Earlier this week, I had an idea for an alternative to the stunt mechanic in the AGE system that I’m interested in trying out at some point.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the AGE system, stunts are that system’s analog to critical hits and they are one of my favorite parts of the system. When making an ability check in AGE, you roll three dice with one of them being a different color. This special die is the Stunt Die. If the roll results in doubles, then it generates stunt points equal to the value showing on the Stunt Die. These stunt points can then be used to add special effects to the action such as increasing the damage of an attack, knocking the target prone, or taking a defensive stance.
The existing stunts rules work well. The only complaint I’ve heard from other people is that figuring out which stunts to buy can slow down a game especially when players are new to the system. One way I’ve thought that could be addressed was reducing the number of stunts available to characters, but streamlining the mechanics for generating stunts might also help.
The alternative that popped into my mind this week keeps the same basic idea of providing special effects on checks, but offers a few different design hooks and seems like it might play a little quicker at the table. Checks would still be made with three dice and one would still be the Stunt Die. Instead of requiring doubles and stunt points though, stunts would be available when the Stunt Die showed a certain value or higher. For example, the mighty blow stunt might be available on rolls where the Stunt Die is a 5+. This system would restrict you to a single stunt per roll, so it gives up some flexibility that the existing stunt rules offer.
Most stunts would require a 5 or 6 to use on a roll. As a rough guideline, stunts that cost 1-3 SP could trigger on a 5+ and stunts that cost 4+ SP would require a 6. This changes the probability of stunting a bit, but .
For a check where a player needs to roll an 11, they have a 50% chance of succeeding on the check. Assuming success, they have a 44% chance of getting doubles and at least 1 stunt point with the existing rules. The chance of getting 5+ stunt points on that same success is only 26%. With the alternative rules, they would have a 52% chance of being able to use stunts with a 5+ requirement and a 28% chance of being able to use those with a requirement of 6. As with stunts, the chance of a success generating more powerful stunts increases with the difficulty of the roll and decreases on easier rolls.
Abilities that reduce the cost of stunts would instead lower the Stunt Die value needed for the stunt to be available. For example, a level 5 Warrior in Fantasy Age would be able to use Dual Strike on a 5+ rather than needing a 6 like normal and a level 7 Warrior could use Threaten on a 4+.
What do you think? Would this system be a fun alternative to the existing rules for generating stunts?
2 replies on “An Alternative Stunt Mechanic”
Funny thing, I’ve been thinking about something similar for a while now. My idea was to separate stunts into Minor and Major. Stunts would still trigger on doubles (I think that changing this bit would lose a bit of the ‘feel’ of this particular game), but the stunt die value would be read as follows: 1-3 means you get to do a Minor stunt, 4-5: you get to do a Major stunt, 6: you can do one Major and one Minor stunt. This would remove a bit of the action paralysis, and the ‘problem’ the players have when they have 3 stunt points, and want to spend two of them, but don’t want to feel they are ‘wasting’ that third one. But I have not done the math for my idea, and it will be a week or two before I get to test it.
I feel that the stunt math in the game works fine as is, but the idea of buying stunts with points is more complex than just choosing a stunt. I hear they try to fix this a bit in the new Companion book, but I’m waiting for my copy, so I can’t comment on how the ‘stunt packages’ work exactly.
The stunt packages in the Companion are just ready-made thematic bundles of existing stunts. They don’t do anything major to change how stunt points are spent.