Conversation with a friend about dnd/icrpg


Duly noted… So this “giant” carrying a sword large enough that a character can run on the edge of has a neck small enough to be decapitated by said character? I mean, it sounds awesome and I would go along with it too, but “believable”…?

Look, I understand that there are “rules” for realism. However, at my table, playing with my family, I’m the final adjudicator of what is “plausible” in our game. Just like you are at your table. We can play different, I don’t think anyone else will mind.

But, since you’re clearly invested in this topic, let me run this by you specifically. Let’s say a player asks the king for the kingdom. In the GMs head there is practically no chance of this happening, but for grins and giggles he/she calls for a roll. Player gets a nat 20. What do you think about telling the player at that point that he has to convince the king (through roleplay) to give up his crown? In this instance, everything but a 20 would have been a failure and even still the player doesn’t have “automatic success”


To the first, context matters : We we’re laying an anime inspired setting. Now do you see why running up the edge of a sword makes cinematic sense?

To the latter. A GM calls for a roll for grins and giggles? That is foreign to me. Sure, roll to see how well you made the PB&J. Grins and giggles have a finite ruleset.

I’m not saying your table is wrong; I’m contesting what yo said to your friend. If I roll a Nat 20, I get a Kingdom. That’s all we literally have to go on. My answer would be, “Not quite.”


And to answer you directly, a PLAYER never calls for a roll. The GM as arbiter (I do not believe a GM is god) calls for a roll when there is a POSSIBILTY of success.

In your case. One, no, you can’t call for a roll. In the second, yes you CAN call for a roll because, as I’ve said, context matters, You don’t roll because you feel like it. You roll when something could happen, win or lose.


And for a final point : I am not “invested” in this anymore than looking at a website and seeing a notification.

A conversation is a two way street. You say something; I say otherwise. Doesn’t mean we are disagreeable. It does mean there is a differing opinion. Your implication is I am somehow wrong for not agreeing with your ruling. That’s totally subjective and, yes, open to conversation


I think I’m starting to understand your perspective here. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you assuming that I, as GM, call for rolls on everything that a player says they want to attempt? If so, I can somewhat understand where you are coming from. That is not the case. I only call for rolls where there is the possibility for success or failure, but I call the roll with the knowledge that if the player rolls a nat 20 it results in success. What that success means depends on the circumstances . As such, if this “give me your kingdom” scenario were to come up at my table, and if were to ask the player to roll; a nat 20 is going to equal some form of success. It just may not look like what the player was expecting.

I certainly never intended to imply that your were wrong for not agreeing with me. On the contrary, I thought I was pretty explicit in saying that your rules for your table and my rules for my own table can be completely opposite and both still be right for our individual tables.


Ehh. Back up…

As such, if this “give me your kingdom” scenario were to come up at my table, and if were to ask the player to roll; a nat 20 is going to equal some form of success.

He then asked me the popular hypothetical question of the player that asks the king to give him the kingdom and rolls a nat 20.

So, the answer is yes, at your table. Roll a d20 and see what happens, but…

Doesn’t mean we do it every time, or even most of the time. The point of this thread wasn’t to get some sort of blessing for how I, or anyone else, handle calling for rolls or nat 20s.

Ok. When can I ask for a d20 roll at your table? That’s plain and simple.

Can I get the kingdom? Can I not? Do I roll? How does the GM feel?


Professor DM This is an informative opinion.


Yeah, I love his videos, good stuff.

At my table, the player never calls for a roll. The player states their intentions and if I don’t ask them to roll for doing something or if I don’t tell them the thing they are trying to do is outright impossible, then they succeed at it.

I, as the GM, only call for rolls if the results have interesting consequences or there is a chance for failure.

this is referring to the fact that we don’t roll for every time a player comes up with something crazy off the wall…as you said, context matters.
Sometimes, though, it’s just fun to see where the dice go. To me, there can be fun is seeing how we as a group can manage to weave something crazy together at our table.


My response was not to say context doesn’t matter, but was more to temper expectations of saying, “I roll to become king.”

The story of Joseph is but one example how in a chance opportunity, someone moves from being in a low state (i.e., prison) to power (i.e., second in command of Egypt).

If players burst into a king’s throne room, they are more likely to be arrested than to have opportunity to speak. (GM doesn’t give option to roll.) Under the right circumstances, when the player is permitted an audience with the king, he likely has some reason to be there.


I generally dislike the idea of critical success or critical failure; however, parts of the D&D rules are structured in such a way that removing them wholesale from the game has certain consequences for game balance, most particularly in how much damage physical combat can inflict. D&D is already a game in which spellcasters have dramatically more power than non-spellcasters at higher levels, so you have to think carefully about how and why you permit these rules in your setting/scenario/session. Sometimes, D&D really is its own worst enemy; it has structural problems that go all the way back to its inception.

