When setting a scene during a story GMs cover major elements and details. With some notable exceptions it’s difficult to include every detail in a scene. This means there is a framework for everyone to play within but occasionally questions arrive. When players ask questions or look for things in the scene the GM may simply say yes or no but depending on the request a Fortune roll can be used to determine if what the players are looking for is there and/or available.
Separated from the other Coven members Chaz, Grigori and Margaret duck into an alleyway, they were being herded and they knew it. All of them could feel the presence of the jawed nightmare moving behind them. They alley was narrow, but not so tight that the horrid creature would be unable to reach them. Garbage bins and refuse littered the alleyway.
Here we have a set up for action. The players decide this is where they will make their stand. First Chaz’s player asks if there is a trash bin large enough for him to hide behind. The GM had mentioned there was a lot of trash in the alley and so he quickly points out there are probably several piles of trash and bins he could completely hide behind. As neither Gregori or Margaret are the physical type neither of them are looking to be stuck in alley when the Living Nightmare comes for them. Margaret asks the GM is there are any fire escapes. While this was not in the original description it seems reasonable and it could give the players a major advantage. Because of this the GM decides it’s feasible but to let Fortune decide and asks Margaret and Grigori’s players to make Fortune Rolls. The GM sets the Target at Average (15) because it is reasonable but wants to leave some room for bad luck. The GM also decides that should they succeed by a Margin of 5 he’ll even give them a bonus.
Margaret’s Fortune Roll is 13 (Fortune 6 + 2d6)
Grigori’s Fortune Roll is 17 (Fortune 8 + 2d6)
Reviewing the results the GM tells the payers that there is one fire escape in the alley but the ladder is not down someone will need to jump to grab the ladder and pull it down or will need a boost to get up there. Had Grigori rolled a 20 they ladder would have been down and they could have simply climbed up from the start. Because they need to clear the ladder initially it will take them at least one additional turn before they can start climbing the fire escape.
Using the Fortune roll in this scene adds an element of the unknown and the results force the players to consider their next actions. Do they want to risk the added time and be caught exposed or attempt the climb for a better tactical position?
When deciding to use a Fortune roll in a scene the GM should evaluate the significance of the actions involved. and how reasonable the request is. In this example Chaz’s player was expanding on something that was already established. A Fortune roll could have been used here but with the set up of the scene didn’t seem necessarily. The other players request asks for things not established in the scene description and offers a tactical advantage. Because of this the GM decided a Fortune roll was appropriate but because the request was reasonable set an Average Target.
One thing to consider is when assigning a target for a Fortune Roll anything above Advanced (25) becomes almost impossible because there are no Supporting Characteristics. While an Easy (5) roll is an automatic success. This should help GMs in determining if a roll is even necessary.
These Fortune rolls are used to add additional suspense to a scene and help GMs navigate the line between giving players too much and too like. It’s important to not let Fortune rolls become a crutch though. GMs should always attempt to provide rich descriptions and backgrounds for the players to build from.