So, after much time and rumination my thoughts have started to tun (a little) toward the business of resolving my issue with characters and mechanics. While I cannot guarantee that I have found the solution, I have ideas that I can playtest – which seems like the most positive and constructive point to start from.
I’m happy with the character generation process. I like it; players like it. In all the sessions of the game I ran, I got positive feedback about the ease of the process in choosing three cards and then working from there. The three cards can, as easily, be replaced with three tables in the rules, so I won’t be tying the GM down to possession of a special deck or anything. However, that would be an obvious and nice thing to offer.
I like the idea of the original success mechanic, so I’ll be sticking to the seven for success. Roll dice, get a seven – succeed. Otherwise, fail. Most of the time. Or, at best, succeed with unpleasant (or dire) consequences. The base mechanic means that characters are decidedly average at most things they do. However, they do have an edge when it comes to anything mentioned on the card.
Instead of adjusting the range to achieve success – I propose that if the player can leverage something from the character’s cards that they get an extra die to roll to get the seven. If they then throw three dice, a seven can come from any combination of two. If they score seven on three dice, they score a special success; they’ve used their raw ability backed up by expertise and excelled at meeting the challenge.
The alternative? Well, this is Elizabethan Europe in the time of King Rudolph and Doctor Dee, so esoteric and angelic support just happen, right?
The players, as a group, have a deck of cards with letters on them. They draw seven cards and have them all at their disposal. If they attempt to do something and they can spell a short word with the available letters that helps them, they can roll an extra die.
Master Gyles Hepton faces off against a burglar attempting to get away with his satchel and all the worldly possessions therein. He isn’t especially tough nor has he mixed with types known for their melted skills, but he can spell RAGE from the letters in the pool. The threat of loss sends him into a fizzing fury and the GM agrees that he can roll an extra die.
If they find themselves in a situation where they could do with a bit of help, but the cards don’t spell anything useful, they might try calling on the Angels. If they can discard three identical consonants and a vowel, two identical vowels and two consonants, or anything combination of five different consonants, they call on angelic assistance and automatically succeed at the action they attempted. Those cards, however, are lost for the remainder of the session – discarded cards leave the game.
Anyone familiar with Enochian Magic and the Great Table of the Earth will broadly know where this angle on the mechanics comes from. It seemed thematically interesting to allow the players to spell out a nonsense word to clear their hand and get more letters to work with for later skill rolls.
Anyway, I’m going to see how it works out in play testing and start to get some stuff down in writing. We’ll see how it pans out.