Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

RPGaDay- 2016, Day 22 Supposedly random game events that keep recurring.

This one made me chuckle quite a lot when I read it and it reminds me of the late, great, Terry Pratchett quote from Mort-

 “Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.”

It certainly seems to be an untold rule in RPGs, that those random and million to one shots come up a whole lot more often than they should.

My two best examples are with characters I’ve played (which makes a nice change). The first was my wizard, Sam, from my long running 3rd/3.5 D&D campaign. In that campaign Sam died a total of 3 times and we never actually had a priest, nor could we find one much of the time, so our only recourse when a character died was the druids reincarnate spell. Sam died twice in the campaign (I’ve covered the 3rd death on a different post) and both times he was reincarnated as a Pixie, requiring a very precise roll of something like 51 on a D100.

The other example is much more recent and relates to my current character in a Dark Heresy campaign, Lady Pandora. Recently we were reaching out to our contacts to try and obtain some equipment between missions, we’d been after a few pieces before but always seemed to come up short on the acquisition roll. On a whim, realising that Pandora actually needs very little else, I declared I was searching for a force sword, which required a roll of 001 on a D100, after the modifiers. I rolled and, low and behold, 001. The GM was surprised.

Next someone wanted to try and acquire some power armour and they failed their roll, I reached out to my contacts and rolled a 004, obtaining power armour. I don’t recall what the last item was, I think it was some form of gun and, again, we needed a 001 on that D100, another player rolled and failed, I rolled and got another 001. At that point I declared that I’d stop looking, having exhausted my contacts as it seemed to be getting a bit out of hand. However, the next week, we needed something else, it didn’t need a 001 but that’s what I rolled when I tried.

Rather amusingly I was a Rogue Trader I our last 40k RPG campaign and I collected Xenos weapons. I wanted to try and obtain an Elder Warp Spider Death Spinner and, again, required that supposedly elusive 001 roll and, against all odds, that’s exactly what I rolled.

As a final example there is a rather silly story involving one of my players. I don’t recall the specific scenario but he got it into his head to try and force a D20 into his ear (he was in his late 20’s at the time, which I feel is relevant here). He managed to hold it for a second before it rolled out and landed on a 20. They were in combat at the time, and since it was his turn I let him keep the roll and that meant rolling to confirm the critical (it was a D&D game) for which he tried to jam the dice back into his ear. Again it fell out and again it landed on a 20. Somewhat surprised I told him that if he could do it again and get another 20 I’d let him get and automatic killing blow on the enemy and, much to my surprise, that’s exactly what happened.
They say that it’s ‘random chance’ but I prefer to put it down to the fickle whims of the dice gods, as a great many players do. Those supposedly million to one chances happed all too frequently for it to be coincidence.