Originally I was going to use a simple d20 roll for most checks. It seemed the most common way to handle attack and skill rolls. It is definitely popular. However, I never really like flat, single die rolls. The chance to roll a 18 is the same as rolling an 11, or a 1. It doesn’t really take into account basic proficiency and simple tasks. Your bonus becomes much more important than the roll. Thus, you will need to maximize your bonus to get the most out of your skill and reduce the impact of poor rolls. This fuels the ‘optimization anxiety’ that most gamers have come to experience at some point in their life.
So, I have decided to go with a 3d6 roll to resolve most tasks. While this also accentuates the necessity for bonuses to accomplish great deeds, it allows for the steady success of average accomplishments for those who have just some skill. This is an attempt to reduce the numbers creep that seems to be inherent in most games. You get a bonus to attack every level or two, you feel the need to improve the bonuses on your magic items every few levels, and the opponents numbers also creep up in order to keep up with you.
While this may simulate the experience that you get fighting and adventuring, it only serves to disqualify certain opponents from your current experience in adventuring. How much of a threat is a kobold to a 10th level fighter? Not much, but should it be disqualified from the adventure? Should the GM need to justify why a kobold is a threat by giving it class levels or a template? Bonuses to the die roll will be important, but they will also be rarer and provide diminishing returns when they significantly outstrip your opponent’s bonuses. This will require smarter play all around.
Simple Dice Mechanics
3d6 + Bonuses vs Target Number + Bonuses
So, you roll three six-sided dice and add them together then add any bonuses you may have for the task at hand. In combat, the attacker’s bonuses might include the base bonus to attack, a bonus for aiming, a bonus for higher ground, or a bonus for an ally assisting her. Likewise, in combat the defender’s bonuses might be for cover, a maneuver, or magic. In general, if it affects you directly, it applies to your roll. If it applies to the target of your action, it applies to the target number.
Whenever you roll an 18 total on the dice alone, you are guaranteed success. You automatically succeed at your task. Luck has smiled upon you even if the chances of success were slim to none. If your total, including bonuses also beats the target number, you have obtained a critical success for your task. This will have a different effect for different tasks. The only time this is not the case is if you are also at a disadvantage on the check (see below). If you are at a disadvantage and your dice roll equals an 18, you must still generate a total and compare it to your target number in order to succeed. You can never critically succeed when you are at a disadvantage.
Whenever you generate a total of 3 on the dice, you have critically failed your task. This will have different effects for different tasks. If you have an edge for this task, you do not automatically critically fail on a roll of 3. It becomes a normal failure.
Occasionally you have some sort of advantage when making your check. This could be due to a class ability, a magic item, or a situation where you have the upper hand. In this case, you roll an additional six-sided die and take whichever three dice you choose. You don’t have to take the three best if you don’t want to, but in general you probably will. You never
There may also be times when you are overwhelmed by the task you are attempting. You could be distracted, seriously wounded, or affected by powerful magic. In this case, you roll the extra six-sided die, but you MUST take the lowest three dice to add together. You never have multiple levels of disadvantage apply to the same roll. You still only add one additional die. If you ever have the edge in a roll and are also have the disadvantage they cancel out, making it a normal 3d6 roll. However, if you have disadvantage from multiple sources and edges from one or more sources, you use the net result from comparing them to apply to your roll.
Edge and Disadvantage Combined
If you ever have the edge in a roll and are also have the disadvantage they cancel out, making it a normal 3d6 roll. However, if you have edge from one or more sources and disadvantages from one or more sources, you use the net result from comparing them to apply to your roll, taking either the dice you want or the lowest, whichever applies.
Other Dice Rolls
While 3d6 will be used for task resolution, other dice rolls will be somewhat common in the game. Most notably for damage from weapons or spells. Usually, you will roll the dice indicated and add them together and add a bonus or penalty to the roll. There are a few dice conventions listed in Appendix 3
Simplifying Task Resolution
Occasionally, as a Game Master, you want the adventurers to succeed at something to help the story to progress. How depressing is it when the players roll poorly and miss the scoundrel watching them who would lead them to the villain or give them an important clue? If something is pivotal or even so simple that they should accomplish it, let them. If a player has invested extra effort in a particular aspect of character, maybe he critically succeeds at the simple task. Do not let the dice ruin or slow down play.