How would you deal with group rolls?

How would you deal with group rolls?

How would you deal with group rolls? It seems a lot of times with my players they all wqnt to do the same thing when it comes to sneaking about or jumping over ravines and stuff like thst. Would you roll individually knowing that one of them is bound to fail. Would you have a group roll? With the highest stat?

20 thoughts on “How would you deal with group rolls?”

  1. In some cases, this will be an Aid move, with one player taking the lead and others helping them. In other cases, like your ravine-jumping example, it isn’t really a group roll at all: each character is jumping on their own, so each one will roll as appropriate.

    The other thing to keep in mind, however, is that in most cases, they won’t all be doing the exact same thing at the exact same time, so you can break things apart in interesting ways. Have the slower runners respond to the result of the first one to attempt the jump, and the first one across can, in turn, give the later ones a hand.

  2. Or you could encourage them to think about using the tools in their characters toolbox. Why would a master of cosmic forces just jump a ravine especially if they know their studies have ravaged their body. Say yes to them using magic (not necessarily casting a spell as the move but you may want to use that as a basis for setting up a “Yes, but…” condition) to deal with that challenge.

    DW, in a lot of ways, is a game that wants you to have only a hammer and see all problems as nails

  3. Also, not every roll is… a roll. There are actions that can be taken just by telling the consequences to the players. “You want to jump the ravine all together, Hazzard style, ON FOOT? mumble mumble mumble

    Ok, but whoever wears chainmail or worse, must defy danger/you must diminish your weight by 3 to safely jump/ there is a place with a shorter gap twenty yards upstream, but that will put you in sight of…/whatever else”

  4. If everyone is sneaking, then everyone defies danger. They are each defying a danger, and that danger is being detected. 

    Yes, you are more likely to get caught if each member of your six person party is trying to creep across an opening facing a pair of guards. There is a reason that this exact scenario happens in Shinra Tower in Final Fantasy 7 and it is incredibly frustrating and dumb.

    Your best bet in this situation — and I think this is a helpful example for how “respecting the fiction” works — is for one person to keep the guards preoccupied, so that the others’ stealth rolls aren’t triggered. If the people who are going to discover you are too busy to discover you, then there is no danger to be defied. We see this kind of thing a lot in fiction anyway: using the Force to fake a sound and walk right on by… splitting up so that one person runs the guards on a wild goose chase and the other gets to The Macguffin, and so on.

    And really, this makes sense. Sci-fi and fantasy like to make a big deal out of splitting up parties because there are just too many people to sneak into a place without the right opportunity. So, in my evaluation of how the text in the book reads: yes, each person has to make their own Defy Danger roll… and YES we can aid each other, but me helping Phil sneak does not mean I am suddenly also sneaked… so our best bet as a group is to create an opportunity to not even trigger the roll.

  5. I will often have the person with the lowest stat roll, because “Well, if anyone’s going to give away our position, it’s that clumsy wizard.”

    This allows for more capable folks to Aid the less capable, and avoids having to sort through too many 7-9 results, and turns it into a single turn of events to which everyone can respond.

  6. Alfred Rudzki , sadly I think that (especially) those fantasy novels split up the group because separate groups are how they it’s a way to get the page count up to brick-thickness. 

    An editor of the late Robert Jordan confided in me once that Mr Jordan once submitted a disappointingly thin draft of an earlier novel. It was returned unread with a request for more padding. Admittedly that was before Jordan’s “Wheel of Cash” was in full swing. 

  7. For fun:

    When you’re all doing it together, pick a Leader and a Weak-Link. The Leader rolls the dice, and the Weak-Link adds her stat modifier to the score.

    When you’re all doing it together, the hero best fit for the task rolls+STAT, take -1 for each member of the party that cannot contribute in any way.

    When you’re all doing it together, the hero least fit for the task rolls+highest bond.

    When you’re all doing it together, if someone says something cool or funny, everyone takes a Bond with them and you do it.

  8. Just commenting that this is a great question: so many viable (but different) possibilities raised in such a short time. And Tony Ferron , if that’s what you do just “for fun”…stop showing off: It’s better than me on my best days! 

    What a great community. 

  9. In a way it sounds like a perilous journey, but instead of the journey being through a large swamp, it’s past the guards and into the castle.

    Following the fiction, assign three characters:

    1. Designs the disguises/tools

    2. Comes up with the plan

    3. ???

    On a roll of 10+ it works

    1. On a roll of 7-9 the disguises and tools are only partially successful; the group must leave behind something (their armor, their weapons, a character etc.)

    2. On a 7-9 there is a flaw in the plan; Nobody knew there was a guard there/what do you mean the door is locked? Etc.

    3. ???

  10. “You guys are all trying to sneak in collectively?  How, exactly?”

    (They all agree on the same course of action – climbing the town wall, swimming backwards through the sewer, nonchalantly walking past the guards, whatever)

    “Cool.  Whoever’s taking point, give me a Defy (DEX/STR/CHA).  Unless Stabby drops his plate mail out here though I think it’s safe to figure he’s INTERFERING with your roll, so take two off your total.”

    “You guys are all trying to jump the gorge?  How, exactly?”

    (Just leap it!)

