Saturday, September 18, 2010

Modular rule design, The mulligan point and a question

Yet another note about my house rule design philosophy.
I'm trying to keep all these rules modular, so that you can use what you want and leave the rest behind. Taken as a whole, the hit point and damage system is the most large scale radical change I've made to the game, but you could probably break it apart and use what you want.

Moving on, various games have a system whereby players have some kind of point store they can draw upon to influence the action at the table, or maybe re-roll a die or something. I am of two minds about these kinds of points. I kind of like the fact that a player has a mechanism to save a beloved character from time to time, but I don't like the idea that you just get these things, and that you might have a bunch of them held in reserve so you can do all kinds of stupid shit without much fear of suffering. If, as referee, I am impeded in my ability to make you suffer, something is fucked up.

So here you go.

The Mulligan point.
(Edit: changed slightly from the original version)
Characters receive 1 Mulligan pt for 500 xp/ level. This point allows the character to have a second attempt at any single failed die roll in the game. The character may never possess more than one Mulligan point at any one time. The Mulligan point must be purchased before the adventure begins- not as they are needed. All Mulligan point rolls are normal with no additional positive modifiers. Intent to use the point must be voiced immediately after the failed roll. For example if a character misses in combat, and then is hit with a critical by his opponent, he may not use the mulligan to re-roll his missed attack.

Truthfully, I don't know how I feel about this one. I'm going to have to test it in play. My gut feeling is that combat is still lethal enough that his wont fuck things up, but, we'll see, I guess. All in all, it's an attempt to implement a newish concept in an old school way. Is that even fucking possible?

All this ruminating leads to a question:
At what point have we house ruled ourselves in to another game entirely?


  1. Nothing wrong with houseruling yourself into another game. I like to think that early on, that was the point, and somewhere the plot got lost.

    I remember some form of "fate point" mechanic as far back as WFRP 1e, and I don't think anyone has ever accused that ruleset of coddling characters.

  2. Hi Aos,

    I see your point of view. By lack of experience and knowledge I'm unable to figure out how many game sessions worth of xp those mulligan points represent. I assume more than a couple. This plus the constraints you added... You might as well include "and it only works when the moon is waxing and weather is cloudy"... As an hypothetical player I've already lost interest because it's too fidly, costly and I'd rather create a new PC than engage with this rule.

    If on top of re-rolling it could be used to survive a deadly blow that might be a little more attractive.

    Also: "If, as referee, I am impeded in my ability to make you suffer, something is fucked up."
    I know it's a sarcasm and a hyperbole but wtf? Even with a hero point for free every session you're still the one deciding how many dozens of mutants are charging the PCs aren't you?

  3. Hey Boulet, thanks for the comment. You are both right and wrong.
    The way critical hits/wounds work under my house rule system, you always get a saving throw vs death- the use of the mulligan allows you to re-roll this save.
    Second, the "if as a referee" line is complete hyperbole. My main concern may seem to be that I don't want to add something that will soften things up a bit too much, however, if you look at my wound sytem, you'll see that, really I'm trying to implement something that soften things up a little.
    The reason I make it cost so much is because I've used these points before in True20 and they can become a substitute for prudence.
    However, everything here is tentative, and I'm not against changing the rule again if it doesn't create the fix I want.
    Every change is a credit or debit of sorts as I inch my way towards making what I want out of all this.

  4. Which is my convoluted and mealy mouthed way of saying that you might have a point.

  5. We used 'chips' or 'do-overs' or 'mulligans' for a long time and it didn't really change things that much. Our rule was you got one per level and you could save them... most of the time they seemed to be used for saving throws or an attack when you were fighting for your life --- sometimes players would use them to reroll hitpoints.
    Once it was used, it was gone and if your reroll was worse than your original roll, the reroll stood.

  6. In my current post-Apoc campaign mulligan points are replaced by playing cards; you start with THREE randomly drawn cards from a deck of 52. You can add the card’s face value (an ace is an eleven, face cards are ten) to any d20 result of you choosing by giving the card back to the GM. Although deploying an action card will make a d20 attack or skill through successful, it will not negate all the consequences or benefits of rolling a natural number, i.e., playing a action point/ card will not duplicate a natural twenty.

    You will receive a new card at the end of every game session that you manage not to get dragged to safety by your posse (d20 modern, p.196). You will also receive a new card if you roll a natural twenty on an appropriate in game skill check. You will probably receive a new card if you do something particularly clever or impress the GM with your role playing. You will almost always receive a WWTF card if you can make the GM laugh with in story action.
    Players may trade their playing/WWTF cards with each other or they can hold them.

    I also allow characters to use the face value of the card for healing when in a pinch.

    This may seem generous, but my players have a habit of charging into dangerous situations and the style of my GMing allows for alot of encounters per session. I tend to keep the action moving.

  7. My main concern may seem to be that I don't want to add something that will soften things up a bit too much, however, if you look at my wound system, you'll see that, really I'm trying to implement something that soften things up a little.

    For iterations of Ye Auld Game, I think a meta-game point is acceptable IF it has a cost. The only cost to most such mechanics is the opportunity cost ("If I use it now, I can't use it later"). For other kinds of games, that's fine, but to my mind, that just isn't enough for YEG; it's too soft.

    That, anyway, was the idea behind my heroic Effort mechanic for S&S, that has become Desperate Effort for Dying Sun: you can improve that roll, but it will cost you an unknown number of Hit Points. Take your chances.


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