Thursday, 26 January 2012

Deeper dice (1) - interactions and relative positions

The first in what will probably be a very occasional series on result generation - random or not - to get some of the weirder raw ideas out there for delving into in the spirit of the D1 post.

For the first then, what if dice were a kind of particle of fate?

What if when you roll more than one die and two or more of them end up touching, they annihilate each other, meaning the results aren't counted? Or the smaller result is subtracted from the larger? Or they fuse, so you total the two numbers?

Or maybe some pass beyond knowledge, so if one die ends up at least twice as far from the nearest as that one is from any other, it's ignored? Or maybe it can't be used until another one gets closer? If it rolls off the table the effect in-game could take place on another plane, or the result could show how many dice vanish with it, bleeding potential from the tabletop.

It could also work for interactions between the dice being used by different players, and there's real potential here. If dice stop in contact or strike each other and rebound, there could be a connection in-game. Stopping in contact could mean a result for one player affecting another immediately, but a rebound might see the effect offset in time or space, with the distance between the dice on a line drawn to the roller being direction in time. Positions relative to objects like mugs, notes or terrain pieces could be interpreted in terms of events or locations.

The connections could be allowed alter the nature of the game world, changing established facts and keeping reality in flux.

Could colour make a difference, or the energy put into the roll, or a given number being rolled in a matching hour or minute?

What happens if a die manages to get past the GM's screen?


Ray Rousell said...

An interesting idea????

Porky said...

It is pretty odd, especially away from a setting that includes magic or makes clear a complex cosmology, but I reckon it could be got into more down-to-earth set-ups as well. Going out on a limb, I'd say you could even get a form of it into your colonial skirmish rules, as an optional mini game for counting coup by plain dwellers, to better bring the physicality and daring of the thing home to the players. I don't know how the ruleset will look, but a roll to hit or the equivalent could be influenced by the position of the dice. Striking one or more of the opponent's dice could suggest the contact in-game was especially audacious and boost the confidence or prestige of the warrior, or scare the victim. If a roll goes too far past or falls off the table, the warrior could overbalance or be unhorsed, or have to test for it at least. That approach could be refined of course, but there might be more ways to use something like it as well.

Trey said...

Pay no attention to the man behind the screen! Interesting, idea. How much do we let the Random impact our game--just how much are we willing to put at stake?

The Angry Lurker said...

Some people will jiggle the dice for longer in their hand (I've seen people do longer than 10 seconds) so does the heat help or the ones who drop them immediately and they come out cold....

Porky said...

@ Trey - This is core stuff of course and naturally there's going to be plenty of discussion. It's a lot about expectation, and in games based on tactics or player investment say the degree to which a player decision should translate into an event in-game. My feeling is that we should embrace the unpredictable, focus less on avoiding it and more on using it, transforming it into narrative and opportunities to understand. That said, I'd guess very little is truly random. Calling a thing random could just be a consequence of our not looking deep enough, down into the fabrics. There's a Minsky anecdote here that's worth a quick read.

@ The Angry Lurker - This gets at the problem. The post at House of Paincakes that I linked to at the beginning was part of a larger interview in which we covered the same subject, so hopefully that will go up at some point for more discussion. There are so many factors we don't usually think about - in terms of heat there's also light and shade. And what about wonkiness in the table, airflow, and sweat or oil on the hands? What about the position of the moon, in the sense of tidal forces? Tiny factors individually, but if a player knows how they might work and lines them up, it's not looking so random any more.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

Well, there really are all sorts of things that go into determining the final result of a die / dice roll.

Rolling dice together is certainly one of them, as they're going to bounce off of one another.

If dice aren't perfectly balanced, (or are loaded) then one side will be preferred over another... I suppose that'd make for an interesting test subject. 100 rolls by itself... then with other dice (just watching the results on the test subject) and doing the same on a smaller roll area, or even smooth vs rough / bumpy surfaces.

Porky said...

It might be good fun in a quiet moment to make a list of all the possible factors that could influence a roll, to see how subtle they could go.

Re the multiples, I get a mental image of a possible future game playing world in which an overhead camera records rolls made, with the tracks of the dice analysed as if the table was a particle accelerator. It would be hard to keep track of collisions with large numbers of dice without that kind of support, especially during a game with so much else to think about, which suggests that if the ideas in the post are used, rolling lower numbers or even a single die would make most sense.

Or maybe the future players are transhumans with augmented vision? If so, they might have mods to 'augment' their rolling, and any research based on that list of factors could eventually find a nefarious use in the design of those mods. Then again, how about a game actually built around cheating..? Maybe there already is one?

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

I wonder if this guy keeps data on his odds.. though wear and tear on the dice would surely skew results... or is that all part of the randomness? Dents, chips and such

No, maybe dents and chips aren't part of the randomness... since technically that means weight will shift and prefer a certain side.

btw, just came across this.. thought you'd get a kick out of it:

Look at the lower picture... combining rolling dice in an arena to also determine what part of the body is hit... we hadn't even considered the other factor, the what if the dice's final location also matters...

Porky said...

Wow. That inspired me. I love the rigour and the DIY, and the dedication in running with the idea and getting it working.

Is wear and tear a part of the randomness? I'd say it's all part of the randomness until we find out it's not, which is to say it likely has some effect and the trick is to find it, going down to a reasonable analytical depth. That comes back to the idea of our limited perception, and the possibility there is no random if we go deep enough. If random is defined as an equal chance for each unit of result across a given range of outcomes, it would seem to matter how the dice are worn, and whether it's accidental or deliberate. Accidental would presumably reflect more the subtle irreglarities in the environment coming into play over time, whereas deliberate might reflect our understanding, the level of knowledge we have of the circumstances of the rolling process and context. Neither of the two would necessarily maintain that definition. The irregularities themselves and even our knowledge could also be seen as random if we accept the relationship to perception - that it's random until we look deeply enough to perceive otherwise.

The use of final location could work, but size and enclosure or not of the space would be a factor to consider. A set of early GW games used the inside of the box lid for resolution, having a three by three grid marked with 'hit' and 'miss'. One other issue is the inner boundaries, or more specifically the accuracy in measuring how far over a line a straddling die might be.