Rolling up on you

Last time, we talked about character attributes based on the technology used to send a character’s consciousness into the noosphere. Alert readers will have noticed what looks like a flaw. (WARNING: Math and probability ahead!)

Attributes are given die types (such as d6 or d10) and have a dyad that further explains what that attribute is used for (such as Potency : Immunity). You split the die type’s range between the two dimension in the dyad, so your character could have the following:

  • Coherence: d8 (Potency 1-4 : Immunity 5-8)
  • Signal clarity: d10 (Perception 1-5 : Stealth 6-10)
  • Bandwidth: d6 (Throughput 1-3 : Speed 4-6)

The flaw? Each attribute has a 50/50 chance of success. Why use different die types at all? There’s no functional difference between d6, d8, and d10!

Actually, there are two differences.

The first is granularity. Each number in a d10 represents 10%, whereas each number in a d6 represents 16.7%. You can give yourself a 20% chance at success with a d10 (i.e. 1-2), but with a d6, you’d have to choose either 16% or 32% (i.e. 1-1 or 1-2). It’s a small difference, but it does give players a little more control over their characters.

But that’s not the big difference. The creatures that live in the noosphere get their own die types but roll against your attributes.

Let’s take two creatures, one weak and one strong, to illustrate the point.

  • Our weak creature is a Flat Stalker, the embodiment of obsession and amazement. It looks like a two-dimensional human paparazzi. When it rolls, it uses a d12.

  • Our strong creature is a Mr. & Mrs. Beating, the embodiment of infatuation, malevolence, and resignation. It looks like an abusive, middle-aged, married couple with a chain physically linking their hearts. When it rolls, it uses a d6.

Using the character attributes above, what happens if both the Flat Stalker and the Mr. & Mrs. Beating try to attack you? They must roll against your Potency range, which is 1-4.

  • The Flat Stalker rolls 1d12, giving it a 33% chance of hitting you.

  • The Mr. & Mrs. Beating rolls 1d6, giving it a 67% chance of hitting you.

What happens if these two creatures try to perceive you? They roll their die types against your Perception range, which is 1-5.

  • The Flat Stalker rolls 1d12, giving it a 42% chance of spotting you.

  • The Mr. & Mrs. Beating rolls 1d6, giving it a 83% chance of spotting you.

Even if your Coherence and Signal Clarity attributes have the same 50/50 range split, they are treated differently by the creatures in the noosphere because, having different die ranges, the exact numbers creating that 50/50 split are different. 1-3 on a d6 and 1-5 on a d10 both equal 50%, but a d4 creature and a d20 creature have very different chances for both ranges.

The interesting side effect of this system is that lower die types are more powerful. If you face a d20 creature, it’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re facing a d4 creature? Fucking run, man.