<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-luck.html>Luck</a>


The feeling that random effects are not random but favorable to the player.

Many events in games are impossible for players to control in a predictable and repeatable fashion. However, when players feel that they can affect this event anyway, either through how they perform the action or what they wish for when the effect of the action is being determined, they may feel that they have Luck.

Example: Letting players roll dice in any game is motivated primarily by letting players experience the possibility of Luck; the main other reason is that nobody else should have to perform the physical actions for the players' game action.

Example: The high level of Luck in gambling games lets most people start playing the games easily and feel that they are competent players, even though Game Mastery might be very difficult to achieve.

Using the pattern

Luck is hard to explicitly design players to experience unless the game system cheats. This can be instantiated by Game Masters to provide maximum Tension but is a Risk/Reward choice, because if players notice the cheating, they will lose all Illusion of Influence.

Designing for the possibility for players to feel lucky is much easier, most often simply some form of Randomness is sufficient. Typical ways of letting players feel Luck are through letting them roll Dice, giving them hidden Card Hands, or letting Near Miss Indicators show them how close they were to being affected by dangers. For Betting, actions based around Skills, or Overcome goals that are determined by Randomness, players may base their Risk/Reward choices upon how much Luck they feel that they have.

Parts of Polyathlons that appear to depend on Luck add elements not depending on player skills and that may have less Predictable Consequences.


Luck gives players an Illusion of Influence in games and can create Tension when perceived in actions that have Delayed Effects. Games, which rely heavily on Randomness, or at least lack Predictable Consequences, often make it possible for players to feel that the outcome depends on Luck, and thereby give these games deceptive Smooth Learning Curves. Games depending totally on Randomness can be said to depend solely on Luck and have no Game Mastery, but many games with high levels of Randomness can have Game Mastery through Bluffing or Strategic Knowledge about probabilities, although Meta Games and Tournaments or other forms of playing many game sessions may be required to notice the Game Mastery.


Instantiates: Smooth Learning Curves, Illusion of Influence, Risk/Reward, Tension

Modulates: Near Miss Indicators, Overcome, Polyathlons, Game Mastery

Instantiated by: Dice, Randomness, Skills, Betting

Modulated by: Game Masters, Delayed Effects

Potentially conflicting with: Predictable Consequences, Game Mastery, Bluffing, Strategic Knowledge, Meta Games