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It's common to hide die rolls as a DM and there are some advantages to it.

The problem is that they can still hear two dice or see when you're rolling twice. Although it's rarely useful to do so, you can't hide advantage and disadvantage.

What techniques are there for rolling twice for advantage without hinting at the fact that the NPC has advantage or some other funny business?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It should be noted that the characters (not the players) can probably see whatever circumstances are causing the enemies to have advantage or disadvantage. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 11 at 7:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Try to think about why you're hiding dice - does it make sense in the scene to hide sensory data to which some or all the characters might be entitled? \$\endgroup\$ – Sandy Simonton Jun 11 at 17:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dopplegangers are the main use case that comes to mind. Players may not know when a doppleganger is reading their mind and would have no idea that it has advantage on specific rolls as a result. \$\endgroup\$ – Beefster Jun 11 at 17:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SandySimonton What you propose doesn't require the players at the table to "see" the rolls or "know" the NPC has advantage. The onus would be on the DM to describe the scene in such a way, if appropriate, to allude to the fact that the NPC has some sort of "advantage", again where the PCs would possibly suspect such. Table mileage varies on how much immersion is agreed upon though. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 13 at 0:13
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Use a d20 with a d20 inside.

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I’ve used one like this before, it takes a little getting used to, but they aren’t hard to read.

Just always roll two dice.

Have two different colored d20s, and always roll both of them, but designate one as the main die, and the other as the adv/dis die. This takes more mental work than the d20 inside d20, as you have to remember to roll both every time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, frequently roll (both) dice when you don't need any die rolls. \$\endgroup\$ – RBarryYoung Jun 12 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RBarryYoung Remember to read off the values, and maybe scratch your pencil on some paper, too. \$\endgroup\$ – wizzwizz4 Jun 12 at 21:59
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Consider not hiding it

While it's often useful to conceal exactly what the die results were, I feel it's not often useful to hide that advantage or disadvantage is happening. When I'm DMing, advantage or disadvantage on a roll is my cue to make that into a story beat -- in other words, I want to play up the fact, not conceal it!

For example, if a monster is searching for the PCs and they don't know it, but the creature is nearly blind, I'm not going to just roll behind my screen and tell them the monster obliviously lumbers past their hiding place; I'm going to describe how they can hear it sniffing deeply, scenting the air as it passes and how it looks right at their barely passable hiding place but then just wanders past as if it didn't even notice.

If the noble the PCs are attempting to con is secretly a con artist himself and gets advantage against them because he knows exactly how a con works, I'm not going to hide that he's rolling with advantage against them. I'm going to describe how the noble's eyes narrow with suspicion as the con unfolds and he seems to know what they're doing almost before they do it.

Rather than trying to hide metagame information, I push that information out of the meta and into the narrative. If the players are asking "Wait, why did you roll two dice?", the characters should be saying "That was strange, did you notice that?"

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your example with the conman is actually one place to hide it. I skilled conman should have experience concealing their tells. I would suggest an Insight or Perception check on the part of the PCs to detect tells rather than that being automatic. \$\endgroup\$ – shhalahr Jun 11 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was reading through the other answers and thinking someone should write this. I 100% agree it will usually be better for the story that players understand the difference between "we were unlucky" and "we were outclassed". I would add that if a DM is wanting to hide a situation with advantage or disadvantage that they should be thinking about what they will be doing alternatively to reveal this inside information later so that it becomes an interesting part of the story, and not just internalised for the DM's benefit. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Jun 11 at 6:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth It takes a lot of trust in the players, but I'm a big fan of giving my players more information in suspenseful situations! Surprise and suspense are both valid ways to tell a story, but I personally find suspense much more enjoyable. \$\endgroup\$ – L Cooper Jun 11 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's kinda what I'm talking about in my final paragraph. Players are very often in the dark about what's really going on until you explain it explicitly; they'll generally pick up on about one hint in three that you throw down. Any chance to give them another opportunity to figure out the situation on their own without being spoon-fed is a great thing in my view, not something to be avoided. (This goes along with my general feeling that shocking twists are enormously overrated; players will produce their own twists just by being oblivious.) \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 11 at 15:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @shhalahr No, I would make it a clear part of my description, not information hidden behind an extra roll or skill barrier. I don't want to conceal the extra information. "But My Guy wouldn't--!" is a pointless argument. He's my guy, and as the DM, I get to decide what reactions he controls or does not control. Now, I might pick out the most perceptive character and specify that "Gorbo, you notice that--" just to make it sound like it's due to a perception score, but that's not actually the case, I'd tell them even if they all have -2 to perception. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 11 at 19:29
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Use 2 dice all the time you have to roll just a d20.

One strategy consists in always rolling two d20s (or a d12, if you do not have another d20, since the rolling sound could be similar to the d20's one) and check only the result from one of them (or from the icosahedron in case of using a different die).

Use a digital device.

You may use your smartphone for rolling dice: there are several apps devoted to this, if your table is not using DnDBeyond, which includes roll buttons for attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws.


I play DnD online, both as player and DM: in the latter case, when I have a NPC rolling with adv/disadv, I obviously use the second way (with a custom program on my computer).

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Pretend That You're Rolling For Something Else

The DM has to roll things in secret all the time - so when a creature has advantage/disadvantage on a check and you don't want them to know what you're rolling, just roll the first die, then pretend that you're rolling for some follow-up thing after.

If they ask you what the second roll was...just give them a big smile.


Note - I would also consider situations where the players would reasonably know that you're rolling with advantage, which has already been well-discussed in Darth Pseudonym's answer. But if you do have a situation where it should be secret, this should help obfuscate the reason you're rolling twice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A great one is to cover it with a 'hmm... what would the NPC/Monster do?' question – roll the first die for that, then 'make a decision', and roll the second die. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Jun 11 at 13:52
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If we're talking about in combat, a common time saving trick people I've played with use, is roll damage and attack together. Behind a screen you're always rolling multiple dice, regardless of how much (dis)advantage there is.

