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Group rolls in RuneQuest


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Hey there, I'm curious how y'all handle group rolls in RuneQuest?

The Issue: I find that one common issue about asking for everyone to roll for Scan or Move Quietly means that, inevitably, someone will succeed with Scan (and will inform the others) and someone will fail Move Quietly (and will blow everyone's cover). Which means that things almost always get spotted, and stealth almost always fails.

A typical thing in other RPGs is to just get one person in the group to roll (usually the one with the highest score) but RQ needs you to roll and succeed at a skill to get better at it, so you can't apply that here. Other RPGs have specific mechanics for group actions but RQ doesn't have that either.

Caveats before people start nitpicking: In practice it's a bit more complicated, of course. For example, there will be an opposed roll with someone else's Listen/Scan/Move Quietly roll, so it can often lead to an "unresolved situation" anyway (success vs success or fail vs fail). Let's ignore that and focus on group rolls as a general feature/concept of the game system, and whether you have them or not. Maybe my players are signed up for a cooking contest on a holy day and need to co-prepare a meal or whatever!

Current Thinking: My current thinking is to try one of these two house rules:

  1. Nominate a "leader". That player's roll is done first, and acts a skill augment for the other players' rolls. Simplest, doesn't introduce any mechanics, easy to run!
  2. Nominate a "leader". A success or better lets them bump the success level of two other players of two other players (fumble -> fail, fail -> success, etc.... like QW masteries, basically). A special lets them bump three players. A critical bumps five (the mnemonic here is that it mimics the +20/+30/+50 of augments).

Note that both these idea rely on a "leader". The goal is to incentivize expertise and specialization in the group, or seek expertise from an NPC, while keeping everyone engaged in the action. For instance: go hunting with a hunter, go tracking with a tracker, go stealthing with a thief, go cooking with a chef, etc.

Caveats: I might still use the "everybody rolls on their own" solution in some cases. For example, a group Scan roll doesn't necessarily have any "leader" coordinating things, while a group Cooking roll obviously does.

So, how do you handle group rolls?

Edited by lordabdul
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I usually ask for those who think they have the best chance to make the roll and I point out that some times too many cooks will ruin a soup. The folk I play with have all GMed so, asking them to role-play is not too difficult. Rather than rules we simply use common sense. Using the rues is not all that difficult either. Usually there are only two people with good skills in any given situation and there will be a lady or gent who can assist easily with an augment to the other persons skill. Of course, them succeeding is not a bad thing. 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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44 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Sometimes we allow the good sneak to use their skill as an augment for everybody else.  Helps a little.

Yep so that's my 1st option. Any feedback on how it plays in practice?

 

16 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

I usually ask for those who think they have the best chance to make the roll and I point out that some times too many cooks will ruin a soup.

Yeah but like I said, because of how RQ experience works, it means people who are good in a skill are the only ones getting a check in that skill. So the other people never learn from it -- unless you allow for check to anybody witnessing the "master at work" during that scene?

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39 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

unless you allow for check to anybody witnessing the "master at work" during that scene?

That is an interesting thought and one that has appeal. Sounds like the possibility if a good HR (maybe a research/practice roll rather than an experience check though) and only for really good and important successes.  This has precedence, in the old days a fumble (first one only) gave an experience roll.

Hmm, no, again, it is a question of good role-playing vs min/max roll playing. I have no idea, how, but all the groups I have ever ran have truly enjoyed the story telling aspects of BRP/RQ and have had some or much experience at GMing. In the past, in RQ there were always chances to practice or train and that remains true to this day. With six seasons RAW (well 5 and sacred time, which although only 2 weeks counts as a full season for these purposes according to the WoD*), and one adventure per the same season, that will give an adventurer about 8 chances to increase skills per season (4 occupation rolls for the minimum 5 weeks of pursuing that trade and the recommended (can not recall where I saw this) 4 or so checks one would gain on an adventure that could last for the 3 weeks that remain for the 8 total exp checks per season. Or a whopping 48 checks per year.  Seems that one really does not need to go out of their way to hunt for check marks. 

The only disadvantage here is one has to give up an adventure to train or research a single wanted skill that one does want to increase one must give up an adventure, but that can be home ruled as well. Just allow the adventurer occupation rolls, adventure rolls and one maybe two training/practice rolls per season. 

