I am currently writing a blog post on a statistics blog based on alternative dice mechanics for DnD type games (basically anything where you roll a d20 and add a modifier). Specifically, I am looking at a circumstance where a character has to sneak past 3 guards using 3 different mechanics.

Long story short, dice mechanics make a big difference with a character needing a +27 modifier in one system to have the same odds of success as a +17 modifier in another. For anyone who plays these kinds of games, these results will look pretty dramatic. That goes from "there is probably a character in my party now who could be buffed enough for that" to "I may never play a character with a modifier that high". How do I convey this huge difference to the statisticians and data scientists who will be reading the blog who may not have that same perspective?

I was thinking about something like "in system A, a character with decent perception would have a reasonable chance of spotting the god of stealth sneaking around", but I was having trouble finding stats for gods. If this was for strength, an answer might be finding animals that exist in the real world like horses and bears with illustrative strength values (eg. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc).

Some possible things that could help answer this question:

  1. Creatures that are also common in pop culture that have stealth values at appropiate intervals (eg. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25).
  2. Spells or effects that are understandable outside RPGs (like invisibility) that give modifiers of similar sizes.
  3. Characters from pop culture that a system has given a character sheet with similar values.
  4. Things that you could do that would reduce a modifier by a given amount (eg. it would be easier to sneak by while shouting the guards' names in system A than making the check normally in system B).

I am open to other ideas, as well, but the crux is: How do I contextualize stealth modifiers so they will be understandable to people who don't play role playing games? References to 3.5e or Pathfinder would be preferred since those are the systems I know best, but other systems like d20 Modern would be acceptable as well so long as they have a similar "roll a d20 +modifier" mechanic. 5e would not be applicable since that system uses passive perception where the perceiver doesn't roll or rolls with advantage for active perception from multiple individuals, which is a different mechanic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For now I'm voting to close on this for both opinion based and unclear. First of all, can you rephrase this into a concise question? I'm unclear exactly what it is you are looking for; right now it seems you're fishing for opinions on presentation, but you might also be seeking assistance with the math. But the assistance might be what to show that will be convincing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, you need to define what you mean by 'criticals'. That word means a lot of different things in this SE, so you need to be specific on its usage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Thanks for the feedback, I added a few statements to the bottom of the question clarifying what sort of answers I am looking for. As for criticals, I define that in the first paragraph "the common variant where a natural 20 adds 30 to your mod and a natural 1 subtracts 10". If this is not sufficient, please let me know what more is needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Barker
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Barker if you ask about a specific modifier (e.g. +20) you must ask about a specific system and edition. For instance, the same +20 bonus is just "big" for DnD 3.5 and HUGE (virtually out of the boundaries) for 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Barker: When I read this question as it stands, I see a bunch of basically meaningless background followed by a reasonably solid question: contextualizing what a +20 bonus would look like in the real world. You don't need five paragraphs and two charts to ask how to contextualize a +20 in real life. Just ask how to contextualize a +20 in real life - and pick an edition to use as your metric. Even though the distributions of a die roll are the same, a +20 is a bigger percentage of the average result in some editions, and that is critical to any attempts at contextualizing the difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Speedkat
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 20:45


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