Cinemechanix Design Journal 4

Category: Cussin' In Tongues
Created on Friday, 22 January 2016 Written by Steve

Last night I set up a Cinemechanix Playtest Group on Facebook. A couple of groups from Patreon are already playtesting (or about to start) using the current (incomplete) draft of the rules, but the plan is to start official playtesting in about a month. We'll probably post big updates elsewhere and I'll answer questions or respond to comments on any platform if I notice them, but since I (and most other Hex staffers) are on Facebook more often than other sites, the Facebook group is the best place to stay in the loop, give feedback, ask questions, or whatever. Plus I already know how Facebook groups work and don't want to have to keep track of and cross-post to half a dozen different groups. If you want in on the playtesting, ask to join the group. As long as you're not an obvious spammer or known jackass, you're in.  

Last week I talked about the decision to get rid of Body, Brain, and Nerve and the roll-under central mechanic from QAGS. Once I did that, the game was no longer especially recognizable as QAGS, which is why the title of this series is "Cinemechanix Design Journal" and not "QAGS 3E Design Journal." The decision allowed me to rethink the whole system, which led to much bigger changes than I'd originally planned, but I'll get to those in future posts. They'll be much easier to discuss if everyone knows how the core mechanic works, so I'm going to go over that this week. Since I've already written it up, I'll just cut and paste it: 

Whenever a player makes a roll, he gets to roll at least one twenty-sided die (d20). This free die is his right as a living being who exists in the world and represents basic human potential, unquantified life experience, and blind luck. Depending on the situation, the player may also get to roll Bonus Dice (which increase the chances of success) or be required to roll Penalty Dice (which make failure more likely). When a player rolls a Bonus Die, he simply adds an extra d20 to Dice Pool. A Penalty Die also adds an extra d20 to the player’s pool, but after he rolls he has to remove the highest die in the pool (this is called Zapping). After Zapping his Dice Pool, the player adds his Hero Factor to the highest remaining die. If there are two or more dice left in the pool, the player adds 1 to the total for each die beyond the first. The result is the value of the character’s roll. Exactly what that value means depends on what sort of roll the character is making.

EXAMPLE: Sparky’s Dice Pool includes 1 Bonus Die and 2 Penalty Dice, so he rolls a total of 4 dice (free die + Bonus Die + 2 Penalty Dice). He rolls 19, 15, 11, and 8. Since he rolled 2 Penalty Dice, he has to Zap the 2 highest dice (the 19 and the 15), leaving him with a pool of 11 and 8. Since his Hero Factor is three, his total roll is 15 (11 for the highest die, +3 for Hero Factor, +1 for the extra remaining die).

Bonus and Penalty Dice are mostly based on the characters stats, but GMs can also add Bonus or Penalty Dice as situational modifiers. For example, a character using a crappy old laptop might get a Penalty Die to a hacking roll or a character with the element of surprise might get a Bonus Die to an attack roll.

Hero Factor is the character's power level and runs from 1 (completely normal people) to 10 (extremely powerful heroes like Superman). Action movie heroes are usually in the 3-5 range and super-heroes start around 6. Hero Factors higher than 10 are possible for cosmically powerful characters, but not really recommended for PCs. Nameless mooks who only exist to get punched or shot have a Hero Factor of 0. 

All rolls have a target number they need to beat, usually an opponent's roll or a difficulty number set by the GM. The difference between the roll and the target number (officially called Effect) determines how well the character succeeded or how badly he failed (if the Effect is negative). For some rolls the Effect has a specific game use. For example, the Effect of a (successful) combat roll is the damage of the attack. For others, the number is just a guideline for the GM to use in interpreting the results of the action. An Effect of 1 is a pretty crappy success; an effect of 20 is epic. 

There are of course nuances and variations and special situations, but that's the central rolling mechanic. Understanding it should help upcoming posts make more sense. 

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Cinemechanix Design Journal 4.
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