Bringing d20 Poly-Dice to 2d6

My favorite game system BITS uses at its core 2d6 (two six-sided dice). With 2d6, monsters are slayed, gold plundered, and crowds wooed.

2d6 is virtually unseen in the most popular roleplaying games (i.e. the Don and uncontested king of roleplay, Dungeons & Dragons), only showing up in well received though still pretty niche engines like Powered By the Apocalypse.

Yet, where 2d6 does show up, the dice are used in mechanics that are nearly untranslatable to the bread-and-butter d20 and poly-dice systems in use by mainstream games a la D&D.

BITS fixes that by using similar modification and resolutions to D&D (the crunchier part) while using only 2d6 instead of an entire rock-quarry of *d* rolls.

Here’s how:

Roll %s

First, a comparison of percentages in rolls between D&D (which uses a d20 at its core) and BITS 2d6.

D&D uses various difficulty levels that a player has to roll at or above to succeed depending on context. The player can add different modifiers to their rolls to help them get the number they want. However, as a general guideline, challenges can be divided into the following:

    • Roll at or above.
    • 5 – Very easy, 80% success rate.
    • 10 – Easy, 55% success.
    • 15 – Moderate, 30%.
    • 20 – Hard, 5%.
    • 25 – Very hard, cannot be accomplished without some value boost.
    • 30 – Godly, cannot be accomplished without major value boosts.

The percentages above seem really low. That is, until you consider they take into account adding everything from -5 to +10 to the rolls based off the the six abilities a game character has.

Further, “natural” criticals are when a player rolls either a 1 or a 20 (ignoring all modifiers). These crits have a 5% each to give a player something especially harmful or helpful, relatively.

Now 2d6, both with and without D&D‘s heavy use of modifiers.

    • Roll at or above.
    • 5 – BITS has this as easy, 83.3% success chance. D&D would have this as very easy.
    • 7 – BITS moderate, 58.3%. D&D easy.
    • 9 – BITS hard, 27.8%. D&D moderate.
    • 11 – BITS very hard, 8.3%. D&D hard.
    • 13 – BITS very, very hard, and can’t be done without some help. D&D very hard.
    • 15 – D&D‘s god-tier difficulty needing top-level characters and lots of luck.

BITS also has criticals when “natural” doubles are rolled (1-1, 2-2, etc.) above or below the target difficulty number. This means criticals scale with the difficulty of the challenge encountered: easier targets offer more opportunities to really wallop ’em.

However, if the linear scale of D&D roll probability needs to be kept, natural 1-1 and 6-6 (both a 2.8% chance) can be adopted for BITS, no problem. But why? 2.8% does not equal 5%…

Take a look again at those percentages. 55% and 58.3%, 30% and 27.8%, even the 5% and 2.8% for criticals! The conversion from d20 to using 2d6 as a core mechanic is never more than 4%, a sneeze of a difference in gameplay. Fundamentally, swapping 2d6 for d20 has no noticeable effect on outcomes.

Therefore, as a core mechanic, 2d6 can substitute for D&D-like d20. Though, there are still modifiers to add πŸ™‚

Abilities

D&D has six abilities that have both a base number and a modifier that slowly scales with the base. These six abilities are Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom. Each ability’s modifier applies to challenges that are primarily in those abilities’ wheelhouse.

BITS has three abilities that are the modifiers added to the kinds of challenges that best fit their use. They are Body, Interaction, and Thought.

Now, the BIT of BITS has a 1:1 correlation with D&D: Body (Strength and Constitution), Interaction (Dexterity and Charisma), Thought (Intelligence and Wisdom).

If given a D&D character, the modifiers of that character’s abilities translate into a BIT value. By adding together the D&D modifiers, dividing by 2, and rounding down, new BIT values are found.

For example, let’s use the level 1 Fighter, Mage, Rogue, and Cleric starting characters for D&D.

Their stats (including health, aka HP, for later discussion):

StrConDexChaIntWisHP
Fighter+3+2+1-1+0+113 (d10)
(BITS value)B =+2I =+0T =+05 / 7
Mage-1+2+2+0+3+18 (d6)
B =+0I =+1T =+23 / 3
Rogue-1+2+3+2+1+08 (d6)
B =+0I =+2T =+03 / 3
Cleric+2+2-1+1+0+310 (d8)
B =+2I =+0T =+14 / 6

BITS expects starting characters to have no more than 1 or 2 in any given BIT, so the numbers above for abilities work brilliantly. Not all classes in D&D are created equal, so in exchange for a BIT value perhaps a BITS specialty (the S in BITS; describes history or role and gives advantage when that context applies to a challenge) is gained, or unique equipment acquired, or HP gained (more on these things next).

Since some ability modifiers can be negative, thus resulting in a negative BITS value, what should be done?

Well, BITS could flatline the BIT value as “-“, meaning whenever a challenge would be solved by that particular BIT, the roll has disadvantage. Or maybe a “anti-specialty” where if certain situations come up, all failures are critical failures.

Even though BITS on principle refrains from using negative numbers, a conversion of d20 to 2d6 doesn’t need to use that tenet of BITS, maybe in this one case negative modifiers can remain πŸ™‚

HP

Health, the lifeblood of player characters, the timer of how long a fight can possibly last.

The chart in the previous section has two numbers for BITS HP: the average of the die used in D&D (specified by class; d6, d8, d10, etc.) divided by 2, and that die average with the Body BITS value added.

That’s done because in D&D, HP is a certain die roll (d6, d8, d10, etc.) plus the Constitution modifier. For BITS, Body can be added to the average of the die for a class to achieve the same result.

Including the Body value in HP calculation can lead to HP bloat. While this may give more a feeling of heroic superiority to the player characters, it also leads to longer fights, less caution, and more flippant actions when the consequences aren’t that, well, consequential.

Depending if the Body value is added or not, and if there is any cap on HP (BITS typically likes to aim to cap at 12 HP), that changes the way combat and the use of equipment as a mechanic occur in the 2d6 conversion.

Equipment

BITS divides both fictional beings and their equipment into six tiers:

    • BITS Fantasy Weapon Tiers
    • 0 – Fists, unarmed combat.
    • 1 – Knives, small swords, cudgels, sticks, brass knuckles, hatchets, throwing spears.
    • 2 – Swords, axes, clubs, maces, short bows, light crossbows.
    • 3 – 2-handed mauls and bastard swords, pikes, longbows, heavy crossbows.
    • 4 – Ballistae, claymores, halberds, tree-trunks.
    • 6 – Especially heroic devices, such as Excalibur or Hercules’ club.
    • BITS Armor Tiers
    • 0 – No armor, clothing, robes, a buckler used as a shield in hand.
    • 1 – Leathers, round shields.
    • 2 – Mails, full-body shields.
    • 3 – Partial plates (a mix of mail and plate), 2-handed massive shields.
    • 4 – Full plate, a rolling barricade of treated wood used as a shield.
    • 6 – Heroic suits that are probably enchanted.

Gear can play into the BITS 2d6 conversion two ways. Either A) gear does nothing to a roll and gives its value as damage or reduced by 1 to negate damage, or B) gear adds to the roll value and the difference between the roll value and the target value is the damage given to a target (in the case of armor, it increases the chances of deflecting damage).

Let’s call option A the realism option, and B the heroic option.

Realism ought apply when a character’s HP is limited, either capped or very slow growing. Some characters ought die in a hit or two from a sharp object (just like real life!).

Heroic damage comes into play when characters feel overpowered. They smite small threats and can weather harsher punishment because their HP grows to accommodate.

Non-Player Characters

Whichever equipment mechanic is used to match the HP mechanic, non-player characters (NPCs; beasts, town guards, etc.) have their own tiers 0 to 6.

I personally am a =huge= fan of reducing enemy complexity in simulators games like D&D. Thereby in BITS, NPCs have HP equal to their tier and do damage equal to their tier. Players have to roll at or above the tier equivalent if wanting to either act against or defend against an NPC (e.g. a tier 1 may require a 7+ roll).

No rolling extra damage, no having to calculate HP, no having to figure out what every goon is wearing and carrying!

Keeping it simple like this should remain balanced between d20 and 2d6 implementations. Since I can’t vouch completely for it, if taking a D&D NPC into 2d6 territory, determine its abilities, HP, and equipment the same way done for characters detailed above.

(It does help that there are a plethora of NPC creation and balancing tools for D&D available, each ripe for conversion to BITS!)

And that’s it! Just about all that’s needed to convert a poly-dice d20 system into a 2d6 BITS-like.

The joy of having the tools to do this means a lot of games can be converted into a concise system shared between multiple fictions and titles for faster-yet-still-hefty play.

What’s your take? Any sections of d20 and poly-dice mechanics from games like D&D missing here?

Hit me up and let me know! If you’ve any other suggestions or would like to see a test IP get converted into 2d6 and BITS (even if the IP doesn’t have a widely-recognized game with it!), I’d be happy to walk through the challenge of the conversion.

In any case, do well! Cheers ~

RPG Action

Action is how things happen.

Since there are opposite reactions, conflict arises and story develops.

This is especially true for tabletop roleplaying games. What a player has their character do (and the mechanical resolution to opposing reactions) is the core of these kinds of games.

I’ve been wrestling with actions in the BITS TTRPG system for awhile. I think I have it, but what do you think? Here’s my analysis:

First Things First

I’m going to avoid talking in depth about who goes when or in what order things happen (aka initiative). No rolling, no going clockwise, no group or simultaneous happenings.

Today’s focus is all about the action!

Twofer

A person cannot discuss TTRPGs without invoking the name of Dungeons & Dragons.

D&D uses a two-action system that really comes down to this: You can move, and you can do anything else (attack, prepare, prepare, move again, etc.).

The two-action economy is classic, in use all over the gaming landscape. You move, you act (and perhaps you get a free action of speaking or dropping whatever’s in your hand).

In all honesty, that sounds like one-action, with movement as a passive condition every character has regardless of any other action.

The only explicit limitation D&D places on action is that a character can only attack once without other special rules affecting that. To paraphrase D&D‘s terms, “you can always move but you may only attack once.”

Got it.

