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Dice System for RPG OK?

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LoopyWolf
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Is a topic about a dice-system mechanic for a tabletop RPG legal for this forum?

I am a board-game designer (2 games presently in sales) but I am having issues with a dice-system atm.. wondering if it's OK to post the problems I'm having here or no?

Zzzzz
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Dice topics are fine, and I

Dice topics are fine, and I would assume your dice issue might not be 100% specific to RPG, so post away!

LoopyWolf
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Dice System for RPG

Ok, Sheldon set the WABAC..

Like many GMs, I've been using my own RPG system for a great many years now.

Version 4.0 of the system was quite good, and is in use in a few gamer groups all around. 4.0 worked on rolls of d% vs. abilities up to 100 (normally.) There was a table which helped you figure the % of anyscore, or what result would be what % (inverse lookup.) For example, if you rolled 34 with a skill of 75, the result was 22 (or 2DG) or when a character was hit with 32 damage with a health of 89, you were able to look up that it was 36% (or 4DG.) However, I was unhappy by the fact that 4.0 required the use of a table, and so I tried to come up with a better one.

Version 5 (V) replaced the table with dice. You rolled dice (d6) = skill, and any dice over 4+ was a success, where skills were from 1 to 10, so the results were from 0 to L where L was the skill level. This I used for a few years before I began to see a huge bell curve in the results. Simulations showed a huge bell curve (eg., if you rolled 6 dice, you got 3 a LOT of the time.) A mathematician husband of one of my players informed me that ANY time you roll multiple dice, you get a bell curve - the more dice, the worse the curve.

I went through a pile of other versions, 6, 7, 8 .. I lost count and the version numbers ceased to have meaning.

The one I have been using for the past few months was that you rolled a dice that gave a result from -2 to +2 added your skill, and subtracted difficulty, where stats were from 1-10. This is quite linear, and gives good player satisfaction (some will recognize it's like Fudge withuot a curve) but I had not considered range. With a dice that rolls +2 max, if you encounter something with a difficulty 3 levels higher than your stat, it's flat out impossible to succeed.

I then said, "Well, what IS the range I want?" and decided that a score 10 levels higher was limit. Therefore, I made the dice roll -10 to +10, add score minus difficulty, stats again 1-10. This seemed ok on paper, but in play of course you quickly see that the dice is AS important as the stat, and randomness is the king, so I realized I had not found the answer, not yet.

Currently, I am waiting to playtest the following: Skill minus difficulty plus a dice rolling from -5 to +5, and you re-roll on 5s. This naturally has a curve, but simulations show that you often get results near your stat level, but can rarely get very very high and very very low results, which seems desirable, as it maintains the importance of stat over random die results. One of the key problems I'm facing is that the dice must roll -5 to 0 to +5, because if you cannot roll 0 on a re-roll, you cannot get 5 (and wow, I just had a neat idea.. but I press on)

The problems I'm trying to figure out are:
1. How can I make a die where you can roll -5 to +5 with 0 (11 .. )
2. With 4.0's table, it was a cinch to calculate damage based on your roll result (1-10), whereas now it requires some multiplication. Ideally I'd like to be able to say a weapon did 0-68 damage and get that result quickly from a result of 1-10 on the dice
3. 4.0's table also allowed a quick injury calculation, where if you had 40 body, a hit of 14 was quick to see as a 4 (3.5) but now it requires a division, or a mini-table.

Any questions, or suggestions most welcome!

Zzzzz
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Ok I stand corrected, your

Ok I stand corrected, your question is ENTIRELY tied to the RPG concepts. AS such I am not sure how much ppl will be able to help.

BUT with that said,

1) You might consider a custom 12 side die, where you have -5 to +5, including 0 and maybe one *special* sides. Maybe a critical hit. On this *special* role, maybe something like automatic 2x max damage occurs.

The main point I am making is that maybe you need to add 1 additional side to make creation of this custom die easier, and at the same time add in some type of additional *fun* factor.

2) Print up your own look up table that maps -5 to +5 on a table. And *poof* you players can quickly look up the results again.

3) Again another table might be your best option. Unless you can determine a nice simple division of 10. A simple division of 10 should not be hard for most players to calculate on the fly, if it does you have players that are VERY different from any i have ever played RPGs with!

InvisibleJon
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Ways to make or emulate a d11.

LoopyWolf wrote:
The problems I'm trying to figure out are:
1. How can I make a die where you can roll -5 to +5 with 0 (11 .. )
2. With 4.0's table, it was a cinch to calculate damage based on your roll result (1-10), whereas now it requires some multiplication. Ideally I'd like to be able to say a weapon did 0-68 damage and get that result quickly from a result of 1-10 on the dice
3. 4.0's table also allowed a quick injury calculation, where if you had 40 body, a hit of 14 was quick to see as a 4 (3.5) but now it requires a division, or a mini-table.
I can answer the first question, but I'm not so helpful for #s 2 and 3.

Imagine a standard d10. It has five lopsided diamond faces on the top and five on the bottom, for a total of 10 faces, right? Now imagine a similar die with 11 lopsided diamond faces on the top and 11 on the bottom, making a d22. Number the top faces -5 to +5, zero inclusive. Do the same with the bottom. Now you have a die that'll give results from -5 to +5, including zero – all with equal odds. Yeah, it's a custom die, but it solves your problem.

Another solution: Imagine an 11-sided regular polygon. Now extrude it into a "cylinder" (a prism). Number the 11 long rectangular faces +5 to -5, zero inclusive. Keep the 11-sided faces blank. To roll, just roll it like a log. Yes, it's another custom die, but it may be cheaper and easier to prototype.

