Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Geometric Shapes of Joy

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of advice to freelancers. Because the highest number of hits I’ve ever gotten was for Freelancer Best Practices. That and the Natalie Portman thing. But we already discussed how that’s not going to happen again. Ever. I figured you all might like some advice about how to actually write, and about what to expect in the way of payment. I even tried to get a conversation going by being a bit provocative. No dice.

And it’s about dice that I’d like to talk today. See, I love dice. I think you do, too.

Like every gamer on the planet, I have a giant bag of dice. There are all kinds of sets in my dice bag. I even still have the dice that originally game with Villains & Vigilantes when it was sold as a boxed set. You had to take a marker to ink in the numbers. So, here are my random thoughts on dice, in no particular order.
  • Whenever I play a new character -- if he gains traction in my mind, if he lasts more than two sessions, if I grow attached to him – I get a new set of dice. Just for that character. Preferably dice that communicates something about the character. I’m playing a dwarf fighter? Then he needs some new dice, maybe something in “stone” or “metallic.” Usually, we stop playing the game soon after.
  • My friend Nicole just got a new set of dice, and she uploaded a picture of them to Facebook. I was envious. Those are some nice dice. And, what prompted this article.
  • I’m not a fan of games that only use one kind of die. Even though I’ve designed a couple. Games that only use d6s or d10s just aren’t as much fun to me. I want to use ALL the dice. Make me roll 1d4 for dagger damage. I want to pick up that 2d8 for bastard sword damage. In fact, making me roll handfuls of dice is even better. What’s that? Roll 4d6 for your attributes? Sign me up.
  • I’d play craps at the casino, but they don’t let you roll enough dice. Also, I think they should let you use 12-siders. Just a thought. 
  • My favorite die in the bag is, in fact, the 12-sider. The bastard die that no one uses. I'll look at a game and say "needs more 12-siders." 
  • I am not the kind of person who swaps out a die when it doesn’t roll well. If I roll crappy with a particular 1d20, I don’t chuck it across the room and pick up a different one. Sure, I’ve got twenty 20-siders sitting in front of me. But, darn it, I’m going to make this die roll well.
  • I spent the last day of GenCon last summer trying to get all the drow dice WotC was giving away. They’re white, with purple engraving, and a neat border. I’m still missing the 4-sider. I’d also like to have another 10-sider (for rolling percentile) and three more 6-siders (for rolling attributes).
  • When Games Workshop released its new version of Warhammer 40K, I bought every single dice set they offered. The standard 6-siders. The objective dice. The vehicle damage dice. All of them.
  • In fact, if you offer a specialized dice set for your game on Kickstarter, as an add-on or stretch goal, I’m 100-percent more likely to want to invest. While I really wanted to back Monte Cook’s Numenera because it looks like it’ll be a fantastic game, I desperately wanted the dice set he was offering. That, to me, was the deal clencher. Seriously, I know they’re kind of expensive, but offer unique dice sets with your game. They’re cool.
  • If you put something on dice, I am way more likely to buy it. Today I picked up a set of nine dice with an entire deck of playing cards on them. I don’t know why. I don’t play poker or anything. But I like the idea of rolling dice for a card hand. I also recently bought something called Story Cubes; the dice have pictures on them, and you’re supposed to roll randomly and make up a story out of what you roll. SOLD! 
  • Once upon a time, I was playing an elven sorcerer. I picked up a set of elven fortune-telling rune dice, because they looked really cool. They were a set of five 6-siders with different elven runes on the faces. It came with a translation sheet, so you’d know what the made-up runes meant. So whenever the group was faced with a decision, I’d “consult the bones” and roll the dice and make up some fortune about our prospects. I was never right, but it was a fun little prop. I lost those dice years ago, and can’t find them again.
  • Artisan Dice is offering dice made from metal or exotic woods. I desperately want a set of dice made out of teak, but that’s a $100 pledge level and I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on a set of dice. Kinda. Sort of. Maybe…

Which leads me to my last confession. I’ll empty my dice bag on my desk for no reason at all, and admire my dice. I’m like the Gollum of dice. My precious. My precious. I’ll fondle them. I’ll pick up a handful and let them drop, just to hear the sound. It’s like I have a giant bag of plastic jewels, and like a dwarf with sack of rubies, I’ll just stare at them covetously…. I may need a support group of some kind.


  1. I get new dice when I get a new level in the game, or when I get a new insurance designation, or when I pass a class, or test, or when Amazon is kind enough to send me that email that says Recommended for you. The only problem I have is I like my dice to be pink or purple or to have those colors in it.. once I ordred some really pretty dice that I thought were purple but they were blue. I gave them away.

  2. Wow! Now THAT'S a specific form of dice mania. I don't discriminate against dice based on their color. All are equally geometric in my eyes.

  3. I hear you, brother! I too love dice, hell I just pulled another bag of dice out of drawer the other day while looking for something else. I too am a sucker for specialty dice and will buy them if I got the cash just cause.

  4. Once i did get dice that were not purple or pink. they had unicorns on them. they were only d6s. They were not very pretty. I gave them away too. Maybe I do have a problem....