Space and time in RPG setting and situation


Victoria Rules
I think this is exactly backwards. The value of a Take 10/Take 20 mechanic is that they show precisely what is possible with absolute certainty, and ideally should have the requirements (and/or consequences) of using them laid out ahead of time. Take 20 tells you exactly what the "range of locks" a character can pick is, and provides a mechanical model for the situations in which you don't "need to ask for a roll."

Take 20 mechanically isn't an addition to 'don't roll if it doesn't matter', it replaces that model wholesale, by making it clear exactly what the capabilities of the character are, when they aren't under pressure. It's frankly a quite elegant mechanic that it's a quite a shame has been so deprecated in modern designs.
Disagree about any benefits of take-20. The mechanic turns everything into a binary yes-no exercise, where in reality there's no way of knowing whether your failure is caused by your having an off day (or consistently missing something) or by the task being flat-out beyond you.

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The latter is what I did, only they didn't move along - or at least one of them didn't. That's their right.

I don’t see it that way. The same as if we were playing poker or any other group activity, there’s basic etiquette involved. In no other group activity could one mask such self indulgence as roleplaying and get away with it.

I have no problem at all sitting back for another player to have the spotlight when something relevant is happening, but I have no interest in watching someone pretend to try and pick a lock 30 different ways while we all sit there like lumps.

If I was the GM in that game, I’d simply move along. If I was a player, I’d ask to move along.


In Book 2 of LotR there is a well-known scene in which Gandalf tries to open a secret door via a magic password. Gandalf remarks that "I once knew every spell in all the tongues of Elves or Men or Orcs that were ever used for such a purpose. I can still remember ten score of them without searching in my mind. But only a few trials, I think, will be needed" (I'm quoting from p 324 of my one-volume edition).

Gandalf tries tries many passwords, but none work. We are not told exactly how long passes, only that "the cliff towered into the night, the countless stars were kindled, the wind blew cold, and the doors stood fast."

In RPGing, one way to resolve this would be to have the player recite every magic password that their character has actually learned during th course of play, as noted on the player's character record. This is the sort of thing that the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks use as part of their puzzle setups (I can certainly recall a key-based one and a gem-based one, and maybe a password-based one also).

Another way is for the player to simply mention that their PC recites a password without actually specifying what it is, while making (say) an Arcana check to see if they recall a correct one. And this could keep going and going in principle ad infinitum if the GM has set the difficulty such that the player can never succeed on the check.

Yet another way is to adopt an approach closer to JRRT's own narration: the player deploys their ability (eg Once Knew Every Spell in the Tongues of Elves or Orcs or Men) against an appropriate difficulty, and the upshot tells us what the next interesting thing in the scene involves (eg in this case, the bored NPC Boromir throws a stone into the pool - a harbinger of approaching trouble!).

None is inherently superior, though these days I have my own preferences for my RPGing. But the third approach is certainly as viable as the other two. Its more relaxed approach to the passage of ingame time, and how that correlates to at-the-table activity, is not any sort of detriment (I can report from experience).
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