Thursday, October 17, 2019

Three Dice to Rule Them All

TLDR: I discuss how to get all the polyhedral rolls from three dice.

For some months I have been a practicing proponent of keeping dice in your pocket. Ever since I read this, in fact. Yes, I have a dice rolling app on my iPhone (Mach Dice), but it's not the same.

Keeping dice in your pocket, however, begs the question: how many dice and which ones?

Before I go any farther, let me recognize that this is a really silly post. I way over-explain why I chose the three dice I did.

Typically I would suggest you keep a d20 and 2d6, but that's primarily because of the kinds of pocket games I like to play. Recently someone asked me which dice I would carry if I needed to replicate all the polyhedrons. There are actually several answers to this question, and you can go as low as two dice, but I settled on three: the d6, the d8, and the d20.

The perfect pocket dice?

Let's build out the basic "dice chain" a step at a time.


You got em. Those are your baseline pocket dice.


You can get a d12 using a simple high-low method. Roll the d6 and d20 together. Read the d6 and add 6 if the d20 is high (11-20). This is more intuitive than it sounds. 


For a d10, just roll the d20. If it rolls high (11-20), subtract 10 or learn to ignore the first digit when you roll. To get a d100 aka a d%, do that twice and the first roll is the "tens column."


To get a d4 you roll the d8 and subtract 4 if the result is a 5 or more (so that 5 to 8 becomes 1 to 4).

Why not d6-d8-d10 or d12-d20?

As I mentioned above, there are other combos you can use to replicate all the dice. I chose the three I did for a couple of reasons: shape and utility.

All three dice have a distinctively different shape, one you can tell at a glance. In fact, I think of them as square (d6), diamond (d8), and circle (d20). If you squint at them, that's what you see. On the other hand, a d12 and d20 often look very similar at a glance. As do a d8 and d10. If you use a set with similar shapes, just differentiate by color. 

I personally dislike the d4; it is hard to pick up, too "pointy" for the pocket, and can be a little awkward to read. That die was never in the running!

I chose the d6 over the d12 and the d20 over the d10 because those seem to be the most common dice used by games. In fact, original D&D only uses those dice. Though the d20 used by most gamers at the time was really a 20-sided d10 (numbered 0-9 twice).

But what about those Dungeon Crawl Classics funky dice? Can I get those too?

d2 roll any die and use low (1) or high (2), or maybe odds (1) or evens (2)

d3 is most commonly rolled with a d6 anyway. You can use the 1-2=1, 3-4=2, or 5-6=3 method if you like, but I like just saying that on a 4+ you subtract 3. My brain works better that way for some reason, as seeing the d6 in two runs of 1-3 like: 1, 2, 3, 4 (1), 5 (2), 6 (3).

d5 roll the d6 and reroll if you get a 6.

d7 roll the d8 and reroll if you get an 8.

d14 this is the most awkward one. I would probably roll a d6 for low-high and a d8, rerolling any 8s. If the 6 is high, add 7 to the d8 result.

d16 roll the d6 for low-high and a d8. Add 8 to the latter if the d6 is high.

d24 roll a d6 and a d8. To the result of the d6, add 6 if the d8 reads 3-4, add 12 if the d8 reads 5-6, and add 18 if the d8 reads 7-8.

d30 roll a d20 as a d10 (ignore the first digit) and a d6. The d6 tells you whether to add 0 (1-2), 10 (3-4), or 20 (5-6).

I think we are all dumber now. Thanks for sticking this one out! :D

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