Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Simple Luck Mechanic

This one's a request by Steve, a fellow Hoosier and blog reader. He wanted clarification on the Luck attribute I use in my games. Here's the basics again, for both HARP and Rolemaster (but easily tacked on to both percentile-based and d20-based systems):


After rolling your stats as normal, roll a straight d100 roll (1-100, not open-ended). Record this number. Whether high or low, this number represents your Luck Points. Luck Points refresh each new level gained, and can be used as adders to skills, saves, or combat rolls. They may not be used on critical hit rolls.

When using Luck Points, the points may be used before or after a roll. They do not negate fumbles; if declared before a roll in this case, the Luck Points are lost.

Example: Luke the Stable Boy is fighting the Dark Knight Heliogabulus. Luke attacks with his found dogslicer. He only rolls a 46 total, which won't hit anything. The player who is playing Luke decides this is important, and declares he is using 35 of his 55 Luck Points on this roll. This moves his roll up to an 81 total (46+35=81). Luke only has 20 more Luck Points until next round, when his total will be back up to the original 55.

Castles & Crusades/d20

As above, except a d20 is rolled instead. Luck points may not be used on damage rolls.

GM Info

Various acts may cause a character to gain or lose Luck Points. Aside from enchanted items which may bestow a temporary boost of Luck Points, the following are some rough examples on what may cause permanent loss/gain of Luck (C&C/d20 modifiers in parantheses):

Gain Luck
-Helping a holy man +5 (+1)
-Restoring a blessed artifact +15 (+3)
-Deific blessing +50 (+10)

Lose Luck
-Having a minor curse bestowed upon them -5 (-1)
-Desecrating the tomb of a saint -25 (-5)
-Deific curse -50 (-10)

It's a lot more fun to not always tell the players what they may or may not lose or gain Luck for--then they'll be wondering what the heck did it. Then, when they go to spend it, they find they don't have enough to cover what they thought they did. That really brings the shock of sudden bad luck home, I think. Unfair? Maybe. But it's luck we're talking about, after all. Fair doesn't really factor in. I've had Powerfully-built fighters who had a 3 in Luck, and otherwise worthless vagabonds who had a 98 in Luck. You can guess who actually made it through the campaign.

Comments? Anyone use something similiar?


Ameron said...

I first encountered Luck Points when I was playing Top Secret S.I. (from TSR) in the 80s. The concept didn't involve the mechanics of calculating success or failure; rather it gave the GM an opportunity to keep the story moving in an unexpected way.

At the beginning of each adventure the GM would roll 1d4 for each character and that's how many Luck Points you had. Using the Luck Point allowed you to get out of a jam or make something outrageous happen. It wasn't a rigid mechanic where you got to add to rolls, it was more of a story-telling device.

I remember one game where I needed to hotwire a car. I didn't roll very well so I used a Luck Point. The GM said "You lower the visor and the spare keys fall into your lap." So the roll became inconsequential and the story moved forward.

kelvingreen said...

My game of choice, Call of Cthulhu has a luck system already built in as a separate roll, but I quite like the idea of "burning" the points to add to die rolls, as you've done here. The obvious difficulty is deciding when/how they refresh, but it's something I'm going to think about.

Max said...

i use the action dice system in Spycraft 2.0 for my LOTR game.