The Two-Roll Rule: A rule for cases where everyone could make a skill roll
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 18
  1. #1
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Winnipeg, MB
    Posts
    1,376
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block jeffh


    Friend+

    The Two-Roll Rule: A rule for cases where everyone could make a skill roll

    I noticed the thread "A case where the 'can try everything' dogma could be a problem" elsewhere on this forum, and it occurred to me that a rule I've been using for quite some time may solve the issue Li Shenron brings up there.

    I decided to start a new thread so that this topic doesn't get buried in an already-huge thread, and because the original discussion was (nominally) specific to 5th Edition D&D but my suggestion isn't. Indeed, while I've been using this rule in various versions of D&D/Pathfinder for years, I never got around to formally writing it up until fairly recently, when I was doing up the skill system for my own Fantasy Infinity RPG. Fantasy Infinity is, mechanically speaking, nothing like D&D. Both the problem Li brings up and the solution I've been using apply to a wide variety of systems.

    (You can learn more about Fantasy Infinity by visiting my site, and actually I'd appreciate any feedback people want to give me on other aspects of the game - but it's probably better if this thread stays focused on solutions to Li's issue.)

    Anyhow, here's the relevant bit from my Core Rulebook. As you'll notice, there's very little reference to FI-specific rules, and it could be applied to any version of D&D with a skill system 99% as written. The only system-specific bit I can see, and it's not essential, is the reference to complications, an optional rule that lets the GM create a 13th Age-style "Fail Forward" scenario.

    The Two-Roll Rule
    Sometimes the whole party must complete a task (swim across an underground river, for example), though only some of them actually have the skills for it. Even a very competent party is unlikely to have everyone succeed at anything non-trivial. This sometimes makes for fun improvisation, but at other times its just a pain in the butt.

    At other times, it might seem like everyone, independently, could at least attempt a task (like spotting a stealthy enemy). This has the opposite problem; allowing everyone to roll when only one person needs to succeed doesnt work well, making many tasks far too easy.

    In these two types of situations, the GM can have exactly two PCs (out of a group of three or more) make skill rolls. Typically, these should be the two best suited to the task at hand, although if someone has gone out of their way to declare that theyre doing something related to that task, that character should be involved in these rolls, regardless of their relevant skill or lack thereof. (In this case, the GM may decide to cut them a break in the form of bonus dice (see below) if what they announced was a particularly good idea.)

    • If both rolls succeed, the entire party succeeds, with the more skilled characters aiding or covering for the less skilled ones as needed.
    • If neither roll succeeds, no one in the party succeeds.
    • If only one roll succeeds, then that character succeeds but no-one else does. Alternatively, this might be a good time for a complication (see above), giving the character that succeeded some kind of advantage in dealing with whatever the GM comes up with.


    When only one character succeeds, that character may be able to leverage her success into something that lets the others succeed too, or at least have an easier time. As a simple example, if only one character succeeds at climbing a cliff face, she can drop a rope behind her to give the others a second, easier shot at making the climb. (This is also a good example of a change in circumstances that makes redoing a failed roll possible.)

    Not all situations are handled well by the two-roll rule. The more detailed rules in the specialty descriptions should be used when the details matter, like in combat, where how long it takes a particular character to succeed might matter. When the details dont matter, use the more abstract rules in this section.

    If you discover that it makes a significant difference to the partys chance of success whether you use the two-roll rule or a more detailed procedure from later in this chapter, use whichever method gives you a better chance of success. (And let us know by responding to the latest blog post at philosoraptorgames.com, because thats the sort of thing we would want to look at and possibly revise.)
    +++++++++++

    So, there it is. Does anyone see any issues with it, or have any questions, suggestions, or random derogatory comments about my lineage to contribute?
    XP Jhaelen gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Member
    Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)

    TarionzCousin's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    5,746
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    PathfinderStar TrekD&DPlanescapeCircvs MaximvsGygax Memorial Fund

    Block TarionzCousin


    Friend+
    I like it and your father smelt of elderberries.
    XP DMMike gave XP for this post
    Laugh Herobizkit laughed with this post

  3. #3
    Member
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)



    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    7,031
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block FormerlyHemlock


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffh View Post
    Does anyone see any issues with it, or have any questions, suggestions, or random derogatory comments about my lineage to contribute?
    "Issues" in the sense of "not liking the kind of game it is designed for," or in the sense of "unintended consequences even in the kind of game it is designed for"? It's way too gamist for my taste, and the "fail forward/complication" thing especially would be a real turnoff for me, but you must already know about these issues and obviously you're fine with them in your game. I don't see any real unintended consequences--it's just a special case of a group check. For some scenarios, like your rope-climbing example, it actually makes more sense than a standard PHB group check (which is also too gamist for my taste). For other scenarios like stealth it might be slightly worse.

    In other words, it seems fine. More power to you.
    XP Saelorn gave XP for this post

  4. #4
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Winnipeg, MB
    Posts
    1,376
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block jeffh


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    "Issues" in the sense of "not liking the kind of game it is designed for," or in the sense of "unintended consequences even in the kind of game it is designed for"?
    The former is valid too, if nothing else it's often interesting to hear. But the latter is way more helpful for my immediate purposes.
    It's way too gamist for my taste, and the "fail forward/complication" thing especially would be a real turnoff for me, but you must already know about these issues and obviously you're fine with them in your game.
    I hope these two points aren't meant to be connected (if they are, then something is being miscommunicated here). I don't see fail-forward as gamist at all.

