This is admittedly not one of my normal posts. Instead this is more of a flow of consciousness as I work through the process of developing this here-to unnamed project. Please feel free to leave feedback here, wherever you are also with me on social media or on my discord!
I had been working on my usual game-creation process for both the Five Powers Jam #2 and the Harmony Drive Jam. Normally I can keep games I am developing in parallel separate, but the two games kept closer and closer together in this instance. As a result, I think I may end up combining them together into a Franken-game. I am going to be discussing mechanics from each of these games, so if you are not familiar with them you might want to look at these posts on 五德 - The Five Powers and Harmony Drive (Part 1 / Part 2) here first.
In order to best get the two SRDs to play nice together, I am going to need to make some modifications to portions of both rule-sets. However, this is actually easier than it might seem at first glance.
How Bones will Roll
Both use pools of d6s to resolve actions in game, though I am going to need to make some adjustments as to how Harmony Drive’s skills, facets, and keys effect dice rolls to play well with Elemental Dice. My current plan to modify the Elemental Dice system looks something like this:
Dice rolls changed from 3d6 max to 5d6 max
Yang dice pool
1 to 3 dice for Facet score
+1 dice for favorable circumstances
+1 dice for being proficient in the skill
Using a Key add one free Qi to the Pool (does not count against dice max)
Yin dice pool
1 to 3 for the opposition’s challenge rating or Facet score for complex NPCs
+1 for unfavorable circumstances
+1 for mechanical penalties
To simplify the mental process of rolling, it might make sense to change the element/number sequence from the way it works in Five Powers to make it so the numbers go around the elimination cycle instead of the generation cycle (except 6 of course). Looking at the way the elimination cycle works at the moment on a number line (1-2-3-4-5), each result eliminates the number two spaces to the right. If the number assignments for the elements followed the elimination cycle, then each number would eliminate the one immediately to the right instead. (e.i. Instead of 1 eliminating 3 which eliminates 5, 1 would eliminate 2 which eliminates 3, and so on.)
I am not saying that WuDe’s original setup was inferior to this. Since I am increasing the number of dice involved, simplifying the mental effort of calculating results will hopefully prevent my change slowing down the speed of play.
In Encounters, the Harmony Drive system has the Advantage Pool for the players to buy towards the Goals to Defeat, Distract, or Outlast the Challenge. This is where the Yang results on Elemental Dice rolls would be going in my modified system.
However, there is no where for the Yin rolls to go. So, a possibility is to give the Challenge in the Encounter a pool as well. The use of their abilities would pull the cost from the Challenge Pool, being fed by Yin results on the Characters’ rolls. If the players want to prevent the Challenge’s ability to trigger, they just spend an equal number of points to cancel it out.
The basic rules for this would probably look something like this:
Roll result is balanced or Yang success: +1 to Advantage Pool
Yin success: +1 to Challenge Pool
Each remaining element die: +1 to respective Pool
The one part I am still considering is what to do with Qi rolls (6s). I still want to go with Qi rolls being auto-successes unless canceled out by an opposing qi. The two options I am considering are:
Qi rolls are additionally effective, so count as +2 instead of +1 to the pool
Qi rolls mark clear success, so the losing side add NO points for their pool for this roll.
In an example, let’s say a player rolls three Yang dice and 2 Yin dice. They get a Fire, a Water, and an Earth Yang and 2 Metal Yin. One of the Metal Yins are eliminated by the Fire Yang, so this leaves 3 Yang and 1 Yin total. This results in +4 to the Advantage Pool (3 dice & success) and +1 to the Challenge pool. In another example, a player rolls 2 Yang & 2 Yin. They get a Metal Yang & Water Yang along with a Wood Yin & a Qi Yin. The Metal Yang eliminates the Wood Yin, but the Qi Yin is not countered. This results in an auto-success for Yin. The final result here depends on which Qi rule I decide utilize. If the Qi is extra effective, then the Advantage Pool get +2 for the remaining dice and the Challenge pool gets +3 (+2 for Qi & +1 for success). If the Qi simply prevents the opposition to gain points, then the Challenge pool gains +2 (1 die & success), while the Advantage pools gets 0 points.
Changes to Facets & Leveling
You will notice above that the Pools get 1-3 dice from Facets. This is because I am giving the Facets a max of 3 with 1 meaning the character is uncomfortable or inexperienced with a particular approach, 2 being an average (for a protagonist-like character!), and 3 meaning the character is particularly skilled in using that particular approach. The number of starting points at character creation might start at five like in the Harmony Drive SRD, but I might also have it scale depending on the feeling & power levels the players want to start with and how long the players intend on the campaign to go.
I also have removed the leveling system from Harmony Drive when it comes to magnifying skills. At the moment, the only aspect of leveling that will stay is adding a class-related ability at the end of each "Season" of play AKA once everyone in the party gets a feature arc.
Thanks for wading through this ramble. Keep in mind that all of this is in serious flux and dependent on testing. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment here or sent me a message on any of the social media platforms we may share. Also, feel free to join my Discord and leave a message on the "works-in-progress" channel!
My next post related to this project will go into settings, character concepts & classes, and how I intend on integrating Harmony Drive's Magic and Assist Pool mechanics into this game.