So we just finished a SW Force and Destiny campaign and now we are into a Pathfinder campaign. We miss the enriching plot elements that were added by the threats and advantages from the novel dice system.

It was suggested by group that we might add a boost and a set back die to each d20 roll to introduce random plot narration quirks similar to that of > Dynamic Magic Item Creation.

"...adding flavor to the crafting of magic items..."

What should I suggest to counter this suggestion?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question may be better suited to a forum. As it stands, it is likely too broad for the site, and also too subjective, as everyone has a different idea of what is "fun". \$\endgroup\$
    – Ladifas
    Nov 12 '16 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really a broad question - pretty specific to adding a single element to a Pathfinder campaign. Perhaps you are not familiar with SW FaD dice system. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12 '16 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm more talking about your questions, which are along the lines of "Is this a good idea?", a question that I'm sure different people will have wildly different answers to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ladifas
    Nov 12 '16 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close, but with some editing I think this could be turned into an acceptable question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Nov 12 '16 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited to provide clarification \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16 '16 at 6:24

I don't think it is a good idea, because the math doesn't work out:


In the FFG Star Wars series of RPGs, the success chance is scaled with 3 elements: Type of die (yellow, green, blue vs. red, violet, black), the number of dice (that is for each die) and then the available upgrades to either side. As a result, you get beautiful bell curves, averaging out in the middle field around some point. While you can pretty easily determine if a success is possible at all with a certain pool, it is more problematic to determine the chances for any of the possible events.

A shot with 1 yellow, 2 green vs. 2 violet is a pretty good chance to get some success but it could fail as horribly as it could win glamorously. Calculating the exact chances for all the possible outcomes is hard, but luckily doable with computer and anydice. In this case of stat 3 + skill 1 (pretty much what a stater char can manage) we have a chance of 65.08% to get at least 1 success. The upgrade of a green gives us 70.6%. No chance for a fumble, 8.33 % / 15.94% to get one (or two) triumph(s).

D20 system

Pathfinder, on the other hand, scales very different: it scales linear because there is only one random number plus a static modifier. 1d20+6 for example. This is a pretty linear scaling: as long as your modifier is large enough, you can't fail but for a 1 (which technically only is a fumble on trying to use magic wands), if it is not high enough, you can't make it but for a natural 20 (again, RAW only on attack).

Shooting with a +5 at an AC 15 monster (pretty much not hardcore built lvl 1 picture) is a 50% chance, the chance for a confirmed crit is 2.5%. Not more, not less. Getting a fumble on a nat 1 is actually a Houserule that has been imported from D&D 2nd!

Shifting the AC down to 14 or adding a +1 modifier shifts the chance to hit up by 5% to 55%. At the same time it makes a crit not that much more likely (5% to get a chance, times .55 for a confirm = 2.75%).


I don't think the two systems are to be made compatible without breaking either of them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your mathematical explanation. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16 '16 at 6:25

I have not done this specific thing, but I have certainly played in (and run) D&D 3.5 games where we allowed for more "descriptive" success and failures.

For example, I've played with DMs who treat a natural 20 as a "critical success" on any roll (by RAW this rule only applies for attack rolls.) So, rolling a nat20 on a skill check would result in the DM describing how you succeeded at whatever you were doing with flying colours. Conversely, rolling a success (but not a nat20) would achieve the stated goal, but sometimes the DM would inject minor "consequences" as a result.

ex: "You successfully picked the lock, but as you begin to open the door, the hinge squeaks and you hear someone calling out from down the hall, inquiring who's there? You quickly duck into the room and close the door, your heat pounding as the guard comes within inches on the other side of the door."

Things like that. Personally, I wouldn't be inclined to make these "consequences" anything the requires a second die roll (at least, not often), but it does inject a level of flavour that makes the whole game more exciting.


By a similar token, some DMs I've played with also like to use the natural 1 "critical fumble" idea (on attacks and other skill rolls.) I've never used that one myself, as I find 1 in 20 is a little too often for these sorts of colossal screw ups in a heroic adventure game. I personally disagree with the idea that critical success and critical fumble are "balanced" against each other simply by virtue of each being a 1 in 20 chance.

Fumbles, at least as I've seen them used, tend to invoke bigger penalties than a corresponding critical success has benefits. (ie: A player breaking his arm - or even just his weapon - due to a fumble is a bigger penalty for the party overall than a monster getting one-shot killed by a critical hit is a benefit to the party.)


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .