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


B/X Known World
This is the heart of what game you want to play.

We play the game as a challenge of uncertain outcome. It is stacked in the pc’s favor of course—-but not personally interested in a game with little risk.
Mostly the same. But I'm also not interested in games where the odds are stacked in the PCs' favor. It seems like a waste of time. Unless there's real risk, why bother?

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Victoria Rules
Minor Correction: S&V (like BitD) actually has four outcomes for its rolls: failure (high die 3 or less), partial success (high die 4/5), full success (high die 6), and finally critical success (two or more high die 6s).
I like this idea for giving a range of outcomes, but I think it's noteworthy that while there's a critical success possibility there's no corresponding critical failure possibility. Missed opportunity, there.


Like S&V, you mean? Careful...
Careful of what?

The function of the dice in a FitD game is the same as their function in D&D: to set the parameters around who gets to narrate what.

The dice can't create fairness in an encounter that was designed without it. The dice are there is provide uncertainty and therefore tension in an otherwise fair encounter. That's the whole point of the thread.
What would an example of this look like? What non-D&D game am I supposed to be comparing to? And what is the nature of the uncertainty, other than uncertainty over who gets to say what?


Careful of what?
That was a joke. Never mind.
What would an example of this look like? What non-D&D game am I supposed to be comparing to? And what is the nature of the uncertainty, other than uncertainty over who gets to say what?
When it comes to combat outcomes, the system is doing the talking in response to participant input and dice outcomes. D&D doesn't really have the same kind of resultant narrative authority in its combat system, even for the GM.


When it comes to combat outcomes, the system is doing the talking in response to participant input and dice outcomes. D&D doesn't really have the same kind of resultant narrative authority in its combat system, even for the GM.
In classic D&D, does the GM get to decide whether a failed morale check results in flight or surrender? (I have a feeling it might be different in B/X and AD&D, with the latter being more rigid; I don't know what OD&D says.)

In another recent thread, someone was comparing stunting rules in AD&D 2nd ed and 5e. Presumably these require someone to establish fiction.

What happens if a player moves their character into a muddy patch, and the GM calls for a DEX check to avoid slipping and sliding - doesn't someone have to establish fiction in that context?

I mean, I know that D&D combat has wargame-ish tendencies, but are they really as extreme as you seem to be implying in your post?


Victoria Rules
Funny how I can so strongly agree and disagree wiht the same post. :)
No it isn't, it's a limited noun. Can we agree that "entitlement" is a problem at TTRPG tables? I honestly don't see a fundamental difference between players and dungeon masters beyond a willingness to take on additional responsibility for the good of the group. When people are unwilling to take on additional responsibility but still feel free to make demands of the group, it gets up my nose. I don't see that as unreasonable.
Completely agree. Even more so as you phrase it as "taking on responsibility" rather than "claiming power" or some other less-positive wording.
Then I regret using a pithy turn of phrase to illustrate an equally deeply held belief; it appears I damaged my credibility in doing so.

It's not a question of knowing better than the players, but a question of having additional knowledge. As a dungeon master I know the results of hidden rolls, the DCs or HP totals of challenges the players face, and the content of the adventure that has not yet been revealed to the players.

This gives me a different perspective on things like whether that hit for 8 damage on the creature with 9 HP remaining should just kill the creature, or if it should get one more round of attacks; whether that 13 on a Perception check will detect the DC 15 secret passage because we've only got 30 minutes left in the session; or whether two of the three crits I just rolled on a dragon's claw/claw/bite against a flagging party might just as easily have been one crit and two 19s.
Completely disagree. If the die results (and the parameters of the adventure as written, e.g. DCs) aren't to be honoured as binding on all involved then why bother rolling?

Roll three crits against a staggering party? There's gonna be some deaths. It's part of the game. (then again, rockin' three consecutive crits - the odds of which are 1 in 8000 - isn't something that happens every day or even every campaign; sometimes a bad beat is just a bad beat)

Had those three rolls been fumbles instead would you overturn two of them and make them hits? Or, had the PCs rolled three crits against your dragon would you jump in and say two of those were just normal hits? I rather doubt it.


So picture this:

A situation comes up in game that's not so much something that will result in success or failure as something cool happening. Everyone knows it. Everyone involved rolls their check to make it happen... but the dice decide to be cold at that moment and even the person who built their character sucks and fails at it because the d20 matters more than in-universe skill and the will of every single person at the table.

The disappointment is palpable, hanging over the table like a wet blanket and you've still got an hour left to play while everyone is in a downer mood because of the dice.

But oh wait, I use action points! And the competent character just happens to have an ability that turns a natural 1 into a 20 once an encounter. The dice are slain, the beat comes back and everyone is satisfied.
Why couldn't something cool happen whether the dice come up hot or cold? Good roll, thing A happens; bad roll, thing B happens. And neither thing needs to be good or bad, necessarily, so long as they're both cool.

It's when nothing happens that things fall flat.


Chaotic Looseleaf
Except, and again this is a matter of public record, that isn't what Maxperson actually said. I pushed back, hard, on that not actually being "absolute" power. He refused, insisting that that term was the one and only correct description. Repeatedly and with great emphasis.

I am not ignoring context. The poster themself made the context irrelevant.
Understood. This is then a matter of hearsay between you and Maxperson, at least until one of you posts supporting evidence. Based on your performance in this thread, my money is on Max.

For your edification: Consensus decision-making - Wikipedia

That article covers the actual accepted process of consensus decision making, and links to the Quaker principles that inspired it. I don't disagree with anything you've said on the topic, exactly, but we are clearly talking about two different things. Consensus is not majority-rule democracy.

Except that is literally never necessary. Ever. It is 100% possible to never break the rules, never tell the players things that are not true about the gameplay or imagined space, and let the dice fall where they may, all without harming the players' experience in the least. So why do it? Why use tactics that are unnecessary and deceptive?
Because it makes the game more fun for everyone. Just because not doing it doesn't always mean the game isn't fun, doesn't mean it can't add value.

Again: I have no idea why you think this got personal, and I don't think calling me a jerk was even remotely warranted.
Oh, no, no, no. You don't get to roll out this bomb:

Pretending it is that easy is one of the ways abusers get away with their abuse, in all sorts of relationships.
--and then pretend you did it without intent. I'll put up with that kind of disingenuous weaseling as long as we're talking about games, but you do not get to accuse me of relationship power abuse, even indirectly, and just pass it off as "societal observation."

Okay. Hence why I keep asking how you and others avoid that. Because without actual consensus-building (more on that below), it's all you. Your players are as much suggestions as the rules are. That's why I push so hard on this.
I avoid it by staying in open communication with my players at all times and actively soliciting feedback regarding the campaign and my adjudication of it, like any worthwhile human being.

Our portion of this discussion is over. Thank you for your time and effort, this was fun up until this point.


Victoria Rules
This is where I disagree with you. It can lead to farce and silliness, but with a bit of effort you can narrate the successes and failures in ways that make sense and are not silly/farcical.
Or conversely, you lean into the silly-farcical-whimsical when it arises and just have a good laugh at the whole thing.

I mean, we do play the game for entertainment, after all... :)

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