Diceless Resolution and the Upper Hand

Fear no evil.

We did diceless violence before, but the process for making diceless resolution, diceless violence, and diceless warfare is all the same: give the “bad guys” (orcs, evil nobles, the mountain, the world in general) the Upper Hand. The players must find a solution to change the current outcome. Each solution they attempt either does or does not give them the Upper Hand.

This “Upper Hand” has come up a lot more as I run more and more diceless games. The idea is that unless something changes, the person/side with the Upper Hand wins. The Game Master determines
A) when the Upper Hand “takes effect” that is, when things are resolved/when we see the impact and
B) what solutions are good enough to grant the Upper Hand.

The diceless procedure is:
1) Give the Upper Hand to the opposition or obstacle and tell the players about it (information)
2) Give the players an opportunity to find a solution (choice)
3) Follow through with the effects (impact)

Wizard Lizard and Norbert Matausch did an example of Diceless Combat here (pardon their French).

That got me to read Theatrix which I recommended for more on the subject. Amber Diceless is also good (divorce the rules and setting as needed)

This chart was very interesting to me, but not all that useful. If you are going to use it, remove “Does the Plotline require some particular outcome” and “Does the plot demand Success or Failure.” They’re both antithetical to role-playing as a game and are a slippery slope for new Game Masters. Instead, always start at “Skill versus Difficulty. Are they capable of the action.” That is what determines the Upper Hand.

I talk more about it here and how I got started going diceless (and more importantly why).

Here’s diceless violence and how Lord of the Rings uses it in their massive battles.

5 thoughts on “Diceless Resolution and the Upper Hand

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