Just Roll High

The following is a very simple method I use for roleplaying that is easy to understand and quick to play with. Whenever there is an impactful or important situation with a chance of failure or some sort of uncertainty, I like to ask for a roll. Success just depends on if you roll high or not. Generally, if you roll higher than the average of your die, then that’s a good sign. Rolls of 1 or close to 1 can be intuitively interpreted as “bad”. 

Image generated with Midjourney. 

With this framework I’ve arbitrarily decided that a healthy and capable human should in most situations roll a d6. It’s the baseline. 

If there are setbacks or hindrances, then roll a d4. 

With the right equipment, experience or training, roll a d8. 

If exceptionally skilled, prepared or generally suited to the situation, roll a d10. 

If circumstances are extremely advantaged somehow, roll a d12. 

The advantage of this approach is that you get almost instant communication to both yourself and your player. They know they just have to roll high. You can alternatively roll a similar die to see how their opponent performs, such that you get a comparison. You can also tag items or weapons with a die size, so that the players can quickly get an idea of how useful it can be in a rolling situation. 

If you want, you can also code NPCs with dice in this way, but bear in mind that it has some implications about how they perform. For example, you could write “Jon Snow, fighting d8, knowing anything d4.” 

In my mind, these rolls should occur in a Pareto-like distribution. But it’s by no means a law or rule. 

50% of the time you roll a d6. You’re human, after all. 

30% of the time you roll a d8. You should get opportunities to use your character’s specialisation and tools. 

10% of the time you roll a d4. If you’re at a disadvantage, your time is probably better spent mitigating that disadvantage rather than trying to roll with it. 

7% of the time you roll a d10. It’s probably not often you get this kind of leverage. 

3% of the time you roll a d12. Only rare situations should justify a d12 roll. 

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