Friday, December 11, 2009

Quasi-Funky Dice

Before I renewed my love affair with Risus, I spent several months in a passionate fling with Risus' younger step-sister, PDQ. I began my flirtation with PDQ because I encountered a situation in Risus that I initially had trouble resolving. At issue was Risus' ability to handle supers and other super-scale characters. Sure, Risus has Funky Dice (and for the Funkyphobic, rescaled Target Numbers from the Risus Companion). But where (I thought) Risus fell down was the intersection of the Funky and the not-so-Funky (i.e. the Super and the Normal).

In Truth & Justice (the supers-themed version of PDQ), there are explicitly two scales of qualities (which look very much like Risus cliches). I saw this and I though "Cool!".

When I started rediscovering Risus, I wondered if I couldn't use something similar. I thought cliches could be either "Normal" or "Super Scale". The two two types of cliches would use different TN scales and Funky Dice would be unnecessary. In a cliche-to-cliche conflict, Supers would get a big boost (perhaps forcing the non-super character to use the "When Somebody Can't Participate" rules).

This sounded great at first but I eventually rejected the idea. First, I couldn't come up with a way to price these super cliches. Second, it didn't seem like all that much of an improvement over Funky Dice. Unlike T&J Powers (as opposed to regular PDQ Qualities), Risus cliches are almost-always a big sack of abilities. In a super cliche, some of these abilities might indeed be super. Other abilities might be rather mundane uses of the cliche that don't operate on the super scale.

Finally, I decided that I really was spending too much time worrying over nothing. The solution, it seemed to me, was that Funky cliches don't have to be entirely Funky. Either a player character can voluntarily nerf aspects of their cliche in certain situations (rolling 3d6 instead of 3d10), or the GM set parameters for what is super and for what it not.

For example, let's take the Funky cliche "Vampire Gunslinger (4d10)". This a perfectly reasonable Risus cliche. In a combat where the character is making the most of their vampire powers, a full application of the Funky Dice is warranted. But does the character get the full 4d10 in a battle of reputations? How about knowledge of firearms? Familiarity with the laws and customs of vampire society? It's up to the Player and the GM to work that out, but certainly it's not all that different from the normal give-and-take that's involved in arbitrating what's covered in a Risus cliche.

I refer you to a quote from the Risus Companion: "When using Funky Dice, the number of dice still indicates expertise, on exactly the same scale as normal Risus. So, a Soldier (3) is just as skilled as a Super-Soldier (3d20)." An expert Vampire Gunslinger (4d10) is an expert at being a Vampire Gunslinger. The d10 part comes from the extra oomph of have Vampire speed, strength, toughness, and senses. But those kewl vampire powers don't always help with certain aspects of being a vampire or with being a gunslinger. For the regular stuff, 4d6 might be more appropriate.

NOTE: There was a thread on this very topic on the RisusTalk yahoo group in 2007. Being in Risus exile, I was oblivious to it at the time.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

AD&D Classes as Cliches

In this post (and this one), Andrew Boswell (bottlesorter for you folks who hang out on the Mythic yahoo group) makes the connection between old-school AD&D (Oriental Adventures) classes and Risus cliches. He seems to be making the intuitive leap that you don't really need a skill system in D&D if you treat the character's class as a Risus cliche (with all that entails). I couldn't agree more. I especially like his explicit listing of classes and the corresponding Risus-style penumbra of abilities for each. He doesn't specify the resolution mechanic , though I trust it involves the character's level and a 3d6 or d20 roll. I'll be curious to see how his line of thinking develops. I used to be of the mind you had to have a skill system in D&D or else something would be missing. After playing Risus, I see that is no longer the case.

Note, I might still allow for a "background" cliche (like "Farmer" or "Blacksmith"), to both give character a little history and to provide for more non-adventuring skills. But this isn't strictly necessary. Most classes can be renamed to encompass vastly different types of non-fighting/non-spell-casting abilities.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting Funky With Lucky Shots

For those of you that use Funky Dice and the optional Lucky Shots rule from the Companion...

I had always assumed that Lucky Shots (and Bonus Gear) added another die of the same die type as the cliche being used to the character's roll. I don't think that it is explicitly stated that this is the case in the rules, though perhaps it is implied. Regardless, it is noteworthy that Lucky Shots are priced only in terms of dice and not in terms of Funky Dice points.

Upon reflection, this could be problematic. There is a big difference in using a Lucky Shot on a regular d6 cliche vs a Funky d20 cliche.

I have two approaches that I favor. The first is to price Funky Dice like Hooks & Tales (but in reverse). That means, Lucky Shots cost 10% the starting points during character creation. Lucky Shots (and Questing Dice) bought in this way add dice of the same type as the cliche being used.

The other approach that I would consider would be that Lucky Shots always add 1d6, regardless of if Funky Dice are used.

For Bonus Gear, I think there is no need for a hard-and-fast rule. It could vary on the purpose of the gear itself. One could assume that the default is to add dice of the same type of the cliche being used.

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Created: 2 December 2005 / Last modified: 5 Feb 2010
Risus: The Anything RPG ©1993-2010 by S. John Ross.
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