Today we’re going to be talking about the Aid Another mechanic in the game. This mechanic is one of several that can be used in combat and in skill challenges; it’s also one that in its original form continuously got forgotten by my players during our games. Which is a shame because it was damned useful.
As things stand currently you can Aid Another player in Combat when they attempt to “. . . attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an opponent. If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can attempt to aid your friend as a standard action. You make an attack roll against AC 10. If you succeed, your friend gains either a +2 bonus on his next attack roll against that opponent or a +2 bonus to AC against that opponent’s next attack (your choice), as long as that attack comes before the beginning of your next turn. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and similar bonuses stack . . .” (Aid Another, Combat)
While in Skill Checks you can Aid Another player “. . . achieve success on his or her skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you are helping gets a +2 bonus to his or her check, as per the rule for favorable conditions. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once . . . In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone . . .” (Aid Another, Skill)
That sort of functionality with Aid Another is fantastic, but I was convinced that it could be improved without breaking the game. I've tested out a couple different methods, but so far the method that has been received the best by my players is the Adding Dice Mechanic.
Instead of having each player roll a modified d20 skill check to determine how many bonuses are applied to the primary player have each player who wishes to help give a d20 to the primary player. That player then rolls all the d20s, taking the highest roll and applying his modifier bonuses to it. For example, Tom wants to build a boat and four of his fellow players would like to help him in doing so. Tom then rolls 5d20 (1 for Tom and 1 for each of his four friends) taking the highest result and adding his modifiers to determine success.
Now the thing that I have done to prevent this from becoming abused is that each player who wishes to take advantage of the mechanic has to come up with a narrative way to help in the task’s resolution. So if you’re building a boat then Tom is going to be lead on the project with Michael and Mary helping him out by double checking the plans, getting the materials, and helping put the damned thing together. It has allowed for some of the more creative solutions to problems that I have ever encountered.
I hope some of you guys and gals reading this can use it to your advantage in your own games. If you do, let me know how it turns out.