|Axe Cop knows awesome, personally.|
I call it, “The Rule of Awesome.”
Based on the core game mechanics, any player’s turn represents approximately 6 seconds of game time (1/10th of a minute). A character is allowed to move and complete a single standard action during that time, or move twice as far without otherwise acting. A standard action is anything from casting a spell, to hitting a guy in the face, to leaping onto the back of a troll. This move/act mechanic is at the heart of 3rd edition D&D, and was fully sloganized in 4th edition by the phrase “move, minor, standard” (a minor action being something less than a standard action).
Well, while this keeps things fairly simple to remember, it can also cause things to get boring really fast. My custom Rule of Awesome allows players to go beyond these rules to do something that might take the same amount of time as running 30 feet and stabbing someone, but that is considerably more epic.
Here’s a real example from my game: My players were battling some wyvern riding orcs while riding on an airship-like ya do. One of the wyverns was carrying off the ship’s pilot. In an effort to rescue the pilot, one of my players asked if he could activate his magic earring that caused him to double in size, charge across the upper deck, leap off the cargo crane and onto the back of the fleeing wyvern. An UNBELIEVABLE FEAT OF AGILITY, right!?
Well, if I had stuck with the rules, he would have had to make a jump check to get on the crane, a balance check to run along it a second jump check to leap off and an attack to hit the wyvern. Lots of rolling, lots of time taken, lots of opportunity for failure. Using the Rule of Awesome, however, all of this was accomplished with a single roll.
The rule works like this. If a player wants to do something really unbelievably epic, they first narrate their intended feat of derring-do. If they have a relevant skill they will be using, they let me know. I then roll a d100 percentile dice and mentally adjust the median according to the difficulty of the task, the character’s skill level and how awesome the thing is that they are going to attempt. The closer to 100 the roll, the greater the success, the closer to 1, the greater the failure. In this case, the player rolled a 98. His character vaulted flawlessly off the crane, landed on the back of the fleeing beast, driving both fists into its shoulders and sending it crashing to the deck with him on top of it.
My players have taken advantage of the Rule of Awesome on several occasions, sometimes leading to a truly epic moment of gameplay, other times leading to a facepalming moment of defeat. Either way, it sure beats. “I run over and hit that guy.”
Don't ask. Just let it happen.