More solutions: A deck of 11 cards numbered +5 to -5, including zero. A bag of chips numbered similarly.

Were I you, I'd use a deck of cards or a bag of chips for play testing. They're inexpensive, easy to make, and relatively quick to use.

ilta
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I would definitely second the

I would definitely second the "bag of chips" idea. No shuffling and they last much longer.

Zzzzz
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Agreed a nice bag of chits

Agreed a nice bag of chits containing numbers is a great option. Ans since it would resemble the *normal* RPGers bag o'dice, it should not be that difficult for players to accept! Unless of course you have players that like the sound of dice falling into the floor!

kungfugeek
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Zzzz's idea

...of using a d12 with one "extra" side would be pretty easy to do. At the very least, for quick and dirty playtesting, the extra side could be a reroll. Or you could have the extra side be a second 0... maybe a "00" that most of the time just counted as a 0 but, like Z suggested, could sometimes trigger something cool.

I know you're trying to avoid the bell curve, but 2d6 - 7 would give you -5 to 0 to +5, with 0 being the most common result, and +/- 5 being pretty rare and potentially more exciting. If you didn't feel like having to subtract 7 from every roll, you could just have all difficulty numbers start out 7 higher :). Another goofy thing you could do is have one die numbered -2,-1,0,1,2,3 and the other -3,-2,-1,0,1,2 and just add the results straight up. What this gives you is, in addition to -5,0,5, you also have one "good" die (-2 to 3) and one "bad" die (-3 to 2) that you can use to roll in other situations. For example, there's a task that would normally be a 50/50 shot at success (something outside the realm of a standard skill check), but in this particular case there's a time limit, so you have to use the "bad" die to roll. Or maybe conditions are favorable for the event, so use the "good" die.

larienna
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5th age and other

There was an RPG called 5th age (dragon lance) where players used cards has dices. This way, you can get the numbers you want. it also add strategy because you will have to use somehow your bad cards someday.

I also don't like range of value because it creates a situation where you have no chance of success or failure. As an example in one of my design, the characters had weapon that made damage in a certain range and there was armor that soaked that damage. The porblem is that the armor can soak too much making 0 dmg attacks. It also mean that when you design your equipment, your weapons must be stronger than your armors else you'll end up always with an average of 0 dmg.

So my solution was to remove any value range. Instead I made it work like saving throw. The more armor you have, the easier is the save. If you save correctly, you take half the damage, else you take full damage. The minimum is always 1 damage because you actually hit. So this way, even if you are pretty weak, you are always going to do some damage if you successfully hit.

So I always try to make sure player have always slight chance to succeed.

Another example: I made sure that whatever the level you are, you always have a chance to hit somebody even if it's 50 levels above you. The way I did that is that you do not get attack bonus with level up. Leveling up only increase the number of attacks you can do. So you don't get with a bug like in many video game RPG where you cannot hit a too strong ennemy or that no ennemy can possibly hit you because you are too strong. Now, more level simply mean more damage but not more chances to hit.

kungfugeek
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It wasn't really a strict range...

Loopy mentioned that on a roll of +5 or -5 the player would reroll and add that new result. I assume if the new result was also a +/- 5, then there would be another reroll, and so on into infinity. So even though the common range in -5 to +5, the possible range is infinite. With that, there would be no case were a task was impossible or guaranteed, just really really really unlikely or really really really likely. I think it's a good system.

SiddGames
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Curve or Shift

I agree with kungfugeek -- I'm not sure why a curve is entirely undesirable. It probably simulates actual skill use more closely. I also second his suggestion of just shifting the values up, even if you stick with a linear curve, e.g., why -5 to 0 to +5, rerolling on 5s, when you could just do a straight 1 to 10, reroll (and subtract) on 1s and reroll (and add) on 10s. I think that's just called an open-ended roll in most RPG systems. Obviously, adjusting your skills to fit the 1-10 instead of -5 to +5. Also, is it really important that someone can obtain a result of 5?

Actually, open-ended rolling as you suggest IS a curve, however steep at the top and bottom ends?

benshelmars
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The Goal

If your goal is simply number manipulation, then combination's of dice or the above suggestions solve the problem, however if you are attempting to reflect how different skill levels, weapon classes, armor, etc. index against each other, well guess what the above also is just as good!
Since the first RPG by Gary Gygax, the dice have always been an important part (the rules were always to be flexible though), fun with exotic worlds is the primary concern and a sense of continuity with the rules and the world they relate to.
There are systems such as that from Columbia Games' Harn system that are elaborate skill based (realistic) to the d6 system of West End Games of simple bell curves with wild dice (abstract). Both systems are great yet both are different, Skill vrs. luck.

So, the question is are you going for more skill or more towards luck or a combination of the two?

apeloverage
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two methods.

LoopyWolf wrote:
How can I make a die where you can roll -5 to +5 with 0 (11 .. )

1) 1d6 minus 1d6.

That would make results near 0 more common, and thus make stats more important and luck less important. If you wanted to make luck more important again, use d8s or d10s instead.

2) Move all the difficulty numbers up by 6.

The roll is a d12. A natural 12 counts as an automatic success. For everything else you use the number you rolled.

3) Almost exactly the same as number 2, except

i) Move the difficulty numbers up by 7 instead of 6.

ii) Instead of 12 being an automatic success, 1 is an automatic failure.

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