Rogue’s Dice: You Bet Your Life
- Poker Dice
- Status Effects
This is an original idea for a game I've come up with but won’t be able to pursue so I'm putting
this out there for free for anybody to take it up that wants to.
Rogue’s Dice is not so much a game as it is just a battle system for a bigger game. This could be an RPG,
a rogue-like (thus the name), or a simple arena battler where there is only a series of incresingly tough battles.
Rogue’s Dice is unique in that it uses Poker
Dice to battle. It’s a simple dice-based game that has very interesting risk vs. reward and luck vs. skill
properties that make it a good gambling game. Personally, I'm just interested in card and dice game in general and I
don’t condone gambling.
The original game is very simple, each player has 5 dice; they do not need to be poker dice with card faces, normal
dice are sufficient and preferable for simpler reading. One player rolls all five dice and tries to form an ideal
poker hand, that is, any of the following conditions:
- Five of a kind:
E.g. 3, 3, 3, 3, 3. Higher values win over lower ones.
It should be noted that five 1′s still rank higher than any four-of-a-kind.
- Four of a kind:
Any four of the same kind, plus one unmatching dice. E.g. 1, 1, 1, 1, 6.
The higher value of the four wins and where the four are the same, the higher of the one die severs the
- “Full House”:
Three of a kind and two of another.
The three dice rank highest first, followed by the pair.
Five in ascending order e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (known as the low-straight) and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (known as the
high-straight). The high-straight beats the low-straight.
- Three of a kind:
With two unmatching dice. The three dice rank highest first, followed by the highest of the remaining dice.
- Two Pair:
Two of one kind and two of another, with one die mismatched. The highest ranked pair are compared first,
then the lowest ranked pair and then the remaining die.
- One Pair:
A single pair, all other dice mismatched.
Matching none of the above, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.
Ironically, the likeliehood of this is less than some other outcomes.
It is not always possible to get a workable (or best possible) hand in one roll, so the player may choose to
“hold” any number of their dice and re-roll the remainder, repeating this for a total of three rolls. Whatever
final hand the player has chosen will be ranked against the opponent’s.
Let’s now imagine a turn-based RPG battle system like classic Final Fantasy games.
The major important mechanic to note is that you bet life-points — thus the sub-title "You Bet Your Life"
— you must spend your health in the hope of winning it (and more) back whilst draining the opponent. Whilst the
score of the hand played could be used as an attack rating, the random nature of the dice would make attacks
inconsistent and variable.
The player bets the amount of life-points they’re willing to spend. The enemy has to match this amount or up
the ante, increasing the bet and their potential win over you.
A round of Poker Dice is played and the winner receives back all the life-points in the “pot”, leaving
the opponent down in points. Reduce an enemy’s life-points to zero and the enemy is defeated.
Beyond the core mechanics there’s almost infinite room to play with the fringes of the simulation: messing with
dice probabilities, magic, status effects &c. I think there’s a real strong
Like RPGs, Your “equipment” would be your dice. However it is that you
collect and upgrade your dice, there are a number of possibilities for variety. Here I present a sample of ideas:
- A pair of “fluffy dice”:
Some bonus is applied whenever they roll a pair together.
- Weighted Die:
Special die weighted to give a certain value more often than not. Why would you want such a thing? Even if
a die favoured a low value like "1″, three-, four- and five-of-a-kind rank higher than some hands, even
when the value is low. That is, five 1s are still a win over a Full House.
- Schrödinger’s die:
A “wild card” die that has no fixed value until the hand is called.
- Mulligan’s Die:
Very powerful; can be re-rolled an additional time.
- Liar’s Die:
A die whose value can be changed. Perhaps in a multiplayer scenario, this could be a die that appears to
opponents as a different value than what it is.
- Odd or Even Dice:
Dice that roll only odd or even numbers respectively. Likewise, there may be die that omit certain numbers
to double the chance of other values.
Poker Dice is typically played in rounds, e.g. best-of-three, where bets are raised between rounds (this is
also how a draw is decided). Additional rounds before the outcome is determined massively increases the risk factor.
Having an attack require more than one round could be reserved for bosses or particularly powerful attacks.
If there are multiple enemies in the battle at once then the player must carefully choose what hand to commit to
based not only on what will win against multiple opponents but to take bigger wins over smaller losses in the event
of the luck of the roll not going your way.
