What do you do when poor dice rolling spoils the fun?

What do you do when poor dice rolling spoils the fun?

What do you do when poor dice rolling spoils the fun?

Case: the pcs face the final evil in a balcony at castle x, a magical tornado is destroying the castle at the same time very close to them. The player activates hack and slash rolls 2, his axe Falls to the floor next to the monster, he tries to retrieve it but it’s dangerous rolls a 6, the monster reaches for it first and throws it, the axe is sucked into the tornado, he then jumps to the tornado trying to catch his signature weapon spin with the tornado and come back to smash the meanie, he tries to navigate the tornado avoid all kind of harmful objects to reach his now flying weapon and rolls 3, the weapon is out of sight and possibly lost, his only hope now is reaching the floor to safety rolls 5 and dies from the fall (he was at 4hp) then rolls again for a last stinky breath of 4. See what I mean? 

24 thoughts on “What do you do when poor dice rolling spoils the fun?”

  1. Be brutal.  Take away their advantages and resources, kill a PC.  See what happens when it looks like they can’t overcome their challenges.  The lower a party gets thrown down, the more epic it will be when they come back up.

  2. I just finished a short campaign of DW, my favourite part was just after the paladin (who was played by the most bold and charismatic player, pulling everyone together and pushing them towards a goal) was eaten by ghouls in a deep pit of a dungeon, far from civilization and home.  Once everyone else literally dug their way out into open air, in the middle of a harsh desert, they just sat around mourning, trying to put their lives and the adventure back together.  It gave so much weight to the adventure, and so much depth to the characters.

  3. Everybody has a bad day. Failure is good when it’s interesting. Plus what Kevin says above. When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

  4. The magical tornado can suck the PC into a different plane/dimension. Then the next adventure features the party trying to rescue him.

    That player either plays a new (possibly temporary) character such as the party’s guide in the strange new world, or takes a hand at GMing the game for a bit.

  5. Each level of escalation there precedes naturally from the last, while allowing the player to say “Nope.  I’ll just take the licks of my previous failures” instead of pursuing their goal.  At THAT level of failure death is a reasonable result.  They gets an epic one, at least.

    Add some super-cool headnod to how they changed the world two or three sessions down the line.  Villagers erect a statue, or his brother comes to power in their clan by virtue of his legend, or the party runs into a patch of children playing “Heroic (X) and the Stinky Goblins” (cops and robbers)

  6. Each character is a hero of your game; their death, if or when it comes, should also be heroic.  A death is heroic when the character chooses to give up their life for something.  

    Reading your summary of what happened, it didn’t seem like the player was making valiant choices, merely worse and worse ones as their run of bad luck got longer and longer.  Rather than being heroic, their actions just seemed more and more despairing.

    – To me, that’s not a good way for a character to go.

    I’ve seen this sort of despair spiral a few times over the years, with the player getting more and more desperate and their judgement getting worse and worse the longer the run goes. (Why does it always seem to be four bad rolls in a row that kills a character?)  The problem is not the bad rolls per-se, it’s the bad decisions the player makes as the bad luck continues.

    I’ve come to the view that how we, as GM’s, handle this sort of despair spiral determines the final outcome, even more than the character’s rolls.

    The usual approach is to keep pushing the character to see where this goes: we want to see the character get a lucky break; and the devil on our other shoulder wants to see how bad this is going to get.   Unfortunately, this pressure keeps the player off balance, their actions get get even more desperate, their judgement even worse – so much so that diving into a lethal tornado for nothing more than an axe becomes a ‘logical’ next step for them.

    When the despair spiral hits, the best thing we can do as GM is give the player (not the character) a break.  Move attention on to another character, drop in a joke or short anecdote, ask another player about something – anything you can do that will give the player in the despair cycle a chance to clear their head and recover their better judgement. Then, and only then should you ask them what they do next.

    As for where you go in the game from this – that’s entirely your call. If it was me, I’d probably have the tornado spit the character out clear of the combat, battered and broken, all their possessions torn away, but not dead.

  7. (It’s code for “I need to type something here for Google to let me know when someone posts to the topic, but I don’t have anything to contribute at this moment”)

  8. Does anyone else feel that spiral started with a small miscalculation by the GM? There are times to separate a fighter from his signature weapon, but those are times where you want the story to take a small detour into the recovery of the weapon. I’m not sure that picking “you drop your weapon” is a move that a GM makes in a boss battle if he’s being a fan of the characters. I’m sure there were equally hard moves to be made. Any other character probably pulls a spare dagger, but what did you expect when the fighter loses his signature weapon?

  9. I’m going to strongly disagree with Mike Schmitz here.

    Sure. Separating the Fighter from their Signature Weapon is not something you do all the time. But neither should it be a time “where you want the story to take a small detour into the recovery of the weapon” either. What was the point of separating the them if the Fighter can just take a moment to go get it back without any risk? That’s boring.

    Being a fan of your players’ characters doesn’t mean you make things easy for them. It means you set up opportunities for them to be awesome, in ways that will occasionally surprise both you and your players.

    Separating the Fighter from their Signature Weapon while fighting the Big Bad in the middle of a castle that’s being destroyed by a magical tornado is epic. It’s like the climax of an action movie. There are any number of things the player could have had the character do. If it had worked, snatching back their weapon in midair while using a tornado to slingshot back in to the Big Bad would have been awesome.

    But things don’t always go as planned, do they?

  10. Piss poor choices by players that end in bad rolls can kill said player.

    Even without his signature weapon, the fighter is a beast.

    And there were a lot of other choices that could have been made.

    If one jumps into a tornado, one should not expect to come back from it.

  11. Kill the guy with his own weapon within the tornado! Don’t cheat your way into a happy end. The death of a Charakter is often a storytelling highlight. Also you should ensure that your players don’t feel save. Roll with fiction.

Comments are closed.