Who Should Roll The Dice?

Who Roll Dice - Board, Card, RPG Reviews - Posted: 28th Feb, 2017 - 9:00pm

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Posts: 16 - Views: 704
28th Feb, 2017 - 7:10pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?

When I first got into role playing games it was with a small group of friends and none of us had ever played Role-playing Games before. We had no one to show us how to play, or tell us when to roll dice or who rolls dice. A while back I saw an episode of a television show called Community in which the people on the show engaged in a game of AD&D. I watched as the players stated their action and the Dungeon Master rolled the dice behind the Dungeon Master screen to determine their success. This looked different than the way I had played, and it looked different from the way that I've seen it played in general.

When I played the players rolled the dice for their characters while the Dungeon Master rolled the dice for NPCs or random encounters, etc. And watching others play online this would seem to be the standard. But seeing the Dungeon Master roll for everything on that show made me think. Is that the better way to go? Should the Dungeon Master roll all the dice all the time, or should the players roll the dice?

What impact does this have on things like a players immersion into the game? Does pausing to roll the dice for your character break the momentum and overall immersion that the player may have had in the game? Also, how much meta gaming inevitably occurs when the player knows the outcome of their bluff check or knowledge check?

It is human nature to want to mitigate the negative impacts that a failure may have on these rolls. For example, lets say a player rolls a knowledge check trying to determine based on their knowledge, training, and experience what vulnerabilities a particular monster may have. They roll a critical failure and the Dungeon Master tells them that the creature is vulnerable to fire. It is likely that, if they know the results of the roll, then they know that what the Dungeon Master is telling them is probably false information.

Some players are able to accept this and play their character as being insistent on the idea that this creature is vulnerable to fire, but then again all the other players also know that the player failed that roll miserably. So lets say they ago ahead and try to use fire on the creature but it doesn't seem to have an effect. Most likely they will use this as evidence that the characters knowledge is flawed or incorrect, but would they be so dismissive if the player had rolled a critical success? If the player had rolled a critical success and was told that the creature is vulnerable to fire the players are likely to take that as gospel; how would they likely react if they tried using fire and it didn't seem to work?

In the first instance the players would chalk it up to the character's knowledge being flawed and they would know this because they know that the player rolled a critical failure, but in the second instance they would be less likely to believe that the character's knowledge is flawed and more likely to believe that something else is going on. They may react to the same situation in a completely different way based on their knowledge as players… meta gaming.

Taking another example we have two characters, one who is skilled in a particular form of knowledge and one who is not. They both are asked to roll a knowledge check and the skilled player fails the roll while the unskilled character succeeds at the roll. They are told by the Dungeon Master two different things. If the players rolled openly everyone knows which character is right and which one is wrong and there may be a tendency to find reasons to believe the unskilled character because they know based on the roll that the unskilled character is correct. But if the roll was made by the Dungeon Master and not revealed then the players are more likely to believe the skilled player based on their skill because it is more probable that the skilled players is correct even though in this case, the skilled character is not correct. Does having knowledge of the roll inevitably influence a player's reaction and produce metagaming behavior?

This tendency toward meta gaming is reduced, if not eliminated, if the Dungeon Master makes the roll and the players have no idea what the result of the roll was. The player may know that their character is skilled in a certain type of knowledge but they would not know how accurate the knowledge is. On the other hand, rolling dice is fun. As a player I like to roll dice and what assurance do I have that the Dungeon Master is not fudging the rolls to fit his/her narrative if the rolls are not made in the open?

Attached Image Edited: Aericsteele on 28th Feb, 2017 - 7:11pm



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Post Date: 28th Feb, 2017 - 7:35pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?
A Friend

Dice Roll Who

There is a certain amount of trust in games between players and Dungeon Master's. Dungeon Master's already roll for the enemy attacks etc. We as players trust them on that so I have no problem with a Dungeon Master rolling perception, knowledge checks etc. In fact I think it is best if they do. You said it perfectly about the meta gaming involved. I prefer as much immersion as possible in a game. Letting the Dungeon Master make those skill check rolls helps with that. Players will act according to whether they know they passed the check or not. It is hard to overcome that.

It is more like real life to do it the way you mentioned. Here is another example. A party meets a powerful npc who can be either friendly or antagonistic to them. They try to persuade him to side with them. The player rolls and knows they rolled badly. The npc is still really friendly to them. Players will think it is a trap. They should have no idea. That is metagaming. The Dungeon Master rolls the dice and states that the NPC is friendly. The players relax thinking they were successful. This mirrors how real life works much more.

Attached Image Edited: Kyrroeth on 28th Feb, 2017 - 7:42pm

Post Date: 28th Feb, 2017 - 7:50pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?
A Friend

Who Should Roll The Dice? Reviews RPG & Card Board

I have been a table top GM for over 30 years now, and the one thing I learned early on is that I always make Perception rolls for PCs. "You see and hear nothing out of the ordinary." They always get nervous at that one…

And with certain players that I know and trust, I will let them make Knowledge-type checks and so on. Because I trust them to roll with the punches and act on what as players they know is probably bad information. But with other players, especially those I don't know, I make the rolls. But to be impartial, when I have trusted players mixed with those I don't know, I do the rolls. It would be rude to say, "Scott, roll your Knowledge check. Ken, I'll roll for you." Nope, we are trying to foster a sense of camaraderie, not drive people away with preferential treatment for some.

