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D&D General Hot Take: Uncertainty Makes D&D Better

The player has (IIRC) +1 WIS (Wisdom modifier.) Wisdom is the attribute which applies to Discern Realities. As a result, a "bad" roll happens whenever the dice plus that modifier are 6-, aka when the roll is 5 or less. P(2d6≤5) = 15/36 ≈ 41.67%. Yet full success (roll+MOD is 10+) happens some 27.78% (10/36) of the time, so even though the character isn't great at Wisdom things, he still has a good shot at better results and a good chance of stumbling. With maximum ordinary modifier (+3), it becomes 16.67% chance to miss/fail, 41.67% chance of partial success, and 58.33% chance of full success.

Is that more useful?

Actually no. You told a story about snake eyes. So chance for that is 1/36. You could have equally told a story about having rolled a 1 on a d20.

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Chaotic Looseleaf
It is difficult to discuss things with you while you are seated upon a stallion of such prodigious height. Perhaps you should dismount.
A statement that entitled players exist, and even that they are increasing in number as the community grows (not especially statistically relevant) is in no way an assertion that all or even most players are entitled.

I actually posted this in agreement with Vaalingrade's point that a collaborative game does not guarantee collaborative people, but I understand the confusion I created.

Perhaps the rhetoric wouldn't get so heated if you didn't openly insult players by calling them "entitled." Particularly when it isn't the player demanding absolute and unquestionable power and the latitude to use it secretly or even outright deceptively. On the one hand, a demand for absolute power that may be exercised entirely secretly; on the other, a plea for equitable results and inclusion in the adjudication process. One of these things is entitled, that's for sure.
It might surprise you to learn that I consider equitable results and the inclusion of players in the adjudication process to be central to good dungeon mastery. If I fudge results for my own dubious benefit, it serves no one, least of all me, and you'd know this if you'd bothered to read my post beyond your trigger words.

The dungeon master is the last word at the table because someone has to be. Consensus is a joke. Being a good dungeon master means taking that "absolute and unquestionable power and latitude," such as it is, and using it only to improve everyone's experience. If the dungeon master has any advantage over the players, it is only because the players agree to give it to them, and it can and should just as easily and readily be revoked upon abuse.

I've never understood the mindset that consideration for the table and the game is somehow only to be trusted to the players, when personal experience inside and outside of the game has demonstrated to me that no one group of humans has a monopoly on selfishness. If I'm guilty of excusing dungeon masters, you are at least as guilty of apologizing for players.


I haven't had a chance to read through much of the thread, but IMO it's a matter of degree.

Having a 5% chance that my character chokes to death on a bread roll every time he has to eat is unnecessary randomness that harms, rather than enhances, the experience.

If my expert sharpshooter character has only a 30% chance to hit a human sized stationary target at 10 feet in standard conditions, that's excessive randomness that harms, rather than enhances, the experience.

Conversely, if we have no randomness whatsoever, then we're arguably telling a story together, rather than playing a game (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Randomness has its place in the game, and in an ideal quantity, enhances the game and contributes considerably to the excitement and fun of those involved. Too little randomness contributes considerably less. Too much excitement, however, can outright ruin someone's fun. I think that very few people would enjoy suffering such an ignoble end as choking to death on a roll, or having a "master sharpshooter" who due to the randomness of the system can't hit the broad side of a barn.

As with most things, a proper balance is ideal. Of course, since that sweet spot will vary somewhat by group and even individual, it can be easier said than done.


Follower of the Way
There is no deception if understanding is established at Session Zero. If your methodology works for you, I'm glad for it.
"Sometimes I will lie to you" does not make all statements after that one suddenly truthful. "Sometimes I will fudge rolls" does not mean fudging ceases to be deceptive.

You color the narrative the way you like and I will do the same.
"That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off."

You do like hyperbole. I'm happy to actually discuss this topic with you, if you can keep from doing whatever this is.
Right back at you. "Player entitlement" is inflammatory hyperbole.

But I used that infamous phrase very intentionally: you very literally described breaking something in order to protect it. It is outright hypocrisy, or else irrationality, to say that the best way to protect trust is to betray it. The best way to protect trust is to be trustworthy: be honest, keep your word, admit error, make corrections, do one's due diligence, etc. I am absolutely sincere when I say I find any suggestion to the contrary deeply disturbing: that to be honest, you must lie; that to maintain a pattern of keeping your word, you must break it; that to admit error, you must conceal it; that to make corrections, you must leave errors uncorrected; that to do your due diligence, you must neglect. These contradictions concern me greatly and are exactly why I oppose fudging so much. They reflect the "I know better than you what you will find fun" attitude woven into fudging that I so strongly oppose.


