The Fate of the Players

2009 December 9
by Stupid Ranger

Let’s face it; some days, the dice are against you.  And nothing you can do can change your bad dice luck.  So what do you do?

The Fate Points

I’ve had a couple of DMs use the Fate Points.  The incarnations I’ve played allowed players to re-roll their bad rolls, or re-roll the DM’s good roll.  Fate Points give you that extra safety net for the bad dice moments.  For DMs running casual sorts of games, this is a nice option to give players a little more control over the dice.

The Player-Requested Option

Dante, as our DM, is a pretty easy-going DM.  And he’s been a pretty good guy during those battles when we have bad dice nights.  Like all groups, we’ve had nights where players have had REALLY bad dice nights, and Dante has given in to our fate requests.  Here are a couple of examples:

Double Rolls. When Tali the Barbarian went almost any entire night without rolling a hit, she asked if she could roll two d20s and take the best roll.  Low and behold, when given this fateful option, she managed to roll a crit.  It was a one-time Fate roll, but it made the night a little more fun for Tali.

Self-Roll. Akta the Warlord was running out of hit points rapidly, and she was having a difficult time trying to kill her attacker.  She’d used her second wind, all other healing options were exhausted, and no one was close enough to help her.  She asked Dante if she could roll her attacker’s attack roll.  That way, she could control her fate a bit.  Fortuitously, she missed herself.  Again, this was a one-time Fate roll, but it gave her control of her fate.

It’s tough to be a player invested in your character and watch that character die.  While these may not be rules you find in any source book, Fate rules give a player control over their character’s fate.  And even that little bit of control can make everything a little easier to accept even bad dice nights.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. December 9, 2009

    Our DM gives us one reroll chit per session that can be exchanged to force a reroll. That has worked out pretty well for us and has helped balance the fun in an encounter.

    I like the Self-roll idea and I think I will suggest that to my group. Thanks.

  2. Anarkeith permalink
    December 9, 2009

    I’m torn (as a DM) by these situations. I think we focus too much on individual failures and lose track of the context. The failure of an individual in a situation presents an opportunity for others. Being aware that one member of the party is struggling may mean adjusting tactics, or even abandoning an otherwise favorable combat. Fate, like a die, does not always come up in the individual’s favor, but odds are that the entire party is not so afflicted.

    Giving up an encounter to keep an individual alive is a party decision, and an option not often considered. The breaking of the fellowship in LotR is an example of a party having to abandon their primary quest as a group in order to preserve as many of the individual team members as possible. Would Boromir have died if the party had not been spread out, dealing with their individual dilemmas? Did his eagerness to “level up” cause him to abandon the party at a key moment?

    I’d look very carefully at the overall context of a situation before allowing my players an out like a fate point, or a re-roll. A friend of mine uses fame points, one per level (a fifth level character would have 5) that can be added to a die roll. If I recall, you can only add points up to half your level rounded down. Use of fame points must be announced before the roll is made. I think he rules your fame points reset after an extended rest. That seems a gentler nudge than a full re-roll, and continues to allow fate’s influence in the game.

  3. Stupid Ranger permalink*
    December 10, 2009

    @Mike: The reroll chit sounds like a good idea too!

    @Anarkeith: These two situations have been introduced when group members were starting to become frustrated. They are few and far between in actuality. Mostly, just to maintain the fun level. I do like the fame points — that sounds like a balanced option.

  4. December 10, 2009

    I have been using this system for roughly 25 years now.

    Bonus Chips:
    Pull out some poker chips. Whites are 1, Reds 5, and Blues 25.

    Bonus chips have three functions in the game: 1) they are traded in to allow you to reroll a die roll, 2) they are traded in to allow you to dictate the result of a non dramatic roll, 3) they can be use to make an NPC reroll (if you the GM choose not to allow the reroll, they earn a chip), 4) they can be converted into a nominal amount of experience (50 to 100 xp for D20)

    How do you earn bonus chips you ask? You do something that is a bonus to the game. You roleplay a scene well, you come up with an ingenious plan, you contribute something to the overall campaign. (An optional one is bringing your GM Pizza or suitable food bribe).

    The advantage of bonus chips is that they are immediate rewards for good roleplaying or in genre roleplaying, as well as superior play in other area. They are a teaching reward; a great pavolovian training device; an obvious reward for an immediate action. All of a sudden, like the rats looking for pellets, all the players will be trying to earn these things. They will begin to try harder to earn chips, sometimes putting in more effort than they are worth. Turn it into a competition on who can earn the most in a given night. Get their own “win” natures on your side.

  5. Stupid Ranger permalink*
    December 10, 2009

    @MoonHunter: Thanks for sharing; I love the reward-for-reroll concept!

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