Saturday, October 10, 2020

Dice Stack Mechanic

 I had an idea for a mechanic that might be fun for in-person games.  I'm always on the lookout for mechanics that 1) use stuff people have around (like cards or dominoes), 2) is dramatic fun (players gather round to see how it will turn out), and 3) kind of matches up with the situation in game (a Jenga tower feels like an oncoming inevitable disaster).  So, what about stacking dice?  We all have them, it will be amusing to watch, and it can simulate pushing your luck to get some gain.  Here are some ideas of what you might use it for:

  • DM places down a d20 to start the Dreaded Stack. Any time a player gets a damage roll they don't like, place that die on the stack and roll again with a different die to try for a better result.  But, when the stack tumbles that player's weapon breaks.  Or, maybe, you roll an additional immediate encounter.
  • Magic user variant that uses dice for casting determines how many dice they use for a battle/session by stacking.  The stack tumbles, you  get half that many.
  • Skill use, the shopkeep's wisdom is worth 5 dice, you've got to stack more dice than that for him to believe your lie.

Obviously, some dice are easier to stack than others.  I can't stack my precision d4s at all.  But anyone rolling d4s for damage is probably not going to want to re-roll anyway.  If you needed to give players a pool of random dice to stack from and want to vary which ones they have to work with, you could grab a handful, roll them, and then let the player choose dice from all the even results.

Anyway, I might try it for a simple mini-game at least.


  1. Little dubious on the idea for D&D-style rules (d20s seem like a deathtrap after the second or maybe third) but I'd be happy trying it for a pure-d6 rule set like Free League's Year Zero or Champions/Hero System or (obviously) d6 System.

  2. I don't think this would be used enough to warrant its inclusion unless you're working with mostly d6s. Dick McGee mentioned Year Zero, but I could see this being fun when messing around with GLOG spellcasters or d6-standard weapon damage. I love the tension of the mechanic, might mess around with it later.

  3. Thanks to both of you, for the comments.