Thoughts on HUD-less D&D

I’d heard about a style of play called HUD-less D&D about a year or so ago. Basically your players don’t have their sheets in front of them; they only know what their class and items are. It seems like the idea is to prevent players from relying on their character sheets too much during play, and allow for them to more easily get immersed into the game.
I got to try this last week when I ran a one shot for my friends. We used OSE as the system, and the session went like normal. My friends have varying degrees of familiarity with TTRPGs, and I’ve run OSR games for them before, so the only particularly new part was the lack of a character sheet or dice rolls. After the session I asked my friends for their thoughts on the play style and to summarize:

  • They enjoyed the change, but it didn’t really drastically enhance their immersion
  • No dice rolling took some of the fun away
  • While my descriptions gave them an idea of how much damage they took, not having a visual indicator of HP took some of the tension away.
  • The play style could fun for a session or two, but they wouldn’t want to play a whole campaign that way
  • The play style might be better suited for newer players to help them get into RPGs

After reviewing my session notes and spending a bit of time thinking about the session, I came to some conclusions of my own:

  • There was a distinct lack of “I wanna do X, so do I roll Y?” and other questions of that nature.
  • While I didn’t mind the extra work, it is something I would get tired of if I had to run 4+ sessions using HUD-less
  • Tension or not, players had a pretty decent idea of their PC’s status based on description alone.
  • I probably should have players still make d20 rolls but keep the damage rolls to GM side only.

I’m not sure when or if I’ll run HUD-less again, but I was curious if anyone here had run or played a D&D/OSR game in this fashion. How did it work out for you and your group? Whether you tried it or not, what are your thoughts on it? Does anyone have any advice or ideas for the next time I try running a HUD-less game?

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sign of the times I guess that “sheetless” is now “HUDless” :slight_smile:
I think it works best when the players get to roll dice - which after all is nothing the characters would be doing - and it adds the meta element of the player working out the character’s power levels. Similar to amnesia and the discovery of the first mirror allowing accurate character descriptions. :slight_smile:

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