To each there own. 

* this might only be for POW rolls but that is unclear. I HR that the 4 occupation rolls must be cult skills as by all rights they should be using those.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I find that one common issue about asking for everyone to roll for Scan or Move Quietly means that, inevitably, someone will succeed with Scan (and will inform the others) and someone will fail Move Quietly (and will blow everyone's cover). Which means that things almost always get spotted, and stealth almost always fails.

As a former army guy, I can ensure you this is quite realist. This is why you don't try stealth with a large group of encumbered people, because at least 1 will be heard. You just try to avoid giving too large bonus to the guard. On the other hand, everybody in the squad is looking for problem and has instructions to warn others in case he spots something. But realist does not mean interesting to play, and I understand your point.

3 hours ago, lordabdul said:
  • 1 - Nominate a "leader". That player's roll is done first, and acts a skill augment for the other players' rolls. Simplest, doesn't introduce any mechanics, easy to run!
  • 2 - Nominate a "leader". A success or better lets them bump the success level of two other players of two other players (fumble -> fail, fail -> success, etc.... like QW masteries, basically). A special lets them bump three players. A critical bumps five (the mnemonic here is that it mimics the +20/+30/+50 of augments).

I personally would use option 1, using the highest skill as leader for this roll. That way seems the best, considering the way experience works.

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I don't nominate a leader, I let the players do their job, but it depends on the situation:

 

scan-like (aka , pc can "do something" by themselves) :

one roll : you have pc who succeed and pc who failed. I allow two things :

1) successfull pc play  "I see 20 bisons charging us", and failed(?) pc play "oh ok right" . Of course depending on the table, the climax or not, etc... GM tells for all the group in main cases, it is a balance between roleplay and effectiveness

2) successfull pc may want to help (augment) failed pc for a second roll "see what I show, no no not my finger, the moon...)

This second situation happen when something must be seen to trigger something "in" the pc (like the pc who see doesn't know the person but the pc who doesn't see may know the person, or identify the animal, or ...)

Antoher example of scan-like is climb action (the one who succeeds can help the one who failed,but if the second roll - with augment - is a fumble, the helper may fall too)

 

build-an-house-like  (aka there is one result depending on all the pc success). It could be use for scan too, for example "what are the different components of the army in front of us and how many are they"

here I see two possibilities:

1)  GM adds the success ( 1 for success, 2 for special, 3 or 5 for critic, - 1 or -3 for fumble) and explain what happen following a "success table " previously defined.

2) I know some will disagree with me. The GM rolls all the dices because it is important to not let the players identify what is true, what is false. And then say (using my army experience)

 - pc one you see 30 bisons and 20 llama

- pc two you see 20 bisons and 20llama

etc... of course if players decide that pc 1 evaluates left wing, when pc 2 and 3 evaluate right wing, GM adapts it.

Players know who is good in scan skill, who is bad, so with the different results, and the knowledge they may decide what is the common version. And if one character disagree because of course  he is right, don't care if the others say someting else, it is good roleplay

 

 

 

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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I feel that Kloster has hit the nail on the head, it is a lot more difficult to sneak 3 people than 1. However I don't see how one person could augment another's sneak skill beyond pre-stage prepping (taking off armour etc).

If you want simple, just roll the party's lowest sneak skill

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5 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Hey there, I'm curious how y'all handle group rolls in RuneQuest?

The Issue: I find that one common issue about asking for everyone to roll for Scan or Move Quietly means that, inevitably, someone will succeed with Scan (and will inform the others) and someone will fail Move Quietly (and will blow everyone's cover). Which means that things almost always get spotted, and stealth almost always fails.

I use the worst adventurer's sneak from a group (the weakest link). If they succeed everyone else auto-succeeds.

Scan, I always let every one roll, mainly so they can disagree on who has seen what.

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I'm adding something about sneaking

As for scan, I m not fond of "one roll" for every one.

let says a party wants to attack by surprise.

One fails (hide or move). What happens ? Are all characters spotted ? or only this one ?

