Pick Two

I can’t remember when or where it was that I saw it, but I remember seeing a t-shirt that had an “Ex-girlfriend Diagram.” It said something like “Smart, Sexy, Sane: Pick 2.” Being an RPG geek I took one look at this and thought, “Hey, that could be a character stat generation system!”… Yeah, I know, I have issues.

At any rate, I did eventually come up with a system based on this. I call it the Pick-Two System. It’s pretty simple. Creating a character starts with three basic stats: Body, Brains, and Balance.

  • Body represents both a character’s physical appearance as well as their physical prowess. A character strong in body is a chiseled paragon with muscle to spare.
  • Brains represents a character’s raw aptitude and creativity. A character strong in brains excels at computation, strategy and quick thinking.
  • Balance represents a character’s control, both physically and mentally. A character strong in balance is centered and focused.

Each of these three attributes starts with a value of one point each, as shown in the following diagram.

Pick Two Diagram, Step 1

To begin, simply move one of the 1s from one area to one of the other two areas. So, for example, if I want a character who is smart and don’t care about the character’s control I can move the 1 in Balance and add it to Brains, giving me a character who is strong in Brains (2 points), adequate in Body (1 point) and weak in Balance (0 points) as shown below.

Pick Two Diagram, Step 2

Actions always use two attributes, even if it’s two of the same attribute. so if A, B and C are worth zero, one and two respectively, then:

  • A+A (0+0) = 0
  • A+B (0+1) = 1
  • A+C (0+2) = 2
  • B+B (1+1) = 2
  • B+C (1+2) = 3
  • C+C (2+2) = 4

For the sake of ease, we’ll add these scores to our diagram for easy reference, giving us the following:

Pick Two Diagram, Step 3

Difficulty is measured on a scale from one to eight with one being the easiest and eight being the hardest. For any challenge, the game master sets the difficulty. The player then pitches a number of coins equal to the associated attribute scores. Count the number of successes (those with the obverse, or ‘face’, side up) and add in any modifiers. If the total is equal to or greater than the difficulty, the player succeeds.

That’s it! Or at least that’s the idea. I still need to test this engine out. And I have the perfect vehicle for it: Playthings. I wanted Playthings to be a game that was simple enough for young kids to play, but broad enough for adults to appreciate. I think the Pick-Two System shows promise along that line.

Posted in Game Design

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