Morkus from Orkus
Ask @Maxperson. They've explicitly said they, as DM, wield absolute authority. Several people agreed. I used that phrasing very intentionally; it was their words verbatim.
Yes, but that's a bit out of context. The game gives the DM absolute authority. If the DM abuses that authority, and there are many ways that can be done, then he's going to and should lose his players. I've never advocated that the DM use that authority any way he wants at any time he wants to. It's like the Spiderman quote. With great power comes great responsibility.

Actually no. You told a story about snake eyes. So chance for that is 1/36. You could have equally told a story about having rolled a 1 on a d20.
In a normal PbtA game there is no difference between snake eyes and any other result of a 6 or less (rolling 2d6 plus stat). There will always be something significant on a failure.

I've never understood the mindset that consideration for the table and the game is somehow only to be trusted to the players, when personal experience inside and outside of the game has demonstrated to me that no one group of humans has a monopoly on selfishness.
And I have literally never seen someone advocating that the GM is not trusted with consideration at all.

You claim that no one group of humans has a monopoly on selfishness. I will agree with that. On the other hand firstly I think we can agree that the DM has more power at the table than any of the players. And second those who are selfish frequently seek power. Therefore a certain type of power seeking selfishness is significantly over-represented among DMs.


"It" isn't suffering from those things. People who rely on them are.

One important thing to note here: I am expressing a preference and belief here. I am not declaring a truth. For me, increased uncertainty in die roll outcomes is net benefit when playing D&D (and other trad games). Unexpected results make the game better. Playing D&D with a set plot in mind -- like an AP -- or a set of rigid expectations -- "my character is going to take back the throne!" -- is less fun and creates a tension with the inherent randomness of play, which is a problem.

I think most of the push back you're getting in this thread isn't about your comparison of one way to play D&D compared to another. Instead, it's mostly about the below bit from your OP.

I have played and like some "story" games, but one thing many of them lack is uncertainty. Their mechanics tend to favor participants being able to say things that become true in the fiction (even if they don't call it that).

This is the main issue. That statement, combined with the title, certainly implies that you think D&D is better than those games. Which is fine as far as opinions go... but the logic used to support that opinion seems a bit shaky. Examples have been given of how story games do offer uncertainty in a variety of ways, and little has been offered to counter those examples.

I think even mentioning other games beyond different versions of D&D was not only unnecessary to your point, but actually contradictory to it.

I prefer when participants in D&D (and similar "trad" games) say what they would like to be the case, and then the dice decide how that turns out. That goes for the GM, too, btw -- the GM being subject to the same uncertainty is equally important in creating a truly surprising and novel experience.

So you prefer random generation of elements of play as much as possible? Again, a perfectly fine opinion, if I've understood correctly.

I can understand someone enjoying the elements of a random encounter... who/what is encountered, at what distance, with what starting disposition, and so on... over purely authored material of the sort found in modern day adventure path style games. I can see how that might be appealing more than a more curated approach.

But again, the snippet above... declaring actions and the dice determining what happens next... that description suits a whole swath of games that you're saying it doesn't.

As to which story games I was was thinking of when I wrote the OP, the one in my mind was Scum and Villainty. I know I will get push back on that because FitD games are "play to find out" but what I mean is that the actual dice system in S&V doesn't have much range and it usually requires a series of extreme results to created something truly unexpected since it all flows from the fiction (which is itself a constraint). But I did not want to get too deeply into that discussion because this thread is about D&D and how randomness impacts it. If you want to argue of about story games, start a new thread, please.

Talking solely about the range seems to miss the point of uncertainty. If a system is pass or fail, what does it really matter if we're using a d20 with a small range, or d100 with a big range? We still know it's either going to pass or fail. If the DC or TN is known, then there's not uncertainty... the odds are known. There can be surprise in the form of an unlikely result occurring, but that's pretty much true of any system that uses dice.

To say that because there are smaller numerical outcomes with Scum & Villainy means there is less uncertainty is odd. The game has, by default, three outcomes for its rolls. Three possible outcomes rather than two... more possible outcomes means more uncertainty. And this is without even getting into all the different options that the third result, success with complication, offers.

Again, I think if your point is just that versions of D&D that utilize more random generation offer something that's missing from more curated versions of D&D, sure, that's an interesting take. If that's what you wanted to discuss, then I think you did yourself a disservice by comparing D&D to story games because it doesn't seem like a take that you can effectively back up.

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