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Such an important question! I've done things as both player and GM at the end of sessions that I probably wouldn't have done at the beginning or middle.
I mean I get it - Vincent. Vincent is a sharp guy. But what about random tables? Weather dice?I mean, it seems that old-school gaming is more or less "Say No Mostly, or Roll To Possibly Say a Convoluted Yes".If we "play to find out" which to me is debatable; why not always roll for everything? Why not roll dice to tie your shoes? And by your, I mean your character's shoes in this bullshit somewhat structured thing happening between hopefully friendly people.What would happen if you rolled dice for every seemingly trivial matter, and pretended they didn't exist for the important life and death stuff?Does it matter?I get that this whole "say yes unless chance/game would improve players enjoyment, is where a lot of small press games are coming from. I get that it speeds up what was traditionally considered play in the 80's.Thanks for reading.
I've done things as both player and GM at the end of sessions that I probably wouldn't have done at the beginning or middle.
I think it's pretty obvious why I enable dice-based searching; I don't think that a dialogue-based approach is truly sufficient alone if you desire the process to be quick and have uncertainty.
And then as things change — a cleric joins the party, making rain gathering less necessary b/c purify water, or axe beaks destroy the tents — the next night there is no longer clarity so we zoom in again. Pacing sets itself.
We notice this a lot in the hexcrawl game I'm running now. We have a night routine — watch schedule, put out rain catchers, roll encounter + a d12 to see which hour the encounter falls into.
Another option would be to charge them time. "You search all the cells along the corridor? That takes 30 minutes." (Because time will lead to encounter checks — a type of uncertainty I can understand.)Speaking of "Search all the cells along the corridor" — that's how I like to do it. I don't go "OK, you go in the first cell. Where do you look first."
Out of philosophical curiousity: why have random encounter checks but not search checks?
B/c “where do you look?” is a question for players. “Do monsters come if we dwell here too long?” is a question for gloracle.
Pushing their luck with the encounter checks – and in my game they know the chances for encounters for the region they’re in, like right now there are three checks per day w/ 25% chance each – is up to them.
Time is a resource for them to spend carefully.
For what its worth, I like this style – where you can search a relatively broad area by declaring that you are doing so – much more than the more narrow “Okay, I check the floor. Now the bed. Okay, what about the desk?” method, because it avoids the kind of “I missed it because I didn’t think to specifically mention searching the bookshelf” play. But I’m also a little confused, because previously it sounded like you were endorsing the “If you didn’t say you check the bookshelf, you don’t find the thing that was hidden in the bookshelf” style of play.
Yeah I wasn’t super clear earlier, for sure!
Like yes I do enjoy the old “finding things exactly” gameplay if and when the prep supports it
Does the level of granularity of searches vary frequently in your game? On what does it depend?
Here are some factors: - player[sic] skill – how good are they at looking - how much time their characters have (how risky is it spending time here) - how much do they suspect something is here - how important do they think it is that they find it - how much can they carry - but most importantly: what is the scale of the prep here?
Like, if they know they are in a 10-mile-hex map as opposed to a vampire’s carefully mapped castle, they search differently
If they start hearing a lot of details, they also examine them more carefully
I think the thinking on “why would you roll for that?” is that it simulates that the character might not think to check the bookshelf (in much the same way that the player might, though the player doesn’t have the fact that the bookshelf is right there to remind them, so there’s that), but takes a lot less time than the players listing out all the things they want to check. This could be desirable if the act of searching isn’t really important to the game. It sounds like it IS important to your game, so this method is probably a bad fit, as you have already surmised.
Yes, this is good. This leads into why it’s so hard for me to give advice since so much of my weird DM style is interdependent on other weirds part of it.
I wouldn’t mind rolling for whether a monster would found something a player has hidden, if that makes sense? But if a player is searching, I would want them to just find it, as long as they were looking in the right place [at the current granularity].
Them missing stuff is fine – this isn’t Call of Cthulhu where there’s a trail of breadcrumb clues to find. But if they want their characters to fail they can just choose to fail, choose to not look there. Can be a source of insp fishing for them if that’s part of their PC’s traits.
This is similar to why I don’t like Persuasion rolls. If they have good arguments that could persuade an NPC, let’s hear it! And if you want to let your character be persuaded you can just let that happen & get insp.
[PCs having a random chance to miss stuff] could be desirable if the act of searching isn’t really important to the game.
OK so if either of these two are right for your group, then sure: - If the things you can find is just easter eggs, like extra treasure, and you want some PCs to randomly get this - You want the type of gameplay where the main choices are made in building your character rather than choices you make at the table. Like you don’t want to, as a player, be good at finding, you want a character to have Finding +7 or perhaps Finding -2 if you want to expend resources elsewhere. (1 and 2 combine well.)
Otoh, if it’s more like: - Searching is unimportant but the things you can find are important
Then just let them have it.
I’ll add that another good thing about doing it my way is that it’s very much in the hands of the players. If they start turning over every nook and cranny well that’s the gameplay they make. And ofc they “protocolize” this, as long as there is clarity. “We are prying loose the floor tiles and moving them out of the dungeon.” “OK, if the floor tiles counts as Small Items, how many can you take at once? Twelve across the party and then you’re encumbered but not heavily? And each trip to the surface takes about 30 minutes, right? So that’ll be four hours for the trips and twelve times 10 minutes between each trip, for prying, 24 hours total. You’re working 8 hour days?” etc etc
And if they don’t care for the extra easter eggs or w/e then they don’t search so carefully
I also want to add that search rolls actually have made their way into my game, as of the latest session, earlier this week, it snuck up on me. There is a rule in 5e that you can forage for food with a survival check daily. And I didn’t make the connection that this was similar to search rolls so I kept the rule in there. And then we latched more and more stuff onto that rule. Like right now they are looking for ingredients for bug salve (in quantity, in a big jungle, that’s prepped with 10 mile coarse granularity) and we made the house rule that it’s a DC 15 survival check [once daily – represents all of your searching throughout the day] but you give up your food foraging searching for the day.
It’s not a question or not of whether they’re gonna find the stuff, just how much of it each day they can find.
They have agency in how many of their henches they put on food searching duty and how many they have chasing salve ingredients. And it’s a push your luck, they want to find the salve ingredients but they also need to eat. And the more days they spend on this, the more monsters can come. Etc etc.
They know all the odds and DCs etc #gamist #sim-engine
Is this inconsistent of me? Yeah, I just didn’t realize until now, writing this, that it’s essentially “search rolls”.
But it’s what the prep provides, right? If I know that the maltese falcon is behind the books on the bottom shelf in a bookshelf in room 13A in house 9C in city 3B and the PCs are sending out their army to comb the houses all over the duchy, I can negotiate a search protocol and like a visitation-order or w/e with the players and then we can calculate out when, or even if, they find the falcon without rolling, because the prep supports it.
I don’t have that sort of fine-grained knowledge about where bepuga seeds grow or how much bee’s wax you can gather in a day so we negotiated a rule instead. #excuses
Out of philosophical curiousity: why have random encounter checks but not search checks?B/c “where do you look?” is a question for players. “Do monsters come if we dwell here too long?” is a question for gloracle.
So the answers to Search rolls are pre-planned by the game master? Why can't there be a random stuff generator?