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There's a game called Cthulhutech which has a dice-based problem resolution system.

I'll use a notation of nd+b where relevant, where "n" is the number of 10-sided dice (giving a value from 1 to 10), and b is the skill bonus.

The first part is simple: The result of a roll is (initially), the highest of all dice.

The next complication is that if any number appears multiple times, the result is the sum of all copies: i.e, if I roll 3d+0 getting [5,5,9], the result is 10 (5+5).

The final complexity is that rolling a series of (at least 3) contiguous numbers results in the sum of all of them: i.e., rolling 5d+0 getting [2,4,5,6,10] is 15 (4+5+6).

The final result is the highest of all three possibilities, so 2d+0 => [2,2,10] is 10.

So, multiple related questions:

  1. Is it possible to find a probability function for this (That would be f(n,b,t) represents P(nd+b>=t) where n is the number of dice, b is the bonus, and t is the target. (Or, equivalently, p(nd>=t-b))).
  2. Since I can pay a certain amount of skill points in order to raise either n or b, is it valid to take df/dt vs df/db to decide which option is better?
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    $\begingroup$ Since this is just a simplified a variant of Poker calculations (with a ten-card deck, only three kinds of "hands" to consider, and drawing without replacement), the answer to (1) must be "yes": just emulate the procedures used to compute chances in Poker. (2) is harder to answer because it depends on your objectives in the game, what use you can make of the result of the roll, and your aversion to risk. If you could supply that kind of information it would likely be answerable. $\endgroup$ – whuber May 28 '17 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Oh facepalm I didn't even think about poker, thank you! I'm not sure how to answer your second question; basically, at character creation (for simplicity, let's assume we only have 1 skill), I can spend some amount of points to increase the bonus, or get more dice. Is it possible to know which option is more cost effective? $\endgroup$ – Tordek May 28 '17 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ You would have to balance the possible benefits against the costs, in a context in which a cost has a fixed value but the benefits are stochastic. There is a huge literature about this: it's a part of making decisions under uncertainty. Not only are differing answers possible, the choice many people might make is known to depend on how it is described to them! $\endgroup$ – whuber May 28 '17 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ But isn't there a simple case of, say, 1 point = 1 die or 1 point bonus, so if I'm rolling, for example, 1d+0 against a target of 5, 1 point is a flat 10% increase, but 1 die is (say) 30%, so obviously go for the die, but if you're rollin 10d+0, the bonus is still a flat 10%, but the die adds 1%, so go for the bonus? (Obviously this gets complicated when considering long term, but I'm not immediately concerned about this). $\endgroup$ – Tordek May 28 '17 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ But it's a discrete function; it changes by a step in response to the smallest possible step change in the x-variable; surely you'd be interested in the difference a change would make. (consider for example that one derivative may be larger, but by the time you get to the next possible value of the argument the other one does better). $\endgroup$ – Glen_b May 29 '17 at 0:54
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(1) Yes, why wouldn't it be possible? Here is an implementation in Python. Beware that the algorithm for computing the outcomes table for each $n$ is $O(10^n)$, and it already takes over a minute to run on my machine with $n = 7$.

from itertools import product, tee
from collections import Counter

min_seq_len = 3
sides = 10

def outcomes(n_dice):
    counts = Counter()
    for got in product(*tee(range(1, sides + 1), n_dice)):
        # First check for n-of-a-kind (including 1-of-a-kind).
        best = max(n*v for n, v in Counter(got).items())
        # Now look for sequences.
        seq = []
        for v in sorted(set(got)):
            if not seq or v == seq[-1] + 1:
                seq.append(v)
            else:
                if len(seq) >= min_seq_len:
                    best = max(best, sum(seq))
                del seq[:]
        if len(seq) >= min_seq_len:
            best = max(best, sum(seq))
        counts[best] += 1
    return counts

def p_at_least(n_dice, bonus, the_min):
    enough = 0
    total = 0
    for n, outcome in outcomes(n_dice).items():
        total += n
        if outcome + bonus >= the_min:
            enough += n
    return enough/total

print(p_at_least(7, 2, 5))

(2) It seems that your concern is whether $f(n, b + 1, t)$ or $f(n + 1, b, t)$ is bigger for a given $n$, $b$, and $t$, which a derivative won't tell you.

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