Rolling All Dice

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MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture
Rolling All Dice

Has anyone tried these variant rules from the d20 SRD? Basically, the players roll everything they usually do, plus their own "defense checks" against enemy attacks and "magic attacks" for things that require enemies to make saving throws. In both cases, the monster's side of the roll is converted into a flat value.

I haven't tried it yet, but my first criticism is that it doesn't actually save the DM any time at all. He or she still needs to pay attention to every roll unless he just gives the players the monsters' relevant modifiers to calculate for him. The variant ruleset also says nothing about the hidden rolls a DM sometimes needs to make, like when a player doesn't necessarily know his or another character is making a check, or even when everyone knows when a check is being made but the results of which may not be immediately obvious.

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

First off, it doesn't really work for Play-By-Post. If the GM is trying to 'move the action', having to wait for each player to roll a responsive check against a creature is a problem.

Mathematically, it usually doesn't make much difference. Overcoming a resistance (like an attack roll versus AC) versus defending against a successful attack (Will Save against a spell) are just putting the dice on the other side. There's no reason you can't make a Will Save an attack against a character's Will (spell caster rolls relevant modifiers against a fixed DC) - effectively it works out the same way as far as likelihood of success.

What it does it change who's making the roll. Most players would rather make a defense roll for their Will Save, rather than putting it all on the attacker. While it doesn't actually make a difference (given fair dice) it FEELS like the player has more control over their destiny. Letting the players roll can give that same feeling to other rolls.

If I'm facing a Necromancer, and he casts a Finger of Death on me, I want to roll my save. If I cast a spell on him, I would rather roll the 'Will Attack' then let him roll the save - it feels like I have agency in taking him down the way a passive roll does not.

It would mean communicating saves and other attributes to the players, but ultimately I don't mind that at all. Since I can't communicate in a few words everything the players know, giving them a little 'game knowledge' can fill that gap.

But if you opt to go that route, it definitely works better if everyone is physically sitting around the table together. Otherwise, it takes too long.

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

I think it ultimately not only doesn't save the DM any time, it also takes longer for each player to conclude his or her turn because they have that many more numbers in their noggin. Your point about PbP was a good one and I didn't even consider the possibility someone would try to do this in Play by Post until after I created this thread (and immediately rejected the idea).

You're right about monsters and villains succumbing to bad saving throws, though. It is still satisfying but a little underwhelming and would make the act of casting a spell feel more proactive if the player rolled to overcome the target's resistances, not the other way around.