Friday, July 15, 2011

What is it about dice?

I have been following the DCC RPG posts in the blogosphere, where people have been giving their expressions about the beta rules. Many have commented on the oddball dice needed. That combined with me reading an issue of Knights of the Dinner Table before falling asleep yesterday, have gotten me started on dice. Have you read Hackmaster? They have a whole chapter in the new Basic game on dice!

What is it with gamers and dice?

Warning, a rant coming up! 

This probably wont win me any friends...

Trust me, I have the collecting bug, so I can understand that angle. I can also understand the aesthetic reasoning of getting hold of a set that matches the mood of the game, or otherwise fitting what you are playing. I mean, I would love to play a game with stone or metal dice if I played a dwarf in a fantasy game.

But, what about the pure superstition about "lucky dice" and idiotic methods of dice rubbing, not letting anyone touch them and so on?! What?

In the KotDT comic, they even have a long running story about a die which curses all other dice around if it's every used for it's "superior" results. The weird thing is, I have heard similar stories in real life.

Whatever you think of Lou Zocchi, his claim that some dice are "lucky" because they are uneven kind of makes sense. In the light of that, it makes even less sense to care about lucky dice. If you really care that much about true random distribution, use those precision dice. If you don't care, grab what you have a roll them bones and have fun. But if you really grab that special die when a important roll is on the line, aren't you really cheating?

Reading the chapter on dice in Hackmaster Basic, a game that no longer is forced to be a parody, I was amazed of how much hogwash and hokey this was. Either it is parody and humour, or it's just as ill fitting in a rpg rule book as a chapter on the body humors in a modern university textbook for physicians.

Are we gamers all just fun and games, or are we a superstitious lot who'd rather be cheating?


  1. I think one the oddities with dice is how often players and GMs think of dice as elements of control in the game rather than the decisions that precede dice rolling. Dice just reveal the luck associated with a decision, we know that beyond doubt, but dice-in-hand amnesia seems to plague many gaming tables. I am all for fun and games, but I have had a fair number of superstitious people at the table over the years.

  2. "dice-in-hand amnesia", I liked that term!

    Hmm. Maybe I should write about other ways of using dice. To resolve an action, bidding to narrate and so on. Hmm again.

  3. I'm not superstitious, and I don't game much, but I'm still not letting anyone use my pink frosted, ever so pretty, dice.

  4. Maybe its because I work at a casino but I LOATHE RNG superstitions.

    Most of them are random enough really. I tend to use whatever dice look prettiest. Except for my 0-9 twice D20 from Runquest 3rd ed bought in 88. It was my first RPG, and I like using a die older than some players.

    Its a nostalgia die but its no better or worse.

    Sadly RNG superstition is so bad folks hardly ever let one use an electronic die roller. Even for games where you roll gobs and gobs of dice like D6 system or Warhammer miniatures games.

    Even when the rolls are poor people just react ridiculously negatively to them.


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