Players Roll All The Dice

( ⇪ Adventuring Variants )

In a nutshell: Gives the players more control over what happens.

In large combats, players often have little control over the outcome of events when it isn’t their turn. This can lead to boredom if a player’s attention drifts between his turns, threatening to distance him from the outcome of events. One method of dealing with this problem is to put more dice rolling into your players’ hands: allow your players to make all of the dice rolls during the combat.

NPCs and monsters still make rolls (and can press their luck) for effects not directly related to a player’s actions (such as for NPC vs monster combat and for the purposes of the Death and Dying variant). Although it was important before for players to call out the result of their base roll before modifiers, with this variant, the call-outs become vital to keep the game fair.

Attacking And Defending

With this variant, PCs make their attacks just like they do in the standard rules. Their opponents, however, do not. Each time an enemy attacks a PC, the character’s player makes an AC roll. If that AC roll equals or exceeds the attack score of the enemy, the attack misses.

To determine an NPC’s attack score, add 11 to the creature’s standard attack modifier (the number it would use, as either a bonus or penalty to its attack roll, if it were attacking an ordinary situation using the standard rules). For instance, an ogre has a standard attack modifier of +8 with its greatclub. That means that it’s attack score is 19.

To make an AC roll, roll 3d6 and add any modifiers that normally apply to your Armor Class (armor, size, deflection, and the like). This is effectively the same as rolling 3d6, adding your total AC, and then subtracting 10. Note that you cannot press your luck on a flat-footed AC roll or flat-footed touch AC roll.

  • Attack Score: 11 + enemy’s attack bonus
  • AC Roll: 3d6 + [character’s AC modifiers]
Table: Threat Ranges and AC Rolls
Type Monster’s d20 threat (%) Player’s AC roll threat (%)
13 20 (5%) 3-5 (4.63%)
24 19-20 (10%) 3-6 (9.26%)
35 18-20 (15%) 3-7 (16.2%)
45 17-20 (20%) 3-7 (16.2%)
66 15-20 (30%) 3-8 (25.93%)

If a player rolls a natural 3 on an AC roll, his character’s opponent has scored a threat (just as if it had rolled a natural 18 on its attack roll). Make another AC roll; if it again fails to avoid the attack, the opponent has scored a critical hit. If a player rolls a natural 18 on an AC roll, his character’s opponent has scored a critical miss (just as if it had rolled a natural 3 on its attack roll). Consult the critical tables (See “Good Hits and Bad Misses”) when either of these happen. When a PC attacks an NPC, he makes an attack roll against the opponent’s AC as normal.

Combat Maneuvers

With this variant, PCs make their combat maneuvers just like they do in Pathfinder. Their opponents, however, do not. Each time an enemy makes a combat maneuver against a PC, the character’s player makes a Combat Maneuver Defense roll. If that CMD roll equals or exceets the Combat Maneuver Bonus Score of the enemy, the combat maneuver fails.

You determine an NPC’s Combat Maneuver Bonus Score just like you would for their attack score (add 11). To make a Combat Manuever Defense roll, you roll 3d6 and add the CMD modifiers just like you would add AC modifiers for an AC roll. A combat manuever contains an attack roll, so a Natural 3 or Natural 18 on a CMD roll responds as-appropriate.

Skill and Ability Checks

Use the normal rules for monsters using skills. The purpose of this variant is to have the player be involved in actions that normally use a static value on their character sheet, not to remove all rolling responsibility from the GM. Use passive values when relevant.

Saving Throws And Save Scores

With this variant, NPCs and other opponents no longer make saving throws to avoid special attacks of player characters. Instead, each creature has a Fortitude, Reflex, and Will score. These scores are equal to 11 + the creature’s Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save modifiers.

Any time you cast a spell, use a power, or use a special attack that forces an opponent to make a saving throw, instead make an “effectiveness check” to determine your success. To make an effectiveness check, roll 3d6 and add all the normal modifiers to any DC required by the spell, power, or special attack (including the appropriate ability modifiers such as the spell’s level if casting a spell, the adjustment for Spell Focus, and so on).

If the result of the effectiveness check equals or exceeds the appropriate save score (Fortitude, Reflex or Will), the creature is affected by the spell, power, or special attack as if it had failed its saving throw. If the result is lower than the save score, the creature is affected as if it had succeeded on its saving throw. See Save Points for more of what happens when a creature must make a saving throw.

  • Effectiveness Check: 3d6 + DC modifiers [spell/power level + ability modifier]
  • Fortitude Score: 11 + enemy’s Fortitude save modifier
  • Reflex Score: 11 + enemy’s Reflex save modifier
  • Will Score: 11 + enemy’s Will save modifier

If a player rolls a natural 18 on an effectiveness check, the creature’s equipment may take damage (just as if it had rolled a natural 3 on its save; see Items Surviving after a Saving Throw).

Resistance Checks

If a PC has spell/power resistance, his player makes a Resistance check against each incoming spell/power that allows spell/power resistance. A spell/power resistance check is 3d6 plus the PC’s spell/power resistance, minus 10.

The DC of this check is equal to the creature’s “Caster/Manifester score”, which is 11 + the attacker’s caster level / manifester level (ML) plus any modifiers that normally apply to the attacker’s caster/manifester level check to overcome spell/power resistance (such as from the Spell/Power Penetration feats). If the spell/power resistance check equals or exceeds this number, the spell/power fails to penetrate the PC’s spell resistance.

