Player Interpretation of Expectation

Any of you that drop by from time-to-time will have noticed that I haven’t been posting much of late. Other things have been keeping me occupied. You know how it is. On the plus side I’m very happy to say that one of the things that’s been keeping me from posting is the fact that I’m gaming again, so I can’t really complain.

Anyway that’s all by-the-by…

In the little amount of spare time I do have at present I’ve been following a really interesting discussion in the Playtesting forum at the Forge regarding Altaem’s Player Interpretation of Expectation (PIE) system, which is both beautiful in it’s simplicity and a really neat idea. It seemed well worth a post here.

To summarise, as I understand it, resolution in PIE works something like this.


Reacting to the unfolding game situation a player describes their intended action, stating their focus and desired outcome in order to agree an expected outcome with the GM (who has the final say)

A master swordsman encounters a lone Ork in the woods. The swordsman is highly skilled and would expect to defeat the Ork with little effort. That is the expectation, a swift engagement in which the Ork is defeated.


The player rolls three different coloured d6 to see what happens. Each d6 represents something different:

Self (Character performance)
Opposition (How well the opposition did)
Environment (Objects or Forces beyond either combatants control)

Both the total and the value of each dice (any 1s and 6s) are important.

The total of the roll is compared to the following table:

Roll       Outcome
16<        Exceptional – much better than expected, many large bonuses
13-15    Remarkable – as expected with large bonus
11-12    Above Average – as expected with small bonus
9-10      Below Average – as expected with small problem
6-8        Poor – worse than expected with large problem
<5         Dismal – much worse than expected, many large problems

Both the overall outcome relative to the expected outcome and any 1s (bad for the character) or 6s (good for the character) on individual dice must be incorporated into the player’s narration of what actually happens

Let’s say our swordsman’s roll is Self: 6, Opposition: 3, Environment: 4 for a total of 13. This is a Remarkable result, the swordsman has slain the Ork with a flourish. His Self die (Character performance) was a 6 – so he should describe a deft move. He sidesteps the Ork’s attack, ducks underneath the blow and runs the creature through.

If the swordsman’s roll was Self: 3, Opposition: 1, Environment: 3 for a total of 7, the outcome would have been somewhat different. This is a Poor result with a large problem for the character and the localised 1 for Opposition (How well the opposition did) suggests that it was the performance of the Ork that upset the expectation. In this case the narration might describe how the Ork was tougher than the swordsman expected. It brushed his thrust aside and  struck back, wounding him and putting him on the back foot.

There are various nuances to the system that I haven’t gone into here, so read more at the Forge if you’re interested, but I really do like the simplicity of Altaem’s central resolution mechanic and the fact that from the one roll it provides additional cues for narration.

I’m thinking this fits really well with a results Ladder like the one used in the Fate system:

+6 Legendary
+5 Epic
+4 Superb
+3 Great
+2 Good
+1 Fair
+0 Average
-1 Mediocre
-2 Poor
-3 Terrible
-4 Abysmal

Characters are ranked in skill. A Superb (+4) swordsman fighting a Good (+2) swordsman would expect a Good (+2) result in their favour.

The result of the dice roll modifies the outcome as follows: Exceptional (+3), Remarkable (+2), Above Average (+1), Below Average (-1), Poor (-2) and Dismal (-3)

You roll the dice and get Self: 1, Opposition: 3, Environment: 2, for a total of 6. Ooops That’s a poor result meaning only an Average outcome (+2 expectation -2 for a poor result equals a +0 average result). And the localised 1 on Self suggests that the character cocked up, performing less well than expected e.g. stumbling and allowing the opponent to gain the initiative.

Like I said the core mechanic has got bags of potential. Nice one Altaem! Thanks for sharing your ideas.


2 thoughts on “Player Interpretation of Expectation

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