I want to talk about using randomizers in TTRPGs, and why I went diceless with

One reason people play games is to engage in exciting actions. It's often exciting not to know how an action will turn out. Risk builds excitement, and randomness with consequences for failure introduces risk. So "roll dice to find out" is an easy tool to indirectly add tension.


Most (but not all) dice systems don't encode history. Rolling a success now is no more or less likely because you rolled a failure then.

When you flip a character card, it stays flipped until you take action to flip it back. Until then, you can't use it to succeed at challenges. And you may encounter challenges where that card is the only safe way to proceed.

Beyond that, pushing against Condition cards you've taken pose their own challenges. So the state of your cards represents a history that affects your ability to succeed in the now. And that history can be very random - it's made of all the decisions you made until now.

Of course, you can always succeed with a flipped card if you activate its downside, bringing a plot complication into play. But as players, that's what we want.

(Well, that's what many players I've met seem to want. But this game is meant for them anyway.)

In terms, it's easiest to get weak hits (7-9), and to get strong hits (10+) you'll need to take a similar number of misses (6-), over the lifetime of the game.

During playtest, players would often use up their "good" cards early on, then find themselves trying alternate strategies or looking at problems from new angles to use their remaining cards. To me this is good - it's a form of randomness, not in "does this work" but "HOW does this work".

And if you absolutely don't want to know ahead of time if an action should succeed, there's a stack of success/failure cards to draw from. I won't judge

The tension from this strategy comes more from the how than the if. When Tana attacks the ogre, will it be via her magic (which must go awry, because she needs a complication to flip that card back), or will she swing a sword (and get hurt, or lose the sword, via taking Condition cards), or will she be swatted away (and thus help Emory flip back his Guardian card)? That choice will affect every other action in the encounter


When it comes time for Emory to act, his ability to succeed depends on what Tana did - and whatever else happened before that. He’s been handed a set of dice, loaded by history to roll a certain way, and now he “rolls” by picking from his available cards (or just taking the failure)

@astralfrontier this sounds really cool! It is a totally different approach to cards than I'm using in , which gives players a hand of standard playing cards for their actions. This has some similarities, in that you know your options and most outcomes ahead of time (to a degree), but also a lot of differences.


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