Optional Rules Tasks

Cheating Death and Avoiding Other Such Mishaps – Luck in Hack100

Savage Worlds has its “Bennies” that allow characters (and non-player characters) to re-roll unfavourable dice throws (or receive other ad hoc benefits) when things are going against them.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition has its (overly-complicated in my opinion) currencies of “Fortune”, “Fate”, “Resilience” and “Resolve” that characters can draw upon to re-roll dice, overcome adverse psychological effects and even avoid certain death.

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition has its “Push” mechanic that allows failed skill tests to be re-rolled with the risk of additional consequences. It also offers an optional pool of Luck Points that characters can draw upon to tweak failed rolls.

Although these various mechanics all work in slightly different ways, they all have the same objective – to soften the consequences of unfavourable dice rolls on player characters.

Personally, I’ve never been entirely satisfied with these safety nets. They feel a bit like fudges – sticking plasters to address inherent imbalances or deficiencies in a game’s core mechanics. They also inevitably lessen the risk of character death, thereby removing a certain amount of jeopardy from a game.

Nevertheless, I am conscious that I might be overly “Old School” in my perspectives on this. I’m also aware that long-term character development is important to many players; losing a beloved character as a result of a couple of unlucky dice rolls can be very frustrating. Therefore, if a group of players decide that they’d like to incorporate a luck mechanic, and their Referee is happy to accommodate this, here’s a suggested way of approaching it in Hack100:

  • I like the idea of actual luck being an important element of any Luck Point mechanic. Therefore, at the start of every session, each player rolls 1d5-1 to determine their character’s Luck Points.
  • A Luck Point may be spent to re-roll any Task Roll.
  • Each re-roll replaces the previous result (so it might be worse).
  • Multiple Luck Points may be spent on the same task.
  • Luck Points may only be spent by the character performing the Task Roll.
  • Any unspent Luck Points at the end of each session are lost; a character’s Luck Points are re-rolled at the start of the next session.

Of course, there are other ways of doing this, but this approach, for me, has the right combination of simplicity and effectiveness in keeping with Hack100’s overall design philosophies.

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