Monday, May 7, 2012

Game Idea: Leave the Dice to the Storyteller

by cal harding
Game Idea:  Leave the Dice to the Storyteller
System: Practically Any
by Tobie Abad
March 2012

Gamers love rolling dice.  That is a basic given fact.  Gamers love rolling dice so much, many have their own unique sets or collections of dice.  (I still fondly recall how when one of my partners first got into gaming, the gaming group gave him his own set of dice as a welcome gift!)  But yes, players and their dice is pretty much as expected as peanut butter and bread.

But guess what, they don't have to always be the ones rolling.

Leave the Dice with the Storyteller
Many of you are probably already screaming at the monitor:  What?!? How is that supposed to be fun?  Well, consider real life and all the memorable things and experiences you've had.  How many of them involved you being aware fully of the odds of success and rolling to make it happen?

Leave the rolling to the storyteller and focus instead on deciding your actions and portraying your role.  The moment you have dice in your hands, the tendency is to have your brain zoom into your hand and think about rolling good.  That, quite frankly, is a step away from playing your character.  Focus instead on how you'll act, what you'll say, and what manner of plot twists you can embrace to enjoy the game.

Stop Thinking Of How You Can Roll Better

I've known players who have devoted time to "rolling perfect rolls."  With a twist of the wrist and a calculated toss, these players are known to have rolled consecutive 20s during our Dungeons and Dragons games (and for those curious, that was waaaaay back during our Dragonlance campaigns in the late 80s and early 90s).  They we're used to the weight of their own dice, and skilled enough to literally call out what they plan to roll.
by fireflythegreat

Now, there's nothing wrong with having such a skill.  Frankly, I'd love to see them make full use of such talents at a casino or some other similar cash earning venue.  But in a table top role-playing game, I feel such practices are not just unnecessary, but quite frankly, sad.  A table top game is a social event where friends can gather, embrace roles, and create a story as a group.  The storyteller is not the antagonist.  The fellow players are not rivals.  So to train oneself to remove the excitement of what a random roll brings, just to have a character who always succeeds in his actions is sort of like playing any video game at Godmode from the very start:  It defeats the purpose of having real fun and reduces the game into just a sporting match of who can keep rolling the best.

Embrace the randomness that dice bring.  Relish the unpredictability that can arise whenever a roll is needed.  Combat sequences come adrenaline rushing, rather than a tedious task of making that good roll.  Challenges become moments that test your creativity rather than just another roadblock where rolling high is all that matters.

There Is A Reason It Is Called Role-Playing.

Table Top role-playing games are not about winning every single challenge.  They are about co-creating a fun experience that you can share with friends.

So try it for a chronicle.  Ask your storyteller/game master to handle all dice rolls.  You'd be surprised how liberating it can feel to focus on role-playing instead of roll-playing.

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