Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GM Wednesday! - The Jenga Stealth Check

This idea was originally postulated by vini_lessa over on the RPG.net forums for ramping up player tension in a stealth scene/ stealth game by using a Jenga tower for stealth checks. It's a cool idea with just one minor issue: the character's ability wasn't reflected at all, only the player's.

So I came up with this caveat. Have the players roll for their character as normal. The higher they roll, then the fewer blocks they have to pull. It maintains the tension but adds the characters abilities as a bonus. Also, it means that a bad roll isn't necessarily going to fail and a good roll isn't necessarily going to succeed.




So here is my adaptation for Savage Worlds

Critical Fumble
If the player rolls a one on their skill die and wild die they automatically fail. Put the Jenga Tower away.

Failure
The player must pull 4 Jenga blocks from the tower.

Success
The player must pull 2 Jenga blocks from the tower.

Success + Raise
The player doesn't need to pull any blocks.

When everyone knows how many blocks they have to pull, have them each pull one block per turn starting with the person who got the best roll. Go around the table until everyone has pulled their blocks. If the tower falls, they fail the stealth test.

You can adjust the number of blocks to pull based on your own sense of fairness. Just remember that the whole reason we are using the Jenga tower is because we want people to feel the tension of a stealth game. If it is too easy, you might as well not use the tower. The same if stealth is not the focus of your game or adventure.

Of course there are other ways that don't require you own a Jenga set.

Tension comes from postponing the answer. If your players roll their Stealth and know what the target number is, then one look at their die removes tension. Also, if the GM just casually announces "You Succeed/ you Fail" after the die is cast...no tension.

I recommend you withhold the target number, even better... roll the characters' Stealth for them in secret (if your players are comfortable with that). The point is they shouldn't know immediately if they have succeeded or not. Let the answer come from your narration.
"You pass into the darkness below the watchful eye of the guard and his lantern. A twig snaps under the boot of Ulric Splatterhorn and the party freezes in place."

Let your players quietly give Ulric the stink eye.

"The guard glances around a bit but returns to his slow cadence, up and down the pier as your party slips into the city under his nose."

1 comment:

  1. Another game that uses a Jenga tower is Silent Memories, which is aimed at reenacting science fiction horror scenarios in the vein of Pandorum.

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