Games with opposed dice rolls - are they better, worse or no different?


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    Games with opposed dice rolls - are they better, worse or no different?

    I'm currently making my own game (mostly informed by 4e, but thats not too important here) and I'm starting to favour opposed D20 rolls. I know it'll slow things down slightly - waiting for two people to roll - but I'm starting to think its better. I like the idea of the DM rolling first, announcing his total (that needs to beaten by the pc) thus allowing the player to take control of the narrative and narrate what happens. For exmple, the rogue beats the DM's 28 and isn't hit by the orc's cutlass. He can now narrate precisely how he evaded the blow by ducking under a barrel of fish.

    It has the further advantage of allowing players to feel more involved in what happens to their characters. I find it a little passive to roll dice all by myself and then announce to players that they've been hit for X amount of damage. I sometimes get responses like "really? even with my AC?" and so on. I think they'll feel more involved when they know they got hit because they rolled lower than me.

    So what do you think? Do you agree with me? I've not played any opposed dice games for years and can't really remember what they were like. I'd love to hear about any experiences you may have had with such games. Are they better? Can they be better?

 

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    My answer depends on your example, which confused me a bit: is the procedure for the attacker to always roll first, then the defender rolls to see if he can beat the attackers total and then describe how he evaded the attack? or is it that the DM rolls his roll 1st (attack or defend) and then the player tries to beat it so the player always describes his actions, whether they be offensive or defensive?
    Last edited by Living Legend; Sunday, 15th July, 2012 at 08:01 PM. Reason: fixed typoos

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    In my experience opposed rolls are a pain. They make large scale fights require too many DM die rolls. As a DM I want to roll as few dice as possible. As a player I hate when a majority of die rolls happen across the screen. One die roll is all that should ever be required to take action.
    Last edited by sheadunne; Sunday, 15th July, 2012 at 11:50 PM.
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    It can work, lots of games used opposed rolls, even if only for certain actions like hiding vs spot, sense motive vs bluff.

    If the modifiers to rolls aren't going crazy, it shouldn't be so bad. It is just when it takes a minute to double check the math that things start to bog down. However, be careful how you handle area of effect stuff. A bomb/red drum/fireball/etc can hit multiple people, would you have one roll fr the group or one for each person? Having a lot of rolls because of a horde could definitely slow things down.

    Overall, I like the approach and you can even offload the rolls onto players. Have the attacking PC roll, and then have another player roll for the monster. It frees up the GM for tactics, description, and over the top acting.

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    You should probably analyze how fast you want your system to run before you make a decision on this. It will about halve the speed of play.
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    D&D3.5 already uses opposed roles for certain skill checks (Move Silently versus Listen, for example) and for attacks that allow a save. Adding opposed roles for attack might not add much in terms of novelty; at the same time, though, it might not be as much of a complication as you might expect.

    I used to play the first edition of Das Schwarze Aug, where you got a single defensive role each round, no matter how many times you were attacked. Maybe that offers a nice compromise?
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    I'd look at the decisions that you want players (including the DM) to make, and then decide if using opposed rolls can deliver that more efficiently than rolls against a target number.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the Jester View Post
    You should probably analyze how fast you want your system to run before you make a decision on this. It will about halve the speed of play.
    Halving the speed of play means play is faster. Is that what you meant?

    I've found that generally, it can make combat a little bit slower, but IME not overly so. However, experiences do vary.

    If you meant that it will cause combat to be 1/2 slower (50% longer), I'd disagree completely. It's far too variable from table to table to make that kind of blanket declaration.

    We've been using opposed rolls for combat at our table for years. Instead of a flat AC (10 + bonuses), we use a Defense bonus (d20 + bonuses). Although I know academically that it's impossible for combat to be faster with extra rolls taking place, I and my players honestly don't notice any difference in combat length when using Defense rolls. But we certainly do enjoy the feeling of actively defending against attacks. They love the idea of rolling dice when attacked, rather than just looking at a preset number. For us, it feels like we are doing something, and by extension feel more involved in the action.


    However, to respond to the OP, ( @Jools ) I'd say that using opposed rolls can only be better or worse depending on your own preferences. If you (and your group) like opposed rolls better, then they are. If you (and your group) feel that opposed rolls aren't any better, or have no real change, then that is true also.

    There is no objectively better, worse, or indifferent for any mechanic. They can only be subjective for each and every player and group. And those preferences will vary widely.

    Personally though, I like them very much. And our group prefers them completely to static values.


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    Quote Originally Posted by El Mahdi View Post
    Halving the speed of play means play is faster. Is that what you meant?
    Um, no. Halving the time of play would be faster. Halving speed means it is slower.

    Unless you think 25 mph will get you there faster than 50 mph...


    There is no objectively better, worse, or indifferent for any mechanic. They can only be subjective for each and every player and group. And those preferences will vary widely.
    Agreed. In my experience, opposed rolls are good for skills, where you are only rolling them occasionally, but become awkward for combat, where you're rolling them constantly. Especially when you're talking about hordes of enemies - then opposed rolls get ugly unless you've got a system for simplifying them in bulk.

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    I think that if given a choice, I prefer setups where players are the only ones rolling dice. I also prefer ranged successes across critically fail, fail, kinda succeed, succeed, critically succeed.

    You attack, make a roll against his his static armor class +/- bonuses and penalties to see if you can hit him.

    He's trying to hit you, make a roll against his static attack +/- bonuses and penalties to see if you can dodge.
    Last edited by Nytmare; Monday, 16th July, 2012 at 02:46 AM.
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