Reaction rolls are one of my very favorite set of rules. They’re quick, easy, and help me to come up with more interesting stuff than I might on my own. I use them as a general purpose social sub-system, though not nearly to the same extent as Courtney Campbell in his excellent On the Non-Player Character. Instead, I use them more as an oracle when I’m unsure of how the NPCs would react. With Fellhold being an urban game, social interaction is even more of a big deal than I like for it to be in dungeon or wilderness games, so I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently.
It was while trying to figure out how best to track PC’s reputations with different factions that I hit on the core idea below: the PC(s) and the NPC(s) each “bring” a die to the roll. A couple years back, Logan Knight suggested I move reaction rolls up and down die steps (so, say, 2d4, 1d4+1d6, 2d6, 1d6+1d8, and so forth). Then the other week I read Mateo Diaz’s post, which introduced me to the idea of having different sources for the two dice. What you see below is what I came up with based on all that. As always, let me know anything that doesn’t work or could be better.
Reaction Rolls Reaction rolls are hugely useful for an urban game, given the high number of social interactions.
Context is very important for reaction rolls in Fellhold, and you will need to use some judgement in interpreting rolls. Guests at a dinner party are much less likely to attack on sight than a wild troll in a dungeon. The table below gives some guidance for common situations. Roll Dungeon Merchant Social General 2 or less Attack Swindle Mean Worst Possible 3-5 Wary Tightfisted Rude Pretty Bad 6-8 Willing to Deal Fair Polite Middling 9-11 Interested Helpful Friendly Pretty Good 12+ Friendly Generous Best Friends! Best Possible
Two-Sided Reaction Rolls All reaction rolls are made with two dice - d6s by default. Each side brings one die to the roll. The die for the player character(s) will be based on their demeanor and approach, while the die for the NPC(s) will be based on their disposition and prejudices, including how they feel about the factions the PCs belong to. Adjust the roll using the spokesman’s CHA modifier.
The game master determines both die sizes, but the PC die should be based on what steps the PCs are or aren’t taking to make a certain sort of impression - acting threatening or friendly? Somewhere they belong or not? Well dressed or filthy? Asking clarifying questions is a good idea here.
Die Steps for Reaction Dice For both sides of the reaction roll, dice can step up or down from a d4 (the worst) to d12 (the best).
The NPC’s die size is up to the game master’s discretion, but some common situations are covered below. From a hostile faction: down one step From a friendly faction: up one step From a faction you belong to: up two steps In hostile turf: down one step On friendly turf: up one step
Multiple Reaction Rolls Reaction rolls are helpful any time you need to gauge how an NPC feels about something, not just when first meeting the PCs, so some interactions will have multiple rolls. In such interactions, you may adjust one or both of the dice depending on how the encounter is going.
Example: the PCs meet a group of Pickers deep underground, you initially roll 2d6 because neither group is doing anything particularly helpful or harming and you get a 7. The Pickers begin speaking with the PC group, who try to overawe them with talk of how fierce they are. Pickers aren’t much impressed by this kind of thing, so when the PCs demand the Pickers hand over 50% of what they’ve found so far, you adjust the PC die down to a d4 and roll to see what they think of the offer, getting a 10, amazingly. The Pickers Laugh and say no way, but they like the stones on these guys. For further interaction, you bump it back up to 2d6.
Last modified on 2018-07-16