Tag Archives: dice

My First Print-on-Demand Game is (Almost) Go

While I have been silent here for the past month, it’s not because of depression this time. If you follow me on Twitter or facebook then you may know that I have been busy getting read for the release of my first print-on-demand game, Cribbage Dance (that link doesn’t work yet). My sample copy should arrive in the next day or so. If all is well with it then the game will go on sale on November 13th at the link above.

I have also started work on several new games, including some for The Game Crafter’s “Hook Box Challenge”, which requires entries to fit entirely within an 18-card hook box. It seemed like such an interesting challenge that my wife is also entering. It will be her first attempt at designing a game from scratch, so she hasn’t even told me what it’s about so that I won’t be tempted to influence her design. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what she comes up with.

I’m also nearing completion of a free game for Looney Pyramids – I just need to get a few more people to playtest the rulebook itself. Once Lura and I have finished our entries for the contest we’ll get back to finishing up the Looney Pyramids game we’re designing together.


Feelings on D&D Next

Naturally, what I details I can share about the game is limited by a fairly standard NDA, but I’m actually pretty excited about the release of the game – something I’ve never before said about any version of D&D, and only once about any class- and level-based game (HackMaster 5e).

The main reason I am so excited about it is that it uses an idea I considered for one of the games I’m designing (the one I’ve referred to previously as my “magnum opus” since I expect it will be). Since WotC has publicly discussed 5e’s skill system, I can actually go into some detail here. In short, there is no fixed skill list, but skills still add to checks. But now, unlike in the past, those skills aren’t tied to any particular attributes. Instead, whenever you want to do anything, the GM tells you what attribute to use and chooses an appropriate DC if it’s not an attack. Then you roll a d20 and add that attribute’s modifier (which are the same as in 4e, and probably 3.x/Pathfinder), and any skill that applies.

So why does that excite me? For several years now I’ve been working on designing what will hopefully become out go-to system, replacing the near-perfect awesomeness that is GURPS. The main reason I haven’t finished it yet is that I keep running into limitations in some or all of my core mechanic and have to start over.

One of those rejected mechanics was to do what WotC has done but while still associating each skill with an attribute, but I ran into two problems with it:

  1. Just as in GURPS, once  you get enough skills that are based on the same attribute, it became cheaper to increase the attribute instead, and that encouraged players to min/max instead of sticking to what necessarily fits the character.
  2. I couldn’t figure out how to do it without GM-determined target numbers. (Long story short, I only like static target numbers when the players choose their owns. Overall, I much prefer opposed rolls.)

WotC brilliantly solved #1 by simply separating skills from attributes. That just shows the difference between having a team of designers versus a team of one. Thankfully, thinking about it inspired me about how to solve #2 as well, so I may get to use this idea after all, and maybe even finish my game in time for Christmas.

Things got even better with Rodney Thompson’s recent article, Bounded Accuracy, which discussed the fact that while 4e showed increased PC power largely by increasing attack and defense bonuses, 5e will focus on increased HP, damage, and character options, primarily in the form of new or improved class features instead of new powers like in 4e. In other words, no more half-level bonus!

I feel so vindicated now. I’ve said all along that adding the half-level bonus and then scaling target numbers to match was just a pointless waste of players’ time, and now it seems like D&D’s designers finally agree. That is excellent news indeed.

The third thing I like is that, much like both editions of HackMaster, classes are highly customizable. As referenced in the Rule of Three for 06/05/2012, backgrounds and themes will allow players to easily adapt their characters’ classes to suit their personalities. A good example is the playtest’s cleric pre-gen discussed in the aforementioned Rule of Three.

Like a 4e knight (one of my top 3 favorite classes), he wears heavy armor, including a heavy shield, soundly bashes things with his warhammer, and has a class feature (granted by his theme), that allows him to protect nearby allies. Of course, being a cleric, he also gains access to diving magic. He actually reminds me very much of clerics in HackMaster 4e (aka D&D 2.5), who were second only to fighters when it came to attack rolls, and who could wear heavy armor and cast spells… and that’s a good thing, because I love HM4e clerics.

A large part of why I speak so fondly of HM is because it is a hybrid point-buy and class-/level-based system. You choose a race and class as usual, but you also get Build Points which you use to buy skills, talents, and proficiencies, as well as adjust your attributes if needed. So it looks like WotC has decided to follow Kenzer and Company’s lead and allow players to more fully customize their classes to suit their characters’ needs – the next best thing to the freedom of true point-buy.

If they later announce that they’re taking even more cues from HackMaster 5e and using real-time combat instead of rounds, I may just explode with happiness. That said, since HM uses opposed roles and player-determined target numbers instead of just GM-determined target numbers (which I loathe), and doesn’t hate odd attributes (why is that, anyway?), it’s always going to win out as my favorite class- and level-based fantasy trpg since I don’t see Wizards going that route any time soon. But it would be really great if they offered rules for both DCs and opposed rolls so those of us who wanted to play that way could do so without needing houserules.

