... now with 35% more arrogance!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later

Someone was complaining about the lack of differentiation between different NPC reactions. The 6 to 8 result for most versions of the 2d6 reaction roll table is "Uncertain". For some GMs, it's easy to just make up a reason why the character is uncertain, based on what little is known about the NPC, and just run with that. But other people want more guidance. And apparently the Moldvay version of the reaction roll doesn't even use the word "Uncertain", it just says "Roll Again".

So, some people are looking for a little more inspiration. I came up with this simple approach: Use d4 + d8 instead of 2d6 (as I've talked about doing before.) The total is still the main reaction, using the standard table. But also: Read the d4 seperately as an "elemental subtext" to the NPC's response:
  1. Earthy and lethargic
  2. Wet and emotional
  3. Airy and rational
  4. Fiery and hot-headed
So, an Earthy Uncertain means the NPC is just too lazy to do what you ask, at least for your current offer. A Watery Uncertain is moved to tears or passion by the discussion. An Airy Uncertain wants to nitpick or weight the pros and cons of your offer. A Fiery Uncertain means you get in a heated discussion.

It works for reactions other than Uncertain, too. After all, if you get an outright refusal, why is the NPC refusing?
  • Because the NPC is just too lazy or seeking his own pleasure;
  • Because the NPC doesn't like you, feels uncomfortable around you;
  • Because the NPC sees flaws in your plans;
  • Because the NPC is too angry or contemptuous of you.
To cut down on re-rolls for Uncertain results, read the d8 secretly as the number of offers the player must make before a final reaction roll. For example, if the d8 result is a 4, the NPC will not accept the first three ammended offers. Players might give up... but if they make a fourth and final offer, roll again for reaction. A second Uncertain means you aren't getting anywhere with this NPC this month. Go away and try again much, much later.


  1. Stuff like this makes me want to use reaction rolls more often.

  2. Good stuff! Also, the curve of d4+d8 is much better tahn that of 2d6 as it results in less "Uncertain".