[Danger Patrol] Isometric Resolution

edited July 2010 in Game Design Help
This is something that I have noticed in a number of indie games, such as Apocolypse World and InSpectres, but perhaps the best example I have seen is in Danger Patrol. For lack of a better term I am referring to is as "Isometric Resolution.' Unlike traditional RPGs, where the GM would completely stat out an opponent, the players are actually rolling against themselves. In the case of Danger Patrol and InSpectres, the only stat the opponent has is how many hits you need to do to make the opponent go away, In the case of Apocolypse World, the only stat is how much damage the opponent does if you fail your roll.

I'm finding this to be an intreguing mechanic because it allows conflicts to be almost self-balancing. In the case of Danger Patrol, every die not rolled succesfully becomes a minus. The greater the amount of detail that the GM and players give to a situation, the more likely it will turn out spectacularly or badly.

Can anyone think of other games that use an isometric mechanic? Does something like this feel natural to you, or do you feel like you are boxing at shadows instead of an actual opponent in these types of games?

Comments

  • Otherkind is my favorite for mechanics like these. It is often tweeked and recycled. It is used in a slightly spun form in Ghost/Echo. It is not totally different than Danger Patrol. I don't really know Apocolypse World.
  • Thank you. I'd forgotten about Otherkind. It would also be isometric. The GM is able to adjust the difficulty of a roll by determining how much Iron the target has. I've bee lucky enough to play a pre-release version Of Apocalypse World.
  • Otherkind, The Pool, and Trollbabe come to mind as top contenders.
  • edited July 2010
    My first Shadowrun heart breaker game worked this way.

    Roll as many D6s as you want. Every result except 1 is a success. How many successes you need depends on your goal. But every 1 rolled the GM uses to make your life difficult.

    Rolling was sometimes more fun than some of our adventures!
  • I'm curious. Is there a system floating around that fits this description?

    Roll a dice pool. Each die over the target number gets you an equal number of points in Resource A. Each die under the target number gets you an equal number of points in Resource B. An endgame is triggered if A or B exceed a certain number.

    It sounds kind of isometric, but I'm not sure.
  • Posted By: DanielSolisI'm curious. Is there a system floating around that fits this description?

    Roll a dice pool. Each die over the target number gets you an equal number of points in Resource A. Each die under the target number gets you an equal number of points in Resource B. An endgame is triggered if A or B exceed a certain number.

    It soundskind ofisometric, but I'm not sure.
    It sounds like it, especially since no one has really defined what an isometric mechanic is. When I first noticed this mechanic in InSpectres, I referred to it as "Shadow Boxing." Basically because the players aren't actually up against an opponent that the GM has dreamed up and statted out. They are actually playing against the system itself. The GM is only there to provide color for the adventure. What you have proposed is very similar. It frees up the GM from having to do a balancing act when it comes to the mechanics.

    I used the term Isometric since it sounds cooler and it is more accurate. Isometric excercise is where the person pits his own muscles against themselves in order to gain greater muscle tone. In the case of game mechanics, the player is pitting the game system against itself. The system is both aid and opponent. Characteristics of Isometric mechanics would include:

    1.) The player is rolling against himself. However, the GM may be able to apply some form of modifier to apply to the situation to make it more dangerous or dramatic, but it is the player's roll that determines the outcome. Bad rolls gain the character some form of harm or setback.

    2.) The more powerful the characters grow in the system, the more powerful the system automatically becomes to resist the players.

    If anyone can define this better, I'd love to see it.
  • edited July 2010
    Heck, that definition works well for me. Another way to do an isometric system would be something like this:

    A dice-based target number system in which the target number is whatever you rolled last. So, if you rolled a 17 on 3d6, that is awesome. However, that means your next roll has to beat 17 as a target number.

    In this way, the system resists or relaxes against the player's rolls, as per the second part of your definition. Am I on the right track?
  • There are other games that do this in different ways. Bliss Stage, another Otherkind descendant, is another great example: you roll dice in an attempt to fulfill a mission and it's your own failures (or overtaxing your limited resources) that provides the challenge.
  • Since you mention Bliss Stage, that opens up another interesting take on Isometric Resolution, in that whereas you may be mechanically providing your own opposition, you are trying to outwit the GM strategically. That is, the GM has resources and game functions available that they may use to affect the price of your success/failure, rather than change the probability of it; so, is this a feature solely of 'IR-type' games and, is it a desirable feature?

    'Elfs' is another good example of an IR game: there are plenty of NPCs and monsters to fight in what are ostensibly classic dungeoneering-style scenarios, but the GM never has to roll for any of them, all that matters is the PCs successes and failures, which entirely determine both the damage they take and the treasure they gain.

    'Best Friends' may or may not be an IR game: the GM certainly gets some say in the level of challenge the PCs are faced with, but is up to the players to decide if they want to succeed, which requires them to give one of their limited supply of 'friend-chips' to another player. As their is a semi-adversarial component to the game, choosing to succeed weakens you for later challenges while at the same time strengthening another player.
  • In Poison'd, players roll against their own stats, as I recall.
    My game City of Refuge, being descended from Otherkind, has a lot of IR-ness. And it fits Daniel's resource A / resource B - endgame idea above, to a certain extent.
  • In my game Pilgrims to Ruin, players also roll against themselves. When you decide what your intent is you roll the character Drive related to that intent and the GM rolls your character's Drive opposed to that intent.
  • Posted By: James MullenSince you mention Bliss Stage, that opens up another interesting take on Isometric Resolution, in that whereas you may be mechanically providing your own opposition, you are trying to outwit the GM strategically. That is, the GM has resources and game functions available that they may use to affect the price of your success/failure, rather than change the probability of it; so, is this a feature solely of 'IR-type' games and, is it adesirablefeature?
    I've never played Bliss Stage, but heard it explained in glowing terms by my friends. I would need details on how it works, because if the harm inflicted is determined by the GM, that part would not be isometric unless the system itself somehow determined the minimum/maximum limits of the damage. In Danger Patrol, the harm is determined by the system, but the GM describes what form that harm takes. I that would be isometric. On the other side of the spectrum, Apocolypse World whether you take harm is determined by your own die roll, but the amount of damage is semi-arbitrarily determined by the GM.

    Is what you have described desireable? Good question. I would say that it would be a desireable Isometric Resolution if the system determined how bad the outcome was, but the GM is given creative leeway in what exactly happens.
  • Posted By: DanielSolisHeck, that definition works well for me. Another way to do an isometric system would be something like this:

    A dice-based target number system in which the target number is whatever you rolled last. So, if you rolled a 17 on 3d6, that is awesome. However, that means your next roll has to beat 17 as a target number.

    In this way, the system resists or relaxes against the player's rolls, as per the second part of your definition. Am I on the right track?
    You have are on the right track. However, I was thinking more along the lines of a budget that the GM spends throughout an adventure to create the challenges. What he spends ends up in the players hands for their own use, which ends up back in the GMs possession to create more challenges. (Yes, I am basically describing the Fan Mail mechanic in Primetime Adventures.)
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