View Full Version : players rolling all the dice

Kol Korran
2009-06-16, 02:04 PM
this isn't a rant, and i'm not asking questions. some time ago someone on a thread shared his experience with some idea: he let the players roll all the dice, substituting his attack rolls for player defensive rolls, and opposed secret checks to open cheks against set DCs and so on...

so, i decided to try it. i find it always breaks my train of thought when i need to do some minor caluclation (and i'm bad at those. i can make complex calculatiosn easely, but i get stuck on simple sums), so i though this might be a refreshing idea.

and boy is it! the game flows quite differently, i don't bog the game whenever i need to roll for all the monsters and their damages and so on, players feel that all is fair and that i'm neither protecting them or aiming at them, and surprisingly this has somehow improved strategizing (players are far more aware of chances to hit and getting hit, evaluating enemies more accuratly and more).

i just wanted to recommend this heartily to all DMs, as it brought a new air into my game. i've so far used it only in 4E, but i imagine it's the same in 3.5E as well.
try it, that's all i have to say.

2009-06-16, 02:13 PM
i can make complex calculatiosn easely, but i get stuck on simple sums

I am recalling high school calculus, where we'd randomly call out during the half-hour for starting homework "What's 27-18?" "What's 54/9?" "What's 17+34?" because we couldn't come up with the answer.

I can certainly see merit in this, but for me a worry comes in that I'm an optimizer and my group makes whatever sounds cool without much regards to power. On the one hand, them rolling all the dice might make them more aware, as you said. On the other hand, it might just get them all killed because I can't fudge rolls, and I'm about to start my first time DM'ing so I don't yet know how to adjust the power level of stuff.

2009-06-16, 02:18 PM
try it, that's all i have to say.
Kol.The downside is all the metagaming (players being so aware of chances to be hit isn't necessarily a positive). It's much harder to metagame when you aren't exactly sure what you're up against. Always knowing exactly what your opponent's weakness is so you can select your actions based on that seriously brings down the challenge and lesser challenge should cause lesser rewards.

2009-06-16, 02:20 PM
My group and I always played like that. The "DM rolls all the dice" was a concept we never heard of until we started reading about D&D on the Net.
Only recently have we changed it so the DM rolls the Sense Motive and reactive Listen and Spot checks. Maybe even some others, depending on the situation. It works great so far.

2009-06-16, 03:56 PM
That's cool Kol Korran, I am glad to hear it works. I was in fact wondering whether this would speed a game up or slow it down.

2009-06-17, 12:15 AM
If it weren't for having to fudge a roll last session, I'd be all for this. I bring a calculator with me 'cause I'm so slow with the math... But the swordmage was down and 10 points away from -bloodied. The solo monster recharged their close burst. The die said 17 to hit him. (I only reported that first digit to the players. Though, I offered to re-roll it in front of them if they really wanted me to.) So I'm gonna continue to roll my own dice purely so I don't decimate the players... (To be fair, I forgot to resize the encounter for one less person as one couldn't make it. 4 lvl 4s vs a lvl 6 solo. The only encounter in the day, but still a bit much for them. I'm not gonna save them every time, but I like to be able to if I screwed up and what's there is ridiculous.)

2009-06-17, 05:31 AM
I am terrible at maths, this might work for me

2009-06-17, 05:36 AM
I just got a good die roller program. Since I use my laptop as my "DM screen," it works out. I get all the different rolls the NPCs will have to make setup prior to the session and just have one button clicks to get the results and don't have to do much math at all.

2009-06-17, 05:51 AM
I just got a good die roller program. Since I use my laptop as my "DM screen," it works out. I get all the different rolls the NPCs will have to make setup prior to the session and just have one button clicks to get the results and don't have to do much math at all.

Which program are you using?

Kol Korran
2009-06-17, 06:56 AM
yes, there are some "problems" with this, and i've worried too, but they realy aren't "that" much of a problem. they could easely be worked around:

*note on dice rolling programs: those are cool, and i could probably use the aid of one myself. i was however aiming at the other benefits of letting players roll all the dice. thanks for mentioning it though.

1) sometime needing to fudge rolls: this has actually bugged my players quite a bit. they hated feeling that their character survive just because of that. i was of the opinion of "Well, but sometime it just not... "appropriate" for a character to die or suffer greatly because of a lousy die roll", but now i am coming to think "you know, sometime it is!". my players all know this can happen, and it increases the dange,r but more importently- they expect it and think things are fair, and this appearently is quite importent to them.

i haven't had a character die on me yet, but having to deal with whatever the dice came up with created some realy interesting occurances/ events, that aadded to the game. they were unexpected, but my party related to them, reacted and rolepalyed wonderfully. some examples:
- in one encounter against devil statues (don't ask) the player rolled realy poor. until the end they rolled 18 1's in the same encounter. at first when the ones appeared people laughed, but then it got more serious. suddenly the focus turned to the junx/ bad luck, and players reacted accordingly- the dragonborn paladin considered this as "a durse of the damned", and decided the gods demand courage, and so acted more boldly, i even went as far as allowing him a religion check (we play 4E), in order to gain strength from his devotion (gaining minor bonuses). the rogue who has been a scoundrel so far (think Belkar, but a team player) which rolled 3 critical hits against him in a row became hysteric, sure that past crimes are coming back to get him, and that the devils are after his blood. he then withdrew from the battle, refusing to fight the devil statue directly, and asking to repent (this was soon gone when the statues were defeated, when he recovered from his lapse of judgment). the bard was sure it was some kind of an arcane phenomena, and did some arcana checks (to no effect), and so on...