    (I should perhaps add that I reject a lot of the assumptions of the Ron Edwards model, though I do find the older rgfa Threefold to be an occasionally-useful framework for thinking about certain topics. There are gamist decisions and maybe even gamist mechanics, but I don't think consciously setting out to design a gamist game will go anywhere useful.)

    In any case, in Fantasy Infinity it's optional, and not necessarily the default even in games where it's used.
    I don't see any real unintended consequences--it's just a special case of a group check. For some scenarios, like your rope-climbing example, it actually makes more sense than a standard PHB group check (which is also too gamist for my taste). For other scenarios like stealth it might be slightly worse.
    Stealth is strictly individual in FI, though I can see that this passage in isolation doesn't make that clear.

    I do think this avoids, at least, the problem Morrus pointed out with group checks, that the guy who's really good is often better off without the "help". That may, however, be a gamist consideration of a sort that isn't normally on your radar, if I'm understanding you correctly.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  5. #5
    Frazzled
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)

    Morrus's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Intrawebs
    Posts
    38,088
    Reviews
    Read 24 Reviews
    EN World EN5ider13th AgeSupermanCircvs MaximvsENniesPathfinderZEITGEISTDoctor Who

    Block Morrus


    Friend+

    The Two-Roll Rule: A rule for cases where everyone could make a skill roll

    Total facepalm. Not surprising. Other games are better. I think it needs rewriting.

  6. #6
    Member
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)



    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    7,031
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block FormerlyHemlock


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffh View Post
    I hope these two points aren't meant to be connected (if they are, then something is being miscommunicated here). I don't see fail-forward as gamist at all.
    Not intended to be connected. Fail-forward seems to be slightly more popular among the narrativist-leaning DMs in my experience; I don't see it as gamist.

    Either way, this rule isn't designed for simulationists, and that's the camp I'm in. (I'm not married to Ron Edwards' ideas but I happen to find his terminology useful for conveying the gist of my style--don't read too much into it though.)

    Peace,
    Max

  7. #7
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Winnipeg, MB
    Posts
    1,376
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block jeffh


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Total facepalm. Not surprising. Other games are better. I think it needs rewriting.
    I don't follow. I understand these individual sentences, but have no idea what any of them is referring to or what the reasoning behind them is. Could you be a bit more specific?

  8. #8
    Member
    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)

    MarkB's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    England
    Posts
    5,202
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block MarkB


    Friend+
    It seems like such situations could often be handled better by using group checks.

    For situations (like spotting an enemy) where the party succeeds so long as at least one person succeeds, use the assisted-check variant - the best qualified person makes the main roll, and others can roll to see if they grant a bonus (or a penalty).

    For situations (like sneaking past a guard) where the whole party needs to succeed, use the combined-check variant - each person makes their own check, and if at least half the checks succeed, the task is accomplished.

    Either way, everyone contributes and nobody feels left out, but success is not guaranteed.

  9. #9
    Frazzled
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)

    Morrus's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Intrawebs
    Posts
    38,088
    Reviews
    Read 24 Reviews
    EN World EN5ider13th AgeSupermanCircvs MaximvsENniesPathfinderZEITGEISTDoctor Who

    Block Morrus


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffh View Post
    I don't follow. I understand these individual sentences, but have no idea what any of them is referring to or what the reasoning behind them is. Could you be a bit more specific?
    Apologies - it was a (very weak) joke meant for somebody else. Completely addressed to the wrong person! Please ignore me!

  10. #10
    Member
    Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)



    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    5,575
    Reviews
    Read 5 Reviews

    Block Saelorn


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffh View Post
    So, there it is. Does anyone see any issues with it, or have any questions, suggestions, or random derogatory comments about my lineage to contribute?
    One of the problems in letting everyone roll is that it assumes the chances of each character are entirely independent of each other, when the die roll is really meant to encompass a number of variables outside of just your individual skill. The wizard shouldn't get a chance to hunt for food after the ranger fails, because the 2 on the ranger's skill check indicates a scarcity of game (among other things), and the circumstances which cause the ranger to fail would not allow the wizard to succeed. Those circumstances aren't going to change, just because someone else is making the attempt.

    This method solves that problem. It recognizes that, if anyone succeeds, it's probably going to be one of the two who are most likely to succeed. If anyone can find enough food to feed the party, then it's probably going to be the ranger (or maybe the rogue/scout), but it probably won't be the wizard.

    The downside of this method is that it prevents anyone but the most likely from ever succeeding. With these rules, the wizard will never succeed in finding food after the ranger and the rogue fail. So it's just a matter of whether anyone considers this to be a worse gameplay issue than letting everyone have an attempt, and virtually guaranteeing success on any check that only needs one success (unless the GM artificially inflates the difficulties). That comes down to personal preference, but I see it as a small price to pay.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Similar Threads

  1. Does a '+x' on a weapon add 'x' to your attack roll, your damage roll, or both?
    By Taloth in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: Tuesday, 8th March, 2011, 04:41 PM
  2. House Rule: Praying for a re-roll
    By TerraDave in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: Monday, 7th June, 2010, 03:19 PM
  3. What do you do if you make a paladin and you roll, say, a 4.
    By Question in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 40
    Last Post: Friday, 18th August, 2006, 04:44 AM
  4. Don't make me roll for initiative.........again
    By Goldmoon in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 238
    Last Post: Saturday, 15th July, 2006, 02:58 PM
  5. Jump skill as movement rather than a d20 roll
    By jndiii in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: Monday, 4th July, 2005, 04:08 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •