Friday, October 13, 2023

Bidding into Danger

I've posted about the James Bond 007 game more than once in the past. Today I want to talk about one mechanic that I suspect could do a lot of good in other games, but that I don't recall seeing elsewhere. When you have a chase in 007, whether by foot, car, air, or underwater, initiative is determined by bidding. Initiative starts at 7 and whoever bids lowest gets to decide who goes first. What are you actually bidding? What currency are you spending? Difficulty level for all rolls. Well, technically its Ease Factor, the mathematical opposite of difficulty. A higher Ease Factor means something is easier to do. Either way, you take initiative of a given combat turn by willing to be more dangerous than the other guy, by increasing the chances of a car crash or some other mishap.

A fun bit is that, for vehicle chases, every vehicle has a "Redline" score. This number is the safest number you can bid without additional, additional risk. Super sporty high performance cars have a 1 or 2 for Redline, allowing for a lot of high-risk action. While ordinary sedans have a 3 or 4. This means a PC in a Lambo can do more tricky maneuvers than his pursuers, even if they have the same Driving score. (And you can hamper the PCs by forcing them to flee pursuing baddies in a Volkswagen Beetle.)

This bidding method strikes me as appropriate for the genre. The person most willing to risk everything (typically, the Bond-esque devil-may-care PCs) gets to set the agenda for the chase. I feel like this is a mechanic that could be used in other games. Chases in a Star Wars style space opera could use the same approach.What other situations? Anywhere where a foolish willingness to risk disaster grants a short term advantage. Here are three ideas:
  • An RPG where pro-wrestling is for realsies: The flippy shit high-fliers can take the initiative by willing to risk botching their attack.
  • A fantasy or horror game: Wizards may go first if they are willing to risk accidentally unleashing the forces of hell.
  • Rolemaster, just for fun: Initiative bidding where the number goes up and the result is added to everyone's fumble range. 
I'm sure there have got to be other uses for bidding in RPGs. Anybody know of another game that uses it?

Sometimes I jibber jabber about a game and fail to give appropriate credit. Not this time.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Rest in Peace, Dave Hoover

[This is not about the comic book professional Dave Hoover.]

Yesterday I learned that Dave Hoover passed away. Dave was a key person in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois rpg scene for decades. He GMed lots of local campaigns (I played mostly Feng Shui and Savage Worlds with him) and many, many games at the local convention. He once ran a game in every single slot of the con, something like 12 different games over one weekend. Dave also hosted some Halo LAN parties, if anyone remembers those glory days. He and his wife owned a game store called Armored Gopher Games for a while and it was the friendliest FLGS you could ever ask for. Nearly every store game I ever ran was at the Armored Gopher.

More importantly than being a Game Dude, Dave was just a decent human being. He was kind and caring. He was, by all accounts, a good husband and father. Certainly every time I saw him interact with his family he was earnestly trying to get that stuff right. He was also the kind of guy that, if it happened to come up in conversation that you weren't familiar with the work of the band Avenged Sevenfold, next time he saw you he'd hand you a CD burned with his favorite tracks from their catalog. That was the sort of generous spirit Dave had. He was a genuine good guy and the world is the worse off without him.

My heart goes out to his family.