Picture this: you’re at the gaming table, listening to your GM. He’s telling everyone what’s going on in the game. Suddenly he calls out your name, looking at you expectantly. He asks if there’s anything you’d like to do, glancing down at your dice. You return a blank look. What does he want? Odds are that he wants you to perform a challenge roll.
A challenge roll is a test of one’s skill. This can be anything from acrobatics to arcane knowledge; from persuasion to underwater basket weaving. No matter what challenge comes your way, you should be prepared to face it head on with dice in hand. Although sometimes your GM won’t give you the courtesy of knowing exactly which skill to roll for. Sometimes he will expect you to figure out the proper action for the task at hand.
So now comes the hard part: figuring out which skill your GM wants you to roll for. The most important factor in this is context. If you’re looking at a huge door locked by some puzzle, you might need more finesse than a simple strength check. A big burly guard may respond better to persuasion than intimidation. Read the clues around you that the GM has given and use your best judgement.
Another big part of achieving success in challenge rolls is by playing to your strengths. A rogue may not be able to bust a door down, but he can certainly pick the lock. If your solution isn’t working for the problem, try a different approach. Look at your character sheet. Note the skills that your character works best with. Now take those skills and try to apply them to the challenge. You can work out a lot of problems with just a little ingenuity.
Challenge rolls can be a lot of fun. They just require you to use your noggin a little. Getting into the mindset of which skill is needed when takes some experience, but once you get it down your gameplay will become more nuanced and fun. So keep on challenging yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and keep those dice rolling high!
Being a new player, what happens when I still can’t pick up on the hints given to me? I’m not well versed in what everything means as well as what each rolled skill does for me.
Drew Latham says
A lot of it comes from experience, but if you’re ever stuck you can ask your game master for some help. A bit of research away from the table helps as well. What game system are you using? Some systems will have online resources as well as chapters that expand upon what each rolled skill does. Beyond that, fellow players can answer any questions you may have. I’m always here to help with specifics!
I had to do a little research on my own. We’re using 5.0 though sometimes my GM likes to mix it up and use other systems (3.5, 4.0 ect). The other players were helpful though some of them weren’t entirely clear. I guess it helps more if you do a little bit of searching on your own. Thanks.