History Main / TheoryofNarrativeCausality

27th Sep '16 9:14:39 PM Red-Dead-Redeemer
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All fictional realities have this underlying principle to one degree or another. It is the reason PlotTechnology and PlotArmor work. It's why TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin in the end, even though [[YoungestChildWins many individuals may try and fail and die gruesomely]] before [[UnderdogsNeverLose the protagonist comes along]]. It's why it seems like [[FinaglesLaw the world's out to get the protagonist]], it's why the reasonable explanation is almost never true, it's why someone can be GenreSavvy or WrongGenreSavvy, why a trope can be [[InvokedTrope invoked]], why a MillionToOneChance crops up nine times out of ten and why it's never a good idea to [[TemptingFate Tempt Fate]]. Reality itself is mutable before the will of the plot. In stories where this is strong, {{tropes}} may as well be laws of physics.

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All fictional realities have this underlying principle to one degree or another. It is the reason PlotTechnology and PlotArmor work. It's why TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin in the end, even though [[YoungestChildWins many individuals may try and fail and die gruesomely]] before [[UnderdogsNeverLose the protagonist comes along]]. It's why it seems like [[FinaglesLaw the world's out to get the protagonist]], it's why the reasonable explanation is almost never true, it's why someone can be GenreSavvy or WrongGenreSavvy, why a trope can be [[InvokedTrope invoked]], {{invoked|Trope}}, why a MillionToOneChance crops up nine times out of ten and why it's never a good idea to [[TemptingFate Tempt Fate]]. Reality itself is mutable before the will of the plot. In stories where this is strong, {{tropes}} may as well be laws of physics.



Alternatively alternatively, think of the principle laid out in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels, in which this phenomenon is not only an explicit physical law, but has been codified, studied, tested, found to be an in-universe element ("narrativium") and may be the local equivalent of the strong nuclear force, although the term Narrative Causality is older than that.

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Alternatively alternatively, think of the principle laid out in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels, in which this phenomenon is not only an explicit physical law, law but has been codified, studied, tested, found to be an in-universe element ("narrativium") and may be the local equivalent of the strong nuclear force, although the term Narrative Causality is older than that.



** Zenkichi ends up acquiring the Skill "Devil-style", which [[spoiler:''nullifies'' Narrative Causality. Things like ContrivedCoincidence, LongLostRelative, CrashIntoHello, etc. won't happen to him. Note that this also includes beneficial examples, like PlotArmor or coming up with a last-minute plan; this was specifically requested by Zenkichi, since he wanted to challenge Medaka with no interference. Ajimu outright calls it a power that would make any traditional writer recoil in horror.]]

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** Zenkichi ends up acquiring the Skill "Devil-style", which [[spoiler:''nullifies'' Narrative Causality. Things like ContrivedCoincidence, LongLostRelative, CrashIntoHello, etc. won't happen to him. Note that this also includes beneficial examples, like PlotArmor or coming up with a last-minute plan; this was specifically requested by Zenkichi, Zenkichi since he wanted to challenge Medaka with no interference. Ajimu outright calls it a power that would make any traditional writer recoil in horror.]]



* ''Fanfic/UninvitedGuests'' has the characters attempting to discern what the plot wants them do. Aizen even ''weaponizes'' it in order to give himself and his minions PlotArmor.

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* ''Fanfic/UninvitedGuests'' has the characters attempting to discern what the plot wants them to do. Aizen even ''weaponizes'' it in order to give himself and his minions PlotArmor.



--->'''Eddie:''' You mean you could have taken that cuff off at ''any time?''
--->'''Roger:''' Not ''any'' time! Only when it was funny.

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--->'''Eddie:''' You mean you could have taken that cuff off at ''any time?''
--->'''Roger:'''
time?''\\
'''Roger:'''
Not ''any'' time! Only when it was funny.



