I Ching


I'm gonna try and use the I Ching to improve role-play. I'm using 6 different colored d16s, one for each line of the hexagram.
I'm not sure how clunky it'll be, or if it'll even add to anything. I am just kinda tired of giving a lion's share of importance, over to success and failure. The occurrence of failure is pretty predictable in story, the source and meaning of it is perhaps not.

What rules could possibly lead to a fictional character finally getting a (un)satisfying change of heart? I think none. What algorithm could one create that would lead to that satisfying change of heart? It's a weird question.

I think game and story are two very different magics.


  • Wouldn't it be six coins rather than six d16s? Where does that die size come from?

    Aside from that, sure - an oracle is an useful alternative or complement for traditional pass/fail dicing. Different games use different oracular methods, and I Ching should be a fine and flavourful option. Similar to the Tarot.
  • One of the Levity games works on Yi King. Give it a look.
  • As a sinologist I was once tempted to use basic bagua outcomes (roll 3d6, odd numbers: straight yang, even: sundered yin) to interpret conflict resolution outcomes. I was inspired by the oracle technique in The Clay That Woke.

    I never tried it. I hope you will will be more successful :)
  • Everway is one of these games, that works with a deck of images.
    Untold uses special dice that have images.
  • The Location Crafter uses a d100 table with entries that remind me of the hexagram names.

    One d8 can make a trigram. 001, 010, 011 and so on. With 000 placed out of sequence, for the 8. There are also trigram dice.
  • I'm using d16s because it's closer to the yarrow stalk method. So, the die size comes from people trying to get a simpler casting, with the same math as the yarrow stalk method.
  • Nice♥
  • edited June 19
    I'll link to the whole using sixteen-sided dice for I Ching, if anyone's interested. Heck, I'll do it if you're not interested too.

    You could use two of d4's, of differing colors, as well. But you'd be rolling two dice for each line.


    I thought using one die roll for each line would be a better use of time, than having to roll two different colored 4-sided dice for each line. Also, I am not a fan of rolling d4s. I like my d4s of the d8s numbered 1-4 variety.

  • I love tetrahedrical d4:s
  • edited June 19
  • I found it interesting that the hexagrams are weighted.
    Also that sometimes some lines are closer to changing than others.
  • I use 6 Gamescience d16's in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
    I'll likely get a lighter blue die. Currently, the blue looks an awful lot like the purple.
  • Oh, and I used to use 2 different colored d8's for the I Ching, but than I guess I got all snobby or something?

    Each die representing a trigram(top & bottom half). It's certainly faster, and easier, but it's not correct. I mean, as correct as using something like this is. The math isn't correct. It's not bell curvy like the yarrow method.
  • edited June 19
    it's not snobby to want to have a weighted pull of trigrams.
    i just don't like gamescience d16s

    i like d4s. our tetrahedron friends ♥
  • for one hexagram a d8 is fine. it's the same probs, three bit binary.
    you just don't get the changing/unchanging.
    but the yarrow has 50% chance of yin (if combining changing and unchanging) and 50% of yang (if combining changing and unchanging).
    so you could do one d8.

    and then, for each line. if it is a yin line, you know it's a ⅛ chance of turning into yang. and if it's a yang line, you know it's a ⅜ chance of turning into yin. so you could do two trigram d8:s for the original hexagram and then a d8 for each line if you want to generate the future hexagram from that, with 1 indicating yang changed, and 1-3 indicating yin changed.

