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Tyranny of Fun Squared: Get Rid of Hit Rolls as Missing is not Fun

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There are times I think the various Tyranny Of Fun arguments about D&D4's design are slightly overblown. Then I read things like No Roll To Hit: Rationale on Eleven Foot Pole and change my mind. There apparently are a good number of players who think anything that does not go their way means the game has become double plus unfun.

From the post:

It's a truism to say you can only enjoy playing the game if you are, in fact, playing the game. When a player has no meaningful input into the proceedings, they're not a player, they're a spectator.
Later in the post:
The fourth and final situation is the most relevant for our purposes, and that is when, during the player's turn, they take a null action. That is to say, an action which creates no change to the state of play. The most common example is rolling to hit and missing. Play goes on, with the player having contributed nothing.

Missing is simply not fun. Having waited a full round of initiative and then achieving nothing is functionally identical to skipping your turn. If you expend an encounter power or daily power and miss, you're actually worse off than when you started.
I think I want to cry. The post goes on to give some other reasons for eliminating the hit roll, but they seen just as out-of-touch with reality to me. The chance of missing somehow invalidates player tactical skill because it makes the result random. Rolling to hit and then rolling damage if you hit is redundant. The hit roll 4e is too complex mathematically -- it might hurt the brain of those who can't handle addition and subtraction and therefore might be unfun, I guess.

Sadly, there are apparently RPG players out there who think this is a wonderful idea. All I can say is, they better not try to play in any of my campaigns.

E.G.Palmer said...
July 4, 2009 at 2:30 PM  

Wow, man! If this was Fark, I'd post one of those, "you're doing it wrong!" pics.

Zzarchov said...
July 4, 2009 at 3:27 PM  

Its the nature of society, people can't handle failure or difficulty.

Ever notice the options on Facebook are yes and ignore...you can't say no.

Oddysey said...
July 4, 2009 at 3:53 PM  

Having waited a full round of initiative and then achieving nothing is functionally identical to skipping your turn.

This suggests to me that the real issue isn't with missing, but with the wait time between turns in 3.5 and 4e. A recent combat in my 3.5 game had 45 minutes in between turns, which frustrated one of my players who's mostly played Swords & Wizardry. In old school, he doesn't mind missing, because his turn rolls back around in a few minutes, tops (and he's involved in combat even when it's not rolling his own dice, since we use group initiative) but in 3.5 he gets frustrated with it.

James Maliszewski said...
July 4, 2009 at 4:21 PM  

I have found it generally healthier for my sanity to avoid reading any blogs or forums that regularly discuss 4e. I would recommend the same.

Wyatt said...
July 4, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

James, perhaps you are reading the wrong 4e blogs then. Or maybe anything related to 4e does offend you. The latter case is perfectly legitimate.

As a 4e player I find that entirely extreme.

4e has already done something to mitigate that concern – some powers still do one or two smallish things when they miss, and some do things regardless of whether or not you miss (The "Effect" line occurs regardless of whether a power hits or misses). If a person is really very afraid of missing, there's powers, feats and effects to take for that.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...
July 4, 2009 at 8:49 PM  

Egads! "Missing is not fun." Why not just have Major League Baseball adopt the use of a tee rather using pitchers? Oops, bad example. They already have steroids.

Missing is fun when it's the dragon's turn to attack.

KenHR said...
July 4, 2009 at 11:13 PM  

Yikes. They've already got "miss effects" in 4e...is this what 5e will bring?

One can only hope that people will realize rewards without the risk of failure is about as exciting as flipping a light switch before then.

Norman Harman said...
July 5, 2009 at 1:43 AM  

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but...

Hitting is only fun because sometimes you miss. Missing makes hitting a pleasurable accomplishment. Something that happens automatically, without effort is boring and not fun.

Have you ever cheated at a CRPG/FPS? Hacked it so your stats are awesome, turned on god mode. Every time I've done that I've quit playing that game within days. The challenge disappears, it becomes no fun.

Robert Fisher said...
July 5, 2009 at 5:15 AM  

Funny. I’ve actually considered removing attack rolls before. I may still try it sometime.

But not because missing isn’t fun. Rather, I like trying to come up with the minimal game that I’d still find interesting to play. How much of oD&D (or my best guess at primordial D&D) can I strip away and still enjoy?

Of course, I also took away the “always do at least one point of damage” bit, so it would be entirely possible to do zero damage, so you could still miss even without a “to hit” roll.

Randall said...
July 5, 2009 at 9:01 AM  


The long combats are one of the things that really turn me off to WOTC editions. I perfer fast combat that leaves more time in a four or five hour game session for other things. Combat rounds (4 players plus hirelings) last a couple of minutes in my current game. No one gets bored.


While there aren't any 4e blogs on my regular reading list, I check RPGBloggers a couple of times most days and click on anything that looks interesting regardless of game system. That's how I stumbled on this post.


I've experimented with removing damage rolls in the past. Weapons did fixed damage adjusted by how much you beat the number you needed to hit with your hit roll. It worked fairly well in most cases, but did make combat with high hit point monsters last longer (on average).

Spike Page said...
July 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

I think I can sympathize with any player who is involved in a game in which turns take exceedingly long times to cycle through and/or the chance to succeed on the turn is unreasonably slim..BUT

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Like Rusty said above, how would the game be if the monsters had the same odds? Fun for the dragon. UNfun for the charbroiled cleric.

IMO the real secret to adding funnessity to D&D involves rewarding the players with actual gold coins and treasure rather than narrative ones. And while we're dreaming, can I have a pony?

JDJarvis said...
July 6, 2009 at 6:30 AM  

Argghhh...no to hit roll?

Attacking and missing doesn't = nothing happened, plain and simple. A DM who plays combat that way is boring.

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