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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

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Desprez
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Ok, I've been working on a wargame combat mechanic for some time now. It has been getting better, but I still haven't been happy with it.

It just seems to numbery. Though it has gotten much better, the adding, subtracting, modifying of numbers slows down the pacing of the game too much.

Now, I think I can get the result of combat between two units, down to a single* roll of the die, without losing any of the combat detail.

* single roll in most instances, see below.

The choice to pull this off requires that I either add more dice, or put more information on the dice.

In many die-rolling combat mechanics, both attacker and defender must roll a die to see if they can hit the opposing unit.

I can eliminate this by using custom die that indicates the result of the battle, which has four possible outcomes:
1) Unit A does damage to Unit B
2) Unit B does damage to Unit A
3) Both units damage each other
4) Neither unit does damage.
For almost all units, a hit kills it.

A unit's overall combat strength is represented by a single number.
When comparing two units in battle with each other, it is the difference in combat strength that matters. This is a relative system where a 2 vs. 4 is equivalent to a 8 vs. 10. Both battles have one unit 2 points greater than the other.

I would have a different die for each level of combat strength disparity, capped at maybe eight.
So one die for a battle units of the same power.
One die for a battle where one unit is greater by 1
One die for a battle where one unit is greater by 2, and so on.

These dice coube be color coded, and also have a small number on the face indication the strength difference.

This is attractive because you only have to roll once, and you don't have to remember, or calculate, what you need to roll to hit the other unit. All you have to do is know how much greater one unit is over the other, then roll the appropriate die.

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Alternately, I could maybe graphicaly split the face of the die. The portion relavant to a particualr roll, is dependant unpon the strength difference.

In this case, each unit would have to roll to see if they can hit the other, but I would only need one type of custom die.

Again, the areas could be color coded, but my feeling is that this will simply be too much to look at. Too confusing to decipher which portion of the die is relevant.
The idea of just simply rolling and if you see a pip, you hit. No pip, no hit. Has merit in my mind. As sopposed to thinking: ok, if I see a red pip, I hit, I must ignore the other color pips.

Now, I can do this on a 6 sided die. Primarly because it has the mose face area, but also the cost of custom 6 sides is likely to be cheaper than speciality die.

So, I guess my question is how do you guys feel about having different die for the different odds?

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On a seperate note:
Now, I realize that with only six faces, the granularity of the hit probability is somewhat lacking, as a change of one face corresponds to a 16% difference in hit probability. So a hit chance with a 4 vs. 4, and a 4 vs. 5 changes by 16%.

I can get around this by having another possible result. A bonus die result.
So, you roll the correct odds die, and it shows the outcome of the battle.
But in some cases insead of hitting or missing the other unit, you would get a star (or even, a hit AND a star). This means you roll a seperate bonus die to see if a hit (or additional hit) is scored. The bonuse die might have a hit on 2 of the 6 faces.

So if you wanted a hit to occur less than 1 in 6 times, then none of the sides would have a hit, and instead, one side would have a star.

The bonus die would not be need that frequently, as it only appeas in a few select cases, often on a single side of the die. So, about 16% of the time.

Jpwoo
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

A solution that comes to mind that solves a few of your issues at once is using differing die types for differing advantages.

For example. you could have a D4 for even units.
D6 for +1
D8 for +2
D10 +3
and a D12 for +4

At that point the die faces probably get too small to be useful.

This gives an easy visual representation for the differing die types, without having to color code or mark them. It provides a wider variety of outcomes as the strenght disparity grows.

gilbertgea
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Dont know if this will help, but the combat system that I thought had the best balance of realism vs. playability was the one from Axis and Allies. Each unit had an offensive and defensive value: that was the number you needed to roll (or less) in order to score a hit. One hit killed one unit; both the attacker and defender rolled simultaneously and removed casualties simultaneously. That combat system used d6s.

