Thursday, August 14, 2014

Roleplayers -- More Superstitious Than Athletes

I wrote this on tumblr some time ago and I decided to post it here where it makes more sense.

I bought a pound of dice a few months back, even though I have about five sets already in my dice bag. It was of no surprise to me that my new dice didn’t all fit. So what did I decide to rectify this problem?

If you said, "Hey, Mary, did you go out and buy a new dice bag?" You're wrong.

 Instead, I spent about an hour testing out my new dice (and my old) to determine which deserved to be in the bag. It was rather ritualistic. I laid out all my dice, separated them by type. Then I rolled them-- different groups at a time depending on type. If they met the DC, I put them in the leather bag. If not, I determined they lost this round and set them aside until next round. For d20s, they had to roll a 15 or higher. For d12, 7 or higher. d10s, 6 or higher and so forth. I did this until I could not squeeze a single dice back in the bag. I feel absolutely silly about it but that is how I determined it.

The funny part is after playing D&D for 10+ years I noticed that gamers are the most superstitious group of people I have ever encountered.  I observed there are certain types, species if you will, of dice rollers in a tabletop setting.

The Ritual Casters. These are by far the most common. These people require a period of time before the game starts to dig through their own collection of dice to determine which they will use for the evening. Sometimes, they do what I just did with their d20s to determine which one is rolling hot that night. Sometimes, they determine by which d20 falls out first. Other times, they fondle their favorite d20 before the game starts to make it lucky. During game, Ritual Casters usually have a specific way of rolling, like they need to have it fall on a particular surface for instance, or just do the classic blow on them before you roll. I knew of a gamer who would have his girlfriend blow on his dice when he was making a risky roll.

Switch Hitters. These types are pretty common as well. They tend to view their dice like players on a baseball team. They usually don’t have a pre-game ritual and just start rolling and keep on switching dice per roll until they pick up a die that is rolling really well. They will continue with ‘old bluey’ or ‘marble face’ until it seems like the die had run out of its luck for the evening, then they switch to the next one from the bull pen. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  Loyalists. These gamers don’t like switching dice mid-game and stick with the same set of dice throughout the evening through good and bad rolls. They can also be a Ritual Caster but they don’t have to be. They have a fatalistic way of looking at rolling 1’s -- that it was supposed to happen that way. Your character is supposed to struggle. One bad dice roll is okay. Your dice let you down this time but good energy is bound to come back to it. It's karma. If not, oh well.  Loyalists look at the Switch Hitters with a bit disdain because of that. “If you pick up a new dice, it won’t roll well for long.” I tend to fall into this category.

Clairvoyant Roller. Some may say this isn’t a clairvoyant but I wasn’t sure what to call this group. This group is constantly trying to read the signs around their rolls. The die fell on the floor! That means you have to switch dice! It rolled on a bend in the table! That is also bad luck! The DM touched my dice! That means it will roll bad against me and the other players for the rest of the night. The dice chucker threw my dice! I'm never touching it again!

The Motivational Speaker. There isn’t much more to add about this type in that these gamers talk to their dice when they roll them. Sometimes they whisper sweet nothings to their dice. Other times it is the classic, “Come on, old bluey! Daddy needs a crit!” Yet still, they may talk to it like a Drill Sergeant and try to get the dice "highly motivated".

The Territorial Roller. This can be summed up simply as, “Don’t fucking touch my dice, asshole! Your hands have bad ju-ju!”

As I mentioned above, I’m more of a Loyalist. I find my dice for the night and stick with it. It will roll well eventually. 


  1. You're forgetting the important sub category of the Ritual Casters, the "Purifiers" those who have complex rituals to remove bad ju-ju from dice and ensure good fortune. Everything from bathing the dice in holy fluids (jolt cola or redbull), to leaving them out to soak in the light of a full moon.

  2. I don't think I ever met anyone like that.