- Part I (General)
- Part II (Mental)
- Part III (Physical)
- Part IV (Con Checks and the missing “Charisma Check”)
- JB’s rant that inspired it all
- Robert Conley’s response
So, I don’t see myself as using or needing ability checks. But what’s my reason for doing so? I believe in these principles:
- Rules are meant for the GM, not the player.
- Fictional situations are more interesting than predefined systems.
- It’s the GM’s job to enable play, not prevent it.
- GMs describe what player characters see and sense. Withholding information about what they can see and sense is cheating.
- Bottlenecks are no fun.
Pixel-bitching is not the only other option besides search rolls. Ten pages of backstory is not the only other option besides knowledge rolls. GMs could just be generous with information. Everything the players can see and sense should be described, in whatever manner seems appropriate, and the game should just move on.
And I’ve had the urge to go farther than even that. Here we are, arguing about when and how to use rolls to recognize or deal with dangers, but maybe we could fix it all some other way?
It all started with surprise rolls and opening stuck doors. A surprise roll is really a roll to see how soon characters or monsters can react. Being surprised means you lose an action or two. Rolling to open stuck doors seems different at first, until you notice that U&WA gives some rules for breaking through a door in the naval combat section, and no roll is needed, only time and manpower. The Open Doors roll checks to see if one person can do it quicker.
So what if we stop rolling to see if characters succeed at a task, but instead roll to see if they can complete the task quickly under pressure? And ability scores don’t adjust the chances of completing the task, but adjust the time? Or, in the case of non-time-critical tasks, they limit the quality?