I would suggest that you could modify that system slightly and just have the same basic combat value for offence and defence. If you dont like rolling a specific number or less, you can just declare that sixes (or whatever) are hits, and roll a number of dice equal to the combat value of your units.

I dont think other dice are necessary; and, frankly, if you're looking for a larger market, my guess is that you might want to stick with d6s, as those are the dice with which the most people are familiar. I personally like d10s because they can be used for percentages, but if you lose one, you have to find a special store that sells them. If you lose a d6, you can buy them more easily or get one from another game.

Desprez
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

The thing about A&A is that it doesn't really have any armor values. A a tank has the same chance to kill infantry as it does another tank. What changes is that the tanks are more leathal, but can be killed just as easily as infantry.

Dispite this, A&A works I suspect, because it is carefully limited to a certian type of scenario, in a limited historical period, with a small number of unit types. The only reason it comes off as realistic is because it is contained in a carefully controlled environment.

I'm not criticising A&A, again, I think it works, but I'm thinking of a combat system that's more universal.

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Hmmm. I'm doing some thinking here. I don't have A&A rules in front of me. Do sucessful hits for opposing sides cancel each other out? That could simulate the idea that tanks should also be harder to kill, not just more leathal.

That would tend to make combat longer, however. More rolls and such. I'll have to think about that.

Epigone
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Desprez wrote:
Hmmm. I'm doing some thinking here. I don't have A&A rules in front of me. Do sucessful hits for opposing sides cancel each other out? That could simulate the idea that tanks should also be harder to kill, not just more leathal.

That would tend to make combat longer, however. More rolls and such. I'll have to think about that.
They do not cancel each other, and adding such a mechanic without more tweaking is very problematic. It would mean that a fairly superior force, instead of winning with bearable casualties, would win with practically 0 casualties. An example: in A&A, attacking infantry hit 1/6 of the time, attacking tanks 3/6 of the time, and defending infantry 2/6 of the time. Say 9 infantry and 9 tanks attacked 15 infantry.

They will win (kill all enemy troops) 96% of the time and when they won would lose on average 8-11 units. The 4% of the time the defenders won (had units surviving), they would lose on average 11-12 units.

But if hits cancel, suddenly whoever has the greater force has the *much* greater force. Now they will win only 95% of the time, but when they win they will lose on average only 1-2 infantry. And the 5% of the time that the defenders win, they will lose only about 2 infantry. Hit cancellation is an enormous force multiplier.

gilbertgea
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Desprez,

I understand your critique of the A&A combat system (i.e., the apparent lack of armour values). However, I think that, that can be rationalised from the perspective that each army is sending its units into battle appropriately trained and equipped to defeat the enemy.

Therefore, for instance, an infantry unit defends at the same value (two [2], if I recall correctly) as an armour/tank unit. Why? Because the infantry unit will dig in, employ anti-tank weapons against armour, employ automatic weapons against attacking infantry, etc. Relative to each other, the game designers probably came to the conclusion that infantry and armour are equally capable in the defence, given the appropriate weaponry.

Offensively, tanks are at an advantage given their armour, but more importantly because of their higher mobility. Thus, they attack at a three (3). Infantry are much slower and are unarmoured or lightly armoured as compared to tanks, hence they attack at a one (1).

Honestly, I think that the combat system works fairly smoothly and well, and is a close enough representation of combat without becoming a burdensome dice-fest. Epigone's observation about hits cancelling each other out appears to be spot-on, since it really would tip the balance in the attacker's favour quite significantly, perhaps overmuch.

Desprez
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

The canceling thing could have possibilities if the unit values were made with that in mind. I see how that wouldn't work with A&A using the current values.

I hear what you're saying as far as a given unit using weaponry and tactics appropriate to the target force.
But the A&A scenario deals with a limited number of forces that are failry equal. This, i think, is why the balance works with the given combat system.

