Effort as Helping Mechanic?


Hey shields,

some players tend to act very strategic on their turn decisions, like:

Alice: “I try to climb the tree.”
Bob: “I help her.”
GM: “Cool, Alice, roll EASY STR”
Chris: “Can I help to?”
GM: “Sure”
Alice: “Is it getting easier?”
Chris: “If no, I’ll do something else”

Sure, the circumstances will help to determine whether help is allowed or not. But tbh, I’d like to achieve three more things:

  1. Players describe how they are helping instead of just “meeeh, I help”
  2. Players feel awesome and useful while helping.
  3. Not adding tons of rolls or complicated mechaniscm.

Hence I’m brainstorming around the following idea:


I’d like to discuss that idea with you guys!

Alice: “Ok I’ll try to climb the tree.”
Bob: “Oh yeah, I’ll assist her with leg-up”
Chris: “Oh me too. Let’s try to push her up together”
GM: “Awesome. Alice, roll STR, and add BASIC EFFORT from Bob and Chris”

Everybody is rolling, everybody is contributing to the success, things get more likely, nobody is turned down or feels useless.

That could also work for ATTEMPTs:

Alice: “Ok, I try to force open the airlock.”
Bob: “Neat, Let’s use that metal pipe for leverage.”
Chris:“Oh yes, I’ll grab and pull too!”
GM: “Awesome. Who has the highest STR? Roll and add TOOL EFFORT of the other PCs.”
* dice noice *
Chris: “Yes! mod 13 plus 3 and 2. Enough to beat TARGET 15, yay!”
GM: “Cool! Give me some TOOL EFFORT too, Chris!”
Chris: “Got 2”
GM: “Huge! 7 points of EFFORT, the 1 HEART is nearly done”




Honestly brother, unless you need to add more rolls, if someone uses their one turn during that round to help, and can describe how, it should succeed. Especially for something like climbing a tree. Now, something like, “I’m going to help kill the dragon” alright different story or jump to the moon or something outlandish and unhelpful like that - different story.

Basically unless you feel as the DM that the players sacrifice of their turn or even two players turns just isn’t enough, then the player doing the thing succeeds automatically. Of course this is provided help could be given - hard to “help thread a needle” as the 5e PHB points out.

ICRPG 2e Core has a clean way of doing help too.



Agreed, don’t shift the duty of describing to your players either. Once you’ve got an approach and an intent from them, it’s you who decides if the action succeeds, not, or if a roll is required.


After easy is automatic.
The first helper makes the task easy. The second helper makes the task automatically successful.


As with anything on the DM’s side of the game, judgment is key. Any action that isn’t a simple pass/fail that requires EFFORT might benefit from additional help from friends. I think this is a great idea.


this is what i would do too


It depends on what you’re trying to pace:

  1. The latter example of using Attempts to model a time limit. For example, sneaking through a compound to get from point A to point B could very easily be modeled as Effort vs 1 or 2 Hearts. Can you beat the Effort before the Timer hits 0?

  2. If it’s basic assistance, one could also borrow from the 2E Quickstart : Target Damage. This is Target 15. This person steps up and provides some kind of help? Cool. Target 13. You’ve got an idea, too? Target 11. That’s the new Target.