#RPGaday2015 – Day 25: Revolutionary Game Mechanic

Day 25 of RPGaDay 2015 asks us to identify our favorite revolutionary game mechanic. There are a few ways to answer this question even without going for the whole ‘favorite’ aspect, so I bet the internet will provide us with a lot of cool stuff to check out, or nod our collective heads over. This might be my favorite of the favorites questions this year. I am going to approach this from a personal chronological standpoint, wherein I cite mechanics I thought were cool or revolutionary in the order in which I discovered them, and then will end off with my favorite.





The first mechanic I remember thinking was up there with sliced bread and donairs was the way in which combat is resolved in Palladium – an opposed roll with a simple method for accounting for armour and differences in skill. This was the first time I saw a mechanic in action which went beyond the element of task resolution and offered some form of synthesis with the player between the world of the game and the real world. Rolling to hit and to defend versus incoming rolls lends itself very easily to aiding a blending of thought and action (IC immersion in other words).

The second followed close on the heels of the first, and it was the sanity mechanic from Call of Cthulhu. It was the simplicity and clarity of the mechanic which caught my eye. It was an easy way to handle a complicated issue, and it could be employed for whatever style of game you were looking for. You could play it for laughs or bring it to bear on an actual exploration of the decline of mental stability, or something in between. Nice~

Over the years there have been many things. Technoir’s way of bringing noir from a pure genre element into the actual system is one, the narrative dice in FFG Star Wars is another. Who can get involved in a list like this and not cite the Shot Clock from Aces&Eights? I am not sure which game initiated the mechanic, but count-based initiative is fantastic. There are so many cool things out there. Another great one is Taking the Average in Ubiquity, which takes an old GM skill and brings it out in the open to make it fast, consistent, player-centered, and fun.

The one revolutionary mechanic I want to cite for this post, however, is the dice pool. From my perspective, that simple thing, first seen in Ghostbusters by WEG featuring an all-star design cast from Chaosium changed and expanding options in designs which followed beyond the ken of mortals. Well, a lot anyway~


One Response to “#RPGaday2015 – Day 25: Revolutionary Game Mechanic”
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  1. […] from systems built around the d20 and 3d6 dice rolls to systems using Dice Pools (check out Casting Shadows for a take on the dice pool as a favorite revolutionary RPG mechanic). Dice pools using d6s or d10s […]

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