Stat Rolls Versus Player's Actual Abilities

by Hawke Robinson published 2022/11/12 09:45:34 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:45:34-07:00
One of the RPG Research staff members pointed out a video from Natural 20 regarding Charisma check scores, and how many DM's handle differently than other stats. This brings up a number of issues related to PC abilities versus player abilities....

See the valid points he brings up in the video here:



See the valid points he brings up in the video here: 

Then here is my short response:

Good points!

This is one of the (several) reasons why I like to have the GM make a number of rolls behind the screen (or have the player drop their die in the tower behind the screen).

The player doesn’t see the result, then ROLE-play through their "lie" or persuasion without knowing what the roll result is, and then try to role-play it out.

This is because I/we prefer the game to be more ROLE-play than ROLL-play.

If their character is exceptional in a stat (high or low), that is where RPGs let the PC excel beyond the player's abilities, but if average or inline with perceived abilities of the player, let the ROLE-play be more a factor.

If their argument/topic/attempt is too far off from reasonably possible, the GM can guide them, one way or another, through the interaction to help them be more on track with the result, or deal with the consequences of being too far off base if not able to be guided.

Back in the 70s and 80s, unless I was running as school classes or teaching programs to help their math develop, I had some groups where I handled about 90% of the rolls behind the screen.

Most of my gamers were happy with this, and it made for a faster game (I generally could do the math much faster than most of the players). This was especially so for Rolemaster's chart lookups, but even  many of my D&D, Twitlight 2000, Cthulhu, Star Wars, and other players ended up preferring this option letting them focus more on the story than the mechanics.

They would get to roll really pivotal dramatic moments, but I handled the rest for them.

This helped the players focus more on the game and less on the numbers, seeming to add to immersion.

I retested this hypothesis around 2010-2012, and found a LOT more resistance from players not wanting to relinquish control of the dice rolls.

However, for those groups that accepted this approach, they had notably higher average immersion scores, enough so that in the future I hope to be able to test it again more formally.

A quick side-note, I also generally have all systems I GM add Comeliness/Appearance as a separate stat from Charisma to all PCs and NPCs. Appearance and Charisma are very different in real life, though one can affect perception of the other, they are NOT directly linked and should always be separate.

I hope in the future I will have time to write  a more in depth discussion on this topic, but for now wanted to share with you wonderful Patreon supporters. And I am curious, what are your thoughts on these topics?


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