I have a question mainly aimed to GMs regarding the opposite check rules.
When I first read the core book I found the principle behind opposite checks very interesting; you have an active participant and a passive one, and the mechanic’s aim is to give a “slight” advantage to the active participant. Great! Sadly, when you do the maths you immediately see that this “slight” advantage the developers wanted to give to the active participant of the opposite check is total crap, but that is not my concern.
My doubt arises on the decision of who is the active and who is the passive participant. Firstly I thought it was a very natural an easy chooice. The one who performs an action and /or is aware of the environment is the active participant, while the one who “just happens to be there” is the passive.
For example in a party, character 1 is trying to slip poison in the drink of one of the attendant’s vs some characters standing around in the party drinking and chatting. I would say the character 1 is the active participant and the rest are the passive participants of the opposite check, so for example Skullduggery vs Highest Observation.
Yet another example, a shady character is sneaking out of a well trying not to be seen by the characters walking around the courtyard. I would say the shady character is the active participant while the rest are the passive participants of the opposite check. I would think then that the check is Stealth vs Highest Observation (or so).
Yet I have observed around the published adventures that this is not the case. In the published adventures, in the 95% of the situations active participantr = PC, while passive participant = NPC whatever the situation is. For the GMs who are familiar with the Edge of Night scenario you will recognize the above examples as moments of the adventure where a NPC is trying actively to do something and the PCs are just there by chance and totally oblivious to the situation; yet following the scenario text, the PCs are treated as the active participants and the checks are suggested as PC Observation vs NPC Skullduggery and PC Observation vs NPC Stealth respectively for examples 1 and 2.
My idea is that they do it like this because it is more fun for the players if they roll dice than if they do not, although it may mean not following the core mechanics (at least as I interpret them).
This issue will not be a big deal of course if the opposite checks mechanics would be symmetrical upon passive participant / active participant swapping, but it is not the case in the WFRPG third edition.
Do you interpret the rules as I do? And in this case, how do you resolve this situations? What I do is ignoring the scenarios opposite check passive /active participant suggestion and apply (my interpretation of the) the core rules. When this implies that a NPC is the active participant, I allow the PC to roll the challenge and misfortune die.