On What Mechanics Are Important

A lot has been said about dice, but I think you have to carefully consider if you want the dice to be important at all.

For example, while D&D 5E has a fairly high variance dice roll mechanic, in the long run the game is not actually about dice rolls at all. The reason the game system can get away with that mechanic is because the game is actually about resources management; hit points, spells/day, action economy, et al. that are far, far more important than the dice rolls. This removes the emphasis from random chance to player choice, which is important to a game about the kind of fantasy heroics it’s about.

On the other hand, Legends of the Wulin has an extremely complex dice rolling system with lots of fiddly details that affect modifiers and so on, so the focus of the game is much more on those dice games and tricks than it is on other aspects of the system. The game tries to have a lot of emphasis on resources as well, but the sheer complexity and player investment needed in the roll system means that the dice rolls are always going to seem more important than not, which gives more an impression of randomness (even though, technically, the system is far less random than D&D).

So before you start thinking about what dice to use, think about how you want a typical game session to focus its time. If you want to focus on the dicerolling, then go ahead with those. But if you want the focus to be somewhere else; perhaps with resource management or tactical minimap positioning or improvised roleplaying, then you should make certain that the rules reflect that. Whatever part of the system trumps the other parts is the most important part.

That is, if you can roll dice to determine the outcome of an action but also spend Drama Points to determine the outcome of a diceroll, then Drama Points (and the acquisition and spending of same) are more important than dice rolling. If roleplaying in character is how you get Drama Points, then that is more important than things which don’t get your Drama points, and so on.

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