Let it Ride for Other Obstacles

I think I’m doing this wrong.

If a PC tests a skill against one obstacle, should the GM let the skill ride for similar obstacles? How about for obstacles that are a bit different? Or should the skill ride only for the exact same obstacle?

And if the skill is riding, can the result of the skill test be compared to a similar obstacle with different Ob modifiers?

Some examples from my past games:

  1. The “paladin” prayed for a Blessing to grant him keen senses before he entered into the sewer to meet with some goblin smugglers. He wanted a bonus to Observation. Then he rolled only 2 successes on his Observation test, which was enough for the initial test to scope out the entrance. Once in the sewers, they needed to spot something at Ob 3 for Observation. I said Yes, explaining that the paladin’s Observation test should ride, but another player “threw in a helping die” to meet the new Ob. Did I do this right?

  2. The noble PC failed a Steel test versus fear and swooned. A few minutes later, he saw something else scary. The player wanted to roll Steel again, but I said no, the test will ride, and he ran screaming. Did I do this right? (I think I did this one incorrectly. However, it was not my intent to call for a Steel test anyway – it was the player who wanted the test!)

I can’t remember any more specific examples, but let’s look at a few more invented ones. There were somewhat similar situations in my games in the past, just can’t recall the details.

  1. Say a PC is rolling Stealthy to sneak around in a carpeted manor. He gets an advantage die for the soft surface and rolls 3 successes, which beat’s the homeowner’s Perception test. Later, he sneaks out into the cobblestone street and has to avoid detection by a night guardsman walking by. Should Let it Ride mean that the PC automatically avoids detection? Or should his previously rolled 3 successes be compared to a new Observation test by the guard? And if so, should I apply an Ob penalty for the change to a hard walking surface?

  2. Likewise for graduated tests. Say a PC manages to disengage in a Fight in the night, and assesses for an escape route. It’s pitch-black, so the hefty Ob penalties negate the couple of successes he rolled. So, he lights a fire. Should he be allowed to test again? Or should his previous result be used, with the lessened Ob penalty taken into account?

Hmm… It’s the “similar test, different Ob penalty” thing that I’m wondering most about. Also, “similar test, different helping dice”. Can anybody give me a bit of guidance on this, please?

~ Dean

  1. The player’s roll should ride. I don’t see anything there to indicate a change in situation. He was still looking for goblin ambushers.

  2. Don’t let players bully you into tests. If he wants his character to react in a certain way…tell him to roleplay.

No, the situation had changed somewhat. They weren’t looking for goblin ambushers, as in our campaign goblins are neutral and the PCs wanted to meet to parley with them. The first roll was just to get a general sense of the surroundings, kind of a graduated test to assess. The Ob 3 test was to spot a secret door. (Yes, it was a mini dungeon-crawl. Emphasis on the mini though, haha…)

Yeah, I guess the way I handled that one was to bully the player back by invoking Let it Ride. To be fair, that happened in the first scene of the first session of my BW GMing experience. I’m grokking the rules better now, and don’t do that anymore.

Geez, I wish I could remember all the other situations where Let it Ride brought up questionable circumstances. There were a lot of them. What about examples 3 and 4? I know they’re invented scenarios, but they are representative of the kinds of issues I had run into in play. It’s always been, “Should I Let it Ride with new Ob modifiers?” and “Should I Let it Ride for this new test that’s similar yet significantly different from the original test?”

Doesn’t sounds like the first part of 1 was a test at all. There was nothing at stake, no risk of failure. In fact, it’s your responsibility as the GM to paint the world in sufficient detail so as to engage the players. Descriptions should be given freely and often so that the players may have their characters act decisively.

Spotting a secret door is a valid Perception test.

You’ll get a feel for LIR in play. Just keep playing!

  1. From your question it looks like you’re saying the player’s intent was to look around and then it changed to finding a secret door. But wasn’t the player’s intent to find the goblin all along? The intent and task remained the same.

If the original intend was just to scope out the nearby area, then that’s different. My next question is what luke said. What happens if he fails the Ob2?

