Action description and helping

So my understanding of the typical order of things goes as follows: player describes action -> GM calls for test (ex. “I jump across the chasm.” “That’s an ob 3 health test.”)

Where does help fit in here? Is it like this: player describes action -> other player describes help -> GM calls for test (ex. “I jump across the chasm.” “I push him forward with all my might.” “That’s an ob 3 health test, with 1D help dice.”)

Or like this: player describes action -> GM calls for test -> other player describes help (ex. “I jump across the chasm.” “That’s an ob 3 health test.” “I push him forward with all my might.” “Okay, that’s 1D helping dice.”)

Can it be either? Should the GM wait to call for a test until everyone says what they’re doing? What’s the best protocol here?

I try to get all the description of the action nailed down first. If you’re going to help your fellow leap a chasm, I want you to tell me how you do it. Then, once I understand how the action is intended to play out, I name the skill and obstacle.

While that’s my preference, it doesn’t have to be an absolutely rigid procedure. If it works out better for you the other way, that’s OK.

Does it not feel weird to narrate help before the skill has been named? The list of what can help what is pretty restrictive.

I’ve been starting with whoever’s taking point on whatever action and telling them the skill & ob and then I tell the party what skills I’ll allow to help based off what’s in the skills & factors chapter. Sometimes I’ll throw in something that’s not on the list if I think it makes sense.

That was sort of my thought. I like Thor’s way, thematically. It puts the onus on the players to describe the action, rather than just say “I use my blah skill.” But it might cause people to reach too far for helping skills as well, if they’re unsure what might work. I’ll certainly try it Thor’s way first to see if my group needs any wiggle room.

A related question - should the GM have a very specific idea what the “extra helping skill” that he’ll allow will be ahead of time, or is it reasonable to make it up on the fly, possibly in reaction to the players’ description of their actions?

As for extra helping skill, I think the important point was to never even consider negotiating with players on that. So you can probably make it up on the fly, but not in reaction to suggestions of help that players are making, otherwise they might start to think they can have some say in the matter, and that way lies table flipping :slight_smile:

I straight told my players, don’t ask me if you can help with “<x>”. I’ll say no if it’s not on the list. Instead, ask me what you can help with and I’ll look at the skill descriptor and sometimes I might throw in another skill I think is relevant.

I’m pretty OK with telling someone what skill they’re helping with based on the description. If they have the skill, great. If they don’t, then it didn’t actually help. If what they’re doing doesn’t match up with one of the skills that can normally help, but it makes sense, I choose that skill as the one other skill related to the situation (as per Suggested Help on page 136).

I allow for a little revision here and there.

Oh, okay. That makes sense. Everyone can still narrate helping if they want, but it may or may not involve dice.

I might give that a shot next time and see how that goes.

What is more, it isn’t clear, or apparent at all, that there is anything to Help with until the GM declares that there is to be a Test (or Conflict). Sure, players can be jumping in with helpish descriptions when their teammates are describing things but that’ll be somewhat hit-and-miss. It seems a somewhat fluid process seems inherently required.

Maybe the description of their actions including help allows the GM to call it a Good Idea! and the group doesn’t need to test anymore…