Group Contested Attribute Rolls - How to run?

How do I handle contested action rolls being done by 2 groups rather than a 1-on-1 or 1 vs many type scenario?

An awkward moment came up at my table a long time ago where a group contest happened and then we suddenly realized we had no way of determining how to decide who won.

I believe it was one of those stupid whacky bizarre scenarios I like to plop into my campaigns every now and then.
Like “Hah! I took your friend’s soul, and the only way to get it back is to beat me in a game of chess!”
That time was simple enough, it was a contested action roll between one player and the opponent. Logic vs Logic.
That was no problem.

But the next scenario I had which sounded cool on paper was where there was a problem.

This time they were in a beach looking for a macguffin or something, they encounter the resident main bad guy of the week who had already found the macguffin and was all like: “Haha! I already have the macguffin! If you want it, then you will have to beat me and my robot friends in a game of epic lewd obligatory beach volleyball!!! And if you lose, I GET TO STEAL YOUR SOULS!!!”

Something along those lines maybe…

Anyway, the volleyball game began, the two sides rolled their attribute dice, and when everyone finally finished their rolls, there was a moment of silence.
I looked at everyone’s results and then I said “Huh? How do I decide the winner here?”

It was at that point that I realized… Contested rolls weren’t really designed for 2 groups competing… And group rolls weren’t designed for contests…

In the official site it states this:

Sometimes, two or more characters are directly opposing each other in a test of strength, wits, or charm. For example, a mighty barbarian wrestles with a minotaur to get hold of a magical gem. Or three representatives of different star systems attempt to persuade the warleader of the intergalactic reavers to join their forces. Or a stealthy ninja attempts to sneak unseen past the watch of the monks on guard. These sorts of situations are called contested actions.

To resolve such contests, each character involved makes an action roll using an appropriate attribute. Whoever rolls the highest succeeds at the action. Sometimes, all parties use the same attribute for their action rolls, but often, each character will use a different attribute, as in the case of the rogue attempting to sneak (Agility) past the guard’s watch (Perception).


As the Unnamed Necromancer attempts to open a portal to release a shade demon upon the land, Uldric the Protector attempts to exert every ounce of his magical will to close the portal. The GM calls for a contested action between the two. The Necromancer makes an Entropy roll and gets a 25, while Uldric gets a 20 on his Protection roll. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the demon has been unleashed.

It says it can handle a contest for 2 or more characters, but I can only ever see this working in 1 on 1. Maybe a battle royale, but when teams get involved it gets wonky.

It doesn’t help that it doesn’t give an example of a group doing a contested action. Only a one on one scenario.

You may be thinking running one is obvious, and I shouldn’t be confused. And you’d be right. Because that’s what I initially thought to before running the game and coming up with the idea of playing volleyball.
But when the game began, there was nothing but confusion and questions for us.

As an example, let’s run the barest minimum Group Contest. 2 people trying to sneak past 2 guards. 2 agility and 2 perception rolls.

The sneakers roll an 18 and a 14, and the guards roll a 19 and a 12.

Who won in that scenario?

There are rules for group action rolls, but that one assumes the group are working to overcome a task together. It sets a CR.
What would be the CR for a group contested action roll then? How, and why should the DC be that way?

If it helps, I was running VanGo’s Skill Challenge rules at the time, but I doubt that’s necessary information for the problem at hand.

BTW if you were wondering what happened with that volleyball game, we ended up ignoring it in the end. The resident main bad guy of the week just said they could play another game instead, so they did. I forgot what it was, but it was at least something I could reasonably adjudicate proper responses and questions to.
It was explained that it turned out neither side knew how to play volleyball or something lol.

If anyone can tell me a simple and intuitive way to run such a thing so that when it happens again I’ll be prepared, that would make me a very jolly man… Woman?

If such a thing was never intended or the rules already make it clear how to run, personal experience, anything would be appreciated.


I think it was meant as multiple opposing parties facing each other or as you called it for “battle royale”. Beyond that, I don’t think contested rolls were ever meant to handle 2v2, 3v3, etc.

That being said, if I had to improvise a 2v2 contested roll (I’ll stick with your example), I’d have the two sides roll, combine their results and compare them. Whoever scored higher wins. In the case of a tie, you side with the aggressing side or rather the initiating side, as OL always sides with the active side, like when an attack roll meets the Guard, it’s still considered a hit, not a miss.


My idea on this would maybe to add up each action roll and take the total numbers and compare them, or if the numbers on each side of the net take the average?

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So as a GM I would run this a group skill challenge rather than a contested roll. Less rolling, more things are in the players court to control. Set a CR that makes sense for the guards.

There is the table for how challenging a task is to use as a reference. If the guard would have advantage you can increase the CR by 2, etc.

In the case of the Volleyball game, that’s really just a whole mess, and honestly isn’t all that great of an idea. This is way more of a design thing, and what you are wanting to get out of it. If you are actually attempting to simulate the feel of a volleyball game, for example.

Others already mentioned adding up rolls of everyone, to go a simple way. It’s a bit of adding but it is something.

You can set a CR for doing a good play, and then see how many successes you have on each side, side with most successes wins that round. Or Successes and Failures cancel each other out (so 3 success and 1 failure = 2 successes total).

You can also just have a single person do the roll on each side. Considering you have only 1 player, that would probably be more ideal. It’s a little harder to simulate multiple people vs actually having the multiple people. With just 1 player that’s a lot of extra rolling that happens, and it doesn’t have as much meaning, and can lead to less fun. The other NPCs could just add advantage to the roll if you want them to have more of an impact.

