Multiple rolls for the same problem - how does that effect the Grind?


If players don’t have checks there is little point helping unless you really need something to succeed. In a given situation, say jumping something, in one case you could have a player come up with a great idea and the others help. This would be fine and advance the turn counter once after the test.

But if none of the helping players had checks then they get nothing out of helping, only the rolling player would get an advance and a check (perhaps). What if the ‘helpers’ want not to help but wanted to make their own plans and make individual skill rolls (thus possibly getting advances and checks). Does the Grind counter now move once for each players making ‘a test’, or because it is the players only doing different things to overcome a common problem (say the gap to jump) the Grind counter still only progresses once.

Edited to make myself look silly:

Reading the book helps… Page 60 “GM-Imposed Tests and Turns”

This applies in this case it would seem. Right? Or does this mean ONLY in cases where the GM calls for individual tests and not just because the players want to have separate tests?


The benefit is increased chance of success, which should lead to fewer conditions. It also makes earning checks easier. So the players should help each other because it is the optimal strategy.

I get that, but how do you avoid the Batman with lots of Robin’s trailing behind. I hope you get what I mean. My point being helping ONLY helps your character if you have checks or if a failed outcome is not a very pleasing outcome. Be default the system requires failure.

Teamworker earns you a Persona doesn’t it?

No one character is going to be Batman on every skill. And yes, when you decide to help, you should definitely be weighing the cost against the benefit of a successful roll. So, if you want the trap disarmed so the ceiling doesn’t crush you, you’ll probably help even if you might get a condition, right?

For sure. What about in the case of:

4 Players have approached a castle wall. One says ok I’ll climb the wall and another says I’ll help. The third says I would rather attempt to pole vault over the wall and the last decides to jump from an adjacent tree over the wall.

In terms of the Grind what happens? In theory there are 3 tests going on but to achieve exactly the same outcome. Do you penalize the two players not wanting to climb the wall by saying, well 50% for the party want s to climb so you all have too. This would result in the Grind adding only one turn.

Or can all three ‘groups’ make their rolls and if so does the Grind turn counter go up by 1 or 3?

I guess it depends on what Thor/Luke mean by environment. I have had an example of players needing to jump a ditch to be not a GM-Impose tested because the players wanted to cross vs a room full of gas (which would be a GM-Imposed test). I take a wider view, and perhaps wrongly, that the environment is anything not a Conflict. In this case all players in all ‘environmental challenges’ (e.g. locked door, wall, ditch, etc) have the choice to either support one another or carry out an individual roll - as long as there is a common goal or outcome, this would be a single time track advance.

I am not saying helping isn’t good and it has its place, just that it can be detrimental in some cases to you advancing your character. But if the only option is do nothing or help then of course helping is always the right action.

Keen to hear how this is supposed to work,

You’re asking about GM-Imposed Tests and Turns on page 60? The important part there is “GM-imposed.”

If the GM says: “The chamber starts to fill with poisoned gas. Everybody make a Health test!” that’s a GM-imposed environmental test. When the GM tells you that everyone has to test a certain ability or skill (it’s usually going to be Health or Will), those individual tests count as a single turn.

So what happens when players want to use different (yet valid) skills that can not be used as help or they just don’t want to be ‘and +1D from me’ helper due to wanting a check or advance? Either act as Borg or tough luck?

If you do ‘split off’, say 4 players, who all want to make different independent rolls against the same challenge, a jump say, would that mean the turn counter goes up by four? As per the “Splitting the Party” rule.


If everyone wants to make independent tests to make a jump, then I’d say welcome to the grind :wink:

And yes, sometimes you have to make difficult choices in this game.

If players want to game the system by each making individual tests, then yes, each roll of the dice advances the turn clock by 1. It makes sense within the fiction, too. Everything gets done a little faster if everyone who can lends a helping hand. I find the little point in helping comment kind of odd. Either you’re throwing a lot of Ob 1-2 tests at your group or your twists don’t really have any teeth, because soloing Ob 3 tests right out of the gate is pretty much guaranteed to result in failure, especially if you’re trying to rack up some checks. The point of helping is that you increase your odds of success.

As others have said, no one is going to be Batman in this game. They just don’t have access to enough of the skill list for that to really happen. What usually happens is that characters take turns volunteering for tests and the others pitch in to help, since failing 100% of the rolls is pretty taxing.