To beat a creature’s spell/power resistance, a player makes a caster/manifester level check (3d6 + caster/manifester level) against its spell/power resistance, just as in the standard rules.

  • Spell/Power Resistance Check: 3d6 + [(SR or PR) – 10]
  • Caster/Manifester Score: 11 + attacker’s caster/manifester level + modifiers

Player vs Player

When a player triggers something that would oppose another player (such as when a player attacks another player), the offender makes an appropriate roll opposed by the defender’s appropriate roll (such as an attack roll and an AC roll , respectively). As normal, either one of the two can choose to “press their luck”, but this choice must be made before either player rolls. The offender wins in the event of a tie.

Optional Variant: The GM Still Rolls

Any skill roll where the result has an obvious physical effect or an obvious mechanical reaction should always be rolled by the players, such as…

  • Autohypnosis
  • Balance
  • Climb
  • Concentration
  • Control Shape
  • Craft
  • Disable Device
  • Escape Artist
  • Handle Animal
  • Heal
  • Iaijutsu Focus (because the roll determines how many extra dice are rolled for damage)
  • Jump (such as a Jump skill check to succeed at making across a gap)
  • Open Lock
  • Perform
  • Profession
  • Ride
  • Sleight of Hand (except for opposed rolls, see below)
  • Survival (except for use of the Track feat and similar effects)
  • Swim
  • Tumble
  • Use Magic Device
  • Use Psionic Device

However, despite the name of this article, a satisfyingly-curated experience relies on the GM sometimes making some rolls in order to create and maintain dramatic tension. As mentioned before, the GM should still roll when an NPC or monster attacks another one, or when an NPC or monster is making Death & Dying Fortitude Saves, but most of the time the GM shouldn’t even want to keep a dying enemy around. Monsters and most NPCs are only really alive because the GM wants them to be, so most of the time there’s no point making rolls for whether they die.

However, there are some player rolls the GM should roll behind the screen and keep secret even if they’re from a player’s character sheet, “meta” rolls where the player’s character could not reasonably know how well they did at that task. On these rolls, if the player knows how well they rolled, it will likely color how they treat the result of the roll. Rolling really poorly on a Hide skill check will mean you the player know that you should reroll the Hide check, and that’s the bad kind of metagaming. Although it’s controversial to suggest — for the sake of creating and maintaining dramatic tension — rolls where the player could receive false information in their result or there’s an opposed roll generally should instead be rolled in secret by the GM.

This especially applies to the following kinds of rolls:

  • Concealment rolls (is always rolled at the time; require the player to make an attack roll anyway while the concealment roll is kept secret, and even on a hit it might have no obvious effect and give no information, such as a ranged attack into darkness)
  • Mental ability checks (an intelligence check to deduce a clue, a wisdom check to remember something, etc.)
  • Any “entitled” check (where it’s as-if you were actively asking for the check, although the GM never directly asks the player for their modifier and the player does not select options for the roll, as the GM should have the press-your-luck dice modifier written down ahead of time and use that)
  • Appraise skill checks (if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat that appraised object)
  • Bluff skill checks (If a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the creature they target)
  • Decipher Script skill checks (require the player to also make a Wisdom check rolled in secret by the GM to determine whether the player draws a false conclusion, regardless of whether the Decipher Script check succeeds)
  • Diplomacy skill checks (if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the creature they target)
  • Disguise skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own disguise is, although they could ask an ally for their opinion)
  • Forgery skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own forgery is, although they could ask an ally for their opinion)
  • Gather Information skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Hide skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own hiding place is, although they could ask an ally for their opinion)
  • Intimidate skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Knowledge skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Listen skill checks (if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the attempt)
  • Move Silently skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their attempt was, although it’s sometimes obvious or they they could ask an ally for their opinion)
  • Psicraft skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Search skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Sense Motive skill checks (if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the creature they sensed)
  • Sleight of Hand opposed roll skill checks (as an opposed roll, if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the creature they target)
  • Spellcraft skill checks (a character can’t really know how effective their own attempt is at the time, although the effect afterward is somewhat obvious)
  • Spot skill checks (if a player rolls too low or too high it will affect how they treat the attempt)
  • Survival checks for the Track feat (and similar effects)

This is a valve you can adjust as-needed (only applying it to some subset of rolls) or even turn off entirely by not using this variant.

Another (albeit somewhat time-consuming) option would be to have players pre-roll meta rolls as described here . At the start of each session all players roll ten sets of unmodified 3d6 (more if someone in the party makes frequent meta rolls) and the GM writes down those numbers in a table that’s kept in secret for that session. Then the GM picks a set (a column) at random to be the “starting roll column” for all hidden rolls for the session, and then as those rolls get used up they mark out those cells on the table for that player. If the player would know they’re making a roll (which is most of the times the GM should use this table), the player gets the choice of whether to press their luck (they state their static modifier and whether they’re pressing their luck, which the GM then rolls), otherwise they aren’t told and they can’t press their luck. Of course, rolls where success is obvious (such as a known DC 10 check where their bonus of +7 will automatically succeed because the minimum roll of 3d6 is 3) shouldn’t use up one of these rolls at all.

Players Roll All The Dice

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