Designing For Dice

It’s time to design our first weapon for the Skyrim Tabletop Conversion Project, the iron dagger.

First we have to understand how the dice from that Star Wars RPG work; and how we plan to use them for our game.

If all goes well, Alvor will be hiring us as his apprentice in Riverwood.


Rolling Dice

Fantasy Flight created an nice dice system uses a simple cancelling mechanic. Each die has an opposite. Ability/Difficulty die, Proficiency/Challenge die, boost/setback die. Each symbol on the dice also have an opposite. Success cancels failure, advantage cancels threat.

You roll a group of dice based on your skills and the difficulty of the task, along with any additional boosts or penalties. If you have at least 1 uncancelled success, you did it!

Then there’s threat and advantage. These are minor positive or negative consequences that don’t affect whether or not you completed your task. For example you could succeed in jumping over a fence, but have additional threat. Perhaps you didn’t land well and strained your foot.

It gives each action a bit more flavor and helps tell the story more than just pass or fail.

Here are the symbols found on the dice


Modified System

I want to retain this dice pool rolling mechanic because it is simple yet enjoyable. I want to swing my sword madly at a my enemy, roll some dice, and send heads flying!

Weapons use a simple formula. Deal X damage on hit (rolling a success) and doing +1 damage for each uncancelled success. Your dice pool is determined by your weapons related skill.

Weapons may also have additional effects with enough advantage. Things like dealing critical injuries, adding area of effect damage, etc.

One of the prebuilt character’s weapons and equipment from Age of Rebellion

Difficulty is determined by multiple factors such as distance, positioning, available cover, etc.

Deciding difficulty is a bit abstract and It seems like it should be based on a character’s defense value, similar to Imperial Assault. In fact a lot of the dice ideas here mirror that of Imperial Assault.

A character from Imperial Assault has dice listed for defense and other stats.

Moving to a defense value also lets us change up defenses to specific attack types. Having physical, magical, and stealth resistances will help vary our enemies.

Undead for example may have low magical and stealth resistances but higher physical resistance. Some characters may not be strong but able to easily detect deception or trickery.

These stats can provide more information about the characters through the game mechanics. We can easily display the resistances as a dice pool for each type.

We’ve taken the system and modified it just a bit. When you attack an enemy you’ll use a weapon, roll some dice based on the type of weapon and include defense dice based on the targets resistance to that attack type. Your weapon will do X damage on hit plus additional damage based on success. You may even have additional effects to trigger with advantage.

I really like that you can do additional damage with extra success and trigger extra effects. As our characters level up and increase their skills they will be able to do more damage and trigger more abilities with the same weapons. This really gives the feeling of player growth even if they aren’t collecting better gear.


Design Problem

With the above system we do run into a challenge. What about mixed damage types? Say you attack with an enchanted sword that does fire damage. Do you roll twice, once for each resistance?

I haven’t figured this one out yet. The easy option is to ignore it for now and see if it really causes problems later. Custom dice (positive/negative for each type physical/magical/Stealth) could solve this, but I don’t currently have custom dice.

For now we will continue on and see if a specific solution presents itself. Maybe this isn’t even a big deal.


Forging Weapons

We talked about weapons and it’s time to make our first. Let’s start with an Iron Dagger.

This is the Iron Dagger from the Skyrim Wiki Page

Let’s say our base damage is 1, and it costs 1 Stamina to us. It deals extra damage on uncancelled success. Maybe 2 advantage can be an additional 1 damage? Iron weapons are mostly blunt so just adding a bit more damage seems fine.

How about power attacking? In Skyrim it just does more damage. So let’s say you can power attack, which increases your stamina cost by 1, and let’s you add a boost dice to your roll.

Power attacks can be used to deal extra damage or break through an opponent’s block. …  A power attack has a chance of staggering its target and consumes Stamina … Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (Power Attacks)

Here’s what it looks like in my spreadsheet. This has generic headers because I also use it for spells and abilities.

Iron Dagger in my game design spreadsheet

I’ll talk about subclass in my next post where I take a look at a group of weapons. For now I gave the dagger “light” since its much smaller than any of the other one-handed weapons. We can use these tags to trigger other perks.

Now we’ve forged our first dagger and it’s time to open up our blacksmith shop. Join me in the next post and we’ll make some more weapons!

Thanks for reading,