Questing for Push Your Luck examples

Hola! What are some examples or ideas for Push Your Luck type mechanics and situations in RPGs?

For example, the PCs decide to keep going after a battle because their foes are in disarray. They'd rather forge ahead banged up and push their luck than let their enemies regroup.

Or perhaps in a certain game there's an actual system benefit for triggering another encounter instead of resting up. A bennie point or something.

Just looking for game rules, game approaches, and house rules for incentivizing PCs to push their luck.


  • Does this count ?
    You can either add 1 to your pool or roll : {1;2}=add 0 {3;4}=add 1 {5;6}=add 2. That's what I use.
  • Sort of.

    If there was another roll as a result, then it would be push your luck.

    It's more about a chain of chances and risks than a single roll, if that makes sense.
  • edited February 2019
    Don't Rest Your Head. Add an exhausting die. The bonus will be with you until you rest. Rolling sixes are bad. The same with madness dice. Roll any amount, but you don't want to roll sixes.

    Honestly, it's one of the better (push your luck) systems out there for horror games.

    Dogs in the Vineyard. If you in a conflict with someone else, and don't like the result, you may escalate to continue the conflict, but risking making the consequences more severe.

    Tales From the Loop. Take a condition and re-roll.

    Matiné. Roll 1d20. If over your skill value, you fail, otherwise your success rate is what you rolled. Name any number. If you roll over that number during a skill roll, you add the number to your result, [edit] otherwise you fail. Picking 5 and rolling 7 gives you 12 in success rate, if you succeed.
  • Interesting, Rickard! Is there any downside to picking a number in theat last one?
  • edited February 2019
    If you fail a roll, you can reroll it but you
    1. might loose pool points in the process.
    2. will have to face more serious consequences if you fail.

    I think every Fria Ligan D6 game has the first.
    Also, Blades in the Dark has the second.
    Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells too, if I remember correctly.

  • edited February 2019
    Interesting, Rickard! Is there any downside to picking a number in theat last one?
    Oh, I forgot that. If you roll equal or lower than the said number, you fail. :)
  • Cthulhu Dark's core system has a strong element of push-your-luck. You can reroll any die roll, hoping for a better one. But to do so, you have to include your Sanity Insight die in the roll. And including your Insight die means that you're risking your mind: opening it up to the cosmic secrets too terrifying for human minds to comprehend. If your Insight die is the high die, your Insight score increases. If Insight reaches 6, then your character dies or is otherwise removed from the game.

    I wrote a short RPG that combines an Ars Magica style magic system to Zombie Dice push-your-luck dice rules. You're inexperienced mages trying to channel magical power. Too little and the spell might not achieve the desired effect. push too hard, though, and you might lose control of the spell, wreaking more havoc.
  • These are great examples!

    Thank you. You've given me some cackling good ideas here.

    I'm wondering also about treasure. My players like random treasure. I'm trying to think of a push your luck mechanic without breaking character or being too meta-gamey.
  • Karma? Leave small treasures for others to find and be happy about. If you do, your karma increases and your next treasure haul might be much larger, thank the gods. More karma for more treasure left behind. Of course, the danger is that you [??] lose your karma before finding your next treasure haul...
  • edited February 2019
    Here are three other suggestions:

    1. Any kind of bidding mechanic can be brought into roleplaying. For example, in The Pool, you decide how many dice to roll (and the more you roll, the better you will do). But, if you fail, you lose all those dice. That's a nice balancing tool!

    Steal "raising the stakes" mechanics from any other game - Poker, etc. - and find a way to use them in your game.

    If you're playing D&D, for example, you might allow players to stake some hit points, some XP, or valuable items on a particularly important roll or procedure.

    (e.g. "I'm going to take on this Big Bad without my weapons! If I win, I get double the experience. Ok?" or "I can only stand another hit from this Big Bad, but I really need to win. How about I get a free healing surge, so I can keep going? [...] Ok, you can draw power from your magic sword, but if you lose, he'll deal you a crippling wound, draining a level from your main class, and the sword's magic will be gone forever.")

    But you can also do it fictionally:

    -"Looks like I failed my Climbing check. That means I'll be stranded on the mountainside. Can I roll again?"
    -"Well, what are you going to do to achieve that?"
    -"I'll throw away my rations - they're heavy - and try to climb around the East side."
    -"Great. Your rations are gone, and you can make a second Climbing check, but this time, if you fail, you'll fall and break your leg."

    2. Way back when, Ryan Stoughton put together a nice "raising the stakes" rule for D&D. Here's a thread about it, with a link to the rules:

    It more or less does what I described above.

    3. My favourite implementation of a "push your luck" rule is what I came up with for my Eowyn game:

    (If you don't want to read all the rules, just scroll down to the example of play to see how it works.)
  • For any kind of "roll under" mechanic:

    Once your dice hit the table, you can choose to push your luck. Whatever number you rolled on the dice is now your "number" to roll under. You can keep going as many times as you wish, with higher stakes each time.

    e.g. Your stat is a 15, and you're rolling a d20.

    You roll a 12 - a very good roll! If you wish to push your luck, you must roll 12 or lower.

    The second time, you succeed again, with a 4.

    If you wish to push you luck again, you must roll a 4 or under!

    In theory, you can keep going until you fail.
  • That's a really elegant mechanic, Paul.
  • edited February 2019
    Thanks, Rickard!

    I figure a scale of about 4 possible successes seems about right, with a single success being a regular success, and 4 in a row truly "legendary".
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