Free-Automatic-Focused

BITS can reimagine the “twofer” as Free, Automatic, and Focused actions.

Free actions are like those in D&D – letting go and shouting. Can be used anytime!

Automatic actions are muscle memory – moving, drawing, reloading, speaking, etc.

Focused actions require just that: focus. Anything requiring attention or caution, such as attacking, giving detailed information, doing something delicate like sneaking, etc.

Take two actions a turn, with exceptions: one and only one free action doesn’t count, and one and only one focused action at most per turn.

Free-Automatic-Focused is nice. It liberates the options of a player with distinct language and increase flexibility over D&D.

But what can a player do? There are examples above, examples that don’t do justice to actual expectations in gameplay.

Always Action

Whether swooning lovers, bartering goods, or stabbing robbers, BITS seeks to bring action to everything that can fail a player’s intention.

BITS divides conflicts into Environmental (passive bodily danger), Combative (active bodily danger), and Social (“sticks and stones” but words always can hurt). The same mechanics for action and resolution apply to each.

We’re not talking about conflict types here, but keep in mind how actions can apply to any of the conflicts above.

Kinds of Actions

Other than Free actions (which almost exclusively are shouting and dropping), I have found four kinds of action that fits any action a player could take: Move, Attack, Defend, Prepare. MADP.

Move actions see a player character walking, running (might need to take some caution), sneaking (definitely needs caution), jumping, crawling, swimming, or getting up. A social action would “move” the conversation on to another topic or point.

Attack actions slash, smash, stab, throw, cast spells, grapple, or commit other acts of aggression and violence. Social intimidation, charm, and deception apply.

Defend actions help others, escape from another, prevent others from passing, or stop the consequences of personal or potential violence. Social defense proves a point or deflects blame and provides excuses.

Prepare actions increase the probability a future action is successful, pick up or get out equipment, operate machinery, build up, tear down, search, or ready a future response. Social preparedness means keeping silent only to improve the next action taken in conversation.

Wow! That’s a lot!

But its utility is limited – MADP only applies when a ruleset takes it into effect.

What could use this method?

No Two of a Kind

Instead of Free-Automatic-Focused actions, up to two actions of any kind (Move-Attack-Defend-Prepare) can happen in a player’s turn.

Attack-then-Move, Move-then-Attack, Defend-then-Prepare, Prepare-only, Attack-and-Attack, etc. Whatever happens, the player must declare what they intend to do in their turn before they do it.

However, if the second action is the same as the first, both actions have disadvantage in their rolls.

If there is only one action taken (not two of the same kind), that single action has advantage.

MADP adds a little more realism to the actions of play. As a reflection of Free-Automatic-Focused, actions that get the complete focus of the player character get a boon while dividing attention or being speedy-but-reckless give progressively worse boons.

Does a fighter focus all effort into one strong attack, duel with an opponent while defending against future attacks, or flail strikes with multiple attacks at once?

A curated and concise set of choices are offered to the player, enabling them to weigh pros and cons to make their own decision. If working with a two-action economy, this seems to be the best bet!

Multiple Actions?

We’re back at the start: have two or kinda-two actions in a turn.

Whatever the case, having multiple actions in a turn – even if in name only – slows play down.

Heck, in BITS critical success rolls, an extra action comes as a reward, exacerbating the problem. And it is a system meant to be quick!

So what can be done?

Call of Cthulhu

The most popular tabletop roleplaying game in Japan, Call of Cthulhu gives a character five possible kinds of actions on their turn (I paraphrase): Attack (harm another), Maneuver (attack without harming), Flee (run away!), Other (healing, investigating), and Spell (use Eldritch terribleness).

A character can only do one of these on their turn. Any movement is implied in the action being taken within the area of engagement.

While having a concise list of actions, removing the tactical tediousness of movment and exact positioning, and limiting the number of actions-per-turn to one, CoC does well to speed up play.

Where CoC stumbles is how many times the dice need to be rolled for any action. Further, the action list may be too concise – it tends to rob creativity as any in-game act must be shoehorned into one of the five kinds specified, regardless of context.

Another game though takes the metacontext into consideration:

PBtA Moves

Powered By the Apocalypse is a game system lauded for its ease of play. A major mechanic contributing to that are the “Moves” it uses.

Every player has a common set of Moves they can use on their turn, along with Moves unique to the kind of character they chose. Every Move is meant to feed back into whatever “vibe” or “feel” the game means to convey.

During a turn, a player can pick a Move and do it (rolling dice dependent on context). One turn, one action, fast play.

While PBtA has streamlined action, it has also railroaded what players can do. Moves are extremely specific to the context of the game being played, further niched to the character role a player has.

Yes, PBtA characters can adopt the Move talents of other characters as they advance in skill. Yes, PBtA players can work with each other to “hack” or introduce new Moves or do something outside the guardrails of the game.

Yet, this does not address allowing players freedom to act in the ways they see fit depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Can it be better?

Freedom to Act

I think it can be better.

BITS adopts the one-action turn of PBtA but opens up the possible actions of a player to whatever they can and want to do.

Shoot a bow or gun? Throw a rock? Climb a tree? Balance on a wall? Socialize with the bartender? BITS handles that with a unified resolution system.

However, exact positioning is not required with the BITS system. If needing to attack someone but a few steps would be needed to get there, that attack happens. If a potion needs to be unloaded from a bag, do it and be ready to act again on the next turn.

Games like D&D act as “simulations-as-games” and would care about the exact distances and contexts of the simulation in progress. With BITS one-action, so long as a declared action doesn’t blend together seemingly different actions too much, BITS cares more about the consequences of intention rather than the consequences of inches.

This rewards players with carrying out their intention for their turn, keeps turns flowing quickly because beans need not be counted, and offers extra actions as a prize (i.e. critical successes in rolls).

Conclusions About Actions

There are improvements available for the current two-action system in use by the most popular roleplaying games.

Despite those improvements, the more actions a player takes, the slower the game goes.

The more actions are tied to the meta-narrative of the game and not the context of the player’s current situation, the more agency is taken away from the player. Game context should provide actions and other verbs as inspiration to what might be done, but cannot dictate what a player may or may not do.

Like Captain Barbossa put it in Pirates of the Caribbean:

The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.

Therefore, to increase agency and reduce time taken on a turn, a single action-per-player-per-turn that focuses more on intention than precision is the best gameplay option for rules about actions.

Phew – this was a long one. I wanted to bring forward multiple analyses for popular game systems’ action-economies.

Though I’ve clearly looked over games like Lasers & Feelings or any of the Blades games, the principles remain the same: more actions taken slows the game, but reducing the actions ever able to be taken (i.e. PBtA) comes with its own consequences.

Therefore, for BITS, one-action is the way to go. Further, one-action breeds an economic scarcity, forcing players to think critically of what’s possible to get them closer to their goals.

And adding an extra action for a critical success is something I’ve not come across in my studies – what I feel is a sharp improvement as “critical success” has been so far relegated to either extra damage (not always applicable) or an allowance for narrative dictation by a player for just that moment. I’m not much a fan of keeping player participation in the narrative sequestered away as a reward for play πŸ™‚

OK – enough about actions for now! If you think a one-action economy is not the optimal, why? I must know! Cheers to when we get to talk it out.

September October Goal Review

Do you read these intros? I’m not sure if they’re worth it. Let me know. In the meantime, business:

September Goal Review

    1. Update All BITS Guides
      1. Won. All guides are updated. BITS is a better roleplaying system than it has been before. Can I get some players? Maybe I just need to write more BITS games πŸ™‚
    2. 1-4 Page RPG
      1. Won. I made a game!! It is 10 pages of abbreviated action. However, writing the “Turn Example” to show what gameplay could be like, the game was not fun πŸ™ƒ But that’s still great!! That’s a first draft, right? Near complete trash?? πŸ”₯ Anyway, I ought also trim the sucker down to the 1-4 page-count promised, but that’s for another time.
    3. Move (Again)
      1. Won. I’ve a new destination in Vegas with pool, privacy, and a lovely location, not to mention some fantastic friends.
    4. Private
      1. Won. I can’t overstate how… happy I am. Things are turning out and pretty cool right now ~

October Goal Proposal

    1. Not a BIT, of Specialty
      1. The role-play ruleset BITS is “Body Interaction Thought Specialty.” Got to thinking in September, “can I make a game of only having advantage in things?” So I’ll write what I’m calling “Gunslinger,” a wild-west TTRPG where a player “levels-up” by gaining new specialties, thereby defining their trade.
    2. Play a TTRPG
      1. This one is a finky one – how do I gather people recreationally around a table during a pandemic? What RPG should be played, and for which adventure?? Am I the dungeon master / game moderator / guide, or a regular player??? Guess that’s part of the challenge of the goal (lucky I’m half-way decent problem-solver) 🎲🎲
    3. Outings
      1. It’s been years since I’ve used a firearm, so a refresher on safety and handling is in store. Also looking to schedule a cooking class, because that never hurts. Oh, and Halloween? Time to be spooky, methinks πŸ‘»πŸŽƒ
    4. Self-Improvement, Self-Care
      1. October is going to be a month of improving my conditioning and getting some needed appointments taken care of. Though I need to be scaling back on my physicality for some events upcoming in January, I can keep myself lean and mean, so I’m prioritizing doing what I can πŸ’ͺ😎

September was golden (even if not everything turned out 120%), and October looks to be a lot of fun. I like the idea of writing treatments for games and stories, so let’s see if September’s #2 and October’s #1 can happen more often.

For the last month of summer, what did you do? How are you spending your first month of autumn? Give me your inspiration, and we’ll meet back here in a month!

(Or sooner – let me know if you’d be interested in playing a table-top roleplaying game, something fantasy, sci-fi, or even horror.)

Lots to do! Cheers to you ~

Improvised RPG Pt 2

What do you do when waiting for food delivery?

You roleplay 😁

I’ve done this before a year ago – time to share how far things have come.

Mechanics

2d6. My go-to: roll two six-sided dice. Again, I as the game guide (aka game- or dungeon-master) roll the dice when dice need rolling.

5-7-9 difficulty. Whenever the players need to do something, it’s either easy, medium, or hard, and the sum of the dice must be at or above the difficulty to succeed. At most a roll gets a +1 or a +2 if the player is especially good at something, or the lowest die becomes the same value as the highest die if there is contextual advantage (the opposite applying if there’s disadvantage).

Always going. The fictional world doesn’t stop just because a player is making a decision. If not fast enough, fictional characters and contexts advance to force player decisiveness.

Play

Player one. I enjoyed this latest game with only one player. The gameplay was superb, thereby undermining the held belief that multiple players are required for a roleplaying game to blast off.

Self as character. The player existed as a character in the game world. Their motivations and self-reported abilities where their own, the dice deciding how well they fulfilled their sought-after actions.

Orc and pie. The classic mini-beginning to a roleplaying game, the player started in a stark-white, narrow room or hall facing an orc holding a pie, the orc not too enthused the player is there. Everything else in the world is made on the fly!

“What are you doing?” After describing a scene or the action of some imaginary character, this question is the modus operandi to keep the focus on the player. It is the player action that ultimately decides what happens, no matter the fiction being thought up around them.

Probably happens. Rolling dice slows things down. To keep things feeling ‘hot’, most things a player ought be able to do without resistance. Only when there is some sort of challenge to an action occurring do dice get rolled.

Talk it out. Ask for intentions and clarification. As a game guide or player, if something is unclear, get it clear. Only then will the resulting context of the game be able to be figured out and feelings saved from a misunderstanding!

Outcome

Over the course of thirty minutes, the game went from the white room with the orc to a sandy beach. A summary:

The player started in a white room with an orc at the opposite end who also held one of the best-smelling pies ever to exist. After a brief questioning of the orc, the orc leaves in a huff, followed by the player.

Outside the room is a park, and beyond that a street and warehouse buildings. The orc disappears into one, hotly pursued by the player.

The player searches for the orc, finding them in a dark storage area stacked with crates stamped with “Meat“.

A tussle gets the player captured and drug back to the front of the building, where another orc, Boss, finds out the first orc Rudolph let the player follow them in.

Alone with Boss in Boss’s office, the player makes a break for it as the Boss decides he needs to keep the meat-pie plant a secret.

Blowing past Boss, the player exits to the street where a surprised Rudolph lounges. Continuing to race away, the player is chased by two shouting orcs. An alley provides some cover, enough that the player makes their way to the opposite building side.

There lies a beach stretching out left and right across a busy highway. The player, risking a lot, proceeds to dance around the traffic and leap down an embankment to the beach.

Dashing across the sand to a lifeguard stand, no one is found. Screeches and honks let the player know that the pursuit isn’t over.

100 meters away is a second stand. Luckily there’s a speechless lifeguard there. Unluckily, Boss and Rudolph have just reached the sand.

The player explains themselves and the lifeguard locks both of them inside the hut. A radio-call later has the police on their way… In five minutes.

A pounding and breaking-down of the hut’s door lets the lifeguard surprise the first orc that storms in with an air-canister to the face. The guard is less lucky with the second orc wielding a pistol.

The player makes their escape, pushing past the distracted orc still standing (Boss) and knocking him onto the sand.

Gun cast down between them, the player and Boss face-off.

A grapple in the sand a second later has both characters with hands on the weapon, but the player’s finger is on the trigger.

BLAM. Boss’s hand is mulched! The big orc thrashes and shouts on the beach, clutching their disfigurement.

But the player takes no chances with someone who tried to kill them – BLAM.

Rudolph sees the carnage and beats it across the sand. The player fires, but misses the retreating orc as sirens begin to wail.

Dropping the weapon, the player surrenders to the police just as food arrives in the real world πŸ™‚

Well, that escalated quickly πŸ˜… Yet shouldn’t all quality stories?

Playing while waiting was an absolute joy. I look forward to future games where I might encourage players to set the scene and declare who they are. Wizard fighting a flaming monster? Survivor of the zombie apocalypse? Secret agent stealing the codes? All doable with this simple system of improvised RPGing.

Feel free to use this system yourself for your own time-killers! Improve your game-guiding skills and impress your friends 😁 Let me know how it goes, too!

Cheers to that 🎲🎲

Riskier Risk

It has been a minute since I last wrote about the game of Risk, the classic table-top wargame.

Now I’m back with a new take on the game: Catastrophic dice rolls.

Context

In the game of Risk, commanders (the players) know immediately and iteratively how well their armies are doing in combat. Using dice, no more than two units at a time can be removed from either side, while the math tends towards a 1:1 loss of units on both sides (slight advantage to the attacker). Between losses, an attacker can choose to preserve their forces at any time, stopping the wanton destruction of armies.

If only real war were so charming.

After reading military histories by author Rick Atkinson, it came to my attention how quickly even the most advantageous of battles can devolve into a debacle of incredible losses before commanders and generals are aware of what’s happening. Risk hardly lives up to its namesake, as while single army groups tend towards dozens of units, only two are at risk at any time.

A Problem

Losing one or two units over and over again is, well, tedious. Dice need to be rolled, compared, units removed, and dice rolled again until someone gives up or is eliminated.

