I think I'm having trouble understanding the way the coin economy works in Challenges, or maybe I'm missing something.


❍ Each losing Pool generates 1 Bonus Coin per die rolled regardless of Success.

❍ Each winning Pool generates a number of Bonus Coins equal to the total sum of all Successful dice in the Pool.

The winners will typically earn more (averaging 1.5 Coins per die) than the 1 Coin per die of the loser’s Pool, which is part of the economic advantage of trying to win Complications.

Let's say for example that there is a roll-off between 8 dice and 6 dice, with each rolling the average number of successes. That's 4 successes for the big pool, and 3 for the small pool. The big pool wins and gets 4 coins; the small pool gets 6 coins, i.e. the loser just got more coins than the winner, and this seems like a perfectly typical and average sort of distribution.

What am I missing that makes the winners get more coins than the losers on average? Am I perhaps overlooking some rule nuance that means winners get more bonus coins, or have made some silly slip when evaluating the average outcomes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What does "total sum of all Successful dice" mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 30, 2021 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon If you're implying that the way my question was phrased indicates that I'm misunderstanding that term, I'll welcome any answer showing how, and what is the correct one. If not, I think I'm not the best candidate for explaining/interpreting terms in a topic where I'm already having issues with understanding how it all works. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know Universalis at all -- do they total the pips on the dice for any reason, or only ever count successes the way Fudge or Deadlands do? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon It seems that the answer to your question is indeed not obvious, and in fact in a way is the answer to mine. This is an interesting example of why such clarifications are often counterproductive for getting the right answers. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 14:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica We should have tag descriptions for all tags; when we have one tag being used for significantly different things, I think the right move is to make it into two tags, retagging as appropriate. In this case, this is the only question with the challenges tag, so I'm not sure there would be any harm in claiming it for what you've used it for here. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2022 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


Winners sum the numbers on the faces of successful dice, not the number of successful dice

This could be written more explicitly in the rules, but it is most certainly the intention. The rules preceding this section do already describe summing the numbers on the dice as part of the mechanic for resolving ties:

If both sides have the same number of Successes, add up the sum of the numbers on the Successful dice in each Pool. The side with the highest total has the Edge.

In this context they're more explicit about stating the "numbers on" the successful dice, but they use similar language in the next section, regarding sums and totals.

Supporting this interpretation is the fact that the average result of a d10, if you treat rolls of 6+ as 0 (as only 1-5s are successes), is indeed 1.5, as the text describes - here's an anydice program to demonstrate.

(It should be noted that in practice, winning pools should average more than 1.5 coins per die - the fact that they are the winning pool in the first place means we are discarding any possible roll where the pool did not win, so the remaining possibility space is skewed somewhat towards rolls that had higher numbers of successes, and the larger the opposing dice pool was to begin with the more bonus coins the winner can expect.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whoa. This reading does cast this and another (d6-related) paragraph in a different light, and explains why the system doesn't just use coin flips. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica: As a computer programmer, the distinction between "sum" vs. "count" is a familiar one. And yes, I'd normally understand "sum" to mean mean add the numbers (which satisfy some criterion). If they meant how many dice, they could have written "count" to make that clear. That quote from another section with more explicit wording does seem to indicate that they're on the same page as I am regarding the meaning of the word "sum". \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 23:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Ah, a familiar distinction, but I would expect something like 'sum of dice results/values/outcomes' if going for summing the members of the successful dice rather than the successful dice themselves. Is that generally an incorrect way to parse sentences (English is a tertiary language for me)? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2021 at 9:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica: Using "die" or "dice" to mean "number(s) rolled" is fairly standard usage in English. For example "roll two dice and add them" is telling you to roll 2d6, not a constant 2. To be fair, the phrasing of the rule in question leaves some room for ambiguity (unlike in the example I picked where it would be dumb to add 1+1 without any condition to maybe not add a die); I could certainly believe someone might write "sum" when they meant "count" in that context. Sometimes there are clues from context, subtle or not, other than things not making sense to just count. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2021 at 9:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica: I find it pretty obvious, although I'm biased because now I know how it's supposed to work. Still, even if I wasn't sure, the next line after the bullet mentions "averaging 1.5 Coins per die", which directly contradicts a misinterpretation of 1 coin per die, and would make me go back and re-evaluate if I'd gotten that meaning on the first read. (Especially if I'd been reading quickly / not thinking about the difference in wording between bullets.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2021 at 9:53

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