Well, it's a big week here in the U.S. of A., in which we all gear up for the national holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday. Naturally, that means I'm thinking a lot about American football gaming.
It was a homemade baseball simulation that first led me to purchase "funny dice" (d10s, in this case) as a kid. I have a soft spot for tabletop sports games and have often thought about how sports might be approached within the framework of old school D&D type games. So here's where I'm headed at the moment...
It makes sense to build such a game based on players' skills. Interestingly, this is one of the most open-ended ideas in the realm of OSR games, so there are a lot of options. Some folks like the idea of modeling skills after saving throws. Some use a d20 roll-under method like that in the popular Rules Cyclopedia. Many, however, are willing to stick with the tried-and-true d6 for resolving questions of skill.
The d6 approach does have some history on its side, as some aspects of original D&D were resolved with "x in 6" chances of success. The use of the six-sider has been further codified in games such as Weird West and White Lies, which use roll-high systems with target numbers, as well as Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which stays somewhat true to OD&D with a unified roll-under skill mechanic. (I really enjoy the look of skills on the LotFP character sheet, too, where pips are filled in on individual dice.)
While I may not use it all the time, I like the idea of the d6 for its history and simplicity. Rolls can be modified with White Box-type ability score bonuses without breaking things. And it would be easy to imagine classes like LotFP's Specialist that are able to gain ranks in whatever skills you could imagine. Like, say, the skills used in a game of American football. So that we can come up with something like this:
Now, how do we use these numbers? An easy way would be to generate player-vs-player matchups and resolve them with a couple of rolls. Stealing a page from the football card game Third and Long, we can reduce an offensive drive to a few "key plays" and identify the players critical to each (getting as specific as the exact skill(s) required by each player).
By random roll (the reason I numbered the skills on Manning's card above) or playing/drawing a card, we can establish which skills to roll for...so there's a showdown between, say, Manning's Accuracy and Luke Kuechly's ability to Read an offensive formation:
Then, resolve it with either an opposed roll (Manning's d6+5 vs. Kuechly's d6+4, with ties going to the defense?) or an attempt by both players to roll under for success. I can imagine a somewhat abstract board that teams move along as an indication of general field position:
Manning succeeds, Kuechly fails...move two spaces. Both succeed...one space. Both fail...retry. Offensive failure + defensive success...it's fourth down and time to make a choice.
Or something like that. (Or, just use opposed rolls...) Then, add in field goals and punts and whatnot.
This is all pretty much thinking out loud at the moment. I'm having fun with it and am really open to any suggestions others might have for such a minigame!
And for the sake of my wife...the biggest Cam Newton fan I know...I'll make sure to include this in the post:
Enjoy the game on Sunday, football fans!