character A's roll and what happens next.  They say what their own action is and rolls the dice.  They get a failure.  


3. Character A decides that they want to boost Character B's failure up to a success with a complication.  They narrate how their character assists Character B's action, spend a team point (or something) to boost up the result of their roll and writes about what happens next with this new outcome.  


And rinse and repeat until the thread is complete.  


Basically, every player in the thread gets to take on that DM roll a little bit and narrate the result of the person who posted before them.  This also gives them the chance to help modify somebody else's roll or action, without having to awkwardly retcon something somebody else wrote or have a lot of back and forth behind-the-scenes.  


Character Customization

I also, of course, really like character customization.  The fandom I'm building for has fun with giant robots and space battles and stuff, so that's going to be an entirely different can of worms.  But looking at the more personal character customization stuff, I'm currently considering these:



Graded from -1 to +3.  There would be 4 or 5 attributes each representing an approach somebody might take in dealing with a situation.  


Currently toying with these:

  • Tough (for brute force/strength, aggressiveness, durability)
  • Quick (speed, agility, cleverness, quick-thinking)
  • Cool (staying calm, cool, collected, logical)
  • Charm (social graces, manipulation, seduction, etc.)


And then maybe a 5th one specifically for people who can use space magic or have weird psychic stuff going on.  As characters use these attributes over time, they'll occasionally get chances to raise one while simultaneously lowering another.  With the idea that they may grow more or less inclined to use certain approaches over time and as situations change.  So they're always shifting.  



This might be a pre-created list, or maybe something openly customizable.  Like saying your character is a good Pilot or Marksman or Chef.  But basically a specialized area of focus for your character.  I'd probably cap characters at 3 or so.  But every time they take an action that would use a skill/ability, they get to roll with Advantage.  i.e. They roll 3d6, and then take the highest 2 dice to determine their outcome.  



These would be special things that could be earned from completing missions, or unlocked in the site shop by completing missions (i.e. You complete a mission that frees a planet from an oppressive Empire, and get access to some cool equipment they have there).  


They'd largely be things that just add to your character's narrative abilities, but some might have mechanical effects as well in specific situations.  Like a force field generator that slows projectiles instead of stopping them entirely.  So anyone inside the field gets to roll advantage if trying to deal with incoming projectiles.  Just stuff like that. 


Aaaand that's about all I have for now.  Thoughts?  I'm trying to avoid any super crunchy systems, and aiming for something that is designed to help enhance or direct the narrative and leave room for surprises and unexpected outcomes.



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