Dice Tabletop RPGs

AnyDice: A handy game design tool

I love dice, I love fiddling with game design, and I love simple tools that make things easier.

At the nexus of those three things sits AnyDice.

Developed by Jasper Flick, AnyDice calculates the probability of each possible result for just about any die roll. (I say “just about,” but it’s never let me down.)

Need the probability curve for d8+d10, one of my favorite rolls for building random encounter tables? It can do that.

Funky dice for DCC RPG? Sure. Dice that don’t actually exist, like d67s? You bet!

AnyDice isn’t a die roller in the sense that it rolls dice and tells you what you got, like the Crawler’s Companion.[1] It’s all about the odds.

Although they wound up being percentile tables in the end, I used AnyDice extensively while I was designing my DCC RPG wilderness encounter tables. I used it to calculate the odds for Hexmancer rolls, to make sure the percentages lined up. Almost every post I’ve written involving math and dice, like comparing dungeon stocking in OD&D and Delving Deeper, was written with AnyDice open in another browser tab.

Writing this post made me realize just how often I use AnyDice without thinking about it, so I hit the “Please Donate!” button and made a contribution.

Math isn’t my strong suit, but AnyDice enables me to use math to do things I enjoy without beating my head against them. It’s a stellar tool for game design, and one I recommend bookmarking and using often.

[1] It has a die roller in the traditional sense built in, but it’s in beta and the functionality — unlike the core of AnyDice — is pretty limited.

4 replies on “AnyDice: A handy game design tool”

I would hazard that any dice really can do any dice. It has programming functionality in it so you can create custom dice and write simple programs so you can, for example, roll another die and add the results if the last roll was 3 or 7.

Cool pointer.

I’m not mathy either, and a defining moment for me was when I finally figured out that with two dice the “average band” is always the lowest on one die added to the highest on the other calculated “both ways” – so a D4 and a D10 gives a band from 5 to 11 as the most likely result, and the wider the band, the WAY-less likely the out of band results become (duh).

This is how I came up with the Steve Heroic die rolling scheme for making Conan characters – d6+d4+8 so most characters start with 13-15 in most characteristics, a few will be truly heroic and no-one gets a negative modifier on anything.

Well, Conan, right? Barbaric, muscles with corners on ’em and firmly in the land of over-the-top wishful thinking. Also: Tired of the whining of the losers who couldn’t roll better than 8 on four dice all night.

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