We love DICE (a.k.a shiny maths rocks), but sometimes you can get lost in technical terms! Exploding dice, dice pools, fate dice… OH MY! In this RPG dice roller glossary, we’ll look into all of these words and what they mean. You’ll never feel lost ever again!
What are polyhedral dice?
Polyhedral dice are used in tabletop RPG games (like Dungeons and Dragons) to represent different chances that things happen. The “normal” cube dice is a six-sided dice, a one-in-six chance of each number coming up. Polyhedral dice, though, can have four, six, eight, ten, twelve, or twenty sides! They’re can be used to see how lucky you are, or to judge how many injuries your character takes.
You’ll even, sometimes, see people mention 100 sided dice or percentage rolls, (we’ll get to those later)! Other than that, they work just like regular dice – give them a roll and see what number comes up! Seeing all the different dice can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to TTRPGs, but you’ll find that if you’re using them regularly, you’ll quickly get used to which is which!
As you can imagine, saying “roll a twenty-sided die” is a mouthful, especially when you’re playing a dice-heavy RPG! That’s why we have a shorter way of talking about dice rolls —it’s like a code! This is used in virtual RPG dice rollers, but also in regular conversations. For example, 1d12 means “roll a twelve-sided die”, and 3d8 means “roll three eight-sided dice”.
In this post, we’ll take a look at several ways dice work in different RPG systems, and we’ll also learn how to use them with World Anvil! So, let’s start by looking at different kinds of dice!
What is a dice pool?
A dice pool is a collection of dice all rolled at the same time! Generally, (not always!) dice pools use a single type of dice, often d6 or d10. Usually, the more dice, the higher the number and the better the roll goes. Many systems have penalties which remove dice from a dice pool, or bonuses, which add dice to give more chance of success!
Each RPG system has a different way of dealing with a dice pool, though. Sometimes you have to add up all results, sometimes you have to count the number of dice that reach a target number. Or sometimes you just keep the highest result! Burning Wheel and Tales from the Loop are examples of systems with dice pools.
With the World Anvil RPG dice roller, you can use all of these options! For example, if you have to reach a specific target number, you just have to add the target to the code, like this: 5d20>=12. This will roll five twenty-sided dice and give you the number of dice that rolled 12 or higher.
What are Fate dice? (a.k.a. What are Fudge dice?)
Fate dice (also known as Fudge dice) are six-sided dice without numbers! Instead, they have two blank sides, two sides with a + symbol, and two sides with a — symbol. A plus means a bonus, a minus means a nerf, and a blank side is neither one. Like polyhedral dice, these represent chance within a game, and plus marks give bonuses to skill checks.
In some systems, a plus result on Fudge or Fate dice can also be used to confer advantages, even if the players don’t pass the check. FUDGE, FATE, and the Dresden Files RPG all use Fate dice.
Remember the 1d12 code? With Fate dice, you would instead say 1dF for one Fate die, 2dF for two Fate dice, and so on. And that’s exactly what you type in our RPG dice roller! Fate dice are similar to dice pools: the result is the number of successes added together (minus the fails). For example, if you roll 3dF (three Fate dice) and get two + and one —, the numeric result will be 1.
What are Exploding Dice?
Exploding dice (either a house rule or within an RPG system) allows you to reroll the dice when you land the highest number —for example when you roll a 10 on a d10. You can add that extra roll to your total! Depending on the system, dice can “explode” only once, or multiple times, to create a chain reaction! Exploding dice are used by many systems, including World of Darkness, Savage Worlds and Star Wars RPG.
Exploding dice can make a system extra epic, and more deadly. They also add a level of chaos that can be intriguing and satisfying! You can even add exploding dice in Dungeons and Dragons as a variant house rule —either throughout, or just in certain circumstances— to up the ante!
In World Anvil’s RPG dice roller, just add an exclamation point after the dice code to make them explode! For example, 3d6! will roll three six-sided dice and add up the results, but if any of the dice roll a 6, it will keep rolling that die until it rolls something else. And it will add up all results!
What are Penetrating dice?
Penetrating dice follow the same vein as exploding dice, with a twist! Just like exploding dice, you reroll and add the result when you land the highest face of a dice. However, each time you reroll a die that exploded, you subtract -1 from the reroll. It’s a very small difference, but it negates some of the chaos and imbalance of exploding dice, whilst keeping the same kind of drama. Some systems, like Hackmaster, are built around this!
When you type the RPG dice roller code, just add a p (for penetrating) after the exclamation point. For example, 3d6!p will roll dice as in the previous example but will subtract -1 every time a die is rerolled.
What are Percentile rolls?
Percentile rolls, as they sound, help determine the percentage chance that something happens within an RPG game! This is usually done with two ten-sided dice, one for each digit. For example, if the first d10 rolls an 8 and the second a 2, the result is 82! Many polyhedral dice sets come with a 00-90 dice and a 1-10 dice – if you roll 00 and 10, you’ve hit 100%!
There are many RPG systems based around percentile rolls, like Call of Cthulhu, and even Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition has some. A lot of old school RPG supplements use RPG tables with percentile rolls.
In World Anvil’s RPG dice roller, the code for a percentile roll can be both d100 or d%. So just type either of these options in our RPG dice roller and you’ll get the result! You can also roll multiple dice with 4d100, make it explode with d100!, and more!
More RPG dice roller options?
Yes! Even more dice! There are so many RPG systems out there, and also many different ways of using dice! We covered the main types of dice here, so you’re now ready to play most RPG systems! And the good news? World Anvil supports all of these! If your system uses dice not on this list, check out the dice roller documentation for the full details!