Sunday, 12 June 2022

Tricube Tales: Expanded scene types for cooperative play

RPGClyde on the Zadmar Games Discord server recently mentioned that he likes playing cooperative GMless games with Tricube Tales, and this got me thinking about how the solo rules might be expanded to better handle cooperative play.

The main issue is the key challenges. Should everyone roll for them? One player? Do you pick someone at random? If everyone has to succeed then there's a much greater risk of failure -- but conversely, if only one player has to beat the challenge, the chance of success is far higher.

Cooperative play should take all of those factors into account, and that also means compensating for the fact that each player will likely be making fewer rolls. Introducing the use of effort tokens (as described in the Tricube Tales core rules) would help a lot, but they shouldn't be overused.

When I used to design Savage Worlds One Sheet adventures, I found my sweet spot was two scenes that required multiple rolls to resolve (one as a combat scene, the other as a Chase, Dramatic Task, or Social Conflict). So my gut feeling is to do the same here with scenes requiring effort tokens, and define two types of scenes: action scenes, and story scenes.

Action Scenes

Each adventure contains two "action scenes". These typically represent combat, chases, or other dramatic group activities.

When you draw a new scene card, before resolving the challenge, compare its suit with the scene cards you've previously drawn. If this is the first time you've made a pair (aka two-of-a-kind -- i.e., two cards of the same suit) then this is the first action scene: it has a pool of 2 effort tokens per PC (e.g., if there are 3 players, then the scene has 6 effort tokens). The final scene of the adventure is the second action scene, and it has a pool of 3 effort tokens per PC.

Action scenes use a pool of effort tokens, and the players must eliminate all the effort tokens in order to beat the challenge. Everyone rolls: those who fail, lose 1 resolve (or 2 on a critical failure); those who succeed eliminate 1 effort token for each die that succeeds (e.g., if they roll 6 5 4 for an easy challenge, they would eliminate 3 effort tokens). If any of the effort tokens remain, everyone has to roll again.

Anyone who already eliminated their share of the effort tokens may have the option of sitting out the rest of the scene (this is still TBD, but something I'll think about before writing up these rules in their final form).

Story Scenes

If a scene isn't an "action scene", then it's a "story scene". These can represent anything, even combat, but they consist of a single roll (to draw a comparison with the approach I used for Savage Worlds One Sheet adventures, these could be like Quick Combat rather than a full combat encounter).

In solo play, the lone PC resolves all the key challenges for story scenes (and thus no further changes are required), but in a cooperative game, use the suit to determine who rolls. As the action scenes can result in the loss of resolve, I recommend that story scenes don't, at least as a general rule.

Note: As a memory hook, the first letter of the scene type is the same as the name of the suit.

Clubs: Combined Effort

Everyone can roll, and only one person needs to succeed to carry the rest of the group). For example:

Agile: Someone throws something at the group, and one PC has to catch it before it hits the ground. There's a lock that needs picking, but everyone can have a go. The PCs are trying to shoot a fleeing enemy, but only one of them needs to successfully hit.

Brawny: The group is chasing a fleeing target, and someone needs to catch them! The group has to drag a heavy object or open a heavy door.

Crafty: Only one PC has to spot the ambush or notice a clue in order to tell the others. One PC has to recall an important piece of information.

Diamonds: Draw Straws

One person picked at random must roll to overcome the challenge. For example:

Agile: One PC is shot at by a sniper and must evade. One PC is caught in the enemy's field of vision and must hide. Only one PC has line-of-sight to take a shot at the fleeing enemy.

Brawny: Falling debris falls on one of the PCs, potentially injuring them. An enemy attacks one of the PCs.

Crafty: One PC happens to walk past a clue, can they spot it? Someone attempts to trick, taunt or intimidate a PC.

Hearts: Heel of Achilles

Everyone rolls and everyone has to succeed, if anyone fails then the entire group fails. For example:

Agile: The whole group needs to sneak past some guards without being spotted. The PCs attempt to ambush some soldiers, but they'll need to be quiet!

Brawny: It's a long and tiring journey, can everyone keep up, or will someone delay the group? Can the entire group run to the escape pod before the space pirates arrive?

Crafty: The PCs infiltrate an organization, if any of their acting skills aren't up to par, they will draw unwanted attention.

Spades: Step Forward

One person volunteers to make the roll. The group can discuss and nominate the best candidate for the task. For example:

Agile: One PC has to steal the guard's key, or sneak up on the lookout and overpower them.

Brawny: One PC has to climb the wall and enter through the open window (they can then open the door on the other side to let the rest of the group inside).

Crafty: One PC has to track the enemy, or bribe an official.

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