Thursday, December 13, 2018

Push Off

I've been thinking about push mechanics in role-playing games, and I'm a bit baffled by the concept. Maybe someone out there can explain what I'm missing.

I have encountered push mechanics in Call of Cthulhu 7 and Mutant Year Zero, and I wasn't convinced either time.

The basic idea is that if you fail a roll, you can try again and if that roll is also a failure then something interesting -- and probably bad -- happens.

My question is: why doesn't something interesting happen with the first failure? What's the benefit to putting the interesting stuff behind a second roll? It seems to me to be inefficient design, rolling for rolling's sake. It reminds me of those versions of D&D in which you score a critical hit, but then have to roll again to see if the critical hit was an actual critical hit, or who knows what.

It seems to me that this sort of mechanic is hiding the fun -- that's not to say dice rolling isn't fun, but it's a different sort of fun -- behind a superfluous dice roll, but perhaps I'm just not getting it.

The other possible issue is that every time I've seen a GM ask "Do you want to try again, bearing in mind that if you fail a second time, something bad will happen?" no player has ever gone for it, but maybe they weren't getting it either.

(Shrug emoji.)