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Dice and Systems

Dice Types
In addition to the standard dice sets for V&V (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, d%), Variants uses other dice combinations. These are the d40, d60, d80 and d120. To roll these dice, use the same structure as a d% roll, but replace one of the d10's with the appropriate tens die. Thus a d60 is rolled with a d6 and d10. The highest number on the tens die is replaced with a 0 unless the ones die is a 0. That sounds more confusing than it is—a roll of 6 on the d6 and 0 on the d10 is 60, a roll of 6 on the d6 and 9 on the d10 is 09. When you think about it, this is lot like percentile dice, where 00 becomes 100.
     Why the change? I got sick of having such a limited number of options for saving throws against attributes: it was either a d20, which since heroes often have scores over 20 turns into a near automatic success, or d%, which since few heroes have scores higher than 30 becomes way too tough as a next step. These dice are designed to provide "next steps" for those saving throws. More difficult than a d20? Roll a d40. Or a d60. Each level drops the character's chance, but doesn't torpedo it. They also provide a good scale for resistible powers, so that different characters have different strengths on their Mind Control or Paralysis ray.

Scaling Levels of Difficulty
Given that there are now more choices for dice and saving throws, that requires some rethinking on how things are handled. Whenever the GM calls on players to make saving throws against Attributes, Careers, Hobbies or Power Control Levels, the following difficulty level can be applied (note that this means all Attributes, Career/Hobby and Control scores are on an equivalent scale).

  • Average Difficulty - No Save. If the character has skill in the area, or it's a basic thing, don't even bother to roll.
  • Moderate Difficulty - d20 Save. This is what comes up the vast majority of the time. D20 is such a nice, simple determinant that it's used a good 80% of the time. And while I have thought about using the higher dice codes for combat, d20 is used almost exclusively, especially where the chart is concerned.
  • High Difficulty - d40 Save. Since this works out to a 2.5% chance per point in the target number, it is literally twice as difficult as the d20 save. Normal people have a 25% chance of success, and even people hovering around human maximum peter out at 60%. Normal People and Class 1 Pugs can be assumed to fail these saving throws as convenient. Thus a Class 1 Pug hit by a d40 resistance Paralysis attack won't get up any time soon.
  • Extreme Difficulty - d60 save. Average people have a 17% chance of success, human maximum is 40% chance of success. This is really difficult, and is as high as most things get. Class 2 pugs will always fail resistances of this level.
  • Phenomenal Difficulty - d80 save. Normal people are down to 12%, and human maximum is at 30%. It is seldom used. Class 3 pugs are assumed to fail.
  • Nigh Impossible - d100 save. More common than the d80 just because it's better known, this is all but impossible for normal people. All Pugs fail rolls of this level until the GM decides otherwise.
  • Legendary - d120 save. Give it your best shot. Normal Human odds of success are 8%, human maximum is 20%.

Automatic Successes, Automatic Failure
Rolling a 1 on the die is an automatic success, regardless of the die type. Rolling the maximum number possible on the die is an automatic failure, again regardless of the die type. At GM's whim a automatic failure might be a critical failure, especially when your target number was 1/2 or less die maximum. Results of a critical failure are usually embarrassing, but seldom damaging. If a pug crit-fails, have them knock themselves out. It's good for a laugh. Sure, these rules aren't exactly realistic, but they are simple and playable, so we run with them.

Funky Dice and Combat
As I mentioned above, the funky dice codes are seldom used in combat. Sure, there are saving throws against various attack types (resistance to paralysis ray, or blindness, or being stunned by a particular attack) , but the funky dice aren't used for making attack rolls - special attacks (which I also call specific shots, or specific attacks) are still made with two d20 rolls against the target number, rather than a higher than normal dice code. Given that the higher dice codes reduce the odds across the board, multiple rolls to hit reduce the odds based on the characters skill level - the higher the target number, the lower the reduction. This makes special attacks the realm of those with high chances to hit, i.e., the more skilled characters.

Scale, Inches and Miniatures
Don't use 'em for nothin'. I know this flies in the face of a lot of V&V players, but I've never found the map to be my friend, because it keeps the players from mentally visualizing the fight (see the section on maps in Feng Shui - it mirrors my opinions nicely). So inches are gone from the system. All the scores listed on the character sheet are for feet. Ranges are usually attribute x5 or x10 in feet, movement rates are in MPH. Yeah, hopelessly non-metric. I'm an American.
     These serve to simplify and abstract the system, make it easier for the new gamer to visualize, and speed the flow of play. Time and distance are very fluid in comics, and this mirrors that.

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Copyright © 1998 Brian Rogers