Actions in Retrolock

I missed updating last week, so figured I’d make up for it by writing a post with some meat to it.

Previously I had mentioned that I was working on a kind of Interlock retroclone called Retrolock. While stripped down to the mechanical level it runs very similar to Interlock (roll d10 + stat + skill), games like Fate Core have wormed their way into my gaming DNA to such a degree that I can’t really look at any rpg-related without having that particular brand of “fiction first” lens tinting it. So I set out to try to make something that honors the crunchier, “Let the dice decide” philosophy of games like Interlock while still having some newfangled bells and whistles. Without playtesting it’s difficult to say if I succeeded, but I like what I have so far.

Basically, like most narrative-focused games everything starts out with what the player is trying to accomplish; how they are going to accomplish it; and what happens if they succeed or fail. This doesn’t have to be some long and drawn out negotiation between the player(s) and GM, but it is there to help reinforce that there should be something important, or exciting, or interesting, happening when the dice come out.

From there, it looks like most every other game of its ilk – roll, add stat and skill, compare to the Risk Factor (more on this in a minute). If the rolls beats the Risk Factor the action succeeds, if it’s lower the action fails. The kinds of things that you see in games like Fate (success at a cost, boosts, etc.) are kind of there, but more rigidly defined. Rolling a zero results in things Going Sideways, which increases the Risk Factor of a subsequent action logically connected to the failed roll. Rolling a 10 gives a Bonus Effect, which decreases the Risk Factor of a subsequent action.

Finally, the character can Go For Broke, which entails intentionally increasing the Risk Factor of an action in order to reduce a follow-up action’s Risk Factor if they succeed (with the chance of getting a stacking Bonus Effect to boot).

Another twist compared to most systems like Interlock or Silhouette is there aren’t supposed to be any modifiers to dice rolls, and the Risk Factors are intended to be raised and lowered in clean increments of 5 (matching the Interlock scale of 10 = easy, 15 = average, 20 = hard, etc.). There will be some room in there for instances of smaller adjustments to Risk Factor, but those are going to be the outliers and not the norm.

Finally…what about this Risk Factor thing? Initially, it was intended to be a kind of detour from the idea of basing the target of rolls on “difficulty” but in the end, it just looks like difficulty does in every other system. I’m keeping the label Risk Factor though, because risk is definitely a component of how difficult an action is – along with the capability and skill of the character attempting it, the luck of the die roll, external forces working against the character, etc. So, in that light, the Risk Factor is just one “factor” in the equation of whether the character succeeds or not.

Hopefully things will start to settle down a little bit more at work and home, and I can put some more time and polish into this little project. Of course, that’s along with the half a dozen other projects I want to work on as well.

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