The biggest problem I have with the idea of a natural 1 or natural 20 having certain effects is that the smallest resolution of a d20 is a 5% increment; therefore, a full 10% of the time, a d20 roll is going to generate a critical outcome of one sort or another, and that just doesn’t feel realistic, to me.

On the other hand, if you then start introducing secondary rolls in the even of a potential critical, you’re doubling the number of die rolls and lookups necessary to resolve a conflict point one out of every ten rolls, and that has a tendency to make gameplay even more sluggish.

One way to potentially deal with these issues is to say that critical outcomes only happen when a modified roll meets some threshold above or below the target number, let’s say +10 over the target number is a critical success.


I like the way some systems are handling criticals where a critical is essentially a success plus, not an automatic win. That is, rolls have degrees of failure and degrees of success. Whereas the usuall PbtA scale is:

  • Hard failure
  • Success with drawback
  • Success

Add a fourth result:

  • Success plus

Then you could implement more of a Pathfinder 2 system of failure and success, so that +5 over the target grants a benefit, +10 over the target grants more benefit. A natural 20 means you are automatically bumped a tier up on the scale of awesomeness (or two tiers up, why not?).

As has been said, the problem with nat 20 meaning auto-success is that it can break the narrative. This is fine for a wild and gonzos kind of game, or even a game where the players have a roll in telling the story/world-building beyond their own character’s actions (i.e., PbtA); but it poses problems for a setting where the GM has tight control or where the ridiculousness subtracts from the fun. The better solution is to say, as has been said in this thread, the GM calls for rolls because they actually have a chance at success; players don’t choose when to roll. The proposed situation, asking for the kingdom, is better resolved via roleplay than rolling.


I go between “The Rule of Cool” and them being the best possible outcome of that situation. On my table they might not get the kingdom but their boldness might impress the king allowing more access to him than a normal person, so in a way they do get the kingdom. Flirting with guards won’t get them to leave their post and lose their jobs (or their heads) but you might score a date at a later time where some information could slip and so on.


To add quickly sometimes the “Rule of Cool” should absolutely trump reason if it makes it more fun and enjoyable for everyone. If somebody suggests some outlandish idea and everyone is laughing their asses off then they roll a 20, bam, they get what they want and normally a loud “NOOOO WAAAYYYY” to boot. We all have stories we tell over and over and they normally stem from something like this. ( I personally remember burning an entire field down which resulted in the deaths of all the scarecrows we were supposed to fight that night. I rolled a 20, they rolled very, very low and we still laugh about it to this day)


I guess I should also clarify; while a nat 20 is an automatic success at our table, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best possible outcome. This makes it fall in line with several of these other suggestions of getting in the kings good graces, or maybe being awarded a title or lands, whatever.

As a side note, I think it’s fascinating how most in this thread have latched onto the kingdom scenario lol.


It’s sort of an example given, example used thing for me but it is a good shorthand for the question of how you reward 20’s and probably one we’ve all heard before.


Personally, I can only imagine this example popping up in two cases: playing with young kids, or dealing with a disruptive/wise ass player. Or some combination thereof. Handle accordingly lol


I’m surprised by the disconnect I have heard at being fine with ignoring plausibility in some cases, but resolved against it in others, and somehow suggesting a universally agreed upon measure of what’s plausible or disruptive to the narrative, etc. At the end of the day, the people playing at the table - all of them, not just the GM, set the tone for the game, and even with the same players, what’s fun in one game might feel weird and disruptive in another, but there’s no wrong way to have fun (except at the expense of or through harming others, obvs).


Well said. I think that’s the thing about rpgs that is so attractive: each table makes their own game, more or less. Even down to each session of play. The flip side of that is while the “name of the game” we’re playing is the same, the way (the rules) we play is likely different. Sometimes makes it hard to have conversations about it because “different=wrong”… I know I’m guilty of it sometimes for sure.


As a side note, I think it’s fascinating how most in this thread have latched onto the kingdom scenario lol.

I’m shocked that the one example I gave has been given focus. It’s like saying, “Well, let’s talk about uranium without talking about uranium.”

I get what you want to do, and it’s alright, but it’s another to day, “Well, I’m surprised my example is a side note.” No, it wasn’t. It was right there in the middle of your post.


“He then asked me the popular hypothetical question of the player that asks the king to give him the kingdom and rolls a nat 20. “Would you give him the kingdom?” I said “of course, but maybe the kings hand immediately assassinates him? Maybe the burden of being king is so heavy that the characters adventuring days must come to an end and the player has to make a new character?” The point being that the player succeeded at the task, but the outcome may not have be what he expected.”

Was this a side note or an actual question? Because if it were a side note, we can just toss this thread into the bin.