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Oracle Storytelling System

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Oracle is a storytelling system designed for persistent RP environments and is an alternative to a plain d20 roll. It is basically dice for dicephobic freeform roleplayers and can be used for both combat roleplay and solo storytelling.

This article contains some derivative information from the original system.

Introduction

Oracle is a 2d10 based threshold dice system. Players roll /random 10 twice, add up the number, and if it is less than or equal to the threshold number then they succeed else they fail.

This system adds a layer of random chance without going overboard or disregarding character skill, without having to keep track of stats or deal with complicated modifiers. Stat and modifier systems can be complicated, hard to manage, and fraught. Completely random rolls (like D20 systems seen used on WOW) can infuriate players playing competent and balanced characters and feel really really bad. The players who make balanced characters are the ones you want to keep around not frustrate into leaving your campaign.

Why 2d10 and not D20? By rolling 2d10 instead of a 1d20 the RNG of the system is smoothed out, creating a bell curve, the numbers players roll are most likely to be between 7 and 14.

The threshold is plain English probability values that each correlate to a particular number applied by the situation at hand. This means that someone doing something physically impossible isn't going to get away with it because they rolled well, things actually must make some sort of sense.

Probability Chart

Oracle
Probability Is less than
or equal to
Almost Impossible 3
Very Unlikely 5
Pretty Unlikely 7
Unlikely 9
Toss-up 11
Likely 13
Probable 15
Almost a Sure Thing 17

In Game Applications

There are several methods to apply this system in your events, but, in order for the system to run smoothly you either need an Abiter (referee, storyteller, etc.) or players that are honest about their characters' abilities, or both.

Unfortunately the item Decahedral Dwarven Dice does not roll 2d10, it instead does a plain random roll. Don't spend gold buying the toy thinking it will help.

You can streamline the rolling process by making a macro:

/roll 10
/roll 10


Storyteller's Choice

The beginner method for Oracle in WOW is to assume your players are doing things within the scopes of their character abilities.

  • Player rolls 2d10 (/roll /roll)
  • Players writes their RP post, adds the total of the two rolls together, and sticks it in square brackets at the end of their post.
  • The Stortyeller looks at the pose, considers the situation and the NPCs or world they are controlling and decides the likelihood of success. They then compare the number at the end of the post to the chart and write their response.
Player rolls 5 (1-10)
Player rolls 1 (1-10)
Player does the thing. [6]


Player's Choice

The intermediate method for Oracle in WOW is to have each player select their own probability and roll.

  • Player rolls 2d10 (/roll /roll)
  • Players writes their RP post.
  • Player puts their probability value AND adds the total of the two rolls together, and sticks it in square brackets at the end of their post.
  • The Stortyeller looks at the pose, considers the situation and the NPCs or world they are controlling and decides the likelihood of success. They then compare the number at the end of the post to the chart and write their response.
Player rolls 5 (1-10)
Player rolls 1 (1-10)
Player does the thing. [Likely 6]


Exalted Style

This is a derivative of the original Oracle system that encompasses the spirit of Exalted stunting. Exalted incentives making roleplay poses that are cinematic and unrelentingly cool by increasing chances of success.

If the person running the plot feels comfortable, they may encourage players to make their posts cool and interesting, and give players bonuses for doing so. This can make boring combat sessions into something fun to read and participate in.

Bonuses can be applied in two ways: By modifying the number the player rolled (A player rolls a 6, with bonuses their roll might be reduced to a 4) or by increasing the number the player must roll under.

You can do either one with these values:

  • 1 point stunts: These are poses that describe an action in a way more interesting then /me stabs at person.
Player rolls 5 (1-10)
Player rolls 1 (1-10)
Player does the cool thing. [Likely 6]
Storyteller responds. [Stunt Bonus: 1]


  • 2 point stunts: These are 1 point stunts with the inclusion of sensory or environment somehow.
Player rolls 5 (1-10)
Player rolls 1 (1-10)
Player does the cool thing that encompasses the environment. [Likely 6]
Storyteller responds. [Stunt Bonus: 2]


  • 3 point stunts: These are super rare and spontaneous, they just happen without players really trying. They're those jaw dropping posts that happen when the moment is just right.
Player rolls 5 (1-10)
Player rolls 1 (1-10)
Player does the cool thing that encompasses the environment and it's so 
awesome that the entire raid is like "oh damn!" [Likely 6]
Storyteller responds. [Stunt Bonus: 3]


Misc

The original system was published in 2007 but the domain the author published on went poof and they never uploaded their work elsewhere. It can be found via archive.org here.

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