--->'''Twoflower:''' "When seven men go out to fight an army 180,000 times bigger there's only one way it can end."\\
'''Rincewind:''' "Right. I'm glad you see sense."\\
'''Twoflower:''' "They'll win. They've got to. Otherwise the world's just not working properly."

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--->'''Twoflower:''' "When When seven men go out to fight an army 180,000 times bigger there's only one way it can end."\\
\\
'''Rincewind:''' "Right.Right. I'm glad you see sense."\\
\\
'''Twoflower:''' "They'll They'll win. They've got to. Otherwise the world's just not working properly."



-->'''Narrator''': It was day like many another, and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brainsample were a perfectly ordinary couple, leading perfectly ordinary lives; the sort of people to whom nothing extraordinary ever happened, and not the kind of people to be at the center of one of the most astounding incidents in the history of mankind. So let's forget about them, and follow instead...

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-->'''Narrator''': -->'''Narrator:''' It was day like many another, and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brainsample were a perfectly ordinary couple, leading perfectly ordinary lives; the sort of people to whom nothing extraordinary ever happened, and not the kind of people to be at the center of one of the most astounding incidents in the history of mankind. So let's forget about them, and follow instead...



** TabletopGame/{{Alternity}} has the last resort point, which allows a hero to increase their level of success by one grade, or to decrease an enemy roll's level of success against them by one grade; the free agent has the ability to spend two points to change success by two grades. This allows a hero to turn a failure into success, a good roll into an amazing one, or alternatively an enemy's amazing roll into a good one. This ability comes in particular handy as amazing attack rolls can inflict mortal damage, severely injuring and (on rare occasion) outright killing players and enemies. Very important [=NPC=]s may have these as well, to prevent one lucky or unlucky roll from instantly (and anticlimactically) defeating them.

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** TabletopGame/{{Alternity}} has the last resort point, which allows a hero to increase their level of success by one grade, or to decrease an enemy roll's level of success against them by one grade; the free agent has the ability to spend two points to change success by two grades. This allows a hero to turn a failure into success, a good roll into an amazing one, or alternatively an enemy's amazing roll into a good one. This ability comes in particular particularly handy as amazing attack rolls can inflict mortal damage, severely injuring and (on rare occasion) outright killing players and enemies. Very important [=NPC=]s may have these as well, to prevent one lucky or unlucky roll from instantly (and anticlimactically) defeating them.



* This is the entire point of a table top RPG. You as a player are there to make a person who will wind up thick in the middle of the plot. Your PC, by virtue of being a PC, has been designated a [[TheHero major character]]. Players who subvert this trope and frustrate their [=GMs=] by [[RefusalOfTheCall refusing to get off their duffs when the Call comes]] simply find [[ButThouMust ever]] [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive stronger]] motivations for their characters to [[JumpedAtTheCall take the plunge]]. You're there, and you're a PC; plot and remarkable events are [[ResignedToTheCall inevitable.]]

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* This is the entire point of a table top tabletop RPG. You as a player are there to make a person who will wind up thick in the middle of the plot. Your PC, by virtue of being a PC, has been designated a [[TheHero major character]]. Players who subvert this trope and frustrate their [=GMs=] by [[RefusalOfTheCall refusing to get off their duffs when the Call comes]] simply find [[ButThouMust ever]] [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive stronger]] motivations for their characters to [[JumpedAtTheCall take the plunge]]. You're there, and you're a PC; plot and remarkable events are [[ResignedToTheCall inevitable.]]



* Interestingly [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] and [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] in ''VideoGame/KingdomsOfAmalurReckoning''. The world of Amalur has its entire history set in stone, there is no such thing as determining your fate. In fact, [[TheFairFolk the Fae's]] ''entire culture'' revolves around NarrativeCausality: their fates are pre-determined by their ballads and songs, and they simply go along for the ride with no protests. The villains in their stories are pretty much [[DesignatedVillain designated]] as such, as are [[DesignatedHero their heroes]]. It's actually a major plot point that [[spoiler:[[ImmuneToFate the main character is an anomaly and fate has no power whatsoever over him/her]], allowing him/her to actually [[ScrewDestiny change the fate of his world]]]].

