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Diceless systems

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Dr_Avalanche:
I was browsing my copy of the Amber Diceless RPG, and started thinking about different ways you could resolve conflict without using dice. Amber uses a non-random method - if my relevant stat is 35 and your relevant stat is 20, I will win unless you fake me out and I run away not realizing I had the upper hand.
That's one way to do it, but there must be tons of random resolution mechanics, or negotiation based systems.
 
What diceless systems are there out there, what mechanics do they use, and just as interestingly, what resolution mechanics can you think of that hasn't been used (yet)?

kryyst:
Depends on what you value as Diceless.  There are some games that use playing cards instead of dice.  But that's still just a different randomizer.  The fun thing about playing cards is that they can fit a setting more interestingly.  Deadlands inparticular.  The other neat thing about playing cards is that there is a limited random factor since the number of cards are fixed.  You know there are only 4 kings per deck.  If you play them early you know you may be losing out later.

The other mechanics I've seen mentioned is the use of counters.  You start out with a fixed ammount of counters and you an spend them to augment your stats.  Once your counters are gone you are stuck with your stats.  Until your counters refresh.

Dr_Avalanche:

--- Quote from: kryyst ---Depends on what you value as Diceless. There are some games that use playing cards instead of dice. But that's still just a different randomizer. The fun thing about playing cards is that they can fit a setting more interestingly. Deadlands inparticular. The other neat thing about playing cards is that there is a limited random factor since the number of cards are fixed. You know there are only 4 kings per deck. If you play them early you know you may be losing out later.
 
The other mechanics I've seen mentioned is the use of counters. You start out with a fixed ammount of counters and you an spend them to augment your stats. Once your counters are gone you are stuck with your stats. Until your counters refresh.
--- End quote ---

Yeah, I guess I'm more interested in non-random systems, but playing cards are fine too, especially if they're not just used as "draw a card, read the value". Maybe the suits do entirely different things in a negotiation situation, maybe the nine of hearts scores you points toward using your charms to resolve the situation, while the nine of clubs give you points towards intimidating your way towards a victory in the conflict. And if you're not willing to use intimidation (it's your girlfriend you're in a contest with, and you're not the type of guy who beats up women), you'll suffer a penalty to your result.
 
I think in particular currency-type systems are interesting, where the player has the power to decide how important success is. If you think you're about to run out of currency (or counters), you might choose to intentionally lose a contest to make sure that you have some resources left when the villain suddenly but inevitably betrays you. Or perhaps you think it makes for a better story if you do it the other way around. It gives power to the players, which I think is cool.

kryyst:
I like playing cards, but I like them because of the random factor.  My dislike from diceless systems isn't because I don't like roling dice.  But rather I like having that random factor.  If I fail because I didn't bet enough that's just annoying if I fail at a task because random fate has brought missfortune I can except that easier.  

Another issue I have against diceless is that the gm really has the advantage and you must have a great GM.  He knows exactly what the NPC's have and also what the players have.  He has the ability to act on all the knowledge of the game.  He also knows that a given NPC is only going to be around for so long and he's free to play them with that knowledge.  A PC on the other hand not only has to worry about how many points he's spending on this action.  But has to worry about how many points he'll have left to spend on an undetermined ammount of actions to come.

Which is why I really love card mechanics.  There is that limited urgency becasue you know what cards you have in your hand but no one else knows who's got what.  So you can choose to play a low card and most likely fail.  But even your low card could be better then someone elses.

Gunhilda:
The biggest problem we have with diceless systems like Amber is that they cater to the worst impulses of human behavior.  Yes, GMs can cheat with dice, but with a diceless system, it takes far greater self control for them not to cheat.

We might be interested in a diceless system if it somehow introduced the concept of fairness.  But we have not seen such a thing.

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