It’s bad manners to announce somebody else’s d20 roll before they do. I know this. It’s bad manners to add up another player’s damage for them. I know this. It’s just that sometimes it’s really, really hard not to.

We talked back in “Dithering” about long combats and complicated turns. However, I feel like the question of massive crits and big ol’ buckets of dice is its own kettle of numerical fish. If we’re talking D&D then you’ve got to do the song and dance of crit multiplication. This generally involves borrowing an extra couple of d6s from Bob, then you’ve got to remember to go back and confirm the crit, and then you’ve got to remember that’s not a thing in this edition, and whether poison damage applies now or on the creature’s next turn, and what kind of damage a bite does, and whether resistance means you round up or down after halving the damage. All that done, you’ve got to do like the BBEG in today’s comic and make with the addition.

Easily the best trick I’ve learned in that regard is to “make 10s.” This is especially helpful when you’re throwing 20d6 disintegrate spells around the battlefield. You just group together the dice that add up to 10—psychically rearranging them on the tabletop—and then add up the groups. Easy peasy.

Of course, the problem gets worse in Shadowrun or Exalted or any other dice pool game. There it’s not so much that you’re doing math, but that you’re using your shirt to dump 50 odd dice onto the table. After you’ve grabbed the strays off the floor you’ve still got to count successes. And if your dice collection is anything like mine, picking out the 6s and 9s and otherwise hard-to-read numbers is an exercise in time wasting (not to mention the fact that it’s easy to ogre-finger the dice and change their results). I’m rather proud of my solution to this one. I bought a healthy collection of these blank d10s, then colored in the sides. Black Sharpie  for the 1, silver for 7-8-9, and gold for the 10. Just as I hoped, picking out colors is one whole hell of a lot quicker than hunting for numbers. Unfortunately, I neglected to seal my dice. The black Sharpie ran everywhere. It now looks like I dipped my custom dice in a fireplace.

How about the rest of you guys? Have you ever struggled with the practical problem of dice reading? Do you have any tips or tricks for speeding up the post-roll process? Let’s hear it in the comments!