Ars Magica: Romandy
Dice Rolling Tweaks
I like HBO Ars Magica’s take on this very much, so I’m adopting it. What the GM says:
1s and 10s
The differences between stressed and unstressed die rolls are confusing and create problems at the table. The most common problem occurs when a player rolls a die and gets a 0 or 1; he then has to ask the GM if the roll is stressed or unstressed. . . . In this revision of the die rolling conventions, a 1 is always bad and a 0 is always good.
Do not use this rule when rolling on a table, specifically including (but not limited to) the Aging Table. On tables, use the standard Ars Magica die rolling conventions.
Unstressed: A 1 is a 1 and a 0 is 10. In other words, it works as it always has.
Stressed: A 1 is a potential botch. A 0 is 10 and you roll again, adding your second roll to 10. If you keep rolling a 0, you keep adding 10 and re-rolling.
Consequences: Because doubling has been removed from die rolling, very high totals will not be quite so high. On the other hand, they will still be high enough. As a side benefit, we will no longer have the disappointment found when a player rolls a 1, thinks he’s gotten something great, and then rolls a 2 or 3 or 4 on his next die roll.
Botching and High Skill
[By standard rules], the frequency of a botch has nothing to do with your level of skill. [Absent a certain Merit,] an expert swordsman botches just as often as a rookie. This [new] rule takes into account character skill, so that very skilled characters are less likely to botch.
When you are rolling an Ability of 6+, or an Art of 20+, you have reduced botch dice. Reduce botch dice by 1 for every ability over 5 (-1 for 6, -2 for 7, etc) to a minimum of 0. For Arts, reduce botch dice by 1 for every 5 full points in an Art above 15 (-1 for 20, -2 for 25), to a minimum of 1; Spell Mastery can still reduce this number to 0.
[Addendum: Reducing botch dice are an option, not a requirement. Yes, there are some rare instances where you might want to roll botch dice.]