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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 132 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [4e] Players Roll All the d20s  (Read 2885 times)
Ry
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Posts: 216


« on: October 22, 2008, 08:02:42 AM »

Last night I ran 4e for the first time.  The game went very, very well.  The only house rule in effect was Players Roll All the (20-sided) dice - which I used with 2nd, 3rd, and 3.5e.  It was just a given that I'd bring it forward, and I didn't think much about it. 

The Rule

All d20 rolls are made by the players.  To do this, subtract 10 from all passive stats and defenses.  Monsters don't roll; instead, their attacks get a static +12.  Players win the tie.  Critical hit when the player rolls a 1.

The session
The session was a very solid start with a new ruleset.  We did 2 encounters, one 'moderate' and one 'probably too hard' fight.  By the end of the session things were flowing very well.  Since we managed 2 combats, plus some statting, plus a late player, in 3 hours, I've got the feeling we'll have major encounters down to a half-hour before long.  The players stayed engaged and so did I.  Afterwards I was thinking "hey, that went great!" and remembering how much I enjoy knowing that all the players are in every scene, and they're all working together to tear apart the things in front of them.

Why PRATD20s helps
Afterwards, Mike, who also GMs 4e asked about the math of players roll all the d20s, we worked it out to show that yeah, it's exactly the same math.  When we were walking to the cars, I remembered why it worked so nicely. 

(Obviously there's less things for the GM to manage.  But that's not the important bit.)

When we get to that long GM's turn, instead of it being "sit around while you see if the GM did something" it becomes "see if you can dodge what the GM's throwing at you."  Even though the math is the same, rolling feels more active.  So the GM's turn becomes much more participatory for the players. 
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gsoylent
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Posts: 62


« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2008, 12:28:58 PM »

I did something similar with my little homebrew sci-fi miniatures game we play on those night no one really wants to run anything. The game is sort of like Warhammer Quest; basically a series of rooms with a bit of exploration and lots of combat. Their is no GM, the monsters are totally automated.

Anyway, orignally I used to do the monster attack roll in the more obvious, traditional way - on the monster turn one of the players would roll the monster attacks. Then one day I had the bright idea of having the players roll their dodge against the flat level of the attacking critter instead. Made all the difference.

Sometimes it's the simple things.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2008, 03:35:23 PM »

Perhaps off topic, but there was a game in development here awhile back...can't remember the name, but you played a theif. In that you only ever rolled for the monsters/opponents (who have their own target numbers)...in fact, the theif didn't even have stats. This was with the deliberate aim of freeing the player to describe their theifs movements as competently, hesitently, incompetently or whatever as they wished, as they dice only determined how well the opponents were performing.

And yay warhammer quest! We all rolled for the monsters that were (automatically) assigned to attacking our character. I think control over the pacing does improve handling time/the fun over time ratio. When someone else is rolling, you have to wait on them, but when you only have to wait on yourself it becomes a matter of realising there's nothing between you and fate except to reach for the dice and roll 'em! It's kind of a small, meaningful moment.
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GregStolze
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2008, 04:27:33 AM »

That sounds really cool.  "Only the players roll" was one of my favorite elements of the few FUDGE games I played, and I can only imagine it would be more fun on the other side of the screen.

Plus, "PRATD20" is just a great acronym.

-G.
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gsoylent
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Posts: 62


« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2008, 09:40:16 AM »

Funny you should say that, that mini game I was talking about used FUDGE as core mechanic.
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angelfromanotherpin
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Posts: 135


« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2008, 09:51:43 AM »

In another discussion on game design, I recommended that if an attack is to be resolved by a single roll, it should be a defense roll.  That way players are engaged on their turn by making decisions, and on enemies' turns by making rolls.  This is, of course, assuming a turn-based system like the various D&D types mentioned. 
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2008, 12:19:54 PM »

Hi,

As far as I know, the first RPG to use the "only players roll" technique - or more accurately, using NPC scores as modifiers of or targets for a single roll - was Legendary Lives, from Marquee Press in the early 1990s. In retrospect, it's pretty surprising that it took so long to appear. As you say, getting the same mathematical result for a good halving, or more, of the search and handling times of resolution is a damn good deal.

I first encountered it in the game The Whispering Vault (1994), in which your character's attack uses the foe's defense score as a target number, and the foe's attack is also rolled by you, using your character's defense score and the foe's attack score as a target number. It's remarkably easy and fun.

Wait a minute - now that I think about it, this is also seen in a very simple fashion in the old Fighting Fantasy solo books from the early 1980s, in that when you fail a roll to hit or defeat something, you take damage. Those rules were not constructed in the standard GM/players RPG model, but they were my main influence in designing Elfs, in which only players roll and (in a fight or similar) take damage simply by failing. I was influenced by The Whispering Vault in designing Trollbabe, in which there are no GM rolls either.

