I was playing the Uncharted series the other day and I encountered a well-known video game mechanic that exists across all platforms and genres of video games: the old button mash sequence. You know the one, your character is trying to force a door open before the baddies catch them, or maybe you mash the button as you sprint away from a boulder chasing you, or maybe it comes at the end of a long sequence of pressing precise buttons at the precise moment followed by a long jump only to barely grasp the edge of the cliff and you have to slam B as fast as possible to pull yourself up.
You know the one?
I always found that mechanic silly. Maybe it's meant to be silly, or maybe I'm just a lazy gamer who worries too much about breaking my controllers, but when this happened the other day I thought, how can I implement this silly mechanic into my d&d game?
Now for any purists reading this, you might just want to close this page now, what follows has zero functional merits within the game, I just thought it might be a fun thing to try as an homage to the video games we all grew up playing.
Here's how it works:
The party has two minutes to collect the numbers 1-20 (collectively) by furiously rolling all their dice. Each player can use no more than three of each kind of die, and once a die has been committed to a number it must be placed in the center of the table and cannot be re-rolled for another result. The number of dice needs to be balanced for the number of players, I have four players, so 12 d20s gave enough opportunity to find the numbers 13-19 (percentile dice can be used for 20s if your players are creative enough to work that out). Players can "save" later numbers if they roll them earlier on, but the numbers must be assembled chronologically.
Here's how I implemented it in game in an old Indiana Jones style trap:
"As you reach the center of the chamber, the door you entered through slams shut behind you. The room begins to shake as the ceiling starts to drop. Sprinting across the chamber to the opposite doors you try to force them open but they're jammed. FREEZE"
I then calmly explained that we were going to be doing a good ol' button mash and how it was going to work, before setting the timer and letting them have at. What followed was two minutes of ridiculous and chaotic dice rolling while different players would call out the numbers as they got them and slamming their chosen dice down in the center of the table. The timing worked out almost perfectly, they completed the challenge with 12 seconds remaining, enough so that it felt like a crunch, but with enough of a buffer that I was never really worried I'd have to engineer a way out for them.
Totally silly and frivolous, but the players loved it. I think at the end of the day some people love d&d as an excuse to roll fancy shaped dice.
If you're wondering what I would have done if they failed?
Just kidding. I probably would have forced them to sacrifice something of sentimental value, like having them escape with their lives, but their NPC companion dying tragically getting crushed at the last second, or maybe jamming a magical sword in through a crack and using it to pry the door open, allowing them to safely exit just in the nick of time but permanently breaking the weapon. To be entirely honest most of the time I just throw shit at my party and they never fail to rise to the occasion.
So, maybe not for everyone. But I'm sure there's at least a few others who play my style of d&d out there and might want to throw something ridiculous at their players just for the fun of it.
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More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Button Mash / Dice Rolling Challenge : A chaotic and frivolous encounter for your party" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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