D&D 5E Why I'm introducing the Oracle to my D&D Game (and reducing my own DM Authority)

dave2008

Legend
Agree or disagree with my points to your heart's content, but accusing me of taking the subject matter personally just tells me you can only refute my case by suggesting I'm responding emotionally therefore not making valid judgments.

Which, in turn, I do take personally -- because it's an insult.
Sorry - didn't mean to insult! I wasn't trying to refute anything, your thoughts are valid! However, they also don't invalidate the OP.
Plenty of dungeon masters run sandboxes just fine via reliable prep and improv.
Yes, that is how I do it now (and for the past almost 40 years). However, I, as the DM, like the idea of not knowing. That is why I find this, or something similar, appealing. I only mentioned sandbox because I thought it fit that style more (and that is how we play), not that you needed it.
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
Agree or disagree with my points to your heart's content, but accusing me of taking the subject matter personally just tells me you can only refute my case by suggesting I'm responding emotionally therefore not making valid judgments.

Which, in turn, I do take personally -- because it's an insult.


Which is one of the valid points I made in my post.


Running a sandbox does not absolve you of the responsibility to satisfactorily resolve player action. If you want to farm it out to the whole table or use a random generator, there's nothing wrong with that, but don't lay it at the feet of running in sandbox style. Plenty of dungeon masters run sandboxes just fine via reliable prep and improv.
Hey can you drop this whole "responsibility" angle? I think it's an emotionally-laden approach that's quite unnecessary.

To me, the Oracle is nice because it's a collaborative tool that creates a truth instantly agreed upon by both players and the DM. It removes a negative process that I've seen both running D&D and playing it: a DM who is making world-building choices in a stressful moment that either reduce player fun or aren't consistent with what has been established so far.

We both know that no matter how much a DM plans, the players are going to ask about things, explore things, and create things that were never considered by the DM in the first place. Just as how random tables have been used in D&D since its inception, the Oracle table supports further world building or difficult decision making without adding to the DM's stress in the moment.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Sorry - didn't mean to insult! I wasn't trying to refute anything, your thoughts are valid! However, they also don't invalidate the OP.
I appreciate the apology, and please consider it forgiven and forgotten.

I regret giving the impression that I was trying to invalidate the OP -- the question was "would you use this?" and my answer was no followed by an explanation. I think there's strength and value in the proposal, I just feel like it could be executed better. @overgeeked has given some good suggestions that I lacked the frame of reference to offer.
Yes, that is how I do it now (and for the past almost 40 years). However, I, as the DM, like the idea of not knowing. That is why I find this, or something similar, appealing. I only mentioned sandbox because I thought it fit that style more (and that is how we play), not that you needed it.
And that is absolutely valid. I just got a vibe from the OP (and then you) that there was an implied 'should' here, as regards using RNG in place of DM fiat, and I take that sort of thing seriously. One isn't necessarily better than the other; we should be open to using both as tools when needed. I've got random encounter tables and random weather tables that I use to make my life easier -- I'm not over here insisting on intuiting every world event my PCs encounter, and I'm sorry if I implied that.

I see a growing trend online of folks who think the dungeon master should try to be as close to a CPU as possible when adjudicating the game, and frankly that's nonsense. If the dungeon master enjoys that, great, but if they want to have creative input, they should be encouraged to do so.

Again, if I had the wrong end of the stick, I'm comfortable owning that.
 


DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Hey can you drop this whole "responsibility" angle? I think it's an emotionally-laden approach that's quite unnecessary.
If you can explain why believing dungeon mastery is an important responsibility is an emotionally charged position, I'm willing to at least listen and consider backing off it, but at the moment I'm not understanding you.
To me, the Oracle is nice because it's a collaborative tool that creates a truth instantly agreed upon by both players and the DM. It removes a negative process that I've seen both running D&D and playing it: a DM who is making world-building choices in a stressful moment that either reduce player fun or aren't consistent with what has been established so far.
Sure, and if you or your players don't find that fun, you should dodge it, but own the reason. Use a random generator because it is more fun, not because it solves problems that dungeon master fiat doesn't, or because it keeps players from blaming you for bad outcomes. Because, frankly, neither of those things are true.

For my part? If I'm pressed in the moment and I make a mistake, and that mistake will have repercussions, I just own the mistake when it is brought to my attention or when I realize it on my own, express regret, and introduce retroactive continuity as necessary. It's just a game. I'm not perfect, I don't run a perfect game, and no one expects me to be or do either. No one should expect anyone to. It's unreasonable and unhealthy.

