Monday, April 15, 2013

Lucky 13

I posted something about this a week ago on an RPG google community to see what people's initial reaction would be.  Some people thought it interesting, others assumed it too much trouble to be worth implementing.  I was curious to see if my idea would work, and was fortunate enough to try it out this past Saturday night in my D&D game.

So, what's the concept?  Here is is:  anyone rolling a natural "13" on a d20 or d100 would score above and beyond an "ordinary" critical success, in essence a 13 would result in a hyper-critical.  Not only that, but the roller would be able to narrate or describe the outcome (within reason).

Originally, I thought the narration alone would be interesting.  So, even if a "13" would miss on a d20, it could still be narrated.  Well, that seemed half-cool, half-lame.  Crits (and hyper-crits) allow for heroic deeds, warranting the attention of those Dark Gods who watch over audacious adventurers.

Why thirteen?  Well, it's kind of a cool number on its own.  Thirteen has a mystique about it... a danger.  This last Saturday was also the 13th of the month, and was our thirteen session.  Plus, I wanted to do something special because one of my best friends was in town for the weekend and agreed to play D&D with us.  I needed something even more kick-ass gonzo awesome to ratchet things up a notch.  Lucky 13 to the rescue!

Before the session really got underway, I allowed for a small daily chance of psionics for each character, as this was Carcosa.  Not only did everyone have a 6 - 10 % chance of acquiring mind-blast or telekinesis (I boosted the probability) but rolling a 13% was another possibility.  In fact, I told the players that their character would get two psionic abilities if they rolled a 13!  If it had been possible to gain a Dark Side point for influencing the dice, I think a few of them would have succumbed.  They really wanted to see a 13 bad!  Hahaha.  Alas, no 13.  But one character rolled well enough to gave ESP for the day.

To be honest, it didn't affect the game that much.  Only three 13's were rolled all night.  I rolled the first for initiative, allowing seven zombies to overwhelm a single PC which was pretty cinematic.  Harold rolled the second, also for initiative, giving him the drop on the giant Lovecraftian toad thing just outside the spaceship.  He described how he was going to attack it, trying to take out one of its many eyes, if memory serves.  Later in the evening, Harold rolled a 13 again, this time on a percentile roll for a magical dagger stolen from a wizard.  The roll was to determine the "bane" or what the magical weapon was good at vanquishing - Elves, Trolls, Dragons, etc.  Well, since he rolled a hyper-critical success, I just let him pick whatever he wanted.  He ended up with a +1 dagger, +3 versus the Old Ones and their spawn.  Nice!

It was fun.  Little things like that add extra flavor or spice to the game.  For those curious, the idea was partially birthed from Dungeon Master Johnny.  I watched a video of his where he described picking a random number and during that session something nifty would happen when it was rolled.  Just one of the weird little things he did as DM.  After hearing that little pearl, I knew one day I'd do something similar in my own D&D game.

I can't think of a reason to cease our Lucky 13 rule.  That means it's going to remain a permanent fixture in our game.  I'm sure awesome things will keep coming.  When I collect enough juicy stories, I'll blog about it again.


*  "Sword & Sorcery" artwork by Santiago Iborra