Contemplating Percentages.

Talking about random number generation from 1-100. There are multiple ways to achieve the same results. Some are easier to use than others.

Let’s discuss some different ways dice can emulate a span of 1-100 as it comes up in RolePlaying Games.

Different games have different die types and rolling conventions, but it all still comes down to a span of numbers 0-100. We’ve had various physical dice through the years, but they all do basically the same thing.

In the stone ages of miniatures wargaming, in the before time- 1970, when dinosaurs walked the Earth and people listened to disco music, we had twenty sided dice numbered 0-9 twice. First roll is first digit. Second roll is second digit. Good to go, right?

Then came our friend in dice, the d10. Roll it twice. Once for the first digit, second time for the second digit. Done. Easy mode.

My gaming group for Marvel Superheroes RPG used to roll two dice and call the color of the first digit. I had a player (Travis) who liked to change up the color of the first digit die. This led to way more hits than misses.

Then came the argument over whether or not the result of 00 + 0 was to be read as 0 or 100. One is usually a catastrophic hit or a horrid miss depending on the system. Don’t look it up on the Internet. We can’t decide on there, either. I leave it to the individual GM to decide. Depending on the game we either roll between 1 and 100 or 0-99. Either way, game on.

Another way a wise friend once explained it, is EVERY d20 based game functions on percentages. 1d20 x 5 = a span between 5 and 100. Oh looky, percentages.

That’s a 60. I called Yellow first.

Then, someone in the glorious 1980s made a miracle die- the d00, or double-digit ten sider. I love these dice for percentages. No more arguments over which die went first. The d00 always determines the first digit. Easy.

The mighty Zocchihedron!

There’s one die I haven’t mentioned. Everyone’s favorite golf ball, the Zocchihedron, an actual 100 sided die. One roll and done.

Through years of working in the game industry, I’ve also seen d50s and d100s that look like gigantic ten sided dice. The only downer is many of these dice are hard to read. (Sorry, no pics on these as I don’t own any.)

There are also digital 00-99 counters that offer up a new number at the push of a button. I haven’t seen any lately, but I know they’re out there. I hear they’re cool. Obviously we all have dice phone apps and office applications capable of generating random percentages, but what fun is that?

We could potentially oversimplify the whole process and roll 1d10 x 10 or the d00 by itself. We’re just omitting that pesky second digit. Oh well. All good, yes?

Okay, cool math rocks, but why are we here?

I’m still working on my own TTRPG engine that is theoretically going to cover Fantasy, Cyberpunk, AND Mecha Starship Sci Fi. I cut my teeth on Cyberpunk 2020, Mekton Z, Rifts, and Robotech back in the early days. Of course I also ran a lot of Marvel Superheroes and AD&D Basic-2E AD&D. I’ve called for my share of percentage rolls. I’ve seen the mighty d20 at the best and worst of moments.

It’s all about the manipulation of probability. A +1 to a d20 roll is the same as 5% A +1 to a d00 roll (both 1d00 + 1d10) is a drop in the bucket at a paltry 1%. However, a +1 to a 1d10 roll gets you a 10% bonus, and that’s pretty good.

I want a system where a +1 bonus really means something again. I’ve noticed a tendency for a lot of d20 based games to hand +1 bonuses out like parade candy. What I intend to do instead is have a 1d10 based system where skill really counts. So the base roll in my system will be 1d10 + Attribute OR Skill level vs target number. The higher the target, the tougher the challenge is to beat.

That’s how skills and combat will likely work. I’m also bringing back my beloved AD&D 2E initiative system since it ran on a 1d10 roll with bonuses/penalties. Of course, there will still be times when the d00 is rolled. We’ll also discuss warping of percentages by using dice cleanly indivisible into 100. (In other words, there is no way to get a d6 or a d8 to emulated a 1-100 chance without crunching some more serious math.

Thanks for being here. In the next article from this series, we’ll talk about dice pools and advantage/disadvantage concepts. We’ll also discuss the probability curve of rolling two or more dice together. I appreciate you. Have a wonderful day.

If I Owned A Game Store Part 3

I’m not joking when I say a person can literally go bankrupt buying dice these days. There are so many sizes, shapes, and flavors of clickity clack goblin math rocks on the market it’s not even funny.

There are a lot of nuances to game retail that many people fail to consider, especially early on.

Photo by Summer Rune on

I’m not joking when I say a person can literally go bankrupt buying dice these days. There are so many sizes, shapes, and flavors of clickity clack goblin math rocks on the market it’s not even funny. Yes, plenty of pro manufacturers to go around. And then for an added bonus there are so many artisans making their own beautiful creations. Let’s talk about Dice.

I’ve seen sets of dice made from moon rock that retail for hundreds of dollars. I’ve seen other stones and crystals cut into polyhedral dice that run close to $100. That’s a lot of money to have sitting around in the shop waiting to sell. Honestly, I don’t know how FLGS owners really feel about that.

