I used to play D20 and D100-based games a lot. Recently I'm designing a game for modern audiences who were not familiar with the D20 dice stuff at all and was thinking of a modified version of World of Darkness where I use d6 dice to replace d10 dice (or it is relatively easier for my audience to accept the use of a "dice pool").

After getting a little into the basics of WOD-like rules, I'm curious on how to define the dice pool, or how to roll such a action, that has a low accuracy, meaning low probability of success, but high damage, meaning high expectation of damage roll distribution conditional on successful hit. This could correspond to hitting a target at distance with a sniper rifle - you bust it or you miss it. Furthermore, I wish the overall damage distribution (after counting in probability of hit) to be left-truncated: so the player is expected to either hit and deal a damage likely to be massive, or do not deal even a scratch at all.

Could anyone give a creative way of how to describe the dice poll of this?

Here is my current idea if anyone could give their appreciation:

  • define the dice pool as conventional dice pool definition subtracted by an extra layer of difficulty (eg. -2);
  • then, if the player scores at least one success dice after the penalty, the damage they deal at the end would be total number of success dice + a damage bonus modifier (eg. +3).
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say "World of Darkness", do you mean the "old"/"classic" version which has games like Vampire: the Masquerade, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Mage: the Ascension (among others)? Or the "new" World of Darkness (later rebranded to "Chronicles of Darkness) which has the games Vampire: the Requiem, Werewolf: the Forsaken, and Mage: the Awakening (among others)? If it helps the latter a core rulebook titled "World of Darkness"? The two have similar but not the same system. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 13 at 15:34

4 Answers 4


Instructions unclear, Ate the Dice?

You seem to have a disconnect between how you interpret the mechanics of Storyteller system Combat and how it actually plays out. Let me start with the original d10 mechanics for a start.

What is a success in WoD?

WoD rolls are most often done with a pool of one Attribute plus one Ability against a difficulty. The Difficulty is the number at which a success starts. So if the roll calls for "Dexterity + Brawl Difficulty 6" that means that any roll of 6 or over is a success.

Combat in the WoD

In the WoD up until the 20th Anniversary edition, the combat ran with distinct phases:

  1. Roll initiative
  2. Declare actions, such as attacks or dodging, from slowest to fastest.
  3. Handle the first round of actions from fastest to slowest by rolling the appropriate dice.
  4. If someone has multiple actions, repeat 2 and 3 for those only.
  5. If 2 sides remain: Start a new round with everybody still standing and goto 2, else end combat.

Now, handling attacks is a multi-step process in itself:

  1. Attacker rolls the attack roll with the difficulty dependent on the weapon and modifiers
  2. Defender that has declared a fitting defense action rolls their defense action now. Difficulty depends on the defense action and some factors.
  3. If the attacker has more successes than the defender, the attacker rolls for damage. The pool is dependent on the weapon, plus the number of successes beyond the first left for the attacker. Damage rolls are always against the 6.
  4. If the defender may soak, they roll their body attribute against 6 and subtract that from the successes of the attacker on the damage roll.
  5. The number of successes the attacker has more than the defender on the damage roll is marked on the damage track of the defender.

Typical difficulties under d10 Regime and their d6 equivalent.

Let's look at a few typical difficulties. Note that each face of a d6 is 16.6%, so almost 1 and a half times as granular!

Attack Difficulty under d10 Success-Chance d6 equivalent d6 chance
Swinging a Knife 4 70% 3 66%
Swinging a Baseball Bat 5 60% 3 66%
Swinging a War-mace 6 50% 4 50%
Clobbering with a Chair 7 40% 4 50%
Swinging the Table 8 30% 5 33%
shooting at less than 2 Yards (point blank) 4 70% 3 66%
shooting at less than the Range 6 50% 4 50%
shooting at less than 2x the Range 8 30% 5 33%

You see, you already lose out on some granularity of the attack roll with the inability to properly correlate the 5 and 7, but it can be done. In either case, it works to a degree.

Since Damage and Soak rolls are always against the 6 under the d10 regime, those translate to a 4 in using d6s.

Dice pool modification, such as from damage, just takes away or adds dice and does not shift if we translate from d10 to d6. If your attack sacrificed accuracy for more damage, it typically adds a few damage dice for increased difficulty on the attack roll.