It depends on the tactic, doesn't it?

ok : you are in a corridor, one behind the other... The first who failed , the group failed.

ok : you are in a wood and you decide to all attack from the same position

ko : you are in a wood, and you decide to attack the camp from 6 differents positions... yes there is an alarm on east side, but you can continue to sneak from west, north, etc... Maybe some malus because now everyone is aware, maybe a bonus because now everyone is focused on east.

 

I think there is not a good answer in all cases (except if your table have no interest on tactics or something else, all depends on the "priority" of the table)

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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2 hours ago, Psullie said:

However I don't see how one person could augment another's sneak skill beyond pre-stage prepping (taking off armour etc).

This is what I would consider to be the 'augment' made by the 1st character.

1 hour ago, David Scott said:

Scan, I always let every one roll, mainly so they can disagree on who has seen what.

This, I like.

1 hour ago, David Scott said:

I use the worst adventurer's sneak from a group (the weakest link). If they succeed everyone else auto-succeeds.

This, I don't like. It works for the success (but only 1 get to roll for experience), but in case of a fail, everybody has failed. I'm much more on the line of our desperate Windchild: It depends on the situation.

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1 hour ago, Kloster said:

This, I don't like. It works for the success (but only 1 get to roll for experience), but in case of a fail, everybody has failed. I'm much more on the line of our desperate Windchild: It depends on the situation.

note than you can roll only one dice for the group (result = versus weakest as @David Scott said) and identify who succeed / failed (the successfull are those who have more than the roll ==> so you have your xp 😉 )

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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19 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

note than you can roll only one dice for the group (result = versus weakest as @David Scott said) and identify who succeed / failed (the successfull are those who have more than the roll ==> so you have your xp 😉 )

 

I still prefer your 'it depends on the situation'. I think you were right on spot with your example of attacking from several directions vs a line in a corridor.

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I just let everyone roll, where appropriate.

If you want it to be harder, just add +10 to the skill of the lead person for everyone else who is helping and roll once.

You could use the augment rolls, but I am very much against rolling for augments, as I think that rolls should mean something, they should give a result and not just be rolling for rolling's sake.

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9 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I don't nominate a leader, I let the players do their job, but it depends on the situation:

To be clear: *I* wouldn't nominate a leader -- the players would (when it's an activity that justifies having a leader).

Thanks for the suggestions!

 

9 hours ago, Psullie said:

I feel that Kloster has hit the nail on the head, it is a lot more difficult to sneak 3 people than 1. However I don't see how one person could augment another's sneak skill beyond pre-stage prepping (taking off armour etc).

Even during the sneak I could see it happening: the "leader" is first and makes hand gestures and such to point out things to watch out for ("Oh shit, I didn't see that branch there, good thing you pointed it out"), coordinate segments of the path (make signs to the others for when it's appropriate to go from one cover to another, one by one), choosing the most optimal path (picking the right covers to begin with), etc.

 

9 hours ago, Psullie said:

If you want simple, just roll the party's lowest sneak skill

Ideally I want a good balance between "simple", "fair", and "not frustrating for the players".

It's probably common for two players to have the lowest sneak skill for example, so now you gotta pick one of the two.

Or you have one with 25% and one with 30%, and the one with 30% needs to wait until they're the lowest (when the other gets an XP roll) until they can roll. Lots of players love to roll their dice, especially if they might get an XP check, so I don't want to have a player frustrated because they don't get to roll.

Most importantly, there's the problem of the player who plays a stealthy character, put lots of points in stealthy skills, and then ends up not being able to roll on the stuff they specifically advertised as "this is the type of stuff I'd love to do a lot of in the game!". They get to do stealthy things, but they don't get to roll. Some players will be OK with that, some will be a bit sad and will nervously play with their dice while waiting 😉 

 

7 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I think there is not a good answer in all cases (except if your table have no interest on tactics or something else, all depends on the "priority" of the table)

...which is why I specifically said that I do not want to nitpick at the examples of sneaking past a guard, or noticing an ambush, or of cooking a meal at some holyday baking contest!  Yet here we are nitpicking specific cases 😉 😜   I just wanted to know *if* anybody had come up with group roll mechanics in their games, and what they were.... I can then pick these mechanics and decide for myself when to use them depending on the situation.

So far I think we've got: "make the highest skill roll", "make the lowest skill roll", "use the augment mechanics between one player and the others", and "use some success-bumping or success-counting house rule". And of course "no group rolls... everybody rolls". Did I forget anything?

