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RPG Lexicon: Linear

A linear dice mechanic is one that uses a single die to produce its result. This gives an even chance of each value in the die's range. Such mechanics are linear because if you plot the odds of each result on a graph, you get a straight line.

The single d20 of D&D is the classic example, and it gives a rather extreme case as its range is so large. You're just as likely to roll a 20 as a 1. The result is a "swingy" mechanic that makes extreme success and extreme failure equally likely.

The standard resolution of a general ability test in GUMSHOE is also a linear mechanic, as it uses a single d6. Because the range of a d6 is so much smaller, this places an emphasis on the resource management aspect of GUMSHOE, making the number of points you spend to add to the roll dominant in the result.

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