Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Refereeing Skills and Abilities

I had success doing the following while refereeing anything involving skills or abilities.
  1. Player(s) describe what they are doing as if they are there as the character.
  2. Think about how to use the mechanics to resolve it.
  3. Tell the players how it going to be resolved.
  4. Listen to any feedback
  5. Have the players roll.
In short describe, make a ruling, and roll.

I personally don't mind feedback from the players. Often they think of things I don't. So after I tell them how it going to be resolved I will listen to what they have to say and make any changes I feel is warranted. But in the end the final decision is up to me.

I can't stress enough how always making sure that the players describe things before rolling is important for roleplaying. For me as well as the players. Often it leads to interesting details being revealed and enhances the encounter.


Alex Schroeder said...

Another thing I like to be absolutely sure about: What are the consequences for failure. If there are no consequences, then there is no point in rolling. A minimum would be "another random monster roll" but it could be injury, an ambush, etc. This, too, players are welcome to discuss before rolling. Perhaps they feel the penalty for failure is too harsh and feel that the attempt is too risky. No problem.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Yes, is there an option to not roll, just have the DM and players agree that a course of action will work?

Peter D said...

Heck, that's how I run combat, nevermind skills and abilities!

"I roll Fast-Talk" is lame. So is "I hit it with my sword." ;)

Pretty much the only ones I'll let go by are technical ones. "I pick the lock" is fine, roll Lockpicking. I don't know how to pick a lock, either, so let's not waste time on pointless "description" that doesn't help any. But that's just compressing your steps, not really using a different method.

Scott said...

Rob, I have been following how Burning Wheel does it for combat resolution in all my fantasy games. In BW
1 Players declare Intent (I leap across the chasm) - This is super important it lets me decide what "Failure" is.

2 Players and Referee agree on the skill and difficulty (Strength and a -2 penalty for the chasm being far) I like this because it is very open before the die is rolled.

3 Players and GM agree on the results of either a failure or success (Success = you make it across failure = your fall 20 feed taking 4d6 damage.

4 Players roll

Important difference in how I've been running and how you do is that you take more responsibility on yourself and act as more of an adjudicator.