What I meant by helping wasn’t sometimes the best idea was when players don’t have checks. For success the best plan is the highest skill person make the actual roll and the others with that or helping skills provide support. But without checks available to the support players then all that happens is the highest skill player mounts up advances and possibly checks while the helpers (with no checks) get zero. It means a lower skilled person, if you think about, wouldn’t be able to get many checks or chances of advancing because it makes more sense to have the higher skilled person roll and the lower skill support. Unless you are wanting to fail of course.

EDIT: And I was wondering how groups handle this. Vanguard’s idea of having turns at rolling seems a fair approach to me.

I would hazard that those turns need to arise organically, but it almost always happens this way except in the case where skills get duplicated. It’s in those cases where players need amicably decide who should make the roll, but I’ve never had a problem with that at my table.

So you have a party of characters that all have different specialties, what’s wrong with that? That’s what a team is. If everyone advanced all their skills all the time you’d have a party of Rambos instead of a diverse team of specialists. That would kill the essence of dungeon delving. Besides which, the helpers don’t need to advance their skills because as long as they have a 1 or higher they can help, being more skilled doesn’t help more.

Sure a problem arises if one of your specialists is missing, but that merely presents a new and interesting challenge and the opportunity for rapid advancement. The only time this would be a problem is if you have a party consisting of one Halfling burglar and 3 slightly suckier Halfling burglars, so that everyone basically has the same specialty. Then again, that’s probably one of the reasons they don’t allow different party members to choose the same skill to underline as their specialty, right?

Finally, just because the helpers have no advancement or opportunity to earn their own checks doesn’t mean they shouldn’t help. The checks thing doesn’t even really matter because checks are shared in camp, having a big pile all to yourself doesn’t help you because you can’t use a second check until all your allies use one. Also helpers not only make the test easier, but they have the opportunity to roleplay how they are helping. Really they have to roleplay how they are helping, you shouldn’t just be handing dice over and saying “I help with Dungeoneering”. The more detailed and smart their descriptions of help, the more likely the whole thing will turn into a Good Idea and cost no turns.

edit: the helpers do risk the consequences of a failed result though, so the real question for helpers is whether they think the task in question is a fools errand that can only get them hurt.

Also, in the case of skill duplication, if someone already rolled and earned some checks, they are in a prime position to be helper next time around since they have a check to spend on the test.

At the risk of being pedantic: A failed roll that results in a condition will affect the character that made the test and the helpers. A failed roll that results in a twist can affect anyone and everyone the GM chooses, including those who chose not to help or were unable to help. Sitting out a test does not necessarily mean that you remain safe.

Also, in general, checks are precious things. In my experience, they only occasionally get spent to gain experience from helping, maybe once every few sessions. As noted in the 'graph above, everyone potentially pays the price to earn checks. There is a social constraint to spending them on experience. Groups often see it as wasteful and selfish.

These kinds of situations are why Captains are for. Torchbearer is primarily a team effort (you actually have to spend a check to fight with your companions). The situation in your example has its pros and cons, the main contra being spending turns (actually I think that the main contra is the possibility of failing three tests), but sure, you are advancing your character’s abilities/skills.

Stay cool :cool:

Thanks for the feedback. The situation I think I have the most difficulty getting my head around is the one described by Vanguard. In our party we have 3 of 4 people with Criminal. The smart thing to do is have the high level Criminal make the roll with the other two helping, and my Paladin looking the other way in disgust. But that means if you do the statistically smart thing the only way the other the players get advances in Criminal is by spending checks obtained from other skills. Is that right?

You could argue that’s by design. It benefits everyone to take the hits to get someone out of Beginner’s Luck so they can help in a skill — one more die from Help!

It also benefits everyone to have their own niche. You want a Will monster, a Health, Fighter monster, Criminal monster, and so on, and everyone able to pitch in and help them … but not much more. There are too many skills to cover to have two characters try and jockey to be the specialist.

Yeah, band of pickpockets isn’t really TB style. It’s about the teamwork and specialized roles, not a strong unifying character theme. The thing that keeps all these weirdos together is teh lootz. (Darn murder hobos)

True one could indeed argue that TB supports a synergistic and not redundant play style. It does result however in ‘trap skills’ during character creation, by this I mean, overlapping skills should only really be level 1 (alternatively a helping skill is also fine at whatever level) between characters. Any more than this is, on the whole, it is a waste of a skill ‘pick’ during character creation.

Until you get separated or someone is knocked unconscious. Or until Batman is eaten by an Ogre. Then you’ll be happy you took some time training Robin on how to swing from a grappling hook.