Daily Illuminator

May 22, 2023: In Praise Of Dice

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 18: Power Items

This may be the least controversial post I've ever written, but I – a gamer – like dice. A lot. And beyond the dragon-horde delights that come from sifting my fingers through a brimming bag of dice, they're useful. Here are some unusual uses for dice to spark your imagination:

Impromptu Counters: Often when I'm playing games (RPG, board, or card), it's useful to keep track of things . . . even beyond what the game designers necessarily intended. Flavorful dice make that quick and easy. Need to keep track of 20 hit points in a card game? Four dice from an Eye-in-Pyramid Dice Set serves me well. (I tend to max out at 5 on a six-sider, since four 5s are easier for me to tally than "6-6-6-2".) If I'm playing a weapon with ammunition in my beloved Marvel Champions, I might use the Raygun d6 Dice Set. And so on.

Dice are really useful (for me) because I can either use their pips or their entire bodies. If my game blaster has three charges, I might use one die to count down from 3-2-1. Or I might use three dice, and just ignore the pips entirely; when I use a charge, I remove an entire die. As long as we at the gaming table know what we're looking at and what the dice "mean," it works great.

Impromptu Minis: When playing RPGs, I'll often need a visual aid so the table's on the same page. Dice are ideal "minis." They don't fall over easily, they're colorful, they're easy to grab and manipulate, and they are handy. Need to keep track of two opposing forces of vaguely military folks? I reach for my Army Men d6 Dice Set. Various similar-but-distinct baddies (like orcs or zombies)? I might grab the Rainbow Skull d6 Dice Set; each side has its own "face," so I can have six distinct baddies attacking the heroes!

Small Deck Shuffling: I play a lot of games with decks containing a small number of cards . . . often less than eight. I don't trust my ability to shuffle them – at least, not in a way that doesn't make me feel bad. If I know the Awesome Card of Awesomeness is the top card of the discard pile, I can't shake the feeling that I subconsciously cheated during the reshuffle if it's the first card I draw, or feel like I've hampered myself if it's on the bottom. Nowadays, I lightly shuffle the deck until I'm pretty happy I don't know where they are, then roll a die (like The Fantasy Trip d8/d4 Resin Die) to pick a card from that shuffled stack to form a new, totally random stack . . . repeating until the lightly shuffled stack is empty. I started doing this about five years ago, and it's made a huge difference to my gaming well-being.

Can you ever have enough dice? On the one hand, "No"; on the other hand, "Definitely not." If these ideas have sparked any excitement, I humbly note we have an assortment of other dice available on Warehouse 23. If you come up with any cool uses of dice that you think are off the beaten path, drop me a line. Our fans are amazingly creative!

-- Steven Marsh

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