Monday, May 20, 2019

Rolling Dice for Fun and Profit!

One thing I've notice quite frequently with newer GMs is the one of a player stating they are rolling "inspection" or "perception", reading the number off and expecting the GM to provide a result for them based on that number. The exchange usually goes like this:

GM: You enter a room, there's a book-case along one wall, about half-full of books. There is also a small desk and chair, with the remains of an old oil lamp, and an inkwell on top. What do you do?
Player: I roll investigation *dice roll* I got a 12, what do I find?
GM: *pausing, trying to figure out what they should find in this room they planned to be empty*
GM: Ummmm, you find a couple of blank scrolls on the desk.
Player: I roll investigation again *dice roll* I got a 21, now what do I find?
GM: Uhhhhhhh....

The better way (for both players and the GM in the long run), to approach a roll like this would be like this:

Slay: You walk into the Parlor. There is a large bookshelf along the opposite wall, a large table with several open tomes is in the middle of the room. Unlike the rest of the rooms you've been in, this one doesn't smell of mold, instead the air has a slight metallic tinge in your nostrils. What do you do?
Player: I roll investigation *dice roll* I got a 12, what do I find?
Slay: You find a strange polyhedral stone on the floor, the number 12 is visible on the top face.
Player: ...
Slay: No, really, where in the room are you looking, and what are you trying to find?
Player: I'm looking for blueprints, or other information regarding the prison outside of town, we already know this was their house. I'll start with the books open on the table.
Slay: Great idea! The books open on the table are a family recipe book (with a page torn out you notice), and a bit of a "trophy log" for the family hunts.
Player: Drat... I guess I'll just walk over to the bookshelf and start looking at the titles there.
Slay: None of the titles stand out to you in particular, but one book with a simple, untitled brown binding, seems to have less dust on it than most of the others.
Player: I pull that one out.
Slay: You notice that it feels a bit heavier than it should.
Player: I walk over to the table, set it down and open it up.
Slay: Roll a dex save.
Player: I roll a 13.
Slay: You just manage to notice the dart come flying out of the book, right at your face, with barely enough time to move as it whistles by and lodges in the ceiling, the glowing purple liquid in the ampoule clearly visible.

Working like this, the GM can get hints as to what the Player(s) are interested in (easy hooks), as well as help immerse them in the game. This isn't saying always give them what they are looking for, but a good search could always turn up something useful (potion, things worth selling, etc.), a red herring, or something awesome (even if it isn't what they wanted)!

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