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This micro-system was developed to solve the following problems:
Be usable without a character sheet
Be usable without a pencil and paper
Be playable anywhere
Give a range of challenges of varying difficulty
Attempt to limit repetitive testing (ie, rock, paper, scissors)
Allow for some the player to have some limited freedom to affect the system
The only necessity is that you have a hand, or fingers more precisely.
A challenge is a combinatorial that happens on one hand. You set the range of difficulty by declaring how many fingers the player may choose from: 2-5, and then informing them how many possible winning choices are available. To set up the test, you just hold your hand behind your back and close the fingers that are winners. They guesses a finger, you reveal, and you see if it was a success or failure.
Throughout the challenge micro-system I will number the fingers in the following way:
1 = Thumb
2 = Index finger
3 = Middle finger
4 = Ring Finger
5 = Pinky
> For example:
> Lets say you want to test if your player was able to jump over a horse or something. You judge that the likelihood of that succeeding is about 40%.
> You say that will be a 2 out of 5. You put your hand behind your back and close 2 fingers. You close your thumb and middle fingers (1 & 3). They guess 2 (Index). You reveal that they failed.
> You could test 2 out of 4 as well, which tells them just ignore the pinky as a possibility. A 2 out of 4 seems like it would be the same probability as a 1 out of 2 and therefore unnecessary, but you’ll why the distinction is important below.
Challenge Chance of success 4 of 5 80% 3 of 5 60% 2 of 5 40% 1 of 5 20% 3 of 4 75% 2 of 4 50% 1 of 4 25% 2 of 3 66% 1 of 3 33% 1 of 2 50%
Ten possible scenarios of varying difficulty, and all incredibly easy to remember. Just pick the scenario that fits the difficulty you want to set. If you need an NPC to make a test, set the difficulty but have your player make the finger choices.
To enable the player to have some small input we have the karma system. To use it you'll need to remember a number from 0 to 5. Every time a player fails a test, they gain 1 karma. You can keep track of these with your other hand if you're really bad at remembering things. A player may never accumulate more than 5, nor have less than 0. The one exception to the accrual of karma is in a test where you have spent karma. If you fail a test when spending a karma point, you do not earn a new one.
Before any test, a player may choose to spend 1 of their karma points to add one additional success to the test. If the test was a 2 of 5, it becomes a 3 of 5. This is where 2 of 4 and 1 of 2 become very different. A 1 of 2 would become a 2 of 2 with a karma point while a 2 of 4 would only become a 3 of 4.
If a challenge is ever raised to the point where the successes are guaranteed (5 of 5, 4 of 4, 3 of 3, or 2 of 2), it is an automatic success. It is also possible to create a situation in which the player has zero chance of success without some luck (or karma) playing a vital role. To do this, simply make it a 0 success test. 0 of 5, 0 of 4, 0 of 3, 0 of 2.
Optionally, you may choose to have your players start with a number of karma at the beginning of your game session. This way they don’t feel they need to fail early on to stock up.
Also optionally, you may choose to allow your players to spend more than one karma at a time. They may burn through their points faster, but may also accomplish much more heroic actions in a pinch.
If a test should be extremely difficult, you might consider chaining multiple challenges. Requiring a 1 of 5 followed by a 1 of 3, for instance, provides more difficulty than either test alone. This situation is best used for challenges that can have partial successes, or take place over a period of time.
Note: multiple challenges can quickly approach impossible odds. Use this carefully.
> For example:
> In a long-term challenge, you require that the player pass 4 challenges of 2 of 5. Every test will take 10 minutes in game time. Success is guaranteed given enough time, but that may have other consequences in your story.
If a player has the status condition, increase the number of choices available in a challenge by one, to a maximum of 5. Status ailments may be removed mechanically or through RP at the GM’s discretion.
> For example:
> If a challenge is set as a 1 of 3, a player with an ailment will make a 1 of 4 instead. If the challenge were set at 1 of 5, it will remain a 1 of 5.
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