Tweaking World of Ultraviolet

The playtest of World of Ultraviolet continues, so I wanted to write a bit about what has changed so far.

Purple plant
Photo by Pete Moore on Unsplash

Hit Points

So, it turns out that you need to think more clearly about damage output and player HP. I know that seems like a stunning revelation in game design.

Anyway, if you’re going to constrain hit points, then you should at least decide whether monsters should be able to destroy PCs very easily. If you do, then by all means, have little bitty monsters – like, say, bio-mechanical fish – doing enough damage to drop a character with one little bite. On the other hand, if you want your characters to have a wee bit more durability, then think about the relationship between d6 damage and d6 HP.

I’m still working on this but the end result is that monsters use stats more or less on the scale of Into the Odd, with small nuisances like the above just doing d2 damage now. Just as importantly, the results of dropping to 0 HP have a wee bit of guidance now:

When you reach 0 HP, you are in mortal danger. If you do not receive appropriate treatment in a short time, you risk death. The only thing you can do is call out weakly and perhaps try to crawl away.

This avoids the expectation that characters die upon losing all their HP. I think this still needs some more work, though.

Abilities and Traits

Talents are now Abilities, and can represent some innate trait or a capability you develop over a long period of time. I also added wording to indicate that abilities gained through levelling should reflect what the character has been doing. If you take Volley at level 4, hopefully you’ve been using ranged weapons for a bit, for example.

Additionally, characters can acquire other traits (not necessarily abilities) when things happen. A character that gets an “Infected Foot Sore” will have trouble running or escaping or rock climbing, for example. These can affect risk rolls — speaking of which…

Risk Roll Changes

Given the three-result structure of the resolution mechanic, having no modifiers beyond occasionally getting Advantage or Disadvantage didn’t feel good, either. Players could choose their risks but, other than using a skill to guarantee they’d accomplish their primary goal, it just felt like they have no way to influence the odds.

So now we have the following, largely based on the existing WoDu move but with some additions on the end:

When you attempt something risky, tell the GM what you’re trying to do and how, including any applicable attributes, skills, or items. The GM will tell you what you could potentially achieve and how badly things could go. You can decide whether you want to take the risk or do something else. If you do, roll 2d6:

  • A roll of 12 is the best news: you do it perfectly and get some extra benefit or advantage.
  • A roll of 10 or more is good news: you do it as well as could be expected without any complications.
  • A roll of 7-9 is mixed news: you do it, more or less, but something else happens, like a complication, extra cost, harm, etc.
  • A roll of 6- is bad news: it doesn’t go well and things get worse.

If you have an applicable skill, even on a 6-, you still do it, but bad things (worse than a mixed result) will happen regardless.

If you have a relevant background or piece of equipment, use a d8 instead of a d6 for one of the dice.

If you accept a Devil’s Bargain, use a d8 instead of a d6 for one of the dice. A Devil’s Bargain is a complication or difficulty that will definitely occur, regardless of the outcome of the roll. For this reason, it should never negate the reason for the roll or presuppose that outcome.

This means that it is possible to roll 2d8 with a guaranteed success (albeit still with bad news and another complication).

So far, the d8 replacements seemed to work and avoid fiddly modifiers, but I really want to get it right. I’m still listening to my players about this (and everything else, of course).

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