# Question about optional dice method.

#### Wild Gazebo

##### Explorer
As a kind of informal poll...without a poll, I have a quick question. If you were playing a game where the die resolution system depended on hitting a range of numbers within the center of a spectrum, as opposed to rolling high or low, would that bother you? Or further yet, resolution called for hitting certain numbers from a type of lottery within a spectrum not necessarily in a range of connected numbers.

For example:

Having to roll a 9-11 on a d20 for success.

or

Having to roll a 3, 7 or 17 on a d20 for success.

I wonder if there is a connection to how the dice land and the enjoyment of the game. This system could have players rolling max numbers and producing a failed action pretty consistently.

While I imagine we are pretty much all conditioned to recognize and enjoy rolling max numbers...I wonder how much it would bother some people. I've played several systems that need to roll low or under for resolution and never felt much difference; but, I must admit, I've heard people complain about not being able to crit with max numbers. Not sure how wide-spread that feeling is.

I'm really just interested in your thoughts on this scenario. The 'why' of who would choose to use this method or the purpose of choosing this method is totally irrelevant to my inquiries.

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#### delericho

##### Legend
If you were playing a game where the die resolution system depended on hitting a range of numbers within the center of a spectrum, as opposed to rolling high or low, would that bother you?

It depends. If I'm rolling a single die, then "roll high" or "roll low" is just better.

But if I'm rolling multiple dice then some results are more likely than others, so asking for something in the middle is fine.

Or further yet, resolution called for hitting certain numbers from a type of lottery within a spectrum not necessarily in a range of connected numbers.

No thanks, even when using multiple dice. It's fine to want a single specific number (sometimes you have to roll a hard eight), but not multiple such numbers.

I wonder if there is a connection to how the dice land and the enjoyment of the game. This system could have players rolling max numbers and producing a failed action pretty consistently.

There are definitely psychological factors at work there - you mentioned the desire for a nat-20 to be a 'special' success, and it's also true that a failed crit confirmation roll in 3e often hurt more than not rolling the threat in the first place. Likewise, missing an attack by 1 somehow feels worse than being way off.

So, as well as just looking at raw probabilities, a game designer would be well advised to find a method that feels 'right'.

I'm really just interested in your thoughts on this scenario the 'why' of who would choose to use this method is totally irrelevant.

One thing I really don't like are 'gimmicks' in the dice rolling method. Roll high and roll low both have the benefit of having a clear threshold - they're just easy to understand. "Roll 3, 7, or 11" does not - those numbers appear to be purely arbitrary.

#### Umbran

Staff member
My first impression upon seeing those (especially the second) is, "needlessly baroque".

Now, I'm open enough to listen to explanations of why it is, instead, needfully baroque. But that'll be a hard one - in terms of probability, both of what you mention is equivalent to "roll 18 or higher (or 3 or lower) on d20". So, why the complication?

Such a system as you suggest requires more thought (and is therefore slower and more error-prone) than a simple roll high or roll low, so there ought to be some payoff for making it more annoying, so to speak.

#### Wild Gazebo

##### Explorer
It depends. If I'm rolling a single die, then "roll high" or "roll low" is just better.

But if I'm rolling multiple dice then some results are more likely than others, so asking for something in the middle is fine.

The systems becomes more statistically relevant with multiple dice. It also allows choosing a 'lottery' of numbers to create a very tailored step of succession. The real interest to me is how that makes a player feel while engaged.

delericho said:
No thanks, even when using multiple dice. It's fine to want a single specific number (sometimes you have to roll a hard eight), but not multiple such numbers.

So, you are suggesting having to roll a 2 or 12 on 2d6 would be less fun because of the disconnected multiple numbers or because it appears arbitrary? I wonder how many people are actually in-tune with the process of the game mechanics while they are playing?

delericho said:
One thing I really don't like are 'gimmicks' in the dice rolling method.

Yes. That is what I was wondering. People quite often label different things this way, movies, books and such even without the benefit of knowing the motive...or even if there was one. Thank-you for your response.

Umbran said:
My first impression upon seeing those (especially the second) is, "needlessly baroque".