It’s kinda like that $100 Magic: the Gathering single sitting in the case that might end up being a tournament prize eventually. It’s pretty to look at, but do I really want to shell out that kind of money as a customer. I get a set of solid obsidian dice, or I can buy a pack of really high quality resin dice that look exactly the same as obsidian for around $12. Hmmm…

The dice market has become more complicated over the last decade or so. I can remember a time when there were four major dice manufacturers: Chessex, Armory, Gamescience, and Koplow. Now? I follow dozens of Instagram accounts for dice makers. Etsy shops all over creation. I can buy one pound bags of random single dice on Amazon for $30-ish.

A pound of dice broken up and sold as single dice for $0.99 is a pretty shiny profit and it’s pretty much a guaranteed add-on purchase for a lot of gamers. Sets near the checkout for around $9.99 are a similar purchase. There’s money to be made selling dice in a FLGS, but it’s important not to drop too much money on them going in if I want to stay in business for more than a week.

Tasty math candy, but DO NOT EAT THE DICE!

Dice Accessories are another growing market over the last decade or so. I’ve watched it grow from simple felt lined wooden trays to leather and felt trays with snaps that fold flat when not in use. There are dice cases, vaults, and compartmented dice bags now. Heck, there are even dice towers and dice jails to be found.

Again, there are plenty of folx out there on Amazon, Etsy, even Ebay that have their dice-related wares up for sale. But, that leather dice case/play mat for $14.99 is awfully tempting as an upsell for the retailer. Dice freaks like me have a hard time saying “no” to cool stuff like that. The black leather one had to come home with me. As as retailer I think it’s best to approach all of the cool dice accessories with cautious optimism and balance sales with product line expansions.

A well-lit case near the cash register is probably the best place to sell dice. The more out of sight the math rocks are, the more likely they are to get stolen before they sell. It’s tragic that someone would do such a dastardly thing, but it happens.

Another interesting thing I would do in my FLGS is try to get one of those huge Chessex bins to allow people to customize their own sets. I saw one of these at The Source in Minneapolis MN and bought more dice than I originally went in there for. That’s also where I picked up a very nice set of Dungeon Crawl Classics Dice. It was a good trip up there. Can’t wait to go back. That bin really stuck out from a seller’s point of view, though.

Photo by Asia Culture Center on

Dice are one of those things that sell pretty darn well at conventions, as I recall. People forget their dice and D&D starts at Table 13 in ten minutes! What to do?

“Ack! Oh, wait. Jeff’s Game Box sells plain $5.00 dice sets in the Huckster’s Room. Just go grab some and be right there. You can also get a cute Dragon Baggin for $14.99 to put them in. Shweeet!”

I’m telling ya, dice and dice accessories can really come in handy in the right place at the right time. I’ve been there on both sides of that discussion. Even at conventions where gaming isn’t the focus, it’s possible to sell dice and dice games. I worked for a company that kept selling out of LCR and Pass the Pigs at the International Pork Producers Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Turns out people want something fun to do after they’ve been grilling pork chops all day.

Next time, we’ll talk about the elephant in the room. Yup. We haven’t discussed selling boardgames yet. Lots to talk about there, too. Setting up a FLGS is a LOT of work mentally and physically. Planning ahead is the key to success.

Thanks for being here. Please stay cool and hydrated. I appreciate you!

Doing Some Cleaning When I Found…

Much to my surprise, Crystal Caste Dice is still around as a company. I love any dice that are unusually shaped. These dice are epic! I nearly fainted when we found these.

A bunch of my cool old stuff!

Good old Crystal Caste dice. Note the shapes.

I’m well known for tripping down memory lane. Deep cleaning my basement has yielded buried treasure on an epic level!

Much to my surprise, Crystal Caste Dice is still around as a company. I love any dice that are unusually shaped. These dice are epic! I nearly fainted when we found these.

Some companies have not fared so well over the years, but these guys are still around making gorgeous dice. I was really surprised to find these as I thought they were lost in the move 13 years ago. Turns out they were hiding in a box full of cords and outlet strips.

I unearthed a second relic of old from the bygone days of yesteryear.

This one is kinda crazy. Back in my game store days, this kind of thing was pretty common. I used to hang onto stuff like this for nostalgia and the cool art. I think there might even be a couple of old Chessex catalogs around here. I used to memorize those.

I sorta yearn for these days sometimes.

At the rate I’m going, I’m just going to end up running a 2nd Ed AD&D game again or getting into Castles & Crusades from Troll Lord Games. Troll Lord has a nice website, but no shiny catalog with cool logo. I still have my T$R shirt around here somewhere. (*Note the $ represents the dragon emblem when I type it out.)

The last part of the stroll down memory lane is Warhammer Fantasy Magic.

My kids wanted to latch onto this one.

I was a fan of the FRPG long before I went to college, so I had a pretty good idea how it all worked. I had gotten into Warhammer 40K prior to playing fantasy for the first time. Orks are my 40K army. Undead are my Fantasy army.

Not only are the Undead fun to play in that game, but they’re incredibly fun to paint, too. Not to mention skeletons are pretty easy. I also like 40K Necrons for the old Tub Thumpin rules. (I get knocked down, but I get up again…) Being in command of an undead army in any game is a rush, especially about the time you get to start raising more army.

I keep my skeletal catapults and skeletal crossbowmen on display along with a few other things.

Thanks for wandering down good old memory lane with me today. I hope your week is going well. I appreciate you. More content is on its way. Game on!

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