Difficulty is overrated
I’ve been thinking a lot about the design of this game lately and I think I finally understand one of the key things that’s tripped me up a lot, as well as my players. In a lot of games, the question the GM has to consider after many character actions is “okay, how difficult is that?” Then we break out the dice and find out if the action is successful. The notion is that more difficult actions should succeed less often, making it all the cooler when you hit that natural 20.
But why should a difficult action succeed less often? In a world full of danger and adventure, heroes do nearly impossible things with surprising regularity. And this is where things get interesting. It turns out that it doesn’t have to matter whether a particular action is difficult or not. All that matters is what the character does and the consequences. And maybe, with more frequency than you might expect, those consequences can be awesome. Or horrible.
So the next time a situation comes up and I start to wonder “hmm, that seems really hard, maybe there should be some modifier…” I can take a step back and say, “well, it would be cool if it worked, so why not?” And then if it still misses, oh, the possibilities… 🙂