One thing we don’t want is to remove control from the players.
Disallowed Automatic Wins against another Character:
When one PLAYER “inflicts” an action upon another PLAYER (such as by attacking, social manipulation, or mind control), the check shouldn’t be automatic regardless of how skilled the attacker is. The defending player should have at least a chance to defend.
What about NPCs? To keep the game exciting, some monsters should be allowed the same privilege. However, if all monsters are allowed to defend, the game would slow down significantly (e.g. attacking 100 goblins in a row).
So how to decide which NPCs are allowed a chance to defend, and which aren’t? Answer: think of a movie. Which of the NPC’s are “disallowed saves”? Storm Troopers. Red Shirt Starfleet personnel. A hundred goblins. The only NPCs allowed to defend are the ones important to the story: Darth Vader, Khanh or Gul Dukat, or Sarumon. This is GOOD, it makes the story exciting! We can explicitly state this in the DMG .. characters important to the story (be they player- or DM- controlled) must be allowed a chance to defend, while all others can auto-fail against really good opponents.
Minimizing useless die-rolling / Maximizing flare:
We don’t want players rolling more than they need to, but we DO want them to roll when it’s exciting and will have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. To accommodate this, we could allow them to sum up lots of similar hard-to-fail rolls into one big roll (such as a level 20 character fighting 100 level 1 goblins .. the level 20 character would just make one roll). If there is a reasonable chance of failure, such as one “level” above or below, the player should make each roll.
Minimizing useless die-rolling even further!:
To further minimize rolls that players make against odds they have a sizeable chance of failure, we could also do a “2D collapse” of rolls. Consider this 1D: if Bob has a chance of falling off a wall for every 10’ he climbs, and he wants to climb a 60’ wall, the minimizing method mentioned above would allow Bob to roll once to climb the whole wall, not six times.
However, if Bob intends to just keep climbing until he succeeds despite the damage after every fall, because he wants to escape the oncoming goblin horde, Bob should be allowed to make just ONE roll to climb the wall, not once for each attempt. This is the 2D: the first dimension is many rolls during a single attempt to climb the wall collapsed into a single roll, and the second dimension is collapsing the many rolls, each representing one attempt, into a single roll. Now Bob only needs to make one die roll to determine if he gets over the wall in time to escape the goblins.
Another way to put control in the hands of the players is with Command-related skills. Such players could be controlling armies in battle, like the “Command and Conquer” or original “Warcraft/Starcraft” games. These classes could allow players who aren’t as good at making command decisions to still simulate a battle, too, or allow players who are considered tacticians to play the way that they enjoy.
EARLIER IDEA – SKILL POINTS & POWER POINTS:
How to allow players to get the exciting ability to store points to use during a difficult situation (to help save their skins occasionally), without allowing players to save up so many points that they could unfairly “swing” the game??
How about – differentiate between skills and powers by ALSO having a system of power points. Skill points can be saved and spent freely on skills, even during difficult situations, while powers must also have power points spent to buy them which cannot be saved.
For example, if a player needs just five more points to make the jump successfully and survive the encounter, he can spend the points he saved from his last encounter (if he chose to save them). Powers could not be bought in this way. As soon as power points were earned, the player must spend them on powers.
If a player has extra power points he cannot spend because his skill-point reserve is empty, the player can put powers on “reserve”, i.e. spend the power points on the power but not be able to use the power until enough skill points are put into it. NO WAIT: every power point must be “fun” to spend. If a player can’t buy a power outright, the player should be able to spend a power point and get a weakish ability related to the power (until the player can buy the power outright by spending the requisite skillpoints). E.g. like related cantrips. Actually, why not both?
We may want to allow players to exchange power points already spent on one power to another but only under very specific circumstances.