Dungeon Master Tips Dungeons and Dragons

How to add an instant game mechanic to simulate gambling in Dungeons & Dragons

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Devil: “Sign this IOU contract and I will help your fallen comrade!”

Paladin (pulls out a deck of cards): “I’ll play you for your help.”

Devil (swoops down and sits): “Buahahaha! Deal the cards, mortal!”

Dungeon Master (me) thinking: “Oh f*ck! How do I run this???”

The above actually happened in a recent Dungeons & Dragons adventure and while I loved the initiative of the player (instant Inspiration right there), I had to come up with a battle plan really really quickly not to break the tension.

As with all things, the simple idea is often the best and I decided to play out the card game using a simple dice game from my childhood that I don’t even know the name of, but it works like this:

  • Each player has a single D6.
  • Player 1 rolls as many times as he like, adding up the numbers as he goes.
  • He can choose to stop or continue after each roll.
  • However, if he rolls a 1, he has automatically lost!
  • Assuming Player 1 did not roll a 1 but ended up with a number, let’s say 15, the turn goes to Player 2.
  • Player 2’s tasks is effectively to roll over the 15 Player 1 rolled.
  • If she succeeds, she win. If she roll a 1, she loses and Player 1 wins.

For Dungeons & Dragons, you can modify the difficulty by changing the opponent’s die. In the scenario above, I made the Devil roll with a D10.

Funnily, the Devil rolled a 1 on his first roll, but that didn’t stop the excitement that clearly came across in the players cheering.

It sounds simple, but it really adds some quick tension and makes the card game, horse race, bowling game, whatever tangible to the players.