Earlier today, I was listening to the first episode of the Excess Advantage Podcast (which I was a guest on) and I was struck by an idea. It’s probably not a new idea; after all, there are no new ideas left, right? But it’s not one that I’ve come across and I thought I’d give a go at developing the idea into something that I could use at my game table.
In the episode, Christopher was explaining to me how the Threats and Advantages work in the Genesys RPG put out by Fantasy Flight Games. It got me thinking, as it did while we were recording, how much I enjoy systems that have a system or rule to expand the pass/fail roll. There’s Complications in the Smallville (Cortex Plus Dramatic) game, there are Exceptional Successes in the New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness and Degrees of Success in Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition. Those are all games that I do or have enjoyed and my enjoyment of them is in no small part due to the expansion of the rolls.
While I was listening and thinking, I thought how cool it would be to have a system for Threats and Advantages that wasn’t tied to the dice rolling for success and failure. That’s different to how Genesys does it, since the symbols for Success & Advantage appear on the same dice, just like how the symbols for Failure & Threat are on the same dice. But, since I want to port this into games that use traditional dice that have numbers on the faces, I needed something that works in tandem and doesn’t interfere with how the game’s mechanics work.
I turned the idea over in my head for a few minutes, trying to see how I would implement it when I realized that I was just looking for pluses and minuses. Which are already a thing. Fate dice! Fate dice are perfect for it since the dice only show a plus, minus or blank face. In Fate, the symbols cancel each other out, just like Threats and Advantages in Genesys. I realized this was my answer. This is how I can expand the dice rolls in other games!
Now, this is an idea that I’m noodle-ing, nothing more. I haven’t brought this to my table or play-tested it at all. If you choose to try this out, understand that you’ll likely need to make some tweaks to it to fit your table’s style and the game you’re playing.
Here are my current ideas on implementing this:
- When rolling the dice in your system of choice, in addition to the dice you normally roll, roll two Fate dice.
- The Fate dice will give you one of several results: (+,+),(+,0),(0,0),(0,-),(-,-). A (+,-) counts as a (0,0) since they cancel each other out.
- Each (+) is an Advantage and each (-) is a Threat.
- Each Advantage can be spent by the player who rolled the dice to:
- Add a bonus to another PC’s roll. Could be a +2 in d20, a Boon in Shadow of the Demon Lord, +1 die in World of Darkness or Burning Wheel.
- Add +1 to their Armor Class or Defense score for one round.
- Gain some narrative perk, negotiated with the GM.
- Each Disadvantage can be spent by the GM to:
- Add a penalty to the player’s next roll. Could be -2 in d20, a Bane in Shadow of the Demon Lord, -1 die in World of Darkness or +1 Ob in Burning Wheel.
- Give an NPC a bonus to their next roll against the PC, just like the bonuses a PC can give to a fellow with an Advantage.
- Inflict a narrative disadvantage onto the scene.
That’s what I’ve got. I’m going to chat with my home group and see what they think. Maybe I’ll give this a try in our next Shadow of the Demon Lord session, if they’re willing! I hope this adds to your games. If it does (or doesn’t) or if you’ve got thoughts, share them with me! I’d love to discuss them. Join the frenzy!