Now, I'm open enough to listen to explanations of why it is, instead, needfully baroque. But that'll be a hard one - in terms of probability, both of what you mention is equivalent to "roll 18 or higher (or 3 or lower) on d20". So, why the complication?

Such a system as you suggest requires more thought (and is therefore slower and more error-prone) than a simple roll high or roll low, so there ought to be some payoff for making it more annoying, so to speak.

While I appreciate your openness to something I'm not selling, I'm far more interested in your initial reaction. By 'baroque' do you mean old fashioned or do you mean misshapen...dark...new age....out of sync? I'm not quite sure what you mean there.

Or, would it be fair to say that while you play a game you are intimately aware of the logistical relevance of the die mechanic? Therefore, a less than optimized mechanic makes the game less fun for you? And if so, is it because of the traditional application or the perceived lack of user friendliness?

#### delericho

##### Legend
So, you are suggesting having to roll a 2 or 12 on 2d6 would be less fun because of the disconnected multiple numbers or because it appears arbitrary?

Yep, exactly. I'd be happy with "you need to roll a 2 on 2d6" or "you need to roll a 12 on 2d6", or even "you need to roll an 8 on 2d6", but not "you need to roll a 2 or a 12 on 2d6".

#### Umbran

Staff member
Yep, exactly. I'd be happy with "you need to roll a 2 on 2d6" or "you need to roll a 12 on 2d6", or even "you need to roll an 8 on 2d6", but not "you need to roll a 2 or a 12 on 2d6".

And note: "roll a 2 or a 12 on 2d6" is only *slightly* different from "roll a 2 or a 3 on 2d6". Are we really that concerned about a 3% difference? Isn't that going to be lost in other statistical noise?

This is why I say there needs to be a payoff. What does the player *get* in functionality for having the more complicated (and apparently arbitrary) mechanic? Arbitrary mechanics are, for the player, an issue, in that they block the player from developing an intuitive grasp of their chances of success, so they don't like 'em much.

Also, I note that the "roll a 3, 7, or 14 on a d20" or "roll a 2 or 12 on 2d6" means that the conventional idea of a simple additive or subtractive bonus goes out the window. Improving one's chances must be done in some other manner.

#### Jhaelen

##### First Post
The 'why' of who would choose to use this method or the purpose of choosing this method is totally irrelevant to my inquiries.
Without addressing the 'why' question, I wouldn't like it all. While I could come up with systems even less intuitive, e.g. 'You succeed if you roll a Prime number!', or something like rolling a bunch of dice before every check to get a list of 'target' numbers, if there's no really good reason, I'd absolutely avoid this.

Now, if the system involved rolling multiple dice, picking the 'center range' as the target numbers would make slightly more sense, but I'd still consider it odd, unless the system used several bands of success.

#### Wild Gazebo

##### Explorer
Without addressing the 'why' question, I wouldn't like it all. While I could come up with systems even less intuitive, e.g. 'You succeed if you roll a Prime number!', or something like rolling a bunch of dice before every check to get a list of 'target' numbers, if there's no really good reason, I'd absolutely avoid this.

Now, if the system involved rolling multiple dice, picking the 'center range' as the target numbers would make slightly more sense, but I'd still consider it odd, unless the system used several bands of success.

Yes, it seems I can't avoid the why with this crowd. This type of method would be completely optimized through a multiple dice, step system, of success--as you alluded to--whereas a very accurate progression of successes could be modeled. But, I have zero interest in creating or advocating for this system...I'm just wondering how a player coming to the idea would react to it. Especially if they are used to more traditional models.

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#### Umbran

Staff member
'm just wondering how a player coming to the idea would react to it. Especially if they are used to more traditional models.

If we are a model, then the answer is that the player would react by asking, "Why the heck are you doing *that*? Please explain..."

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#### Razjah

##### Explorer
Would the system bother me? Yes, unless there was a clearly defined reason for the change. I routinely play with non-gamers are new gamers, this seems needlessly complicated to explain compared to "roll high!" or "beat this number all the time" or "roll a pile of d6 and all results of a 4,5,6 are successful- tell me how many success you got" methods. This comes across like a board game with too many pieces, if you can explain why the game takes 40 minutes to set up, I may try. But I am way more likely to walk away.