Jeff Dee's excellent game Pocket Universe uses the same reasoning you described (subtracting a foe's result), and it's the first rules-set I can think of to do so. However, in that game, the GM does roll for his or her characters, using player-character values to influence it - in other words, GM and players use the same rules.

I also recommend checking out Dead of Night, in which the same math is employed, and the issue of "who rolls" bounces around the table according to rules of its own.

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2008, 12:47:28 PM »

Yeah, contrasting fighting fantasy against most RPG's makes you realise that the to hit roll does absolutely nothing at all. Okay, you roll a hit and...nothing. It has affected nothing. It's the damage roll that actually does something. Rolling a hit in itself is just handling time with no actual result, except that it tells you to go onto more handling time (the damage roll). Though in 4E on a nat 20, you do don't go to a roll, you do max damage. So that roll could be said to be capable of having a result in itself.

When I bought a reprint of a fighting fantasy game a year or two back, I noticed you roll 2d6 for player and monster. When I played it I just added a flat +7 bonus to the opponents attack skill (+7 because of certain averaging rules) and I rolled. That sped things up even more. The fact that you always get a result (whether it be a happy one or otherwise) is...I don't know how to put it...solid, in feel? While rolling a miss and...nothing happens...it'd be like playing a card game where you draw a card and it's blank, so you discard it (making drawing a waste of time). Funnily, even if the blank card did something nasty to you, atleast it does something, making its draw worth while. Anyway, I'm posting too much.
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Big J Money
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 06:41:44 PM »

I'm running a 4E game right now and I thought of this myself as a time saver as well.

Ryan, if your around, can you elaborate on this more?  Did you give every monster a +12, regardless of the monster or its level?  Do you think it would it be workable to keep the game's written stats and accomplish this?  For example, change a monster's +10 to attack to a DC 20 Defense roll?

Callan, I am really intrigued by that idea.  I am wondering how difficult it would be to modify a heroic adventuring game like D&D to work like that.  I suppose you would have to sacrifice some element of tactical surprise (discovery and research), as the players would necessarily be aware of the monsters' complete combat statistics, no?

-- John M.
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Finarvyn
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 06:50:04 PM »

As far as I know, the first RPG to use the "only players roll" technique - or more accurately, using NPC scores as modifiers of or targets for a single roll - was Legendary Lives, from Marquee Press in the early 1990s.
I'm pretty sure TSR had a "players only roll" game.

Maybe it was the SAGA system? (They had SAGA DragonLance and SAGA Marvel.)

Somehow that doesn't sound right because I think SAGA was card-based instead of dice-based, but some game of that general era used this general concept.
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Marv (Finarvyn)
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greyorm
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 10:51:17 PM »

Somehow that doesn't sound right because I think SAGA was card-based instead of dice-based, but some game of that general era used this general concept.

It is not the SAGA system; you are correct in that it utilized cards rather than dice. However, SAGA did function similarly, in that players always played cards to attempt actions or in response to events, and the GM only set difficulties (though in at least one iteration he was able to modify the difficulty through the use of special cards he could obtain during the course of play, IIRC. I am fuzzy on the specifics, it has sadly been around decade since I last played SAGA).

However, there was an article in Dragon magazine during either the late 80's or early 90's which described a "players always roll" or rather "players roll for 'defense' " style of play for AD&D, which took many of the dice out of the GM's hands. As I recall, instead of the GM rolling a monster's to-hit against a character's AC, the players instead rolled to-defend against a monster's THAC0 for their character.

...

Ah-ha! My Google-fu is with me tonight: the article was titled "Defend Yourself!", written by Blake Mobley for Dragon #177, the ish for January of '92.

Anyways, I didn't see it at the time, but this would be a much more dynamic and de-whiffing way to play trad games, as I can see such a refocus of the action causing players to describe the event rather than relying on the GM, which then allows the characters to shine (makes it easier for "My paladin parries the blow!" instead of the standard GM-oriented roll-fail of "The orc misses you": "I" instead of "you" events are much more engaging in play). Which, as I recall, was also the reason SAGA implemented the players-do-everything/player-centric resolution format.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Finarvyn
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2008, 07:33:34 AM »

...an article in Dragon magazine during either the late 80's or early 90's which described a "players always roll" or rather "players roll for 'defense' " style of play for AD&D, which took many of the dice out of the GM's hands. As I recall, instead of the GM rolling a monster's to-hit against a character's AC, the players instead rolled to-defend against a monster's THAC0 for their character.

...

Ah-ha! My Google-fu is with me tonight: the article was titled "Defend Yourself!", written by Blake Mobley for Dragon #177, the ish for January of '92.
Good catch. I'll have to dig into my pile o' Dragon mags and read that one. :-)
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Marv (Finarvyn)
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maldito
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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2008, 08:03:53 AM »

Sounds really cool, to bad I'm very advansed in the game I'm designing right now, but maybe in the future I'll do a game with "only player rolls" rules. How didn't I thought that before.
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