During a recent skype adventure, I suggested we try the new Call of Cthulhu style dice rolls. These rolls focus on who tells the story -- and not success or failure. If you succeed in a roll, you tell the story you proposed. If you fail a roll, the DM makes the situation more dire. The difficulty of the roll depends on the complexity of the action proposed. You can also gamble on a second chance by “pushing” rolls -- agreeing on a horrible consequence if you fail again.
Here’s how we did it:
Player States their Objective: Be clear about what you want to achieve before rolling any dice. The more specific, the better.
“Selaesori is going to force the door open.” Or, “Selaesori is going to force the door open without alerting the guards.”
The DM Determines the difficulty: Target values will vary based on the capabilities of the player and the story being told. See example target values below.
“Selaesori is of average strength, so forcing the door open would be a target of 50.”
If the action is difficult, half the target roll. “It will be difficult to open the door without making noise, roll against a 25.”
If the action is extremely difficult, modify the target roll by 20%. “The hallway has an echoe, succeeding quietly would be extremely difficult. Roll against a 10.”
The Player rolls a d100: Success rolls occur at or below the target number. Criticals at 1, Fumbles at 100.
Success: The player describes the outcome of their objective, including the actions of non-player characters and the environment.
“Selaesori digs his heels into the ground and rushes at the door, slamming it with his shoulder. The lock was rusty and readily breaks with the force. The door flies open and he peeks into the room.”
“Selaesori pulls out his dagger and slides it alongside the lock. He carefully leverages his weight against it and unlocks the door with a near silent “Pop”. The door swings open and he peeks inside.”
Failure: The DM describes the outcome. A failed roll does not necessarily result in a failed action at the DM’s discretion. Generally, failed rolls complicate matters or place the player in a dangerous or precarious situations.
DM: “Selaesori rushes at the door, slamming it open easier than he expected. He flies into the room, stumbling prone. He looks up and sees three bandits approaching him”
DM: “Selaesori tries to break open the lock quietly with his dagger. He breaks off the lock but it falls to the ground, echoing loudly through the hallway. You hear shouting down the hallway as three bandits rush over, alerted of the intrusion.”
Pushing a Failed Roll A player can make a second attempt at success by pushing a failed roll. The player and DM will agree upon a penalty for a second failure.
DM: “You can push the roll by having Selaesori throw himself at the door without heed for his own safety. Selae will succeed breaking open the open, but in addition to alerting the bandits, he will also dislocate his shoulder.”
If the second attempt succeeds, the player describes the outcome as it would have been for the original roll. None of the consequences of failure happen.
If the second attempt fails, the DM describes the horrible consequence of failure.
DM: “A rush of adrenaline causes Selaesori rush at the door with reckless abandon. As his shoulder makes contact with the door, he hears a pop followed by a tremendous amount of pain. He flies into the room, stumbling prone. He looks up and sees three bandits approaching him”
Critical Success Rolling a 1 results in a critical success. This means good fortune -- an unexpected benefit occurs.
DM: “The door flies open, cracking the skull of the bandit who was guarding the entrance on the other side! You’ll also notice that has a large key-ring around his belt. You won’t have to worry about breaking open any more doors if you choose to take it.”
Fumbling a Roll Rolling a 100 results in a fumble. This means bad fortune -- an unexpected consequence occurs. Fumbling a pushed roll can be catastrophic.
DM: “You break the lock on the door and you hear a rumbling above you. The force thrown against it has loosened the masonry above! The roof is about to collapse!”
#11268081 Jul 09, 2015 at 10:15 AM · Edited over 6 years ago
Example Target Values In a Call of Cthulhu game, you have predetermined skill levels written down on a character sheet. However, we are RPers! There is no shame in improvising using the ranges below.
