Category Archives: Gaming

Shambles: A Game for Opposed Checks

Another game I have come up with is a simple dice game called shambles. In shambles, two players try to best one another’s rolls for points. On each play, both players roll 1d6. The player with the higher roll gets a point. If the rolls are equal, both get a point.

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When one of the players has four points, rolling matching values ends the round. If the players’ point totals are equal, roll again until one player has has more.

This matching feature makes for drama, because you are in a position to win but need the matching roll to clinch it; and you can lose a round or two just when you thought you had it made.

If playing for fun, you can play three out of five. Or you can record the score and play again, and the first to 20 points wins the match.

In D&D

In tabletop role-playing games, this can be used to decide the outcome of a wrestling match, non-lethal duel, wizard dual, footrace, gambling, or other contest. Just give one character a +1 to represent having some advantage, such as wrestling or athletics skill or one duelist being higher level. Since such bonuses are strong on a d6, avoid any advantage more than +1.

Wizard Duels

For wizard duels in D&D (if you want to get rid of Counterspell), spellcasters can try to counter each others’ spells with any of their own, as long as both spells target the opponent or an area of effect around the opponent.

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So if Rahm casts a 5th-level spell targeting Salda’s area, and Salda counters with a 2nd-level spell (she didn’t know what level Rahm’s spell was), Rahm gets a +1 to his shambles rolls.

Then the magical energies collide, swirling and crackling as the duel is fought. Other characters must stop their fighting and shade their eyes.

First Rahm gains ground, then Salda—back and forth in a magical shoving match until one wins out.

The loser’s spell fails—diverted into a minor wild magic effect that affects the loser… or even both characters. (More on my wild magic effects tables before long.)

You might be tempted to raise the dice to d10s or d12s and give more bonuses for spell level and/or intelligence. But the power of the spells themselves should be more important than technique. Don’t go nuts, it’s meant to be simple!

Death Saves

dicing with death

You can even use this to replace disease, poisoning, and even death saving throws. A character reduced to 0 hit points is brought to limbo by the Lord of the Underworld and invited to “dice with death”. The character is at -1 against death unless getting aid and comfort from companions.

The two battle it out with the dice while everything around them pauses. If the hero wins, he or she is left barely alive and semi-conscious. If the hero loses, the Lord of the Underworld takes the character down…

Carousing Rules for Dungeons & Dragons

I was recently inspired to create table-top role-playing game rules for carousing between adventures, which adds fun and realism for heroes returning from an adventure laden with treasure. The reward is luck, which allows you to reroll almost any die roll.

The basic mechanic is simplified from the Medieval dice game “hazard”, which evolved into craps. The player characters go out carousing, and take turns.

The current carouser rolls 2d6.

  • On a 7, everybody gains a point of luck.
  • On a 2 or 12, everybody loses a point of luck.
  • On anything else, only the current carouser gains a point of luck and establishes a “hazard”. However, this luck remains at risk…

Once the current carouser has established at least one hazard, he or she can choose to end their night on a roll of 7, 2, or 12 and pass the dice. Otherwise, the current carouser keeps rolling.

When losing a point of luck from 2 or 12, the current carouser can choose to lose one of his or her hazard points, which clears that hazard.

After each of these rolls, the current carouser rolls on the Carousing Event table.

If the current carouser rolls one their their hazards, they lose all their luck from the hazards (not from 7s) and pass the dice. You may want to write down the hazard numbers and cover them with a point token as they get established.


Once everyone has had a turn, everyone who hit one of their hazards rolls on the End of a Wild Night table to see how they wake up in the morning.

Here is a link to the full document on Google Docs with the tables.

Sample carousing events:

You injure yourself trying to show off your strength or dexterity, whichever is higher.

You find a vial that got mislaid in a dark niche and, fairly tipsy, drink it. It’s a spoiled potion. Roll on the Minor Wild Magic Effects table.

You make a gaffe that gets you mocked for your… (1d8: 1=singing; 2=dancing; 3=clothes; 4=looks; 5=wit; 6=adventure stories; 7-8=drunken clumsiness). (+2 for any entertainment skill)

A little drinking, a little music, some good stories…. It’s a fine time! You get into a fascinating conversation about… (1d6: 1=hide tanning; 2=beekeeping; 3=shoemaking; 4=weaving; 5=wheel-making, 6=brewing).

You accidentally get locked in the privy and fall asleep until someone bangs on it. It is a… (2d6: 2=female halfling; 3=male halfling; 4-5=female human; 6=male human; 7=male dwarf; 8=female dwarf; 9-10=female elf; 11-12=male elf)

Good music, good drinks, dancing, good stories, a little romance…. You meet someone who gives you a solid lead on a job or adventure… (1d6: 1=a foreign envoy; 2=a foreign merchant; 3=a merchant; 4=a local official; 5=a royal official; 6=a minor noble passing thru) (Name that NPC and give them a background.)

Sample wild end of the night results:

You wake up with a hangover in jail for creating disorder. Pay 10 gp for bail or spend 1d4 days behind bars. You have no money on you. The constable is… (1d6: 1=hostile; 2-3=irritated; 4-5=amused; 6=surprisingly friendly).

Things got crazy, with lots of drinking and dares. You wake up with a hangover behind a dye shop with both arms… (1d6: 1=red; 2=yellow; 3=green; 4=blue; 5=orange; 6=royal purple).

Things got a bit crazy, with lots of music and drinking. You wake up with a hangover under a canvas tarpaulin in a wagon on its way thru the gate out of the city. You share the wagon with… (1d6: 1=clean straw; 2-3=animal carcasses; 4-5=pigs; 6=horse manure).

You had a bit of a crazy night, most of which is a blur, but there was drinking and dancing, great stories, romance of some sort….You wake up on the floor next to your bed with a hangover. Tucked into your bed is… (1d6: 1=your muddy boots; 2=a piglet; 3=a portrait of a distinguished noble; 4=a raccoon; 5=a jug of wine; 6=a dress stuffed with straw with a melon for a head to “throw off the assassins”).

Note that it references the Minor Wild Magic Effects table, which is something else I created. But many people have created minor wild magic effects tables. I’ll probably publish mine along with my rules for creating magic items and new spells (and Major Wild Magic Effects) in the near future.