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> Running Diceless
MikeTrevin
post Jun 11 2006, 08:57 PM
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Just fishing for opinions here.

I have a new group that I'm working with in an IRC campaign at the moment. While everyone involved are -very- experienced IRC freeform roleplayers, none of them are very familiar with Shadowrun. It's been an absolute joy being their Gamemaster, though. They pick up on things quickly, and don't mind when I have to fix stuff, and they don't bitch about the rules.

Having said that, I was thinking of another way of running the campaign. Unlike an IRL session, nobody sees the dice getting thrown. They just see what the bot I made spews out. By issuing commands to the bot, they roll their dice, and the bot tosses out numbers and even immeadiately states things like number of successes, announces glitches, and the sort.

In short, the bot takes a lot of the stress out of GMing. I really just need a few tables on-hand for dice modifiers, and I can do all the system dice-chucking -myself-.

Which leads to the point here. How would any of you feel if, under these circumstances, your GM effectively took your dice away? Now, I'm not saying that this is happening with a new GM who you are not sure whether or not you could trust them- I'm saying this is happening with an established GM who you trust, and who you've known to fudge numbers only periodically 'in the name of Plot and/or story'.

The way I intend to operate it with my characters is to have them simply -describe- their actions as IRC posts. Things like '/me shoots a short narrow burst at Goon 5.' After that, I would -very- quickly do the checks myself, invisibly, and respond with a GM response along the lines of ACTION: The burst hits the goon, and you see spots of red appear...

The players would never see the dice numbers, nor would they have to worry about modifiers. Also, I would keep track of how much damage the characters took. Unless they had a specialized bio-monitor or something, I would use PM windows to describe the effects of their wounds to them. "You're bleeding pretty badly, and feel kind of sluggish", and so on.

All checks would be adapted to be invisible to the players; they could ignore mechanics, and effectively just -do- what they feel their characters would do.

There's a few reasons I wish to do this; I think it would streamline gameplay and speed things up, for one. Once they no longer have to do number-crunching on their end, trusting that I'm making checks for them, they can go about their business. Also, I feel it would make the game more realistic; as it is, right now some of my players do have a mild tendency of 'magicmathing' numbers. While there's nothing wrong with that, I do feel it's a bit untrue to life. When I go to shoot something IRL, I... just shoot at it. I don't stand there and debate for several minutes about modifiers. Now, I do think quickly about some things- lighting, gun condition, range- and this is information that the players would be aware of, of course. But it wouldn't be a number crunching match like it can be now.

So, apparently diceless from the point of view of the players to make the game world feel more 'real' and to speed things up. Also, it frees them up to -roleplay-, and not have to go look up mechanics before they try to do something.

Questions/comments/thoughts?
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Butterblume
post Jun 11 2006, 09:19 PM
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As long as your players agree with your way of doing tests (or not doing them :D), a good way to resolve your internet runs ;).
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Dentris
post Jun 11 2006, 09:22 PM
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I don't think it's a good idea. Although it does give the GM the ability to cheat with the result when it is needed, it takes away part of the fun. As a player, i love to roll the dice. It's part of the game.
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Witness
post Jun 11 2006, 09:26 PM
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If I was a player- I could live with it, but I must say that I think the players in my current game wouldn't much like it.

I invented a home-grown diceless system that I ran a little while ago- the basic principle being that any task had a target number that I'd secretly noted, and they had fixed stats along with other means of adding to them-- including favourable condition bonuses (character specific, eg good at running in forests), physical/mental exertion (must be recovered later with food and rest), karma (can give you a boost for this task but will count against you in a future task), and pure luck (which could either increase or decrease the total you'd built). So it was basically a case of 'how much do I push myself to succeed, and will it be enough?'
It worked very well, I think, and it was certainly a wonderfully streamlined system to GM with. But at the end of the day, I could tell the players were relieved to get back to something a little more familiar (and a little more- how can I put this gently- fudgable).

If your players are of the right mindset though, I think this sounds interesting. If you run it, let us know how it goes?
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Tarantula
post Jun 11 2006, 09:28 PM
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Just a small sidenote: After making a roll, you can use edge to roll your edge dice to get extra sucessess. Or you could use it to negate a glitch. If one of your players wants to do this, how are they going to be able to make that decision? How would you handle it GM wise? Just for an example:

"hings like '/me shoots a short narrow burst at Goon 5.' After that, I would -very- quickly do the checks myself, invisibly, and respond with a GM response along the lines of ACTION: The burst hits the goon, and you see spots of red appear..."

