So there I was running a “Hogwarts-inspired” adventure game, now titled “Magic School Adventure Game” (long story short, I got into a brief legal tussle with Warner Brothers over the use of names and pictures, woof).
A student declared they were going to cast a spell. Up to this point we hadn’t engaged the (one) mechanic of the game yet, so I saw it as an opportunity to roll the dice. As with all Adventure Hour! games, it’s 2d6 opposed, if the player rolls higher, they succeed, if I roll higher, something bad happens. If we tie, both.
As I got ready to roll the dice online, the student picked up the dice on their end. Then I got overwhelmed by the screeching halt the game took. Rolling the dice *seemed* natural from a “this a game” perspective.
I almost stopped them from rolling the dice. I should have.
We had stopped playing in the world and had shifted to “and now, ladies and gents… the dice!” The pace took a dive, the fiction hadn’t really necessitated a roll. I was doing this because my gamer instincts were feeling antsy from not saying numbers or dice notation.
So they succeeded the roll and I played it straight. But the results would’ve been nearly the same with or without the roll.
I then resolved to not roll the dice for the rest of the session.
And it worked.
I treated every action players did according to the fiction, the “what was happening.” Nearly everything was done “with a cost” or as a “success with a consequence” or “a partial success” or a “setback” in 2400 terms (by the way, go pick up this game, it’s great and there are community copies still available).
The kids went right along with it, noticing nothing (for more-than-obvious reasons) and they had a blast. None of them cared that the dice were cast (heh) aside in the corner.
And that was my first step into a larger world of fiction-foremost, diceless gaming.
I read Amber Diceless immediately afterwards on Norbert‘s recommendation. The section on combat was crazy good. I also recommend it.
So diceless. Should you try it? Absolutely.
Have a strong sense of the world, establish the characters and conflict, open with a dramatic situation, throw in some obstacles, maybe give the players a list or two.
And resolve it from there…
Going forward, if I roll dice again in my games, I’m simply going to do a d6 fortune roll (ala Into the Odd and 2400). Rolling a 4 or higher favors the players. I will be the one handling the dice to make things faster. Don’t sacrifice the pace of the game for numbers-stuff.