I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I think that the FATE/Dresden Files game has come the closest to what I want. Here’s the idea:
We stage a conflict… any kind of conflict of any size… a sword fight, a bank heist, a seduction, an intergalactic race, absolutely anything where there is tension between what one side wants and what might happen to them as they try to get it.
Each “round” each player can take some kind of relevant action. A swing of the sword, gathering intel on the building, putting on perfume, charging the warp drive, whatever. They are going to roll their appropriate skill and have that skill tested against as challenging difficulty (something that may require the expense of precious resources like FATE chips, etc).
Here’s where I’m still working on things. Success is made in degrees. Either they need a certain number of X level successes (for example, Great rolls in Fate, exceptional successes in WoD, etc) or the successes are all tallied up cumulatively. In contract the opposition is making rolls which are similarly tallying successes. In each exchange several things might happen. 1) if the protagonist rolls less than the opposition, they might suffer some consequence, hit points, stress, etc. 2) Regardless of who rolls higher each side will make some progress towards achieving their goal. 3) Momentum is possible (i.e. by winning roll #1, you might have a benefit on roll #2 (for example because someone is wounded, arrested, allured, or eating your jet engine smoke) but precious player resources could mitigate that momentum. For example, if a player rolls to sneak into the building, they may get caught and get arrested removing them from the heist, but the expense of a FATE chip might mitigate that.
In the end, the first side that achieves their goal wins, but makes concessions based on the successes of the opposing side(s). Along the way they are expending resources to aid in their rolls and mitigate their failures and with each roll consequences (on both sides) are being generated. By the end of the conflict, the individuals should be changed ins some meaningful (though not necessarily permanent) way as well as both “sides” having to make some compromises about their goal.
I’m not sure if this was a response to your post, but it’s been in my head for a while and seeing this thread helped it work its way out.
My Goal: A system where car chases, social conflicts, and bank robberies are just as dynamic, fun, dangerous and full of options as a sword fight, because in the “action/spy” genre that I enjoy they usually are.
Questions, comments, rebuttals?