#### Obryn

##### Hero
Yeah, it would be needlessly complicated. Especially when it comes to bonuses or penalties.

I would mostly think, "Whoever designed this didn't really think this through."

#### Desh-Rae-Halra

##### Explorer
Yeah, it would be needlessly complicated. Especially when it comes to bonuses or penalties.

I would mostly think, "Whoever designed this didn't really think this through."

Agreed, but I wouldn't be as friendly about it. My reaction would be more like WTF?!? It would feel to me like this is a disorganized game, with arbitrary goals (target numbers).
Do those numbers change on different tasks (Ex. One challenge you have to roll a 3, 8, or 17, but the next challenge you have to roll a 5, 6, or 12?

#### pdzoch

##### Explorer
Many many years ago I did play a game session where the dice roll wasn't the simpler roll-above-a-certain-number mechanic. However, the roll requirement was a range on the die, not an random or seemingly arbitrary selection of numbers on the die. A reason (which is very important) was provided. The scenario that triggered the die roll was the cracking of a safe with a combination lock. We rolled a d20 for each digit on the lock and the range was +/- 5 of the actual combination digit. So, to crack the "8" on the first digit on the lock, we had to roll a 3-13 on a d20. I can not remember if we were told ahead of time, but I do remember that we were not trying to roll high, but roll within success range. It made sense at the time and we were happy with using the unusual mechanic for the scenario. It was not a commonplace or system mechanic, however.

#### Argyle King

##### Legend
I almost feel as though the suggested system would work better with a deck of cards; ask me to get a certain card. "You need either a 7 or a 2."

While it kinda seems like the same thing (and maybe it is), it doesn't seem as hard for me to accept psychologically. I cannot explain why.

#### The Crimson Binome

##### Hero
Depending on how familiar someone is with different types of dice models, and how you explain it to them, it's really not that weird at all. There is at least one game that I know of which uses this sort of range band mechanic, and it is The Great War of Magellan. In order to succeed at (for example) punching a dude, you would need to roll (for example) above 7 and not above 13. While the actual math of the system could use some refinement, they actually had a pretty good reason for using this method instead of anything traditional. In short, they were taking your attack roll and your target's defense roll, and superimposing both onto the same die.

I'm sure you can imagine a system where you have a skill of 13, so you need to roll 13 or lower on a d20 in order to hit; and if your opponent gets a chance to dodge, then maybe they need to roll 7 or less in order to succeed at dodging. In GWoM, given those a numbers, a roll of 1-7 indicates that you would have hit, except they dodged; a roll between 8-13 means you hit; and a roll of 14+ means that you missed because you're not very good at fighting.

Ignoring how bad those specific numbers are, the concept is actually pretty sound. Instead of two die rolls, made by two players, each against their own target numbers; you get one die roll, by one player, compared to two target numbers.

Of course, GWoM then went off the deep end by introducing random other results that didn't correspond to skill levels. Something like, on a roll of exactly 5 you would fall prone, or on a roll of exactly 17 you hit their face and stun them for a round (these being two random numbers that are entirely unrelated to the skill level of either participant, and seemingly supersede the basic outcome of the die roll). As neat as the basic range band mechanic is, I really can't defend this part at all.

#### Argyle King

##### Legend
Depending on how familiar someone is with different types of dice models, and how you explain it to them, it's really not that weird at all. There is at least one game that I know of which uses this sort of range band mechanic, and it is The Great War of Magellan. In order to succeed at (for example) punching a dude, you would need to roll (for example) above 7 and not above 13. While the actual math of the system could use some refinement, they actually had a pretty good reason for using this method instead of anything traditional. In short, they were taking your attack roll and your target's defense roll, and superimposing both onto the same die.

I'm sure you can imagine a system where you have a skill of 13, so you need to roll 13 or lower on a d20 in order to hit; and if your opponent gets a chance to dodge, then maybe they need to roll 7 or less in order to succeed at dodging. In GWoM, given those a numbers, a roll of 1-7 indicates that you would have hit, except they dodged; a roll between 8-13 means you hit; and a roll of 14+ means that you missed because you're not very good at fighting.

Ignoring how bad those specific numbers are, the concept is actually pretty sound. Instead of two die rolls, made by two players, each against their own target numbers; you get one die roll, by one player, compared to two target numbers.