Speaking from experience, a problem with Risk is how long it takes to play. (I don’t seem to be alone in this regard.) The dice rolling and one-two unit removal certainly plays a part in exacerbating the situation.

Thereby Risk is neither very accurate historically or quick.

Let’s stab at a fix to both those problems.

Riskier Rolls

In place of capping losses at one or two units, the dice themselves offer a way to increase the variance of the battles.

Normal Risk rules have the attacker rolling up to three dice against up to two defender dice. The highest dice are compared (up to two), any others discarded. Whichever player has the lower die in each comparison loses a unit (attacker loses ties).

It first came to mind that all values might be added together then compared, the difference being applied as losses to the lower-valued player. This is bad because it involves addition and subtraction. (More mental math in games is a hard no-go.)

Math is also a problem if the difference between individual dice is used. (Say, rolls of 6 and 4 are compared; 6-4=2, or 2 units lost, but that is still too much math from the original game.)

A method without extra math, and the most satisfying of our criteria of historical accuracy and fewer, faster rolls, is this:

Compare dice normally for the rules of Risk. Remove a number of units from the lower-value-die player equal to the value of the higher-die player.

So say an attacker rolls a 6-2-1 and a defender rolls a 5-4. The dice comparisons are 6v5 and 2v4 (the attacker’s 1 is discarded). Using the risker rolls rule, the first comparison requires the defender to remove six units; the second has the attacker remove four.

With all removals of units for a roll happening at the same time, an attacker’s advantage can quickly evaporate or a defender’s line be broken in but a single roll.

With riskier rolls, units are removed at pace, battles become decided in a fraction of the time, math remains minimal, only a single rule is changed from the base game, and more accurate swings of fortune get injected into the base experience that is Risk.

I’d count that as a positive πŸ˜‰

Riskier rolls rules! Gosh, I’m a sucker for alliteration ~

I’ve given these a swing with friends, and the feel is *French kiss*. More playing is required though, so give these rules a chance in your own games of Risk.

Let me know how your games go! Here’s to all the games you’ll enjoy ~ Cheers.

It’s a Bust

My computer, that is.

One of them, anyway!

(Finally typing this out on my cellphone.)

But because it’s been heck writing a blog post for this week, let’s keep it short and show off my new Lenovo Flex 5 πŸ™‚

    • 14″ Touchscreen Monitor
    • 16 GB RAM
    • 256 GB SSD
    • Radeon Graphics

Expensive, sure, but so are all electronics in 2021 (i.e. the chip shortages). And with my last computer? It literally was falling apart πŸ˜‚

Think this will last me awhile ~

Thanks for being patient with this small post! Expect some RPGs next week 🎲🎲

Stay cool! Cheers!

August September Goal Review

A swell September to you!

August was a restart on doing goals. However, even the break in July wasn’t enough soul searching.

Now though? Now I think there’s a plan forward. Let’s discuss:

August Goal Review

  1. New York City
    1. Won. A wild time and a new favorite city (specifically Manhattan). Would definitely go again, and again a third time because of how much there was to do (safely, despite the pandemic!).
  2. Minnesota
    1. Won. Seeing family and remembering better times was well worth delaying other, far less important plans.
  3. Las Vegas
    1. Won. I write this during one of the busiest, most fun social calendars I’ve had in a very long time. Simply put, it’s great to be back in Sin City πŸ™‚ Let’s see how long I stay!
  4. Weekly BITS Revision
    1. Failed. Only two revisions were posted, and regardless of the excellent feedback, I failed to get more of it. However, I might redeem myself in September!

September Goal Proposal

    1. Update All BITS Guides
      1. Goal here is to create a September draft of all the different guides to the BITS roleplaying system. This tightens-up language and applies some of the feedback from August.
    2. 1-4 Page RPG
      1. Originally considering writing an RPG a week, I know I tend to aim a bit high on the creative front, so one table-top role-playing game in September will be enough πŸ™‚
    3. Move (Again)
      1. Decide how I’ll spend my time in Las Vegas at least through February of next year. I have Airbnbs, solo apartments, and apartments with roommates up for consideration here in the first few days of September.
    4. Private
      1. This goal is for me, defining how things will be done over the next six months. (Who knows, the next sixty years?) Anyway, trust that I’ll be honest in this regard when review-time hits in a month 😁

With a failure despite how easy August initially set out to be, I am humbled going into September. Nonetheless, I aim to live a little better and be truer to myself as it comes to creativity and my future.

How is your September shaping up? New horizons you are about to cross?

Sincerely looking for your inspiration. Until next week, cheers to you and yours!

What to Do?

What do you do when you’ve done the important things?

That’s not rhetorical, nor am I asking for a friend.

I’m asking for the person whose done the needful things and has a whole life ahead of them, the person with ambitions and skills and resources, the person who may need to learn to leverage any of it.

I ask you “what to do” for me.

The rest of this post may lack for any answers, any insights, but hey, why do this blog without benefit to the writer? If you go, OK – if you stay, thank you for exploring with me πŸ™‚

Let’s begin:

Deathwalks

I’ve mentioned “deathwalks” before (goals, full posts). These are the meditative exercises that work to reveal what’s important in life, the words and actions unsaid and undone, all that would consume the affairs of a last few months of life.