- another battle against the chief, druid, and bodyguard of shifter tribe that was hunting the party. they decided to settle things in a small arena. round one, the wizard wins initiative, casts sleep, and the war chief fails his saves, until he is face down snoring in the middle of battle. now, if i were doing my own rolls iwould have judged him to get up quickly and join the fight, for the climactic effect. but the saving throws for the chief kept coming up poorly, and he stayed down for 3/4 of the battle. the party realy ate it up, booing him, calling to the crowd of his followers, belitteling him and more. the wizard got special attention of course. the battle was less climactic then anticipated by me, but it turned out to be an utter humiliation to the shifters, especially the warchief. the bard, not wanting to let the opportunity go even composed a small limeric she recited quickly before the crowd, addign to his shame. needless to say, this opened up a lot of roleplay opportunities and side plots, from what was supposed to be a tough battle, but one that could be forgotten easely.

my point is, that if you think fast enough on your feet, the randomness of the die roll can bring a lot to the gaming table, that carefull planning cannot bring (and i am a carefull planner). a few things that might also go a long way to improve the party's suvivability:
a) the way the opponents act, and how they battle: if a party member is down, leave it alone for more pressing matters- i.e. active party members. unless of course the opponenet is out there for the kill, but most games aren't like that.

b)if the encounter proves way too tough (we DMs don't always account for everything, especially player actions or dice rolls), you can always have some of the monsters either hang back for some reason ("let the others risk getting killed" you hear some of the goblins in the back say) or even run away. also, though the game is basically open, i still don't tell my players the hp of everything. if you realy need to, you can always fudge that. i prefer to avoid that though.

c) something happens that can aid the party: they may notice some weakness in the enemies defenses or plans. notice a weak point in the bridge (go dungeoneering), have some insight on how to perhaps persuade some of their enemies to retreat, have someone they helped before arrive and help a bit and more.
i try to plan 2-3 such thing for encounter, to either be presented when things get realy messy, or to be used by smart players. not everything should be attack rolls and powers.

2) knowing the stats can make chalanges easier: well, not realy. first of all, the description of the mosnter and how it plays itself should give some clues to the player as to it's attack forms, special powers, defenses and weaknesses. good knoweldge skills should do that as well, and they reward players that invest in them.
but my main point is that the player knows about the exact stat only when it comes into play (the player attacks a defense, or gets aattacked by a power), and in that case, even without players knowing the rolls and so on, i would still tell them asa DM if a creatures ability is easy, reasonable, hard or very hard to resist, so the players gets about the same information.
true, they do get more information as in knowing the corret numbers, and so can estimate better just how hard it would be to attack/resist, but this doesn't add to their knowledge significantly to realy change their decisions i found.
what it does do is get them more involved, feeling that things are less obscure, that they aren't exactly in a mist of information, and os they get more active. it's hard to explain not seeing it in play i guess...
(and as a side point it realy, realy speeds up play when the player doesn't need to wait for you to tell him whether he hit or not. the player tells you).

3) secret rolls:such as hide, insight and so on... well, my way of dealing with it is setting a set number for the opponents (usually 10/11 plus their skill modifier) as a guideline. i don't tell the player whether s/he succeeded or not, but they "get a feel" by their roll. for example, lets say their want to roll insight to see if someone is lying to them. if they roll low i tell them "you can't realy read anything from it's body language, so you can't realy tell if it might be lying or not". if they roll high i either tell them it lied, or "you're fairly certain it tells thee truth. either that, or it is a realy good lier!"
most importently though is the players maturity- the rogue always plays as if he hides well and so on...

ok, i hope i didn't come on as too strong. these are but my opinions, stemming from my own experience, and people might have other opinions and experiences.
my two copper pieces.

2009-06-17, 07:53 AM
Which program are you using?

I use SmallRoller (http://www.fnordistan.com/smallroller.html).

As for letting the players roll everything, I am of the other mind. I have had a DM that rolled everything, and it made the game much faster a the players did little but worry about what they were doing next, not trying to add up bonuses for every little action.

2009-06-17, 08:02 AM
I use SmallRoller (http://www.fnordistan.com/smallroller.html).

As for letting the players roll everything, I am of the other mind. I have had a DM that rolled everything, and it made the game much faster a the players did little but worry about what they were doing next, not trying to add up bonuses for every little action.

It calculates bell curves? I'm sold :smallsmile:

2009-06-17, 08:52 AM
It calculates bell curves? I'm sold :smallsmile:

Just remember that when you say roll for 6 monsters attacks at once, you click the "Display Separately" so you can see all the rolls. :smallwink: