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I have recently stumbled upon the Open Legend (OL) RPG. I often play as a D&D 5e gamemaster and I was wondering if the “every roll matters” rule could fit D&D gameplay style.

From The Core Mechanic: The Action Roll (emphasis in original):

The action roll

Roll 1d20 + attribute dice (all dice explode).

  • If the action roll equals or exceeds the Challenge Rating, then the result is the player succeeds.
  • If the action roll is less than the Challenge Rating, then the result is the player succeeds with a twist OR the player fails but the story progresses. (GM's choice.)

The “every roll matters” rule was designed to make player actions meaningful to the story whether they succeed or fail. It recognizes the fact that static pass / fail rolls aren’t particularly fun for players. But “every roll matters” also adds an extra layer of complexity to the game because it requires the GM to make on-the-fly interpretations.

This particular rule applies, in Open Legend, every time a character attempts either an ability check or a saving throw.

What caught my attention was the second point, and in particular the player succeeds with a twist feature, which further in the core mechanics is described as follows:

When a player fails an action roll, the GM may choose to allow the player’s action to succeed with a twist. In this case, the player gets what they wanted originally, but there is some sort of unintended consequence or unexpected cost. The following list is not exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of what qualifies as a twist.

  • Put a character in danger
  • Expend a resource
  • Make an enemy or lose a friend
  • Overlook an important detail
  • Waste time
  • Attract attention
  • Find something you weren’t looking for

I was wondering if the application of the player succeeds with a twist feature as a variant in D&D 5e ability check and saving throws failure interpretation (where usually a fail is just a fail) could improve the storytelling fluency (and overall party fun) without unbalancing the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this in regard to Ability check "encounter and challenges" only? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 20 '18 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is an exceptional rule also for combat: openlegendrpg.com/core-rules/… However, the one I've posted mainly concerns ability checks and saving throws \$\endgroup\$ – Stefano Cardarelli Sep 20 '18 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it would help immensely if you clarify if you're asking about ability checks or combat rolls. There's a huge difference. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 20 '18 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to include in the question how you want to implement this. What rolls in 5e would you be replacing? Are you effectively removing skill checks entirely? ("...you don't need to roll persuasion every time you go buy something...") \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Sep 20 '18 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I am not challenging the premise, but in the "what problem are you trying to solve?" idea if the players at that table take that view, I think it matters for this question. Not trying to get this closed. At some tables where I have played, the dice being cruel is part of the fun. It depends on the table. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 22 '18 at 22:38
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Doesn't Need to be a Variant

Your statement that in 5e "a fail is just a fail" may be how many people play, but it is not enshrined in the rules.

The sections of the DMG entitled "The Role of Dice" and "Resolution and Consequences" suggest a wide range of approaches to die rolls.

Some examples from the DMG quite similar to what you described as "the player succeeds with a twist":

Success at a Cost
Failure can be tough, but the agony is compounded when a character fails by the barest margin. When a character fails a roll by only 1 or 2, you can allow the character to succeed at the cost of a complication or hindrance.

and

Degrees of Failure
Sometimes a failed ability check has different consequences depending on the degree of failure. For example, a character who fails to disarm a trapped chest might accidentally spring the trap if the check fails by 5 or more, whereas a lesser failure means that the trap wasn’t triggered during the botched disarm attempt. Consider adding similar distinctions to other checks. Perhaps a failed Charisma (Persuasion) check means a queen won’t help, whereas a failure of 5 or more means she throws you in the dungeon for your impudence.

You asked:

I was wondering if the application of the player succeeds with a twist feature as a variant in D&D 5e ability check and saving throws failure interpretation (where usually a fail is just a fail) could improve the storytelling fluency (and overall party fun) without unbalancing the game.

In the end, the succeeds-with-a-twist feature is less a variant than a style within the range of the 5e ruleset, it could certainly improve storytelling fluency and fun and there is nothing to suggest that it would unbalance the game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Youve answered for ability checks, but what about saving throws? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 23 '18 at 12:16

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