So it struck me while catching up on some blog reading Here the concept of consistency in numbers. Currently every system I read requires a random roll be used in most situations. I understand the use of this, I understand why and where its coming from. But while reading the inspiration struck and thus I begin my stream of consciousness idea vomit.
What if it wasn't random. What if the player would know that as a brute he could bench press 300lbs every time as opposed to asking himself how much he was going to be able to bench press today... Or this encounter... Yes, perhaps there is some luck involved in things, but you either know it or you don't, you don't spontaneously gain knowledge. You can either lift it or you can't, waiting 5 minutes wont help. What if stepping into the arena, 17 strength always got you the same result every time.
Highly trained with his sword every basic attack dealt the same damage. There were no rolls. Every attack had the same degree of accuracy and would or would not hit against the opponent with the same degree of ability in dodging and absorbing hits.
The solution of coarse to this would be boring and pre-determined battles. Of coarse it doesn't end there. Now lets add currency. From here, the player then must invest to improve their abilities and overcome challenges they cannot overcome.
Throwing a shield up sacrifices durability to gain absorption. Taking a penalty to attack to spend more focus on defense grants a bonus to dodge. Spending fatigue energy grants a bonus to damage. Taking time to aim or set up an attack gives a bonus to attack. And finally, to bring the game back into the game, all these investments are gambles. When you add to your strength to put that extra oomph in for lifting, you get 1dX bonus to your strength for lifting. You don't get a static number because extra effort is uncertain, you DO get a benefit, that is sure, how much is not.
Some of this has been done before, for instance, 4th edition DnD implemented a passive perception to roll against to simplify sneaking up on someone. But this cuts out both ends. Imagine sneaking up on an opponent, you have a base sneak skill, you're trained, you know the penalties for sneaking through that terrain at that light level, you don't know they're skilled, but they're elves they get a bonus to listening. So since you're concerned, you put a little more time in, moving slowly to get an extra +1d6. Moving along slowly, ever so slowly, you roll, was it enough? You don't even need dice for many things. Pass or fail.
This reduces a lot of dice. Just add up the modifiers, and it reduces the questions of how a person could fail so horribly and be so skilled. And increase the threat of the incoming knight in plate mail...
But this works for combat and physical things, but what about social? How can this be implemented in that arena? What about social currency, favors and bribes? What about sacrificing reputation or time? The same could be said for crafting, and other long skill checks. It would require the system be built around it, or some severe balancing, but I think it could work.