Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Take Your Scrimshaw Dice And Shove Em

I know it's bad enough to play a dice game where players are encouraged to bring their own dice to the table. I know this because I was having a conversation with the ghost of legendary bluesman Slippery Okra Van Buren and when I told him he just shook his head and offered to hold on to my wallet for safe keeping.

I know it's worse when players then get possessive about their dice and develop all kinds of rituals and superstitions. I have some news for you. Your "super special lucky die" is actually a loaded die due to inevitable manufacturing defects. You are not blessed by Gary Gygax's ghost, you are cheating at roleplaying. In fact, sometimes I think the "sometimes roll high, sometimes roll low" mechanics of yore are a blessing in disguise because they route around dice bias.

The World Series of Dice is not having any of it.
But hey, I try not to get bent out of shape about it. And then along comes the character who bought these dice that only Abdul Alhazred can read from across the table.

OK, so those last couple of 3D printed ones look cool. But leave them in the display case, wouldya? You're not doing yourself any favors, either; your most lightweight side is the 1 and that's going to constantly roll to the top. And everyone else, it's bad enough you bring your own dice but now I have to trust you to read them off from their 6 inch legibility range? And don't you know that special symbol is robbing your natural 20 of its game-galvanizing power, as everyone sits there going "Uh ... is that a 1 or a 20? Oh, a 20. Uh... cool."

Your dice can be pretty ... but first and foremost they're tools of the game. And everyone else at the table gots to be able to read them.


  1. This is exactly why I take full advantage of the sometimes high, sometimes low mechanics. Often times I won't even tell my players what is good or bad when they roll (though I do know, and I make that very clear). Every one at the table knows that low and high makes stuff happen, but whether good or bad they don't know when they pick up die. It removes a lot of the dice superstition from the game and gets people used to just accepting the roll, whatever it is.

  2. That Chessex die looks like it is squashed, considering the structure of the data. I threw up a quick post abut it on the lands of Ara blog.

  3. You really want a set of those dice, don't you?

    1. Only the thorny ones ... and only to bring out at crucial and grim moments, for example, rolling at negative hit points on the death and dismemberment table.

    2. If you're really nice to her the next time you're in Los Angeles, Kelle might even let you roll her shiny gold thorny dice.