Friday Favourite: Dice Rituals & Superstitions

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on February 20, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From March 24, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Dice Rituals & Superstitions.

dice-01aIf you’re like me, you have a variety of dice in all shapes, sizes and colours. Many people, myself included, are very particular about their dice and have many superstitions about them. Let’s look at a few.

New Character, New Dice

This option works best if you generally play long-term campaigns and use the same character a lot. Each and every character you roll up gets his own set of dice. When you’re playing the Fighter you always use the green dice. And when you’re playing the Wizard you always use the blue dice. This can get expensive if you have the habit of getting killed. (If this is the case, check out Avoiding Death: Part 1 and Avoiding Death: Part 2.) However, if you’re willing to have one set of dice for each living character then this is a reasonable dice ritual.

Show Me a 1

There are two variations on this theme. The first take on this ideology (the one that I follow): Any die I plan to use during this gaming session must be left with the 1 facing up when I’m not rolling. My belief is that if it already shows a 1 when I pick it up I’m less likely to roll a 1 again. I don’t know if there’s any merit to this superstition, but I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

The second take on this ideology (which I’ve never done): Roll all your dice until each one actually comes up 1 and then stop rolling until you need that die. After you’re done rolling your attack, damage, save or whatever, you roll those active dice again and again until they come up 1 and then you stop.

Mouth Love

This one isn’t limited to gamers. If you’ve ever been to a casino and walked past the craps table then you’ve see this one: people kissing or blowing on their dice for good luck. I’ll admit I’ve done this on rare occasions, but I’ve never had any noticeable successes. Plus, my dice are probably pretty dirty since I’ve never, ever cleaned them. So the last thing I want to do is put them anywhere near my mouth.

Never Touch Another Man’s Dice

My dice are mine and mine alone. If you need to roll 3d8 and you only have two you cannot use one of mine. Re-roll one of yours and add them up. If anyone but me touches my dice they may curse the dice and wreck my good dice mojo. I may sound crazy, but I know I’m not alone here. Most of the gamers I know are very protective and territorial about their dice. They’re mine, hands off!

The DM’s Dice

I have player dice and DM dice. I swear that when I use my blue dice as a DM I roll more 19s than is statistically probable (much to the dismay of the players). But if I use that same set of dice as a player I never see this same kind of trending. Of course you could argue that as the DM I roll more often and I’m bound to see more of any given number. You call it statistical probability and I call it “The DM’s Lucky Dice.”

Punishing Bad Dice

I may have superstitions about my dice but I don’t believe in punishing them. However, many gamers punish bad dice. If the dice don’t roll what you need as often as you like, they often become the victims of irate gamers. I’ve seen people yell at bad dice, explode dice in the microwave, smash them with a hammer, throw them in the lake or simply toss them in the trash. Gamers can become unforgiving and ridiculous when it comes to the need to punish bad dice. I can’t justify doing any of these things listed above because I’m too cheap (after all, I paid for that die, as crappy as it is).

New Dice

One great thing about dice is that a set of 6 or 7 polyhedron dice generally cost between $5-10. This means that I get dice as gifts all the time. Over the years all those dice start to pile up. I can’t throw them out, that would just be wrong. So what do I do?

This Christmas I had a brainstorm (which I’m particularly proud of). My core gaming group has six regular players. We all have giant bags or boxes of dice. Many of these dice sit in the bottom of the dice bag and aren’t used any more. So we decided to hold our 1st annual dice exchange. Why should we all fork out $10 when we can just trade with other gamers? The results were fantastic. I got rid of a few old sets I never use, I got a few new sets which I’m using all the time, and it didn’t cost me anything.

This is also a great opportunity to unload bad dice. Just because your dice hate you doesn’t mean they have any ill-will towards the other players at your table.

Tell us about your dice rituals or superstitions? Do you punish bad dice, and if so, tell us what crazy things you’ve done?

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1 Matt February 20, 2015 at 9:15 am

I make a point of never “dry rolling” dice. Which is to say, when I roll a die, it’s for the game and it matters. I don’t just toss ’em around the table to see how they’re rolling today.

I also believe in positive reinforcement. If my die is doing well, I might sweet talk it a bit, and let it know that it did a good job. If it’s been doing poorly, I let it know how important the roll is, but I try to avoid punishment. I understand that we all have off days, and I can’t except the die to completely disregard probability all the time.

I also tend to save all of my superstition and love for my d20. I’ll take whichever d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, and d12s that happen to be kicking around my bag, but I have a tried and true red-and-black flecked, oversized twenty-sider that has served me well for many years.

2 Brent February 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

I am not a superstitious person, I am a science person.

Dice don’t have a memory, or feelings, or mojo, or anything else. They are pieces of plastic and what many dice do have is asymetry. The Game Science folks have done testing and have some great graphics that show “all dice are not equal”.

I am using Game Science dice from now on…and you can borrow mine as often as you need. It’s a game and dice that are rolled fairly give random results. I revel in the randomness, that’s what makes gaming exciting.


3 Tittan March 20, 2015 at 6:32 am

Yeah, I’m with Brent on this. It’s just dice. Nothing magic about them.
You need a d8 for your 3d8? Here pick one of mine.
Forgot your dice? No problem, pick any set of mine. Heck, you can go first. I really don’t care.

There are those however who freak out when I’m such a liberal heathen when it comes to the dice gods that I’ve got friends that can’t sit next to me during games, just in case the dice god’s anger is contagious.

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