[In the Lab] Dice Pool Action-Selection Mechanic for Dung & Dragons

Sometimes I think of game mechanics in the abstract, without a theme in mind. Actually, it happens a lot. This time, I got to thinking about a role selection mechanic that was paired with a dice pool. For context, I'm referring to "action selection" games like Puerto Rico, Agricola or Citadels.

Say there are six actions, corresponding to each face of a six sided die. At the beginning of a round, a pool of dice are rolled. When you choose an action on your turn, that action might have a more potent effect if there are dice matching that result. So far, this turns out to be pretty much how Yspahan works.

Now I'm mulling a slight tweak, wherein that dice pool is not rolled at the beginning of the round. Rather, each player has one die with which they secretly choose their action. All players then reveal their selection at the same time. Again, those actions are augmented by the number of matching results. So, part of the game might be coercing other players to follow your lead. Heck, some actions might have diminishing returns if too many do so!

Turn order becomes an important consideration here. I think simply using a "first player" marker and clockwise rotation would be worthwhile. How do you get the marker? Perhaps that's one of the actions! So, if multiple players choose the same action, the player closest to the first marker goes first, perhaps earning a privilege for being first as in Puerto Rico.

As players earn new powers, one of them might be extra dice, so they might choose more than one action during their turn... or double, or triple the power of a single action.

Suspect this makes timing and planning a key part of gameplay, but it would take testing. Further, I am not sure what kind of theme this mechanic best fits.

Perhaps this would work in Dung & Dragons? If the theme is a co-op ranch where members place votes on which duties to perform around the ranch, I can see this fitting that theme well. Basically, you're a loosely collectivist commune. Coordinating your jobs, timing duties and planning ahead definitely fits. Hm!


  1. Hi Daniel.
    Thanks for posting this. I have a game with an action choice mechanic that I haven't thought about in a while. This post got me thinking about it again. I may be able to incorporate some of these ideas. Thanks.

  2. Or make the choices limited ... if only 1 person picks the 5 die, only one person can choose it ... and you're not required to pick the die result you choose. Then you can force someone (assuming each die has to be used) to choose 5, even if you can't be sure who might choose it.

    Turn order would be important (as above) because what if 5 is currently really a bad choice? No one will pick it, but the last guy will be stuck with it.

  3. Oooh! Now you're getting dirty. As a competitive game, I could see that working very well.

  4. I'm jumping in a bit of manic joy a little bit here. I'm not even sure what click-roulette led me to your site, but I think it involved Kevin Kelly. Anyway.

    On Tuesday night, completely independently, I *just* dreamt up a similar mechanic and IMHO the perfect theme for a game. I'm loathe to give it away, but it's kinda obvious if you knew me and the old dictum "write what you know." To prove I'm genuine I can provide sworn testimony from my very respectable MD wife, copy of my Moleskine idea jottings, and goodwill pics of my beautiful daughter as moral collateral! :-)

    Anyway, I'm a complete newb game designer, who could stand a bit of advice- though not necessarily having dreams of "OMG I found someone to collaborate with here!" With respect, I'll spend a bit more time trying to mine your site and where it might lead to get a better sense of what I *don't* know before I tug your coat and ask for a brief audience.

    Hope I don't come across as too much of a rambling creep, it was just startling to serendipitously stumble on something where I was nodding along as to seeing some of my ideas laid out! I hope to follow up soon, and thanks for writing a blog that I'm guessing will be a *very* valuable resource.

    Best, Seth


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 Graphic Design and Typography Tips for your Card Game

Belle of the Ball Guest Name Generator

One Thing to Avoid in Game Design