If they missed, something like ACTION: The burst goes wide of the good stitching a line of bullet holes in the wall nearby.

Then they decide they want to use edge to try to get a hit on their attack. What do you do to explain their sudden bullet swerving if you post the result of their action before they can evaluate using edge on it or not?

I suppose you could just do away with edge, or you yourself deem when it will be used, but personally, I would be rather annoyed with either of those.
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Butterblume
post Jun 11 2006, 09:33 PM
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I also love to roll the dice, but in an IRC game you probably don't roll them (of course, there are tools who allow this, but it's not as much fun). In Internet games I am okay with trusty GMs who look at the difficulty of the test, and at my skill, and decide if I succed, or not.

In ordinary RP games i would revolt if I couldn't roll my dice ;).


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MikeTrevin
post Jun 11 2006, 09:40 PM
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The edge mechanic's a good question, actually. I hadn't thought about it. I -would- have to figure out a workaround for edge, since I don't want to deprive my runners of it, nor do I want to try to determine when it would be appropriate to use it on their behalf.

EDIT: An addition to prior statement- I do agree with the general consensus of the fun of rolling the dice. I simply would -not- consider doing this for a tabletop IRL session, unless it was one of the few IRL meets my IRC group does. I too enjoy a good round of dice-chucking.

However, a lot of the effect, I feel, is lost over IRC when it just becomes a stream of numbers being spewed by the bot.
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Teulisch
post Jun 11 2006, 09:43 PM
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It can be done. there is alreay a system in place for it, at least in part (1 hit per 4 dice)

If you want the entire game to be diceless, i suggest simplyfying your results to (dicepool/3) hits, with defenders (reaction+skill)/3 acting as a negative modifier to attack. This way, we know a 16-dicepool gunbunny will get 5 hits on the average target every shot, doing 10P with a heavy pistol. and the troll with soak dice of 21 can reduce such a hit by 7 every time.

downside, is things go very quickly to who has a better statistical average. modifiers like cover become VERY important. most combat is going to come down to how many guys are shooting at you (each shot after the first means a smaller reaction to dodge with). 20 mooks vs 5 runners would be ugly, especialy as some of the team are easier to shoot than others.

in case of a tie, look at who has more dice total. if 9 dice vs 10 dice, the 10 wins despite equal hits.
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hyzmarca
post Jun 11 2006, 11:32 PM
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Players should know most modifers ahead of time. I mean, how the hell can a person not know that its dark? How can a person not know that there's a bright light shining in his eyes.
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-X-
post Jun 11 2006, 11:59 PM
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I've run IRC D&D campaigns that way without much fuss at all. As regards the use of Edge, just have it rewrite recent history, it shouldn't pull you out of the game too much since gaming this way (with the dice rolls being hidden) tends to go MUCH faster.

Plus it actually trained me in good habits as a GM cause instead of listing the damage they did, or saying they "hurt them alot" I found myself making up actual descriptions of wounds.

Had we continued I think I would have added a bit to the dicebot to select a hit location.
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MikeTrevin
post Jun 12 2006, 12:08 AM
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It's not that they wouldn't know the modifiers- it's that they wouldn't have to worry about them, really. I would tell them things like that. "It's dark, and it's smokey in here."
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post Jun 12 2006, 12:15 AM
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I forgot to mention, it takes a lot of extra work on the GM's part. You have to know the player's characters better than they know themselves. You have to know that they have a smartgun link, laster sight, ultrasound sight and thermo on their gun cause they're paranoid about not being able to make a clear shot.

Cause where you run into trouble is when you forget to take into account an advantage PC's have. You can lose a lot of trust in just one 'roll of the dice' if you aren't extra careful about it.

However if you do a good job players will get annoyed when they have to go back to rolling their own 'dice'.
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wind_in_the_ston...
post Jun 12 2006, 03:30 AM
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Me personally? I wouldn't mind - if the game went smoothly. With a high level of trust and rules knowledge, our players handle many rolls without GM oversight, so things move along pretty quickly.
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Edward
post Jun 12 2006, 04:42 AM
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The los of dice no problem.

The loss of knowing my wound state is a problem. That is the down side of a specific pit of cyber wear and your giving it to everybody.

