Game Design

Forbidden Games Running Railroad Rivals Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 21 March 2018 - 7:00am
Ah, to be a railroad tycoon. To be right on the cutting edge as the US made its way out west, connecting cities and building up trade routes, investing in stocks as you carry the cargo across the new rail lines to a grateful populace. That’s what you’ll be doing in Railroad Rivals, a new […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

XYZ Game Labs Bringing Inoka To Kickstarter In May

Tabletop Gaming News - 21 March 2018 - 6:00am
Mankind has only been around on this planet a relatively short time. We’re really just a small blip on the Earth’s timeline. Much of history stretches back without us. And, in those times, forest creatures would compete in a game called Achkai once a year in order to see who would be the Nature Spirit’s […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Why Polyhedral Dice On A Deck Of Cards Will Never Work… Or Will They?

Gnome Stew - 21 March 2018 - 6:00am

A few months back, I was reading a post over on Tenkar’s Tavern about one of Tenkar’s most/least favorite topics and I discovered a link to a kickstarter I had missed from back in 2015 (funded, but still unfulfilled from what I gather). It was for “Deck Dice” – a standard deck of playing cards that also act as a full set of polyhedral dice. I had two initial thoughts on this:

  • That’s super cool!
  • Too bad it will never work

So why did I think this concept would never work? Well, it boils down to the math. In order to properly simulate a polyhedral die, you need to have a randomizer with an even multiple of the number of sides of the die. So to simulate a d4 properly, for example, you need a deck with a number of cards that’s a multiple of 4. In order to do this for an entire set of polyhedral dice, you need to have a number of cards that’s a multiple of the Least Common Multiple of 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20. If you can’t remember how to find that off the top of your head and don’t want to look it up, you have to find the product of the largest group of like factors across all the dice, which ends up being 2x2x2x3x5=120. So the only way to perfectly simulate an entire set of polyhedral dice with a deck of cards is to have 120 cards.

There are some ways around this, but each has its own issues or quirks:

  • You can just get sort of close: put the numbers 1-20 on the deck twice, and then include 14 random numbers from 1-20 to fill out the other cards for example, but that’s not going to give you a very good distribution and you have to choose the distribution you’re going to create. Do you favor odds? Evens? High numbers? Low numbers? High and low numbers? Middle numbers? No matter what you choose here, you’re making a problem for someone.
  • You can leave some die values off of some cards: 54 isn’t a perfect multiple of 8, for example, but 48 is. So, you could put the numbers 1-8 on the deck 6 times and then have 6 cards with no d8 value. What do you do if you need a d8 and the card you draw doesn’t have a d8 value on it? You keep flipping. Not so bad with that d8. 11% of cards wouldn’t have a d8. But for a d20, 26% of cards will be missing values.
  • You can use multiple draws to build results, just like we do with d100s: 54 is divisible by 2 and 3, so all dice except the d10 and d20 can be built perfectly this way. Flip 2 cards, and you’ll always have a perfect d4 or d6 roll. 3 flips will give you a perfect d8 or d12. D10s and 20s still don’t work though. And who wants to flip 2-3 cards for every die roll?
  • You can add some extra cards: a few extra cards will create different sets of factors to work with. but few of them work very well until you add 6 extra cards. That brings the deck up to 60 cards, which perfectly models all dice except the d8. But it also means that the deck of cards is now no longer a standard set of cards, which means you’ve lost whatever functionality you were hoping to achieve by having your dice on a standard deck of cards in the first place.
  • You could use two decks of cards: This nets you 108 cards instead of 54, which means the 4, 6, and 12 all work perfectly, but personally I would never go this route. Why? Because if you have to go up to two decks to get a good distribution, that means you’re NOT getting a good distribution from a single deck. And it doesn’t matter where or how clearly you point out that you need to use all 108 cards to get the right distribution, someone somewhere is going to miss or ignore that, use only one of the two decks and then complain because the distribution isn’t right.
  • You can mix and match parts of several of these methods: You could for example leave some die values off some cards, for 4s, 6s, 8s, 10s, and 12s, and then for 20s you flip till you get a d10 value, then flip again and add 10 if the second flip is red. There are plenty of ways to do this, some better than others.

The kickstarter that Tenkar had referenced combined two methods. First, they added 6 extra cards to a deck and they used two decks. That gave them 120 total cards, allowing them to perfectly simulate all types of polyhedral dice. Which is excellent. But it made the decks completely useless as an actual deck of cards, so what was the whole point of the product? And then you still have the “using only one of two decks” issue, although in this case, as long as each individual deck of 60 has a complete distribution of 4s, 6s, 10s, 12s, and 20s, at least only the d8 suffers for it, and not that badly.

Click for larger image

But, after kicking it about a little, I think I have a better solution: make all the cards symmetrical, so it’s impossible to tell when it’s right side up and then put different rolls on the left and right side of the card, thus which side of the card is up when you draw it will give you different results. 108 cards means that only 4 or 8 blanks need to be left in for any given die, and since each card has two rolls on it, that’s 2 or 4 cards. Here’s what a sample card might look like:

So what’s all that extra junk at the top and bottom? Well, I had some leftover space, So I added a bunch of other fun stuff. There’s a generic fantasy class (Healer, Rogue,Warrior, Wizard) , a generic fantasy race attribute (Adaptable, Clever, Magical, Nimble, Savage, Sturdy), a general level (High, Mid, and Low), a reaction (30% Friendly, 40% Neutral, and 30% Hostile), a gender (M,F, ~2%Non-binary), a little rainbow symbol(~15%), and a random dungeon room.

So, there you have it. There’s my attempt at how I would make a set of Polyhedral dice cards, and as a bonus, it only took me about a month and a half – and everyone can download a free printable PDF below! On the other hand, the art is absolute crap, there are no faces on the face cards, and there’s no back, so you get what you pay for.

