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).
EXAMPLE CONTESTED ACTION
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.