What's your favorite dice system?


Hi all,

What is your favorite dice system and why do you like it? What's the pros and cons of the dice system? And what games using the system is your favorite?

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Limit Break Dancing
I like the D20 System, first introduced in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons by Wizards of the Coast. I like having a single, unified mechanic for most in-game resolutions, where you roll a die to get a result, add a modifier, and compare it to a target number. And I like the easy math that I get from having a linear distribution (unlike systems that have a bell curve distribution.)


Other than the roll a d20 add a number mechanic, which is now so prevalent that it's very easy to assume that anyone who has played an rpg has probably used it, I like dice pool mechanics where you count successes. Roll a handful of d6s and look for 5's and 6's, or roll a handful of d10s and look for 8 or better - systems like that.

The statistician in me likes a bell curve where you add the dice together, but the improviser in me appreciates the simplicity of the dice pool where you look for target values rather than adding pips - it tends to keep things moving faster IME so long as your dice pools don't get too large.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Don't Rest Your Head by Evil Hat had an interesting take on it. It's been a number of years, but if I recall you assembled your dice pool and where the dice came from had different colors, including some places where ti was voluntary to add or not. At the end it was the highest ... die? 2 dice? ... highest something, but where the dice came from affected the result. Like if it was from your Exhausted pool you gained another die to that pool, but if it ever had the most dice you fell asleep in the dream forever. Other ones might have changed the result, or drained a pool.

I forget the details, but it made assembling the dice you wanted to roll a balancing act between succeeding, and the bad effects of the optional dice you could add.

Broken Compass. It's basically a dice pool system, but with a twist. You attribute + skill + modifiers dice (typically 4 to 6, maximum 9), and dice with the same number/symbol form a success - 2 is a basic success, 3 is a critical success, 4 is an extreme success, 5 an impossible success. Successes are converted 3 to 1, e.g. 3 basic successes make 1 critical success. You can re-roll dice that are not successes, either with a risk (you lose one success when you don't improve) or because you have expertise; if that fails, you can make an all or nothing try.
Enemies and dangers and ranked on the same scale. If you don't hit the right number of successes, even the "smaller" successes still help you to mitigate damage.

What I like about this system:
  • it's a "never tell me the odds" system that fits the pulp genre targeted by BC well
  • it adds quality of success without noticeable overhead
  • expertise feels significant, but since it can be handled in a narrative way, you don't have the overhead of a full talent system
  • you get to roll a nice number of dice, but not too many (I feel dice pools get unwieldy once you cross 12 or so dice)


I love a d6 dice pool system. There's something very satisfying about throwing a fistful of d6s.
I loved playing SW in the d6 system back in the day. d6 pools definitively resonated with me, enough that when I recently created my own RPG engine it ended up as d6 pool based, albeit with some interesting tricks to prevent it from becoming unwieldy and that allow for a margin of success mechanic. :) (It can be found here, if anyone's curious: The Aurora RPG Engine)

I've also been playing in and intrigued by the Cortex Prime dice pool of late and it's got some nifty aspects to it.

The Silhouette engine by DP9 is also quite interesting! (And also d6 based.)

d100 will always have a place in my heart, if only because my first RPG (Top Secret) was d100 based. The Troubleshooters also uses a d100 system with a few neat additions. That said, the lack of a bell curve to a straight d100 (or d20 for that matter) does dampen my enthusiasm for it these days.


Front Range Warlock
d6 pool system. Results of 5+ are hits. Hits are versus difficulty values, with tasks of average difficulty requiring one hit for success. More hits overcome more difficult tasks.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
A dice system, but not a resolution system. Champions/HERO had a damage system where characters had STUN and BODY - temporary damage and real wounds. So damage would be rolled and reduced by defenses. But it was a single damage roll. Effect was in Xd6. So STUN damage was the total on the dice, then reduced by defenses. BODY damage was 1 = 0 BODY, 2-5= 1 BODY, 6= 2 BODY). It was really quick to calculate - it was the same as the number of dice you rolled, reduced by 1s and increased by 6s. In practice you were getting that second number with really low amounts of additional time.

KiloGex 22

I'm a huge fan of the CORE system. It's a pool of d6, based off the Stat you're rolling on, and the highest roll is what you use. No counting dice and no huge pools (Stats max out at 6).

The resolution mechanic aims to produce a more narrative result. Depending on the difficulty set (1-10) and the roll result, you'll get a variation of YES/NO and AND/BUT that either the player or GM describes. It's also a universal mechanic, so it works for combat, social interactions, or any various actions you might want to attempt.


DCC dice chain. It’s simple and easy. It has the satisfaction of D20 while providing a visual cue to improved skill or expressing difficulty. It’s a more elegant mechanic for multiple attacks and I just like it.


Hard to say...some I like a lot though.

Axis and Allies dice combat system - This is actually similar to many wargames, not just A&A, but A&A is the most famous. Many others use similar systems (original Conquest of the Empire, many other wargames, War of the Ring, etc).

Heroquest Dice combat system - This one is also utilized by many these days. I can't recall of a pre-cursor to HQ for this one, so it may have been the first to use it. It uses symbols to represent if you hit, if you stop a hit, and similarly for the enemy dice. Descent used a variation of this for example.

The orginal D&D game system - This would extend to BX, BECMI, and AD&D 1e and 2e. It is more complex than the "D20" system that came after, but I like the variation. It gives it a flavor that really isn't replicated by anything else.

Haiku Elvis

Ones with some form of quality of success built in but for some reason I tend to not like dice pools so much but I have no factual reason why. I guess one of them looked at me funny once and it put me off them.
Also it's not so much the dice you roll but keeping the number of competing modifiers down to a reasonable amount (one or two at most).

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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