The Scion RPG has traits called "Virtues". They work kinda like a morality / alignment system, goading PCs and NPCs into specific courses of action. They also give boosts to certain die rolls.
I really liked this "die roll boosting" aspect, but felt it was too weak. So I boosted it.
Firstly, I made Virtues (and Legendary Deeds) be a resource that renews every session, not every Story. This simplified multi-session record keeping, and allowed Virtues to matter more often. It also gave my PCs a greater level of control over the game. When something really matters to the PCs, I can expect lots of dice and successes boosting that critical roll.
Secondly, I merged the rules for Willpower boosts and Virtue Channels. Here's an explanation of what that means, and why I house-ruled it:
As written, a character can either:
- Spend a Willpower to get +1 success on a roll
- Spend a Willpower to get bonus dice on a roll equal to their relevant Virtue rating
Virtues are rated 1 to 5, and each PC has four Virtues. A starting PC can have virtues of 4/3/1/1, 4/2/2/1, 3/3/2/1, or 3/2/2/2. A level 5 virtue is possible via XP/upgrades. Each die (of Virtue) has a 60% chance of scoring no successes, a 30% chance of scoring 1 success, and a 10% chance of scoring two successes. That means:
- Virtue 1: Not worth using the Virtue. The auto success from Willpower is far more reliable.
- Virtue 2: You have a 14% chance of doing better than the one success you could have automatically, and a 36% of doing worse. Better to use the auto.
- Virtue 3: Here's where it starts to matter. Virtue three will average slightly better than the auto-success, but it can still bomb out and get you nothing (and will do so 21% of the time).
- Virtue 4: At this point, the Virtue is clearly better than the autosuccess. Rolling this Virtue averages 2 successes, and has only a 13% chance of totally failing.
My solution was to combine the two. Now, when you Channel a Virtue in my campaign, you get +1 auto-success, and roll your Virtue dice. This, combined with refreshing Channels and Deeds at the start of every session, has really empowered the characters.
I've been using this system for 5 months now, and really love these changes. It made combat (and nearly every die roll, regardless of scene or purpose) a lot more interesting. When something really matters, the PCs throw everything they've got at it, and it usually pays off. I love that - it keeps me on my toes. Nothing makes me happier than PCs surprising me. It also makes contested rolls very exciting, with a nice back-and-forth as each involved party incrementally raises the stakes.