The Bones: Why We Love Our Dice

I have a well documented love for dice.  For some reason, nothing gives me greater joy, nothing draws me into a game more, and nothing is more synonymous with play to me than the act of rolling dice.  At my table it’s the visceral way in which I interact with the world I’ve created.  With my deep connection to these pieces of plastic also comes a brace of superstitions.

No one touches my dice without my permission.  And no one ever rolls them.  If anyone reaches for my dice, I quickly pull them away.  I don’t want someone to ‘infect’ or ‘poison’ my dice.  My dice are currently filled with my ‘mojo’ or what you want to call it and I worry, I actually worry, that if I let someone else use my dice, my dice will turn on me.  I never deviate, when buying dice, from my favored brand (Chessex).  I have dice that are ‘better’ than others.  My blue dice are my best dice.  When I need a high roll, I pull out my blue d20.  When a die rolls poorly, I place it at the corner of the table in ‘time out’, forcing it to watch while others get used as a punishment.  I’ve also been known to ‘flip’ my dice, which means I set my dice on the table showing their highest face and line them up by number of faces.  Jeremy shares this habit with me, as do many other gamers.  We do this to teach the dice what they’re supposed to do.

The mother load

Rituals involving these little plastic totems are unsurprisingly common.  In one memorable scene of the documentary The Dungeon Masters, one of the DMs interviewed shows how you punish your dice.  His includes freezing and smashing it with a hammer, it’s probably a more extreme example, but it shows the kind of attachment we have to these things.  I reached out to my Gamers with Jobscommunity, seeing what kind of superstitions they held and got some great stories.  One told me that they used to put the dice of others in their mouths to ‘curse’ them.  Another talked about how he made his other dice ‘watch’ as he mutilated one with a blowtorch.   The best story shared with me was one player who told me he would only buy certain dice, always translucent ones.  He treated his dice like rare jewels, keeping them in a felt lined case and knowing the location of each one.  To him, dice were tools, and coming from a family of mechanics, tools were treated with respect.

This is what it’s about

Buying new dice for each new character, having special sets for certain situations, burying dice that are cursed, punishing dice that are bad, there’s no end to the superstitions we have concerning our dice.  But why shouldn’t we treat them with a certain amount of gravitas?  They are, after all, the portal we use to interact with the world we make.


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