Monday, November 19, 2018

How to Resolve Anything That Comes Up!

This blog post was prompted by +Michael Bacon's G+ post over here. This is a one-page article from my first issue of Dice Roll Zine (PDF at RPG Now or POD from Lulu) published in the fall of 2017. I hope you folks find it useful ... and at least a little bit funny. :-)


What Else are Those Damn Ability Scores for Anyway?

In a tense game session, players sometimes forget that NPCs and monsters can be bargained with, not just slain. NPCs have bills, taxes, bad habits, and exes, too. Hired guards might flee suddenly when one of their own is used as Old One bait. Go figure. Your enemies may pay your torchbearer to stick his torch up your ass. When did Oddwick accidentally sell the mahogany chest (or was it the one with gold-pressed black iron locks?) with Blackrazor and the Eyes of the Overworld in it? Why is that weird jade monkey statue looking only at you? Is that giant slug with the bloody spiked tail going to offer you tea and directions or thump you? Did that tavern owner's potboy leave you fidgeting with an itch? Scratch scratch.
When stuff like this happens, either you or the Referee rolls 2d6 and adjusts the sum of the dice by one of your PC's ability score modifiers, whichever one seems right for the situation. Then check the result on the Resolve It! table below.

2 or less
Catastrophically bad. It attacks, hurts, steals, hates, maims, attempts to eat, uses its worst, or otherwise fucks you up. Seriously. No chance of fixing. Hope you got a sharp sword or some hot spells of fiery doom.
3 to 5
Hostile or very bad. You're attacked or otherwise thwarted, hindered, harmed, or cleverly made to look like a chump. Too bad for you. If you want to recover, get creative or make some damn good rolls. Maybe get the Referee a beer.
6 to 8
Cautious or uncertain. Make another offer cheapskate, think outside the box, keep the negotiations going, play to your strengths, etc. Roll again if the Referee feels generous. Referee, you had a beer lately?
9 to 11
Friendly or good. Things go your way, your offer is accepted, or the NPC is willing to comply/discuss/help you out. Otherwise, the NPC thinks you rock on toast and quite possibly even likes your sexy smell and smarts. Or thinks you might taste good later, if hungry. Good going!
12 or more
Enthusiastic or extremely good. The monster or NPC goes far beyond your expectations to provide assistance or information. Perhaps you glean arcane or divine insight about something, real or imagined. Can you translate ancient hieroglyphs into six modern languages without a reference? Easy peasy, step aside lads, watch the professional work!

This table means to quickly resolve any minor issues and avoid messing about with obscure situational rules you never recall and probably have to look up during play. In fact, this table may spell the end of rules subsystems as we know them. Forever. Okay, perhaps not. Obviously, this table shouldn’t be taken too seriously—it’s also meant to inspire a ‘Rulings not Rules’ play style. This is only a game, after all. If you decide that a ruling is valuable to your game play, stick with it consistently in the future. No doubt, you do this already. Carry on with the fun!


  1. Amazing! I love it! This will perfect in a White box system.

  2. Thanks Matt! WhiteBox is what I use it for. :-)

  3. The phylosophy behind the table is quite smart. Cool!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Obeaethran!