John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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I Can't Roll Dice! >:P

jamesbarrett ran D&D tonight, and it was frustrating -- not because of anything he did, but because I can't friggin' roll dice. And apparently, neither can Camstone, which is a bad combination when we're the only two players. His character and mine spent most of the Big Climactic Battle standing around ineffectually while the NPCs got all the good hits. Again, not because of anything Frisk set up, but because of the dice.

"I roll a 5." "Nope, you miss."

"I roll an 8 to overcome the hag's SR." "Nope, she shrugs off the spell."

"I roll a 2." "Nope, you didn't make your skill check."

Camstone did finally manage to turn the tide at the very end by making a very nice critical hit, which I followed up with a solid hit of my own ... setting it up for an NPC to make the killing blow.

Frisk was getting frustrated, too ... he's not the sort of DM who revels in watching his players flail around ineffectively. He set up a very fair situation, gave us lots of breaks, and we just blundered in and screwed up anyway.

On the good side, we got one of our favorite NPC party members back, and he's got a cool new miniature to boot. Tyro (think "Cronk" from The Emperor's New Groove) was an NPC sent along to beef up our party a bit at low levels by our first employer, and when we left the person's employ, Tyro went with him, and we've missed the big lug. It didn't help things when the employer turned out to be evil and trying to use us as patsies. Tyro, bless his big, dumb heart, just never quite caught on to what was going on. Fortunately, he's back with us now, and the former employer must resort to sending bounty hunters after us.

(Now that was a cool encounter, the bounty hunter I mean. I think it will be one of my faves in this game. That, and the black dragon.)

I think my lack of die-rolling ability may be one of the reasons I tend to work better with the HERO System. Instead of rolling 1d20, HERO uses 3d6 for most critical rolls -- meaning that the probability of extreme success or extreme failure is much, much lower. There's a straight 5% chance of rolling a 1 on d20; there's something like a 0.5% chance of rolling a 3 on 3d6. The more dice you roll at a time, the more "average" your result will tend to be.

Of course, I rolled a 16 on 8d6 ... that's not easy.

On the other hand, the HERO System has it's own problems, not the least of which is the fact that everything is 8- (~26% chance of success), 11- (~62% chance of success), 12- (~74% chance of success), 13- (~84% chance of success), or 14- (~91% chance of success). That's a pretty extreme probability curve! If you're going to use a 3d6 game mechanic, your scale should be set up so that most rolls should be in the 9- to 13- range.

Different Dice Roll Results

*Actually, this is 0.46%, but you can't roll 0.46 on d100...

Thus, a 3d6 system goes from "Just Barely Possible" at 7- (~16% chance of success) to "Hard to Miss" at 14- (~91% chance of success) in just seven short steps -- and the HERO System totally ignores two of those!

If I were of a game-designing bent ("Who, ME?"), I suppose I might try to make a game where a character's statistics were rated from 1 - 5 (Abysmal, Poor, Average, Good, Excellent?) and their skills further rated from 1 - 5 (using the same descriptors), and then rolls were made of (5 + Stat + Skill) or less on 3d6 for success. Somebody with Abysmal Strength and Abysmal Climbing would have a 7- (16% chance of success) to climb a cliff face, for instance, while somebody with Excellent Strength and Excellent Climbing would have a 15- (95% chance of success). Somebody with Average Strength and Average Climbing would have 11- (62% chance of success). Or, if you wanted to emphasize stats or skills or whichever, you could tweak the ranges a bit (have skills rated from 1 - 7 with the roll being {3 + Stat + Skill} for instance).

For that matter, now that I think about it, I suspect that somebody's probably done that already.

All things being equal, a percentile system would be the coolest for "character granularity," so to speak, but the problem with d100 is that (A) character creation tends to be a bear, and (B) since most d100 are actually a roll of 1d10 for the tens digit and 1d10 for the ones digit, it effectively becomes a 1d10 system. 90% of the time, you don't need to bother rolling the ones digit die, because if you roll above or below the target on the tens digit die, you know you will have succeeded or failed already. Of course, if you wanted to play with a digital random number generator, that would take care of that problem -- except that most digital random number generators aren't as random as they're cracked up to be.

I seem to remember that Judges Guild or somebody had a RPG system based on a d30 ... but the problem with those is that they've got 30 friggin' sides! Roll one of those puppies and it won't stop until it goes off the other side of the table and under the couch! And don't get me started on the rare genuine d100 -- it looks like a golf ball!

Maybe I should just stick to a Pop-O-Matic BubbleTM! ;P

Geeze, is it really 5 a.m.? What am I doing yammering about this in the wee hours of the morning?

G'nite! Er, g'morning. Something!

-The Gneech
Tags: dungeons & dragons, gaming
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