I’ve often been dissatisfied with the way that most games handle contested rolls. It comes down to, hey roll your dice and you get a decent success. The GM then rolls his dice, and by happenstance, rolls better than you. That’s it, your character’s out. The rest of your group derides your character for his lack of ability, even though you rolled a better than an average roll and their characters had no better chance.

I am prone to equate this to combat being reduced to each combatant making an attack roll and whoever rolls the highest wins…. ugh!!!!!

I have toyed with the idea of making a social combat where each participant whittles away the resolve of the other individuals in a contest of wit, charisma, and intelligence. With the amount of time that I have seen combat take, I am leery at creating another type of combat.

So to that end, I’ve decided to use a diminishing roll where the participants can choose to re-roll at the cost of dice in their dice pool.

For example:

Rancid and Coleman approach a traveling caravan that eye the two suspiciously. Coleman lays a hand on Rancid’s arm, knowing the grizzled wastelander was less than cordial with others.

“We’re looking to trade for some water, would you happen to have any?” Began Coleman.

“We have a couple liters we can spare, but it will cost 10 blue chips.” The caravan master kept a rifle pointed at the duo, but Rancid couldn’t tell if it was loaded or just for show.

Coleman scoffed, “that’s highway robbery. I’ll give you 3 blue chips for 3 liters.”

The player rolls Coleman’s bartering of 7 and gets a success. The Game Master (GM) roles the caravan master bartering of 5 and gets 2 successes.

“Ha! without water you’ll dry up in sun.” The caravan master knew he had the upperhand. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll cut you a break  and I’ll give it to you for 9 chips.”

The player decides to roll again, he pays 1 die for having to reroll, bring his total to 6. He achieves 2 successes, not enough to sway the caravan master. He pays another 2 for a reroll, bringing his dice total to 4. In a last ditch effort, the player rolls and gets 4 successes.

Coleman sees that the caravan master is playing them; his offer of 5 chips was flatly refused. Eyeing the caravan master’s rifle Coleman changes his tactics, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll give you 3 chips and two rounds for that thirty-aught-six.”

The GM decides to reroll for the caravan master. Paying one die for the reroll, the caravans die total is reduced to 4. The GM rolls 2 success, not enough beat the players roll.

The caravan master’s eyes widen, he considers it for a minute but decides it is too good to pass up.


Two of the caravan hands bring out the water, as Coleman hands over the chips and bullets. The caravan master smiles as he slides a round into the empty chamber of his rifle.

“Pleasure doing business with you, you see anyone on the trail, you tell them Coyote Bill will hook ‘em up.”

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