GM Struggles

Struggles, wins and losses of a gamer

Dice are random right? riiiiight…

I have two opposite players in my table, they are friends, they enjoy much of the same thing, they game well together, but whenever they pick up the dice, things go south fast for one and heavenly well for the other. Sounds unlikely right? Ina  recent game one of my friends was GMing, we were all playing newly awakened mages in a Mage game.

During our training, he informed us, we would make different tests and he would have the results stored, he recorded the amount of successes from each player and made some kickstarter-like rewards that were unlocked the higher our number of successes. I don’t have the exact numbers (though he has them in excel) but it was something like this:

  • Standard Success Rate in NWoD ruleset: 30% (7-10 on a  d10)
  • Lucky Guy success rate: 60%
  • Player A: 35%
  • Player B: 33%
  • Me (my rolls are like proof of statistics): 30%
  • Unlucky Guy: 20%

Seems unlikely but I have gamed with the lucky guy for about 15 years now, and with the unlucky guy for around 10, and they are always on that, enough that whenever we need a high group roll we have the guy for it, and the other guy wants to play some system that do not roll dice.

It is nice to have failure as part of the game, hell, with these pool of players I am assured to try failure as an element of moving the game forward, what is not fun is to be the guy that always rolls worse than the average. As a result I am considering a rule for my next game.

I want to try Dungeon World, and in that game I will be using quite a few Indie game elements, the game already has them built-in, mind you, but I will also borrow the entire idea that one roll for a given situation is enough, if the situation changes then we go from there if the roll doesn’t get past it, we just don’t roll again, you did well up until there, now things are different (this is from Burning Wheel).  Even though I might not end up using it, the thing is already cooking up in my brain, whether it will come out or not will depend on how frustrated the unlucky player will be with his failures.

What I am thinking is actually quite simple: After two failures in a row you get the power to reroll until the end of the session. When you first fail on a test you can reroll the dice, you must keep the new result, even if it is a failure.

If it comes up too often or very soon in sessions I might change it a bit, to make a failure pool: whenever someone in the group fails add 1 to the pool. Whenever a player fails a test he can offer the GM 2 from the pool to reroll the dice.

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4 responses to “Dice are random right? riiiiight…

  1. Nils Jeppe (@Enderra) December 19, 2012 at 15:36

    Did they all use the same dice and method of dice rolling?
    Also, 7-10 is 40% success rate :)

    • Nifelhein December 19, 2012 at 18:46

      Bad math is bad math. :/

      I think the lucky guy is around that percentage though, the others are near average, I went a little below average and the unlucky guy went way below. I will ask the Gm of that game to send me the specifics, he has them in an excel file.

      We play together for a long long time, and while we are not particular about how dice are rolled, both the lucky and unlucky guys do not own dice and borrow from someone else (using most of the same dice we do). They have always rolled like that, and they don’t have anything abnormal in how they roll dice.

      • samuraiko December 24, 2012 at 03:39

        nWoD takes success on 8+ actually, giving you your 30%. Exalted is 7+. There can be a lot of factors in how successful someone is though. If your two friends are always rolling the same number of dice as each other and these results continue to happen, then I believe we might be caught in Stoppard’s R&G Are Dead. Else, there’s probably something else going on to skew the rolls so much.

      • Nifelhein December 24, 2012 at 13:06

        I know it sounds a lot like cheating, but those results are very consistent among those players in most games, though we played yesterday a Dungeon World session and it was completely different, the good roller was rolling average the bad one was rolling extremely well and the other two, who are usually average, rolled bad consistently.

        Glad that as a GM I don’t need to roll. :)

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