For as often as I run my games diceless (or nearly so), I do really enjoy dice. I promise.
I started up a new local Galaxy Far Away campaign just over a week ago, and I realized I did not take a liking to the standard opposed 2d6 resolution that I originally penned for the game. Maybe it's because using d6 in Star Wars should belong with West End Games' timeless take on the genre, or maybe because I tend to find traditional opposed resolution less and less compelling these days.
I have grown stale on finding out if something happens or not. Instead, stuff always happens. The question is not "does it happen?" but "how?" and I'm finding that said qualitative result generation is much more interesting than pass/fail. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, as the whole "yes, and" or "yes, but" style of adjudication easily traces its origin back to many storygame oracles and even further back into the distant, halcyon days of the hobby and its adjacents.
|Look at all of those silly symbols.|
The point is, I am really quite taken with Fantasy Flight Games' "narrative dice" which they first debuted for Edge of the Empire and later more generically with their Genesys system, and I want to adapt them for Galaxy Far Away.
Kal, a former clone commander, is in a corridor skirmish with Imperial remnant stormtroopers and the other players. He has a vibrosword (which is a beloved trinket from the war) and a typical blaster rifle. To his right is a turbolift with blasted-open doors leading into an empty shaft.Me: Kal, you're a deadeye shot and can easily pick off these stormtroopers, but there are so many of them and there are civilians in the fray.Kal: I'm going to fire at the squad leader while the others help get the civilians out of the way.Me: You'll need to roll the challenge die given the risk here.Kal's player rolls the challenge die, getting a double-threat result.Me: You lay down heavy fire on the squad leader while your peers try to get the innocents out of harm's way, but one Rodian man is caught in the crossfire and takes a shot to the gut. He looks really badly hurt.Kal: I have a lot of training as a field medic from back in the day. I want to try and get to that man and help him!
Me: Okay. You do have the skillset for this sort of thing, but this firefight is still chaos. Let's each roll a die here.Kal's player rolls the proficiency die and gets a blank result. I roll the challenge die and get a despair result.Me: Before you pivot your attention, another trooper bum-rushes you. He collides with your mid-section and knocks you backwards. You wince as you see your vibrosword fly from your side from the impact... right into the turbolift shaft. You hear every clang as it falls hundreds of feet below.Kal proceeds to scream at the trooper and throws him down the turbolift shaft as payback, then rushes to stabilize the Rodian man.
In this example, the first double-threat result clearly ties into the fiction since the civilians the crew is worried about are in harm's way. It made perfect sense that the risk involved led to a casualty. The blank proficiency result was a bummer, since Kal could really have used a bit of oomph to his rescue plan. The despair result is big bad news, and a sure sting for Kal is the loss of his vibrosword down the turbolift shaft. I could have hand-waved all of these things into the game with no dice, but the quickly-adjudicated results afforded for some breezy and punchy qualifications about what transpired. As a futher bonus to adapting these dice in this way, my players quickly got comfortable making these little narrative rulings themselves. Since we all trust each other to take the setting seriously and act within it in good faith, I don't feel compromised with handing off a little authority to them in these instances.
|Here are the three dice we care about in Galaxy Far Away.|
The white Force die is usually tied to Edge of the Empire's robust Force power system for Jedi/Sith player characters. In using the Force with Galaxy Far Away, I still rule it just like anything else--if its plausible, it happens; if not, it doesn't; add dice where it makes sense. The Force die, then, can be used to influence Destiny Tokens (more on that in a sec) or as an additional quality randomizer for Force usage, with Dark Side dots or Light Side dots further inflecting the user's alignment or disposition or tangential effects, etc. It's a gut feeling, through and through, but it works.
Usually I'd have a larger pool of Destiny Tokens setup at the beginning of each session, then roll a d6 to determine how many begin on the Dark Side instead of the default Light Side. With the Force die, I can handle that exactly how Edge of the Empire does--just match the result with each token to be flipped. At this point, I reduce the token pool from six (or sometimes eight depending on setup) down to four. One Force die result could flip half of them at setup, rather than a smaller fraction, ensuring that in-game token flips are more impactful given their scarcity.
I'm also taking a page from Shawn Medero based on a comment he made on my original Galaxy Far Away blogpost. Normally there is no effect if all of the Destiny Tokens are aligned (all of them being either Light or Dark Side at the same time). Shawn's "Dramatic Reset" rule means that when all of the tokens are Light Side due to an in-game flip, a really huge boon occurs for the players. Ditto to the contrary if all of the tokens are Dark Side aligned. In my new dice framing, I'd look at these moments as something like a double triumph/despair result, which given that we're only using one of each respective dice, is otherwise impossible in terms of play. Flipping these tokens is already a sort of at-will auto-triumph/despair, so revving that intensity up even further is a great fit using Shawn's idea.
Norbert asked me earlier today if I or my players had any difficulty parsing the symbols in this new framing while we played. Frankly, it was effortless and almost instant each time we rolled and checked the result. I mentioned that it works not unike how my wife and I decide what board game to play or where to go out on a date when we're both indecisive. Usually we'll each pick an option and use something like rock-paper-scissors of Chwazi to arbitrate for us. However, almost every time one of us "wins" and we'd thus go with that person's option, we both immediately spring for the other option. We knew what we really wanted, we just couldn't articulate it. Same deal with these scant dice symbols. In the course of play, we very quickly identified what makes sense based on the results, but not without seeing them first and then quickly riffing on the context.
So there you have it. Remove d6s from Galaxy Far Away, add in these three unique dice, and hit the ground running. It worked better than I expected and I can't wait to leverage this cinematic procedure in our next session.