Any proper D&D system consists of two types of encounters: combat encounters and roleplaying encounters.

I love the combat system of D&D. It’s simple, concise and gives everyone a sense of accomplishment. Combat is one of the parts of Fate that I’m not the biggest fan of, especially coming from a long time D&D background. However combat isn’t the focus of Fate Core, it’s just part of the story. Whereas in D&D it’s one of the key pillars. We keep combat.

To me the RPG is all about the story, the “Roleplaying Encounter”, that’s why I’m not a huge fan of set skill lists. They limit the player’s imagination and often make the game about mechanics instead of story. Pathfinder and now D&D 5th Edition both push skills over story and, rather than letting it be up to the player as to how they tackle an issue, they try to force rules on the situations. This is really where the change happens.

Here’s how it works:

1) the players tell the DM what they are trying to do.

The players tell the DM what they are trying to do. Climb a wall, pick a lock, deceive the guards. Specifically what they’d like to happen.

2) the players narrate how this is to be accomplished

The player then goes into detail about what they character does. “I use my grappling hook and attempt to climb” or “Using my thief abilities I use my lock picks and pick the lock” or “I pull the guard aside and I tell him this big long story about …” this is the role-playing that the game is all about.

3) The DM decides if the action is actually possible, if a check is necessary, and what ability score to use.

Depending on the what and how of the action the players want to take, the DM uses their common sense to answer these three questions.

  1. Is this possible at all?
  2. Do we need to roll to add some random results to the outcome?
  3. What ability score or class bonuses would apply for that action?
4) Roll dice and add bonuses

If the action is possible, the DM will determine the Difficulty Check for success, then players (or DM if it is a secret check) roll d20 and add their bonuses. Compare the roll to the Difficulty Check to figure out what happens to the players.

5) Determine the outcome

Roll less than 5 below required number and fail with a negative result

A negative result would be that the action fails but in doing so also creates some other complication. The character falls off the wall (roll for damage),  the lock breaks and cannot be opened, the guard tries to arrest the player. 

Roll 1 to 4 less the number and pass with a very minor cost to the player.

A minor cost should complicate the character’s life and as a means to change up the situation a bit, rather than just negating whatever the players wanted.You climb the wall, but are spotted by a monster on the other side. You unlock the lock, but your lockpick breaks. The guard buys your story, but feels he needs to keep an eye on you.

Roll equal to or more than the number to pass

Player gets what they they set out to do.

Roll a natural 20 and succeed with a bonus!

This could be double damage, a positive upside, or some type of advantage to future rolls, it’s up to the DM to provide you with the bonus. You climb the wall and spot the monsters and they don’t see you and you gain advantage to surprise them, you unlock the lock and accidently disable a trap, you tell the guard your story and he buys it and gives you special access or buys you a drink.

So what do you think? Would this change the way you play your roleplaying games? Would it force your players to think about their actions more in order to become even more awesome?

Post a comment and let me know.

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