d20 vs. the Dice Pool… or is it?

Overheard on The Forge :: d20 vs. 3d6, regarding “linear curves”.

D20 combat is really a die pool system (rolling multiple dice and counting sucessess) in disguise. You roll so many to-hits on single d20s in any given combat that, over the course of a battle, you get a reasonable normal distribution of expected results. Where d20 breaks down is when it shifts to non combat where the entire task is handled with a single roll, and you don’t get this faux pool effect. This is why Take 10 and Take 20 were invented [and, Doyce would add, rolling to Assist…] to patch the weakness of using linear single-rolls for everything other than combat […] increasing the likelihood of getting the expected result.

And… they’re right. One of the things I’ve realized that I really like about the games that I’m currently looking over is that they’re ALL either (a) dice pool mechanics or (b) single-dice mechanics with a means of earning re-rolls or (c) both.
I’ve always liked dice pools — ever since Shadowrun 1 came out. (Roll and add: not so much.) Really negates the chance of Being Good and Sucking Anyway — if you’re good at something, you’re adding not only to your skill, but actually affecting the odds of rolling good numbers.


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