Gaming with kids: How to roll dice without dice

Cosmo and I playing Super Battle… but just what is super battle you ask?

The problem

So there you are, destined to walk miles in the hot sun with only your seven year old as a companion. You’d love to play some simple D&D type games with him but getting out dice just isn’t an option.

Possible solution 1: Could use Rock Paper Scissors to decide outcomes. It could work but it makes it difficult to roll a “1 in 15” chance. Besides, you’re holding a two year old and a bag, your arms aren’t free.

Possible solution 2: Could download a dice rolling app on your iPhone. Workable. But the sun makes the screen hard to read and presents problems when the two of you aren’t walking side by side. Also, you don’t have an iPhone.

If only someone would invent a better way…

Where we’re going, we don’t need dice

Enter Voice Rolling.  (Or for your research paper,  APRNGVSAS (Aural Psuedo Random Number Generation Via Simultaneous Action Selection))

According to five minutes of Googling, it appears my son and I have actually INVENTED THIS despite being in the age of the internet.  I thought that was supposed to be impossible!?  Or more likely, it was considered too weird and/or stupid for anyone to ever post about it.  Until now!

I suspect the ancients knew of this hallowed technique but it was somehow lost with Atlantis.  Yeah.

Gopher suggested I call it “Sething”.  Tempting.

Type 1 – Rolling a “hit or miss” with 1-to-anything odds

Ok, first, the most basic version.  Let’s say you are attacking your opponent with knife, and you’ve decided there is a 1 out of 3 chance you will hit.

In unisen, you both yell: One Two Three <the number between 1 and 3 you’ve select>!

If someone is too slow/fast, it’s a redo.  (Same as Rock Paper Scissors)

A match is a “hit”.

If you yelled 2, and he yelled 3, they don’t match and it’s a miss.

If you yelled 1 and he yelled 1, they match and it’s a hit.  So you can deduct the damage from his life or whatever.

Type 2: Rolling an arbitrary number

At times you just need a standard roll, rather than a hit/miss based on odds. In this case, each person shouts 1-N like before, but the results are added together and “modded” by the number.

Example to get a number between 1 and 6:

Player 1: 1-2-3… 3!

Player 2: 1-2-3… 5!

3+5 = 8.

8 is more than 6, the max number, so we remove 6, and it becomes 2 as it “wraps around”.

Final number is 2.

This method might work better if you used (desired number*2) for the initial roll, but then it gets to be too much work to get the final number for kids.

Game 1: Super Battle

Here is an actual rule set for an ultra simple vocal rolling only game for your next hike! (This is the one we’re playing in the video..)

In Super Battle you duel the other player to the death using a combination of weaponry, healing, and even espionage.

Setup: Each player starts with 10 “Life” points.  Their maximum life is 20.

Decide who goes first: Use Rock Paper Scissors to select the first attacker, then alternate turns until a player “dies”.

Each turn a player can choose one of the following strategies to beat his enemy:

  • Punch: 1-2 odds roll, does 1 damage
  • Strong Punch: 1-5 odds roll, does 3 damage
  • Super bomb: 1-10 odds roll, does 6 damage
  • Heal: 1-(any number, we’ll call it N), heals N-1 (you add it to your life variable, capping it at 20)
  • Espionage: 1-12 odds roll, if it hits, your enemy’s “heal machine” is damaged, and he cannot heal for the rest of the game.

Apply damage by removing it from the attacked persons “life” points.

Winning: Game is over when someone’s life reaches zero.  The player remaining standing is the victor.  The loser must then say “He truly is.. the chosen one!” in an old man voice.

Recommended:  Let your kid modify the rules each time you play to keep things interesting.

Game 2: 3X

Well, basically like “6x – The one page role playing system“, but we limit the options to 3x, then we might use some variant of Super Battle to handle fights if we feel like it.


So next time you’re trudging through the forest with a tired kid in tow and lamenting your lack of gaming peripherals… challenge your kid to a Super Battle.

5 thoughts on “Gaming with kids: How to roll dice without dice

  1. jesse raymond

    Haha! Interesting.. I stumbled upon this googling a video of someone rolling rocks instead of dice to determine the fate of the universe…. (actually more just fact checking.. ) It’s an SNL type skit my brother and I thought of one fine day… lol But this is awesome! Hope you and your son are safe

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