Random AMRS : The Pseudo-Diceless Roleplaying System



Randomized AMRS uses a very simple, pseudo-dice-based system which attempts to combine the best features of diceless and dice-based role-playing games. Diceless games depend entirely upon the judgment of the GM, who acts as the author of the night's story. In short, while the players may be surprised at the success or failure of a particular person's actions, the GM can never be. While this allows the GM nearly complete control over the storyline, a subtle random element can be introduced which can enhance everyone's enjoyment without actually detracting from the GM's control of the game.



The system is very simple:

1) The player declares his action, stating exactly what he is trying to do.

2) The GM judges what outcome of the attempt is most likely, and judges what sort of roll would be the minimum necessary to guarantee success.

3) The player rolls 2d6 and sums them.

On a roll of 7, what the GM considered most likely occurs.

On a roll higher than 7, the player has done better than normal, and the GM adjusts the results accordingly.

On a roll below 7, the player has done worse than expected, and the GM adjusts the results accordingly.

On a roll of 12, the player has done exceptionally well, and the GM may ask him to roll again. Successive 12s produce more and more phenomenal results.

On a roll of 2, the player has really screwed up, and the GM may (if he wishes) ask for another roll. Successive 2s indicate truly catastrophic screw-ups.



For example, Joe Normal is attempting to shoot the Human Streak, a phenomenally fast supervillain, with a pistol taken from an unconscious bank guard. Joe flips off the safety and fires. The GM decides, since Joe's Warfare is only HEROIC, and the Streak's Speed is 30, that it will take a roll of at least 11 to hit the Streak at all.

Now here are some possible results:

2 : Joe fumbles the gun, and the GM asks for another roll. If the second roll is particularly low, Joe has probably shot a friendly, or an innocent bystander, or even shot himself in the toe. Otherwise the GM rules that the guard had already flipped off the safety, and that Joe had foolishly flipped it back on again by mistake.

3-10: Joe misses. The Human Streak blurs past him carrying bags of cash. The PCs will probably spend the rest of the adventure trying to bring this high-speed fiend to justice.

11: Joe wings the Streak, and discovers to his great annoyance that the Human Streak has SUPER Invulnerability, and only stumbles from the impact. Joe may be able to get off another shot at the Streak's back as he zooms away.

12: The GM requests another roll from Joe. On a low roll, Joe hits the Streak square in the chest, causing him to stumble and fall. Joe can try to get another shot off before the Streak gets back to his feet again. This time the Streak will be a much easier target, since he isn't moving right now.

On a very high second roll, however, a second roll of 12 perhaps, Joe has performed phenomenally well. The bullet strikes the Human Streak square in the middle of the forehead. The GM rolls 2d6 himself (the Streak has only HEROIC Endurance- the GM rules that he needs a 7 to remain conscious and will fall down regardless) and gets a 4. The Streak's Invulnerability keeps him alive, but the impact knocks him out. Joe stares aghast as the Streak stumbles for a moment, mutters something about aspirin, and collapses in a heap.



Note that the system really takes no power away from the GM. If it were essential that the Streak escape, the GM can easily rule that the impact was not enough to knock him unconscious, however well Joe rolled. BUT, the GM should TRY to adjust his plot to reflect the vagaries of chance- the central point of the system is to massage the GM's creativity by allowing the plot to sometimes change and evolve on its own, leading the campaign down a different route than the one the GM originally devised. It keeps the campaign spontaneous, and lets an independent observer (Lady Luck) determine uncertain outcomes.



The "Certain Outcome," OR "Overcoming Poor Dice Rollers"

There are points in a game, particularly towards the climax, where the GM can simply say, "don't bother rolling," and tell the players what happens. When the outcome is certain, whether for reasons of overwhelming likelihood or dramatic necessity, the GM can either ignore the roll, tell the PC not to bother rolling, or roll the dice secretly and ignore them.

Don't bother asking for rolls when you don't need them. When The Supremor says, "I toss my empty soda can in the trash and follow them," don't ask him to roll to hit the trash can unless there is absolutely nothing else going on. Don't allow the dice to distract from the flow of the game. At the climax, things should be moving fast, not slowing down. If you want to zoom through the battle with the villains thugs, a fairly long conflict (there are a lot of thugs) whose outcome is practically certain, feel free. Or roll 2d6 to determine how well the battle went (on low rolls some thugs manage to escape, on high rolls they are defeated quickly).



