[In the Lab] 5x5

This is a post from the old blog, but I want to preserve it in the current lab. I still talk about it with Fred occasionally, so you never know when I'll pick it up again.


UPDATE: Fred just posted his continued thoughts of from his original inspiration post here.


A while back, Fred Hicks wrote up this cool idea where superpowers came from a mysterious radio signal. Certain people are "Receivers" for this signal and are regulated by the FCC.

We talked about incorporating a bit of HAM radio jargon. Specifically the phrase "5 by 5," meaning that a radio signal has perfect signal strength ("5") and perfect signal clarity("5").

The natural systemic representation for this would be a 2d6 system, wherein one die represents signal strength and the other signal clarity. "6" results would be special cases, representing some kind of critical-something-or-other.

I woke up with further thoughts on how to express this as a superpower. Of course, these re-tread some other ideas I've used in Do and Happy Birthday Robot, but I beg indulgence one more time. :P

I'm imagining Receivers as radio-powered analogues to the Marauders. Swirling balls of reality-bending chaos that must be contained or destroyed for the sake of universal coherence. With that in mind, here's my idea for how to handle radio-powers:

Step 1: Roll
On your turn, if you choose to use a radio power, first roll two six-sided dice. One die represents signal strength. One die represents signal clarity. Those designations are decided at the beginning of the game.

Step 2: Strength
You may describe some amazing feat of radio-powered reality-bending, but your description is limited. You may only describe this event in a number of words equal to your Strength die result, to a maximum of 5. (Results of "6" are discussed after these steps.)

You always have the word "I" as a free word, though. Saying "I," in your description does not count against this word limit.

For example: You rolled a "3" on your strength die. That means you could say something like the following sentences:

"I turn into fire."
"I blow freezing wind."
"I jam the signal."

Step 3: Clarity

Here's where things get tricky. Now your description will be modified based on the result on your Clarity die.
Oh wait, I just realized a problem here. My original idea was to make each player take turns changing one word in the description. The number of turns would be determined by the Clarity die. So if you rolled a 4, then four players would each take a turn changing one word of your description.

The idea was that radio powers are unpredictable and dangerous, sometimes causing unintended events.

But that doesn't fit the "5 by 5" theme if a higher number is supposed to be a clearer signal. Oh well, you see where I was going with it. :P

Oh yeah, and the idea for 6s is that they give you "Amps," You can put an amp on a word in your description so that it may not be changed.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.