#RPGaDAY2022 Day 7 – System Sunday: Describe a cool part of a system that you love.

Welcome to #RPGaDAY2022! Now in its ninth year, #RPGaDAY was originally created by RPG author and games designer David Chapman (Conspiracy X, Doctor Who, etc) as a bit of fun and to get people talking about tabletop roleplaying games. August was chosen, I believe, to coincide with tabletop roleplaying’s gaming mecca that is Gen Con – which usually takes place in the States (Inidanapolis these days) every August.

#RPGaDAY is open to everyone so if you want to join in just check out the prompts below to inspire a blog, vlog, or social media post to celebrate everything great about our hobby with the tag #RPGaDAY2022

Day 7 : System Sunday: Describe a cool part of a system that you love.

This is a toughy as there have been loads of mechanics that I really like over the decades. From those used in published games to ones that we’ve played and developed but never published (such as the diceless game we played in the mid-90’s which used sign language to cast spells – I gave each of the players a crib sheet of the British Sign Language alphabet and if they wanted to cast a spell they had to catch my eye and spell it out through sign… often without some of the other players realising what was about to happen).

But I’m going to pick the Marvel Super Heroes Advanced Set, published by TSR back in 1986, and Karma.

It was the first game that I played which had a mechanic that allowed you to spend something (in this case Karma points) to increase your roll and chance of success. Karma acted as both a pool of points that you could dip in to help with your rolls and as your experience points which you’d use to increase your abilities, skills, power levels and Feats. You earnt Karma points for doing good things, achieving your goals, succeeding in thrwating the villians, etc. But you could also lose them if you were cowardly, caused too much collateral damage, or did bad things.

Each character had a Karma score, that changed throughout the game as they earnt, spent, or lost Karma points due to their actions. But at the beginning of each sessions (or adventure depending on your GM) the players could also create a group Karma Pool by putting some of their Karma points into a Pool which the entire group could use if required. This was a bit of a safety net that characters with a lot of Karma could donate into which might help characters with low (o no) Karma later in the game as they could access the pool instead of their own Karma points.

If I wanted to use Karma on a roll – for instance if I really really REALLY needed to have a success because I was trying to disarm a nuke in New York City and was running out of time – I would tell the Gamemaster I was spending Karma before making the roll. Rolls were percentile (01-00) and the minimum amount of Karma you had to spend (whether you made the roll naturally ot not) was 10 points. So if I needed 72 for a success and rolled 45 I could spend 27 Karma points to take my total up to the required amount. If I needed 72 and rolled 80, I would still need to spend 10 points anyway (although getting 90 from that roll plus Karma might give me an even better success of course).

Quite a few systems have used a similar system (or atleast idea) to boost rolls since but I’m not sure if the idea had been used in an earlier game than the Marvel games from TSR. It – and related systems that allow you to bump important checks or ‘explode’ dice rolls – are some of my favourite mechanics.

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