Let's Unchain the Dice: Who should be rolling the dice?


General Discussion


This is mainly about saving throws.

It is not essential that Pathfinder 2E, if it really does hold no cows sacred, to have the same people always rolling the dice for a given game effect. Examples in 1E:

Attack rolls: attacker rolls against defender's AC (a DC).

Combat maneuvers: Maneuveror rolls against maneuveree's CMD.

In mmost cases, whoever's turn it is, is the player rolling.

But not with saving throws.

To "unchain" the dice, we can consider any of several approaches:

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Traditional Rolls: How 1E does it.

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The Actor Rolls: Whosever turn it is will always be the one rolling the dice. Saving Throws get turned into Spell Attack rolls. Whatever your caster's "Spell Save DCs" used to be, that's how they calculate the Spell Attack: d20 + key ability modifier + spell level, plus anything else they can add. On the flip side, saving throws get calculated as Save DCs for the _spell targets_. For example, Fortitude DC = 10 + defender's Fort bonus + defender's Con bonus. (Coincidentally this also means poisons and diseases (or their makers) also make "fortitude attacks" against their victims; the higher the roll, the deadlier or more potent. The same for traps and "Reflex attacks".) As well, spells that must be "aimed" or require a touch attack of some kind will still work as written, using those rules.

That, IMO, would make 2E better, giving spellcasters a stronger feeling of agency. They would get to roll dice as much as the martial players do.

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The other two main methods I'll just mention for the sake of completion:

Players Roll Everything: Monsters and NPCs stats get boiled down to DCs for everything. Armor Class for a PC becomes an Armor Defense Roll (d20 + Dex mod + armor bonus + shield bonus + size mod, etc). Fort/Ref/Will for PCs are rolled like the Traditional method. GMs are disadvantaged in having less ability to fudge rolls up or down, and may telegraph actions to the players whenever they make a concealed or secret skill roll for the PCs.

GMs Roll Everything aka The Storyteller method: the opposite of the aforegoing, basically. GMs can fudge basically anything he wants. The players have only their stats, no dice. Useful for play by email or online campaigns, and possibly games where there is very little table space (road trip, etc).

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Most of the tangible modifications would appear as differences in design on the character sheet. Each method would have its differences shown visibly in how the calculations are broken down.


You can always use the Players Roll All the Dice variant, or simply turn Saving Throws into Defences (11 = save bonus).

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/playersRollAllTheDice.htm


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

At first I liked the idea of "the actor rolls" because players get to roll their dice to petrify monsters.

But then I realized that would also mean that monsters get to roll dice to petrify players without the players being able to roll anything.

Rolling dice is empowering. Even if the math is the same, getting statue'd without being able to roll anything is less fun than dramatically failing your saving throw.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Or you could combine the two approaches: Go with "Player makes all the rolls" except in PVP situations, in which case you go with "Actor rolls".


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I think logistically saving throws being done the way they are works best, as lets say a monster AoEs the party, you don't have to roll 1 attack for each party member sequentially, all players can roll at the same time. And with a party member AoEing monsters, it'll be the same number of sequential rolls either way, just differs if it's that player or the GM. Granted, player always rolls does the same thing, it's just less of a unified mechanic, which could be a negative point against it.

Silver Crusade

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I really wish they went with Players Roll Everything, making AC (or Defense) a roll vs monster static attack modifiers.

Yes, it’s easy to house rule, but the play test has shown that the designers want more of the agency shifted into the GM’s hands at a baseline. What with Secret Checks and more Secret DCs made up on the fly. Which sounds fun until you look at the other side of that equation which is more power in the GMs hands means more responsibility too. If the game you play at a table doesn’t feel fun, or felt capricious or unfair, it’s more likely to be the GMs fault.


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My main opposition to Players Roll Everything is that, as GM, I'm also playing the game, and I like rolling dice too.

Silver Crusade

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Schadenfreude wrote:
My main opposition to Players Roll Everything is that, as GM, I'm also playing the game, and I like rolling dice too.

This to me is the only reasonable argument against players roll everything.

