View Full Version : Original System Dice: how many is too many?

Lvl 2 Expert
2017-06-11, 03:19 AM
(The part until the bold is semi-skippable if uninterested in background.)

I'm working on a system (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?526115-101-things-you-d-want-to-do-in-an-extreme-outdoor-racing-sports-RPG), and one of my design principles is that as much of the crunch as possible should be pretty much behind the scenes. You should get to build a character as if it's D20, and play it as if its FATE, ideally. One of the tools I plan to use for this is a sort of dice pool system where you throw a bunch of small dice and add their values up. I'm absolutely in love with the probability curves I'm getting in Excel. The idea is that when you strap on your parachute and get on that plane (it's an extreme/outdoor/racing sports system, by the way) you can already figure out how many and which dice you need to throw in each of a small number of different situations. You write that down on a cheat sheet, and now each time when you throw the dice, which happens ones or sometimes twice per turn, you quickly glance over, throw the right number of dice and add up the numbers. In the current incarnation it looks like I there will be two different types of dice, and at most three dice pools on the cheat sheet that will let you do anything related to the sport you're currently doing, with on top of that a simple plus or minus one die for situational bonuses, similar to the how the D&D 5 advantage system works in that you never need to add up bonuses and/or penalties, at least one bonus circumstance and no penalty circumstances gets you a bonus and vice versa, anything else is neutral.

If that went a little fast, it will be much clearer when explained by a proper rule book or a person, especially since they'll fill in the blanks I left open for now. But the question I'm here for is this:

When you're trying to run a smooth game, how many small dice, let's say D3's, would you be comfortable with throwing and adding up to each other every turn before it became annoying?

I figured the limit would be at around 5 or 6 dice, but it looks like I might need it to be a little higher, around 8 or something for higher level play, to really let the probability curve I've got shine.

So if you're willing to shoot me a quick estimate of how much you would roughly put up with before say houseruling that everyone rolls a D8 with simple bonuses or dropping the system altogether, that would really help me in prioritizing. It's better to have a less realistic curve but a playable game than the other alternative.

2017-06-11, 08:29 AM
I would be fine with rolling up to 25d6 or 25d3 or even 25d2, but would be severely miffed if I had to roll more than about 3 of any other die type because I only have one of each except for 2d10.

(This is because GW dice cubes come with 25d6+1dscatter+1dartillery though, so I don't know how many d6s most people would have.)

2017-06-11, 09:33 AM
I would say the format you plan to use this also affects how many dice is too many. Like using roll20 you can roll literally 1000 dice in a set of [[ xdx ]] and it will do all the math for you in an instant. In person I'd say I would want to roll more than 10 dice per person per round, since you're thinking of D3 I might say up to 15 because the numbers are fairly small still. But I would say to not use 10dx on anything over d6, I buy dice in matching sets so I've got 10d4/6/8/10/12/20, but I don't think that's the case for everyone.

I think your estimate of 5-8 dwhatever is pretty a reasonable range to use, and the numbers shouldn't get too crazy.

Lvl 2 Expert
2017-06-12, 07:28 AM
I would be fine with rolling up to 25d6 or 25d3 or even 25d2

To be honest: rather you than me. :smalltongue:

On the other hand, free brain training.

I would say the format you plan to use this also affects how many dice is too many. Like using roll20 you can roll literally 1000 dice in a set of [[ xdx ]] and it will do all the math for you in an instant.

I was thinking of physical dice. Although it might actually be a cool idea to release a free simple rolling app based on the specific dice progression of the game for people who don't have the right dice. Three clicks, have your number. It's free to publish through both main app stores right? *Scribble scribble* Alternatively, just recommend that people use one of the many free ones already available, much less work.

I think your estimate of 5-8 dwhatever is pretty a reasonable range to use, and the numbers shouldn't get too crazy.

Thanks, both of you.

