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A friend of mine is an aspiring game designer and is currently looking at the mechanism used in the newest iteration of Warhammer Fantasy where players have multiple dice pools of differing kinds of dice. He wondered aloud if there were other systems that used a similar mechanism, particularly any using more traditional polyhedral dice.

Are there any systems beyond WFRPG 3E that use multiple dice pools with different types of dice? If so, what are they and how do they use these pools?

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Can you clarify what you mean? I don't know WFRPG 3E. When you say multiple dice pools, do you mean per player? Do you mean I might have one pool of 5d10 and another of 12d6? Or might I have a pool that has mixed dice, like 5d10 + 12d6 + 2d4 in one pool? –  Adam Dray Nov 13 '10 at 6:00
    
I just recently wrote such a game, but I guess you're looking for other published games. ;) –  SevenSidedDie Nov 13 '10 at 6:30
    
I added WFRP 3 for comparison purposes, Adam. –  aramis Nov 13 '10 at 12:12
    
I know Earthdawn did something funky with dice... but I don't know what... –  aramis Nov 13 '10 at 12:13
    
Sorry Adam - I was specifically looking for games where individual players manage multiple dice pools of different dice types (though the idea of a single, global pool now has my complete attention...). –  rjstreet Nov 13 '10 at 14:26
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10 Answers 10

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Dogs in the Vineyard uses d4, d6, d8, and d10 in handfuls. Each trait has a rating. For example, "Heart 4d6," "I never met a problem I couldn't solve with a gun 2d8," and "my huge rifle, Sally 1d10 + 1d4." As you narrate the traits into the fiction, you add the dice to your pool by rolling them.

The conflict resolution system involves players taking turns (called a Go). At each Go, the player bids two dice from his pool (his Raise) and describes what he's doing. Anyone who must (in the fiction) "answer" that challenge has to match (See) the total of those two dice. If they match it with exactly two dice, they Block or Dodge. If they match it with one die, they Reverse the Blow. If they match it with three or more dice they Take the Blow (and accept the fictional consequences plus Fallout, the mechanical consequences).

A conflict continues until someone cannot See the total of the two dice that were bid. They lose the stakes of the larger conflict. Or any participant can Give, losing the larger conflict but avoiding the consequences of losing a particular Raise.

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Since some have no clue how WFRP 3E does it... Here's the overview for comparison.

All the dice are custom marked.

Start with (attribute) Blue d8's
Add skill yellow d6s
add 0-4 purple d8's for difficulty.
Convert (stance) blue d8's to either green cautious stance dice or to red reckless stance dice. Conversion is not optional. Stance generally has a limit of 4 steps....
Add white d6's for beneficial circumstances. Add black d6's for hinderances.

Blue Attribute d8 : 2x blank, 4x Success, 2x boon
Yellow Expertise d6: 1x blank, 1 success, 1 Success + Reroll, 2x boon, 1x Sigmar's Comet
Green Conservative d10: 1 blank, 4 success, 2 boon, 2 success + delay, 1 boon + time hindrance
Red Reckless d10: 2x blank, 2x double success, 2x success + exertion, 1 success + boon, 2x bane, 1 double boon.
White Fortune d6: 3x blank, 2x success, 1x boon
Black misforune d6: 3x blank, 1x bane, 2x challenge.
Purple Challenge d8: 1 blank, 1 bane, 1x double bane, 1x chaos star, 2x challenge, 2x double challenge.

Challenges cancels successes, and vice versa. Banes cancel boons, and vice versa.

Whatever is left after cancelling determines success/failure.
If there are boons or successes left, the action happens.
If there are banes or challenges left, bad stuff happens
Delays make it take longer, and exertion causes stress or fatigue
Chaos stars either trigger chaos star effects or count as a bane.
Comets can be used as boons or successes, or for beneficial side effects, as desired by the player.

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The Leverage RPG has players rolling pools of different sized dice. It uses a system where die-type represents attribute magnitude, like Savage Worlds or the older Cortex system from Serenity and Battlestar Galactica.

