WIP : Reaction mecanic



Hi folks!

First of all, I’m not a native english speaker, so correct me if I use the wrong words or structures please.

I though about a system I need to drop somewhere to develop it, so I figured here would be a good place.

Base idea

Let’s say your players characters are in a dungeon, something gruesome happens like an acid stream doing some disgusting things to the warrior leg and the armor that was around it.

I feel like players should be able to react to this, to flesh it out.


Thing is, my players are not really proactive, and I often need to turn this kind of things into mecanics before they use it and see the value in it.


So let’s imagine a reaction system, not like Final Fantasy Tactics / D&D Monks “I grab the enemy arrow” but about “something important happens in the fight, how my characters react to this ?”

I imagine 3 types of reactions :

  • Positive : The character is galvanised, motivated, inspired or anything else.
  • Neutral : To let player be lazy and characters be flegmatics.
  • Negative : The character is nauseus, anxious, afraid or anything you often inflict as a DM.

When players choose to have a NEGATIVE reaction, they gain tokens that they can use to trigger special effects for POSITIVE ones.

I’m not sure about the tokens being HERO coins or any kind of existing meta currency, or a new meta currency to track. It will come with experience and I’ll try and do an update in due time.


The warrior leg and leg armor are fused together by the acid, the smell is worse than anything but the pain, everything sucks.
(Neutral reaction) The elven rogue is used to this kind of things, they don’t react.
(Positive reaction without effect) The amazon doesn’t want it to happen to her, but she’s proud and confident she’ll dodge this. The player doesn’t have or doesn’t want to use reaction token, so there’s no mecanical advantage.
(Positive reaction + effect) The turtlekin priest is determined to protect their friends, they are Galvanised. The player has reaction token stored, she uses some to have a bonus on the next action to protect friends.
(Negative reaction without malus) The NPC that’s there just for once and played by a guest player isn’t unfazed, and actually vomit, but he doesn’t want to lose a turn or have a malus, so nothing happens mecanically (beyond the new vomit puddle for roleplay reasons)
(Negative reaction + malus) The magus’s mind is running crazy on simulating everything bad the acid could do to them : They are stunned, vomiting and fainting, in random order. They chose to lose a turn to gain X reactions token for future usages.


When player react to things happening, they can get mecanical advantage for this, so they will react and roleplay, and that’s good.

And I think this could be homebrewed into basically any system easily, which is great


Using the example you have stated, it could be as simple as this:

The characters are traveling through a dungeon, while doing so the warrior inadvertently steps on a stone tile trigger that releases a stream of acid across the corridor at shin height.

The GM describes a “click” followed by a hissing sound after the warrior steps on the trigger and says, “Everyone make a HARD Dex attempt as you react to the impending spray of acid coming your way, the Room Target is 12 so you need a 15 because it is HARD”. Players make their rolls and the effects are described by the GM.


@rpgerminator It’s not about the physical reaction and being hurt, it’s about the emotional reaction of the characters as a way to make the player roleplay more while having one mecanical advantage if they chose to do so.


Ahh! I missed the mark there, sorry. Hmm…The use of Hero Coins for cool role-play or awesomeness is not working for your group? I just worry that getting too detailed with how you decipher players reactions might slow down the game or make it too complex on your end.


I think I’ve got the idea here: if a player inflicts a mallus upon their PC then they will get a token (hero coin, etc) for later use, which maybe spent reacting to another situation for a mechanical boon. Is that generally the idea?


@rpgerminator No problem, I shouldn’t have called it reaction since the term is already widely used for something different. Indeed it codifies it, and it’s not for everyone, but when players are kinda new and don’t really know how to act in character, it can help to have mecanicals rewards tied to roleplay. It’s not for all the table, but it might do wonder on some tables I think. I already use Hero Coins for cool RP and awesome moments, but my players struggle to create it from nowhere, so there it might be a push in the good direction since it’s not from nowhere, it’s from something happening.

@The_Merlitron Yes that it