General Skills Picking locks, performing rituals, haggling prices, etc. 1 - 5 Complete Amateur 6 - 19 Beginner with a small amount of knowledge. 20 - 49 Possesses some talent or rudimentary knowledge. 50 - 74 Talented enough to make a living off of the skill, extensive training and experience. 75 - 89 Veteran level experience or master level training. 90+ Among the world’s best in the skill
Strength Physical strength. Ability to lift, smash, push, pull, etc. 0 Enfeebled, unable to stand up or lift small objects 15 Puny, Weak 50 Average strength 90 Strongest person you’ve ever met
Appearance How the world perceives you. Beauty, credit rating, fabulousness. 0 Unsightly, other react in fear, revulsion, pity 15 Ugly, possibly disfigured 50 Average appearance 90 Stunningly beautiful, natural magnetism
Constitution Character's ability to withstand diseases and toxins, and their general health. 0 Dead 15 Sickly, prone to illness 50 Average health 90 Shrugs off colds, hardy and hale
Intelligence Character's ability to retain information and perform logic. 0 Unable to comprehend the world around them 15 Slow learner, basic math, beginner books 50 Average intelligence 90 Quick witted genius
Dexterity Character's ability to move and perform delicate maneuvers. 0 Unable to move without assistance 15 Slow, clumsy with poor motor skills 50 Average dexterity 90 Fast, nimble, capable of acts of fine manipulation
Power Character's magical and mental prowess. Willpower. 0 Enfeebled mind 15 Weak willed, easily dominated by others, no magical ability. 50 Average mind 90 Strong willed, driven. Magical connection to the world.
#11268083 Jul 09, 2015 at 10:15 AM · Edited over 6 years ago
Willow: ((hey do any of the enemies have bows/arrows? She'd be like a 60 or so in that. She used to be really good, and she underestimates herself.))
DM: You are near a pirate camp. There are likely all sorts of things in the rubble. Being a perceptive professional bard, I'd argue you'd be a 65 at spotting hidden things. Since its daytime, there'd be no penalty despite the clouds and rain. So lets get a dice room up and have you roll against a 65 for finding a nearby bow and quiver. ))
Willow: The redhead glances down at her hands and then her hips, empty of any sort of weapon to defend herself. She eyes the callouses on her fingertips, grown from years plucking instrumental strings, and she takes a deep breath.
It's been a long time, and bad memories come with the feeling of a bowstring pressed against those same callouses, but now was no time to dwell on the past. Her eyes flit to the rubble and debris of the broken camp, searching for the familiar shape of a bow and quiver.
[[ Willow rolls a 70, failing her roll ]]
Willow: (( Fuq ))
DM: (( Since you failed the roll, you'll think you see a quiver and race out to grab it. Instead of a quiver, however,you'll find a writing quill and will be face to face with an undead pirate ))
Willow: (( What if I push the roll? ))
DM: (( You’ll trip along the way and sprain your left ankle. ))
Willow: (( oh god she's going to be crippled! Her right one is already injured. No push! I'll just face the zombie with a quill ))
DM: Willow spots a quiver in the distance. Seeing the undead distracted by Roa, she makes a run for it. Her search comes up empty. Instead, she finds a writing quill, and a mindless pirate zombie approaching her with arms outstretched. How will Willow react?
Willow: Willow comes face to face with her undead opponent at the camp, gripping the quill in her hand and taking several steps back with a terrified yelp. The redhead kicks something behind her and suddenly feels the warmth of the torch she had dropped, still struggling for life in the sand. She scoops it up, holding it like a giant club, and makes to swing it with all her fiery might at the abomination's skull.
DM: Willow, roll an average 50 to crush its head in ))
[[ Willow rolls a 15, succeeding in the roll ]]
Willow: (( hahaha ))
Willow: The flaming club meets its mark with a deafening crack, sending sparks flying as it sinks into the rotted brain matter. Willow barely suppresses a gag, and she can't seem to dislodge the plank from its head. Uttering a little curse, she leaves the corpse there and attempts to continue her search through the camp for a bow and arrow.
#11450876 Aug 25, 2015 at 11:29 PM · Edited over 6 years ago
Did a guild event that was rather fun just recently, that I would pose as a more immersive alternative.
Pick an area in which to stage the event. Set a gear-score and weapon level requirement reflective of the area's difficulty. Piggy-back your plot on the lore of this area, and use the enemies as part of the story. For bonus fun, ask a friend or throw an alt to purple on those participating in the event. Have them be the villain. When players die, they are expected to RP a lasting a wound for the next few days, once they're revived.