Thursday, October 18, 2018

Searching in my GURPS game

Apropos my post yesterday, how do I do searching rolls in my DF game?

Generally, if failure isn't interesting, I don't roll. But if missing something can be interesting in any way, I have the players roll for their PCs.

I'm generous with bonuses - but also harsh with penalties. An object in plain sight is +10, which means unless it's dark (light penalties), they are rushed (looking one second, not many), the object is small (size modifiers), it's likely they'll find it. If they're in the dark, in a rush, and don't even know that there is something there or not, we roll.

After all, Per is a statistic. People pay for it to improve it. They pay for Search skill to be better at these rolls.

Plus, realistically, there is overlooking the obvious, situational blindness, the difficulty of finding things, and the vagaries of unorganized looking as opposed to organized searching.

If the players specify some course of action which will inevitably result in finding something, and failure to find it is uninteresting, yeah, I just skip the roll. They find it. If failure to find it is interesting, either right then or later when the PCs return to search again, I'll let them roll. Plenty of players will invest a lot in Per and Search to avoid missing things. I find it cheapens those skills if we routinely avoid rolls, but it cheapens player skill if I don't hand out great bonuses for choosing the right ways to search.

As with a lot of things, I straddle "old school" and "new school" and even the revival of old-school with new-school ideas.


  1. "Generally, if failure isn't interesting, I don't roll."

    I always call for a roll. Keeps the Players from saying "Okay, nothing to see here" and moving on with full confidence that there is nothing overlooked.

    "... it cheapens player skill if I don't hand out great bonuses for choosing the right ways to search."

    If I don't care about a Players real life swording skill, why would I care about their real life searching skills? Likewise I don't reward Player skill in speechifying, puzzle-solving, or other real life skill areas.

    Tactics probably gets rewarded. Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one.

    1. That's one way to go. But I don't want, "I search the room." I'd like people to actively investigate. Like tactics, like choosing the right attack form versus a monster, like choosing left and getting treasure when choosing right led to death, or talking to someone instead of attacking, choosing the right places and way to search will have different results than choosing the wrong ones.

      All rolling does is find out the results of choices made and words chosen by the players. Handing out bonuses and penalties for those choices and words is no different for search than for anything else in my games.


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