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  #1  
Old Dec 27th, 2022, 12:05 PM
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Hello!

When the current, Monsterhearts campaign that I am running wraps up, I am going to start up something else. I am considering an M&M games, FFG Star Wars, or D&D 5e. I was going to wait for One D&D but that's like a year-and-a-half away.

My question is this: What advise can you give me about the DM rolling for more of the dice?

I am thinking of doing it in 2 cases:
  • To help with the pacing. For example, rolling everyone's initiative when a combat starts.
  • Rolling when the result is not obvious. Like for PC stealth checks.

Last edited by girlplay; Dec 27th, 2022 at 12:06 PM.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 12:51 PM
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In your initial advertisement thread, and in any House Rules thread you post in your game forum, be upfront in saying what rolls you might be doing on their behalf. This way it's not a surprise to the players later.

I'm in a game where when the GM calls for combat, an initiative roll for the "monsters" is included and result is declared. GM asks for anyone in the party to roll for initiative, and if the player beats the GM's roll, then everyone in the party goes first. Gets the combat started a little faster, yeah?
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 05:32 PM
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I think the secret/GM rolls for things like spotting traps, etc. is pretty standard, at least it was years ago. As a gamer, I would have no problem with that.

Initiative, I can live with the GM rolling, like Zev said, if you tell me up front. I don't mind having the GM with a little chart handy, for rolling things to speed stuff up. Just be willing to admit potentials errors and change (when possible), if you have those weird things where Andy gets a +2 bonus versus attacks by orcs, or versus bad guys on Tuesday.


Initiative... fine with me
Find Traps, a lot of spot/perception checks: fine with me, if telling someone to make one would disrupt the mood/story/be metagaming especially.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 01:23 AM
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Personally, I think to make a TTRPG work there would technically be no mechanical reason why you'd ever need a player to roll even a single die during the entire game. The players decide on their characters' actions, but generally it's the GM who decides if there is a chance involved with failing/succeeding on the result that the player intends to accomplish through their action. So at that point, any dice roll in the game is technically called for by the GM and technically the game would run just as smoothly if the GM would make any of those rolls themselves. This holds especially true in PbP where rolling the dice yourself will resolve much faster than waiting on other players to do it.

Now, obviously there are very good reasons not to make every roll in the game yourself (even when ignoring those pesky damage rolls which are mostly a chore). The dice are what introduce risk and uncertainty, which in turn introduces thrill to the game. Putting the players in the position to hold the valve to said thrill in their hands is what may end up enhancing their play experience and for a lot of players the anticipation directly before rolling the dice makes for a quantifiable portion of their fun in playing TTRPGs. Going by that logic, you want to allow the players to roll the dice themselves as often as is reasonable and as rarely as is necessary to keep the adjudication of the game from becoming clunky.

That's my general advice (or at least my personal theory), so let's see what that would mean for the examples that you gave:

1) In PbP the pacing can be improved by quite a bit if the GM rolls a few more dice. I regularly roll dice for my players whenever I think that there isn't much thrill to it and when it would only be a chore for myself and them if I made them do it instead. (Commonly though I will tell them that a dice roll is required through the OOC thread and then allow them to edit it into their posts, because it's more often fun than it is a chore to give them that opportunity.) However, I think the initiative buzzer makes for a bad example of improving the pacing, because the start of combat is one of the most thrilling moments in the game and resolving the NPC combat turns immediately after calling for combat is less of a tension gain than letting the players roll the dice themselves and making them wait for the next GM update if they fail to beat the enemy initiative. So while it's probably acceptable for many players if the GM rolled their initiative to speed up the game, this is one of the game moments where I would generally advise against it.

