I was thinking about dice and cloud, and weak / strong moves, and how they don’t satisfy me.
Dice represent mechanics and numerical values, the board game elements of RPG. Cloud represent fiction. The most important thing about the Dice and Cloud model is that it makes visible the flow from one to the other. I sometimes need the dice to bypass player knowledge (I don’t care about the particulars, only the result of the action), or I can lean on player knowledge and make the Dice follow. That’s how I use Dice anyway.
Weak / strong moves in Belonging outside Belonging are very much like the simplest Dice mechanic ever. You push the odds of character success up or down, only with a time delay between debt and payment. Otherkind Dice (then Devil’s bargain) do the same, only you begin with debt to “prime the pump”. Gain Dice lose some Cloud. Harm rules are the opposite : lose some Dice to shrug Cloud off. Of course, the machine has finer retroactions, but the idea is there. Otherkind dice are genius in that they make circulation between Dice and Cloud a very practical thing. I can “increase odds” (+1 die) at the cost of “increasing (narrative) stakes” (+1 fiction trouble).
When you know this, as players, you want to lose first, increase the stakes, then gather the Dice you gained to increase your odds and “win” in some way. That’s how many tables play, and it works, as the roller coaster it is. Status is earned in the process because high odds and high stakes allow players to mimic competence. The idea of a circulation between odds and stakes is genius. But.
What I lack here is something that is overall left to the players choice : dramatic regulation. It’s simply left to each table to decide when to introduce new material, when to increase/decrease the stakes. It’s like games are pushing for highs, and asking for measure at the same. They mostly are about character spotlight, very little about storyteller spotlight. I don’t see many games regulating that part. Or, rather, games structure this with static measures, like turns, scenes, or GM judgement (clocks, and announcing future badness).
On the other hand, I see the pacing in Lovecraftesque, Star crossed, For the Queen, or Fall of magic. What tools are out there for Dramatic regulation ? What have they got in common ?
What would a token based dramatic regulation look like ? What would it entail ? What problems would it face ?