More Tokens in Combat

I recently ran a couple of GURPS games at Gamex 2014, and stumbled upon a great method for pairing colored tokens and dice to speed up large combats. The encounter called for the four PCs to fight against eight NPC creatures (saber-tooth tigers). As mentioned in a previous post, I picked up some fantastic glass tokens a while back, so I set aside eight red ones labeled 1-8.

I also, around the same time, picked up a Farkle Party set, specifically to bring to conventions so each player could borrow their own color-coded d6s and dice cup:

Farkle Dice

The night before running the game for the second time, I was doing a bit of prep and it suddenly occurred to me that the colors of the Farkle dice I had matched the four colors of my glass tokens. So, I replaced the eight red tokens (1-8) with a blue 1, green 2, red 3, black 4, blue 5, green 6, red 7, and black 8.


During game time, as the encounter unfolded, I placed the multicolored tokens on the battle map. Then when it was time to roll for them to attack, I was able to roll 12d6 twice instead of 3d6 eight times. That is, I rolled all the dice at once, matched each 3d6 by color, and that gave the attack results of four different NPCs (1-4) instead of just one. A second roll of 12d6 gave the other four (5-8).

Over the course of a 10-turn combat, the savings in time was tremendous. The entire encounter was resolved in about 30 minutes, and a few of the players mentioned how quickly the combat went, even with everyone choosing multiple different attack and defense options each turn. It was great!

Other encounters were generally smaller (4-6 enemies), but those seemed quicker as well. I know for sure we got through more story than we would have otherwise.

Yes, this is super obvious to me, now. But it really was super helpful.

I’m always looking for ways to streamline, speed up mechanics, and have fewer dice rolls!


  1. One thing I’ve experimented with is to roll your own attack, the opponents dodge, and your own damage in one roll. Three medium sized dice for your attack and smaller dice of separate colors for the defense and the damage.

  2. How cool! I’ve never thought to use different sizes lol, only colors. That opens up even more possibilities. Do any of your players dislike rolling 9d6 each turn? Thinking about it — I bet mine would actually love it. Lots of folks love rolling the handfuls!

  3. So far, the experiments haven’t gone beyond me just doing mock fights between one of the champions from Monster Hunters 1 vs one of the enemies from Monster Hunters 2, where I played both sides alone (and tried to follow along with your combat examples). (BTW, it was a completely onesided fight in the monster’s favor.) This was I think two years ago and I never brought it to the table.

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