On DMing, or How I Learned to Let Go and Embrace the Chaos

Image (cc) Kridily on DeviantArtDungeons & Dragons is a bad game.*  Bad naughty.  It's irresponsible in that it doesn't show us how to be Dungeon Masters - my favourite term for which is Apocalypse World's "MC" as we are, after all, Master of Ceremonies above all else.D&D teaches us to build encounters, but not how to build stories and worlds.  It teaches us to think in terms of probabilities and not stakes.  I learnt to DM on 4e and I've spent maybe a decade unlearning how it was presented to me then.  It took Stars Without Number and Dungeon World to open my eyes to how a game could be run.Embracing the ChaosThe adage "No plan survives contact with the players" is particularly true at our table it seems, but it's usually expressed as a negative.  Dungeon World says Play To Find Out What Happens and I decided to embrace the chaos and go with that in my homebrew Stars Without Number campaign. Let the players drive the story and I'll try to steer, or just sit back and watc

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Making skill checks more PBTA

One thing I loved when reading Dungeon World was how all the moves fall into the same basic pattern:10+ (on 2d6 plus modifiers) means clean success7-9 means success, but with a cost or limitation6 or less means failure and the DM moves the story alongIt's an easy change from pass/fail and it runs right through all "Powered by the Apocalypse" games.  Note how there's no DC. I like this. So often my players roll skill checks and announce the result before I decide the DC that I end up just eyeballing it - so why not get rid of it? This is all about stakes and not about difficulty.So for my beloved Stars Without Number it's an easy enough change for me to want to start using it, I guess it is for any other 2d6 system, but can we apply it to D&D?  Mathematically (according to AnyDice and some probability calculations) this should map to 18+, 9-17, and 8 or less which is actually not too clunky!However, 2d6 and 1d20 give totally different distribution shapes, so any modifiers are going to swing thing

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