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Tyrotron

My "high-tension" dice rolling variant.

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TL;DR: I (the GM) roll all of the negative dice behind my GM screen, the players roll all of the positive dice. They tell me their results, I tell them the net results. Makes dice rolling tense, very interactive, and quick. They are responsible for only their dice, while I am responsible for all the bad guys/dangerous stuff.

Full Story: I have been successfully running FFG's SWRPG since the game was released and I have noticed a trend in some of my games. When we are at the table and the PCs are engaged in an intense situation, the action often slows down considerably when the players have to assemble the dice pool, roll the dice, count out successes, failures, etc., and go over the results. This is especially true for players who are new to the system. For a lot of groups, the system works perfectly fine. But for some, it bottlenecks the action a bit. I went about solving the issue in a simple way. This makes it so the players only see what they rolled. I noticed a tendency for players to blame themselves when they were responsible for rolling all of the dice and a poor result came up. Now, they blame the enemies or situations they found themselves in.

I, the GM, roll all of the negative dice (purple, red, and black) and the players roll all of the positive dice (green, yellow, and blue). As we are assembling our respective dice pools, we are stating why we are adding specific dice to our pools. 

Example: A player is taking a long-range shot with a blaster rifle at a target who is in cover. The player then assembles their dice pool while sating, "I am adding 3 green and 1 yellow for my Ranged (Heavy) and I am spending a maneuver to aim, adding a blue boost die as well"

As I grab dice, I am stating, "I am adding 3 purple difficulty dice for long range and 1 black setback die for the target being in cover."

The player then rolls and tells me their results, while I roll behind my GM screen and compare what they rolled to what I rolled. I do not tell them the results of my roll, just the net results, unless I get an amazing or terrible roll and want to brag or rage. 

Edited by Tyrotron
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3 hours ago, Tyrotron said:

When we are at the table and the PCs are engaged in an intense situation, the action often slows down considerably when the players have to assemble the dice pool, roll the dice, count out successes, failures, etc., and go over the results.

How is that slower than what you do now?  The same process is required.

In three years of playing I have yet to hide any results, to me that only encourages old-style antagonist role-play.  The only reason to hide the results is if you want to mess with them, if you don't you wouldn't bother.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing...it's practically a requirement with D&D if you want to avoid TPK.  But this game isn't that lethal.

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You make good points. I should have mentioned that this system is heavily dependent on the type of players you have around the table. My group thrives off of having a bit of tension between the GM and the players. Not mean-spirited, spiteful tension, but more like playful tension. The whole experience is still very much a cooperative one, as I believe this system was intended to be. But, taking the duty of tallying dice results out of the players laps and placing it in my own allows the players to focus on the narrative elements while I handle the mechanisms. 

One final note, I am much faster than my players when it comes to reading the dice results, simply due to my experience with the game. So being able to roll simultaneously with the player and quickly spit out the total successes, failures, etc. does save a bit of time at our table. I ran the idea by my players before I started implementing it, and they have been all for it ever since. 

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The point is to tell a collaborative story. Your method puts an unnecessary wall between you and the players. There is no need for tension between the GM and the players. You should be working together to tell a great story. Not working against each other

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I won't judge your style. If it works for your group, great. FFG SW works best as collaborative storytelling, if all players (including GM) has suitable mindset. It can be used in other kind of game styles, but it's not optimal system for those situations. Personally I have played with idea of more tactically oriented star wars campaign, and idea of using Imperial Assault as system in it, as IMO EotE system won't work well in tactical simulation. Note, I don't meaning using IA and EotE combined, but bringing more RPG elements to IA.

Personally, since I started to play with FFG SW, I have altogether stopped using hidden rolls, and find out that works for us. In some systems it works better than in others.

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I do something similar, but only for certain checks where knowing the difficulty might spoil a surprise. Investigating a room, say, a player might ask to roll Perception, but I don't want them to puzzle out that there's a 4 purple hidden something somewhere. Otherwise, everything is rolled openly. But bah to the naysayers. If this works for you, use it, have fun, and thanks for sharing.

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9 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

I do something similar, but only for certain checks where knowing the difficulty might spoil a surprise. Investigating a room, say, a player might ask to roll Perception, but I don't want them to puzzle out that there's a 4 purple hidden something somewhere.

It's not necessary for that either.  All you have to do is shift the focus from the thing to the room itself...how difficult is it to find stuff in this room?  If it's really cluttered and there's all these nooks and crannies...4 purple dice.  It doesn't have to mean there's actually anything in the room.  Once you clarify that for the players they won't have any expectations about finding a 4-purple treasure.

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3 hours ago, kkuja said:

I won't judge your style. If it works for your group, great.

Agree with this 100%.  I think I'm reacting to the OP's billing of his system as "high tension", as if the normal way has no tension.  But tension is in delivery and narrative, not building the dice pool.

Plus, I think of hiding the dice like an ex-smoker thinks of cigarettes:  I used to do it, but now I don't and my life is so much better!  :P

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I have only fudged one die roll for FFG, and I suppose it was less a fudged roll than a fudged stat. The players managed to get the drop on an adversary and the tricked-out for combat player got a super lucky roll. I wasn't about to kill off a recurring antagonist because of one lucky roll, so I flipped a Destiny point to give her precognition (Inquisitor) and had her apply her Deflect to it. Then I had her run away, tail between her legs. He got the awesomeness of taking out a nemesis from the fight in one shot. Also got an Obligation for being the first mark to beat her as she swore revenge. 

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I am glad to people weighing in on this. I will try to reply to as many of the responses as I can. 

@HappyDaze I do not often fudge dice rolls, but it does prove useful sometimes when you want to save a character from a premature death or if you want to direct a situation in a certain way. 

