Two Axis Reactions

When you want a little more granularity from your reaction roll without rolling more dice.

A gauge of emotional wellness, from happy to sad.

I am a big fan of Reaction rolls in my tabletop roleplaying games. As a referee, I lean on them often to establish the context of an encounter with an NPC or creature. Classically, this is a 2d6 roll with a range from resolutely hostile (2) to cooperative and friendly (12) with those two results at the extremes and more neutral results in between. For many situations, this suffices.

There are times that a little more granularity, if not necessary, would be helpful, particularly if we leverage Reaction rolls outside of dungeon-delving. What does hostile mean, for example, if the NPC is a shopkeeper? Do they start ranting and raving, toss the player-characters out of the shop, and try to beat them to death with their own shoes?

I suppose they could. I also could try to parse out a bit more of what hostility means in that context: maybe it means that this shopkeeper has a dislike for adventurers that they channel into a bad attitude and high prices. That would also work. With inspiration, the simple Reaction results can be fleshed out in a myriad of ways. When the inspiration is lacking, though, the simple Reaction roll can appear less than helpful.

To that end, we can break up the 2d6 Reaction and look at each 1d6 result individually: one representing an emotional state and the other as an attitude.

d6 Emotion Attitude
1 Angry Apathetic
2 Disgusted Competitive
3 Afraid Prudent
4 Sad Compassionate
5 Surprised Optimistic
6 Happy Satisfied

This interpretation of the dice can be used in addition to or instead of the traditional roll, for situations that need more clarity or whenever a bit more flavor would be useful. A roll of Uncertain (3 + 3, Afraid and Prudent) now has a different feel to it than another roll of Uncertain (5 + 1, Surprised + Apathetic).

My particular use-case for this mechanic is to flesh out the classic Reaction roll as need arises but it could replace the original mechanic in a game, particularly for campaigns revolving around social situations. It can easily be adapted to reflect animal versus sapient attitudes and emotions if that is a need, and it doesn’t require additional or different dice and can be leveraged, parallel with the classic Reaction using the same dice roll.