Tabletop Games

On games where the PC cannot suck

I’ve been waiting to see how this scene would be handled by Darths and Droids.

It actually speaks to an issue that Flip and I encountered with Trail of Cthulhu. Unlike most other game systems, there are no dice rolls for investigation. While there is an element of resource management in the game, it boils down to automatic success for any form of information gathering, and is pretty light on for failure in other parts of the system as well.

Now, I can understand that people don’t like to play characters who suck, but without risk of failure, there is no greatness.

Take, for example, Rolemaster. While it has a reputation for stupefying amounts of arithmetic, and rules to cover even the most obscure situations to the most miniscule detail, the best feature of the game is its critical tables. And the reason for this is that this table can be applied both to player characters and their enemies alike. The amazing level of detail leads to much more dramatic and memorable events.

Every person I know who has played Rolemaster can give an example of amazing things happening while trying to keep their grip on a mechanical gryphon, choking to death while invisible so they can’t be rescued, or watching their enemies die with an astonished expression as their spell backfired and their head popped off.

I bet you can’t find me a Trail of Cthulhu player who can honestly tell you how excited they were when they emerged from the sorcerer’s study having found the spell book, map of the Dreamlands, time and location of the next opening of the Gate of Deeper Slumber, and sample of Shoggoth ooze.

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