In the comments on my first draft of a spell school, Dustin makes an interesting observation:
Ah, I prefer not to have a ‘to hit’ roll at all, just have the variance be in the magnitude of the effect. As you say, it feels ‘off’ to kill or significantly affect something on a ‘miss’. I just think some of the least fun gameplay happens when a person waits for their turn, plans something, and then nothing happens because of a bad roll (which at least in part describes every single miss in the game). And if I fudge something as DM because they were extra excited, that sends a message that if you ask really nicely, anything will work (which leads to BAD NEWS).
You could pretty easily just have damage rolls, and if there is an ‘effect’ attached to it, decide on a watered down version if the damage roll is below a threshold (watered down could include ‘doesn’t happen’, as long as other stuff, like damage, does happen).
Incorporating this into the core mechanic would mean dumping quite a bit of groundwork, but I have to admit I’m thinking about the possibilities here. Because I plan on having a pool of health called “fatigue” or “stress” that gets chipped away before you actually start taking damage, an attack that doesn’t hit you might still cause you some stress, or wear you out as you parry, etc.
So, some of the stuff I planned to do with the 2d10 mechanic would make this a little bit less practical. I was thinking on having triggers of powers off one die, and have the second die represent damage in some way (this kind of efficiency of die rolls is something I really like in well-designed games, but it sure is difficult to make the math work with it sometimes!). The concept of a bell-curve distribution making it more and more difficult to actually best someone with more skill than you starts to fall away a little bit if you don’t have a binary “miss.” On the other hand, I like the idea that, surrounded by a sea of goblins, that Paladin is going to succumb at some point, because each goblin is wearing him out further and further.
Has anyone here played any games that utilized this mechanic? I feel like my fatigue system, that is restored automatically to full after a “minor rest” during the day works well with something like this. What do you think?