View Full Version : Diceless?

2010-12-22, 07:39 PM
I remember back in the day there was this whole new thing: Diceless RPGs.

I know there were several systems created that didn't use dice or other random decision makers (e.g. cards); I've got one of them on my shelf right here: Imperium 3000 (http://www.librarything.com/work/2862905/covers/). As far as I can tell, these kinds of systems would include character statistics to determine what the character could reasonably achieve in a normal situation, and then modify that for favourable or difficult situations.

To me it seems obvious that diceless games are awesome when it comes to co-operative game play: The GM sets the scene and the players immerse themselves in it.

But it seems equally obvious that this genre of RPGs are inherently flawed when it comes to conflict resolution. Sure there are mechanics that allow for "buying" a success at one point by "paying" for it with a few minor set-backs at other points. But at worst this turns the game into a weird kind of advanced multi-player chess where one of the players (the GM) is free to choose to win!

Of the two "genres", a game based on conflict seems to me to have a lot more appeal. In a co-operative game, choosing success for your character and getting it for no other reason that you want it strikes me as being as somewhat... selfish. There is a thrill to saying "I attempt to..." and roll the dice. Even if the chance of failure is just one out of twenty, the chance of failure adds to the significance of the act. I really cant see a diceless RPG beating that.

Diceless. Is it even possible?


2010-12-22, 07:46 PM
Well, some "diceless" games used rock-scissors-paper for everything, but that doesn't seem to be what you're talking about. IMO a truly "diceless" RPG is simply collective improv storytelling. Some would find that entertaining, I'm sure, but without the uncertainty of outcome it's not really a game any more.

To me, one thing that makes RPGs fun is that individual players don't need to be very good at story telling in order for everyone to have fun. In a system appropriate to the players, you can do what comes naturally, and the story flows from those actions. For sure, the best gaming stories I have are ones where the outcome wasn't planned by anyone.

2010-12-22, 07:50 PM
Try epic DnD. When your bonuses are on the level of +340 to hit, it's pretty much a binary success/failure system.

Safety Sword
2010-12-22, 07:58 PM
Only one I really tried was Dragonlance Saga 5th Age game.

I hated it. Went back to dice. Dice are fun!

Temet Nosce
2010-12-22, 11:57 PM
I'm familiar with a few such games, two in particular I'd like to mention are Amber Diceless RPG, and Nobilis. Both of which behave in a manner which works very well for what they're trying to do. First you need to understand that in these games, you are pretty much going to automatically succeed at most challenges someone isn't opposing you on (in one you play a member of the royal house of Amber, in the other you play an anthropomorphic representation of a concept like time), and second when conflict does come about it's going to depend heavily on circumstances and individual strengths rather than luck.

In the case of Amber, at the start of the game players participate in an attribute auction where they determine the standing of their characters in comparison with each other, then use leftover points to purchase things like pattern walking.

In the case of Nobilis you mostly compete indirectly (you have near absolute control over a facet of life, not really surprising), after assigning points to several stats as you wish. However, when you do directly compete in Nobilis you have the option to invest a varying number of points on top of your base stat to attempt to get through to the enemy and affect them with a miracle (generally without knowing how much effort is needed).