How to Role-Play RPG Skills

Posted by admin on August 18th, 2014 filed in Games, Science Fiction

The key to completing your quest is to walk forward in a straight line for fifty hours, stopping along the way to look at, kill, and/or have meaningful conversations with various pretty things.” — (From http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html)

The Mad Adventurers’ Skill monkey is a pretty good podcast about RPG skills and how to roleplay them. You don’t just want to say “I jumped”, you want this jump to be epic and elegant!

Although the podcast is about an RPG that uses custom dice instead of d6/d20 etc, you can use these role playing tips for other RPGs too. You just have to know how to translate the Star Wars dice pool vocabulary:

  • When he says you roll Success, it means you passed the skill check and performed the action adequately. Similarly, to role a Failure means you did not perform the intended action, but you didn’t die, either.
  • When he says you rolled Triumph, think of rolling a natural 20. You exceeded expectations, make progress more quickly, maybe even assist a team mate. Similarly, rolling Despair is equivalent to rolling a 1. You botched the action, hurt yourself, and slowed down your team mates.
  • Star Wars also has additional die roll outcomes called Threat and Advantage that d20-based games don’t represent like that. You role-play these outcomes as minor environmental advantages or disadvantages for the team.

The fun part of the game mechanics in the Star Wars RPG is that these six outcomes are not mutually exclusive, they don’t simply cancel each other out!

Your performance in itself can be successful, or even triumphant, while at the same time exposing you to an unexpected threat as a side-effect. Similarly, you might fail the action, or even despair, but at the same time, you at least have triggered an advantageous side-effect for your team.

The rolls just point in the abstract direction you’re going, and it’s the players’ and GM’s task to spell out what that (triumph/despair, success/failure, etc) actually means. The podcast gives you tons of examples, check it out. (I like that the speaker is well prepared and has a perfect non-annoying podcast voice. But could you just turn down the loud background Muzak plz.) :(

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