However, think of a scenario with a large variety of foces, with a wide range of possible capibilities.
You could end up with a militia force using outdated weaponry being assulted by a modern armor force. Under these circumstances, the milita unit is gong to get clobbered. They simply don't have the weaponry to effectively deal with modern armor.
Now, imagine the same militia defending against an attacking force that is similar to the militia. Here, the odds are more equal.

The point is that the defnding militia should not have the same chance to kill the different types of attackers in these two scenarios.

I'm looking for a system that is both simple, and can account for a wide range of possibilities. (Currently in development is a fantasy game, and a sci-fi game. I'd like to have realistic, and internaly consistant, results given the game environment)

The different sided die idea has merit. But I'll still likely have to number, and use bonus die. As I'll probably need probability granularity below 5% if I want to keep the combat within one primary roll.

Suppose two units are facing each other with such a large disparity that one unit hits 10% of the time and the other hits 90% of the time. To be mathematicaly precice I'd need granularity down to 1% (the chance of the weak unit killing the stronger unit while the stronger misses)
Here's the probability breakdown:
Weak unit miss, strong unit hit - 81%
Weak unit miss, strong unit miss - 9%
Weak unit hit, strong unit hit - 9%
Weak unit hit, stong unit miss - 1%

To do this traditionaly I'd have to make two rolls, one for each unit, or have a very large 100-sided die.

Now I could fudge these percentages a bit so they would be represented on a d12 thus:
10 faces: weak unit miss, strong unit hit - 83%
1 face: weak unit miss, strong unit miss - 8%
1 face: weak unit bonus roll, strong unit hit - 8%

So a 1 in 12 chance for the bonus die to be rolled. If the bonus die hits on 1 in 6, the weaker unit scores a hit 1.3% of the time. (8% x 16%)
If the bonus die hits on 2 in 6, the weaker unit scores a hit 2.7% of the time. (8% x 33%)
(I would have to decide on the bonus die set up, and stick to it.)

Now the different sided die does offer more visual distinction, and lets me use the bonus less often. So, my current line of thought is this:
Color coded, and numbered:
0 - d8
1 - d8
2 - d8
3 - d10
4 - d10
5 - d10
6 - d12
7 - d12
8 - d12
bonus - d6 (prolly 2 in 6 hit)

Anyway, I guess I'll have to put some stickers on some dice and see what happens.

gilbertgea
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

I understand the militia example; my solution would be to just make it a force that attacks or defends on a roll of one (1), or not allow it to attack at all and just let it defend on a one (1). Or, you could incorporate terrain modifiers and keep the militia in the mountains and the woods where they can defend more easily.

I think the multiple dice concept is unnecessary. Why not use a percentile die roll? If you're unfamiliar with that system, all you do is roll two dice: one represents the tens and one represents the ones, so you get results ranging from 00-99 or 01-100 (depending on what you call a "00"). That way, you can assign definite percentages to each of your scenarios and not worry over which die represents those percentages the closest.

Jpwoo
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Quote:
I think the multiple dice concept is unnecessary. Why not use a percentile die roll? If you're unfamiliar with that system, all you do is roll two dice: one represents the tens and one represents the ones, so you get results ranging from 00-99 or 01-100 (depending on what you call a "00"). That way, you can assign definite percentages to each of your scenarios and not worry over which die represents those percentages the closest.

But a percentile system would require charts. Which are a can of worms on their own.

Desprez
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Rolling two 10-siders to get a percentage has a couple of problems.

First off, I'd need a chart as Jpwoo mentioned. I guess what I'm trying to accomplish is, that the chart is basicly embedded in the dice themselves.

Second, 2d10 will slow down combat considerably. You can't roll multiple combats simultaneously because the dice will have a tendancy to get mixed up (which pairs of d10s are together, etc.) so now you have to roll seperatly for each unit, and then it takes an extra moment to mentaly combine two seperate dice into one number.

Thirdly, charts and percentages can quickly bury flavor and elegance. Players are now concentrating on charts and percentages and not the units themselves.