If a player is pressuring a dungeon master to never make mistakes, that's a good example of bad, unhelpful stress that the dungeon master should remove from their life. On the other hand, the stress a dungeon master feels when required to worldbuild under pressure is not bad stress; it's the same stress you feel at the gym, or while completing a chemistry lab in school. It's the body's way of telling us it is learning.

Again, I'm not saying don't use random generators, I'm just saying that they can absolutely force worldbuilding that reduces player fun, or that isn't consistent with established canon, just like rushed DM fiat can. It doesn't solve the problems you propose. The best reason to use random generators is because you like random results -- as @dave2008 puts it, if you like not knowing. They can't do anything else better than your brain can.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
The yes-no-maybe oracle is a bit basic, and is pretty much done now with a quick role 1d6 (1d10 if I want a %)
For me whether though wyvern snatches the dog or the player or something else will be a decision made for dramatic tension, not a random yes-no roll. That dog is an asset, so what will the player be compelled to do? (The reason I like FATE aspects is that dog being snatched up creates a chance for the player to get a mechanical compel via his bond to the dog that extends the story and is hopefully cool)

what I do like from Ironsworn is the Oracle Tables (Chapter 6) and how they can be used to spark ideas eg using the first 4 (non-setting specific) Oracle Tables and number 44 I get Bolster-Faction-Pass-Defended and a twist of you and enemy share the same goal. (ergo Players are sent to bolster a faction at a defended mountain pass >I’ll let the player decide who the Factions are and which faction they support)

and yeah it is very much similar to the GMEmulator. I really appreciate the Kevin Crawfords books for much the same reason.

That looks like a boiled down Mythic GM Emulator. There’s a solo actual play YouTuber who uses it extensively. Me, Myself, and Die.
 

Personally, I do not like random stuff in D&D, it renders choice meaningless. Turn left? Role for what you encounter. Turn right? Roll for what you encounter. So what's the point in choosing, since it has no effect on the outcome?
 

I like it as a tool, would I use it? I suppose there could be circumstances in which I and my players could enjoy a tool like this so thank you to @BookTenTiger for bring it to my attention.

Often when I'm asked a question that I have not prepared an answer for, we determine it through the dice - along the lines of odds no, evens yes. The Oracle table is more nuanced which I like.
Is there a loose brick in the dungeon wall? One could roll a skill check for this but I fancy the Oracle in such a situation.

Another instance, say a character gets thrown against a wall by a giant - does the character drop their weapon? In such a scenario I would look to the character sheet (saving throw/skill check) rather than turn to the Oracle.

I'm not sure I would use it for story-generation as I prefer handling those details myself but I can see how if the DM were willing to, for some part of the story, "leave it to the dice" it could be fun. Players create story twists all the time which is enjoyable for the DM as the adventure takes an unexpected turn, so why not let the dice do the same, right?
 

firekirby135

Villager
In terms of world building, I think there is definitely a value in  curated randomization. But as a tool for mediation? I think I'd consider that ill advised. Compromises and flexibility are much more important to ensuring everyone is having fun at the table. A binary outcome for player/DM or player/player disagreements are significantly  more likely to cause player discontent at the table, not less. (especially when the DM is the one setting the probability in the former) Being able to simply talk through a disagreement in game and come to a resolution everyone is happy with will go a much longer way, and sometimes this  can be resolved with a dice roll, but it should be an agreed upon resolution for all parties involved rather than being taken for granted.

I still do see this as an interesting tool, but at the end of the day, I think it's important to recognize that it's not a replacement for creativity or planning, but a method by which to inspire them. An analogy I always enjoy is, when torn between two decisions, flip a coin. If you look at the result and find yourself happy with the result, go with it! But if you look and find yourself disappointed, go with the other option! Randomization should never supercede creative expression or inspiration, but it can certainly lead to a fun, funky, and unique groundwork to build from!
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'd want a better set of oracle mechanics than that. This is just a table?

And one with honestly too much detail.

And a 1% chance of an extreme result/twist seems off.

90%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 10% are the categories for Almost Certain, Likely, 50/50, Unlikely, Small Chance.

That could easily be mapped to 1 in 6, 2 in 6, 3 in 6, 4 in 6, and 5 in 6 without having to roll percentile. But personally, I'd want my Oracle to produce more than yes/no answers.

I want it to say "yes with complications", "no with complications", "no, but it seems yes" and other descriptions in a natural way, but not all the time. And ideally without having to consult a table!

That would be useful mechanics. As it stands, it just says "don't be afraid to roll when you don't know for certain". Which isn't bad advice!
 

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