Shadowrun 5e allows players to, with GM approval, buy Hits by trading dice on a 4:1 basis.

I was wondering if there were any published guidelines, or robust, well-thought-out house rules for doing this in World of Darkness (any product, oWoD or nWoD). I've read a lot of WoD books, and I'm not aware of any such guidance, so I'm reaching out to you guys.

The intent is to

  • Manage large dice pools
  • Potentially eliminate rolling for NPCs ala Numenera.

Edit / Clarification

WoD products sometimes have a terminology issue. Success could mean that a single die has rolled the requisite target number (e.g. 6), or it could mean that a given roll has generated enough Successes to exceed a required number of Successes, and therefore the roll itself can be declared a Success.

The rules for Automatic Success in the WoD books refer to automatically succeeding at a roll. Again we face the terminology issue, because elsewhere an automatic success can be defined as automatically receiving credit for one die having hit the target number, without having to roll that die. This rule is used in oWoD games where 1 temporary Willpower spent equals 1 automatic success, but doesn't necessarily mean you have succeeded at the roll.

For clarity, I am looking for a way to trade dice for automatic successes as if I had spent 1 Willpower in oWoD.

My thoughts so far are that I might say that 3 dice equals 1 automatic success, because in nWoD 1 Willpower buys you 3 dice. It may be important to note that I am not using moving target numbers, all target numbers on all rolls are the same number.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The die rolling mechanics are somewhat different across the versions. What would be "robust" and "well-thought-out" for one version could be inappropriate for another. I think this would be a better question if focused on the version you're actually playing. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me see if I understand: Imagine a die pool with 8 dice in it. You'd like the option to remove three dice from that pool, start with one success, and roll the other five? Or take six and start with 2? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 13:42

4 Answers 4


For New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness, the difficulty is always 8 (unlike (Old) World of Darkness, it doesn't change). Based on probability, three dice = one success, as well as one Willpower = one success (since spending Willpower grants three dice). The book World of Darkness: Mirrors details this as a hack/house rule. With Storyteller permission, a player could trade three dice for a single Success, six for two, nine for three, etc. The player then rolls their remaining dice, adding their traded Successes to any Successes rolled, and succeeding based on if they reach the required number of Successes or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have Mirrors, so I can hunt this down. A page number would be aweseome. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2016 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ pg. 34: "Automatic Success: Statistically, three dice is equal to one success in the Storytelling System. This option cuts out the middleman and grants an automatic success for spending a point of Willpower. The only caveat to this option is that it may not be used for rolls that have been reduced to a chance die. Spending a single point of Willpower to automatically succeed on a roll that has been reduced to a chance die might be a bit excessive and it would almost certainly put an end to those exciting dramatic failures! This option has no effect during combat." \$\endgroup\$
    – ATayloe
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 1:33

Both of these are core, player-facing rules:

  • Spend temporary Willpower for one automatic success before a roll.
  • Automatic Success when the dice pool size is greater than or equal to the difficulty and when the story isn't hinging on the outcome. This counts as a single success and isn't usually applicable for combat.

You could conceivably choose a static number of successes for NPCs, but this would eliminate the occasional botch by NPCs which, in my experience, is often a memorable moment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please see my edit where I clarify the terminology. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2016 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @He'sJustThisGuyY'know M20 explicitly calls the automatic one success for large dice pools an Automatic Success. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ While mainly applicable for mages and werewolfs (with the right gifts), there are also quite a few ways to reduce the fail chance on longer term actions in cWoD: spending Quintessence on magic, taking time, using aditional skills/gifts/rotes to prepare and thelike all can change the likelyhood of an action by either reducing the target number or adding more dice to the pool. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 11:36

I offer to you this house rule, which I have tested over nearly a decade of World of Darkness play and found to be useful and effective. It derives from the extant rules for Specialties.

  • A character with four dots in an Attribute or Skill may, when a Specialty is relevant and would cause 10s to reroll or be doubled, remove one die from his or her pool and set it at '6.' This can be done twice if both the Attribute and Skill specialties are relevant. If the Attribute or Skill is ranked at five dots, the die may instead be set to an '8.'

This, combined with the rules for spending Willpower, allows characters to spend dice from their pool for guaranteed success on tasks that a skilled, specialized character would find typical or of average challenge while still requiring rolls for greater success or against more difficult actions.


If you are speaking about counting dice in large scale combats, you can probably use White Wolf publishing's "Dark Ages Companion" book and mass combat rules.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One, this doesn't seem to answer the question asked (feel free and ask if this is really his problem in comments, but there's no indication it is) and two, it's a pretty large cut and paste from a copyrighted rule set. We don't have a hard limit on that here but we consider "here's all the info from a paid-for book for you instead of going and laying your hands on that book" to be somewhat gauche. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 13:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Yeah, I was wrong to put here copyrighted material, replaced it with a link. As for the question - OP has large dice pools and NPCs - mass combat is one of cases when you have to deal with it. So even if his particular situation doesn't envolve mass combat, it will be useful to other players who search answer to question with exactly same wording. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jehy
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK cool. And it's fine and encouraged to explain a bit about how the rules work here so it's not just a bare link, I was just worried about the volume of straight-cut. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 14:41

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