Darkest Dice – a Dilemma

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about the way I resolve challenges in Darkest Nights. It works okay, but I want to change it to a more logical, readable, and clean system. I’ll now proceed to brainstorm alternatives which may or may not work, fit, or be used.

Current Version

It’s kind of like apocalypse world, in that you roll 2d6, add a modifier, and if it’s 7 or more it’s a success, but if it’s less than 10 it comes at a cost. But then… Your skill rank grants you theoretical “quantum dice” in a pool, which difficulty then eats up. If the difficulty is appropriate to your ability, only two dice are rolled. If it’s one step higher or lower, roll one more die but only keep the two highest/lowest. If the difference is more than that, success or failure is automatic. It’s functional but a little clunky.

The modifier in this case is an attribute score (which is already getting changed), and is between -1 and +2. This is very confusing, so it sometimes slips away in play.

Alternative 1 – Roll Plus Bonus

This is the bog-standard roll a few dice, add a modifier and compare to a difficulty level. It’s seen in a lot of systems, probably because it’s pretty simple and intuitive. If I use this I would probably use 2d6 or 2d10 for dice, as I like a little less even distribution compared to the overly swingy d20.

Alternative 2 – Roll Under Score

This is often mathematically identical to alt. 1, but feels a bit different. You roll a few dice, and compare it to your ability. If it’s below you succeed, if it’s above you fail. I’d use a variant in where rolling high is good, but exceeding your ability is not. Kind of like GURPS 3d6 way, but rolling high is good instead. A little like blackjack, perhaps.

Alternative 3 – Success Dice Pool

This is the one where you roll a bunch of dice (perhaps d6), and any results of, say 4+ is a success. Then you count successes and compare them to the difficulty level. This is quite tactile, as more skill means more dice to throw. You can always roll all zeroes, no matter how many dice you have, though the chance gets rather slim at higher amounts. I’d probably use a maximum of around six dice at once to avoid the dice overload effect, as too many dice is slow, and cumbersome.

Alternative 4 – Additative Dice Pool

In this, like the one before, you use more dice as you get more skilled, but instead you add them together and compare the result to a difficulty level, just like in alt. 1. Adding a bunch of d6 together might work, but it’s even slower than alt. 3.

Alternative 5 – Hybrid Additative Dice Pool

This is one I thought up while trying to weave in levels of “+1” between levels of added dice in alt. 4. Basically it’s a progression where every even level adds +1, and every odd level replaces that +1 with a +1d3. It becomes this nice progression adds two to the roll’s range, either +1 at both upper and lower bound, or +2 to the upper bound. It’s a quite nice one if people can live with halving their d6 rolls.

Alternative 6 – Check Multiples Dice Pool

I read this one somewhere on the internet, though I can’t remember what system it’s from. Basically you roll your dice pool, and any doubles, triples, and so, on is a success. The higher the number the better success, and the more dice showing the same the faster or more intense result. It seems quite interesting.

Alternative 7 – Pick a Card

Technically not dice, but still. You could take a regular deck, draw a number of cards equal to your skill level, and pick one of them to use. With this you could have special bonuses if you use a card of a suit corresponding to your character or action, or something.

Alternative 8 – Compare Levels

This is essentially a rewrite of the current system in a perhaps more usable form. If your skill level is more than 1 step higher or lower than the difficulty your fate is already sealed, good or bad. Otherwise roll a d6, or two if the difference isn’t zero. If you’re better, take the higher, otherwise, take the lower. Results of 1-2 is a failure, 3-4 is a partial or costly success, and 5-6 is a complete success.

Alternative 9 – Dice Steps

Your skill is rated d4 through d12 and you use that die. You could then have stats rated similarly on a second die, and roll these together. Then compare to a difficulty, as per usual.


In the end, changing the dice around got me thinking about the core ideas of Darkest Nights. I’ll try to put out a post about that, and maybe that’ll help me pick what style of resolution system would fit here. There really are a lot of alternatives to go with, the only question being what feels right and plays easily.

On a side note, I’m still alive after half the introductory weeks. That’s good.

If you want to chime in… I can make polls?


2 thoughts on “Darkest Dice – a Dilemma

    1. That’s always an alternative, actually. Some kind of chance or tie-breaker i still needed, but an even less chance-reliant system can be used, no need to be traditional for no reason. Hmm…


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