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* Interestingly [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] {lampshade|Hanging}}d and [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] {{subverted|Trope}} in ''VideoGame/KingdomsOfAmalurReckoning''. The world of Amalur has its entire history set in stone, there is no such thing as determining your fate. In fact, [[TheFairFolk the Fae's]] ''entire culture'' revolves around NarrativeCausality: Narrative Causality: their fates are pre-determined predetermined by their ballads and songs, and they simply go along for the ride with no protests. The villains in their stories are pretty much [[DesignatedVillain designated]] {{Designated|Villain}} as such, as are [[DesignatedHero their heroes]]. It's actually a major plot point that [[spoiler:[[ImmuneToFate the main character is an anomaly and fate has no power whatsoever over him/her]], allowing him/her to actually [[ScrewDestiny change the fate of his world]]]].



* Video games in general deconstruct this trope. Any game with lives, save points, or both, allow the audience to fail to move the story line forward upon either death or failure, thus ending the narrative. Successful completion of the task at hand, however, will usually lead to a dictated outcome. Furthermore, games with branching storyline or "sandbox" structure allow for a bizarre form of aversion for this trope.

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* Video games games, in general general, deconstruct this trope. Any game with lives, save points, or both, allow the audience to fail to move the story line forward upon either death or failure, thus ending the narrative. Successful completion of the task at hand, however, will usually lead to a dictated outcome. Furthermore, games with branching storyline story line or "sandbox" structure allow for a bizarre form of aversion for this trope.



** Deconstructed when it's revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]

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** Deconstructed when it's revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] [[spoiler:Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its it's in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]well]].



* ''Webcomic/FuzzyKnights'' has The Story as a tangible force - it's originally introduced in the context of the tabetop [=RPG=]s that the fuzzies play (and frequently run OffTheRails) but it becomes important in the Tournament War storyline with Mossfoot and [=HamaEstra=] fighting to influence and control it. When plot-convenient coincidences start happening a lot, it's best to pay attention.

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* ''Webcomic/FuzzyKnights'' has The Story as a tangible force - it's originally introduced in the context of the tabetop tabletop [=RPG=]s that the fuzzies play (and frequently run OffTheRails) but it becomes important in the Tournament War storyline with Mossfoot and [=HamaEstra=] fighting to influence and control it. When plot-convenient coincidences start happening a lot, it's best to pay attention.



* How the world of Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses functions. All the reviewers are able to interact with the things they review, and their lives echo the tropes the dissect- i.e. [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] deals with convoluted comic book plots, WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick finds her side-kick being possessed, and WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic is often facing off against all sorts of aliens, ghosts and Mickey Mouse.
** Directly acknowledged in the fourth year anniversary, WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee, by the fact that their version of [[Franchise/StarWars the Force]] is the Plot.

to:

* How the world of Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses functions. All the reviewers are able to interact with the things they review, and their lives echo the tropes the dissect- i.e. [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] deals with convoluted comic book plots, WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick finds her side-kick being possessed, and WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic is often facing off against all sorts of aliens, ghosts ghosts, and Mickey Mouse.
Mouse.
** Directly acknowledged in the fourth year anniversary, WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee, by the fact that their version of [[Franchise/StarWars the Force]] is the Plot.
27th Sep '16 9:41:08 AM nighttrainfm
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** [[spoiler:Elan's father Tarquin]] has also demonstrated the same level of awareness as Elan, if not higher; he rationalizes that if a hero always rises to oppose the EvilEmpire, that means there's always going to be an Evil Empire to oppose, so why not be the one running it? He uses his trope-awareness to secretly control most of a continent and keep it firmly under his boot with an aim to keep expanding his influence. He even gloats about how his eventual and inevitable defeat will be meaningless because he gets to live the good life for years if not decades until that happens and then his story will live on forever, inspiring generations of new villains.
** Deconstructed when its revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]

to:

** [[spoiler:Elan's father Tarquin]] has also demonstrated the same level of awareness as Elan, if not higher; he rationalizes that if a hero always rises to oppose the EvilEmpire, TheEmpire, that means there's always going to be an Evil Empire to oppose, so why not be the one running it? He uses his trope-awareness to secretly control most of a continent and keep it firmly under his boot with an aim to keep expanding his influence. He even gloats about how his eventual and inevitable defeat will be meaningless because he gets to live the good life for years if not decades until that happens and then his story will live on forever, inspiring generations of new villains.
** Deconstructed when its it's revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]
27th Sep '16 9:40:42 AM nighttrainfm
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*** Deconstructed when its revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around ''him''.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and BiggerBad. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]

to:

*** ** Deconstructed when its revealed that [[spoiler: Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around ''him''.HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and BiggerBad.GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, its in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well.]]
18th Sep '16 7:27:17 PM nombretomado
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* ''AlanWake'' revolves around this trope. [[spoiler:[[EldritchAbomination The Dark Presence]] abducts artists and tries to use their works to [[RealityWarper warp reality]] so it can escape. The artist ''can'' escape by inserting themselves into the work, but they must obey the internal laws of their own creations. The writer before Alan, Thomas Zane, tried to simply [[DeusExMachina bring his wife back to life,]] but since this destroyed the story's internal logic she CameBackWrong. Alan simply writes himself in as the protagonist, but since it's a horror-thriller, it has to appear that he could lose or die at any point, and has to give EquivalentExchange to rescue Alice from the Dark Place instead of conjuring up an EsotericHappyEnding.]]

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* ''AlanWake'' ''VideoGame/AlanWake'' revolves around this trope. [[spoiler:[[EldritchAbomination The Dark Presence]] abducts artists and tries to use their works to [[RealityWarper warp reality]] so it can escape. The artist ''can'' escape by inserting themselves into the work, but they must obey the internal laws of their own creations. The writer before Alan, Thomas Zane, tried to simply [[DeusExMachina bring his wife back to life,]] but since this destroyed the story's internal logic she CameBackWrong. Alan simply writes himself in as the protagonist, but since it's a horror-thriller, it has to appear that he could lose or die at any point, and has to give EquivalentExchange to rescue Alice from the Dark Place instead of conjuring up an EsotericHappyEnding.]]
28th Aug '16 2:31:09 PM Observance
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* In ''[[Literature/TheLaundrySeries The Jennifer Morgue]]'' by Creator/CharlesStross, the BigBad sets up powerful spell of compulsion that means everything ''has'' to happen exactly the way it would in a ''Film/JamesBond'' movie, thereby making making his plan impossible to stop unless challenged by a lone, British, martini-drinking secret agent. That still leaves room for a couple of twists, though.

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* In ''[[Literature/TheLaundrySeries The Jennifer Morgue]]'' by Creator/CharlesStross, the BigBad sets up a powerful spell of compulsion that means everything ''has'' to happen exactly the way it would in a ''Film/JamesBond'' movie, thereby making making his plan impossible to stop unless challenged by a lone, British, martini-drinking secret agent. That still leaves room for Fortunately, the spell works both ways, meaning BondVillainStupidity is in full effect. And, crucially, he forgot that the basic James Bond plot formula has a couple number of twists, though.small but significant ''variations''...
13th Aug '16 9:32:11 AM Thesedaysthosedays
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See also: ThePlotDemandedThisIndex, TheChrisCarterEffect

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See also: ThePlotDemandedThisIndex, TheChrisCarterEffect
TheChrisCarterEffect, WatsonianVersusDoylist
12th Jul '16 12:51:30 AM pvsage
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* In seasons 5 & 6 of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's [[AWizardDidIt Alicorn magic]], but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.

