A comment from Cirsova in yesterday’s post triggered “memory cap” on how I learned and ran Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: 

The Dungeon Master made nearly all of the die rolls, including attack rolls and saving throws.

The players rolled damage. That’s about it.

I ran my AD&D games like this for  years, up until D&D 3e loomed on the horizon. At some point (I don’t recall the specific reason), I started letting my players make their own attack rolls.

As Cirsova pointed out, this was how the AD&D game was presented. My first games had my older brother behind the screen and I rarely rolled dice.

When the DM said: “You tell me what you want your characters to do, and I’ll tell you what happens,” it was precisely that.

Later, I also made most of the rolls behind the screen. I could “fudge” the rolls (though I rarely did). But I didn’t have to slow the game down to remind players of certain modifiers and the like.

For special occasions, like a pivotal moment in an adventure, I’d let the player make the attack roll.

For example, the PCs had finally confronted their villain: a powerful and evil dark elf fighter/magic-user. While the rest of the PCs engaged the villain’s minions, one PC drew his Arrow of Magic-user Slaying. 

It all came down to that one die-roll, so I let the player roll it.

The upside: it got the players focused more on the narrative, rather than the numbers. Players communicated more with each other and the DM. They weren’t trying to tweak out another modifier or flipping through a rulebook.

At least, that’s how I remember it. (It’s been longer than I’d care to admit).

At some point, I started letting my players make their own attack rolls. Why? I don’t remember. Maybe I wanted to delegate things. Maybe the players demanded more freedom. I just don’t know.

All of this, of course, requires the players to trust the Dungeon Master, perhaps even more so than in games where players make more rolls. 

Now players make their own attack rolls, and this is considered the norm. Yet just considered what I’ve experienced over years and what I’ve read online and elsewhere, DMs rolling the die rolls used be far more common.

AD&D Second Edition was written to let players have access to the combat rules. Perhaps that’s were it begin.

D&D Third Edition seems to be the real turning point. I recall something in Dragon or on EN World about the rule designers wanting the players to roll more dice to help them pay attention at the tabletop. I haven’t found it yet.

Yet in my research I found this humorous archived post on Reddit:

What do you think? Under what circumstances (if any) should the DM make all (or most) of the die rolls, especially combat?