Of course, I could always scrounge up a few hundred bucks for some pro layout assistance and art, fund it with my own kickstarter and put it up in a print on demand venue. Anyone have opinions and feedback while I mull that one over? Don’t be shy.

Click on this image to download the PDF Prototype

P.S. If you find the concept of dice on a deck of cards interesting, here are a couple other ones that are available. If you know of any others, put a link in the comments.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Two new adventure modules for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 3:00pm
Sure, one adventure module is pretty cool. But what about a 2nd module? Well, North Wind Adventures is here to help. They don’t have just one, but two new adventures for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea RPG up on Kickstarter. So, once you’ve gotten your players through The Anthropophagi of Xambaala, you can […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

SagaBorn Creature Compendium Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 2:00pm
The world is filled with all manner of creatures. Everywhere you go, there’s life thriving. Bringing all those critters to your RPG can be tough. That’s where bestiaries and compendiums come in. Up on Kickstarter now, there’s the SagaBorn Creature Compendium. It’s got 90+ creatures for you to throw at your party (figuratively, unless you […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Chernobyl, Mon Amour RPG Up On Indiegogo

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 1:00pm
Anyone about my age and older surely remembers Chernobyl. The reactor there went kerplooey and filled the surrounding area with deadly radiation. As such, hundreds of square miles had to be evacuated. And, to this day, barely anyone ever goes there… barely. In Chernobyl, Mon Amour, you take on the role of a Ukrainian criminal […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Liberty A.F.T.E.R. Sci-Fi RPG Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 12:00pm
It’s interesting how a single thing can evolve to grow into more items as it goes along. For example, the world of Liberty started off as a podcast. Then, it grew into a graphic novel. Now, they’re letting you join in with Liberty A.F.T.E.R., a new sci-fi RPG setting book using the 5th Edition rules […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Podcast Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 11:00am
It was a rainy Monday here in GA. Not the way a lot of people like to start off the week, I’m sure. Honestly, I love the rain. Had a good thundershower overnight, too. That was rather nice. As for today, we’ll see how it goes. I do know that there are plenty of podcasts […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Lockwood Publishing opens Lithuania studio to support Avakin Life development

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 March 2018 - 10:25am

Less than one week after opening its third studio in the UK, Avakin Life developer Lockwood Publishing has opened a studio in Lithuania, its first international studio. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Mists of Akuma: Imperial Matchmaker 5th Edition Adventure Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 10:00am
You know, I’ve often said that I love pre-made adventures, as they give the GM a lot of resources and can make the game as easy for them as it is for the players to just play it. Usually, they’re good for a level or two, but the Mists of Akuma: Imperial Matchmaker adventure for […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fun Forge Running Monumental Board Game Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 9:00am
This game is Monumental in more ways than one. First, that’s the game’s name. Second, it’s got a whole ton of stuff going on in it. There’s exploration. There’s conquest. There’s deck-building. There’s terrain tiles. There’s miniatures. There’s different and distinct civilizations you can choose to be. There’s… well, there’s only one chance to get […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Highways & Byways – A Board Game About Road Trips, Coming to Kickstarter on March 26

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 8:00am
I love road trips. I seriously do. I’d much rather get in a car and drive from Atlanta to Indy or Chicago or St. Louis than fly. Ugh. I hate flying. But give me a car and an open road and maybe a traveling companion and I’m good to go. But I can’t always get […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Dark Art Studios Posts Plague Demon Sculpting Guide

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 7:00am
Byron Townshend is the sculptor for Dark Art Studios. He’s started a new series that you can check out where he shows you how he creates the creatures that eventually go for sale on the site. He’s starting out with Part 1, wherein he shows you how he starts with an armature and works his […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Siren’s Call Sci-Fi RPG Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 March 2018 - 6:00am
Humanity has finally reached the point where they’ve decided that the Earth is not enough. Neither is the Solar System. They’ve got their sights set on interstellar travel, and their first target is the planet Siren, orbiting around Alpha Centauri A. The 10,000 colonists are in stasis during the trip, but what will they find […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Blog: Designing more social multiplayer games via the Trust Spectrum

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 March 2018 - 2:19am

Working with Google, vetern game dev Raph Koster shares a design lens and framework (built on extensive research, prototypes, & metrics) for designing prosocial games that build trust between players. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sandy's Soapbox: Other Non-Fiction: Tech Writing & Non-Literary Fiction

RPGNet - 20 March 2018 - 12:00am
My non-RPG writing career.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Talk Wargaming Hiring Graphic Artists

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 March 2018 - 3:00pm
A lot of people feel that working in the gaming industry is like working at Willy Wonka’s factory. I have to say, it’s not quite like that. It’s a job, like every other job. Are there cool things that go on? Certainly. But there’s still lots of things to do. And while you might pick […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Armies & Legions & Hordes Book Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 March 2018 - 2:00pm
Miniatures gamers know that it can be exciting to get into a new project, but once you dive in and you realize just what all there is to do, it can be hard to power through. Even small-model-count games can seem daunting. So, how do you make it? Well, Dave Taylor has been doing this […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What’s Changed in DreadBall Second Edition?

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 March 2018 - 1:00pm
Whenever a game goes through an edition change, there’s going to be things that stay the same and things that change. I mean, there’s a new edition, so there’s gotta be changes. But many players might be anxious to see what those are. Did a favorite mechanic get an overhaul? Did a model’s rules change? […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Facebook releases engagement-focused Games SDK

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 March 2018 - 12:06pm

Facebook has released its new Games SDK that aims to let developers build Facebook-based sharing functionality into projects with the goal of boosting community engagement. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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