Thursday, August 22, 2013

Funky Dice and Savage Worlds

My recent purchase of several "funky dice" was to facilitate a shot at running Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I immediately started thinking about how they could apply to my favorite generic system, Savage Worlds.

One of the beautiful things about Savage Worlds is that almost everything about a character is measured in in dice types. For example, a character with unremarkable intellect would have a Smarts score of d4, while a genius would have a score of d12. This system facilitates extremely easy and fast rulings.

Unfortunately, this system breaks down once a character achieves a power level over the d12. I've yet to look into the relevant supplements, but I imagine this is considerably common in games with superheroes. Because the next highest die type in a standard RPG set is the d20, the Savage Worlds rules begin to add a flat bonus for any rank higher than the d12 (e.g. d12+2, followed by d12+4).

I've never liked this system because adding the flat bonuses makes failure too unlikely, especially since I'm not the sort of GM who likes to add a bunch of penalties to any rolls. At the rank of d12+2, the player can only fail by rolling either a 1 or 2 on both the skill/attribute die and the wild die. This is extremely unlikely. Failing on a d12+4 is essentially impossible unless there is a significant penalty involved.

But what if the rank of d12+2 was replaced by a d14? This would allow for less math and a failure/success rate that is in line with all of the ranks below it. The broken system is fixed by adding a missing part. With the use of funky dice, the ranks in Savage Worlds can run from d4 to d24, all using 2-side increments. At a d24, the character is incredibly powerful but still has to worry about rolling a 1, 2, or 3. Using the old system, the rank would be rendered as 12+10.

I've considered how this could be applied to unskilled rolls, which are normally a d4-2. It's possible that this could be done with a d2 as the skill die and a d4 as the wild die, but the likelihood of exploding the dice increases as the number of sides goes down. Using the alternate dice could actually result in more successes than failures. This may require some actually experimentation.

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