Adventure Trove: Limiting the Dice Pool
I’ve talked about how Adventure Trove is designed to function both at the low level of fantasy, as well as epic high fantasy with heroes capable of slaying dragons and such. So when you consider that every character can have an aspect ranked up to 6, and a skill ranked up to 7, that’s 13 dice before considering modifiers! How do you keep things manageable? You limit the dice pool to 10 dice, that’s how.
With most dice pool games, its long been a tradition to limit the pool to 10 dice. There are multiple reasons for this, in a game such as Ubiquity or Adventure Trove, a hero with 10 dice is likely to succeed at a TN 5 task, the highest environmental difficulty in the game. This means that there is no reason to roll more than 10 dice because the only thing that will often vary is degree of success, not if you succeed.
I have a pair of concepts called Bonus successes and Extra successes. Extra successes are earned when you succeed on a roll, but for some reason you should get a better result. This is the standard reward for rolling a 6. You get to count the die as a success, but if you succeed it basically counts as 2 successes. The idea of a bonus success is similar, in that the result to the die pool is the same, but you get to count a Bonus Success from the start. If you roll Muscle+Athletics to brake down a wooden door, a TN 3 task, with a bonus success, you have 1 success before you roll. You only need to roll 2 more to succeed. Bonus success is one of the ‘basic’ magical effects for items and ongoing spells. Weaker items and spells give you extra dice, and usually just 1 extra die. The best magical boosts affect your target number when rolling. Bonus successes are the middle option.
So how do these translate from dice pools above 10 to something useful but not cumbersome (because nobody wants to roll a bucket full of dice every time their hero does what he or she is famous for)? Quite simply, you get an Extra success for every die in your pool above 10. You can trade in 2 of these for a bonus success instead if you wish. So in practice, a character with Muscle 5 and Athletics 6 can roll 10D6 and gain an extra success. The legendary hero with a Muscle of 6, an Athletics of 6 and a battering ram worth +2D can instead roll 10 dice and count 4 extra successes, or 2 bonus successes.
So if your die pool is immense, you get a suitably immense benefit when you roll, you just don’t roll all of the dice. If anybody thinks this is unfair, I should point out that the Game Master has the option to pass characters on certain rolls based on the size of their die pool, so it’s tied to that. Here however, you get the benefit of the dice you don’t roll when the consequences hang in the balance, and extra successes are always mechanically significant in this game. There is a major difference between 1 extra success and 5 extra successes on an attack, when casting a divine healing spell etc.