Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roll for improbable event

While probably not the first homebrew mechanic used in the campaign, it was certainly the one with the greatest impact.

Middle Earth was home to a great number of improbable events scaling from large to small which shaped the destinies of both the characters and the world ( is that there a ring of power I just stumbled upon in the dark?). Dungeons and dragons 3.5 sadly does not come fully equipped to handle that, except by dungeon master interference. That is sometimes hard to balance and keep impartial.

The solution?

A roll for improbable events.

Posting this goes against my better judgement, due to the fact that none of my players ever figured out how it worked. This of course added to the appeal. Spoilers ahead.

So how did it work?

Once per game session any character could roll for an improbable event "in response" to anything that happened in the game world. Those familiar with magic the gathering know what I'm taking about, for everybody else: for any one thing which happens, a hit, a miss, a door opening, a beggar asking for a coin, it raining, a player can call a roll which causes the trigger to immediately become suspended before actually happening. The roll and its effects take place, then the action resumes unless stopped/ changed by the event.

The roll itself would be 1d6 1d10, and the player would be instructed to say a number. If the number called would match the parity of the d6 roll, the event would be 'good' otherwise it would be 'bad' for the group rolling. Just how good or how bad the event would be on a scale of 1 to 10 would be determined by the d10 roll. The nature of the event would depend on whichever action it is responding to.

Very simple concept, hard to figure out. This allows for events with delayed effect to catch the group completely unprepared. The scale of events of course varies on the setting, campaign type, the players and so on.

Some examples:

  • Mildly annoying: critical miss ~ into a wall, where the weapon shatters and the splinters go straight to a nearby character/object/monster
  • Very bad: opening a treasure chest ~ a rat jumps out which upsets a nearby pile of boulders leading to a cave in, possibly killing everyone
  • Mildly good: a nobleman walks into a bar ~ he trips and his pouch of gold falls to the floor, he doesn't notice it
  • Very good: get lost in a cave ~ find the one ring

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