We've got questions about who should roll the dice and how or why a GM might give up rolling the dice. What is it called when that happens, though?

Some people use to mean "only the players roll the dice," but the tag's info page has a much broader definition, so I'm thinking if I used that phrase it'd cause confusion.

Is there a term to describe systems (like Apocalypse World, Great Ork Gods, Lady Blackbird, and Lasers & Feelings) that have a GM, but only the players roll dice?


2 Answers 2


Such systems are called "player-facing"

I don't know how ubiquitous this terminology is, but it certainly exists. I first came upon it in tremulus (p. 4):

All rolls of the dice are “player-facing,” meaning that all the rolls in the game are done exclusively by the players.

A quick search reveals the term being used in blogposts and forum discussions. Here's a slightly expanded definition from one such post:

Of all the innovations in roleplaying over the years my favorite is the concept of “player-facing” mechanics. For those unfamiliar with the term, player-facing refers to game elements that require the player to roll dice, react, or make decisions instead of the gamemaster. Most every game out there features a majority of player-facing elements such as attack rolls, skill checks, or saving throws along with several gamemaster-facing elements such as NPC attack rolls and damage rolls.

As the term may not be well-known, perhaps describing such games as having "player-facing rolls" would be better.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 ... "Player Facing" is the most used term I've seen for it. Most of the games I've seen do so don't have a term for it, but just do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 7:47

Legendary lives uses the term 'semi-diceless' for this style of gaming (emphasis mine):

The use of dice by the players and not the referee is called semi-diceless role playing, and Legendary Lives is the first game to employ this method. This innovative system takes many traditional pressures off the participants. It frees the referee and the players to concentrate on what they enjoy most. The referee focuses on running the adventure while the players concentrate on running their characters. Both receive the maximum amount of pleasure from the freedom Legendary Lives gives them.

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether Legendary Lives really was the first game to employ this method. It's certainly pretty old, and was where I originally got the idea from before employing it in Great Ork Gods.

As you say, it may be misunderstood, but so - I think - will 'player facing' and semi-diceless certainly has a long pedigree.


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