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Sorry Players, No More Freebies from Mr GM

Started by Cassidy, January 26, 2003, 06:31:51 PM

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Hey all,

Before running my first pool session I bought a bunch of D6s, same sizes, 3 different colours.

I had about 50 of so black dice to represent pool dice.
Each player had 2-3 red dice, to represent their traits.
I had a few green dice to represent GM dice.

Pool dice were black so that they'd be easily distinguishable from other dice. If a player failed a roll then they just hand over any black dice that they rolled and there was no need to remember exactly how many pool dice were gambled.

When I ran my first session I was physically handing GM dice across the table (usually 2 dice) to the players. They would roll, the event would get resolved, and the green GM dice would be handed back to me.

Sometimes though I'd forget to get the GM dice back from the player. A while later another player would need to make a roll and I was like "Who's got the GM dice."

This all seemed rather fiddly somehow, so I got to thinking.

Why not at the start of a session just supply the players with say 5-6 red dice to represent their traits AND GM dice.

Then when a player needs to make a roll I simply tell them how many GM dice to use. They pick up that many red dice, pick up some more red dice if the trait they are using has a bonus and then pick up any black pool dice that they want to gamble.

No GM dice change hands between the player and GM. The player rolls and if they fail then any black pool dice they rolled are handed back to the GM. It seems simple enough and would run quite smoothly.

The problem with that approach is that I would be telling players how many GM dice to roll rather than just giving them the additional GM dice.

Using phrases like...

  "I'll give you 1 GM dice."
  "Give me a roll and add 2 dice."
  "Roll an additional 3 dice."

...doesn't feel right and would feel out of place during play.

So I got to thinking some more.

Since a lot of the time I was handing out 2 dice a much easier alternative would be to just have the players add +2 to all their traits and dispense with the concept of GM dice altogether. Traits in my current game would then range from +2 to +5, GM dice become redundant. That's an even simpler solution.

I understand how GM dice put a measure of mechanical control at the disposal of the GM that they can use to influence the players die pools, their chances of success or failure and consequently their chances of making MOVs.

I really have no desire that level of 'mechanical' control. In fact I don't want any control over the probability of success or failure whatsoever. I want the probability of success or failure of any die roll to be entirely in the hands of the players through the use of their dice pools.

If a players pool is low then I really don't see why I should help them out by handing them 3 GM dice so that they have more chance of success. It's sad that their die pool is low and that things may not go as they expect, but hey thats life. Gambling pool dice should be risky business and handing out even 1 GM dice to a player who's pool happens to be low lessens the consequences of that risk. Likewise, handing out GM dice to a player with a shitload of pool dice seems even stranger. If a player wants success then they should be using their little hoard of pool dice and not relying on freebie handouts from the GM.

Is this too hardcore?

If I dispensed with GM dice what would be lost?

James V. West


I'm not sure if anything would be lost, from a mechanical perspective...I just like handing out GM dice. I suppose on some level this simply means I like the original rules and since there are so few of them any tweaking makes The Pool look different. Maybe its a matter of taste.

And that's what varations on the game are for. Personal styles. Styles geared to particular colors of play. And so on.

So your idea is a neat little twist to the rules and I think it's a great variant. But I'll never give up my GM dice! You'll have to pry them out of my cold, dead to speak. Hehe.

Seriously, your idea doesn't muck up any of the mechanics at all except that it sets the GM freebie dice at 2 and there it stays for eternity. The only time it would have an affect is when a player uses a Trait with no Bonus or uses no Trait at all. Then it's all gambling and if his or her Pool is dry....they're up the creek. That's fine, hardcore and all, but fine. My preference is to be able to give them a couple of dice so they at least have a tiny chance, no matter how slim.