    (that's for yarrow equiv probs. for three coins equiv probs, heaven forbid, but you can use three d16 to generate "change", each d16 for a bigram: 1 both changing, 2-4 bottom line changing, 5-7 top line changing. or, easier, 6d4 where each 1 indicates a changed line.

    another way to get three coins equiv probs really quickly is to have three trigram d8s for each trigram, i.e. six trigram d8s total. for each line, if it's all yin, that means changing yin. if it's mostly yin, that means unchanging yin. if it's mostly yang, that means unchanging yang, and if it's all yang, that means changing yang.)
  • In other words, ☳ is 223 and if you roll that three times you have the cross sum of 223 223 233 = 6 9 9 i.e. changing yin, changing yang, changing yang. But again that's threecoin
  • What about a set of 3d8 (different colors for the base, middle and upper lines of each trigram) rolled four times? The first time to draw the lower three lines, then to establish which lines are changing or unchanging (using the weighted 1-in-8 and 3-in-8 probabilities), then twice again for the upper three lines. Seems like a usable middle ground between rolling 2d4 six times on (effectively) a table and buying 6d16 in different colors.

    Anyway, for any actual game using this, drawing the hexagram in steps should probably be thought of as a good thing and taken advantage of in scene pacing or details of the actual resolution process.
  • I then realized that all hexagrams are a combination of 2 trigrams out of a set of 8, and (unless I'm severely mistaken) trigrams are equally likely to occur before we factor in the old/new mutability aspect. This means it's a single roll of 2d8, not two rolls of 3d8, to establish a baseline hexagram. Now, if you checked old/new line by line, it's 8 rolls of d8 total to get to the "final" hexagram. 8d8. That has to mean something.
  • That 64 is a power of 2 ♥
  • I prefer rolling 1d8 x 6 to generate a hexagram, where for each die 1 equals -x- (yin changing to yang), 2-4 equals - - (yin unchanging or "young yin"), 5-7 equals --- (yang unchanging, or "young yang"), and 8 equals -O- (yang changing to yin).
  • So three coins
  • edited June 25
    2097 said:

    So three coins

    Right. But a series of die rolls is more satisfying than a sequence of coin flips to me.
  • Oh, I didn't mean to say "use three coins instead of the White Method", I just wanted to put in on the record that your probs weren't the yarrow style where yang is more likely to change than yin
  • Yes, that's right. The probabilities are the same.

    I think there's a lot of room for I Ching-style oracles in RPGs.

    Here is a short game I wrote a while back that tried to do something with the I Ching as a resolution method, called Midnight at Burning Horse.

    Oh, and here's another I Ching-inspired game, with an oracle that tries to make use of the I Ching's "moving lines." It's from Game Chef a while back: The Great City.

  • @Bill_White Oh, Burning Horse was yours, then!

    I realized I've made an ass of myself based on my last post, where I managed to present 2d8 for a hexagram like it were some kind of sudden inspiration, while it had been mentioned by @Nathan_H just a few posts above.
    The point I was trying to make was more like: the same kind of die is appropriate for separately checking each line as changing or unchanging according to the yarrow stalk method probabilities (3 in 8 Yin changes to Yang, 1 in 8 Yang changes to Yin).
    Also, that there's something aesthetically pleasant to thinking of it as the 8d8 method.
    Perhaps more importantly, that checking for each individual line in order doesn't have to be a weakness - I actually feel it could be a strength when using the method in a role-playing game. What I'm imagining is, generating a first hexagram as a way of inspiring the framing of a scene; then, checking whether each line is changing or unchanging, one at a time while playing out the scene, corresponding to certain "story beats" or game actions, until you get to a "final" hexagram and you look at it for guidance on how the starting situation has changed.
  • Hey Rafu --

    It sure is intriguing to think of a game that uses the I Ching as a resolution method in the manner you suggest. It could work something like this: use the eight tri-grams to represent actions of a particular sort appropriate to the game; you could probably connect them to the "eight gates" of tai chi at least metaphorically (ward off, pluck, and so forth). To initiate a scene, each side chooses a trigram and the combination of trigrams as in Burning Horse establishes the initial situation. Each side then has the ability to attempt to shift particular lines depending on character abilities or actions within the scene, or when a character acts in the scene it automatically has a chance to shift particular lines depending on what they do. Read the new hexagram as a new state of affairs; Read the judgment of the moving lines a particular consequence or payoff for the character. When everyone has taken their turn, the final outcome can be read.

  • I was thinking about using status in-game as to whom got top/bottom trigram?
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