A short post to get me back into the swing of things. Also inspired by the new Kirby Krackle song Booty Do Math.
This post is inspired by a few friends who started running again after a long absence or for the first time ever. I’ll start by saying that the guys have been doing a great job. No major complaints from me and certainly nothing that can’t be solved with experience. But the one thing I’ve noticed in newer GMs is the tendency to call for dice rolls when they’re not really necessary. Which is a damn shame, because sometimes the dice can get in the way of good storytelling.
There are several books that have good advice on this subject (the best in my book is anything by Evil Hat, especially Spirit of the Century) but in my mind it’s really simple to determine. If your players have suggested via background or play that a character should be great at some non-critical (and combat is almost always critical) task then just let them succeed. If you have a character raised in a nautical culture don’t make them roll to navigate in calm seas. For that kind of character such rolls should always succeed. Just like the accomplished surgeon should never have to roll when lancing a boil. Or a soldier shouldn’t have to roll to identify a common firearm by sight.
Really this is a corollary to my “Rule of Awesome.” The Rule of Awesome is simple: “If an action would look awesome in a movie it should almost always succeed. If a roll is called for, make the difficulty low.” Or in other words, always err on the side of awesome and epic and damn what the dice would say. We’re playing games here, and at the end of the day games should be fun. And what’s more fun than succeeding at the things your character should be awesome at doing?