Dice Rolling

edited August 2006 in Play Advice
I'm fine-tuning the dice mechanics for my game, and I thought I'd ask how people felt about different ways of using Dice.

What do you think about using Polyhedral dice (those weird d&d dice) in games? If the game calls for anything other than regular 6-sided dice, is it better to limit the types used (perhaps just d6 + d20) or try and ensure a wide range of dice get used in actual gameplay (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20)?

Generally (and momentarilly ignoring statistical differences in the results), Is it better* to ask a player to do some math to modify the result of their dice roll, or is it better to ask them to roll a different kind of dice?

eg. d20-8 OR d12 OR 2d6

If you ask them to do some math, is it better* to ask them to add and subtract numbers from the result, or better just to use addition and turn any subtraction into an addition for the opposing dice roll?

eg. d6+2-1 vs d6 OR d6+2 vs d6+1

* Better = is one more fun than the other? Or does it make little difference?

Any other thoughts on dice? How often and how many do you like to see rolled in a game? Anything you really like or dislike about using dice? Any games that do it really well or really poorly?

Thanks! :D

Comments

  • If you are after simplicity, adding is much easier for people to do on the fly than any other arithmetical operation.
  • Hey Stuart- Can you provide examples of how dice currently work (and for what rolls)? That would help things out a bit I think.

    -Andy
  • Simple answer for me - it depends on what you're doing with the system.

    Look at how D&D uses the different dice. They help make distinctions between weapons (even though mathematically 1d6+1 is very similar to 1d8, there are still differences, and players like those differences). Look at how Dogs in the Vinyard uses the different dice. On the other hand, look at the games which only use d6s (I find those that only use any of the other sizes, especially things like Universalis which calls for bunches of d10s, mildly annoying). Also look at how Fudge uses a non-standard die (and they annoyance of finding them).

    But yea, tell us about your mechanics and what in them is causing you to be unsure of what types of dice to use.

    Frank
  • What do you think about using Polyhedral dice (those weird d&d dice) in games? If the game calls for anything other than regular 6-sided dice, is it better to limit the types used (perhaps just d6 + d20) or try and ensure a wide range of dice get used in actual gameplay (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20)?
    I don't have a strong preference: but, as a weak preference, limit the types.
    Generally (and momentarilly ignoring statistical differences in the results), Is it better* to ask a player to do some math to modify the result of their dice roll, or is it better to ask them to roll a different kind of dice?
    Roll a different kind of dice.
    If you ask them to do some math, is it better* to ask them to add and subtract numbers from the result, or better just to use addition and turn any subtraction into an addition for the opposing dice roll?
    Turn it into an addition for the opposing die roll. I can't stand adding three things to my die roll before working out the result.

    Graham
  • Polyhedral dice are More Fun but you don't need to use them all in a game.
    Criticals and Fumbles are Fun too.
    If I have to add or subtract make it small differences and at most 2 modifiers on a roll.
  • Thanks for the feedback so far! Confirms some things I was thinking myself. :)

    tell us about your mechanics

    They're mostly sorted out and I'm very pleased with them. :)

    Lots of regular six-sided dice rolls for non-combat actions. Twenty-sided dice for combat. There weren't going to be any other dice, and most modifications to dice rolls were just addition, until I got to thinking about character injury.

    When your character is wounded, they're really in rough shape. They aren't as capable in making their dice roll for various things and this could be reflected as:
    * d20 with a subtraction, eg -8, -10 etc
    * a smaller sized dice, eg d12, d10 etc
    * d20, divide the result by 2
    * 2d6, 3d6 etc
    * d20, but the opposing number gets an addition, eg +8, +10 etc

    Thinking about using other dice (eg. d12) got me thinking about whether to have players roll a d8 instead of asking them to roll a d6 and add 2.

    The goal is to keep things moving quickly, and make it accessible for new players, or experienced players who (like me) don't like extensive number-crunching and book keeping during a game.

