DICE DRAMA! Traveling Dice Box 'Alpha'
If you have followed the CraftyBastardGames YouTube channel or kept up-to-date with my page here on TheFoundryCast.com, you may have already noticed my deepening love for Dice and witnessed a few of my adventures in sending out traveling dice boxes. If you are not familiar with the concept, it is something like a chain letter, but with a box full of dice, and it creates a loop of giving and receiving without knowing what to expect. OR at least, that is the idea!
It starts with one person collecting a box full of dice, which could be specific sets or just a huge mix of anything they want to put out there in the universe, and they begin a cycle of exchange. When they post a traveling dice box online, say on Facebook, they wait for about 10 to 12 participants to sign up, and they begin passing it along. The original poster sends the box to participant #1, who keeps what they want, adds some goodies of their own. Then they mail the box on to participant #2, and so on until the box finally makes it around back to the original poster, who sees what new stuff they have gotten.
As you can see, the contents of the box will likely change radically, and it is a super fun way to get unusual dice, to find a new home for dice you aren’t needing, and it’s also a great way to ingratiate yourself within the community! In the last four years, I have been involved in 4 different traveling dice boxes and some of them were more fun than others. Of course, this is the risk you run when to throw your name in the hat, you never know what amazing things might make it to you, or when you are merely combing through someone else’s trash. Could an OG Pink Borealis d6 be dropped in as a special surprise? You never know.
Dice Box 'Alpha' – This set was a USA only traveling box that did not have any special rules regarding what could be included or exchanged, so it was going to be a great free-for-all. The only real caveat, as you might expect in all traveling boxes, were the following:
You must post pictures of the contents of the box upon arrival in order to show what you decided to take and show what you decided to donate. Better quality pictures of what was being kept and what was being added was a courtesy… but was also expected.
There is also something of a “gentlemen’s agreement” that people wouldn’t take out only the best stuff and add garbage, and they would not break up a full set just to get the one piece they were missing.
This box was sent off around the end of March in 2019, with 16 total participants which was a bit over-sized as most boxes cap out at 10 or 12, yet was still manageable and meant the box could circulate within about 6-8 months. Spoiler Warning: As of the posting of this story, this traveling dice box has yet to make it to the end of the list.
I was participant #7, which is a healthy position and gave me time to assemble what I thought I wanted to trade. Within the first 2-3 people in receiving order, fabulous sets were added and quickly taken, but this is completely normal with these boxes. People often get creative and throw in extraordinary dice that they might have duplicates of, or they may include rare dice from set that they don’t ever plan on completing. This is when it was noticed that participant #3, who we will just call JG, committed an offense and took a single dice out of a full set.
This set was from an old mold, 7pc Speckled Air by Chessex, which is hard to come by because it is essentially Out Of Print and therefore more valuable to collectors. JG’s excuse was that he had had taken the old mold d20 to complete a set, but he did not need the rest. Realizing his mistake, he tried to make up for it by reassembling the set and throwing in an additional donation of dice to the box before it was sent out, which helped to settle the masses. A faux pax like this might have inadvertently blacklisted JG from future boxes and definitely could hurt his credibility, as a person looking to complete a set should know better than to break a set.
Over the next two months the box traveled slowly, as participants were too busy to turn it back around as quickly as they should in order to keep momentum going and enthusiasm high. When these boxes get turned around quickly, then everyone stays caught up in the excitement, constantly commenting and hyping each other up. Once the box arrived at the home of participant #6 on June 14th 2019, she posted a photo, excitedly letting everyone know she had received it. We will call her DM. I had sent her my address well in advance for faster turn around and the two of us had messaged back and forth a few times with light and friendly banter. DM messaged me directly on the very same day:
I got dice box but broke till not this, coming Tuesday, but after be posting out to you!!