Ok, now I'm not sure what you are suggesting with the militia not being able to engage unless they roll a one.
Do you mean, you first roll to see if they can engage? And if they can, then you roll combat normaly?
That's an interesting idea, but it will introduce another roll into the mix.
Admittadly, it seems to have the same effect as the bonus die, except on the front end. Which means it will be rolled significantly more often then on the back end. I think that alone tips the favor to the back end bonus roll.

As far as terrain bonuses, that's already in the system.
Terrain, leadership, etc. modify the unit's overall combat score.
So perhaps, Regular Soldiers (5) vs. Veteran Knights (11)
This is a difference of 6, which in the current system is an overwhelming advantage. (20% vs. 80%)

Now what if the lowly Soldiers were instead Veteran (other side of counter, base 6), on higher ground (+1), in a hilled (+1), and wooded (+1) terrain?
Now they are much harder to dislodge from the area, and much closer to the knights in combat effectivness, Veteran Soldiers (9) vs. Veteran Knights (11)
A difference of 2 is a good advantage, but not insurmountable. (40% vs. 60%)

Jpwoo
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Quote:
Thirdly, charts and percentages can quickly bury flavor and elegance.

I agree that charts bury elegance, but they provide flavor I think.

Ultimately I think you might want to sacrifice some granularity for speed. In this case the bonus die.

I think you have thought it out well enough at this point to give it a test run and see how you like it.

Chad_Ellis
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Personally I think it's worth the extra rolling to reflect a broader range of combat attributes, e.g. skill/power on offense and skill/armor on defense.

Your system is quicker but seems potentially unsatisfying, since it can't really account for a unit that is a great defender but weak attacker. (Or if it can, it's not obvious to me how.)

CIDIC
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

I think to offer really helpful input i would have to see the whole game, what is the genre? modern medival or scifi? i like the idea so far.

my main questions: I'm unsure whether you intend to roll 1 die for ever man in a unit or every fire team in a platoon or something like that, so you would get a varied number of hits on both stides of a combat. or did you mean 1 die per element?

If you mean 1 die per man, so you could express the tactical difference between large numbers of poorly trained and fewer numbers of elite untis and everything inbetween.

the question you need to awnswer is, what is the ratio between the advantages in training/quality and numbers. If any at all. if your rolling this quality number and rolling 1 die per unit not per man in a unit than i guess what becomes important is the number of units you have compared to your opponent, and how big a difference in quaity they are.

or if your going to end up with something like a squad of 10 guys that hits on a 4+ vs a squad of 15 guys that hit on a 5+. if your doing this then the advantage in numbers is already portrayed rather effectively.

i don't think the system is too numbery or dificult and i think that with some creative planning you can make the dice very readable and easy to do. one design i played with for a while, was having unit specific dice: "these guys aways roll the yellow d8 to hit, because it is their to-hit die" they were all custom dice too. And this system takes it even further than yours, because you don't even have to calculate the difference between units, units always rolled the same dice, and they happend to yeild results proportional to the quality difference between the units.

as for making the easy-to-remember custom dice, you have several thinks at your disposal, you have:

-numbers
-redundant symbols: "3 lighning bolts means 3 hits"
-color: "yellow lighning bolts push the enemy back, red ones cause casualties"

but using number, redundancy, and color, as long as you use them logically and consistenly (don't have lighning bolts and skulls usually black, and red versions of them mean drastically different things, you saw this in the clix games it was so frustrating)an example of good use of this would be like black lightning bolt, and black skulls are 2 different types of damage, when they are red they cound as to hits per symbol instead of 1. be consistent then its not confusing. i would suggest looking at the world of warcraft boardgame combat system if you can, it has alot of interesting ideas that would help inspire you. that and the doom board game, and descent: jopurneys in the dark, they have custom dice systems that would be helpful examples.

gilbertgea
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

I'd avoid custom dice. If you dont like percentile rolls ("2d10"), then you could use d20s, since they provide the greatest number of possibilities in a "standard" gaming die. With a d20, you're down to 5% increments. If you need to go below 5%, then my opinion is that you're probably starting to split hairs and emphasise "realism" at the expense of "playability".

