Gears: the core mechanic

gears_die I promised you more posts about my upcoming Gears roleplaying game system and this time I want to share some thoughts on the core mechanic.

When I started the project I was still unsure what dice I wanted to use. I am usually a fan of percentile dice, because they are so easy. You usually roll two ten-sided dice that generate a number between 01 and 100. You then compare this to your chance of success. That’s pretty easy to explain, even to people who never played any game before.

But since I didn’t need that level of granularity (especially with the skills system I had in mind), I decided to use six-sided dice. One d6 would have been a possibility, but in the end I decided to go with 3d6. When using 3d6 you usually get a lot of average results and only a few very low or very high ones. This doesn’t work as well in games that aim for a heroic or cinematic style like D&D, but it fits perfectly the more “down to earth” approach in games like GURPS or what I planned for Gears.

Ok, let’s have a look at the relevant section in the Gears rulebook:

Dice Basics
Gears uses regular six-sided dice. Usually you have to roll several dice, sum up the results and add a modifier. As a shorthand we usually use something like that: 3d6+2. This means, you have to roll three dice, sum up the result and add 2.

Basic Task Resolution
The basic task resolution method is to roll 3d6 and compare it to a given difficulty level. Is the result equal or lower than the difficulty level, the task succeeds. If the circumstances make the task at hand easier or harder, the GM may modify the difficulty level. Usually the difficulty level consists of a skill rank, the value of the relevant Primary Trait and a modifier.

That’s it. All skill and trait test work that way. If you just check against a trait (like Strength) you don’t add a skill rank to the difficulty level. The only rolls that are not made using this mechanic are damage rolls.