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Design Curriculum: Dice injection

You can go all the way back to 1998 to see me saying, “I want to talk about point-builds and dice, so let’s get past some easy points about goals of play and get to the good practical stuff.” Twenty-one years later and people are still blubbering about “but but simulation." I’ve repeated this plea many times, ever more plaintively ... Can we fucking just talk about dice already?!

Fortunately that’s what Justin really wanted to do so here’s this session, very heartfelt and very grateful on my part.

  • Part 1 (embedded below): When are dice used in the larger framework of play, the dilemma of whether they’re used to support portraiture or to disrupt it, compensating badly for the dilemma (i.e. most RPG design), and the lies we tell to avoid thinking about it.
  • Part 2: Search time and handling time, and a brief bit in the middle about fictional contribution; these topics switch back and forth throughout videos 2-3.
  • Part 3: When dice don’t bounce, what they “hit” in a fictional situation, and a callback to search and handling time.
  • Part 4: The role of talking feeding into rolling, and an extensive look at percentages and distributions; I want to follow up on my points about mode in the comments.
  • Part 5: This is the longest clip from this session, including my experience with Burning Wheel, the reminder that “dice” in this conversation are a stand-in for any randomizing objects/procedure, and answering Justin’s question about when dice are more exciting toward the end of a conflict rather than grinding down what was pretty much resolved early.
  • Part 6: A closing, more general discussion of mechanics/physical techniquest, including preferences from a design perspective and the crucial point that no single such technique “has” or instills purpose into play.

This isn’t an introductory talk. It’s our ninth session in the Design Curriculum after all, so it presumes you’re able to get the quick references to different junctures and scales of looking at play, or just what Bounce means. To state briefly about the latter, it’s more general than “random method.”| Randomizing methods are a means of getting Bounce, which is why this session asks why a lot of RPG design is devoted to backpeddling out of it.