Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Quick Note - Stunts an optional mechanic for your game

Back when I used to run D&D Encounters at my local (then local) game store I had an eight-year-old kid who was part of the "core group" (the people who showed up weekly). He was an imaginative kid, and loved to play rogues (I let my core group make their characters). He, however, always wanted his Rogue to do crazy things, like run across the wall, flip over the goblin and stab it in the back. Now with 4e rules this was not impossible, but like all D&D games meant a lot of rolling and number crunching.

First an athletics check to make sure he can do the wall run, fulled by an acrobatics check for the jump flip, than I rolled to see if his opponent got an attack of opportunity (I forget the 4e name), then he would roll his attack and maybe his damage.

I loved it, his dad would always groan and tell him to just "do something normal", and we all hated all the rolling. It was like grappling in 3.5 (or any edition for that matter with grappling rules) something that could make some cool visuals in the style of the game and had some nifty benefits if successful was discouraged because of the time invested into making it happen. At the very least it was five dice rolls and if we had a rules lawyer in the group that week the ability to do such things was even harder due to square counting.


With this in mind and my question from last week about cinematic combat I present Stunts:

Stunts are moves, actions, and effects that take place in combat that differ from the normal actions and attacks that would take place in combat. When a player wants to conduct a stunt ask him or her to roll a d% with a success rate of your choice. Should the player roll over that success rate he or she is successful in his or her stunt.

It is recommended that a stunt start at 20% (10% for base move and 10% for base attack) and increase by 10% for each additional action that the player wishes to accomplish. Please note that a player cannot call for a stunt and just say he or she will hit the enemy multiple times, a stunt needs to be a combination of moves and attacks.

Example: Robert, the Dreaded Thief King of York, wants to throw his dagger at his enemy, run toward the enemy, slid under his legs, spring back up behind the enemy and strike him again. This is 5 actions and would require a stunt roll of 50% or greater to be successful. All Robert has to do now is roll his to-hit and damage. 


Stunts are still a little raw, and I've only used them once in an actual game. I will say though that the referee always has the right to say no if he or she believes the player is attempting to abuse the mechanic. 


  1. I like this idea, but I feel like this should be harder to pull off? Like perhaps adding a flat 10 -20% on top of the 'number of actions' calculation, making Robert need to roll either a 60% or 70% to succeed. I also feel like the character's skill should be accounted for somehow. This could be as simple as a bonus to the roll for each relevant level the character has (If Robert is an 8th level thief he gets +8 to his die roll). It may be wise to limit this kind of 'off the wall' action to a set number of times per session/encounter as well. Maybe 1 stunt for every 2 character levels? Like I said, I think this is a great idea, and these are just my first raw reactions to this raw mechanic. What do you think?

    1. first of all: Thank you! I have actually been wondering about the ease of succeeding on the stunt rolls and have been arguing with myself over the idea of an extra 10% besides the default move/action 20% to offset the potential ease.

      I did experiment with level based (I actually went with a +1 every 4 levels up to 12)and found it in controlled conditions (just me no players) to make the rolls a little easier to succeed. I wonder though with the other aspect you mentioned if that would offset the bonus to make it a little more even. I will have to test that out.

      Thanks again!

  2. I might also limit the number of additional actions (over and above the normal two of move and attack) allowed by a character to their Level. So a 1st level can do 3, a 5th can do 7. Or some such formula, like every 2 levels.