View Full Version : Diceless RPG's?

01-16-2008, 11:37 AM
I've seen reference to diceless RPG's lately but no actual names. What diceless RPG's are out there? Are they 100% roleplaying? Any info would be appreciated.

01-16-2008, 11:44 AM
Truly diceless roleplaying with no alternate means of applying randomness? The only one I know by name is Amber (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Diceless_Roleplaying_Game). I think generally the idea in diceless roleplaying is more collaborative storytelling, but I've never tried a system like that.

01-16-2008, 11:54 AM
There is Amber and Theatrix, which are two of the biggest diceless RPGs out there.

I just picked up Heaven & Earth 2nd edition, which is diceless but uses a deck of cards for resolution.

Truly diceless like Amber has no random elements: you compare levels, and highest wins contest.


Some diceless that use cards, still have random elements like Heaven & Earth. You draw cards and play them, so there is still the random element.

I guess that I'm old school and just can't break away from dice rolling! I can wrap my mind around RPGs that use cards as a supplement to dice rolling like Torg or the Masterbook games of West End.

I just can't get into truly diceless like Amber because I just dig the randomness of dice rolling, and the possibility of the a lowly mage picking up and sword and killing an experienced warrior- it may not happen often, but it could happen.

01-16-2008, 12:04 PM
Without dice all your having is a themed conversation. I just curious, with the hardcore pnp group that frequents here, if anybody was into truly diceless RPGs (no randomness of any kind). Glad to hear your not a bunch of DICELESS RPG LOVERS!!! :eek:

01-16-2008, 12:26 PM
Concerning Amber, I don't know what Farcaster calls "collaborative storytelling" but I'll say that the campaigns I run with this system weren't radically different to other RPG I was a GM for.

There are traits and talents, with a few numbers in order to represent characters potential. So for instance say character A has a better psyche than character B, and Psyche is the trait governing magic. A creates a trap spell which would cast a lightning bolt to any intruder who would cross the threshold of a door. If B was a sorcerer too and was to try and detect/disarm this spell in order to cross the threshold unharmed, he would probably need a few hours (or days depending on the difference between there resp. psyche) before he could solve the problem.

The system assumes that for a type of confrontation, the character who has the best relevant trait will always win. That is if no circumstances bring any edge to the less skilled characters. Spending hours, concentrated, trying to disarm a spell would be an example of circumstance. Now if A and B have a sorcerer duel, based only on their talent, without any magic items, prepared spells, knowledge of the local magic environment which would bring an edge to B then B is pretty much fried.

The system works because it's a bit of a poker game. Let me explain. Character creation is a kind of auction. Some auctions are public, some private. So the players at the beginning of the campaign know more or less who are the best in each field. The private auctions are a bit like your cards that no player knows in poker... Could be good, could be lame... Plus when characters gain experience the hierarchy might be revisited. But only the GM knows for sure. So players are usually careful about their relative strength. A character might fake weakness too, trying to lure his foe into opening his defense and launch an all-out attack. On top of that NPCs belong either to one of two category : legendary good for some traits (like Benedict for warfare) or unknown level. So confrontations are usually a bit like bluffing at poker : PCs and NPCs try to estimate the level of opposition. Then they either take advantage of their superiority, try and find a way to compensate antagonists superiority or... run for their life :)

I found that this system worked fine for a RPG based on the Amber Cycle. It relies a lot on the GM maturity to turn it into a fair and fun type of roleplaying. I wouldn't pretend it's the best system for any type of RPG, but I never heard any complaint from my players while we were using it.

Now if I'm a heretic for finding some charm to a diceless system, well try and throw me into a bonfire :) But you've got to catch me first !

01-16-2008, 12:58 PM
Oh, don't get me wrong...I'm not some rabid eater of diceless RPGers:eek:. It's just not my cup of tea.

I own Theatrix, and I think that it's an elegant system. I haven't picked up Amber because of the price tag, even used; especially when diceless doesn't really get me all jazzed up.

01-16-2008, 02:00 PM
I was just joking about diceless rpg lovers. It sounds like it would be awesome with the right players. With those who don't think well on their feet and don't have a natural charisma with words, I wouldn't think the game would be all that alluring. Thanks for the explanation boulet ;)

01-16-2008, 02:11 PM
I like Torg and Masterbook because they give card use as an option to be used in conjuction with normal dice rolling game mechanics. I like having the option or not.

However, if I am playing with cards, I'd rather play poker or Milles Bourne. :)

01-16-2008, 02:25 PM
Deadlands used a standard card deck and poker chips :)

01-16-2008, 03:22 PM
We had a conversation about this before: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3931

jade von delioch
01-16-2008, 03:28 PM
Everway: created by WoTc before they bought TSR. the game was very Storytelling and the was guided by a fate deck that could be read three different ways.
Marvel Universe: this was built around stones, which confuses people. Basically you use counters or pennies to keep track of the energy that your character uses. Theres a space on the character sheet for this. Every time you perform an action you spend energy or "effort" to succeed. If its an opposed action like combat, the person who puts more effort into their action wins. At the beginning of every round you recover some energy and everyone puts energy/effort towards the action(s) that they plan to perform that round and then move on to the init.
Sage System: This is designed to work like your typical rpg, dragonlance was their main setting. Instead on dice everyone has a hand of cards; this counts as your character health as well as what you need to spend to perform actions. each card has a number on it and when you try to perform an action you have to meet or beat the target number. so if you have a target number of 7 and put down a 3 and a 4 card you succeed. Then afterwards you draw back up to your total hand. However, when ever you take damage you have to the pay the damage total with what you have in your hand. you take 10 damage you use three cards to pay it off, two 2's and and one 6. However, the cards you spend to pay off damage do not get drawn back until you are healed. theres more to this where you can pull cards of the deck to pay for stuff but its to much to put here.

these are the games that i have played and the later two are the ones i really liked. i would have to say that i"m could be called a diceless gamer. never really saw a reason why you really need dice. i've heard all the arguments about it, but its all illogical.

01-16-2008, 06:19 PM
Dice are just one tool you can use. I think playing cards actually add a lot of fun to the game. Games that use a standard 52 card deck are even better since you never have to worry about buying special counters or props. I appreciate the info jade von delioch. I'll definitely have to look into marvel and sage a bit more. Sounds like the kind of thing you could play on long road trips, of which I take many indeed.

fmitchell I sent you a PM :)

jade von delioch
01-16-2008, 11:56 PM
everyone has pennies.

but ya, the saga system comes with the deck in the main book set.

01-17-2008, 11:31 AM
The little I played of Dust Devils was fun. Its a western that uses poker to resolve conflicts. Your skills and such give you extra cards. So someone might be playing 5 card and another player might have 7 card.

01-17-2008, 06:05 PM
How can you play poker with seven cards? I wish there was a Star Wars diceless that used Pazaak (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Pazaak) for resolutions. I miss that game so much.

01-17-2008, 06:07 PM
There are many poker games with 7 cards or less.

01-17-2008, 08:13 PM
How can you play poker with seven cards? I wish there was a Star Wars diceless that used Pazaak (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Pazaak) for resolutions. I miss that game so much.

You pull 7 and only put down 5 of the 7. I don't remember all the specifics but if your unskilled you play 5 card stud and if you got some skill you play 5+X card stud. I think there was some way you could go to draw rather than stud to. More skilled players have a better chance of getting a good poker hand because they get more cards.

01-18-2008, 12:17 AM
LOL I've only played the standard five card poker. I know there are variants but have never actually wanted to learn about or even sit down and watch one of the televised poker games that seem to be so popular these days.