Also I would expect characters to still build there characters in the standard way, so they still know what there dice pools are.

Weather working out modifiers is a bad thing or not is hard to say. For example. When I ask when the visual penalties to my shot are what my character is doing is taking .01 seconds to decide weather he can see the target well enough to risk the sound of a gunshot, in an instant a competent gunman can assess such a question but for the player it is necessary to consider several factors that contribute to the overall “feel” of the situation.

If you do this I suggest having a table of character base dice pools and contingent modifiers (such as vision mods) ready to hand at all times

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Ophis
post Jun 12 2006, 08:30 AM
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You can pry my dice(or roller prog) from my cold dead hands.

I HATE the ref rolling dice for me, I as a ref hate making players rolls for them. If it works for you fine, but I like being able to handle my own plastic, assessing my own luck and judging my won success, I dislike removing that from the players. If I was going to run diceless I'd just play it by ear, just do it all with description, sod the rules pretty much (they become more like, guidelines...)
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GB1
post Jun 12 2006, 08:56 AM
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I bet, what you propose, is how the very first roleplaying game was like. :)


When ppl choose to do an action based on modifiers, rather what they would do if it was IRL, it drives me bonkers... and i've never GM'ed!
Having said that, i have to admit, i like to roll dice. But, it's more for the tactile sensations. Kinda like "kicking the tires".

The important thing, though, is what do your players think?
You could do a "one off " test session (maybe with new characters) just to see how it goes.


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TBRMInsanity
post Jun 12 2006, 01:48 PM
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I ran a SR3 campain online once and I used an online dice roller. It works beutifully.

http://www.irony.com/mailroll.html

Hope this helps.
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GrinderTheTroll
post Jun 12 2006, 05:13 PM
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MikeTrevin my first ever RPG experience was without dice. We all just had lead figurines and the GM was narrating the events like a story or a book. It's definitely tempered my GM-style to relay on the story more than the dice.

Whatever does it for your group, dice or no dice, have fun!
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Lagomorph
post Jun 12 2006, 05:51 PM
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I think it could work out great, I've thought that a lot of times the game gets lost in the dice and rules, essentially wasting an awesome story.

I know I wouldn't mind having my GM roll IRL, I'm so unlucky it could only be better for me for some one else to roll. :D
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nezumi
post Jun 12 2006, 06:08 PM
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I already have to do this. I run a number of pbp shadowrun games, and waiting for PCs to not only post their actions but their dice rolls slows the game down to a crawl. I allow all PCs to make their own dice rolls, but generally I make the mechanics invisible to do this on their behalf.

Because I will, for the sake of speed, run through several PC actions in one post, I require the PCs explain their actions thoroughly (or risk giving their action up and doing what I think the PC is most likely to do). I also ask the PCs if they're fighting offensively or defensively (where do I put the combat pool) and to specify if a particular action is very important (karma pool reroll - actions just before the karma pool refreshes or that avoid serious or deadly damage are automatically 'very important' unless specified otherwise).

I then run all the dice rolls behind the scenes, just posting the results and amount of karma pool used (if any). I automatically do all the number crunching shifting dice for the maximal benefit (since the players can't do that). And yes, I do know the PCs better than they know themselves. A cheat sheet can be useful for this.

I will say that this does have some vestigial freeform feel to it. The players never see any dice, so there's a little less nervousness and tension about they're dying because of it. That means combat is less interesting and I have to shift the interest to puzzles and personal interactions. It also means that, because they feel disconnected from the mechanics, when the dice randomly shoot someone dead, I am more likely to want to nudge the dice (at least on the first go).

That said, most of my dice nudging has been because the new guy pretty much put the entire group into a position of TPK. Because I make it a general rule not to kill people on their very first run, there was some nudging to get everyone through. They won't have such luck next time :P
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Geekkake
post Jun 12 2006, 06:58 PM
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I'd imagine that some players may feel a little more powerless or railroaded without their dice. I don't, provided I trust the GM, and I could probably ditch the dice entirely in my IRC games and no one would complain too much.

However, it would save you even more work to have the players roll dice themselves. To that effect, I have an IRC-based SR4 dicebot that announces the dice rolled, hits, and ones, with a pretty simple usage ("!roll <number of dice>"). If you want it, PM me.

The script will take a very small amount of editing, which, if you need it, I can do for you.
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