Something I’ve been attempting to fine-tune for ages now is a good dice mechanic for my Twilight Hell rpg setting. Striking the desired balance of narrative vs. mechanical is the primary difficulty, but I’ve had a few thoughts on that recently.

Escalation Systems

One of the things I want to have in the system is a process of escalation during tense situations. This was previously represented as any time a player denied a compel, the fate points spent by the player were put in a pot which could be used by the GM to make the situation worse for the characters.

Other systems I’ve taken inspiration of have used similar mechanics: Don’t Rest Your Head has Pain and Hope points, Modiphius’ Infinity has Heat, Mythic has Chaos, and of course Fate has fate points/compels. I had started working with my roll-keep system to gift the GM bonus dice each time one of the various pools “dominated”, but it occurred far too commonly without ways to use the results appropriately.

Current Thoughts

There are a number of ways to approach this mechanic. The strength of having a dynamic pool of tokens means that it can move around rapidly between players and the GM, which is why the Heat idea appeals.

The strength of the Don’t Rest Your Head method of escalation is that it’s almost always your own fault that a particular dice pool dominates over others. The GM doesn’t randomly get to increase your exhaustion, you do that to overcome problems. That being said, the GM still gets their Pain pool that can be used to fiddle with dice results to ensure you fail, and/or ensure a dice pool dominates.

With the Mythic auto-gm system, it’d be possible to add more axes of probability, such that when a given dice pool dominates, the situation is simply nudged more in that direction, so when the GM thinks: “hmm, what happens next?”, they can roll and see based on what’s already happened what would make sense. It’s a bit too random and complicated at that point, however, so I’m not so keen to go down that route.

Preferred Option

I want to get things ready for another test play, so I might sit down and write up another session using some method that appeals. I need to read up more on what triggers Heat increase in Infinity, and should stat up npc’s and encounters with Disruption(?) triggers to take advantage of that.

I’m almost certainly going to turn-off dice result explosion unless there’s some special ability to allow it, as it totally screws up the maths. Constantly asking for which pool dominated is also a pain, and I need to figure out how to incorporate horror checks, etc, into the game flow.