When I started playing roleplaying games on a regular basis in college several years ago, I remember the enjoyment of having to roll several times for attacks, damages and skills.
I liked the fact that you got to roll d20s, d8s, d6s, d10s, d4s and d12s while your characters were exploring an underground dungeon, or attempting to foil a thieves guild plot by using skills to sneak around or bring some diplomacy to the scenario.
It was a given with the people that I played with that if you’re going to be playing a roleplaying game, you’re going to roll dice on a fairly regular basis.
If you told me back then that we were going to play D&D 3.5 with little to no dice rolling, I would have thought two things: There’s no way that’s possible given the set rules, and how in the world would you get any type of enjoyment out of a roleplaying game without rolling dice?
In Monte Cook’s blog post titled “Do Not Let the Dice Fall Where They May,” he talks about the confusion some people have regarding the Numenera roleplaying game and the d20 system, but what really got my attention was what he said the dice roll represents in Numenera.
“But here’s the thing. The even more important thing. The key to the whole issue as far as Numenera is concerned. The goal is not to roll the dice at all,” Cook said.
I’ve been playing Numenera, game mastering it and writing my own campaign since last year, and yet I don’t think I fully realized the roll of dice in the game until recently, and Cook’s article just cemented the idea.
What’s happened for me is that dice rolling in my games have drastically declined compared to the games I played several years ago, and yet I’m still enjoying Numenera.
I was taken aback by Numenera’s weird sci-fantsy setting and its simplified rules that I didn’t really notice the decrease the role of dice had when compared to my previous games. More than anything, my roleplaying games are now leaning towards the storytelling end of things, which I probably would have never considered years ago.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still dice rolling involved in my games especially in confrontational encounters, but the system has allowed me to be more creative in locations, stories and encounters where the dice are not necessarily the tools to use to overcome a situation.
“The game is about empowering both players and GMs to look beyond the whims of randomness and creating a story that is interesting, exciting, and fits with their conception of their characters and the world in which they live,” Cook said.