When a player rolls a miss, I often direct the bad stuff at another player.

When a player rolls a miss, I often direct the bad stuff at another player.

When a player rolls a miss, I often direct the bad stuff at another player. I do this for several reasons, but there’s two primary ones.

The first reason is that I want to be a fan of the characters. I want to make the character look competent and capable, and as such I often externalize the effects on a miss, by making the bad stuff come from a source the player haven’t got control over. For example, last game I made a Mountain Giant wake up as they needed to sneak past him.

The second reason is to change spotlight. If one character rolls a miss after a short series of rolls, and another player is so far relatively unharmed, then I sometime put that player in a spot to give them a piece of the action.

I usually make softer moves when doing so, even though I could make a hard move. I just find fictional positioning more interesting than damage most of the time. For example, I think having the fighter caught in the Mountain Giant’s fist is a lot more fun than having the giant step on them.

I’m just wondering if other people do this as well. What is your take on it?

25 thoughts on “When a player rolls a miss, I often direct the bad stuff at another player.”

  1. Personally, I don’t care for it too much.  If you do it too much I find that it can build some resentment.  Sometimes players have a really bad night of dice rolling (I’ve seen as much as 9 failed rolls in 1 session by a single player, and heard of up to 14)  If each of those hurt other players instead of the one failing, they might well tell that player to stop doing stuff because its injuring their characters.  It’s like if in D&D every time a character misses an attack they instead injure another ally, they’ll get pissed off if a character hits them a dozen times in a single night due either to bad rolls and/or trying things they aren’t very proficient in.

    So, while I might do it a couple times in a night, the majority of the time I have a character’s failures hurt himself, either through damage or lost equipment of difficult situations.  After all, they are getting the XP for the failed roll, not their teammate, and I see the consequence of the roll as the payment for the XP they got.

  2. Kasper Brohus A lot of it depends upon the players, and some may see it as an opportunity, some may see it as hurting or hindering them.  I know that I have seen some disputes and disagreements over this, so I am very careful with it.  Your group may have no problem with it at all.

  3. One of my players was really disappointed/angry because I dealt massive damage to him when another player rolled a miss. Just something to keep in mind. More later.

  4. Making softer moves on a 6- sweetens the deal on the experience though. You should do Hard moves on a 6-. Capital H hard. (in my opinion)

    When you get away with it and the situation isn’t much worse then you got XP for low. 

  5. Tim Franzke True, but sometimes it feels better anyway.

    Nothing is preventing you from making a hard move on the player, who rolled the miss, and then make a soft move on another player though 🙂

  6. I don’t know for Eric Nieudan but personnaly I liked that our misses were moving the story forward. And in some cases, the ideas Kasper Brohus had were worse than loosing HP!

  7. So long as the situation escalates on the consequences of a miss, I like to play with it. To shift focus, the escalation may occur to the roller, but ill turn to another player, and say “you see Azog is pinned by the stone drake, but the goblin is making off with the treasure! What do you do?”

    I’ve left Azog in a tight spot, and given the other player a tough choice to make. Their actions and the result of any roll they make will continue to direct the situation from there.

  8. When you got us lost while journeying, it was worse than just loosing a day or two.

    But ask Eric Nieudan since he rolled pretty bad while I was more in luck.

  9. Honestly, I didn’t realise you were shifting focus like that. Which I suppose means it worked 🙂

    As for my opinion on the technique, it’s certainly an option I’ll keep in mind for my next games. Whatever moves the story forward and adds to the trouble is good!

  10. Eric Nieudan I’m surprised you didn’t notice! I didn’t even make an effort of concealing it! 😀

    Remember when Bastien Wauthoz shapeshifted into a bird to get back to you after repaying the Earth Spirit for its favor and rolled a miss? The move I made was to make the Mountain Giant furious for being robbed from its saphire, which eventually made it discover you! 😀

  11. It’s all in the moves – really just a matter of interpretation. “Reveal an unwelcome truth,” “Point to a looming threat,” “Show signs of an approaching threat,” and “Change the environment” are my favorite moves. I use them way more than dealing damage or something more direct.

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