Saturday, January 9, 2021

One-Roll Exploration

Bookkeeping is something I'm bad at. Whether as a player or a GM, I don't like tracking a bunch of fiddly encounter rolls and rations and torches through different subsystems - so I've decided to try smushing them all together into one player-facing roll. This is heavily informed by PBTA-style moves, but crucially differs in that it's about giving both the GM and players more tools to explore and interact with the environment.
 
by AlynSpiller


When you enter a new area (usually a room, perhaps a hallway, or a new part of a vast cavern), roll 2d6 to Explore. Based on the result, you can ask questions and receive truthful, helpful answers - but will also incur complications.
 
Exploration Table (2d6)
2-3: 2 Complications
4-5: 1 Question, 2 Complications
6-8: 1 Question, 1 Complication
9-10: 2 Questions, 1 Complication
11-12: 2 Questions
 
The players can ask 1 fewer question to negate 1 complication, but must choose to do this before asking questions or learning complications.

Questions
- What's been deliberately hidden here?
- What recently happened here?
- How can we make this area safe?
- What's the greatest danger here?
- What's the hardest danger to notice here?
- Where are we?

Answers to questions represent the party's immediate impressions of the room, and determine how much the GM is obligated to tell you about its contents. The players can ask further questions afterwards, but those require physically interacting with the room and its dangers. Exploration questions must be answered truthfully and helpfully, but don't negate the dangers present - and don't let the players know about anything they haven't asked about.
 
Complications
1. Deplete the party's light by 1 level.
2. Deplete the party's food by 1 level.
3. The party gains a point of Exhaustion.
4. Alert a random encounter to the Explorer's presence.
5. Inhabitants here are hostile.
6. Explorer succumbs to an enviromental hazard or trap.
 
Complications are chosen by the GM, and because Questions are explicitly intended to be helpful and give the players more options, Complications are intended to be chosen to inconvenience them in interesting and thematic ways. Some Complications can be doubled-up on; if the party suffers 2 Complications they can both be exhaustion or light or food.

The Explorer is whichever party member rolled the Exploration dice. While some consequences (exhaustion, light, food) affect the whole party, others single out the Explorer - who is also consequently at the front of the marching order.
 
In the dark, the party asks 1 fewer question if the Explorer cannot see, and experiences the usual effects of darkness. 1 level of light takes up 1 inventory slot. If the party has no food, they cannot heal without magic. 1 level of food takes up 1 inventory slot.
 
Each point of Exhaustion subtracts 1 from the Exploration roll. Exhaustion is shared by all members of the party, and is cleared on a rest. Rests allow the players to restore Health and some abilities (depending on system), but also incur one Complication unless taken in an area the party has explicitly made safe (by making friends with the residents, setting up static lighting, building barriers around difficult-to-defend entrances, disarming traps and neutralizing environmental hazards, etc). If that complication is Exhaustion, it's gained after Exhaustion is cleared.

When returning to a previously-explored room, the party still makes Exploration rolls unless they've made the room safe. The dungeon is a living, dynamic system, and its inhabitants will repopulate previous rooms - and the players will still deplete resources like light, food, and stamina as they traverse the dungeon. They more likely should ask "What recently happened here?" or ask fewer questions to receive fewer complications.

Some classes of character modify the effects of the die roll when they're the Explorer.
Magical (Wizard, Warlock, Alchemist, etc.): In addition to other questions, you may also ask "What, if anything, is magical here?"
Thief (Rogue, Assassin, Dungeoneer, etc.): You do not alert random encounters as complications and notice hazards and traps instead of succumbing to them.
Warrior (Fighter, Berzerker, Ranger, etc.): You go first in any initiative order in this room.
Holy (Cleric, Paladin, Demigod, etc.): Before you roll, you may pray for 1 specific complication to not occur. The GM must choose other complications.

The questions and complications can also be modified for a hexcrawl. Rests incur complications unless you're in a safe shelter, and a rest for the night incurs 2 complications instead of 1 (typically depleting food by 2, though depending on the nature of the shelter other complications may be appropriate). Light has less of an effect in hexcrawl exploration, though at night it may remain important.

Questions
- What's been around and through here recently?
- Where can we find or make shelter?
- What can we find in this location that will help us?
- What's the greatest danger here?
- What's the hardest danger to notice here?
- Where are we?

Complications
1. Deplete the party's food by 1 level.
2. Gain a point of Exhaustion.
3. Alert a random encounter to the Explorer's presence.
4. Inhabitants here are hostile.
5. Lost! Chance of moving to a different random adjacent hex next time you move. The GM does not have to tell you where you are until you ask "Where are we?".
6. Explorer succumbs to an enviromental hazard.

Some classes of character modify the effects of the die roll when they're the Explorer.
Survivalist (Ranger, Butcher, Nomad, etc.): You may choose one Complication you suffer instead of the GM.
Crafts (Engineer, Artificer, Alchemist, etc.): Can always ask "Where can we find or make shelter?" in addition to other questions.
Magical (Wizard, Warlock, Alchemist, etc.): May ask "What, if anything, is magical here?"
Holy (Cleric, Paladin, Demigod, etc.): Before you roll, you may pray for 1 specific complication to not occur. The GM must choose other complications.

8 comments:

  1. I love how thematic the holy option is! It lets the party fast or replicate any number of miracles where X supply lasts way longer than expected.

    ReplyDelete
  2. fucking hell I love this so much and will likely be stealing something a lot like this for future projects.

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  3. I have a feeling you could turn the "2d6 -> compare to table -> roll on complications" into a 2d12 procedure quite easily. Modifying the system based on who is the leader is completely fantastic!

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  4. This is super cool! Simple, low fiddliness, but robust.

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  5. This is really cool! It really gives you a lot of interesting choices to make just by walking into a room.Love it!!!

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  6. That is some Dungeon World story-game bullshit right there. I am reporting you to the OSR police! ;D

    J/K. Nice work! I might steal some of this for my home game.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just tried this out with my Shadow of the Demon Lord group. The roller could add their Perception bonus to the roll and replace a die if they had a boon. Everyone loved it and we added it to its own journal entry on Foundry so we can easily reference it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow! thanks for playtesting it, and im so glad you and your group had a good time!

      Delete

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