2017-06-12, 08:32 AM
For a game where you have to add up the results of the dice (which is what you are proposing), I think the more dice the worse. Now, this isn't terrible, as some folk like adding up the damage for their Fireball spells in D&D, but it's a hassle. Each roll and each adding up slows down gameplay. If you have to throw dice an average of twice per turn... that feels like a lot.

I find it easier when a roll of x or higher is a success, and you count successes. If you are using a d3, the probability curve between adding them up and treating a 2 or 3 as a success instead might not be too terribly different.

Also, with d3: this seems especially burdensome since physical d3s either don't exist (no 3-sided die), require custom dice (6 sides of 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3), or require you to mentally change the numbers if you use regular d6s (not bad in itself, but annoying if adding up 10+ dice).
If your group happens to have a lot of custom dice... well, no problem... but I'd consider this a flaw if designing a system for general use.

Lastly, if you are amiable to moving to a 'add up successes' instead of 'add up totals' method of determining success, I'd recommend going with d6s (since folk tend to have a lot of them) or d10 (since most 'add up successes' systems seem to be d10, at least in my experience.)

Well-actually last: I do like your idea of a cheat sheet for how many dice to throw in common circumstances. That will save time. I say keep that regardless of the method of dice rolling you use (even if much fewer dice), especially if small changes to the action you take or equipment you use leads to changes in the dice pool.

2017-06-12, 09:35 AM
I was initially kind of worried that having a large number of dice and adding the values of those dice together would be painfully slow, but I guess it depends a bit on your method.

I tried rolling 7d6, treating (1,2) as 1, (3,4) as 2 and (5,6) as 3. It didn't take quite as long as I thought, but that's probably because I just started sorting them into three piles based on which of the final values they would slot into and then multiplying, rather than adding. Each roll took less than thirty seconds that way.

Doing this any other way seemed like it would require either writing down my totals or remembering 5-6 different sequential values, which I don't really want to do- much less two or three times a turn.

I, like most posters, also have about forty or so six sided dice, and only two or three of the other kind. Notably I have more d20s than I do d8s entirely because I have a few count-down dice from Magic the Gathering.

It really depends on the method, I guess, but it has the potential to be really slow. If you asked me to roll and add more than ten dice with values greater than, say, a d6 I'd probably not play the game. It just seems like it'd be a slog at that point; and, I doubt my usual play group would enjoy it. (Of course they barely tolerate a dice pool success count sort of system, so YMMV)

Lvl 2 Expert
2017-06-12, 11:46 AM
Those are some very good points to think about. And thanks for actually trying it out Zale, that's exactly the feedback I was looking for. 30 seconds is too long, it's an action game, and the gameplay should help set the mood for the story. I got myself some blank dice and filled in the numbers I needed, which is where I got my estimates of what seemed reasonable.

Number of successes always seemed like kind of a weird system to me. It has one advantage over most other systems: the range of possible outcomes goes up as your skill level (or whatever) and thus your number of dice increases. I'd like to have that in my system, but not really at the cost of needing to roll 6 dice to only be able to roll the numbers 1 to 6, I can do that with one die just fine.

I think if I decide against the current setup I'll switch to 2d6+x or similar, with x starting somewhere a little below zero, rounding all negative results up. That way you still get a bit of an increased range of results in the first few level times you improve a skill, and I can get some more of it with an "advanced gear" system I had pretty much rejected earlier. In short: you set a bar above which you get a bonus. the higher the bar, the higher the bonus, thus a character with enough skill and the right equipment will get a gap in their probability curve and a greater range between the lowest and the highest result. And you'll still only really have to add up two numbers, because you can see from your roll whether you should add your normal +x or your cleared the bar +x. (Edit: 3 numbers, I seem to have forgotten how many dice 2D6 are.)

I'll miss having a skill/gear rank for every half point increase in your average results, but I can fix that partially by just working with higher numbers. (I figured minor bonuses are important when you give people cool enough gear. Why have just any kajak when you can have a specially tuned riverplay kayak with just the right amount of bounce for all the cool moves but still that little extra to get through the hard parts of the river?)

It's not quite as elegant, but it might be less annoying to play as well.