Finding the secret door could then become a new intent, but again what does failure look like? and is he looking for a door or a goblin?

Just for fun, or is there an intent here?

  1. Likewise for graduated tests. Say a PC manages to disengage in a Fight in the night, and assesses for an escape route. It’s pitch-black, so the hefty Ob penalties negate the couple of successes he rolled. So, he lights a fire. Should he be allowed to test again? Or should his previous result be used, with the lessened Ob penalty taken into account?

Umm…hypotheticals are always so evil. Why is the GM calling for a test here?

Player: I look for a way out!
GM: Well, its pitch black down here. That’s going to be a an Ob7 Perception test and if you fail…[insert failure result here].

Hint: Failure result should not be “you will have to try again.”

About your hypothetical situation, these are my thoughts.

You don’t test Stealthy to avoid one guard. You test Stealthy because you want something from the story and the game master thinks something ugly to your “character” but fun for you two, players, could happen if “he” fails. What was the Intent? If your Intent is, y’know, to infiltrate the manor, and you are success, well, then you are there. So you have a different situation now. I think you should advance the action to a point when something different and interesting happen.

About your other hypothetical, Let in Ride don’t apply in Fights, but you should try not to contradict previously established facts. In this specific case, I think the player should be able to try again. But outside a Fight, no, the player can’t try again. The situation is very different now (because he failed and you introduced a “twist” in the story). If he wanted to light a fire, he should have said so before. It’s too late now, because something new has happened. What is that? What was the risk?

Hmm, yeah, now that I remember …

The player’s original intent was to roll Faith “to have the Hero (the deity) bless my senses, such that I can be alert for danger down in the sewers.” I made him speak a prayer. I declared failure would mean the Hero would not hear any further prayers in the dank underbelly of the city. He passed the test.

He then wanted to roll Observation to scope out the sewer entrance. I called this as a graduated test to assess, and you’re right, I should have just said yes and given further description. The players were looking for clues, as it was a short mystery scene, but I should have just freely given them the information if nothing was at stake. Or invent some stakes! The Observation test should therefore have been saved for the secret door, with failure meaning they’d get lost in the sewers or something.

I’m currently GMing two campaigns in the same setting: one an online solo campaign, and one a tabletop group campaign (from which example 1 was taken). The solo campaign is faring much better, as I have loads of time to consider every step of the way. The group campaign, I’m only two sessions in. I’m finding it a bit trickier to adjudicate on the fly, but am slowly getting the hang of it. The BW GMing style is much different from what I am used to. I absolutely love it! But it’s taking a bit longer to get into the groove, at least for situations where I have to think on my feet.

And yes, the hypothetical situations weren’t framed well. Sorry, ignore questions 3 and 4. My tabletop group meets for its third game session tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll have a few more questions that arise from the upcoming session. I’ll post back with more (actual) situations on Sunday or Monday.

Thanks, everybody. ~ Dean

One fix for that adjudicate on the fly problem is to never call for a roll without being able to tell the player what they risk on failure. Often, you’ll find yourself hating the failure condition and just take time to fix it. Tell the players that you need a moment to get it right.----GM: Okay, but it’s pitch black. That’s an Ob7 Perception test and failure means…you’re seperated from the rest of the party in the darkness and emerge into a different set of caverns.Player: Damn! I bought traveling gear during character creation. I should have a torch in my pack right? And how about I fork in my Orienteering into the roll? Any of you guys gonna help here?

Yeah, I’m starting to get that part down pat. Where I sometimes waffle is when players ask for tests. I have one player inexperienced with the system who is constantly requesting assessment tests (what do I know about this? what do I know about that?), and the other players forget themselves sometimes and request a test for something that really isn’t worth rolling for (I want to roll Observation to scope out the sewer entrance). They’re not test mongering at all, it’s just that it’s easy to fall back into the old way of doing things. I usually catch this before the dice hit the table and just Say Yes, but I sometimes don’t think it through enough and accept their Intent without an interesting consequence of failure.

I’m slowly getting the hang of it though!

When this happen, turn the question back to him. “I dunno. What do you know about it?”