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As a GM, I'd like to give my players a lucky item, one that improves their dice rolls. However, I don't want them to immediately realize that the item is improving their rolls.

One thought I had was to give them loaded dice with which they could (unknowingly) play.

We've always used physical dice whenever possible, and I'm not sure how I'd tell the player holding the item, "no, use these dice" without it being suspicious.

That said, has anyone ever used an actual loaded die that reliably improved a player's luck?

One thought I had is to make a decorative dice tower that - somehow - blocks the dropped die and drops another one in a known configuration, making it more likely to land on the number I want. But that might be a bit much for an RPG campaign.

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Props worthy of a magic show. You'd need to be equally deft as a street magician to see them through. Great ideas though! Another one in similar vein (for D20 games only): Have a D20 made with 3 = 13, 4 =14. Probably won't get noticed, doesn't affect extremes, but will succeed 10% more often on a lot of rolls. – Neil Slater Sep 26 '13 at 9:32
Had this idea and did the loaded die on a game. Total backfire when the other PC's (and me) lost track of the dice and somehow everyone ended up with one to three loaded die, or none. Oh, and they generalyl look the same as other d6's... had to buy whole new packs and everything. Take my advise... don't do it. So much for being a GM and trying to be nice and making a Leprechan character. – Jersey Sep 30 '13 at 18:26

4 Answers 4

up vote 33 down vote accepted

Your solution is much simpler:

The Lucky player should have a decrease of all hidden difficulties.

Functionally, "lucky" is very hard to quantify. But if you want it to be a particularly subtle luck, then for any difficulty where the PC doesn't know the number (be it attack roll or a monster attacking her, or a skill check) simply give them a hidden bonus in your mind.

You'll need to decide how to handle group checks. Either their luck goes away or everyone gets the lower DC, depending on how neurotic your players are and what specific system it is.

Beyond that, it's actually remarkably hard to keep secrets from players, especially mechanical special-case secrets. Your best course of action is to simply say "on some rolls you'll be lucky. Don't worry if, sometimes, your DC is lower."

If you want to inculcate superstitions, roll a d10+5 (for d20) at the start of every session or scene and choose that as your "magic number". Rolls on that number always succeed (but make sure to narrate how lucky the success was). It'll really weird your players out.

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This works particularly well in a game like 3.X D&D, where theoretically all DCs can easily be kept from the players - excluding, of course, whatever information about the expected difficulties of actions their characters would be privy to and realistically able to estimate. Secret luck bonuses are typically not included in that. – GMJoe Sep 26 '13 at 5:51
I dunno. In a standard combat, players can deduce what the target AC is after a few rounds since players know what their roll and bonuses are, and the result. If a 15 is a hit for me but not for my buddy Bob, that could spawn a discussion that interrupts the game. – Ellesedil Sep 27 '13 at 20:01
Yes, that's why I note that it's remarkably hard to keep secrets from players. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 27 '13 at 22:33

Brian probably has the simplest answer. If you want something a bit more random in how often they get lucky, then I'd suggest this:

Every time anybody rolls a check, you roll the same check in secret. For the "lucky" person, use whichever result is higher. For everybody else, always use their result.

They're still going to figure it out because that one person will sometimes get results that don't match what they rolled, but it won't be totally obvious what's going on with you making so many extra rolls.

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I like it. You could also use the system for a bad luck curse by using the lower of the 2 numbers. – 3Doubloons Sep 26 '13 at 5:25
This is a variant on the hidden and open spot rolls. To make it less obvious you probably want to have some other randomiser so that the non-lucky still get your roll sometime. – David Allan Finch Sep 26 '13 at 8:36
Beware though, rolling twice can easily be game breaking, depending of the game's rules. I would only use this solution for a limited time, to make the players understand something strange is going on. – Kethryweryn Sep 26 '13 at 9:01

Following on from Tridus answer to use a second hidden die. Use a third die to qualify the luck say a d6. That is:

  • Lucky: 1-3 use highest, 4-5 use theirs, 6 use lowest
  • Normal: 1-2 use highest, 3-4 use theirs, 5-6 use lowest
  • Unlucky: 1 use highest, 2-3 use theirs, 4-6 use lowest

This will swing the probabilities but no so much that it will be obvious at first. But you will need to do it for every player with every roll which might be a pain.

You can get blank d6 which you could mark in different colours and use for the different luck levels.

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The technical suggestions made here will certainly work. But the original question mentioned both loaded dice and a die roller contraption of some sort which fudges player rolls. So to follow up the physical (rather than the game-technical) aspect of the question, how about something along these lines.

You'll need a die specially constructed for biased results, but only to such a degree that it performs subtly better than an ordinary die. Either buy one (e.g. from, modify a die you own or 3D-print one. If you have any say in the matter, make sure it's a special looking die.

Then tell your players: Say hello to the Die of Death (or Lucky Missus Maxitaxi or whatever you fancy). From now on, whenever a roll of utmost importance (save or die, reflex vs. dragon breath etc) is going down, I will give you this die, and you will use it instead of your own for that single roll.

As with any other fudging method mentioned above, your clever players will likely figure this out at some point. The upside is that you've introduced a prop, and props used in a tight fashion can really enhance your game. Also, the prop is not the thing itself, it's only a decoy and a catalyst for their new-found luck. But only you know that :)

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Plus it gives you a reason to acquire more dice, which is always something! – thomax Sep 26 '13 at 21:36

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