So for me it comes down to situations, primarily based on the players at the table. For forums like this I think it makes perfect sense for a GM to handle as much of the rolling as he wishes. But you have to let players have some rolling. For instance, if the GM makes my Attack roll, and barely misses, is he going to ask if I want to roll the Inspiration the Bard gave me? No, for things where the result is immediate and obvious, let the players roll them bones!

Post Date: 28th Feb, 2017 - 7:55pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?
A Friend

Dice Roll Who

I prefer rolling myself as a player, and letting players roll wherever possible.

In a normal game, the only exception is rolls that might lead to secreted information, perception and knowledge rolls in particular. This is, as others have mentioned, to avoid metagaming

For play by post, that has been expanded to most saving throws, as pausing an encounter to determine that outcome is less than ideal.

28th Feb, 2017 - 8:20pm / Post ID: #

Dice Roll Who

I believe each Dungeon Master should do what they believe is best for their group. With that being said, I like the players being able to roll their own dice. This is where setting appropriate DCs come into effect. You give examples of players seeing their low rolls and thus thinking the information they are receiving from the Dungeon Master is in some way faulty. I disagree with this.

The way I handle low rolls by players is I have a set DC for whatever action their trying to accomplish. I then take into account their character's background and other factors like proficiency and things, and then use all that information to determine to what EXTENT the character is able to accomplish what they were trying to do. It's not a matter of if they roll low they just get straight up wrong information or completely botch a task, instead they may just not recall enough information to be helpful or the task they are trying to do becomes a bit more difficult.

For example, let's say a character is trying to recall information about a certain type of beast and they roll low. Instead of me just giving them false information, I instead simply explain that they don't quite remember learning anything more than the most basic information about whatever it is they they're trying to learn. And of course I also bring back into account my set DC. Let's say for this instance I had set it at 12 and after their roll of 3 and modified to become an 8, that's only 4 from my initial set goal and may give them a small hint at some not widely known information about the beast, but not everything they could have learned.

But if you start treating rolls that fall below your set DC as complete failures, and in turn give out false information, you now have become an unreliable narrator, which can have its place, but I don't think it's particularly good in this type of setting unless it's coming from an NPC. The Dungeon Master is there to help the players tell a story, not thwart their attempts because they rolled low.

This also brings to me something that I feel is more prevalent in the community than it should be, and I understand that some Dungeon Masters play this way, but natural 1s and 20s on anything other than an attack is not an automatic failure or success. I think this line of thought has lead to this thing that you're trying to do, which is to get the dice numbers out of the player's mind because of the association with the two extremes. I personally have found that when I reinforce to my players that just because they rolled a 1 on that sneak attempt, doesn't necessarily mean they failed. They can still add modifiers to it and if they have provided some great role play as to how they're going to sneak or what have you, I'll reward that by maybe lowering the DC or in some other way. The same goes for rolling a 20. There are DCs of 30 out there and unless you have a +10 modifier, you are not going to accomplish that task. You may get close or some other suitable reward for doing as best you could (Like maybe lowering the DC for a second crack at it or for someone else) but it's not an automatic success.

I just feel that the Dungeon Master rolling for a character on certain things some of the time is ok, but I personally wouldn't want to handle all of that on top of everything else I'm already keeping track of behind the screen.
Just my input.
:).



Post Date: 28th Feb, 2017 - 8:33pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?
A Friend

Who Should Roll The Dice?

I understand where you are coming from somewhat Brandon. I don't understand not having 1's or 20's as [Critical Hit] fails or success though. If a 1 isn't an automatic failure and if a 20 isn't an automatic success then why even roll? If a 1 isn't a failure what's the point? If you feel that they are stealthy enough that even a 1 is a success then that is a take 10 auto success with no roll required. I'm not trying to argue. I just don't understand that part of it.

Attached Image Edited: Kyrroeth on 28th Feb, 2017 - 8:35pm

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Post Date: 28th Feb, 2017 - 8:51pm / Post ID: #

Who Should Roll The Dice?
A Friend

Who Roll Dice

I don't know of anyone that provides false information simply for missing the DC. I favor only doing so on a roll of 1. One guy I know would provide false recall if one rolled a total lower than 6 (If someone manages to get a +5 modifier, false hits are then impossible)

And yes, my DCs are set according to the circumstances. Knowledge checks to identify stuff about something you've dealt with before are easier for instance.

28th Feb, 2017 - 9:00pm / Post ID: #

Who Roll Dice Board Card & RPG Reviews

I'm talking outside of combat when it comes to criticals, which it is stated as that's really the only time they are considered according to the PHB. Again, I know a lot of people still play that there are critical successes and failures outside of combat, I just don't particularly like using that play style unless a character is trying to do something a bit on the crazy side that may actually push their luck depending on how well or poorly they roll.



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