Originally posted on 05-15-2014 08:58 PM at koboldquarterly.com

I tried out a lot of gaming groups in college, and they weren’t all good fits.*I liked a serious story, epic in scope, digging deep into the mechanics of the game while developing a living, breathing world around it. One evening, I tried out a group recommended by my girlfriend for a night that would change my view of gaming forever.
It was, for lack of a better word, a party.*The music was loud, the beer plentiful, and the attic cloudy.*And though it wasn’t my pace, I was amazed at how they had hacked their game of Dungeons & Dragons to create an entirely different play experience.
The action centered on a crude crane mechanism they had rigged over the game table.* A small dish, about the size of a compact disk, was suspended on a string from a ceiling hook.*That string was threaded through other hooks to a position behind the DM, who could slowly raise or lower it to the game table.*It was this suspended dish that they referred to as “the Dice Pool.”
There were no dice in the Dice Pool.*Rather, it served, in gambling terms, as the pot.*They would ante a quarter or a cigarette, which was considered “legal tender” in this particular group, at the start of the game.*On a natural twenty, you won the pot, and the DM lowered it down to the table so you could collect your winnings.* Half the money went to the house, paying for beer, pizza, and minis.*The other half went to the lucky gamer.
The pot refilled quickly due to a variety of house rules that would result in the payment of a quarter/cigarette into the Dice Pool:

  1. Ante after someone wins
  2. Rolling a natural 1.
  3. +1 for each consecutive natural 1.
  4. Dropping a die from the table.
  5. Spilling a drink (x4 pay).
  6. Lighting a cigarette (to reduce the pollutant effect on the homeowner’s attic)
  7. Reroll (x4 pay, max once/round).
  8. Getting crit by a monster

I’ve told this story several times since, and I have collected ideas from different gamers about the sorts of fouls that could tie into the Dice Pool for gaming groups with different dynamics.*For example:

  • Swearing
  • Going out of character during combat
  • Forgetting your character sheet (x4 pay)
  • Rerolling hit points on level up
  • Forgetting the name of an important NPC or location
  • Heal 1 hp
  • Flatulence
  • Using the GM’s printer
  • Per bad pun

Implementing the Dice Pool in your game need not involve the construction of your own Goldberg Machine, but some sort of tray/pot/bucket/Pringles can is in order.*Settle on the house rules with your fellow gamers, and be willing to add new ones as the concept unfolds around your game table.*Consider other forms of tender as well—snacks, cheap dice, or I.O.U.s for services like cleaning the game room or a ride home could all work in the right environment.
Do you have an idea for another tabletop party foul that could warrant a drop in the Dice Pool?*Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Metagame Mechanics is a monthly blog series that provides house rules for tabletop roleplaying groups. The example wording uses an imagined RPG where the numbers are simple and the story always comes out well.

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