In Leverage, you can roll a pool based on attributes, skills, equipment, and environmental factors. For instance, you might roll Strength d6 + Hitter d8 + Garbage Can Lid d4 in a fight. In general, the sum of the two highest results is used as the result of the roll.

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Ron Edwards' Sorceror has my favourite dice mechanic: All rated contests, say P (for protagonists) vs. A (Antagonist) are between two dice pools, namely A d6 vs. P d6, and the winner is either:

  1. The actor (A or P) who rolls a number higher than any rolled by the other, or else
  2. The actor who rolls more of the highest number rolled, or else
  3. The result of the above rules when all of the die with the highest number are removed, or else
  4. A draw, in case there are no dice left.

Draws are impossible if A and P are different, and very unlikely if A & P become large. The mechanic has the strength of allowing strong (say 10 dice) actors to have a small chance of being defeated by a weak (say, 1 dice) actors, but making these very unlikely.

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Earthdawn has a pool mechanic. The Game Master determines the difficulty of the action being attempted by the player. The character's abilities, skills powers are added up to determine what the "step" will be used to roll against the difficulty. You look up the step number on the chart and it tells you what dice to roll. As the step number goes up you roll more and bigger dice. If you roll the maximum number on a die, you roll it again. Even if you have a very low step number it is possible to do something (by rolling a series of max die rolls) and even at a very high step number it is possible to fail (though not likely) because you roll all ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthdawn#Game_mechanics

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In the original system for Deadlands, the typical roll is as you describe: dice pools containing polyhedrals of varying sides, with the number of dice and sides determined by the character's proficiency in the trait. One character might roll 3d10 for their Shootin': pistol checks, while another might roll 4d4. Dice that read their maximum number are rerolled and incremented. Only the highest die is checked for success against the target number; each five over the TN adds to the degree of success.

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Reason I didn't ist it was that the individual dice throws are a single type. –  aramis Nov 13 '10 at 18:17
    
According to the comments left, that was one of the qualifications. –  Jadasc Nov 13 '10 at 19:30
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I can only think of four that use mixed dice rolls... and they all tend to be small pool... but only three use pools checked individually against a TN.

Chronica Feudalis

CF rates skills in die-sides, as well as aspects and tools. One die each of the relvant type, best die needs to beat the target number for a success; when relevant, the total number of dice which succeeded is checked.

Danger Patrol

Start with a trait die of the listed sides for the trait (d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12)
Add 1-3 danger dice; the GM and another player may each add 1 danger die; Danger dice are d6's, and must be distinctive in color (suggested to be red).
1-3 bonus dice, the first is a d10, the second a d8, and the third a d6
Roll them all, each at 4+ is a success, each at 1-3 is a Danger.

Danger is converted to NPC/monster actions, and or injuries to PC's.

Alternity

1d20 ± 1dX where X is a number of sides by difficulty. Roll Stat+skill or less.

Difficulty steps -2d20, -1d20, -1d12, -1d8, -1d6, -1d4, d0, +d4, +d6,+d8, +d12, +d20, +2d20, +3d20....

Savage Worlds

1dX for skill or trait.
+1d6 for being a PC.
Both open ended.
Keep higher, make 4+.

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Agon. I can't believe you guys mentioned Danger Patrol, but not Agon.

Bacchanal.

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Danger Patrol has the distinct advantage of being free... Agon doesn't. Hence I've never looked at Agon, but I've looked at Danger Patrol. –  aramis Mar 27 '11 at 4:35
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Don't Rest Your Head has different sents of D6s, although not all the dice behave the same way, and the number changes as well.

Cthulhu Dark does this to a certain extent as well.

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Alpha Omega uses a mixed dice pool. For example, your Physical Acumen might have a value of 4d6 and 2d4, and you roll a number out of that - if you roll 3, you might pick 2d6 and 1d4, or something.

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