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The pros and cons of this 3d6 "flip" mechanic


Independent Procrastinor
Validated User
Thinking of a new dice mechanic and would love to hear your thoughts on its pros & cons:
It's based on a standard 3d6+skill vs target number mechanic used by several games, but in thinking of ideas for special abilities or unique situations, I came up with this idea (NOTE: opposite sides of d6 always sum to 7):
It's called "the flip." When directed, you flip one of the dice to its opposite side. For example, you might have an ability that allows you to flip any one die when you attack a wounded foe. Let's say you have an attack value of +4 and you need to roll 15 or higher to land a blow. You roll 4, 4, 1, which would normally be a total of 9. Even when adding your +4 attack skill, the total of 13 still fails. BUT, you've got a special ability that allows you to flip the 1 to a 6, giving you a final result of 18.
You could also have something more specific, such as an ability or situation where you can flip only dice that result in a 3 (flipping it would result in a 4). Maybe an ability that, at first, allows you to flip a single result of 3, then improve it to include 3 and 2, etc.
I'm not thinking of it as a replacement for modifiers or increased/decreased target numbers, but for a handful of special abilities where it lends a less certain - but potentially more dramatic - outcome.

The Benj

Registered User
Validated User
It's kind of interesting in the way it turns a terrible dice result into a great one, but only slightly improves a mediocre one.


Registered User
Validated User
I've seen this mechanic elsewhere, most notably in a few boardgames (e.g. Rajas of the Ganges, one of few board games with dice that I actually really like). I'd consider it proven, and a 3d6 system seems like a pretty safe place to use it - a mixed die system without opposite sides always summing to the same number would be a lot trickier, for all that it's still a fairly simple formula.


Registered User
Validated User
It's not directly comparable, but early editions of Fate used this mechanic for Fudge dice: you could flip a die to a +, meaning it would give you a +2 if it was bad, +1 if average. Since you had only four dice, and could only flip each once, there was an upper limit to how good a role you could get, and as the benj noted, good rolls werent affected much, but bad rolls could be massively improved.

I always preferred that approach to a flat +2 bonus, and always use it in my games. But I'd never considered applying it to d6 rolls. This could be the basis of a good hero point system for games like GURPS and HERO.


Registered User
Validated User
It's similar to D&D advantage as it allows character to have better odd at succeeding tasks within their area of expertise, but not top go beyond that (i.e. you have better odds to roll 18 with 3d6, but still 0% to roll 19 or more).

French RPG Légendes des Contrées Oubliées (based on the comic with the same name) used a similar mechanism.
Characters had attributes and levels in various skills. When attempting a task, the player rolled 1d6+attribute, opposed by a d6+difficulty roll on the GM's side.
If the player's d6 was inferior to his level in an appropriate skill, he could replace his d6 roll by his level in this skill. I never had an opportunity to try it.

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
Validated User
We've been doing this with stat arrays in D&D. If you roll a bad set of stats, you can flip all of them. It's all or nothing, though, so you can't selectively flip only your bad stats.


Registered User
Validated User
Thinking of a new dice mechanic and would love to hear your thoughts on its pros & cons:

Neat, fun and novel in the rpg context
Fairly easy for people to get their heads around
Gives you another dimension to play with bonuses in

More dimensions might not be better - how do you decide whether a given bonus should be provided as a flip vs a flat plus?
Tricky for some people
Slows down play because it adds a step to examine the dice and anotherto decide.

Lots of different ways you could use or limit this basic idea
Not only makes high scores more likely, but greatly reduces the chanced of a very low score
More interesting if your system also cares about pairs, triples etc. Maybe you can flip a die down to make a pair, but you can only flip it up to break a pair
More useful if your system actually uses the individual resulting individual die scores for something so the scores need to be stored temporarily - making the embodiment on the die useful.

Nice idea.
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