Of course, GWoM then went off the deep end by introducing random other results that didn't correspond to skill levels. Something like, on a roll of exactly 5 you would fall prone, or on a roll of exactly 17 you hit their face and stun them for a round (these being two random numbers that are entirely unrelated to the skill level of either participant, and seemingly supersede the basic outcome of the die roll). As neat as the basic range band mechanic is, I really can't defend this part at all.

In that game, is there a mechanical difference between missing because the other guy dodged and just missing?

#### The Crimson Binome

##### Hero
In that game, is there a mechanical difference between missing because the other guy dodged and just missing?
I don't think so, no. To the best of my understanding, you could have just subtracted the defender's dodge chance from the attacker's skill, and said you needed a roll of 6 or less in order to hit. The only benefits of the range band are that you can skip the subtraction step, and that the die roll gives you more information about how to narrate the resolution of the action.

#### JohnnyDavids13

##### First Post
It isn't something I would disagree with personally, but simplicity, and consistency is always better. Unless there is a solid reason to have it be in the middle I say keep it high or low.

#### Man in the Funny Hat

##### Hero
My very first reaction is that it's seriously unnecessary complication - unless there's more than binary results based on the roll. In other words, if you normally need to roll... a 13 to hit and if you roll 12 or less you don't hit that means 8 out of 20 results will succeed and 12 will fail to hit. All well and good; easy to work with, easy to understand. If you take that range of 8 successes and put it in the middle of the possible d20 rolls - say, 1-6 misses, 7-14 hits, 15 to 20 misses - then you're looking at a MUCH more complicated system. How would bonuses apply to that range? Would some adjust the roll up and some adjust the minimum of the RANGE downward? What in the world would that actually GET you mechanics-wise? Even if you're introducing a sliding scale of successful results based on where your attack roll actually falls in the range for success it's just got to be easier to work with the numbers if you keep success at one end of a linear scale and failure at the other.

As noted upthread there's a POSSIBILITY that some odd scheme like that might work (or make sense at all...) but it most certainly isn't a shift in mechanics that would be useful in and of itself without a LOT more mechanical reasoning behind it. It would be even whackier for the chances for success to be separated in multiple groups across the 20 normal die possibilities. What would be the GAIN? Without some additional idea actually driving the change the change doesn't make a bit of sense.

That's my initial reaction.

#### Man in the Funny Hat

##### Hero
Many many years ago I did play a game session where the dice roll wasn't the simpler roll-above-a-certain-number mechanic. However, the roll requirement was a range on the die, not an random or seemingly arbitrary selection of numbers on the die. A reason (which is very important) was provided. The scenario that triggered the die roll was the cracking of a safe with a combination lock. We rolled a d20 for each digit on the lock and the range was +/- 5 of the actual combination digit. So, to crack the "8" on the first digit on the lock, we had to roll a 3-13 on a d20. I can not remember if we were told ahead of time, but I do remember that we were not trying to roll high, but roll within success range.
But deciding to institute a mechanic where you roll +/-5 around a single target number is no different than just saying, "Roll 10 or higher." But the latter is VASTLY easier to figure out what is needed, to apply bonuses to, etc. And it even introduces new "WTF?" flaws into things to set your range of success AROUND a target number like that. For example, if the number on the combination is "2", where do the +/-5 results fall? I mean, you can't roll 5 less than 2 on a d20, right? So if the combination number is within less than 5 of either end of the d20 scale do you wrap possible results around to the other end (so that a 18-20, and 1-6 would be your successful results)? What good is the mechanic is the combination were 50 numbers on the dial? Or only 12 numbers? It ends up being a HIGHLY specialized, situational mechanic that isn't adaptable. It may be okay for a genuine one-time thing, but even then it STILL ends up being simpler, and therefore much more likely to be conducive to flow of play, to just say, "Your target number is X, roll high." Unless the point of the use of the mechanic actually IS obfuscation.

Not saying simpler is ALWAYS better, but pick a die roll to set a degree of granularity for success/failure, set a target number in that range, roll the die and adjust with bonuses/penalties as applicable is hard to improve on mechanically.

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