Monday, August 19, 2013

Crappy Dice: Some things really should stay in Vegas

So I just read Noisms post about superstitions and dice that he wrote-up back in '82.  While I don't really have any dicey superstitions that I'm aware of at the moment, I definitely tend to believe that some dice are better than others for certain purposes.  For instance when I roll up characters, I always pick out the same 3 dice--out of the 20-odd sixers that litter my table at almost all times.  These particular dice are dark and glossy with rounded edges and deep, golden pips.  They're aesthetically pleasing but also exude an aura of sophistication and competence that neither the classic black-on-white nor any of the glow-in-the-dark, outsized, transparent, weirdo dice in my collection can measure up to.  I'm not fool enough to believe that they turn out better results than any of the others, but the gravity of character generation demands serious dice; you're making people after all.

On the other hand I did once have a set of six-siders that were acknowledged by my entire gang to be objectively terrible. These cursed cubes were a set of casino dice my parents brought home for me after a trip to Las Vegas way back when.  They looked pretty impressive: they were translucent, red beauties, and they were huge compared to normal sixers.  Their sharp edges gave them a look of sleek precision and even lethality, especially when compared with those crappy dice made of tempered wax that came with your Holmes set.  But when it came time to roll, those sharp corners dug into you fingers something fierce.  These dice were clearly meant to be hucked the length of an Olympic-sized craps table, not shaken vigorously in the cupped hands of an 11-year old.  My palms bristled with sharp points of pain after each roll.  And clearly the dice didn't appreciate these tight quarters either; they always came up tepid when they were needed most.

Sure they occasionally rolled well, but usually only when nothing was at stake; your 8th level ranger is sadistically launching arrows into a fleeing pack of goblins?  Fives and sixes every time.  But when the game was on the line, all of a sudden the weight of all those pips on the high numbers seemed to push the ones and twos up to to the top.  It got to be so bad that any time I picked up one of those garnet-beauties to roll initiative or damage, the other players groaned audibly.  And after the inevitable shitty result, I was bombarded with insults and 4-siders.

The last time I used those badboys at the game table my 5th level thief was backstabbing an ogre or giant or somesuch who was giving the party a lot of grief.   I rolled a 19 to hit--cheers erupted around the room--then those Nevada Gaming Commission rejects puked up a sorry-ass 1 for damage.  Even with the tripled  backstab damage, the giant was pretty unimpressed with my efforts.  My older brother, whose character stood to suffer the most as a result of my inept backstabbery--picked up that vile 6-sider and heaved it across the room, taking a divet out of the wall in the process--but also turning up a 6 of course.  Piece o' shit dice.

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