Rolling The Die: Thoughts on RPG Results and Rules

Main Thought: It shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds to determine the result of a die-roll in a table-top rpg.  I don’t mean that you as a player should be faster necessarily, but rather if the mechanics are so complicated that each roll requires a discussion or opening a book, it’s usually a sign that there’s an issue with the system or how it’s being used.

I found myself sitting this evening and just thinking about a bunch of things, and the last bit I was considering was the variety of pen-and-paper storytelling games out there such as Dungeons & Dragons, ShadowRun, Numenera, Mouse Guard, etc, and how they employ a variety of mechanics to tell stories in vastly different ways.  Mouse Guard focuses pretty heavily towards the narrative approach as far as mechanics are concerned with less on statistics, where as Dungeons & Dragons have a lot of different statistics and mechanics to create a wider variety of situations, but can incorporate far more rules and statistics to slow things down.

Slowing things down isn’t necessarily bad, if you’re trying to tell something blow-by-blow, focusing on the action more closely could help tell the story despite requiring more thought/calculation in determining the outcome.  I’ve been working on a storytelling system for a few years now, and I’ve had a lot of different ideas that I thought might be cool or good – a fair-share of which I ended up discarding because I felt they detracted from the storytelling experience with too many rules and statistics.  The thing I really liked about Numenera was a variety of notes throughout which often offer help in deciding what rules to use, how to use them, or ways to consider changing them to better fit the story you’d like to tell.  If arguing about rules is actually the experience you want, go for it? Otherwise, remember that you’re trying to tell a story and forget about the rules that don’t help you do that successfully.

But that’s all I really wanted to share, thanks for your time!
Trot on Everypony,

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