    Stares at the Ranger, Druid and Wizard  “Come on, dudes.  Fine, everyone Defy Dex.”

    Which is to say, when everyone can lean a bit on each other during the event I do a group roll with a fiction-dictated AID / INTERFERE / UNMODIFIED assignment based on who is attempting the task.  If each character has to take a personal action without affecting the rest of the group they all roll separately.  And I make a note for post-game to ask why they didn’t X instead (shoot an arrow across with rope attached, turn into an owl, cast a ritual to get across, etc)

  11. I don’t know how, fictionally, someone else’s plate mail is going to interfere with my own roll to climb walls. One problem is the danger of “pixel-bitching” each move where the party ends up having to break up “sneak into the castle” into 5 different defy danger rolls x 5 party members. This is not ideal.

    Players: we want to sneak into the castle

    GM: ok you’ve got to roll to get past the guards, then roll to climb the walls, then roll to sneak past the other guards, then, then, then…


    Players: we want to get into the castle undetected

    GM: What do you do?

    Player 1: I karate chop a guard (defy danger plus strength)

    Player 2: I smooth talk my way in through the front door (defy danger plus charisma)

    Player 3: I sneak over the back wall (defy danger plus dexterity…whoops, rolled a 7, you get to the top of the wall but in your haste to get over without being seen you fall off the inside wall, take 1d8 damage).

    I like my “perilous journey” hack above if it sounds like everyone is working together to get inside, but if, fictionally, all the characters are saying “get in on your own and we’ll meet up once we get inside” then I would do the single rolls above. I would even allow one character to get everyone in as in the case of the “smooth talker” which could be a parley. 

    So options are in order of rolls:

    A) 1 roll for entire group (one PC smooth talks/parley/karate chops guard/disguises herself as a farmer with a wagon of hay filled with other characters)

    B) 3 rolls (like a perilous journey)

    C) Everyone makes 1 roll each (get in on your own)

    D) Everyone makes lots of rolls (everyone sneak past the guard single file then everyone climb the wall…)

    Only option “D” seems ridiculous to me.  but ultimately it should be based on how the players are describing their actions and not on how the GM wants to roll dice.. So even option “D” is an option if that’s how the players describe the fiction to their own detriment.

  12. Cooper Walden Wow I never thought of doing perilous journeys that way. But it actually puts a lot more freedom to me and allows those times where players can totally go into more detail of how there getting into somewhere and you can have +1 on your roll or something. I might just have to steal that.

    As a side note, I am being surprised how much our sessions are going without a roll…I think these players have really got into fictional positioning without realising it.

  13. Cooper Walden – I agree it’s unlikely that someone else’s mitigating

    factors should affect your character’s success rate. I failed to

    articulate this properly, but I was working from a position of treating

    “the party” as a unit when they act as such. So, when “the party” climbs

    and gets a sub-par roll result, the best skilled fellow / lass probably

    won’t fall. The armor clad one might though, as a GM move against ‘the

    party’. And now they’re seperated, someone has to dodge the fighter’s

    falling body (or risk themselves to restrain them), the guards hear him hit

    the ground and are coming to investigate… and we’re back to individual


  14. When you defy danger as a group, you each roll to do your part. On a 7+, you pull your weight and do what’s expected of you, no problem. On a 10+, you do well enough to cover for someone else’s screwup, if you can tell us how. On a miss, I guess you’re the weak link, huh?

  15. So, a “perilous journey” of descending a rope into a ravine.

    1 player is responsible for tying the knot.

    1 player is responsible for descending first and guiding the rest of the group down.

    This works if it’s only two characters (frodo and sam in the Emyn Muil*) but really shines when there are more characters.  Not everyone has to roll a defying danger if the character who tied the rope did a good job.  (perhaps because for both this and my other example I could only come up with two roles for the perilous journey, maybe that means “perilous obstacles” only really need two roles instead of the three roles required for perilous journeys ¯\(ツ)/¯  

    *Sam rolled a 10+ on his knot tying skills, but alas, Frodo rolled a 6 or less and the GM made a Hard Move of a violent storm that struck just as Frodo began his descent. 

  16. A lot comes down to what you call a group move.   4 people searching an area is definitely a group move.  4 people jumping across a ravine is 4 separate rolls; likewise for 4 people sneaking past a guard. 

    Here’s what I’ve used in Steampunk World (tweaked following reading this discussion – thanks 🙂 ):

    When you combine forces on the same action, all roll and take the highest result; if failure is critical you suffer any negative effects from your own roll.

  17. Ok, I know that this is an old thread.  A thought just occurred to me on it.  You have everyone make the roll (everyone likes rolling) but when you get a 9-7 result you could use the Move to do something off scene.  Like, “Ok you are sneaking along, (Defy Danger and got a few rolls) and it seems to be going just fine, you made a little noise and a couple of rocks fell into the darkness below.” Then off scene a Cave Troll gets a few pebbles on the head and decides to investigate.  On a second one, the Goblins heard them and are setting up an ambush later.  The Move doesn’t have to happen, NOW, and doesn’t have to happen ON screen.  It can be prep for later.  So, the players could potentially have an ambush with a couple of goblins and a Cave Troll looking for a quick meal interrupting it about half way.  And you could make some soft moves to give them warning of the ambush.

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