Fixed Target Number and Difficulty as Dice Modifiers
There is one main disadvantage to most dice pool systems: the time it takes to total the rolled dice. This begins to get especially tedious around 7-8 dice and only increases thereafter, slowing the game and potentially killing its momentum.
A second disadvantage also arises if the system uses a series of increasing target numbers (for example, setting a target number of 10 for an Easy task, 15 for a Moderate task, 20 for Difficult task, etc). Doing so undermines the intuitive feel of “Number of Dice = Chance of Success”. If I have 8 dice in my hand versus 5 dice, I should feel as though my character is more capable; however, if the target number is also changing/increasing, then it’s tough to gauge whether those extra dice really are leading to an extra chance of success. With two variables at play it creates a matrix of possibilities that hinders any automatic and visceral feel.
By setting the target number at a fixed value of 15 and by adjusting both for the difficulty as well as accounting for all other modifiers by adjusting the number of dice rolled:
- The number of dice rolled at one time is generally kept low.
- Even when many dice are rolled, we only need to count enough dice to make 15, which can be easily done by adding together the highest dice until 15 is reached. (The remaining dice are used as a “Margin of Success”, to further explained below.) This avoids needing to tally large numbers of dice.
- And because the target number never changes, we easily grasp the chance of success by the number of dice in our hand. The visceral nature of the die pool is maintained.