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* In seasons 5 & 6 of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's [[AWizardDidIt Alicorn magic]], magic, but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.
12th Jul '16 12:47:50 AM pvsage
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* In seasons 5 & 6 of MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic, after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's [[AWizardDidIt Alicorn magic]], but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.

to:

* In seasons 5 & 6 of MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic, ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's [[AWizardDidIt Alicorn magic]], but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.
12th Jul '16 12:47:16 AM pvsage
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Added DiffLines:

* In seasons 5 & 6 of MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic, after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's [[AWizardDidIt Alicorn magic]], but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.
17th Jun '16 10:44:53 PM nombretomado
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** TableTopGames/DungeonsAndDragons has this in 4th edition in the form of Action Points; ordinarily, action points are used to gain an extra standard action on your turn, allowing you (in most cases) to immediately make an extra attack roll. At paragon tier (level 11+), most characters gain additional benefits from the use of these as well; some paragon paths allow you to use them to grant yourself rerolls on attacks instead, or grant multiple move actions, or other things; others grant bonuses in addition to their usual effect, such as the extra action dealing extra damage or being more likely to hit. Others just grant extra benefits on top of what they normally grant, such as allowing the character an extra bit of movement, teleporting them, dealing damage to enemies around them, and so on. There are even some abilities which grant action points, or which allow action points to be spent more often, or to be spent on granting lesser actions (such as moves) without expending them. Characters are expected to spend their action points, and gain them throughout the adventure on a regular basis, but are generally restricted to using one per encounter, and are reset after every adventure to discourage hoarding. Boss and sub-boss type monsters generally have 1-2 action points themselves, which makes them considerably more dangerous (though it also becomes obvious when a foe you're facing is more powerful than usual, as if they spend an action point, it means they're bad news).
** TableTopGames/{{Pathfinder}} incorporates hero points as an optional rule, which are granted for various in-character tasks and can be spent to grant bonuses to rolls, reuse expended spells, avoid dying, get a hint, or attempt the extremely improbable.
** TableTopGames/{{GURPS}} has the advantages Luck, which allows a player to re-roll once an hour (or more), and Super-Luck, which allows them to literally choose what the dice roll will be.

to:

** TableTopGames/DungeonsAndDragons TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons has this in 4th edition in the form of Action Points; ordinarily, action points are used to gain an extra standard action on your turn, allowing you (in most cases) to immediately make an extra attack roll. At paragon tier (level 11+), most characters gain additional benefits from the use of these as well; some paragon paths allow you to use them to grant yourself rerolls on attacks instead, or grant multiple move actions, or other things; others grant bonuses in addition to their usual effect, such as the extra action dealing extra damage or being more likely to hit. Others just grant extra benefits on top of what they normally grant, such as allowing the character an extra bit of movement, teleporting them, dealing damage to enemies around them, and so on. There are even some abilities which grant action points, or which allow action points to be spent more often, or to be spent on granting lesser actions (such as moves) without expending them. Characters are expected to spend their action points, and gain them throughout the adventure on a regular basis, but are generally restricted to using one per encounter, and are reset after every adventure to discourage hoarding. Boss and sub-boss type monsters generally have 1-2 action points themselves, which makes them considerably more dangerous (though it also becomes obvious when a foe you're facing is more powerful than usual, as if they spend an action point, it means they're bad news).
** TableTopGames/{{Pathfinder}} TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} incorporates hero points as an optional rule, which are granted for various in-character tasks and can be spent to grant bonuses to rolls, reuse expended spells, avoid dying, get a hint, or attempt the extremely improbable.
** TableTopGames/{{GURPS}} TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} has the advantages Luck, which allows a player to re-roll once an hour (or more), and Super-Luck, which allows them to literally choose what the dice roll will be.
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