Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Spatial Relationships (Between Dice)

I am on vacation with the family and confined to a cell phone so I'm afraid the longer post that I had intended for letter "S" is going to have to wait. But I did want to mention something that relates to that intended post...

Over at The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, Talysman really got me thinking with his Planet Generator post. In a nutshell, he drew a diagram of an empty set of orbits and proposed a system where the physical location of the dice as they land on this map is just as important as the values on the dice. What an amazing idea! Other than Tony Dowler's "How to Host a Dungeon", I had never before seen the spatial relationships between dice used in a game mechanic. And in the case of HtHaD, the implications to other gaming applications didn't fully register.

So here's my thinking...

I had been planning on adapting the Castle Falkenstein magic system ("S is for Sorcery") to Risus and other games. The Falkenstein system uses playing cards as a randomizer, which takes advantage of both face value and suit to come up with a rich palette of effects. I had struggled to capture the feel of this system using dice until I saw Talysman's post. Now I totally think you could create a rolling surface (or box) that is partitioned into four equal areas for each suit. In addition to their values, dice would then have suits based on their location on the rolling surface. You could even create a small area to represent jokers.

More on this later. I just wanted to get the idea out there.

10 comments:

Dariel Quiogue said...

Interesting idea. You'll have to have rules though for how and where players release their dice on the grid, as otherwise it's pretty easy to weight the roll result in a desired direction.

kelvingreen said...

Zak's Vornheim book has a number of tables which work on this principle, in that not only does the number rolled matter, but so does the place where the die lands on the chart. It's one of the cleverer parts of the book.

The Happy Whisk said...

You wrote all of that on a cell phone? My goodness, that's great. Happy Vacation :-)

Porky said...

Talysman has a fine approach. I'm consistently surprised by how much he does with so little.

Talysman said...

@Dariel: weighted rolls is exactly why over the years I moved from linear to radial dice maps (my name for this kind of technique.) Hold the dice over the center, drop them, and interpret using direction and distance from center.

More important is what to do about boundaries. I didn't mention it again in the planet generator post, but for previous dice maps, I've always said that dice that land on a boundary between two regions is interpreted *twice*. For things like generating monsters, magic items, or planets, this means that a 3d6 roll could actually turn into the equivalent of 4d6 to 6d6, or even 9d6 if your layout allows. Lots of variability!

Sylvia Ney said...

Very interesting. I'm glad I found your blog. I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to visiting again.

Dariel Quiogue said...

Radial dice map, nice! Hope you post a pic of what you came up with. This is something I'd love to do as a variant on Castle Falkenstein - I loved the use of card suites, but I personally found using cards more laborious than using dice. Limited decks, need to shuffle, etc. etc.

Talysman said...

@Dariel: Both the planetary generator that Risus Monkey was referring to and the chamber generator I just posted have radial elements.

Planetary Generator

Chamber Generator

There's also an older "attribute map" that I'm redoing that has a radial design. It's meant for NPC attribute rolls, but because I've associated the six abilities with other concepts, it can be used for all sorts of things: death and dismemberment rolls, disease generation, magic item generation.

Risus Monkey said...

@Dariel: I like Talysman's idea for a radial map. I also thought that you could roll a reference die that would simply mark any area into quadrants. Anyway, I still need to give it some thought...

@kelvingreen: Yet another reason why I need Voirnheim!

@Whisk: Thanks! We had a great time visiting my wife's brother in Pittsburgh. Great children's museum there...

@Talysman: Ah yes... important to consider boundaries. And I can't wait to check out the new radial tables.

@Sylvia: Welcome! It's always great to see new visitors! That's been the best thing about the A to Z Challenge.

GeneD5 said...

As a fan of random generators of all kinds who's currently running a space opera game, I love this idea!