D&D General Disclaiming Decisions: Why We Roll Dice


No flips for you!
Ok, obviously some people are taking issue with the terminology “disclaim decisions.” Personally, I don’t take issue with the term, but if I learned one thing from the jargon thread it’s that the wrong choice of terminology can completely ruin an otherwise useful theoretical framework for people. And I think that would be a shame to happen here because I think you’ve got something really interesting here and I would hate to see it dismissed over word choice.

All that said, I adore this framework.

One thing that immediately strikes me is that I think this speaks to two o r of the major sources of disagreement on these boards: player-initiated rolls. Under this lens, we could frame player-initiated rolls as players wanting to use the dice to (for want of a better term) “disclaim a decision” - letting the result of the roll stand-in for a description of what specifically their character is doing to search the room or whatever. On the flip side, when the GM calls for a roll in response to a player-described action, the GM is “disclaiming the decision” of what the result of that action will be.

Something I wonder about is where random tables lie in this framework. By that I mean things like random encounter tables, treasure horde tables, random event tables, weather tables, etc, etc. They seem to combine elements of prompting for the DM with “disclaiming the decision” of what monster shows up, or what treasure the PCs find, or what have you.
Tables can be multiple things. Depends on how they are used. They are, fundamentally, a tool for disclaiming a decision as to what, exactly, happens. You have a list of things you think could be, in a table, and you roll on it to pick one instead of you picking one. Or maybe someone else gives you the table. You're still rolling to pick one thing.

Or, and possibly and, you're rolling on the table and you're going to see if you like it or not. If you don't, you might pick something close to the roll. This is a combination prop and prompt.

I'm not at all trying to say an entire type of roll is one thing or the other -- as I said in the OP, the reasoning behind and use of a roll may change even between rolls for the same general purpose. I'm tying to point out that dice DO something, and get a little thought going about how and why we're using them when we do use them.

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