Monday, May 28, 2012

Mechanics Draft 2: Rolls, Traits/Skills, Target Numbers

System Thoughts: Rolls, Traits and Skills:

A trait is something that is inherent to your character, a native, built-in quality. How strong you are, your agility, raw mental capacity.

Humans on average have traits that start at 2. The maximum cap for traits is 10. The soft-cap for traits is 5, because of scaling advancement costs.

Skills are learned functions, driving/piloting, marksmanship, etc. A skill has an unlearned, rank 0 state, and then 3 ranks: Student, Intermediate, Expert.

There are two kinds of Skill tests, trained and untrained. If a character has no ranks in a skill, they attempt the action with [1d10+trait]. Trained characters instead roll [2d10+Trait+Rank]

Target Numbers:

Target Numbers are determined in Increments of 5: 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.

Human scale action deals in TNs that rarely approach 25, even though it's possible to have [2d10+Trait+Skill Rank]. Humans can achieve an ideal roll of 35, but you're more likely to see results of 5-15.

Mecha scale action has TNs that are 15+, because piloting a mech imparts a minimum pool of 3d10, even if you aren't trained in a relevant skill. Training adds 1d10 to the pool, for a total of [4d10+Trait+Rank].

Mechs can also spend power to add more dice, or have more elaborate equipment and upgrades which provides other bonuses.

Opposing Forces and Secrecy: It's assumed that the game master will treat NPCs as opaque; that is to say, all NPC rolls occur behind a game screen unless instructed otherwise.

Players cannot inherently know the opponent's various traits without first dedicating effort to discerning them.

Target numbers and Secrecy: In general, it's assumed that all TNs are obvious and players can make informed decisions about how to manage their resources. Related to above, if

TN is generated by a defending character, the roll is hidden, the result is not. I.E. the players don't know how many dice the opponent rolls, or how high their traits are/what perks they have to achieve the TN.

However, in the event that a TN IS hidden, a player may attempt to discern the TN before attempting the action. We'll go into this more later.

Target Numbers and Automatic Successes: If a character's Trait+Skill Rank is greater than or equal to a TN, they pass uncontested rolls automatically. Contested actions are ALWAYS rolled.

The 'Sweet Spot' and Difficulty:

In Thermal Shock, the 'Sweet Spot' refers to the statistical average of 2 or more die being rolled, adding any static modifiers. There's a lesson that many high schools use,where students roll 2d6 and graph the results. 2 and 12 are the least commonly occuring numbers, while 7 is the most common, due to how many possible ways two numbers add up to seven. 1+6, 2+5, 3+4, etc.

In this game, anything over the TN is a success, so the 'average' roll gives you a roughly 55% of succeeding. I'm going to spare you the actual statistical modeling and just give you rough estimates for difficulty.

  • TN 5: Trivial - There is a chance of failure but it is minimal.
  • TN 10: Standard: Untrained characters often fail doing difficult tasks, and even trained ones have issues sometimes. This is the most standard difficulty for human-scale action.
  • TN 15: Challenging: Trained characters using perks and wits can tackle these tests. This is the lowest difficulty that occurs in mecha action.
  • TN 20: Incredible: For a human to attempt this is insane, to succeed is the stuff of legends. This is equivalent to Standard difficulty for mecha action.
  • TN 25: Legendary:
  • TN 30+: Epic:

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I am Shyft, artist, game designer, all around reasonably cool person. Feel free to email any comments to