    At the same time, since I'm looking at producing more than just a book (cards, tiles, playing pieces, tokens), I don't want to include dice in the game unless they're going to be used regularly. Knowing they'll add to the price of the complete game is definitely something to consider, but I'd rather have a great game than try and cut corners on the dice.
  • I think having different die sizes for different things (like DitV) gives players useful physical tokens, e.g. these d6s are my gun, these d8s are my relationship with my brother.
  • I'm sort of in love with the neat even-numbered linear progression from d4 to d12. The difference scales in such a way that a single die size raise is significant but not overwhelming, and intuitively obvious.

    Something unrelated but interesting and worth mentioning is the way dice are used in 1001 Nights - binary randomizers, but ones that speak to player aesthetics and can also be used as visual mnemonics. Super cool.
  • edited August 2006
    Whoa - mad dice scientists have invented d14, d16 and d24.

    Not sure there are any games that USE those dice... still neat.

    [EDIT]

    ooooh. The experimental d18...
  • I haven't bought dice in ages*...

    That site has the 12 piece master gem set which includes a d3, d4, d5, d6, d8, d10, d12, d14, d16, d20, and d24

    gms_38m12.jpg

    How common are these dice? Do most gamers have them now??

    * it's been literally about 20 years
  • Most gamers don't have 3s, 5s, 14s, 16s, or 24s. That gem set doesn't include the d7, which also exists.

    That said, I absolutely adore bizarre weird useless dice like that. I don't have a 14 or an 18 yet... must... get...
  • My personal preference is for less variety in dice.

    (I'm a shit mathematician. I'm making up terms as I go and I calculate this stuff in long comparisons of charts I make up. It helps me pass the time.)

    The granularity of actions in game are what I use to determine die choices in my development. If it matters that you didn't succeed by a hair's breadth, d100 (or percentile 2d10) will probably be fine enough. If a completely coarse measure is all that is needed (you did or you didn't) then d2 it.

    I've been playing around with possible combinations of d6 and the results of odd selection. For example: 3d6, choose 2 highest. If those two are a pair, add the 3rd. This offers a range of 3 to 18, 16 possible levels of granularity in outcome but with heavy favor to the lower end of the scale, particulary 7-9.

    So no clear answers from me, but hopefully a nudge toward thinking about ranges of possible outcome.
  • Since we're doing personal preferences, here are mine!

    I like d6s d10s, and d100 (when it's really two d10)

    I'm indifferent to d20s and d12s

    I don't like d4s or d8s very much as they seem awkward when they roll.

    My personal preference purely in dice terms is for pools of dice of the same type.

    My favourite type of die is a d6 with pips rather than numerals.

    :D
  • d12s are underrated.
  • Damn near everyone has the standard D&D set of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. You ask people to use other dice, it pisses them off. Most people don't have large numbers of 4s, 8s, or 12s, unless they're wizards (magic missiles), old-school DMs (monster hit dice), or pokethulu enthulusiasts (the game uses a d12).

    The exception is my play group, most of whom are too slackery to get their own dice and mooch off mine. (You hear that guys? Buy some freakin' d10s! This is Exalted, you're gonna need more than five!)
  • I prefer dice size shifting to math. If there is no math except size-shifting involved, that is optimal. The alternative is to avoid multiple dice and multiple shapes completely and use exclusively additive bonuses.

    In other words, one extreme use of a technique is, in my opinion, superior to using multiple techniques; it means that I have to do fewer operations.

  • Awesome feedback! :D

    My own personal preference is rolling a single dice and having it clatter across the table representing some type of action -- maybe firing an arrow or trying to jump across a chasm. I guess it's like what cpeterso said about DitV -- but with just a single dice (or I guess 2 like in craps). I think it's optimal if the player knows ahead of time what they need to roll so there's an immediate YES! or DAMN! moment when the dice stop, instead of a quick math-quiz.

