Okay, so I was on the interwebs yesterday, surfing about when I saw a discussion about what taking 10 and taking 20 actually means in roleplaying games.
For those of you unsure what I’m talking about when I say that, Taking 10 or 20 is the term in a game for when, rather than rolling a D20 to resolve a situation, you simply take either 10 or 20 as the result on that dice. Now obviously, this has some downsides compared to simply rolling the bones, as I’ll discuss in a second.
Now for me, what Taking 20 means is fairly simple; it is essentially as if you stood there rolling your dice over and over again until you rolled a 20, which basically means it takes 20 times as long as it normally would. More importantly, it also means that any negative results that would come about from failing the check automatically happen. Fail your jump check and fall into a chasm? Yup, that just happened. Trigger a trap and explode it in your face? Yup, bang.
So obviously Taking 20 isn’t always useful, and I think it falls to the DM to say when a character can take 20 and when they can’t.
Taking 10 is a bit more of a contested issue it seems. I saw someone suggest that for them, taking 10 was like a watered down version of taking 20. You try your luck 10 times rather than 20, so it takes 10 times as long, but still carries the risk of exploding yourself. To me that seems wrong; how can you try every possible solution, but only half? I mean, you either try it every which way with no concern for turning yourself into a magically-spattered lump of dust or you decide to be careful about it.
For me, taking 10 is your character only trying to do something once, but taking his time and being careful about it. Now it’s needless to say that neither Taking 10 or 20 can be done under pressure, so you can’t take 10 or 20 on opening a lock when there’s an ogre trying to smash your head in. You haven’t got all the time in the world and probably aren’t thinking particularly clearly. But you could take 10 on the aforementioned jumping a chasm. You know you need to be careful about doing it, but you’re not being chased at the moment and you’ve got half a minute to look at the jump, pick your spot, psyche yourself up and then go for it.
TL;DR – Taking 20 is trying every possible option, taking 10 is making sure you don’t mess it up.
Super interesting post, I know, but I just wanted to talk about it!