Descending Dice, Ascending Dice, Countdown Dice, Boost Dice, Exploding Dice!

“Here, take these exploding dice.”

Dice mechanics have some nifty, ominous names. What the hell do all these mean and why do I bring them up? … Oh… wait first I should give the pitch…

The Pitch: Apparata Kitbash is a game for people who love rolling dice! For players who enjoy complexity but don’t want to spend game-time crunching numbers, looking up tables or digging through manuals. At least not at the table when you are playing the game.

Now that’s out of the way, what sort of dice mechanics will Apparata Kitbash use? I could shout “all of them!” but honestly I don’t just dump any mechanic into the game, even though it’s referred to as a kitbash. Maaaaybe most of these will get squeezed in, even if some are just assigned to a solitary spell.

Here are some that I am considering:

Player-facing Dice:

Most often applied to to-hit rolls against a monster’s AC. This removes mystery, but it speeds up games considerably.

Exploding Dice:

I believe Savage Worlds and Open Legend (I haven’t played either, I admit) both use Exploding Dice. Also known as “Acing” dice or the “rule of 6”. Combat systems really need to be catered to it and you wouldn’t be able to apply 5E’s “bound accuracy” since numbers can go right off the chart. Must be exciting though, right?

I wouldn’t apply this to general combat or skill tests, but I may assign it specifically to suitable spells.

Ascending Score:

The score-increase-by-1 variation of this system is in The Black Hack, for increasing player stats each level-up and I am considering using it in a similar way. I have not yet decided whether to make base stats go up by 1 or by the dice result, nor have I decided how many attempts they would get per level (The Black Hack rolls all stats each level, but I would limit that). I’ll make a full post on this, once I’m ready to test it.

Descending Dice:

The idea here is to create tension, because rather than knowing the exact number of uses, it’s a chance to degrade. Also known as “Usage Dice” or “Risk Dice”. Again inspiration comes from The Black Hack and the author suggests using this system sparingly (too much tension breaks).

I am not sure if I will use Descending Dice at all, unless I wanted to make weapons run durability tests after combat. Hmm.

Boost Dice:

5E uses this mechanic for “Bardic Inspiration” and many DMs have house rules that DM-Inspiration also use a physical die (rather than Advantage, which is described below).

I love Boost Dice and I’ve already determined that for Apparata Kitbash I will be handing out a Boost Die every time a player critically fails (d20 natural-1), to offset the downsides of critical fumbles. Incoming article on this one soon.

Advantage / Disadvantage:

I love Advantage as well, it’s one of the best elements I would shameless use from 5E. The psychology on this is so strong, it feels so significant to roll two d20s. The math for Advantage / Disadvantage works out to +/- 3.325.

Partial Success:

Apocalypse World popularized the idea of a partial success and I really enjoy it. In some games it feels a bit punishing though. Also known as Mixed Success. I will write a full post on this topic, but in a nutshell Apparata Kitbash will be using a d20 variation of this for combat rolls.

Countdown Dice:

No idea if I’ll use this to track anything. Probably not, I prefer tokens, but I may make optional rules.

Result Modifiers:

This is a bog-standard system that almost every player expects in a tabletop RPG, but one that I will be trying my best to avoid for Apparata Kitbash. I would rather roll dice, add them together and that’s that. In most cases I will translate modifiers into additional dice.


Since I have mentioned games that have inspired me, I should list links. I do not claim any sort of endorsement from these:

If you know of any other clever dice-related mechanics / resolutions, please do let me know! This is far from a comprehensive list. Also, it’s possible I’m not using all of my terminology exactly-correctly, so feel free to correct me. I can be contacted as @NecroRogIcon on Twitter.