Monday, January 9, 2012

MUTANTOR! Graphic Imagery (or Mutant Dice Part II)

OK, this is going to be the driest post I think I'll ever do, but it's a necessary eeeevil. Actually, no, it's not, it's real important that I get this right. Cause the one thing you do over and over again in RPGs is roll dice. It's gotta work right, it's gotta be fun, it's gotta have longevity and ease of play, it's gotta serve the setting well. So yeah. Important. And I'll be super grateful if you slog through this and let me know what you think. I'll buy you a beer for your thoughts.

So based on the ideas and comments from the first post about MUTANTOR's dice mechanic and extra input here (thanks everyone who commented) I've worked out 4 possible ways this system could work.

To recap the basic idea:

Roll three d6 dice, scratch the highest and lowest roll take the middle dice as your result.  Equal or beat the difficulty to succeed.

The variations come from what happens when you roll doubles (two faces the same) or triples (three faces the same).

There are four options I've chosen  to do this. And depending on which one I choose there's a pretty broad variety of results available. Here's a comparison, showing the number of times a result occurs using the different methods:

A comparison of the various readings of the MUTANTOR dice engine
Note that for Options 2, 3 and 4, rolling double ones gives a result of 1, and triple ones gives a result of -1.

Option #1:

Option #1: Middle of 3d6 Baseline : Eliminate the highest and lowest die.
Number of times each face occurs out of 216 possible results

So this first method is included more as a baseline for the other methods; rolling doubles or triples has no mechanical benefit, though they could still have bonuses elsewhere (every time you roll them you could gain special points elsewhere for example). I don't see this option as particularly exciting or noteworthy. More just for comparison.
Option #2:

Option #2: Middle of 3d6, Doubles +1, Triples +2 : Eliminate the highest and lowest die, add one to result if two faces, the same, add two to result if all three faces the same except snake eyes equals 1, and triple 1 equals -1. Number of times each result occurs out of 216 possible results

So in this option, rolling doubles means you add 1 to the doubled face to get the result, and rolling triples means you add 2 to the tripled face to get the result. The results spread out a little from the baseline of Option #1; 66% of your results will be a 3, 4, or 5 which is pretty good for setting reasonable expectations on what you'll get when you roll, with the average most likely to be 4.
Option #3:

Option #3: Middle of 3d6, Doubles +2, Triples +3: Eliminate the highest and lowest die, add two to result if two faces are the same, add three to result if all three faces the same, except snake eyes equals 1, and triple 1 equals -1. Number of times each result occurs out of 216 possible results. 

This is pretty similar to Option #2, but based on Zak's suggestion to make the doubles +2 and triples +3 for ease of remembering. It blows the results out a little bit, making higher scores a little easier to get, though the predictability is a little less: results of 3, 4, or 5 occur 58% of the time now.
Option #4:

Eliminate the highest and lowest die, double the result if two faces are the same, triple the result if all three faces the same, except snake eyes equals 1, and triple 1 equals -1. Number of times each result occurs out of 216 possible results. 

I actually think this is the easiest variant to remember: roll doubles, double the result, roll triples, triple the result. It also produces the most unusual spread of results too. A little weird and lopsided, but not unusable either. It's the least predictable: only 51% of results will be 3, 4, or 5. So every second roll will produce something a little higher, possibly going as high as 18 (but having one 1 in 216 chance of occuring). It also has a few idiosincracities: you can never roll a 7 or 11 for example, and a 6 only seven times, but an 8 or a 10 fifteen times a piece. 

So if you're looking at results as single numbers I don't think Option#4 is really workable.... BUT if you look at the results in bands, suddenly it's not so bad. If you group the results like this: 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-17, 18+, your chances look something like this:

This is very similar to the system used in D6 Star Wars: if you need a result from 3-5 to succeed a Very Easy task, 6-10 for Easy, 11-15 for Medium, 16-20 for Difficult, etc. So with this Option you'd be looking at:

0-2 Very Easy (success roughly 99% of the time... why bother)
3-5 Easy (success roughly 82% of the time)
6-8 Medium (success roughly 27% of the time)
9-11 Difficult (success roughly 16% of the time)
12+ Very Difficult (success roughly 9% of the time)

None of these Options includes what happens when your dice mutate, as discussed in the previous post; it's just easier to reach higher results when they do.

I think Option #4 is my preference; what do you think?


  1. Option 4 is the most appealing to me - in terms of ease of remembering (as a roller of the dice) and also for the wider value range - specifically regarding the mutating side of things - it seems consonant with the mutation theme, the range and variance.

    This does lead me to the one part of the roll that sticks in my craw a bit: the initial 3 die roll, drop extremes. If I am understanding things correctly, the die mechanic is supposed to play with the concept of strange mutations, so emphasizing the middle value of the range of dice rolled seems counter-purpose. I can see that you might want to keep normal rolls in a strict range though, as it emphasizes the mutant effects of doubles & triples. I wonder if rolling three dice and using one as an indicator of which of the other two dice to use would be a pain-in-the-neck? (indicator die result 1-3, use lower of other dice, 4-6 use higher).

  2. I think I like option 4 the best. It's easiest to remember (which is important to me), and multiplying your results sounds like more fun. "YES! I got triple fives! EAT IT!"

  3. I think I like option 4 the best as well. It's a bit more weird but it looks easy to remember and use.

  4. well looks like Option #4 has a 100% success rate so far... hard to argue with that...

  5. I like 3, but you folks are mighty persuasive. The only thing that makes me go, "huhwha?!" is the triple 1s being -1, but I guess if double 1s is going to be another exception and be 1... Yeah. O don't understand why you would make 1,1 and 1,1,1 exceptions. I mean, the rolls are plenty bad in comparison to the high end without making them exceptions.

    Given any thought to making the mutated dice different colors or die types and having effects stem from that? In the first case, I like how the dice work in Dragon Age... or, d6s Wild Die. See also all the optional rules of Risus.

    In the second I suppose you are trying to keep it a d6 pool game, right? No funky dice?

  6. I crunched some numbers on this, then used an internet dice roller to produce 99 sample rolls.

    List of
    rolls Ocurrences
    -1 2
    0 5
    2 10
    3 13
    4 29
    5 7
    6 6
    8 9
    10 8
    12 7
    15 1
    18 1

    I like the Option 4 as well, and think that the whole: choose the middle roll is quite intuitive: it is about "striving" to not be abberant, but knowing that there is some horrible mutation watining just around the corner.....

    Also, when you look at the rolls in action, it is even easier than saying "x2" or "x3".

    If you roll:

    3, 3, 5

    Then 3 is sort of the middle number there anyway, right? But it is there twice, so you get to count both of them!

    If you roll:

    4, 4, 4

    They are all the middle, so you GET TO COUNT THEM ALL!

    I would recommend having lots of sheets of sticky-dots to hand, so you can use them to temporarily mark faces of your dice as the "mutant" face. Will make it much easier to remember what your mutation is, and to read the dice, as the sticky dot will obscure the actual number, making it look blank. i.e: you choose what goes here!

    1. Sorry the table looks so horrid.

      Numbers on the Left are the results, all added up and multiplied out.

      Right is the number of times it happened out of 99 rolls.