RPGaDay2016: Now Wash Your Hands

Real dice, dice app, diceless… how do you prefer to roll?

Over lunch today someone started talking about sexing infant chickens. Apparently it’s a highly paid job that requires three years training, and a qualified chicken sexer can feel the millimeter difference that indicates the presence or absence of testes in a fraction of a second.

I don’t know if they wear special gloves. Anyway

Dice are part of the analog ritual of gaming. Even if you’re not using dice, everyone has to rock up with their dice tin, select their favourite dice and set them down in some pattern of personal significance. Occasionally they’ll pick them up, weigh them in their hand and listen to the clack-clack of high impact plastics gently knocking together in their palm. When they roll they ball a fist around them, holding them firmly but not tightly (as though they were a little bird, just as many fencing masters have told their students how to grip a fleuret), and pound the fist up and down vigorously before the release, watching them make little puddles on the table. Or carpet.

Of course, the only dice a gentleman needs, and the only one you should use, is a six-sided die with spots. Anything with numerals or a different number of sides is unforgivably gauche (and the same goes for propelling pencils; your pencils should be wood and graphite, sharpened to a respectable point). Spots have the advantage of rapid communication of the results, particularly where the alternatives (such as a handful of d10s) results in tedious hunting and pecking for successes. And cubes with gently rounded corners feel comfortable and snug in the hand, while the vertices of a d10 may prick a soft and tender palm. Six-siders are good enough for the very finest games including Ghostbusters, Over the Edge and Lace and Steel and their inclusion in PbtA games is eminently sensible.