@Daeglan This might seem unnecessary to you, but it adds to the atmosphere in our games. My players like to feel like its them vs the game. We have found our way to be much more engaging.

@whafrog As stated in my response to Daeglan, we have found this method much more engaging. I was not claiming that the normal way has no tension, I was simply stating that my group finds our method to have more tension. I agree that tension should be built through narrative. But, if the mechanisms can reflect the theme/feel of the game, then that is a bonus. 

 

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Except your way makes it them vs. you. Not the game. I am willing to bet if you just game them the difficulty the gave would flow better and faster. Which I suspect would be more fun.

Edited by Daeglan

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There is at least one case where this might be useful.  Say, a PC is trying to sneak past a guard.  You tell him "Make a Stealth roll.  Difficulty is one red and two purples."  Well, you've just given away what the guard's Perception check is :)  Same for any opposed check.  Now, in some cases, this isn't really an issue.  If you're negotiating a price for your latest load of smuggled contraband, after the process, chances are you're going to have a pretty good idea how good of a negotiator your opponent is.  But there are certain times doing opposed checks when you might not want to give away the stats and skills of an opponent.

Of course, as a general rule, I think a lot of players might view this as being needlessly antagonistic, or that the GM is being sneaky (which all GM's are, of course) ;) 

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1 hour ago, OggDude said:

There is at least one case where this might be useful.  Say, a PC is trying to sneak past a guard.  You tell him "Make a Stealth roll.  Difficulty is one red and two purples."  Well, you've just given away what the guard's Perception check is :) 

People keep coming up with this, but it has never been a problem for me.  It's a simple matter of readjusting expectations and what the actual target of the dice pool is.  The players don't know there's only one guard they can already see, or multiples they can't that are "assisting" each other, or whether the guard is sleeping or jacked up on alertness drugs, or whether there is actually no guard at all and it's a hologram decoy.  Just because you hand them a dice pool doesn't mean they can infer anything from that dice pool for the future.

It's the same with social checks:  the player might try Coercion on somebody and roll against 3 reds and a purple, but all it might really mean is that NPC is stubborn and just doesn't like to be told what to do.  If they had tried Charm and offered a mint, maybe the dice pool would only be 1 red and a purple.  In this case, the open dice pools can also be used for NPC character development ("don't forget the case of JawaJuice for our contact!") that is more interesting than getting a boring read on the NPC's attributes and skill ranks.

Like I said above, I'm kind of fervent about it, so sorry in advance for the pushiness...it's just opened up a lot more opportunities for storytelling for me, and hasn't closed down any of them.

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Honestly, to be frank (not dean), if you and your group likes it, then to **** with what anyone here says. It's working for your group and that is all that matters.

I am sure a lot of us GMs use different little aspects, for myself I use a force die whenever there is a random chance of something. White is good, black is bad, two pips is more good or bad.

Edited by Hurske

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On 26.7.2017 at 3:36 PM, SavageBob said:

I do something similar, but only for certain checks where knowing the difficulty might spoil a surprise. Investigating a room, say, a player might ask to roll Perception, but I don't want them to puzzle out that there's a 4 purple hidden something somewhere. Otherwise, everything is rolled openly. But bah to the naysayers. If this works for you, use it, have fun, and thanks for sharing.

I decide the difficulty based on generally how easy the room is to search. If PCs search it, I'll allow the roll. And I decide what they find based on roll. Or I ask player, what does he find (I have had to use GM veto once). If there is a plot related critical thing, PCs will find it automatically, if they search, or sometimes even arrive to location.

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33 minutes ago, kkuja said:

I decide the difficulty based on generally how easy the room is to search. If PCs search it, I'll allow the roll. And I decide what they find based on roll. Or I ask player, what does he find (I have had to use GM veto once). If there is a plot related critical thing, PCs will find it automatically, if they search, or sometimes even arrive to location.

Yeah, I think I'll try this variant next time. What do you do if there is more than one thing to find? Say, search the room to find the hidden door, but there's also a desk with a hidden drawer in there. Let them find it all on one roll, or consider the desk as enough to warrant a separate roll?

Edited by SavageBob

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Just now, SavageBob said:

Yeah, I think I'll try this variant next time. What do you do if there is more than one thing to find? Say, search the room to find the hidden door, but there's also a desk with a hidden drawer in there. Let them find it all on one roll, or consider the desk as enough to warrant a separate roll?

Hmm... Generally it depends on how I want the game to advance. I often give all things to PCs on successful roll. Or if I want more granularity, I give e.g. one thing for each success (or two successes).

IMO most important thing is why should the PCs find those things. If those are plot important, I give it easily, often even without a test. If it's a reward (thing which helps PCs and makes things easier) for players, they have to earn it, and have to search it successfully.

I very rarely separate multiple locations (I tend to think more abstractly, i.e. there are 2 hidden things). I think more in effect than cause. I.e. There are things hidden, actual locations are secondary, (I sometimes know them, so if PC says he searches the desk, he can find (with boost die) if I decide it needs a roll, but most often I just fudge the locations on the fly) what's there. 

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On 7/26/2017 at 3:45 PM, OggDude said:

There is at least one case where this might be useful.  Say, a PC is trying to sneak past a guard.  You tell him "Make a Stealth roll.  Difficulty is one red and two purples."  Well, you've just given away what the guard's Perception check is :)  Same for any opposed check.

Essentially the only time I make a secret roll is to maintain tension. Sometimes, as Oggdude mentioned above, knowing too much can hurt the story. I may not agree with his exact example, I'd not make that call but I would if the PCs were unaware of someone following them or a hidden guard, but his point is fair.

 

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