Risky Business

Posted: May 28, 2010 in Dead of Night, design

With Dead of Night’s release just around the corner – it’ll be on sale at Games Expo on the 5th-6th June, and then available from me on the 7th – you’ll be able to read all about the new changes for yourself soon enough. I’ve saved talking about probably the biggest rules change until last, however – the introduction of Risk Checks.

In 1st edition, the only way to lose a Survival Point was by losing a combat check – i.e. failing an Assault or Protect check. This worked nicely, making combat nasty for both PCs and monsters. But, it didn’t entirely play to genre. After all, in the middle of a slasher movie you shouldn’t have to tool up to take on the big bad. Similarly, it ensured that Survival Point loss was fairly unsubtle, ignoring all the other ways characters can come to a sticky end that isn’t necessarily through being eaten.

Enter, the Risk Check. In second edition, any check can be designated as risky by the GM, flagging it up as being potentially dangerous or detrimental to a character’s long-term survival. Most Assault or Protect checks remain risky, but so too are some Escape checks. Even an Identify check can be risky in the right (or wrong) circumstances, such as meddling with things that should not be known.

But what does being risky mean? Well, it’s the same as an old-school combat check – whoever loses the check, loses a Survival Point. So characters getting chased through the woods might lose a Survival Point as a result. As might someone poking through a musty old tome in the library after hours.

But it’s not all bad news for the players. Remember, a Risk Check works both ways; so if the player triumphs in the check, then it’s the monster that will take the hit instead. And this makes sense given the genre too. You might be fleeing into the forest, but if you escape then the monster might be drawn into your trap, or you might survive with a better understanding of how to defeat it. Similarly, meddling with arcane knowledge might prove to be bad for your health, but if you can find out the demon’s true name, it might just make the difference.

Of course, you might still find yourself getting eaten after all. Next week I’ll show off a preview of the interior of the book as we gear up for launch! Just over a week to go.

  1. ms says:

    A good change. I’d always played it this way, but it wasn’t documented properly in 1E.

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