 

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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

To be clear: *I* wouldn't nominate a leader -- the players would (when it's an activity that justifies having a leader).

1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

Even during the sneak I could see it happening: the "leader" is first and makes hand gestures and such to point out things to watch out for ("Oh shit, I didn't see that branch there, good thing you pointed it out"), coordinate segments of the path (make signs to the others for when it's appropriate to go from one cover to another, one by one), choosing the most optimal path (picking the right covers to begin with), etc.

1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

Ideally I want a good balance between "simple", "fair", and "not frustrating for the players".

 

D’accord!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

One thing I have used is that one person does the thing, and everyone gets to augment. This works very well for rituals and such things.

Ah yes, the reverse of the first option from my OP. I have done that a couple times, good point, thanks!

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4 hours ago, lordabdul said:

To be clear: *I* wouldn't nominate a leader -- the players would (when it's an activity that justifies having a leader).

yes of course, that what I expect from you. my *I* was more I don't use "leader nomination"

 

4 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Thanks for the suggestions!

je vous en prie très cher,  c'était juste mes deux centimes, peuchère!

 

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Without reading every line in the follow-ups... Both scan and sneak feel to me like something the GM would roll, and likely keep note as to which party members succeed, fail, fumble -- only revealing the results for experience checks after the scenario is done. After all, a fumbled scan could mean a party member detects something that isn't really there, so the GM would advise that character of <something> that isn't really significant. And a successful scan that doesn't find anything looks the same as a failed scan...

Using a single roll and applying to each party member also seems suitable when using this method.

Similar for sneak. Fumbled sneak likely brings out the entire armed populace of the facility. A failed sneak could mean  one produced sound, but (GM discretion) it might do nothing more than make a few guards more alert, without actively seeking out the source ("Oh, it was likely just a rat dragging a spoon around").

Edited by Baron Wulfraed
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Borrowed this mechanic from another system. Have one person roll and the rest aid with a successful check. Each successful Aid gives +10% to the primary rollers skill. Works well for Scans and Searches, even Communication skill checks. In cases like Sneaking or Lores aiding may not be possible.

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On 4/2/2021 at 6:07 AM, lordabdul said:

and stealth almost always fails.

And this is even worse if you are playing one of the many games that for some reason divides "hide" and "stealth". No matter in which of the 2 you invest your points, it's the other one which would have been useful for the only 2/3 times that situation appeared, but it wouln't matter anyway as one of your fellow players rolled an 80 and was discovered and unless you are planning to let that player get blasted into oblivion by trying to take the enemies that were intended for the whole party just for getting a bonus to hit or something, you all got discovered. 

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8 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

And this is even worse if you are playing one of the many games that for some reason divides "hide" and "stealth". No matter in which of the 2 you invest your points, it's the other one which would have been useful for the only 2/3 times that situation appeared, but it wouln't matter anyway as one of your fellow players rolled an 80 and was discovered and unless you are planning to let that player get blasted into oblivion by trying to take the enemies that were intended for the whole party just for getting a bonus to hit or something, you all got discovered. 

for sure, but if you didn't use your golden spear and your light spell in the night, your opponents would not be able to see you

And if your friends didn't choose honor passion, they would decide to let you taken (even killed)

After all you are Yelmalio, the one who accepted to suffer for the good of humanity. I m pretty sure the roll faillure was a message of your god: show the light in front of your ennemies. I will help you, right now.

If you were from darkness cults, your gods would probaly give you better rolls 😉 or enough magic to not be detected

 

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I quite like D&D 4th edition "Skill Challenges", even though they may seem too much "gamist" to some people.

Skill Challenges were introduced as a means to have a technical framework for non-combat "encounters", that can be rewarded with experience points, but can be used without this notion.

Basically, a Skill Challenge is a situation which requires more than 1 skill use to resolve. Players state their intent and make a roll if the GM considers it fits the task. Difficulty will depend on whether or not you idea can contribute to the task. It's also possible to roll just to aid another player, which would not count as a success or failure.

You need X successes before rolling Y failures to succeed (originally, Y was equal to X, but it was later set to 3). In some cases, failures will change the  context of the adventure.

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