What Shall We Do With All These 1’s

I came to the conclusion the other day that the first change I’d probably make to Big Damn Dryden was to remove the ability for a Catastrophic Outcome to be used for damage. Why you ask? Well, firstly, an unscrupulous Game Master can use a bad roll by a single player to murder the entire cast of characters. Image rolling an absolutely epic Catastrophic Outcome as a result of a standard shooting roll, only to have your gun explode and the Game Master inflict one damage per “1” rolled, divided amongst all players. Roll enough 1’s and that instantly kills everyone in the room. But that’s not what a Catastrophic Outcome is meant to be. Rather, a Catastrophic Outcome is meant be a narrative event, a heightening of the drama or stretch of bad luck that makes the adventure a little more… well, adventurous. It can push the Cell down an unexpected path, give them an additional problem or some sort of penalty. So, when a player rolled this truly epic quantity of dice while hacking a computer system…

going critical

The amount of 1s meant that something utterly terrible could happen. Now, I could have divided this amongst the Cell to kill every player character. I could have used it to reduce the player’s character to mere atoms. But again, this is meant to be a narrative outcome. However, instead I ruled to take away the Ghost Context Skin from the character. Context Skins are another one of those narrative-based aspects of the game that requires some sort of explanation. At character creation, its generally conceded that these are part of the individuals recent past. But afterwards, work and explanation is required and this character had spent a lot of time covering his tracks to gain the benefits of the Ghost Skin. And a failed hacking roll became an apt way of the character exposing themselves again. By emphasizing the narrative over the damage in most moments of Catastrophic Outcomes, the game becomes a story rather than a duel of dice and fate of the Game Master versus the players.

What Shall We Do With All These 1’s

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