My opinion is that you stick with d6s. Sure, they're limited, but they are familiar and easy to find and replace. With a little creativity, you can come up with a workable system that will come close to what you want.

There's another simple, d6 combat system: the one from the game "Risk". You can modify it to the point where you roll one die per fighting unit. Or you can set a limit to the number of dice a player rolls. In any case, the attacker simply has to roll higher than the defender. Ties go to the defender. I like that idea because it demonstrates that you have to *overwhelm* the defence, not just match it.

Plus, as Clausewitz wrote, defence is the stronger form of combat. ;-)

Desprez
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Ok, some background.

First off, I'm hoping this is a resolution system that can be used in a number of different games. However, in my previous example an individual unit represented a collection of men. The number varies somewhat, and is reflected in the overall combat strength, but usually 50-100 men.

I'll also explain how a unit that is good defender, but poor attacker can be represented. Basicaly, you're thinking very small units and more tactical detail than I am.
In this system, engaging in combat is more than one encounter. It represents a series of engagements, possibly over a couple of days, in a general geographic area - so level of detail doesn't specify a deffender is on a specific ridge, but rather, if the area is rough terrain such as hills it is assumed that the defender can use this to his advantage. So perhaps there are a number of ridgelines in the area and the defender is assumed to use them when the tactical situation allows it.

So, a Soldiers unit is a unit who's primary attack mode is troops with melee weapons. Now, this also includes some scouts, possibly a few ranged weapons, supplies, unit command and operations. Basicaly, the infrastructure to run that particular unit.

A turn represents a weeks worth of time. When there is an "attack", it represents the Soldiers unit trying to take control of a map region. Conceptualy, this would occur over a few days. First, scouts are sent to asses the situation. As the main body of the force moves in, the may be engaged in several places. There may be some manuevering as the attacker tries to neutralize the defenders terrain advantage, or minimize their own weaknesses. There will be numberous "attacks" and "deffendings" on both sides of the engagement.

The die roll represents the outcome of all these things.

So, if something deffends better than it attacks, it can be assumed that the commanders are trying to minimise this weakness on offensive opperations. They will try to outmanuever the opponent and get into situations where they can use their deffensive cababilities better. Perhaps they will put more supporting troops in a local situation where it isn't possible to manuever well.

This works in reverse, too. Even if a unit deffends well, there will still be situations where portions of the defender must attack the attacker.

At any rate, the unit will have to do more "work" to neutralize its weaknesses and so it may have a lower overall combat effectiveness then its attack ability would suggest. Or perhaps it might have a higher build cost as it may represent a larger number of troops to get a same overall combat effectiveness.

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Now then, as far as how combat would work, the attacker would declare what units he is moving to attack an area. Then the defender would say which units he is moving to intercept and block the attacking units.
After seeing which units are squareing off against which, you compare combat scores and roll the appropriate die. One die is rolled for each pair of units.
Now, the defender could block a single attacking unit with more than one defender. In this case, the attacker would only get to direct its firepower agains one of the defenders, while the defender gets two roll against the attacker. In this way it is possible for weaker units to overwhelm a stronger unit with numbers.
Any attacking unit that the deffender neglected to block, then gets to decide where to direct their attack (possibly teaming up on a defender)

In cases where one unit has used up its attack and is getting engaged again, you would still compare scores and roll the die, but you would just ignore any hits from the beseiged unit.

That's the basics, and there ae some other nuances, especialy in regards to ranged units, but they are out of scope for this discussin, I think.