Outside of combat, control the meta. Roll multiple dice and suddenly change the weather in a way that has nothing to do with the dice. Have a useless NPC act up. Have them notice other details of the scenario. Roll extra dice for no reason whenever you feel like it, look like you're impressed and move on like nothing happened. Make pained expressions when you roll well.

Your players are likely always going to suspect something is up. Because of the way dynamic storytelling works, they will assume everything they encounter is important in some fashion and will act accordingly. They will meta-game because they know what their rolls are and will make assumptions based on whether they're working or not, and they will use what they know of you as a DM to predict what's coming.Being consistent is good in a game where the rules have some very soft edges, just remember you're playing a role as a person as well as the entities you manipulate within the game.

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Use tables of pre-generated roll results

If you roll a large number of Advantage rolls in advance and write down the results in tables with 20 rows each, you have fair die rolls already recorded. Each is still random (they are all real die rolls), and rolling a single d20 to choose a row on the table is still random. But you're only rolling one die, and as long as the players can't see the roll result even the most astute will not recognize that you're doing anything other than rolling a single die.

If you do this it is important to remove results from the table when they are used, such as by crossing the row out or marking it in some other way. The reason this is necessary is that if you allow the value you use to be replaced and chosen again you will have altered the random distribution of die results to favor those particular results you happen to have already rolled. This in turn requires you to have a method for dealing with a roll result pointing to a row you've already eliminated, but something simple (like choosing the next-highest row number) will work just fine.

The main wrinkle is that there are far more than 20 possible outcomes of a 2d20 roll, but this is pretty easily addressed with multiple tables. If you prepare several tables this way you can move to the next table when you exhaust results from the current table.

I've never used this system for hiding Advantage, specifically, but I am a huge fan of disguising what dice rolls represent. Roll result tables have been very useful to me in that regard, and are quick and easy to prepare, use, and interpret.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A much simple method would to be roll a die, completely ignore it, and take the next result from your table \$\endgroup\$ – Caleth Jun 11 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ For me this has the downside of already knowing what the next few results are going to be, since you can see all of them. You have to be very careful not to metagame that as a DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jun 11 at 9:43
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I recommend using a phone app to roll your secret dice. I tried "RPG Simple Dice" and it seems fine; one click to roll any die, and I didn't see any ads. There's probably a fancier one with better animations.

In my games, my policy is that all dice rolls (both mine and my players') must be public. The main reason to roll dice in secret is so that you can lie about the result of the dice; you know this, I know this, and players also are very aware of this. So, whenever I notice that someone is rolling dice in secret, I start to wonder if they're lying about the result, which leads to me having less fun in the game.

Some people feel that it's necessary to roll dice secretly when checking if an NPC is spotted, but I use a technique like this:

Instead of:

Alice: "I walk into the room!"
Bob: (rolls a secret Stealth check to see if you notice the spider on the ceiling before it attacks)

I do:

Alice: "I walk into the room!"
Bob: "Well, there's a spider on the ceiling of that room, and it's trying to attack you stealthily. Give me a Perception check, DC16, to see if you notice the spider; if you fail, it gets a surprise round."

The outcome is the same in both cases, but the players feel more powerful and have more fun when they have all the information at their disposal.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "The main reason to roll dice in secret is so that you can lie about the result of the dice; you know this, I know this, and players also are very aware of this." This is not why die rolls are secret at my tables. The reason some of them are secret is to keep the immersion and prevent as much meta-gaming as I can. Particularly Perception and other skill rolls. That said I only roll when there is a chance of failure and consequence to that failure. If I cheat a roll it will be in the PC's favor and they know that although I have not had to do that in quite some time. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 11 at 1:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is also the way FATE handles it, it relies more on players not meta-gaming and being in it for the drama instead of the winning. It can also work in D&D with the right table :) \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jun 11 at 9:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's many reasons why Alice spotting or not spotting the spider might alter both her or the spider's behaviour, and combat might not ensue, or might be very different. The spider might, for example, wait until Alice is in the middle of the room before dropping on her. If you announce that the spider is dropping on Alice when she fails her public perception check for it, she might answer that she didn't walk into the middle of the room. And if you don't for her into combat immediately, then it's very hard for a player, knowing they've failed a perception check, to not act cautiously. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Jun 11 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ One option if you want to do public rolls like this is to always require them. Alice walks into the room? Roll perception. Then you give the description of her immediate impression of the room based on that roll. And if she beat DC16, you include the spider. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Jun 11 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanW that approach feels like it would slow down the game too much for too little benefit. I'd rather either openly telling them why they are rolling or completely secret rolls when applicable over delaying the game with excess rolls all the time when it rarely will matter. \$\endgroup\$ – dsollen Jun 11 at 15:27
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Convert the advantage to a ±5 modifier

Advantage / Disadvantage is approximately equal to a +5 / -5 modifier on a dice roll. This isn't completely accurate (the modifier should vary depending on the DC), but may be good enough for your purposes.

Advantage also doubles the chance of a crit, so take a 19 or 20 as a crit.

The main difference where this won't work is if the target DC is very high or very low. You can still fail a DC5 with advantage, but you can't fail it with a +5 – equally, you can't roll 25 with advantage, but you can with a +5.

But for the majority of cases, this is probably good enough.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Using AnyDice, the lowest of 2d20 is an average of 7 (7.17), the highest of 2d20 is an average of 14 (13.82). \$\endgroup\$ – CatLord Jun 11 at 19:47

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