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Déjà vu

July 5, 2014

I’ve been looking at the so-called Basic Rules for 5e. Is it just me or is the advantage/ disadvantage rule, wherein you roll two 20-siders and take the higher/lower of the rolls according to your PC’s abilities remarkably similar to the positive/negative double roll mechanic in Christian Mehrstam’s Whitehack, published last year? I’m not implying anything, and I don’t really like the rule in any case. I just found it interesting, that’s all.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. kelvingreen permalink
    July 5, 2014 6:52 pm

    It does seem to be in fashion; a version of it occurs in the supposedly-upcoming Call of Cthulhu 7 too.

    • July 5, 2014 11:23 pm

      Another new edition of Call of Cthulhu? *sigh* Don’t they know the phrase “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” in California?

  2. July 6, 2014 1:20 am

    Advantage was in the 5E play test materials before Whitehack.

    I am actually quite fond of it because of how it respects the bounded accuracy philosophy that 5E champions.

    I first encountered this sort of mechanic in Philotomy’s Musings on OD&D, where it is used for two-handed weapon damage and like it for the same reasons (bias the result upwards, keep the same range).

    • July 6, 2014 9:06 am

      Thanks for the chronological clarification. I’ve paid very little attention to the development of 5e, and would never have given it the time of day if the Basic Rules hadn’t been made available free.

      I keep a printed booklet of Philotomy’s Musings with my LBBs and find it very useful. I’m not keen on that particular mechanic, though. (I use +1 damage for two-handed weapons.) It’s quite difficult to explain why I don’t like it. It’s a gut thing, to do with the feel of the game. I like the way a die roll “collapses the wave function” and determines the fate of the PCs and the entire game universe. Rolling two dice and taking one of the results leaves another result sitting there giving everyone at the table a glimpse into a parallel universe, like a messy quantum loose end.

      Or maybe I’m just overthinking it. 🙂

  3. Hachian permalink
    July 6, 2014 7:26 am

    This mechanic is explained in Torben Morgensen’s classic essay on dice in RPG systems. He uses Silhouette RPG as an example. I’ve used re-roll/take two dice as a house rule in many systems for a very long time. I think I learned it from someone in the early eighties.

    • July 6, 2014 9:21 am

      I should perhaps have been clearer. It’s not that I haven’t seen similar mechanics before; it’s just that I’d never seen it used as a major feature of any D&D version or clone until I read Whitehack. When I read the 5e PDF I was surprised to see it included as an official rule in the latest version of D&D. Also, it seemed so different from anything in previous editions that I was surprised how few bloggers were remarking on it. Maybe it’s just because, like Brendan above, they’d been following the development and playtesting of 5e more closely than I had. Which, frankly, would not be difficult.

      I don’t know the essay you mention but I have located it online and I shall undertake to read it forthwith. Thanks for the pointer.

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