Many of the things uncovered on my first deathwalk years ago have been completed. I look at that list are secure for years to come! The skydiving, the letters written, the Last Will, the trips, the patterns explored

Yet, what does that leave a person, have they little left to prepare for when the time comes?

I can only liken it to a milestone on the horizon you walk towards for a long while. Once reached, though, the milestone is more petite than realized while the roads ahead are broad and many and long beyond sight. And nowhere seems the obvious convenience of a milestone showing “do this.”

So then, what is there left for a person to do if prepared for the final journey, the one hopefully decades or a century off? Where is the direction???

Living

Perhaps if “dying” is done, “living” is the next logical step.

Meditating on what makes a person “feel alive” is lauded in many circles as being a necessary and invaluable thing. Remembering joy and excitement and triumph, might those be milestones to strive for? Or even to build for ourselves? A live worth living?

But it might be hard to accept we might deserve “the good life.” The world delights in chaotic news, our neighbors seethe, and year-by-year even bodies betray themselves and the minds inside.

There is so much suffering, what hubris is it to seek and make pleasure?

Such judgements come awfully quick. But lest it’s forgotten, the only Good that may be said to exist is the net reduction of suffering. Does an individual’s suffering of indecision or lack of aim not qualify here?

Maybe that’s the Ego making itself heard.

“My experience makes me exceptional. I am entitled to feel this way, to be this.”

Now aren’t such regards the real acts of hubris?

That’s all that I have to say on that, all that comes to mind at this time.

I’ve a little while more to settle on September’s goals. If you’ve suggestions for a person to pivot from ends to beginnings, the comment section is below πŸ˜‰

Be well, friends. Cheers ~

A Taste of Digital Nomadism

COVID smashed the world order and personal schedules last year, and continues to cost the lives of millions.

Not all has been dire. Great opportunity in great disruption, right? The benefit to be since March 2020 has been to explore the lifestyle of digital nomadism.

Here are my takeaways:

The Good and the Bad

Good: Being free of the office is glorious. Only requiring internet, a digital nomad has the world to extend out to (COVID conscious, of course). Flexible hours and flexible locations are benefits folks who haven’t had them before can’t imagine.

Bad: Workplaces tend to substitute for a lot of the social effort a person puts into their groups and friends. Losing that, it behooves a person to not only want to “go out,” but to be militant on having a regular schedule of escaping the home. This can be adventurous, but it demands work.

Good: Digital nomadism has shown me how much can be saved monetarily (I’ll post about the numbers someday). Specifically, Airbnbs are cheaper than rent. Much cheaper. And did I mention how you aren’t tied down to the place by signing away your life and earnings for a year? Nor is a nomad tied down by as much “stuff” that invariably crusts over typical homes.

Bad: Speaking of “stuff,” there is little available to move around. A nomad has at best a laptop computer, a duffle of clothes, toiletries, misc. small papers and electronics, and perhaps a vehicle. That’s it. Digital nomadism is an amazing opportunity to find out what a person can get along without, but that big TV? The favorite couch? The desktop gaming station? The golf clubs? They get left behind or long-termed stored.

Good: The future is yours as a nomad. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? When to do it all? The immensity of it all can be… let’s say nomads have great powers.

Bad: Yet also great responsibilities come with nomadism. Schedules must be kept, wi-fi attained, social experiences had, and more. A nomad can do what they want, but they need to know what they want then follow through. All this on their own too, as the lack of a “base camp” adds a level of uncertainty to life and strains relationships of all kinds.

Now, I might be missing things from the above. I can do without a lot, and inconveniences I may not consider to be outright “bad,” just something to deal with or go without. And the “good” qualities are largely a point of perspective. Do with that what you will πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

What I’ve Learned

Digital nomadism has been wild, beyond these little words on this blog post.

Regardless of what I have found good or bad about the lifestyle, it has been an experience I cannot regret. The adventure bar none has been well worth missed trips over the last two years. The self-confidence in both my capabilities and what’s possible no matter what happens in the future is beyond value.

All that said, I have learned some important points:

    • If driving while being a nomad, get a vehicle large enough for your sleeping accommodations, preferably a hybrid or electric vehicle so you can run the AC at night for less than half-a-gallon of gas.
    • Rest areas and truck stops are your friends. Not all rest areas are created equally.
    • Airports and public libraries have work-ready wi-fi and charging ports. (i.e. aim not to take time off on travel days.)
    • If you are in no rush, find somewhere quiet in nature to eat and meditate. Otherwise, have some go-to food options that are clean enough to dine on while driving – refrigeration (e.g. car food coolers) is somewhat overrated.
    • Visit people over places. People come with their own places, are someone to share experience with, and as COVID has shown us, may not last as long as places do.
    • Invest in that better laptop computer.
    • Get audiobooks and movies digitally through public library apps such as Hoopla and Libby. These will save your sanity and your back when not having to carry even more things along.
    • Earplugs, melatonin, and an eye mask. Get these and be comfortable sleeping with them. (Earplugs also for long drives and flights.)
    • You need less than you think you do. Less than that.
    • Digital nomadism is largely safe, especially in between cities (rest stops) and being around truckers.