    I don't mind how a d8 rolls at all -- but the regular d4 is very fiddly.
  • i always want to roll at least two dice. they clatter together in your hands and feel better. Rolling one thing is kind of like eating one white castle burger, its tasty, but un-filling.
  • Colin & Brendan --

    d12s indeed. Other under-rememberd uses of the blessed orb:

    1) longswords vs Size L creatures
    2) propping up minis to show that they're flying

    so really, Pokethulhu is where it's at.
  • edited August 2006
    Cartoon Action Hour also. They use whole pools.

    There's no d8-ascendant game though. This saddens me.
  • edited August 2006
    d12s and d20s have the advantage of being evenly divisible by a number of factors.

    d12: 2, 3, 4 & 6.

    d20: 2, 4, 5 & 10.

    d20 is also divisible by 3, 6, & 9 with a modulus of two. This means you can have 6, 3 or 2 results with 1 and 20 in reserve. (The same applies to a d12 - it's divisible by 5 with a modulus of 2.)

    d20s are also excellent stand-ins for percentiles. If you're ever considering percentiles, try going with d20s since you're really just rounding percentiles to 5%.

    Also - I noticed with your mechanics that there's subtraction. Reconsider the way it's calculated so that people are adding - it's much easier to do on the fly. And division is usually right out.
  • I'm pretty much a d6 purist, myself. Though I will also use FUDGE dice. I agree with Shreyas--don't make me fiddle things different ways. E.g., dice pools that want me to count successes, where the success target number, number of dice, and number of successes required all vary, suck.

    I really don't care for big-ass dice pools, though there is indeed some satisfaction in rolling a nice handful. The system for my game (progressing at a moss-like pace, thank you, I'm getting a certificate in Workplace Dispute Resolution, so it's not like I'm not doing anything, okay?!) is basically a tweaked D6 (as in the D6 brand) system where you can trade the dice around. But you only ever roll 2-3 dice, and don't sum them. Just find the highest die, add your bonus, done. I dig it. (Thanks Lxndr.) The way Burning Wheel progresses from White to Grey to Black is also acceptable, since they don't change in one conflict, so they don't really increase handling time.

    I do wish I could find rhombic d12s though. They tesselate. How cool is that?

  • On the other hand, I don't mind extracting multiple results from a single roll, as long as they matter and mean distinct things. Like, I would be happy looking at both matches and the highest single die in a roll.

  • I like the idea of d6 purism in theory. In practice, I have this bucket of cool polyhedral dice...

    I like how Dogs in the Vinyard deals with the multiple dice (hmm, for a mildly d8 ascendant game, how about The Princes Kingdom?).

    While working on my own system, I used 2d12 for the central die mechanic. For a couple reasons, 2d6 was too small a range. 2d10 would have been nice, but I really hate the d10, I try and use d20s that are numbered 0-9 twice, but these days, folks have those d10s. So I settled on 2d12, which actually worked nicely with 10 skill levels and a few modifiers.

    Definitely agree, subtraction is bad (subtracting 1 or 2 isn't too bad though). Division is annoying, even when it's as simple as using a d6 for a d3. And for heavens sake, if your system is going to have a 50-50 resolution as a common thing, specify a die and a target number. I hate watching people flop around with different dice, some doing odds/evens, some doing high is good, some doing low is good, a few actually rolling percentiles, etc.

    If your game is going to require rolling more than 3-4 dice at once, seriously consider sticking with d6.

    Fudge dice are nice, though they are subtractive, though most of the time, you're adding/subtracting 1 or 2, and at most subtracting 4 (which probably fails for most folks, so they don't even necessarily need to do the math). On the other hand, I dislike the named steps, I always have to convert them to numbers, or look at a chart and count up or down. Numeric ratings would be much quicker to use. Fudge dice are a bit more difficult to use for those not used to grouping dice for ease of calculations (pulling sets of 10 together when rolling fireball damage for example) since you only have an add or a subtract if you remove + and - pairs and pile them with all the blanks, leaving a stack of all + or all - (and usually just one or two of those).

    Frank
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