Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Fate Roll, or how I stopped making all the decisions about what's going on

The Fate Roll.

I have a custom mechanic, if you can call it that, to help me GM.  Sometimes there are times  when making a decision about something introduces your bias into the story.

"Is the food any good?"

"Does she love me?"

"Am I anywhere near them?"

For times like this I use what I have come to call the Fate Roll.  The way you do it can be modified to fit the dice engine your particular system uses.  I started it when I was playing the HERO System fairly regularly, so that was 3D6.  It got adopted as I changed engines over time, and it just requires a little bit of thought for how you want to do it in your game.

The basics are simple.  Two or more rolls are made.  It might be the GM and a player, or the GM and three different players, or two different players.  Everyone rolls with the GM playing the part of Fate, or the fickle nature of the universe.  Then you compare.  Take for example that question "Am I anywhere near them?"  Assuming there is no specific reason this isn't the case, you could resort to a Fate roll.  The player asking the question rolls and the GM rolls.  I will use two examples, one using 3D6 and one using D20.

In the 3D6 example the player rolls 3D6 and the GM rolls 3D6.  Compare the results.  The nice thing about 3D6 is that it offers a lot more 'Power Ups' you could say, which I will explain in a bit.

Player Rolls 3D6 gets 4,3,6 = 13

GM Rolls 3D6 gets 2,4,5 = 11

Let's say you decide the proximity of the rolls is how close he is.  He might be a mere two blocks away, or perhaps you might say 2 minutes.

Another example.

Player Rolls 3D6 gets 4,3,6 = 13

GM Rolls 3D6 gets 5,4,4 = 13

You could say the player is arriving at the scene now.  They rolled the same number total, so they're in the same place.

Using D20. D20 are a little less exciting than 3D6 because the variations are less, but it still works fundamentally the same way.

Player Rolls 1D20 gets 3 (player moans, they feel 3 is bad)

GM Rolls 1D20 gets 4

The player might be just a block away.  You get the idea.

You may decide that the proximity of the numbers has a bearing on how true something is.  In the example of "Does she love me?"  You might not as the GM know.  So you call for a Fate Roll. 

Using the 3D6 method;

Player Rolls 3D6 gets 1,3,5 = 9

GM Rolls 3D6 gets 2,4,6 = 12

Since the numeric scale on 3D6 is 3 to 18 or 16 'places' being only 3 apart would suggest she certainly has strong feelings for the PC.  With 3D6 you also have the potential for not only rolling the same total but the very same combination of numbers.  So let's look at the love example again.

Player Rolls 3D6 gets 1,3,5 = 9

GM Rolls 3D6 gets 3,3,3 = 9

So yes, she does indeed love the PC.

But what if the GM had also rolled 1,3,5.  Then it's more than love, it's true love.  Epic story changing love.  This might inspire you to make this NPC far more than they had originally been intended to be, or perhaps the PC does not love the NPC in return and thus the love turns them into a scorned love which sets about hurting the PC and their allies. 

And thus Fate has given you an opportunity for story.  And taken the decision out of your hands so that some things in the world can be as much a surprise to you as they are to the players.

The Fate Roll is not for everyone.  It was born out of my GMing style and has become a regular fixture in my games.  A Fate Roll might come as a response to something a player says about a scene, "Man, wouldn't it be hilarious if he got her pregnant?"  To which I might call for a Fate roll from the PC(s) in the scene to see if it happens.  Players say these things because they seem like organic ideas or directions for stories.  and if you're open to it, you can let the dice play a roll in these things so you don't always have to decide everything.

What do you think about the idea of the Fate Roll?  Is it something you think might help you, or would it be something that would drive you insane to try and do?  Let me know in the comments down below.

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