2) Hiding the results of an action that wouldn't have an obvious result for the character is a great way to build tension, and commonly it will increase the thrill of the game rather than reduce it. In that case the anticipation that the player experiences is built up over the course of the activity and released once the player witnesses success or failure as part of the narrative. I think this is generally a legitimate GM technique to improve your game, though as the others have pointed out before me, this method is something you may wish to communicate to the players beforehand. Mostly to keep expectations straight, but also because not all GMs make use of secreted rolls so players may want to adapt their game strategy ahead of time and need to know in which exact instances you prefer to employ secreted GM rolls. I personally don't see any demerit to that technique, except maybe that this will need some clear communication because many players have been trained to roll the dice without Obviously there are plenty of moments when a player may reasonably guess the mechanical resolution of their actions that the GM may end up choosing as well, but technically the adjudication would properly start with the GM calling for a roll, not the player delivering one on their own judgment. In PbP in particular I would advise not to be strict about letting players roll on their own judgment, but always under the precursor that you may end up ignoring their dice rolls if it didn't fit the mechanical resolution that you as the GM would require to adjudicate their character's actions.waiting for the GM's call. It also may introduce a bit of uncertainty where players aren't sure when they are allowed to roll without asking for permission and when not. But again, all of these are merely communication issues and good communication is a requirement for a smooth game anyways. So if you get your players onto the same page about how you would like to run things, then I think your game will improve if you deem secreted rolls as beneficial to certain narrative situations.

@edit:
Sorry that this got so wordy. I enjoy contemplating what makes good GMing quite a bit and this was a great question!
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Last edited by Mindsiege; Dec 31st, 2022 at 01:27 AM.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 10:03 AM
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I can't swear to it, but I think the earliest of the RPG's with dice were a bit more "the GM rolled and told" style. Like Mindsiege says, this is faster, and if the GM has all the data, quick and easy. Just a lot of work for the GM. The old DM Screens with all their excel spreadsheets worth of crib notes was to make the GM's job faster and easier.

Then, people started bringing their own dice, and honestly, I think two things happened:

Like Mindsiege says, people like having "control" of their PC's fate, so they want to roll (Vegas is the same way. Logically, there's no difference in a machine rolling two die at the craps table, than a person doing it. But, people want to bet their money on their "skill" or luck, not some machine.). And so, people started rolling for their characters.

At the same time, GMing got (somewhat) easier... the GM didn't have to remember everything for everyone, and so, could run things better/easier/faster, perhaps.

It was perhaps more interactive as well, with the players contributing to the story. Before, if the dice rolled a 1, the GM made up a story to account for it. Now, the player did... and the RPG became MORE collaborative, and for some, More Role playing.

Having lived through the early years, and the years of swearing at players to "just keep the dice on the table" and having to adjudicate what the dice on a carpet actually had for a result, and the endless people stacking dice towers, and those who could never remember what a D4 was used for, etc..

I've also gamed (here) with a GM that rolled everything for us, and I will say, I didn't like it. It always felt like the GM was just telling me stuff, and I never had input. "Oh, i failed my save? Didn't even know I rolled one. I missed? Huh. I wonder if that included these bonuses. Or that weapon. Doesn't matter, GM says I missed." Kind of felt like I was just sleepwalking through encounters, and what I said didn't matter.

I think it all comes down to style. How much work do YOU want as a GM? Do you want to know every detail of the PC's bonuses, etc.? Do you want absolute control? Some control? And your players... what do they want? A story? A shared story?
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  #6  
Old Feb 21st, 2023, 08:45 AM
Kayal Kayal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlplay View Post
For example, rolling everyone's initiative when a combat starts.
Back in the day, my group used to seat players in initiative order. Only one person rolled, everyone added their bonus to the same roll, and we went from there. The GM didn't have to keep track of player initiative at all; they simply went around the table, inserting the monster where appropriate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zevonian View Post
I'm in a game where when the GM calls for combat, an initiative roll for the "monsters" is included and result is declared. GM asks for anyone in the party to roll for initiative, and if the player beats the GM's roll, then everyone in the party goes first. Gets the combat started a little faster, yeah?
The Cypher system treats initiative in a similar fashion. The monster's initiative is treated as a TN. Anyone who rolls higher goes before the monster (in any order the player's decide). Anyone who doesn't goes after (again, in any order).
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Old Feb 21st, 2023, 08:49 AM
Kayal Kayal is offline
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Originally Posted by Admin Dirk View Post
I can't swear to it, but I think the earliest of the RPG's with dice were a bit more "the GM rolled and told" style.
I don't recall that being an actual rule. I think it was a side effect of the fact that the dice came in the boxed set and stores that sold them carte blanche were hard to find. I could be wrong, tho.

Last edited by Kayal; Feb 21st, 2023 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Missed the word "be"
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