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I still have to so some testing, but after analyzing the odds and how to create the die faces, my current idea is this:

<br />
# Die Color   -   +   | Hm  HH  mm  mH  Faces<br />
0 d8  Yellow 50% 50%  | 25% 25% 25% 25% 2  2  2  2<br />
1 d10 Yellow 45% 55%  | --unfinished--<br />
2 d12 Yellow 42% 58%  | 17% 25% 25% 33% 2  3  3  4<br />
3 d8  Orange 38% 63%  | 13% 25% 25% 38% 1  2  2  3<br />
4 d10 Orange 30% 70%  | 10% 20% 20% 50% 1  2  2  5<br />
5 d12 Orange 25% 75%  |  8% 17% 17% 58% 1  2  2  7<br />
6 d6  Red    20% 84%  |  3% 17% 13% 67% 0  1  1* 4<br />
7 d8  Red    15% 88%  |  2% 13% 11% 75% 0  1  1* 6<br />
8 d10 Red  11.5% 90% |1.5% 10%  9% 80% 0  1  1* 8</p>
<p>Bonus  d6  Green  17% hit    1 hits, 5 misses</p>
<p>I listed the actual percentage chance the Weaker (-) and Stronger (+) unit have of hitting the enemy (regardles of the enemy result) Ideally, these would change by 5% going down the list. It's not perfect, but close enough, I think.</p>
<p>Next, I've broken down the odds.<br />
The battle results are grouped weak unit then strong unit with a Hit (H) or a Miss (m) and the percentage of the time that result will occur. So, MH means that the weaker unit misses while the stronger unit hits. The number in this coulmn is how often that will happen</p>
<p>Finaly, I have listed the number of die faces that have a particular battle result, in the same order as the battle result columns.</p>
<p>The * indacates that the weaker unit misses, unless a hit is rolled on the bonus die.<br />

(If the table looks messy and wraps lines, you may have to adjust your browser font size - the preview result was not the same as the post result)

As you can see, the die shapes progress from lesser to greater number of faces, and get more red as the score disparity gets greater. Because each category is unique in shape and color, it should be easy to quickly identify the correct die (though they will be labled as well)

The battle result can be shown with helpfull little icons. I think that d20 will have too little space on it, and this is why it isn't used.

The bonus die is rarley used so far. Only in the last category and then only on a single die face each.

Now the unfinished row is problamatic. I have the hit percentage here is only the target numbers. I should use a d10 to keep it consistant, but it doesn't divide into the target percentages very well. I can get the odds close with liberal use of the bonus die, but this seems like a messy kludge. I'll have to work on it.

Edit:
Ok, I think I have a possible solution for score difference 1.

<br />
# Die Color   -   +   Hm  HH  mm  mH   Faces<br />
1 d10 Yellow 44% 54%  24% 21% 21% 34%  2  2  3* 3</p>
<p>The * appears in every position on these 3 faces; indicating a miss unless the bonus is rolled.</p>
<p>My math here is on shakey ground for this one though.... it might be wrong.<br />

Infernal
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

Quote:
But a percentile system would require charts.

no this is not the case. If one of the 10 sided dice are used as the tens and the other as units (you can get 10 sided dice sets with one of them labled 00, 10, 20, 30, etc and the other labled 0, 1, 2 ,3, etc - I have several sets of these so they are common - 00+0 is = 100).

With these dice you just roll them and add them together. For example:
If I rolled them and on one die got a 20 and the other a 6 then I rolled a 26. If I rolled an 80 and a 3 then the total is 83.

It is simple and quick to do percentages. It is also the probability of any number is the same as any other and no charts are needed.

Desprez
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More dice? Or more rolls, and more info per die?

You need the chart to see what a percentile roll means.

Ok, so you roll a 30 and a 2, making 32. But what does 32 mean? That's where the chart is needed. You would have to look it up in the correct score disparity column and find what battle result 32 comes under.

The way I'm trying to get this system to work, is that the chart is kind of "built-in" to the dice themselves.

I'm sacrificing a little bit of odds precision for resolution speed and simplicity.

Now, maybe you're suggesting a completly different mechanic?

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