Of Dice and Numen
Hey everyone! Noelle here. Over 90% in less than 48 hours! You all are truly incredible. Thank you so much for your support. I'm so glad that it's looking like we'll be able to bring Kamigakari to the west (knock on wood?), and I can't wait to hear what kinds of characters and stories y'all can come up with!
Today I'd like to talk about the core dice mechanic of Kamigakari: God Hunters, as well as all the bits and pieces surrounding it. Unlike other games, the dice rolls in this game are themselves loaded with choice, and every roll brings with it new opportunities beyond just pass or fail.
The game only uses six-sided dice and no other. When you make a check in order to see if you're successful at something, you're going to roll 2d6 and add a modifier to it (usually a stat of some kind, depending on what you're doing). This is, like many games, checked against a difficulty, and if you rolled equal to or over it, you succeed at what you're doing; roll less, and you fail. However!
Enter your numen pool. At the start of every game session, players roll 4d6, then set these dice aside. These become your numen dice and generally aren't touched except in two cases: influencing rolls, and paying for the costs of your talents.
For influencing, what happens is, you roll your 2d6 as per normal. Then, you get to decide whether you want to swap any dice from your roll for dice in your numen pool. Generally, you have to keep at least one die you roll and not swap it, so this means in 2d6 rolls, you can only swap one die. However, talents and other abilities can make your rolls go up to 5d6 (maximum), letting you swap up to four dice.
By swapping, I mean this literally. Let's say your numen pool looks like this: 2, 3, 5, 5. You're called upon to make a check to see if you can climb a wall. You roll 2d6, and end up with a 5 and a 2. If your modifier is 5, and your difficulty is 13, then you're one shy of success. You look at your numen pool, and decide to swap the 2 in your roll, for the 3 in your pool. Now your numen pool looks like 2, 2, 5, 5 and your dice roll is 5+3+5 = 13. Success! You can only swap once per roll, but you can do this swap on every roll you make, even in combat.
Speaking of combat, you get a whole slew of cool powers to use in over the top anime battles, so how do you pay for them? Some systems use MP or spell points, others Vancian casting slots. In Kamigakari: God Hunters, you use your numen pool! There are five types of costs: a specific number of die (1 to 6), an odd number, an even number, doubles (two dice of the same value, like 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, etc), or "steps" (two dice of adjacent values, like 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, or 5/6). There's also 'no' cost, of course.
Some abilities may require more than one type of cost. For example, you might see "4, 4" instead of Doubles, which means you need to pay two dice of specifically the number 4 to use the ability, whereas with Doubles, any combination of the same number is valid. You may also see something like "E, 6, 6" which means you need to pay a total of three dice, two of which must be specifically the number 6, and one of which can be any even number (2, 4, or 6).
Spent dice are removed from your numen pool and placed nearby as exhausted numen. Exhausted numen can't be used to influence your rolls, but fortunately you get them back eventually--either at the start of a new round in combat, or at the start of a new scene in narrative time. When they regenerate, you roll all exhausted numen dice and return them to your numen pool, ready to be used again.
Some abilities may also give you overflowing numen, or just Overflow. Overflow isn't a die, but rather a special kind of numen that can only be used to pay costs. When you use Overflow, it counts as a single die of any number you need it to be--so if you need Steps for example, but your numen pool is 2, 2, 5, 5 (stepless!), you can use an overflow and any one of your numen dice to count as the appropriate step die. However, again, Overflow can't be used to influence.
In Kamigakari: God Hunters, there is no separate damage roll. When you make your attack check to see if you hit, you are simultaneously checking to see how much damage you do. If you successfully hit, then you do this by taking the highest value die in your roll, and multiplying it by a stat called your Rank. Typically, your Rank is 1, but many Talents raise this number, sometimes sharply. Rank can go all the way up to 10 and can never drop below 1. Furthermore, you add a static number to this, primarily granted by your equipped weapon.
Enemy Attacking and Evasion
Kamigakari: God Hunters uses an opposed rolling system in combat, so there is no static armor class number. An attacker rolls to hit, and the defender rolls to evade. However, both to speed up play and also to enhance the way the system works, it's strongly encouraged for GMs to use a Mononoke's fixed values rather than rolling any dice at all. Furthermore, when combat begins, all PCs may attempt to make identification checks, reading the Crests of their enemies and comparing that to their knowledge to figure out what their abilities might be. In mechanical terms, this means PCs usually will know the exact number they need to roll in order to hit an enemy, or to dodge that enemy's attack.
That means every exchange in combat is calculated against one's needs for their numen pool, and for how much damage the PC can do. Even if you roll a 6, is the heavy damage worth it when it could be used to fund explosively powerful talents? That's up to you!
Of course, a GM might decide an enemy is worth rolling for, making it quite a different, much more difficult battle...
Criticals and Fumbles
Lastly, the game employs a system of critical hits and critical fumbles. In Kamigakari: God Hunters, if you roll at least two sixes, you critically succeed. (Keep in mind however, you must naturally roll this; no influencing your way to a crit!) This not only means you automatically succeed, but the overwhelming surge of numen triggers an internal shift, allowing you to change one of your non-exhausted numen dice to any value you need it to be. However, if you roll comes up all ones, you critically fail, automatically shutting down what you were trying to do, and forcing you to change your highest-valued numen die to a one.
Also, as an aside, when you critical on an actual attack, you treat your highest die rolled as though it were a 10 (yes, a 10!), granting you incredibly high damage!
This is just a preview of what goes on with the dice rolling in this system. There are Talents that let you influence your entire roll, and ones that let you shift numen dice a digit or two. There are also abilities that negate the cost of Talents, or change them to being more easily used on a permanent basis. There's even Talents that increase the size of your numen pool altogether!
Sound like fun? I thought so too! And hopefully these little previews are helping to get you excited for the game. If you're a backer and you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to read update #4 from Amy asking for questions for an interview with the author of Kamigakari, Rikizo!