Player-facing Rolls

Yesterday night I played the John Sinclair Abenteuerspiel for the first time. It’s a German roleplaying game based on the popular John Sinclair pulp horror novel series. In the game you play monster/ghost hunters employed by the Scotland Yard. Is it as campy as it sounds? You betcha! But that’s not what I want to write about today.

The system used by the game features player-facing rolls which means all rolls are made by the players and none by the GM. I’ve seen this in only a couple of other games (mostly Monte Cook’s Cypher System games like Numenera, The Strange, et.c) and the more I encounter it, the more I like it.

A bad habit which this feature immediately eliminates is cheating dice rolls by the GM. I’d guess most of us have done it and over time you realize it’s a bad idea. You might think you’re helping your players, but in reality you take their victories and their defeats away from them. Some players might not care, but it may totally ruin the game for others.

It also quite literally puts the dice back into the players’ hands. It their dice rolls that count. The GM is just setting difficulties and running the show. This can also be very relaxing from a GM’s standpoint. You don’t have to worry about killing your players because of a couple of dice rolls seemingly defying probability. The players also are less likely to see you as their opponent. You don’t roll the dice, they have fate in their hands. Overall it might not change much, BUT it feels different.

What is your stance on the dice taken away from the GM? Please share your thoughts below!