However, Difficulty modifications get funky. There's plenty of things that increase or decrease the difficulty by 1 to 3, and that does not play nicely with converting to d6. Here the coarser granularity bites back: Unless just chaining difficulty modifications and ending with one number directly, the best translation would be to start with the original difficulty, then chain the difficulty modifications and only then check for the d6 equivalent. You will still get funky effects where difficulty was even before and especially where a modifier turned it odd.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The loss of granularity can be mitigated if you use 2d6 for each 1d10 (though the table of equivalency becomes more complicated) \$\endgroup\$
    – blues
    Commented May 13 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @blues 2d6 is not an even distribution even, and you can't do pool-rolls with that method, unless you have 10 different colored sets of 2d6 \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented May 13 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it does have it's own set of issues, but it's not unheard of to use 2d6 to replace a 1d10. \$\endgroup\$
    – blues
    Commented May 13 at 12:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @blues but it's be a hassle rolling 14-16d6s (a dice pool of 7-8 is not uncommon even for beginning characters). And some that are more specialised or otherwise special (e.g., ancient vampires) might have dice pools of 10+. But even if you do get to roll (literal) dozens of d6s, then you lose out on botches which are a big part of the mechanics in oWoD. And having to include that into each 2d6 roll starts getting really cumbersome. That, or you need some alternative over the whole dicepool, rather than per "die" (pair of d6s). At which point you have a very different system. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 13 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's possible the OP might be confusing the World of Darkness with the Chronicles of Darkness, where attack and damage are combined together into a single dice pool roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented May 13 at 14:34

What you're looking for is Storypath.

If you're thinking of a system that uses die pools that's similar to the one used in World of Darkness in which a roll that's hard to pull off adds extra effect provided you succeed, you've described the Storypath system that's held by Onyx Path Publishing, which was born from the ashes of classic White Wolf. Storypath is used in games like the 2nd editions of Scion and Trinity Continuum and They Came From…. There will be a revised edition, Storypath Ultra, out in 2024, with a standalone core book. I would investigate that.


Here is my current idea if anyone could give their appreciation:

  • define the dice pool as conventional dice pool definition subtracted by an extra layer of difficulty (eg. -2);
  • then, if the player scores at least one success dice after the penalty, the damage they deal at the end would be total number of success dice + a damage bonus modifier (eg. +3).

This is how Chronicles of Darkness combat works. Unlike in the classic World of Darkness (20th anniversary edition and before), nothing ever changes your target number: it's always 8, 9, and 10 that count as success. Instead, increased difficulty is represented by decreasing your dice pool.

Note on probabilities: 10s explode, so the expected value of a single die is 1/3 successes. You can approximately simulate this with success being a 5 or 6 on a d6, though you will lose a little granularity.

In combat, these dice pool decreases can come from your opponent's defense and generally being distracted, among other things, but also from making a called shot. But a called shot that succeeds can inflict various status effects (known as "tilts") on the opponent, such as a hit to the eyes leaving them blind, or a hit to the wrist disabling their hand. And sometimes, a called shot to a monster's weak point could increase your damage modifier: a flat number of successes added to any successful attack.

The result is that a called shot to the weak point is less likely to hit (fewer dice), but more damaging if it does (extra successes added if you roll at least one success).

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does 8-9-10 (30% success) map to a d6? [~5-6 iirc] Add that and you got all OP needs! \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented May 13 at 15:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Missed that part of the question! Added it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Commented May 13 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't need exploding dice for OP's expected system. I mean, you could have them but while nWoD/CoD has that, it's not a big enough part of the system (unlike botches in oWoD/cWoD). Also, exploding a d6 on a 6 (50% chance on success as it's only 5 or 6) is different from exploding a d10 on a 10 (33% on success, for 8, 9, 10). Although for a truly very swingy combat, maybe exploding the 6s could be a way to achieve that. With a dice pool of 9, you'd expect 3 successes, 1 or 2 would likely explode with a decent chance of an extra success. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 13 at 16:27

Note about designing a dice pool system: Between target numbers, additions and subtractions of dice and other adjustments, it can get really fuzzy quickly about what is easy and what is hard for a character to achieve. You can bust out a calculator and run the numbers, and players will eventually get savvy about their odds of a 6d10 pool rolling three or more 8+ results, but this isn't something that new players are going to quickly grok unless they are stats majors.

As you design your game, ask yourself the level of complexity and experience that your target player has and design accordingly.

(I loved my Vampire and Shadowrun dice pools back in the day, I min/maxed HARD...)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is true. My experience with WoD is that rolling dicepools is definitely hard mentally to work out the result. And that's with regular sized pools of, say, 6 dice. You roll all, then try to figure out which ones are successes or not. But you also need to count botches. You also have to pay attention to 10s because there are probably extra rules for them (depending on the exact variation, they might explode or count as extra successes. The extra dice from exploding might or might not be able to botch). VtM 5e has hunger dice, too, which are extra thing to track. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 14 at 6:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Overall, there is simply a lot of work that once dicepool does. And if you end up having to roll multiple times (general you - all people around the table) the game tends to bog down. If you're online and/or you use some dice roller that directly gives you results, it's a much smoother experience. But rolling mid-ish+ sized dicepools is defintiely a problem. Tacking on more mechanics (e.g., Demon's Torment and Werewolf's Rage also do) makes rolling not really pleasant. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 14 at 6:44

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