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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Situations: Why 5+ on 1d6?

Delving further into the ideas raised in Situations: The Basics: why do I choose 5+ on 1d6 specifically as my go-to situation roll mechanic?

Obviously, six-sided dice are super common and super easy to use, and a single die is simpler to use than multiple dice, but there’s more to it than that.

First, there’s the precedent. OD&D uses 1d6 rolls for a lot of little stuff. Any decision roll that isn’t an attack, save, or reaction, basically. OD&D usually picks low rolls (1 or 2 in 6,) but it uses high rolls in a few cases. I switched to high rolls in all cases partly because I know many people shudder at the idea of “lower is better”, and partly because if I’m going to modify the roll, adding a +1 or +2 to the roll when the character has an advantage is pretty easy to grasp.

Second, there’s the ease of making the die roll perform double duty. Most damage rolls are 1d6, or multiple d6s. This makes it very easy to tie a weapon’s special ability, or a bad morale result for the enemy, to a 5+ damage result, skipping the need for a separate roll.

Related to that: I tend to interpret situation rolls not as “Can the player do this?” but as “Can the player finish this in time?” I make a 5+ on 1d6 mean that the character finishes an action immediately, if in combat, or in 1 minute, 1 turn, 1 hour, or 1 day, outside of combat (time period based on what’s being attempted.) When the roll fails, the result (1 to 4) is how much additional time it takes to finish. It’s a simpler and far more forgiving way to interpret things like lockpicking than either requiring multiple rolls or forbidding all retries.

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