Feel free to throw dice at me, but with our games being very campaign-oriented (vs.

Feel free to throw dice at me, but with our games being very campaign-oriented (vs.

Feel free to throw dice at me, but with our games being very campaign-oriented (vs. one-shot/short multi-shot), we’ve started playing Freebooters on the Frontier with 2d12 instead of 2d6!

The finer granularity leaves more “headroom” to accommodate Freebooters’ inevitable stacking of ability score bonuses, move effects, class bonuses, spell effects, magic items, and other boons (and banes) without the game becoming unplayable due to characters never failing at their “main thing” (or ANYTHING as players learn to game the system.)

Some aspects of the base AW engine (such as “6– / 7–9 / 10+”) need to be re-scaled, but leaving class abilities and move effects as written for 2d6 makes a long-term game more fun and challenging. The scale for ability score modifiers took some time to tune; it is NOT a straight doubling) and in fact, we ultimately settled on a core mechanic that looks right but is in fact more “cruel” (mathematically speaking): 12– / 13–19 / 20+. This results in a feel that’s more OSR-like, with some cool side effects too, such as a more even progression of character level across repeated sessions and a tendency for more “Split” roll results in general (the middle bracket of the mechanic).

You may have seen my recent 2d6 AW math charts. Here is one showing how things work with 2d12, plus a set of pie charts to help you immediately visualize the difference. The idea is to get more mileage out of thespaces between the canonical plusses and minuses!

I’m hoping to publish my “d12 World” conversion kit this summer.

24 thoughts on “Feel free to throw dice at me, but with our games being very campaign-oriented (vs.”

  1. Here’s a quick practical example. Statistically speaking, the average “straight 3d6” character will end up with a “prime requisite” of 14. As they level up, it will increase. Let’s say they’re level 4, with a prime of 16 for this example (that’s +2) . They’ve got a class abilities and equipment that gives them additional bonuses on critical moves (e.g. whetstone, magic orb, etc.). If they’re playing in an experienced group, they’re taking advantage of “buffs” from the abilities of other party members (e.g. blessings, spells, help).They’re probably carrying one or more magic items (let’s face it, this is OSR inspired, and even with much discretion, you’re going to end up offering some kind of mechanic-affecting magic). Conservatively, let’s say that when the session’s pivotal moment arrives, they’re able to muster a +5. That’s a ~0% for 6–, ~17% chance of 7–9, and ~83% for 10+.

    In 2d12 world, scaling up the ability score bonus (I grant one additional +1 at every even number above 10, so that’s +3 for a 16) they’re going to be at +6. That gives them a ~10% chance of 12–, ~45% chance of 13–19, and ~45% chance of 20+. Those are still great odds, but the rolls count, and they players love it all the way to level 10.

    Like I said, you can throw dice at me.

  2. When you combine this with my “Token Passing” system that to ensure that characters with high ability scores don’t “hog” the moves they’re good at (e.g. Navigate) things REALLY get fun 🙂

  3. Huh, that’s an interesting approach. I’ll have to think about it, but I can see the usefulness of a wider spread of results in a longer campaign game, since PBTA games often seem to max out around ~12-15 sessions unless you switch characters or tweak XP a lot.

    Still, in all the PBTA games I’ve ever played/run, players can never roll with a bonus higher than a +3, which serves as a hard cap and means there’s always some possibility of failure. That’s how I read the rules of AW and I’ve always applied it to PBTA in general, though I bet that’s not always meant to be the case in all hacks.

  4. Haha, looks like most people disagree with me. That’s okay, but I think they’re wrong that 4+ bonuses aren’t disruptive. In my experience, even rolling +3 regularly stops being exciting after a while, as the failures and mixed results really help drive PBTA resolution. Once most/all of a character’s stats are at +3, the campaign should probably start winding down or you should switch to a new character, IMO.

    And if you cap bonuses at +3, people can still find ways to help, just by doing other actions (that shift stakes or consequences or other parts of the fiction) rather than making a Help roll. That’s already the case in situations where multiple people want to Help but only one is allowed to, so I don’t see that as really being a problem.

  5. Maezar I was thinking to do the same for a campaign / game of mine. I love the added granularity, it’s cool for people accustomed to longer campaigns with characters from-zero-to-hero. Also, this is the approach that the crew behind the new edition of Kult (powered by the Apocalypse, it seems) decided to take, while they are actually using a 2d10 resolution mechanic, with 9-, 10-14, 15+ steps (steps that I don’t like so much, I’d have it pushed higher of a +1).

  6. PS you could add the math for the “critical” hit too. In PbtA it’s usually a 12+, probably you could set it at 24+ for yours. It’s of course rarer, but I thin this I the way you are pursuing.

  7. J. Walton you already read about that, however I think the standard 2d6 system is pretty robust even with a +5 (like a +3 from Stat, +1 from help, and +1 from item or magic). You have still ~17% to get a 7-9 result, that in combat can be still pretty dangerous. You suffer an attack in return in Melee, you use ammo or do less damage in Ranged, and you could pay prices for other action (something like, yeah, you climb the hill, but you lose your sword during the climbing).

    Alternately / additionally, you can use the houserule that a Snake Eyes is always a 6- result.

  8. Wow, Maezar you are on the Frontier here. I appreciate your analysis for long-term play, which reflects concerns I’ve been wrestling with myself. I’ll be keeping this (and a hard +3 cap) in mind as I continue work on 2e. I think my only resistance has to do with the “feel” of rolling 2d12 vs 2d6, but the d12 already holds a place of honor in FotF, so maybe it wouldn’t be too weird.

  9. I definitely think you need to keep the core game 2d6, and simply mentioning the optional cap (set it where you want it!) would be a nice footnote.

    Our 2d12 variant has a VERY different feel — much more AD&D than OD&D.

  10. Haha, Jason’s right that all his tables already use d12s. I had to buy a bunch more for running Freebooters or set a program to be ready to roll 10d12 on a moment’s notice.

    Another way to handle it might be to do something like Tiers. AW opens up those 12+ results once you get to higher levels and Monsterhearts goes further and changes the basic moves once you get a little more maturity. I can imagine that long-term play of Freebooters could do something similar, as you move out of the low-level grind and into the territory-and-factions game of being bandit-chiefs or warlords, similar to the parts of Blades in the Dark where your crew advances and takes on more responsibility and notoriety.

    It could even be a thing where you keep the original core moves (for situations where you’re still fighting one-on-one in an alley or hole in the ground) but gain additional moves that allow you to act on a larger scope or in a broader context. Like “Once you clear all notable opposing threats out of an area, roll+CON. On a 12+, add this area to your crew’s territory (which connects it to a subsystem about managing your territory, maybe like Hardholds/Crews/Gangs in AW). On a 10+, you secure hold of the area for now, but some resistance remains; start a countdown clock called Revolt, and the GM will tell you when to fill in parts of the clock. On a 9 or less, your hold is temporary and fickle, tell the GM to create a new front involving those who seek to take this territory from you.” Not sure about the numbers for different results there. Might need tweaking.

    That may be WAY more than you want, but something like that might keep the game interesting at higher levels, even if you stick to the 2d6 range. Maybe you’re already thinking about stuff like this, though.

  11. Or, alternately, you just wait until I make Planarch 2E (which at this point seems likely to use Freebooters as its core) and then high-level folks can jump into planar adventuring 🙂

  12. At one point last year, I bought every d12 that Gamescience had in stock. I gave a pair to every player in each

    of my games and I have a huge bowl of them here.

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