Roasting the Racial Powers (Jan 16, 2013)
Classes, Skills, and Dice Pools (Jan 20, 2012)
The Dice Pool Versus A Single Die Roll (Jan 8, 2012)

Over the last couple years (particularly since picking up Elder Sign), I’ve thrown around the idea of using dice pools for character actions in place of single rolls, ’cause rolling lots of dice is fun. It’s also fun when you’re given the opportunity to “reroll.” ‘Cause rolling dice is fun. It’s especially fun to reroll lots of dice.

“More is better,” after all.

Sometimes you don’t really want to reroll though, ’cause it isn’t like you’re really guaranteed any chance of success. Moreover, sometimes your chance of succeeding is so low that you’d rather take a bonus to one roll to better your chances than roll extra dice. What’s the point in rolling dice if they don’t amount to anything, right?

Remember how I was talking about different categories of racial powers last week? Damaging powers and utility powers and “boon” powers? Well, what I’d like to see is a change so that racial powers are only one of the first two types, and the third type, “boon” powers, go to class instead (but not theme, for reasons I’ll explain).

Now, the first problem with dice pools is in how they distance players from the rolls of individual dice, and it’s those individual dice rolls that really bond a player to the well-being of their character. In my opinion those dice rolls should be saved for more abstract events, to speed them up and move the game along.

Rerolls on the other hand, have a tendency to turn players into whiny jerks. If they get to “redo” a roll that goes sour, they’re less likely to abide by later rolls they don’t care for, which can ultimately make individual rolls mean as little as they do when they’re part of a dice pool. For that reason, I’d put rerolls in the hands of other players.

If a player must rely on their relations with the other players to get those all-too-important rerolls, they must pay attention to their allies and offer similar opportunities in return. It encourages cooperation between players without making it a requirement for success. Some people are lucky but the option is there for those who aren’t.

Here’s the thing about rerolls though: to make them effective, they have to be easy to remember, easy to apply, and easy to provide. For this reason, they’re far more effective as at-will powers than as encounter powers. Allowing the player to use them more often (at-will) makes them easy to remember, and easier to provide.

Now in my opinion, a character class is something a player option that represents a character’s acquired skills, and should therefore be a compilation of reliable at-will powers more than spectacular one-hit wonders. One-hit wonders are better for race or theme, where they can really be seen as extraordinary.

And that’s why I’d make rerolls an at-will class power. Maybe even a feature?