D&D & Me part 2: My Dice

A bit of an aside after a few days off…

Gamers (and by this I mean role players, war gamers, and board gamers… I will have something to say on other uses of the word soon I imagine) have a very odd relationship with their dice. They (and by they I mean we) have a lot of strange rituals, habits, and superstitions surrounding our dice. Some day soon I will discuss some of these…

But first… A short (ish) history of my dice.

As I mentioned previously my very first game used coins instead of dice. Specifically I am pretty sure I used pennies. I lusted after the cool dice I saw other people using and that were for sale in dragon magazine, but with a weekly allowance of probably .75 to 1.50 they were a world away from me at that moment.

For my next few games I liberally borrowed dice from the board games we had laying around… Most often Risk which had a lot of them and since my mother and her friends only played it (according to my memory) on occasional camping trips, they wouldn’t be missed while I was using them. I may or may not have eventually absconded permanently with those dice, I do not recall.

The first dice that were really mine though, we’re the dice that game with that red box D&D set. Those cheap dice are often called ‘waxies’ because of the feel of the plastic, they had a slight give and translucency that made them almost seem like particularly hard fruit chews.  If you wanted the dice to be readable you even had to fill in the numbers with a crayon because they hadn’t been inked at the factory. The game used to come with a sort of off grey crayon for that very purpose.

I carried these dice everywhere with me, and like most of those dice they became battered and rounded, the cheap plastic wearing away. Eventually I needed new ones.

I vividly remember buying my first set of gem dice. This was an official set sold through waldenbooks and other stores, they came in a blister pack and were clear, multicolored, and had startlingly sharp edges and corners.

I used to haunt waldenbooks at that age. I was reading Zalazny and Ursala K. Le Guin and a whole lot of Pierce Anthony and I probably pestered the clerks there on a weekly basis about new releases. The dice hung to the right of their science fiction section… Drive by the Cars was playing. To me the dice glowed like the sun and were pure treasure.

I added a few more sets of dice to my collection over the years, and eventually I was given a metal set of dice that became the central jewels of my dice bag…

Which I should mention was made of chain mail from a kit I ordered from the back of dragon magazine… A kit made by the father of my fiancĂ© as it turns out… The world is a scary place sometimes.

Those dice (and the bag) were solen in my senior year of high school and I still mourn them. I have my suspicions but nothing was ever proven.

i bought other dice, and some were very nice, but I never really had a special set again. I used whatever fell to hand, and Since I was now playing GURPS and Champions I accumulated enough six siders to supply a small merchant vessel if they needed improvisational cannon shot to drive off pirates… That never really came up… But the point is I had to carry the bastards around in a big box… Which I did… Along with a couple of decks of magic cards, counters, small notebooks, and in later years a flask of something unspeakable.

One year at a local game convention I discovered a very dangerous thing. Chessex (a major manufacturer of gaming dice) had a cauldron of misc. dice. Some were misprints or mold tests with weird mixes of plastic. The rest were just colors or styles that did not sell well. You could give them 20 bucks for a coffee mug or 30 bucks for a beer stein, and scoop up a random helping of dice. Very soon my box was entirely full and very very heavy. I not only owned more dice than I could use at any given time… I probably owned enough dice to equip the entire game convention for every game currently being played… This had gotten a little out of hand.

A couple years ago I spent a few days separating the dice out into sets. I gave a lot of them away to friends and a couple very confused strangers on the bus. For the rest I sewed some simple dice bags and was intending to sell them as horribly ugly dice for people to use at conventions without fear of losing them or having them stolen… I think some of them survived the move… I may have them for sale soon.

so now my dice are a fairly random selection from that mass of dice. No particular style, color, or importance. If I need a D20 I grab one, there are no favorites, no particular memories… These dice are tools, nothing more.

I find that after all these years, I miss having special dice. Dice with personality, stories. I think it’s time to go shopping for dice.

One comment

  1. Mom says:

    More things I didn’t know about you, sweetheart. And you just made dice come alive. Never quite made sense. I didn’t get beyond those dice in Risk – and I think yes I only ever played it camping and never played it sober, but that’s another story.

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