For now, since AC and DCs all basically Take 10 (which is why you add 10 to all of your defenses in 4e), I think I may try the following for all or part of one playtest session:

  • For attacks the defender rolls a d20+AC-10. (I just realized I wrote that backwards when I originally wrote large chunks of the above as a comment on Bounded Accuracy; I put “10-AC” instead of “AC-10”. Oops.)
  • For DCs the GM simply rolls 1d20+DC-10 since the lowest DC worth rolling is 11. Unlike in 4e, DCs below that are too trivial to bother rolling, thus my comment about Take 10 above.

Whether it works out or not, I will say as much in my playtest report in hopes that the idea will eventually make it into the game.

So to sum up: I’m really excited about D&D Next (other than the completely absurd name) because they seem to be pulling in some of the best ideas from other games on the market (which is always a good idea) and making them their own, but without losing their own identity. All in all, I am impressed – surprisedly so, since I’ve never like an edition of D&D before.

Cribbage Dice

Cribbage Dice

Creative Commons License
Cribbage Dice by Frank Wilcox, Jr (fewilcox) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Uploaded 2012-05-22
Last updated 2017-11-08

Also available as a pocket edition and the abridged large print version included in the box set I will be selling on The Game Crafter (that link will be posted as soon as I okay the sample).

How to Play

All you need to play are five d12s, one of which must be a different color or otherwise easily distinguished from the rest. That die functions like the Starter card in traditional Cribbage. You will also need a way to keep score; a cribbage board would be perfect.

First, decide who goes first by having each player roll one die; high roll wins.

Each turn roll the dice up to three times in an attempt to score the best Cribbage hand you can. After the first roll the Starter die must be set aside because it cannot be rerolled. You may keep or reroll as many of the other dice as you want to each time.

After three rolls or when you decide to stop rolling, whichever comes first, score the dice according to standard Cribbage rules. The 11 and 12 function like the Jack and Queen. That means they are valued at 10 when being added to other dice (11 (J) + 5 = 15), but are their printed values otherwise (9, 10, 11, 12 is a run of four).

The winner is the first player to reach 90 points (three “streets” on a Cribbage board).


Fifteen (2 pts) – Each combination of dice that totals 15 scores 2 points. A roll of 2, 6, 6, 8, 9 contains two fifteens: 6+9 and the other 6+9. A roll of 2, 3, 5, 11 (J), 12 (Q) has four 15s.

Pair/X of a Kind (2/6/12/20 pts) – Each pair scores 2 points. Thus a roll that included 4, 4, 4 (a three of a kind) would score 6 points because it contains three distinct pairs of 4s. A four of a kind is 12 points; five of a kind is 20.

Run (3-5 pts) – If a roll has three or more dice in number order, you score 1 point per die in the run. A roll of 3, 4, 5, 9, 11 would score 3 points for the run.

It is common in Cribbage to combine certain combinations together to speed up scoring:

Double run of X (8 or 10 pts) – A run that contains a pair, like 3, 4, 4, 5, scores 8 points, 3 each for the two runs, and 2 for the pair. A double run of four would score 10 points.

Triple run of three (15 pts) – 9, 9, 9, 10, 11 scores 15 points, 3 each for the three runs of three, and 6 for the three of a kind.

Double double run of three (16 pts) – A run with two separate pairs, like 9, 9, 10, 10, 11, scores 12 for the four runs of three, and 4 for the two pairs, for a total of 16 points.

Optional Rules

You can customize the game in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions, but feel to create and share your own.

Roll Two Extra Dice – In Cribbage you are dealt six cards and choose two to put into the Crib, which is an extra hand scored by the dealer. In Cribbage Dice those two extra cards can be represented by rolling seven dice instead of five, and discarding two of them after your final roll.

Finish the Round – In Cribbage scores are usually kept by moving pegs along a scoring track, and the first player to cross the finish line wins immediately, so Cribbage Dice works the same way. To give everyone an equal chance, players may instead agree beforehand to finish out the round when one player reaches 90; high score at the end wins.

Alternate Point Goals – Cribbage boards commonly go to 121 points, but Cribbage Dice offers fewer scoring possibilities (no card suits) so it uses a lower goal. With that in mind, you can of course set the win target to any number you like to adjust the length of the game.

Round Limit – If time is limited, you may prefer to play a set number of rounds instead of playing until someone reaches 90 points.

The following are in addition to the ones that fit in the booklet:

Once kept, always kept – Instead of allowing the re-rolling of any non-Starter dice, any dice that are kept after a roll are unable to be rerolled in the same turn. For instance, if you roll 6 (starter), 3, 6, 11, 12, and you keep the second 6, you cannot reroll it if something better comes up in your second roll.

Play Example

Let’s say that my first roll is 4, 5, 10, 10, 11 (Jack). I see right away that I have 3 fifteens, so I keep everything but the 4.

First Roll = 5 for the fixed die + 4, 10, 10, 11

My second roll yields a 7 in place of the 4. That doesn’t help at all, so I’ll re-roll it again.

Second Roll = 5 for the fixed die + 7, 10, 10, 11

On my final roll I got really lucky and rolled another 10. My final roll is now 5, 10, 10, 10, 11 (Jack). That makes four 15s for 8, and a three of a kind for a total score of 14.

Third Roll = 5 for the fixed die + 10, 10, 10, 11