Critical Success in the Advantage Dice System

A recent conversation on Facebook got me thinking about how to handle unusual successes, where a character did better than could be reasonably expected.

Originally I’d planned to use degree of success to improve results: roll higher than you need to on an attack roll, you can do additional damage, sort of thing. Simple, functional, boring.

Then I wondered… what if I applied a system similar to that used in the AGE System? In AGE, every check is made with 3d6, and if doubles turn up (which happens about 4/9 of the time) you get 1-6 stunt points you can use to make your action better. For instance, if you spend one stunt point you can

  • Skirmish: You can move yourself or the target of your attack 2 yards [one square] in any direction for each 1 SP you spend.
  • Rapid reload: You can immediately reload a missile weapon.
  • Stay aware: You take a moment to make sure you’re mindful of everything that’s happening around you. Make a TN 11 Perception test with the focus of your choice. If you succeed, the GM may either make you aware of some battlefield situation that has so far escaped your notice, or give you a +1 bonus to the next test you make. This bonus can never stack with any other test bonus other than from a focus, must be used on the very next test you make (even if you’re the defender in an opposed test), and expires at the end of your next turn if you haven’t used it by then.

Okay, that’s a start, but the exact mechanism won’t work well in the Advantage Dice System because checks use different numbers of dice (which mess with the chances of getting doubles), as you reach higher tiers you use bigger dice (which mess with the chance of getting doubles even more, and they become less likely over time), and (in AGE) you use the value of one of the dice (chosen before rolling; it’s a different color) to determine how many stunt points you get (d20 could mean a very large number of stunt points indeed).

Then I realized I’ve got an easier way to manage this, and it gets rid of a niggling element of the Advantage Dice System that’s been bugging me.

When you roll, each successful die after the first adds a number of stunt points. If you roll one success, you get no stunt points. If you roll two successes, you get one stunt point. If you three successes you get three stunt points, and if you roll four successes you get six stunt points.

  0 successes 1 success 2 successes 3 successes 4 successes
Dice % SP % SP % SP % SP % SP
1 50 50 0
2 25 50 0 25 0
3 12.5 37.5 0 37.5 1 12.5 3
4 6.25 25 0 37.5 1 25 3 6.25 6

Assuming you’re up against a ‘standard difficulty’ task for your tier (i.e. 50% chance of success for each die) the odds of getting stunt points stays pretty consistent from tier to tier, as does the number of points you can get (assuming only same-tier dice; at higher tiers you have an increasingly good chance of having lower-tier dice that can succeed).

Also, it takes dedication, or at least talents that support the roll, to get the higher numbers of stunt points. If you have only one die to roll there is no way to get stunt points, you can only get six stunt points on a single roll if you can roll four dice (i.e. tier die plus supporting cornerstone, common, and capstone talents — you’re supposed to be this good, and even so it’s a 6.25% chance).

This feels a lot like what I want it to. I think I’d get rid of the ‘doubles increase the result’ behavior of the Advantage Dice System: if you try something that’s out of reach, it’s simply out of reach.

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