Monday 4 March 2019

How To Resolve Everything That Comes Up

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for crunch, even if I do sometimes have flashbacks to teenage fantasies of having a table at which a game in which weapon length, height, weight, incremental fatigue, etc. were all incorporated into a smooth running game. I want quick systems that arbitrate the move from player choice to consequences - which for me is the crux of the gaminess of role-playing games.

Anyway, I recently came across a post (from last November) on The Borderlands entitled How To Resolve Everything That Comes Up, and basically, "yes". In fact, I've said it before, I think, somewhere, in different words, that the 2d6 Reaction Roll system is THE lost universal D&D arbitration system. I wasn't the first, of course. 

So: the players have made a choice and it is not clear what the outcome must be? Let the dice decide. Decide what would be the worst possible outcome, the best possible outcome, roll 2d6, add or subtract 1, 2 or in extreme circumstances 3 for all the factors reckoning into the disposition of the situation, do the same for PC actions (default to Ability Score modifiers) and interpret the result. 

One of the great joys of returning to Classic D&D and its variants a few years ago was using tools such as the reaction roll, random encounter tables, and morale rules and feeling much more like I was also playing the game, not simply running a game for other people. Creative interpretation of the results of simple dice rolls is one of the key skills, and prime pleasures, of Old School games mastering. 

Oh. I've kind of spoiled Steve's post. Head there anyway, he has it laid out in a well presented table!


  1. Yeah, it's weird isn't it? I have clear memories that I played and ran Shadowrun -- with all the fiddly bits -- as a teenager, but that must be impossible, because I look at it now and I would never be able to cope.

  2. I used to correspond with Prof Barker about Tekumel and in those days I'd be eagerly pumping him for rules details and he'd say, "Mostly we just roll a dice and interpret it." It used to frustrate me then, but nowadays I can see the appeal, especially after an evening running something like GURPS.

    I've enjoyed Sagas of the Icelanders because -- well, mainly because it's exactly like being in the historical sagas. But the rules are so streamlined. Roll 2d6, with maybe a -1 or +1 for stats and +1 if somebody is helping. 10+ is success; 7-9 is success but with a downside; 6- is failure. And a fight is usually just the one roll, glory or sudden death, just the way it happens to Egil or Njal.

  3. Hey cheers and thanks for the shout out Andy! I LOVE the 2d6 reaction roll and use it whenever I can for OD&D type games. So versatile.

  4. I really liked this post, especially what you said about feeling like you were playing the game. I mentioned it on my podcast and linked people here as well. Keep up the good work!