Bear with me, I had some thoughts on the "GMs don't roll dice" thing that was discussed a bit last show.

I know that it's not something I would say should be the case for every game out there, and I don't think any of the game design surrounding it has, at its heart, the idea that NO game should have the GM rolling dice.

I've read a lot of Cypher, but not been able to play it. I've run a whole lot of Powered by the Apocalypse. Because I have been curious about this trend, I've tried playing D&D according to the optional Unearthed Arcana rules for players rolling all of the dice recently as well.

I have to admit, it's only been one session, but its not doing much for me in D&D. It feels kind of awkward. It's only been one session, but from my point of view, it's not the optimal way of dealing with dice in D&D.

So why does it work in Powered by the Apocalypse games and Cypher System?

I think its because both of those systems put a lot of power in the hands of the GM to radically alter the narrative of the game. Because the GM has a lot of power to declare things without the same kind of "structure" that games like D&D might imply, all of the dice rolling resides with the PCs, because good or bad, there isn't anything outside of the results they roll on their own dice.

To elaborate, if you roll a 6- in Powered by the Apocalypse, the GM can do all kinds of things to complicate the player character's lives. Its super open ended. Its usually not just limited to "you take damage" or "you are disarmed." It could be any kind of complication that makes sense for the kind of story you are telling. The same is true of a natural 1 GM intrusion in Cypher System.

Because this is very open-ended, not only does it help the GM/Player trust structure to know that the PCs "own" their own 6- or 1, depending on the game, it also means the GM is doing less math, so they have more brainpower freed up to think of something new and interesting.

None of this means that unexpected things can't happen in a game like D&D, but for the most part, there is an expected range of things based on reality as it is presented that is likely to happen, as generally described by the rules.

For example, in D&D, if someone disrupts a Wizard's spell, the spell doesn't go off. It's defined in the rules. In a Powered by the Apocalypse game, if a character is casting a spell to do something, and rolls a 6-, that means they didn't get what they wanted as a result, and the GM gets to make a hard move. That can mean they failed to cast the spell, miscast the spell, cast the spell but hit another target, or could be sent a vision from the Lords of Necessity showing them that everyone they love will die in a month's time if they cast the spell exactly as they intended due to a complicated cascade of events, or anything else the GM thinks up at that point.

Neither of these approaches is better or worse, but they play into how the game rules attempt to get the game to develop.
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