Multiply Die?

plisnithus8

Explorer
Is there a significant mathematical reason not to multiply a single dice roll by the number of dice, such as multiplying one 6-sided die by 5 instead of rolling 5 six-sides dice?

I know it creates quantum jumps in numbers leaving out granularity, but does it unbalance the results?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Just the granularity thing. And it's not as much fun.

And if your'e only using 10, 20, 30, 40 50 and 60, your game system may as well have a scale of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Multiplying everything by 10 doesn't do anything.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
Is there a significant mathematical reason not to multiply a single dice roll by the number of dice, such as multiplying one 6-sided die by 5 instead of rolling 5 six-sides dice?

I know it creates quantum jumps in numbers leaving out granularity, but does it unbalance the results?
The most important thing is it generates a linear distribution vs. a bell-shaped one.

Rolling 5d6 has results from 5-30, with each number between possible, but the central numbers are more likely and the end numbers more rare.

Rolling 1d6 x 5 gives the same chance for each result, and only the results 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 would be possible.

Does it unbalance results? No, but most the bell-curve gives moderate results and the extremes less often.

Consider a dragon breathing on your party for 10d10. The bell-curve averages 55 and will have most results around 40-70. Roll 1d10 x10 instead and you have a much better chance of doing the maximum 100 points... generally not good for the party. Sure, you could roll a 1 as well, but do you want to take the chance? ;)
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I let the players decide if they want to roll a full stack of dice, or if they want to roll a single die and multiply it. But there's a catch: once they choose, they have to stick to that choice for the rest of the gaming session.

They almost always choose to roll once and multiply.
 

HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
If you're looking to speed up your damage rolls, using the average value provided in the stat block is a great way to go.

Rolling d6 x 5 will make extreme results (low or high) in an individual roll much, much more likely. It makes for wild swings of luck that can be really fun for the players when it goes their way, but can just as easily be devastating. There's a huge difference between the effects of 5 damage and 30 damage.

It's ok to have extreme outcomes, but they need to be rare so as not to unbalance the game too much.
 
Back in 1E, where spells gave dice per caster level without a cap, rolling a crapload of dice was annoying, so we did this. Terrible idea, as high level combat often came down to which spellcaster rolled a 5 or 6 on their first AoE. Character death was prevalent (even by 1E standards), and we dropped it.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
Is there a significant mathematical reason not to multiply a single dice roll by the number of dice, such as multiplying one 6-sided die by 5 instead of rolling 5 six-sides dice?

I know it creates quantum jumps in numbers leaving out granularity, but does it unbalance the results?
On average, results are the same, but reliability suffers this way.

We once used semi-average damage for attacks with lots of dice.

We rolled only 3 or 4 dice and took average of the rest. Rest must be even number of dice.

I.E. 8d6 fireball would be 4d6+14

7d8 damage roll would be 3d8+18

this way we kept the average result at the center and reduce max amount of dice that are rolled around.
 

atanakar

Adventurer
I use average results when DMing. Players refuse to do it because they are addicted to dice rolling, but complain when they get low results on damage or healing...

If I could convince the players the attack themselves instead of me rolling the foe attack dice that would be great. ;)
 

plisnithus8

Explorer
I use average results when DMing. Players refuse to do it because they are addicted to dice rolling, but complain when they get low results on damage or healing...

If I could convince the players the attack themselves instead of me rolling the foe attack dice that would be great. ;)
I use the average a lot when using pre-made NPCs/monsters mostly to speed up combat.
I also make a lot of NPCs on character sheets (yeah, I know) so end up rolling damage.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
No way I could use average damage. Several of my players can already calculate int heir by the end of the first round (if not sooner) exactly what tactics to use and how many rounds the combat will last and who will take an average of what damage. I have to keep randomness in the game (we re-roll initiative every round too!)
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
The pure joy to have 14 dice in your hand and roll them all for damage...
Players refuse to do it because they are addicted to dice rolling, but complain when they get low results on damage...
And how quickly pure joy turns to misery. This might be related to the addictive quality of gambling.

There's a design reason related to the mathematical reason. It's hard to create level-appropriate monsters and adventures when PC capabilities are swingy. You get fewer complaints about something being too easy or too hard when outcomes are funneled into average results.
 

Uller

Adventurer
If you want to reduce die rolling and math, just roll 1 or 2 dice and add the result to half the max...so 10d10? 50+1d10. Gives the same average. Results are evenly distributed between 51 and 60.

A lot of DMs do this. I think it was Chris Perkins who said he just rolls two or three dice but doesn't even look at them and instead just makes up a result around the average...
 

plisnithus8

Explorer
I think it was Chris Perkins who said he just rolls two or three dice but doesn't even look at them and instead just makes up a result around the average...
On a related note, how many of you use a DM Screen, or -- more precisely -- hide dice rolls?
I used to but have really felt a freedom having players see my results.
If you want to fudge encounters, there are plenty of other ways to do that.
 
Wait...what? Gamers,, who find rolling 'too many dice' an annoyance? I'm baffled :)

I remember getting to roll those 8d6 for a decent fireball as one of the biggest joys in my career as a mage. Well, unless over half turned up 1s or 2s, sure ;)
 

Esker

Abventuree
If you want to reduce die rolling and math, just roll 1 or 2 dice and add the result to half the max...so 10d10? 50+1d10. Gives the same average. Results are evenly distributed between 51 and 60.
This seems like a pretty good compromise between just using the average (no variance) and multiplying dice (too much variance). You get much reduced variance but still have some randomness.

If you really want to be fancy you could replace every 4d4 by alternating 1d8+5 and 1d8+6 (so 8d4 becomes 2d8+11), every 4d6 with alternating 1d12+7 and 1d12+8 (8d6 becomes 2d12+15), or every 4d10 with alternating 1d20+11 and 1d20+12 (8d10 becomes 2d20+23). This preserves both the mean and variance nearly perfectly.

For d8s and d12s you can go the other way, replacing 4d8 with 4*1d4+8, and 4d12 with 4*1d6+12.
 
Last edited:
And how quickly pure joy turns to misery. This might be related to the addictive quality of gambling.
Yes, it actually is. You roll the dice, you see the numbers and the higher the numbers the larger the shot of dopamine you get. I'm no doctor, but I believe that it's something like that. And if you roll high (i.e. you got lucky) it feels good. If you roll low (unlucky), you will curse the dice.

Again, I am not a doctor and I don't have any numbers except personal experiences, but I don't know of anyone who races directly to the casino after a D&D session. I don't think that rolling a couple of dice once per week with friends is a gateway drug into a heavy gambling addiction.

There's a design reason related to the mathematical reason. It's hard to create level-appropriate monsters and adventures when PC capabilities are swingy. You get fewer complaints about something being too easy or too hard when outcomes are funneled into average results.
We seem to have a radically different experience of D&D. For me as a DM, the fun is actually coping with unforeseen actions of the players, both in and out of combat. I never plan many details ahead (but I do have a good storyline), because with 6 chaotic players (and chaotic characters) there isn't much planning you can do before they all jump off the railroad in a particular session. Big events in the world keep them on the main storyline though.
 

Advertisement

Top