EDIT (More info):

To be more clear on that last paragraph, the reason for using the skill challenge rather than contested rolls is it adds so much more dice rolling, which just turns into a slog, and can quickly become lacking in fun. Setting up a CR for the player(s) to roll against is also generally better as it has less chance of the GM rolling explosions that you have to worry about.

You can do contested rolls in these situations, sure, but as the GM, rolling that much, it just doesn’t go as well and just brings gameplay to a screeching halt. Keeping it simpler and faster for something already loose in its explanation (an entire volleyball game being played where you have positions, synergy, setups, special hits, deceptions in w here you are hitting, etc etc), just setting a CR to be able to score a point vs the other side makes it far easier. So everyone on the player(s) side can roll for that, and using VanGo’s skill challenge it gives you the different dials you can turn for how hard it is to be successful.


Thanks for the replies! I actually forgot I posted this. Oops.

I waited like one hour and then decided to leave it later to do other stuff, and then forgot.

using average is the last thing you’d want to do.
Calculating for mean is hard and slow. The more participants, the slower it’ll be to get the average for everyone, and it would of course mean a calculator would be required to keep the game running fast which isn’t ideal.

Pretty much everyone suggested simply adding everyone’s rolls together, which makes sense, it would probably statistically result the same as taking average. The side with the higher rolls still wins in that which again, makes so much sense I have no idea why I didn’t just do it that way before.
Maybe I did but for some reason I went against the idea because my small math brain couldn’t tell if it was statistically sound or something dumb like that lol.
It is a lot of adding, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be that much of a pain. High numbers is something that happens a lot in Open Legend and you get used to counting up to really high numbers due to explosions so I don’t see the difference.

My original idea on how to run it back then actually was to set up a round robin and compare the rolls of everyone against everyone.
As you can guess, that was daunting so we did something else.

@Great_Moustache provided a long response and what he said were all very good points I think.
Setting a CR and comparing each side’s victory counts is a really interesting take, and yeah, since I run for a party of 1, just making it 1 on 1 would’ve made it much easier.
For a party of 1 I didn’t need to make it a group contest, it could’ve just been a 1 on 1 contest. But for groups larger than 1 player (basically everyone else) the skill challenge thing seems like the most statistically sound for me than adding everyone’s rolls. Or not? I don’t really know.

I did it since I wanted to present a unique puzzle challenge to my player where the fact that it was a team competition would be important.
I think the npc allies he was with at the time were still pretty doubtful of his pc or something, so there’s some internal conflict that needs to be resolved so that they can win or something really anime like that.
And to add to it, there was another layer of external conflict to consider. The fact that their opponent was cheating, but they had to figure out that they were cheating in the first place, and that if they were, how, and how can they beat that cheat. Due to the nature of the cheat, most solutions I could think of required teamwork so I thought it was sound.

To test if I understand correctly, or if it’s a good idea in the first place, an add on to VanGo’s skill challenge homebrew.
A fourth special type of skill challenge. Let’s call it…

The opposed group challenge.
The opposed group challenge is when 2 groups are competing.
A CR is set by the GM to determine the difficulty of the task both groups are doing.
All participants of both sides roll to beat this CR, the side with the most members beating the CR wins. For the purposes of counting victory, an extraordinary success (rolling 10 points higher than the CR) counts as +2 wins for their side.
This means the side with more members are more likely to win.
When the victor has been decided, the progress and setback bars are updated accordingly and an event is played out as usual before the next roll if the skill challenge has not yet ended.
Due to the nature of this type of challenge, there is no extraordinary success or failure. Either the progress or setback bar is raised by 1 at the end of the rolls.

Example opposed group challenge
For this example, we’ll imagine the scenario taking place in a modern day setting. The player party is challenged by a party of thugs to play a game of basketball after one of the player characters mocked one of them without reason.
The 2 sides agree to play a short 3 on 3 game.

For this opposed group challenge, the GM has decided to set the progress bar and setback bar to 2 for the win and fail conditions and has set the CR for both sides to 15.

Turn 1 - The first half of the clock
The player characters all made their attribute rolls resulting in a 15, 17, and 8 respectively resulting in 2 wins, the thugs roll 10, 20, and 13 resulting only in 1 win.
The winner of this round is the party.

  • Progress bar: 1/2
  • Setback bar: 0/2

Opportunity Event
The unexpected good performance of the player characters has infuriated the thugs, they have lost their cool and are now playing wrecklessly, giving the thugs disadvantage next turn.

Turn 2 - The second half of the clock
The player characters all made their attribute rolls resulting in a 12, 21, and 11 respectively resulting in only 1 win, the thugs roll 28, 19, and 3 resulting only in a whopping 3 wins.
The winner of this round are the thugs.

  • Progress bar: 1/2
  • Setback bar: 1/2

Setback Event
The anger of the thugs ended up making them perform better, both teams end the game with equal scores, so they decide to go overtime to determine the winner. Both sides take a break before starting overtime, unbeknownst to the party, the thugs decide to rig the game while on break, raising the CR for the party to 17 if they fail their Perception check of CR 15 to notice the thugs rigging.

Turn 3 - Overtime
The party fails their Perception check, the CR for them is now 17.
The player characters all made their attribute rolls resulting in a 21, 15, and 17 respectively resulting in 2 wins, the thugs roll 15, 14, and 12 resulting only in 1 win.
The winner of this round is the party.

  • Progress bar: 2/2
  • Setback bar: 1/2

Despite the thug’s attempt at cheating, the party ends up victorious, proving that they were as good as they said. This earns them the respect of the thugs who even went as far as cheating to ensure victory for them. This new friendship would result in many new opportunities for the party, good and bad, however they will only notice it until much later.

Not sure about that though. I think it would be best if we just did combinations of all rolls the next time such a thing ever decides to rear its head out again…
That seems better and simpler for me.

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