In a typical RPG there are a wide choice of differing attacks (Pokémon, for example) where as in Rogue’s
Dice all attacks are essentially the same (rounds of Poker Dice), it’s the selection of dice that
determine the variability of the outcome.
Some limit may be placed on the amount that a player can bet in one go (the “strength” of an attack). The
maximum possible strength of an attack is determined by a character’s maximum life-points (that is, betting
everything at once). Therefore there may be “special” attacks that change the cost/reward of an attack:
- All or Nothing:
An attack that bets a character’s entire life-points, but doubles the outcome.
This is different than betting the same amount as the enemy’s total health, which is likely to be less
than the player’s anyhow.
- Double or Quits:
An attack that, if the character loses, forces another round at the cost of doubling the bet.
- Going Halves:
An attack that reduces a loss by 50% at the cost of also reducing a win to 50% of its value.
- One and Done:
An attack in which there is no re-rolls allowed.
What you roll the first time is taken as your hand.
The enemy is also limited to one roll.
An attack that bets half of the character’s health.
If the player wins the round, the attack continues for another round.
- Foresight, or Prophecy:
An attack in which the character declares beforehand what type of hand they will play.
They must succeed in building a hand of this type, otherwise it is taken as a loss.
- All for One:
The cost for the attack is drawn from all characters excepting the one doing the attack.
The attacker alone is responsible for the won or lost life-points.
- One For All:
The winnings/losses are evenly divided between all characters in the party.
Because a round of Poker Dice requires the input of both parties, regardless of who initiates the attack,
the question arrises of what happens when an enemy intiates an attack first. Unlike a typical RPG, the outcome of
the attack is neither pre-determined nor guaranteed to be in the enemy’s favour; what happens if the enemy
attacks, but the player wins the round? The enemy has attacked but takes damage instead!
We perhaps want to scale the cost/reward to favour the attacker over the defender, but another way to look at it is
that because the outcome of a fight can go to either party, an enemy’s goal is to stack the outcome in their
favour through the dice they choose and their own types of attack that force the player’s hand.
In a game of Poker Dice it is not advantageous to roll first. If the enemy rolls first then you can assess
the strength of their hand and factor that into your own rolls. This additional imbalance may play a part in
weighting attacking vs. being attacked.
Defence might vary depending on whether the game uses a single player entity or a party of charcaters. With multiple
characters, defence could involve something like rolling a die to determine a minimum equivalent roll an enemy would
need to begin an attack.
A number of scalability issues arise when introducing health as the core currency:
Design decisions will need to be made on what the limits on life points (health) are. If a player continues to amass
wealth then they quickly become unassailable. Experience and leveling should scale the “cost” of battles
according to the player’s wealth.
Entering a battle could require a “buy in” that sets the reward for winning the battle as a whole. Characters
would have to have some kind of health limit that prevent them hoovering up all the life points available in the
battle field, with excess winnings from enemies going in to the overall battle pot.
“Healing” takes on unusual properties when life-points are spent and won. If individual characters' life-points
are capped then the player’s reserve (their total wealth, outside of the characters they own) acts as the total
healing available to them, at the cost of reducing their battle winnings and overal wealth.
Of course, there could be actions that allow characters to transfer life-points between themselves.
At the extreme end of features there could even be provisions for debt, interest, bankruptcy and so forth. The idea
that a player character could take out a “loan” of health is interesting, as well is the possibility of
characters going below zero life-points on the promise that the debt be repaid before the battle is over.
An effect that forcibly holds a die, preventing it from being re-rolled.
Opposite of frozen; prevents the die from being held.
An effect that causes a die to change value. This could be constantly (similar to the Schrödinger’s die)
with a random final value, or the value changes for each re-roll, even if the die is held.
- Quantum Entanglement:
An effect (or type of die) that make a die more (or less) likely to roll the same value as one or more of
the other dice.
- Lucky / Unlucky:
Status effects that change luck, causing better or worse outcomes for rolls.
As well as a mechanism for imparting the above status effects, magic and other “job” / “skill” actions can
be used to affect the flow of battle outside of messing with the enemies' dice. For example, preventing enemies from
attacking; changing the order of attacks; ejecting enemies from the battlefield; changing the outcome of attacks
(such as flipping the ranks of the hands).
Unmentioned thus far is magic and effects that modify the betting pool and the player’s “health”, but I leave
that as an exercise for the reader.