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Rookhelm

GMs: Hidden Rolls, or out in the open?

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I've seen a few posts here and there about GMs hiding their rolls (or not), so I thought I'd create a topic for discussion.

 

 

GMs, do you hide your rolls or not?  If so (or not), why?

 

 

In D&D, our GM hid the rolls.  I actually liked this approach as a player, because there was that anticipation of whether you hit or not. 

 

 

But with EotE, I feel like it's important to keep the rolls in the open because in this ruleset, the dice rolls can drive the narrative.  So when the GM rolls, the players can have fun help describing what happened.

 

Also, in EotE, you're not trying to hit some target number, so hiding dice isn't doing anything to hide things like enemy armor or HP.

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I think rolling in the open is great for this game as the anticipation is already in play as the players want to see what the results are.

 

I also try to keep the players as the active characters and i only really roll during combat.

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I used to hide rolls, now it's all open, and it's much better.

 

The only thing I continue to hide are my own "decision dice".  Sometimes if the players want to go somewhere, or meet a new NPC I haven't fleshed out, I'll ask myself questions about the location or person and let the dice help spur my imagination.  I use YGGRPP and see what comes up.

 

Example:  fleeing Mos Shuuta, a new player wanted to know if there was a shop nearby that sold uniforms.  They wanted to pose as mechanics to fix the hyperdrive on the Krayt Fang.  So I made him roll Streetwise (Average, since he lives here) and he succeeded with a lot of Advantages.  So there is one, and it's nearby.  Now I need an NPC employee, so I roll my YGGRPP to get a sense of attitude, turns out he's available immediately (Success), but grumpy (Threat).

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Prior to EotE I hid my rolls but it doesn't make sense with this system. In addition to our set of dice I have the dice app on my kindle so I'll occassionally roll hidden stealth checks and the like but thats about it.

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Like Whafrog I used to hid my rolls from the players. It gave me as a GM power to change the randomness of the dice roll in favour of the narrative. 

Now I do all my dicethrowing open. Thats because doing it open will give suspense and fear to the player knowing that I dont fix or change the result. Since RPGs gamingsystem have improved alot in last couple of years, the players doesnt feel cheated from the system (from what I can understand) when the dice rolls not in their favor.

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I also used to usually keep them hidden. With this system it works better to keep them open. Players can actually contribute good thoughts as to the makeup of the dice pool. I might occasionally do something hidden, if there is some situation coming I want to be a real surprise, but that's it.

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Much like most people here, it seems, I used to keep them hidden. But lately I've come to favour rolling in the open, not just with EotE but other systems as well. The only thing I might break out the GM screen for is if I don't want the players to see just how many/what sort of dice a given NPC has. Sometimes it's nice to keep them guessing about how badass the NPC across from them really is.

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In d20 and other games, I sometimes use hidden rolls when it's not obvious that something (if anything) is happening.  Most rolls, especially combat, are out in the open. The sense of trust this generates does wonders for player investment in the campaign.

 

In EotE there's very little, if any, need for the GM to even roll dice outside of combat.  The PC's are the moving party, the GM has the luxury of letting the players roll his dice for him by use of the riders, particularly the negative ones.  Negative riders should be the majority of narrative opposition in non-combat situations.

 

My personal preference is to just go screenless, but I've yet to master that trick -- I always have copious notes in easy-to-read typeface, and I'm still paranoid. :(

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I'm also rolling open for this system, screen flat on the table for reference. If I end up in a situation where I need to sideline roll or setup an event tracker I may pull the wall up or get the dice app, but the system really leans towards the open table interpretation so that's where I'm at.

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Open, for all games. A GM has many tools to adjust the conflict before and during a fight die rolls should not be one of them.  If the going gets tough, rolling in the open telegraphs to the players that sh*t can "get real".

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Greg, can you provide examples?

 

The types of rolls I would have hidden before (in other systems) are now rolls being made by the characters.

 

Stealth, bluffing, charm and such are all forced out in the open as the players are making the checks against a difficulty level they get to see.

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In general (just not EotE) I don't hide rolls because I feel that if I, as a GM, just "make up the result" that there's not much point in rolling the dice at all. I feel that the luck of the dice is an important part of role playing games.

 

I think if there is a problem with things being too hard or too easy for the players, it's better to solve it with a in game event occurring, such as more enemies appearing, or another party coming to the rescue, than to fudge rolls.

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In concur with the posts above, in that in EotE rolls should be public. As a rule, I've done my rolling in the open.  The only time I've heard of secret rolls working really well was in a Call of Cthulu some friends played.  The GM rolled everything, and kept everything secret, so it really ratched the tension and paranoia up. 

