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Don't Waste Those Rolls, Use 'em

Gamers like dice. Gamers like rolling their dice, at any old time, regardless of whether they're actually engaging the game mechanics. But gamers hate to "waste good rolls." What to do about that?

Presenting: Fortune at the Beginning (FatB). Roll your dice first, and record the results. Then start playing. When a conflict arises, choose a result that will support your desired outcome and use it: "my 20 means that I get to throw you off the building." Cross off results as you use them.

You'll need some kind of control to keep the gamers from just rolling until they get the good numbers they want - otherwise, why bother? So, before the game starts, roll ten dice and record those numbers in a box. You can't use any new numbers until those ten have been used and crossed off.

You could allow the players to keep rolling casually during play, and record those results in another box, up to ten results, and then in another box, and so forth. That allows continuous play and caters to the natural tendency to roll dice whenever, as mentioned. However, it may also push the players to demand lots of petty conflicts in order to use up the "bad' rolls and get to their next pool of results.

The other option would be to have refreshment scenes, as in The Shadow of Yesterday, during which the player gets to roll his next set of ten numbers. That may also have the effect of keeping players from rolling dice the rest of the time, so as not to "waste" any good rolls that might come up.

Before making this post, I asked John whether he knew of any games using FatB. He couldn't name any, but did point me to this four-year-old thread on the Forge where someone asked a similar question (does Fortune at the Beginning exist, and how would it work?). It's worth checking for a little further discussion of the idea and some more thoughts on how a FatB system might work.

Great Idea!

Damn. Why didn't I think of that?

It would also be cool to do it this way because it would give the players some lead time to think through good descriptions of their great successes and terrible failures.

I'll shut up now.


Fortune in the Beginning might work better with cards rather than dice: you deal cards out ahead of time, then the player is able to make decisions based on how good their cards are.

Functionally, the game would work a fair amount more like a diceless resource management game (like Nobilis), since the player would have greater control and choice over what happens. A diceless d20 hack I saw had the player list every number from one to twenty, and could call out any one whenever a roll was called for, but they couldn't use a number twice until all had been used. Which is more or less your idea taken to the logical extreme.

It may also push the players to demand lots of petty conflicts in order to use up the "bad' rolls and get to their next pool of results.

This looks like a general problem even without rolling new "boxes" in advance.

Possible solution: You can only use your dice in a conflict that someone else initiates. BTW, let the GM roll dice in advance the same way.

(And yes, using cards is probably a good idea.)

If you used cards instead, then it would be exactly the same as the Castle Falkenstein system. (Well, more or less.)

Roger is right. Is CF Fortune at the Beginning? It sure seems that way.

Huh. Weird.

What is all this talk about cards? You people need to re-read what I wrote. I'm talking about gamers. Card players play with cards. Gamers like dice. It says so right at the beginning. How hard is that to understand?

...just kidding. Well, heck, there I go unwittingly reinventing someone else's game again. At least that means it's a proven concept. I suppose using dice instead of cards has at least one potential difference, providing a different probability curve for results than the cards.

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