COMPATIBILITY: This plug-in assumes that your game uses dice (in smallish numbers - typically one to three at a shot) to resolve tasks or conflicts, and that failed rolls are a distinct possibility. If you’re ever seen someone miss their roll a couple of times in a row during a session with the system, and this wasn’t a great shock, but was something of an irritation, this may be a good plug-in for you.
WHAT IS THIS?
Imagine if, when you were making your regular roll in a game, you rolled an extra die or two of the same type, and that these dice didn’t count, right off the bat, but they could. If you just paid a little something extra. So, it looks like you missed the orc with that roll, yep - oh, but your temptation die would be good enough to make the grade, if you switched to it. Is it worth paying a point of your health, strain a little harder, and do that? And that’s what Temptation dice are. They aren’t (necessarily) there to tempt the character. They’re there to tempt the player, and give them an extra option where the ‘fail rate’ is a irksome factor, but can’t be written out.
TO PLUG THEM IN
To add temptation dice to a game, there are a number of decisions you’ll need to make about how they will appear and be used.
TEMPTATION, STUNTING & BONUS DICE
Some games already use bonus dice of various kinds, notably including “stunting dice” that are granted to a player for good description. In games that already do this, it’s possible to simply state that those dice are temptation dice - you get to roll them in the normal way, but they only count if you pay the temptation cost. Note that this is possible, but not necessarily recommended; the usefulness and fun factor of this kind of application varies wildly by rules system.
TEMPTATION ON DEMAND
If temptation dice are used only on very specific rolls, or there’s an outrageously creative GM running the table, it’s also possible to leave off the cost of activating the dice altogether. If this is done, anytime the player wants those dice, the GM can tell them what will happen if they take them. So, if temptation dice were only used for mystical affairs, they might be ‘side effect’ dice; if you want them, you’ll need to accept some strangeness.
Of course, it’s also possible to cast temptation dice as something meant to tempt the character as well as the player. In a game filled with laser swords (ahem), temptation dice might represent the darker side of things. This can be combined with temptation on demand; in a game where every character has voices in their head, or a horrible monstrosity lurking within them waiting to make them large and green, those voices might actually be offering real help. Of course, the price can be steep.
If temptation on demand is available to the characters on a really regular basis, it’s often best to spread it out among the players. In this case, each player might act as “the tempter” to one other. Or you might roll a white temptation die and a black one with each roll, with the player to your right offering you noble self-sacrificing costs (and the white die), while the player on your left offers you depraved and awful side effects (and the black die). Reciprocal temptation concepts can be structured many different ways, but all of them require a group of players that will gleefully make offers that elicit a wince and a thoughtful pause. In addition, if temptation is going to be reciprocal and player-managed in this way, it’s often a good idea to have a list of common, recommended temptations on hand for inspiration and to act as guidelines for what is ‘about right’.