Big & Small Effort


Thanks to Kane (most of the examples here are his), M1rage, nccik, Antbear, Chlodwig Chubb, CJRD4, and Thor over at Kane’s Kiln for helping to work this idea out.

niccik did some math on this if you’re curious to about the average:


I cannot express how much I love this page. So cool haha. Well done and take a BIG Hero Coin :herocoin:


Awesome idea from you all, there’s a good chance I’ll use this in a current game! Keep up the big brain thinking!


I know it will be in the core rules of my setting I’m making


Such a creative idea. Will be bookmarking this and using this idea next time I play!

Do you also play with DnD Advangtage/Disadvantage rules? Wondering how you balance that with EASY/HARD.

I think with effort it makes sense but I never know when to give someone Big Effort or Small Effort or just -X or +X Effort.

I guess giving someone a standard bonus removes the uncertainty…


I think the time to go BIG or SMALL is when you want to embrace the uncertainty. I’ve used this idea at the table two or three times now, and just like EASY/HARD it’s a great way to reward player ingenuity while still leaving the results up to the dice. A fire mage spent a round charging his Fireball spell? BIG EFFORT!!!


I knew this reminded me of something. Good discussion on using different dice types for damage (effort) and even included “tarnished” weapons for rolling with what you would call Small Effort.

Even tho this video is old, it does remind me that having Big/Small efforts could also be tied to character stats. (Minimim stat requirements) and not just weapon quality.


I think the most important mechanical aspect to highlight for GMs is that advantage-style dice mechanics affect not only the average of the result of the roll but also the skewness of its distribution. That means the probability distribution around its numerical average is no longer symmetrical. Make sure you want to greatly diminish one of extreme in the range of results when you apply to this modification to your dice.

In the case of rolling any two identical dice and taking the highest, the probability distribution will increase in a linear fashion in identical increments between each adjacent step from the lowest result to the highest.

The likelihood ratio for the highest result relative to the lowest result on using advantage on any two N-sided dice will be (2N-1), so a 10 on a D10 rolled with advantage is 19 times as likely as a 1. (The average is 7.15 instead of 5.5 on a normal roll.)