Dice Results and You

I've been running some surveys on a few gaming forums (fora? - sounds wrong, but might be right).
UK Role Players Forum
Giant in the Playground Forum

I'm interested in how gamers feel about success and failure, and whose dice roll determines that success or failure. My intent was to use the results as part of the support for various game-play ideas I had: being a sciencey sort of chap, I thought it would be best to get real data rather than rely on my own pre-conceptions about what other gamers feel.

I've got around fifty responses at the time of writing, and may yet get more, but it seems like a good time to dig in and examine the spread of answers.

What was I trying to prove?
My hypothesis was that gamers prefer to roll their own success and failure - they feel less bad when they fail if they rolled the dice themselves, and feel better when they roll successes for themselves.
For "fail", I include all bad outcomes for the player's character: not noticing a trap, falling off a cliff, being hit in combat, etc.

The Questions
  1. When you roll good numbers (so your character succeeds), how do you feel?
  2. When you roll badly (so your character fails), how do you feel?
  3. For opposed rolls, if you roll well, but the GM rolls better (so your character fails), how do you feel?
  4. For opposed rolls, when the GM rolls poorly but you roll better (so your character succeeds), how do you feel?
  5. Do you feel better about success when you roll the dice, or when the GM rolls the dice?
  6. Do you feel worse about failure when you roll the dice, or when the GM rolls?
In Q3 & Q4, "opposed" rolls are when the player and the GM each roll dice in contest with each other, and the better result wins. They're fairly typical in lots of RPGs.
I felt these sorts of rolls were significantly different to simple uncontested rolls (where the player is just aiming for a target number) because the introduction of the GM as another agent in the roll adds a social / competitive dimension.

Q5 & Q6 are flip sides of the same question: if success is better when you roll the dice, then it follows that success is less good when the GM rolls.

The Results
Q1 & Q2 gave fairly predictable results: players feel good about success, and bad about failure - or neutral. Notice that the majorities here are fairly overwhelming.
Q1: Majority positive feelings about success

Q2: Majority negative feelings about failure
 It's also interesting that while no-one expressed negative feelings about success, a few responders expressed positive feelings about failure - roughly the same number as expressed neutral feelings.
Those comments were along the lines of "failure can lead to exciting situations" - essentially, that the drama of the game can be served by the failure of the heroes. Very altruistic!

 Q3 & Q4 again gave similar results to Q1 and Q2, but notice that the overwhelming majorities are reduced. There are a lot more neutral opinions when the rolls are opposed.
Q3 & Q4: Reduced majority +ve & -ve feelings about opposed rolls, increased neutral feelings

Q5 & Q6 show that the majority feels better about success and failure when rolling the dice for themselves. However, it's worth noticing that the majority is reduced regarding failure.
Q5 & Q6: Majority favours player rolling the dice

The Nuances
Because the questions were asked in open forums, responders were free to elaborate on their answers. This produced lots of subtle variation to the bald results, and some interesting unsolicited insights - some of which were quite commonly expressed.

GM fudging:
Most obviously, the issue of GMs fudging the dice results came up in about one third of responses - and the comments were all negative. From these results, it appears that GMs' honesty as referees of the game is either viewed neutrally (about 2/3 answers expressed no opinion on GM fudging), or negatively (a little over 1/3 of answers showed suspicion of GMs' declared dice results).

National bias:
The UK Roleplayers forum (massively UK membership, few international members) produced a similar overall pattern of results to the Giant in the Playground forum (54% US membership, otherwise international), but included far less "Neutral" responses.
In fact, the only neutral responses on the UK RP forum are those that expressed no opinion on GM fudging - which was an unsolicited topic.

The Conclusions?
My hypothesis that players feel better about rolling the dice for themselves is born out by the responses.
It also appears that feelings are stronger about success than they are about failure.

The untrustworthiness of GMs with regards to dice rolls is an issue for a significant proportion of responders. All those who expressed an opinion on trust said that they did not trust GMs' dice results.

As to what to do with these results - I plan to go into the practical application of the results in another post.
These surveys were carried out to establish the opinions of fellow players to support some game-play ideas I've been mulling over. Watch this space!

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