[Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result]

Bear with me, here. This is a little lengthy, but I want to show a (simplified) snippet from a hypothetical game session.

Situation: 3 PCs are exploring a dungeon looking for a hidden shrine and ran into some wandering zombies. The cleric’s attempt to turn them failed and the PCs, lacking a fighter, turned and ran.

Game Master: The corridor you’re in ends in a blank wall. There is some refuse on the floor and scrawled marks on the right wall. You can’t hear the zombies pursuing you any more.

Magic-User’s Player: What are the marks?

Game Master: They appear to be written with ash or charcoal. Whatever it is, it isn’t written in Common.

Thief’s Player: My thief has Read Languages. can I try to read it?

Game Master: Sure.

Thief’s Player: [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Checks the Result] You can’t make it out.

Cleric’s Player: I’m watching for the zombies. They’re slow but they probably didn’t give up. You two figure something out.

Magic-User’s Player: Is there anything else on the walls?

Game Master: No. The cleric sees a zombie turn the corner heading toward you. There are more coming behind it.

Cleric’s Player: I told you. Can I try to turn them again?

Game Master: Sure.

Cleric’s Player: [Rolls Dice] That’s good enough, right?

Game Master: [Checks the Result] Yes, this time it works. See how many.

Cleric’s Player: [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Checks the Result] All five of them stop, turn around, and begin shuffling back the way they came.

Magic-User’s Player: Nice work.

Cleric’s Player: Should we go back to the intersection? I don’t like being cornered here. Those zombies won’t stay turned forever.

Thief’s Player: Well, we know that shrine is up ahead somewhere.

Magic-User’s Player: We THINK that shrine is up ahead somewhere.

Thief’s Player: Whatever. I’ll bet there’s a secret door here.

Cleric’s Player: Okay, but let’s not take too much time.

Thief’s Player: So can I search for secret doors?

Game Master: Sure. It will take a turn. Where do you look?

Thief’s Player: The wall with the writing on it.

Magic-User’s Player: I’ll look on the wall straight ahead.

Cleric’s Player: I’m watching the corridor, my mace in one hand and my holy symbol in the other.

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result]

Thief’s Player: What was that? The secret door check?

Game Master: [Shrugs]

Magic-User’s Player: It was probably the wandering monster roll.

Thief’s Player: So do we find anything?

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] The thief does not.

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] However, the magic-user finds a stone that presses in. When it does, there’s a grinding sound as a narrow section of the wall straight ahead slides aside to reveal a 5′ wide passageway leading straight ahead.

Magic-User’s Player: Ah-hah!

Thief’s Player: Told you. I’ll head in.

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] You’re surprised. Something leaps out of the darkness at you.

Thief’s Player: [Groans]

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] You’re bitten by a large spider with a greenish body about 2′ in diameter and black markings on its back.

Cleric’s Player: That doesn’t sound very good.

Thief’s Player: [Groans]

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] You take 2 points of damage.

Thief’s Player: I hope it’s not poisonous.

Game Master: Thief, roll a saving throw.

Magic-User’s Player: I think that means it’s poisonous.

Thief’s Player: [Groans] and [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Checks the Result] You made it. The spider is scuttling out into the main corridor.

Cleric’s Player: Can I attack it?

Game Master: Roll initiative.

Cleric’s Player: [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] You win.

Cleric’s Player: I attack with my mace. [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Checks the Result] You hit. Roll damage.

Cleric’s Player: [Rolls Dice]

Game Master: [Checks the Result] You kill it. Green spider guts ooze out onto the floor.

Game Master: [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result]

Thief’s Player: What was that? Another wandering monster check? Already?

Game Master: [Shrugs]

Cleric’s Player: Or checking to see if the zombies come back.

Magic-User’s Player: Or maybe he’s just messing with us. Whatever it was, we should keep moving.

Thief’s Player: Okay. You go first this time.

Cleric’s Player: [Rolls eyes]

and so on…

I think I’ve done a decent job of writing up part of a basic game session, though the way it’s written makes it flow a lot more quickly and logically than I usually experience at the table.

Note all of the [Rolls Dice] and [Checks the Result] entries. The players and/or GM rolled for the following things (in order)

Read languages
Turn undead
How many undead turned
Wandering monsters
Two secret door searches
Spider surprise
Spider’s attack
Spider’s damage
Saving throw against spider’s poison
Initiative (two opposing rolls)
Cleric’s attack
Cleric’s damage
Chance for zombies to return after turn expires

One thing I think I’m realizing after spending time on lots of boards and blogs, and especially after last week’s discussion of mechanics, core and otherwise, is that I think I care a lot less about the actual mechanics of a system than a lot of other players do. A whole lot less. Less, as in, I don’t really care what the mechanics are as long as they don’t interfere with playing and the game continues to flow.

Seriously. I don’t care if every single check in the example above has got its own lovable fiddly little system, or if they are all using the same system. I don’t care if some are roll low to succeed and some are roll high, or if they’re all one or the other. I don’t care if they all use different dice, if they all use the same dice, or if they all use the same number of dice.

I just want to know if the Read Languages worked or not, if the attempt to turn undead was successful, who won initiative, and if the attack hit the target. I do not believe it makes one little bit of difference what the dice mechanics are of determining these things, I just want to know the result. The idea that using a unique dice rolling system for something (a ranger’s tracking, for example) somehow makes that ability somehow more special is not something that I put any little bit of stock in.

Does the ranger track? Yes or no? It isn’t cool if we find out by rolling low on d00 like Gary intended and uncool if we find out by using a unified core mechanic. What is cool is that the ranger just tracked a fleeing enemy. THAT’s cool.

Some have pointed out that 1d20’s 5% scheme isn’t always the best, and I agree. I happen to like the spread of 1d6 for initiative, with about 15% of the rolls ending in ties, so we’re sticking with 1d6 for initiative. That’s a mechanical reason for a mechanical decision.

But I don’t care whether turn undead is resolved using 2d6 or 1d20. One isn’t “more special” than the other and I certainly don’t think that one is more suited mechanically to the task. So what’s the difference?

And I give exactly zero shits about this or that “being too much like the newer editions.”

My son, who has no nostalgia for the original editions or how it was done in the old days or any of that, didn’t like it when I changed thief skills to a roll-low-on1d12 system. I was a bit baffled by it, to be honest. The intent had been to tie those sorts of things in with the standard roll-low-on-1d6 checks and make the specialist capable of “plus one-half” modifiers compared to standard classes, but he didn’t like it one bit. I still don’t understand the reason for that.

With character generation in our latest incarnation of Wizards & Warriors morphing into a bit of a Traveller semi-random generation system, I briefly considered turning the whole thing into a 2d6 game. I floated the idea past my son and he expressed his opinion that he wasn’t really interested in playing a game like that. I still don’t understand the reason for that, either.

Sure, the iconic D&D dice are, well, iconic. And the various dice give you different ranges, which we’re using. And there is a general opinion that most people prefer roll-high to roll-low. But, in the end, none of that really matters, does it? Isn’t it all about the fun of the adventure and what your characters do (or fail to do), not about what sort of dice you rolled to find out?

During play, I want to roll dice, check the result, and keep playing. I don’t think it matters what dice are rolled in the real world. It’s the result in the game world that matters.

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