Looking for good "push your luck" mechanics

My little prototype is taking shape.

I want players taking actions with varying

  • scale: one firebolt, one fireball, one rain of fire
  • odds: unlikely, likely, almost-certain, certain
  • risk: minor, major, severe
  • cost: resources, traits or other “qualities”

I’ll be using a (1-8ish) d6 dice pool, with varying TNs, mostly 4+, counting as hits.
A goblin could be a single TN 3 box.
An ogre could be four TN 5 boxes.

I think a “push your luck” mechanic would suit this well, as I want players to make decisions like:

  • How much cost and risk am I willing to take on right now?
  • How important is this action?
  • How much do I want to guarantee a certain outcome?
  • How many atomic actions are covered by this one roll? (1 attack, vs 2 attacks, a parry, and a dash)

For costs, risks and such on a single roll, I’m mostly alright.

But I want a mechanic for the players to “play with fire”, such as rerolling the pool with fewer dice and scaled risks, avoiding a “bust”, lingering 1s, something like that.

I want some systemic way for players to go “Oooh, ok, maybe I’ll push once” while their crewmates question the decision severely.

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I think there are a couple of ways to do this that you bring up, particularly with die pools.

  • Lowering hit number while ensuring all non-hits act as hazards/1 act as hazards
  • Giving backfire the ability to progress at cost is key to getting someone to view it as a viable option—perhaps every “box” you tick on the enemy gets ticked on you if any of the die show a 1 in the cast? but you multiply damage taken per 1? e.g. hit 2 boxes off the ogre, take 6 if you roll’d 3 1s in the process?
  • Roll tables for negative consequences which are elastic and interpretive enough creates swift play and obvious, reliable consequences—but can get a bit samey.
  • Interpretive results with baseline consequences (you’ll take 1 Bad Idea tokens per die rolling below TN on this cast, and the number of Bad Idea tokens accrued at once impacts what happens to you). It’ll spice up play and contextualize it better but offloads work onto the game runner.
  • Variable resource loss. If they have HP or different resource pools, give them a clean and clear benefit for variable loss; e.g. lose 1d4 Stamina in exchange for rerolling this die cast. It could just be 1, it could be up to 4, you’re really not sure how often you get to do it, Stamina’s presumably used for something else as well.

I’d be happy to offer more specific ideas if there’s more to the prototype OwO

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