There are times when the randomness of the dice bring frustration, despair, and a strange sort of rage; when players curse the little critters and cast them aside, picking up another in the superstitious hope that this die will perform better; when DMs grumble that their monsters can’t hit the broadside of a dragon, let alone a barn; but when it comes down to it, I love the way the roll of the dice can completely alter a situation, changing the game being played, helping to tell the emerging story that occurs through playing Old School type games (such as early D&D, ACKS, C&C, LL and so forth).
For example: last night was the ninth session of our ACKS campaign, and the party had arrived at the free city in search of supplies, ,mercenaries, and their smuggler contact. Turned out that the smuggler had been arrested and was due to be hanged in three days; his associated wanted the party to free him, and they happily agreed. Having made plans, they made their way to the sheriff’s office at night, intent on knocking out the guards and freeing Mortin, fleeing into the night afterwards with no one the wiser.
It started off so well: they blocked the chimney, smoking the guards in the office out, along with the sheriff. As they poured out of the door, the cleric slept the sheriff with his command word, and the others pushed the two guards back into the room, knocking one out pretty much straight away.
Then the dice turned on them, and they started missing. The guard recovered and fought back, and the sheriff woke, fended out blows aimed at him, and drew his sword. No one could land a nonlethal blow… so the explorer decided it would be easier to kill them instead. He stabbed the guard through the heart, killing him; and again, the dice turned against them; so much so that before the sheriff was eventually slain, he had hacked the hand off the cleric and critically wounded him.
So the party are inside the sheriff’s office, two dead bodies at their feet, blood on their hands, smoke wafting out of the uncovered chimney. Luckily no one has been alerted, but it is only a matter of time before someone spots the remnants of the smoke at least, or the guards in the dungeon below decide to investigate the faint noises they heard. And if the party are caught in the act, they’ll suddenly become criminals, in a city full of soldiers, and who knows what’ll happen then; and all because of the throw of the dice.
Anyone care to share any stories about how the dice changed their games?