Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Tricube Tales: Merging concepts from Swift d12 to increase granularity

I recently had an interview on the Dieku Podcast, where I talked about my introduction to gaming, how I got into Savage Worlds and self-publishing, and about my Tricube Tales system. You can watch the interview here:

While talking about the origins of Tricube Tales, I also mentioned Swift d12, and this got me thinking about the two systems. Although I did run several successful playtests with Swift d12, I was never entirely happy with it -- but it does include a lot of options for character advancement, which is good for longer campaigns (one of the weaknesses of Tricube Tales). So this got me wondering if it might be viable to merge some of the concepts.

The first thing I did was look at the dice. Tricube Tales uses 1-3d6 vs a target number (TN) of 4/5/6, which is statistically identical to 1-3d12 vs TN 7/9/11:

Tricube Tales allows you to lower the difficulty by 1 using a perk, and by a further 1 when fighting lower-ranked foes using the Hack-and-Slash genre rules, but that means even in the most extreme case (using a perk against a lower-ranked foe) the difficulty is 2/3/4 for an easy, standard, or hard challenge respectively. Thus rolling 1 is still a failure, and easy/standard/hard challenges each have a different TN. You can't lower the difficulty by more than 2 without breaking the resolution mechanic.

But replacing the d6s with d12s gives you more wiggle room, allowing you to lower the difficulty by 5. This would allow the return of separate traits (something I had to drop from Tricube Tales), so instead of rolling an extra d12 for challenges related to your trait (agile/brawny/crafty) you'd have different ratings in each, and add your trait to the roll.

You could then increase the easy/standard/hard TNs from 7/9/11 to 8/10/12 and make "1" the baseline for each trait so that characters can be below average at some things (i.e., have a trait of 0). That would allow you to apply a modifier of up to +6 without breaking the resolution mechanic (i.e., if the TN is 8/10/12, then a bonus of +6 still allows failure on a natural 1).

I would give players 5 points to distribute among their traits (agile, brawny, and crafty), with each trait having a range of 0-3. Challenges would require rolling 2d12 and adding the appropriate trait against TN 8/10/12 for easy, standard, and hard difficulty respectively (as usual, the two dice would be compared separately, not added together). For challenges that fall entirely outside the scope of the character concept, the player would roll a single d12.

Perks could then work more like the Swift d12 feats, which provide a variety of predefined abilities and bonuses (rather than being freeform). Many of the feats are classified as "stackable", meaning they can be taken up to three times. So you might have an Alertness perk which gives a +1 bonus to perception, and you could take up it to three times -- you'd then add it to your crafty trait when making perception checks so (for example) a character with crafty 3 and alertness 3 would apply a +6 bonus to their roll, against a difficulty of 8 (easy), 10 (standard) or 12 (hard).


These changes would obviously add complexity. In particular, they would require the introduction of a long laundry list of perks, which is something I intentionally avoided in Tricube Tales (mostly because I didn't want people looking things up during play). But they would also add granularity and varied character options for long-term campaigns, and could be expanded with other Swift d12 features (such as the combat rules, allowing a similar style of tactical combat to Savage Worlds for those who want it).

Furthermore, it would be very easy to convert a Tricube Tales character across to these new hybrid rules, simply giving a character 3 points in their primary trait and 1 point in each of the others. Tricube Tales-style perks could still be used (they'd just give a +2 bonus, but wouldn't stack with fixed-bonus perks), and Swift d12 already has rules for karma and quirks (called "flaws", that's actually where I got the original idea for quirks in Tricube Tales).

I don't want to change Tricube Tales, but perhaps this would be a good direction to take Swift d12 when I finally get around to revisiting it -- have it work more like Tricube Tales, except with more granularity and character options.

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