Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rolling When You Need To Roll

Still rocking the mass overtime, making updates difficult.

So let's talk about when to roll the dice. More importantly, when not to roll the dice.

JiB over at the Savage GM Hangout describes rolling as "Whenever the player and the GM disagree about the outcome of a certain action." That's a good paradigm, but I think novice GMs (and some experienced ones) need a little guiding on when to agree with the outcome.

For example: I had a GM who had us roll for just about everything. If I wanted to land the ship, I had to make a piloting roll. If I wanted to drive a hoverbike, I needed a piloting roll. But these were mundane tasks. People weren't shooting at me. There wasn't a meteor storm or earthquake going on. And heaven help me if I didn't have a piloting skill, which was a real possibility given the limited skills you could get in Star Wars Saga. Every time we attempted anything it was a nail-biting experience and that didn't feel very Star Warsy.

Honestly it didn't make any sense to me. In Star Wars everybody can drive or fly a ship or use a computer. These are ubiquitous technologies. So why then are so many characters unable to do any of these things? The answer is that the GM was doing it wrong. Per the book, anybody can perform a mundane task in Star Wars. Everybody can fly a hoverbike, but only some can make it do a barrel roll. Everyone can pilot a ship, but not everyone can fly it through an asteroid field. Anyone can use a computer, but not everyone can reprogram it. 

Mundane or easy tasks shouldn't require a roll. Unfortunately some games still have a difficulty level for Easy. The concept that a hero can fail at any task is a bit annoying. If I had to roll in order to walk across the room in D&D, then I'd always have a 5% chance of falling on my face. What happens if I roll a crit? Do we really need to test every piece of minutiae? 

Another time to let the player's have their way is when it is crucial to the story.

For instance:

  • The heroes need to find a clue to advance the plot or identify the criminal.
  • The heroes have to get passed a trap or cave in or something that blocks there path. You can make them roll to avoid damage but they shouldn't have to roll to get through.

Keep these in mind and it may help to speed up your game, or at least curb flagging player interest.

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