My original idea for Geeks and Elites had two classes of characters, namely geeks and elites. The nerd and the FBI grunt. But while thinking over different dice systems, it occurred to me that most of the TV shows that I’m trying to model with this game have a third time of character: civilians. You know, Chuck’s family and co-workers or Megan Fox in Transformers.
With these three classes in mind, I wanted to pick a resolution mechanic that made the classes distinctly different but still equally as powerful. In the shows, the civilians may not star in every episode but they still pull their weight. I decided to tackle this by making them generalists. My plans call for two list of skills. One that is exclusively available to geeks and the other available only to elites. Civilians will have access to skills from both lists. My concern then turned to how to keep the civilians from outshining the geeks in a skill like Computer Use. __This I tackled by using different sized dice.
Geeks and elites will put d8s in their skills at character creation. Civilians, on the other hand, will use d6s. To balance this out, the civilians will get more dice. This allows them to diversify much more than the geeks and elites. Also, when comparing a geek and civilian with the same number of ranks in any given skill, the geek is marginally better thanks to the larger dice.
To find the ideal number of dice, I wrote a simple spreadsheet. Knowing that the average roll on a d6 is 3.5 and d8s are 4.5, I calculated that if you roll 9d6 or 7d8, the average roll for both would be 31.5. With this in mind, how many ever dice are awarded at character creation will be a multiple of these two numbers. The number of dice ultimately used will depend on how many skills are available.