Wes Baker

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 21: Push

August 21st, 2020

One of my favorite mechanisms in roleplaying games is the Year Zero Engine’s push mechanism. Some preamble: in all Year Zero Engine games you roll a number of d6s to see if you succeed. You get a number of d6s equal to your attribute (strength, agility, intelligence, empathy) plus a relevant skill. Only 6s count as successes. With some of your weaker skills that means you may not see a single 6 and therefore fail the check. However, you can always push your roll. Pushing means you get to re-roll any dice that aren’t locked. Locked dice are usually other successes (in the event you need or want more than 1 success) or failures (more on that later).

However, there’s always a cost and it depends on the system you’re playing:

  • Alien: You reroll everything that’s not a 6, but you increase your stress level. This adds another die to your pool, but rolling 1s on your stress dice leads to panic.
  • Coriolis: You reroll everything that’s not a 6 and give the GM one Darkness Point which they can use to twist some rules later.
  • Forbidden Lands: You reroll everything that’s not a 6 or a 1 on your attribute or gear dice. Every attribute die that comes up a 1 damages that attribute, which decreases the number of dice you roll later. Every gear die that comes up a 1 damages that weapon, which can completely destroy the weapon until you get it repaired. For every 1 on your attribute dice, you gain 1 willpower point which powers the various talents and spells characters have.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Works much the same as Forbidden Lands, the only difference is you gain Mutation Points, which power your mutations.
  • Tales from the Loop: You reroll everything that’s not a 6 and check off one of four conditions on your sheet, each condition is -1 die on all subsequent rolls until removed.
  • Vaesen: Works much the same as Tales from the Loop, except there are 8 conditions: 4 physical conditions and 4 mental conditions.

There’s a lot of nuance from system to system, but the idea is the same: you failed a roll, want to try again, but pay a price to do so?