Tuesday, May 25, 2010

RPG resolution system idea - Nerf

Rolling dice, playing cards, jenga towers, stacking dice - All different resoultion systems that I have played in games. It's my understanding that paper, rock scissors is another resolution system out there in the rpg aether somewhere. While I was recently considering these mechanics and what other systems might exist, I was shooting my Nerf gun at random targets to see if it would stick. I realized that Nerf or airsoft, etc. might make a great resolution system for a change of pace. Does anyone know of a non-larp system that uses this type of resolution mechanic? I know True Dungeon at GenCon uses tokens and sliders for resolution, but I am not aware of any other game with a similar mechanic. Ideas off the top of my head for this system include:

Multiple gms to shoot back at the players

Different targets for different enemies showing a multiplier for damage if certain areas are hit

Different ranges/lines for the players to shoot from based on position

"Approaching" enemies that are easier to hit as they get closer (I am thinking a zombie hoard or other melee enemies here)

Easy to track limits on ammo based on actual shots available

"Grenades" that the player lobs and does a certain area of effect damage from where it hits
Different ammo types based on colors of darts/grenades

I think that players could really get into the feel of a certain type of game played this way. Survival horror, modern warfate or scifi are especially promising. I am not sure how I would handle melee weapons for players at this point so I would want to focus more on games/eras that are range heavy for combat. Fortunately, I have a fairly long "greatroom" type area at my home that would work well for this idea. Any suggestions are appreciated and I'll try to keep updating on this blog as the idea develops and if we ever give the game a shot.


  1. Maybe a modern "sniper" rpg? The players take the part of sharpshooters who must get into position, take the shot, and then get out; I'd make them lawful people doing the right thing, but you may decide that political assassins are more interesting - whatever.

    The normal activities can be resolved with more traditional methods, but for that all important single shot that the whole game revolves around, the player must actually take a shot with a nerf gun. The various in-game factors such as skill, windage, stress, spotter skill, etc., can be accounted for by the position of the player in relation to the target, or the target can be of different sizes and so on.

  2. I like the idea of a modern super-spy game where we use a lot more real-life activities to resolve what happens. Yes, Nerf would be incredibly awesome, but why stop there? We could also play texas hold'em to resolve high-stakes situations (it'd be fun to play not-for-money but with stakes people will actually take seriously!). Or we could play Blackjack for a more calculated activity.

    As much as we lean away from LARP's here at The Hopeless Gamer, it's probably a good idea to try to pull some of their puzzles and other unique mechanisms for conflict resolution to make the game work.

    Can we play this now? Please?

  3. I don't know if you've ever heard of the IFGS, but this fantasy LARPing group has a really neat system for picking locks. They set up a "lock" - a electrically wired box with a thick copper wire coming out of the top - and thief characters are supposed to bring "lockpicks" - which consist of a piece of smaller copper wire that is twisted so that there is a loop about .75" in diameter somewhere along the length of it.

    The thief connects a lockpick of the appropriate kind to a wire running from under the box, and then tries to thread the loop in it down the length of the thicker wire. If he can get the lockpick to lay flat on the top of the box at the base of the thick wire, without touching the wire, he successfully picks the lock. You know when he makes contact because the lockpick touching the thick wire completes a circuit and a buzzer sounds.

    Difficulty is modified by how many times the thief can touch the thick wire before something bad happens; how many loops, bends and other obstacles the thick wire has in it; how much time the thief has to pick the lock; if he thought to have the right kind of pick with him; GM's will even sometimes allow thiefs with prior knowledge of the lock gleaned from casing the target to twist and re-wire a single lockpick to be more effective.

    Good times!



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