Alternately, for a climactic moment, when a character's success or failure can determine the shape of the campaign for weeks to come, the GM can tell him ahead of time what he needs to roll.

For example: The evil Dr. Madness swoops towards the window to escape from the PCs while his henchmen hold them back. Bazooka Joe (formerly Joe Normal, whose growing obsession with firearms began after the defeat of the Human Streak) gets to snap off a single shot with his stun pistol before the villain gets away. The GM and the PCs all know that there is no chance of them catching up to the evil doctor should he make it outside, as none of them have the power of flight. Whether the adventure ends now on a climatic success or on just another stalemated battle with the evil doctor depends upon this roll.



GM: "Okay, Joe, this is the big one. Dr. Madness is a good ways away and moving pretty quick, but your phenomenal aim may just be up to the job. You'll need to roll at least an 8 to hit our favorite mad doctor before he makes it out of the building."

Other PC: "And escapes again. Don't blow this roll, Joe."

Joe: (Gulp!) [clatter]



In general, only one roll should be necessary for one action. Rather than deal with the probabilities involved when Joe rolls to hit and Dr. Madness rolls to dodge, we simply give Joe a single roll, the outcome of which will determine how things went. For the instance described originally, Joe needed a much easier roll to hit the Streak once he was on the ground than when he was dodging at full speed.



Ignoring the Dice for Dramatic Effect (The Magician's Choice)

Sometimes it can be useful to decide what is going to happen first, and interpret the dice to fit it afterwards. This is known as Fudging for Effect. Some GMs refuse to do this, believing that the dice should be king, but it can be a very effective dramatic tool.



For example:

Mandor the Eternal is unable to prevent a bomb from setting off a major nuclear spill at the Luckyville nuclear power plant. As he tries to stumble out of the place before the massive doses of radiation kill him, Mandor will have to make an Endurance check. Since Mandor has a very high Endurance, and the GM is unwilling to kill him this early in the campaign (especially since it wasn't really his fault), the GM decides that Mandor will be able to crawl out of the rubble suffering from massive burns and shock trauma, and will spend at least the next couple of days in intensive care.

GM: As you stumble through the corridors, which are illuminated by the strange, unnatural glow of nuclear radiation gone wild, you can feel your flesh beginning to cook from the inside out. You can just barely see the plant's exit in the distance. As you stumble towards it, a sudden wave of dizziness comes over you, and you feel like you are about to faint! You have a sudden urge to simply lie down and rest for awhile.

Mandor: I ignore it! I've gotta get out of there.

GM: Roll 2d6.

Mandor: [rolls a 4] Gulp.

GM: Joe, as you watch carefully for any sign of survivors, you suddenly spot Mandor, crawling slowly out of the radioactive ruins.

Joe: I help him. How bad does he look?

GM: [grins wickedly] He has massive burns covering his entire body, and his eyes are glazed over. He stares past you without focusing and keeps trying to crawl further away from the wreckage of the plant.

Joe: I call for the paramedics, fast!

GM: It looks like Mandor will be in the hospital for awhile. The doctors tell you that he absorbed enough radiation to kill any ten normal men.

Mandor: If only I'd rolled better, I could've gotten out in time. I always roll badly when it's important.

OR



Mandor: [rolls a 10] Hah!

GM: [looks impressed] You manage to keep going, despite the pain, and the waves of dizziness passing over you. Even when your legs collapse underneath you, you manage to keep crawling, crawling, towards the world outside. Joe, as you watch carefully for any sign of survivors, you suddenly spot Mandor, crawling slowly out of the radioactive ruins.

Joe: I help him. How bad does he look?

GM: [grins wickedly] He has massive burns covering his entire body, and his eyes are glazed over. He stares past you without focusing and keeps trying to crawl further away from the wreckage of the plant.

Joe: I call for the paramedics, fast!

GM: It looks like Mandor will be in the hospital for awhile. The doctors tell you that he absorbed enough radiation to kill any ten normal men.

Mandor: Man, I nearly died. I'm glad I managed to roll that 10 when it counted.




Back to Home Page