When I GM I prefer to put everything I can into the player's hands so that they understand when their characters bear the slings and arrows of noble misfortune, I the GM did not fudge anything. Their fates were their own.

However, I totally get wanting to roll dice as well, and that's a valid position to take.

I have no problem with the delineation of Players Roll for PCs and GMs roll for NPCs and Monsters.

I don't like any paradigm where the GM rolls for players.


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The fairest idea would be to have opposed rolls for everything, but doing that would REALLY bog down actual play.

Grand Lodge

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Seems like you would like to go play the Cypher System, Numenera, Vurt, or The Strange....

That is a the player rolls everything game.


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Honestly I like having plenty of dice under my control as the GM, this gives me an easier time when I clearly decide on the results whatever the dice I rolled :P.

Sometimes a monster just didn't need to Crit or to hit a certain atk. :P.

Silver Crusade

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David knott 242 wrote:

The fairest idea would be to have opposed rolls for everything, but doing that would REALLY bog down actual play.

Also you'd be doubling the randomness of the game. Randomness hurts players more than it helps since those characters make more rolls over a life-time.

So that's a double whammy.

Silver Crusade

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Trastone wrote:

Seems like you would like to go play the Cypher System, Numenera, Vurt, or The Strange....

That is a the player rolls everything game.

I actually do like running and playing Cypher System, although those systems are a bit lite for the level of customization my players like from a game.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The fairest idea would be to have opposed rolls for everything, but doing that would REALLY bog down actual play.

Also you'd be doubling the randomness of the game. Randomness hurts players more than it helps since those characters make more rolls over a life-time.

So that's a double whammy.

That is also the best argument against the use of fumble rolls and fumble decks.


Schadenfreude wrote:
My main opposition to Players Roll Everything is that, as GM, I'm also playing the game, and I like rolling dice too.

I totally get that, and I have to admit it is the biggest obstacle to implementation. I have a box of twelve sets of dice organized by color for use when I GM, plus eight more of everything so I can roll twenty of any given size. I would have to give that up for GMing if I implemented my own suggestion.

I agree that players would want to feel like they could have stopped their character from being flesh-to-stoned or hit with a kill-trap because it feels too much like a GM fiat when an enemy caster throws a spell and there was nothing the player could do but hope the GM rolls badly.

But the same thing happens, all the time, whenever an enemy martial character shoots an arrow or swings a melee weapon. Granted, few weapons are as powerful or decisive as a spell once you start getting into middle-level or high-level monsters and NPCs. But only if the GM is playing with kid gloves can a player expect there to be no risk at all of having their PC be felled by a series of unfortunate events.

Perhaps some kind of mitigation mechanic could also be implemented, similar to action points or hero points, which would be available for defensive purposes. A "karma point" could be spent to negate a critical hit confirmation, or turn an enemy's successful weapon attack or spell attack into a miss. Karma could be earned for good deeds, acts of kindness or justice, accomplishing story goals, or just whenever the PC gains a level.

Silver Crusade

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Aqua Zesty Man wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The fairest idea would be to have opposed rolls for everything, but doing that would REALLY bog down actual play.

Also you'd be doubling the randomness of the game. Randomness hurts players more than it helps since those characters make more rolls over a life-time.

So that's a double whammy.

That is also the best argument against the use of fumble rolls and fumble decks.

In PF1E I'd agree with you.

In PF2E the game also has Critical successes at the other end of the spectrum. Ideally you would be reducing the chance of fumbling (even negating it entirely in your best skills), and increasing your chance of crit succeeding over time. It's a bit of a balancing act, but could be a lot of fun without being too harmful to PCs over the course of their careers.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The fairest idea would be to have opposed rolls for everything, but doing that would REALLY bog down actual play.

Also you'd be doubling the randomness of the game. Randomness hurts players more than it helps since those characters make more rolls over a life-time.

So that's a double whammy.

Yes, which compounds my concern over the embrace of critical hits/fumbles in the new system. They work well in some games, not so well so far in D&D, save 4th Ed, IME.

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