First things first, let’s clear the way for the new material by collecting one – only one, this time! – social media post. I posted yesterday’s Dicember entry to Instagram and Twitter; it’s just a fun little throwaway doodle:
Day 20: Huge
If anyone knows what it means, please forward it to my doctor, who is currently removing it from my foot.
Day 21: Push
I wrote this article several days early – around December 15th. My work schedule being what it is, I wanted a bit of insulation against flunking a deadline, and this prompt was real easy for me. Unfortunately, the clever @wereoctopus on Twitter revealed an unfortunate thing to me on the 18th.
This is an article for PUSH but it may as well be one for PULL because the rug got yanked out from me by this tweet. As you’ll see below, I came to a similar idea here, and that tweet not only dumpedit into the sea but also now I cannot be sure if I had a buried memory of this in Diogo’s games (as I own SS&SS) or if I just naturally came to the same conclusion myself.
Oh well. Read it anyway in case you are not familiar with the lovely Mr. Nogueira’s works.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “push your luck,” right? You’re doin’ okay, dodging a bad outcome, but you keep rolling the dice and every time it feels like you’re getting closer and closer to a whoopsy-daisy.
Let’s do that, for real.
Thieves and Magic-Users get to play double-or-nothing when they attempt their class features. It is presumed you’re only requiring rolls when there are stakes, so let’s make sure there’s some stakes.
Every time a Thief wants to do Thief-y stuff, they roll for it. If they fail, they can wager against the referee for the chance to try again; narratively maybe the Thief jiggles the bending lockpick one more time, or tries his off hand on a pick-pocket attempt in the split-second after the first try goes awry. To do that, his player must offer the referee stakes. Dangerous stakes.
“I get to reroll, but if it fails again, I not only fail to move silently, I fall out of the rafters altogether. Right onto the drow banquet table!”
“I get to reroll, but if I don’t make it, the headsman not only catches me red-handed trying to steal the key, he gets a free attack roll against me because I’m left so far out of position!”
Similarly, every time a Magic-User wants to attempt a do-over on a spell gone wrong, they need to make a similar deal with the referee. For them, it can be as easy as bargaining against a magical mishaps or perhaps a mutation table – even if those are already in play at the table normally, the Magic-User can simply sweeten the pot with extra rolls on those tables, or maybe even worse tables specifically designed for these gambles with especially awful results seeded into their midst.
“I’ll put THREE rolls on the mishap table if you give me a do-over.”
“Okay, I failed that spell cast… I COULD roll on the mutation table, or I could try again double-or-nothing.”
It adds nastier swings in desperate times. A player who wants a second chance at something important, badly enough, might be willing to throw caution to the wind and agree to truly deadly circumstances for a shot at snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. If the table cheers for a hero rolling successes under long odds, imagine the cheer that will shake the walls when she trades a dangerous fall into murky waters for a chance to snatch the last vine – or fall directly and inexorably into the jaws of the megalodon below – and succeeds at the very. last. second.
It’s up to the player to take ownership of the gamble and engage with the fiction, to present stakes that entice the referee. I don’t think they’ll have any trouble with that.
That’s it for this installment of Dicember. I hope it finds you all well, whenever you find it, and I also hope that, if you’re reading this when it was posted, that maybe you’ll join in on the fun for the last third of Dicember with the rest of us – pop on over to Dyson Logos’ landing page for the 2021 challenge’s prompt calendar and get started!