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In general (just not EotE) I don't hide rolls because I feel that if I, as a GM, just "make up the result" that there's not much point in rolling the dice at all. I feel that the luck of the dice is an important part of role playing games.

 

I think if there is a problem with things being too hard or too easy for the players, it's better to solve it with a in game event occurring, such as more enemies appearing, or another party coming to the rescue, than to fudge rolls.

That, plus when I hide the rolls, I find the temptation to fudge higher.

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I use the GM screen, and it's usually just easier, table space wise, to roll behind the screen and make all the rolls hidden. Also, hidden rolls make it super-easy to fudge things if something goes horribly wrong. I'm fine with a dice-driven narrative game most of the time, but sometimes I want a little more control.

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I agree with most of the above posts. Playing other systems I rolled behind a screen typically. For FFG's narrative system (Warhammer and now EotE) it makes more sense to roll in the open. There are only a few times I would roll in secret, such as when the players really would never know the result.

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Greg, can you provide examples?

 

The types of rolls I would have hidden before (in other systems) are now rolls being made by the characters.

 

Stealth, bluffing, charm and such are all forced out in the open as the players are making the checks against a difficulty level they get to see.

I'm still getting used to EotE so I don't have a lot of specific examples, but just to be clear I don't do it to fudge rolls and all combat or action rolls are out in the open. This game doesn't really need a lot of fudging anyway because of how narrative the system is. Also I want to say that I only ever roll for a player if I don't want to give away something that might affect their actions if they knew what they missed. There are times where even asking for a roll can effect what the players do so its those times that quietly I roll behind the screen (I roll every once and a while regardless just to keep the players from clueing in).

 

I keep a few player skills written down, Perception is the big one because if you don't spot something then it can't affect your actions and asking players to make perception rolls (even if you do it often and when theres nothing to spot) can tempt them to metagame. In fact Perception is the only one I've done this for for this system because of how the rolls work, (we haven't had an appropriate Stealth moment yet) but as I said before I reserve the right to choose other skills if I think the not knowing if you succeeded adds to the tension.

Heres some examples:

 

1) Someone is tailing the party. If I ask the players to roll a Perception check I may give away that there is something they should be looking out for. So instead I make the roll and if they succeed I tell them something like "they keep seeing the same guy a half block back, and when you glance back at him he quickly looks away". If the roll is a failure, well they don't see anything and they don't know they missed something.

 

1b) A player says they want to check and see if they are being tailed. They make the roll and we go with the result, if it's a success and there is a tail I tell them if there is a tail or not. If they fail then they know they failed but because I didn't initiate the roll we still keep the tension because they really don't know if theres a tail or not.

 

2) Did you successfully loose the guy tailing you? Now the players try and loose the guy they just noticed is following them. This is one of the few cases I'll roll for them because If the players see the roll then they know for sure if they got away or not, the tension is gone and they act accordingly. But if I roll and the player doesn't see the result and I tell them "Your pretty sure you lost them" they don't know for sure if they lost their tail (a success) or they only think they lost they tail (Failure with a Threat or Despair). The tension is maintained. If I rolled a strait Failure I'd say something like "You still see him back there" and if I rolled a Triumph I'd let them know that they absolutely succeeded.

 

 

These are the types of situations I meant and they don't happen that often so the players are going to be making 99% of their rolls. It's just those few times where not knowing if you succeeded is more interesting and exciting than knowing.

Edited by FuriousGreg

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In the open, all the time, for all games - no fudging tolerated for me.

As others have said, it's not only about fudging. The post prior points out how sometimes it's important to see if PCs are aware of certain things or if NPCs become aware of the PCs (less so in this system since your checks are opposed versus skill rather than dice versus dice).

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In the open, all the time, for all games - no fudging tolerated for me.

As others have said, it's not only about fudging. The post prior points out how sometimes it's important to see if PCs are aware of certain things or if NPCs become aware of the PCs (less so in this system since your checks are opposed versus skill rather than dice versus dice).
It may be important for the PCs to not know something, but its not really a problem if the players know it so long as you have good players that can treat ooc information appropriately.

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I think rolling in the open is great for this game as the anticipation is already in play as the players want to see what the results are.

 

I also try to keep the players as the active characters and i only really roll during combat.

 

This is pretty much what I go by as well. The only time I actually pick up the dice is if I am rolling from the perspective of an NPC. When a player is making a roll at my table, I tell them which and how many dice of the opposition to use, and let them interpret the dice roll. I am a firm believer in player narration as well, so unless I have something specific planned, I let the player narrate the entire roll good or ill.

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