Keeping this short since by the time you are reading this, I’m traveling again!

Clearly I haven’t completely given up on the digital nomadism lifestyle despite the “bad” points above. However, I do need a base camp going into 2022, so it’s about time to “pump the brakes” a little.

Will I find this slowdown sufficient for me? Time will tell. I’ll be a different person in 2022 – the world will be novel too. Regardless of what I do next, having the option to travel and work wherever, whenever is a thought of great comfort.

How about you? Have you traveled on little to far reaches? Have you been on the fence about taking on the nomad lifestyle? I’m happy to hear your stories or to clarify points of mine.

Hit me up! Safe travels. Cheers ~

BITS – Vehicles

To prove that the tabletop role-playing system BITS can handle everything, this post introduces the use of vehicles on adventures!

Now, let’s make a distinction between “vehicles” (generic) and the already-covered “ships” and “mechs” (specific). Yes, all vehicles/ships/mechs share the same mechanics and 0 through 4 tiers of effect, but the flexibility of including all things that allow travel carries its own nuance described below.

Tonnage and Tech

The first ways to classify how vehicles can effect BITS dice rolls is to group tiers based on vehicle tonnage or tech-level.

Tonnage would have tier 0 being below the weight of standard vehicles, such as animals and people. Each tier above is a magnitude greater in weight, 1 perhaps being cars, 2 trucks, 3 tanks, etc.

Tech tiers differentiate on the generation of machine. 0 might be a horse cart, 1 a Model T, 2 the modern car, 3 a battle tank, and 4 a next-generation jet plane.

Tonnage and tech have been covered in detail already (BITS ships and mechs, respectively), so check out these classification systems there.

Kind

Is the vehicle small? Armored? Airborne? Super-sized? Perhaps not a vehicle at all, but infantry or a building?

These are the “kinds” or “types” of capabilities a vehicle has when dealing with vehicle-sized objects. (Recall punching up or down sizes-of-magnitude has disadvantages and advantages.)

0 holds the place of masses of unarmored infantry or support teams. 1 has light vehicles and mechanized/mobile infantry. 2 carries the tanks and heavy armor. 3 shows off jets and helicopters. 4 rounds out with ships, titanic earth-movers, i.e. hulks that carry all the rest. Using this variation also unifies tiers of scale into one all-playable 0-to-4 set of metrics to keep track of.

Inspired by how the game Starcraft deals with unit sizes, vehicle tiers based on the kind of vehicle offers a lot of flexibility for fictional game context and rule introduction while maintaining sensibility (such as that infantry shouldn’t shoot down capital ships, at least easily!).

Cost

For those games with a larger emphasis on economy, vehicles can be assumed to be more useful by how much they cost (ie the difficulty of attainment).

Tier levels have to maintain their magnitude differences, but adding a few zeros to the tiers allows for rapid rebalancing of vehicle use. 0 say is <$1000, 1 between that and <$100K, 2 <$1 million, 3 <$100 million, and 4 being anything $100 million or more.

For example, a Ferrari and an armored humvee would be on tier 2 (both about $300K). However, where a Ferrari is fast, agile, and sleek, a humvee has ballistic plates and space for guns and passengers, yet neither floats like a boat.

Distinctions of what a vehicle can do begs use of special rules.

Everything Else: Special Rules

There is more to vehicles than their BITS tiers. A tier 1 implies only how good a vehicle is at its function, but the “1” lacks what that function is. Special rules provide that definition and make vehicles distinct.

Rules for vehicles should be common where they can, such as does it fly in the sky, sail on water, or drive over ground, is it heavy or light or of moderate frame. Uncommon rules ought to be especially concise and attached to any description of the vehicle itself to keep unnecessary information at bay until needed.

Getting more specific can be useful on a case-by-case basis (e.g. does it glide, hover, float, push with a jet, or pull with a ram scoop when it flies), but unless called for or the vehicle is especially unique, trust that players know a horse might be ridden, a car driven, boats float, and that a helicopter doesn’t need a runway.

These examples so far have covered the travel capacities of vehicles. Here are a few more options:

    • How does the vehicle deflect, absorb, or otherwise neglect bullets?
    • How long can it go without refueling?
    • Does it have weapons? Which ones and where are they? Do they have firing arcs? How long will ammo hold out?
    • Can the vehicle explode if damaged?
    • How many people can it carry as passengers? Is there a safety system? Cargo?
    • Any special skills to operate it?
    • Where can this vehicle fit?

Plainly, sky’s-the-limit as it comes to the rules that could apply to a vehicle. But as a design pillar of BITS, discretion is advised. Simple rules only need to be added (and even ignored) when required with a little insight and creativity.

And that’s how you bring vehicles into a BITS game! No longer restricted to human-scale walking and running and fighting, gameplay can expand with planes, trains, and automobiles (or their contextual equivalents).

Someday I’ll get this into a BITS guide. Before I do, which grouping – kind, cost, tonnage, or tech – is your favorite? (I’m a “kind” guy myself ~)

As always, deeply appreciate your feedback. Cheers!