A few weeks ago there was a funny (if stereotypical) episode of Community that revolved around a game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (yes, it’s not a mistake). While the show did a very good job of portraying a session, probably the best I’ve ever seen in a television episode (as opposed to, say, Jesse), there were some deviations in the way they presented the mechanics. One of these changes really stood out for me.
The Dungeon Master rolled all of the dice.
This is an idea I’ve kicked around every once in a while. If the Game Master (to use the game-neutral term) rolls all the dice, then the players have no idea how well they’ve rolled except for the GM’s descriptions. It frees them from the mechanics and allows them to focus solely on their actions. The GM doesn’t have to worry about modifiers giving away a creature’s target number as the players hone in on what they need to hit. Having the GM roll also virtually eliminates cheating (and, let’s be honest, covers fudging as well).
One the few occasions I’ve brought it up, however, I’ve always gotten a negative reaction from some of the players. For them, rolling dice is part of the game and they just didn’t feel like they were playing an RPG without it. Even pointing out that computer/console RPGs take dice rolling out of the hands of the players fails to sway them.
In the end, I never felt strongly enough to go against the tide and force it on my players, but I have been curious as to whether it works.
So how about you? Have you ever run a game where you rolled all of the dice? What were the players’ reactions? If you haven’t, is this something that you’d consider? Do you think it’d be beneficial to take the dice away from the players?
Note: I’m using “dice” as in “players get to control their own randomizers.” I realize that most LARPs don’t use dice and there are many diceless RPGs out there. I’d like to limit discussion to games where rolling dice/pulling cards/flipping coins is usually in the hands of the players.