This was a week and a half of wait time which was no big deal. I told her I could be patient and compared to delays in previous traveling dice boxes, this did not see too out of the ordinary. Strangely, she had already sorted through the dice that she said she wanted to keep and sent me a picture. DM said she had taken out mainly odd singles, no sets, and said she would send the box once her kids looked through the trades. This put a bad feeling into my chest, as this was not supposed to be the sort of thing you let your children pick through unless you know well in advance if they had quality merchandise with which to trade. Not to exclude children or anything, but this was not that sort of trade off.
Then after two full weeks of silence in the group, on June 28th, a previous participant noticed the lack of communication and he decided to stimulate conversation by asking if she found any treasures. DM replied:
A few actually. I’ll be mailing here when I can get a ride to post office!!!
I found trades I’m putting in, apologies. I’ve been in middle of having to paint my shed & porch. Ill get my stuff in before I ship without.. so tired and stressed. I’ve two weeks to finish what landlord wants done. Awaiting person to do my skirting. Haven’t heard from since Thursday. Ill find a way to ship Tuesday if son has to ride his bike to post office..!
Then on July 16th, another person in the group inquired about it, and DM said nothing. It was a this point that I had gone from cool and casual to cautious of chicanery. On July 19th I decided to message her again and ask if the box was in the mail yet.
No but soon. I keep going to didn't get paid. Well I did my taxes cost more had no. $. I get paid Sunday. I post when I can get a ride to post office!! Yeah sorry taxes were I thought 186...and ended up over 210 took my extra. Didn't help people I sit for wont pay me till next week.
I told her that I was curious because I had not heard from her for a while. It had been in her possession for a full month which was plenty of time to scrape together the money to honor her agreements, but I was going to maintain my friendly demeanor and try to give her the benefit of the doubt. She replied:
Yeah sorry taxes were I thought $186...and ended up over $210, took my extra. Didn't help people I sit for wont pay me till next week.
On July 20th, the participant in line after me asked if had been shipped out to me, and DM said nothing to the group. Not to look complicit in this extended delay, I briefly gave them an update of my own, confirming she had my address, sharing that she had a couple unexpected delays, and would be sending it soon. On July 30th she messaged me again, and the litany of excuses continued.
Hey, am so sorry people I was sitting for never paid me… I’m in middle of my rent… I’ll try to post box asap... My cell isn’t even paid. Because they didn’t pay me.
On August 8th she alerted me to yet another delay.
Hey I got most of my dice added to ship box. I'm missing a set I'd planned to add. If I don't find by Monday, I'll post or find another set beforehand. I added 3 or 4 sets. I've been to broke to get it out to you, am so sorry.
You can imagine that I was not holding my breath as this point, as she already had this box in her possession for two months with nothing to show for it but a growing list of excuses. Sure, DM apologized again and was trying to be nice about it all, but she still blamed it on being too broke to get it out to me. Monday came and went, then towards the end of that week she got back with me again On August 14th. I was excited to read her statement.
Going shopping be posting dice box on way home. Post receipt w/ tracking when home!
Finally, after all this time and messaging back and forth, after all of my patience and supportive responses, DM was getting it done. She had redeemed herself in my eyes and I was ready to help push this box on through as quick as I could to make up for lost time. Two days later with no additional sign of her, I asked if she had better luck this time and had gotten the box shipped like she promised. She responded back.
Sorry no. Over spent on darn kids school supplies and clothes. But this week for sure as school stuff done. I do apologize had I a clue my financial situation was bad I'd have opted out of box.. till better.
My patience was gone at this point. I have read every excuse and given her the benefit of the doubt time and time again, but this was a bit too much. We had leap-frogged passed “comical” and landed square in the middle of “bull$#^!” territory. Of course, no decent human being would argue against her children being her priority and I wouldn’t dare suggest she spend one less penny on those kids in order to help further my dice addiction. Yet, I felt with the amount of time involved and her mounting laundry list of excuses, that enough was enough. If DM wanted to have opted out of the box, she could have done so at any time before the package was sent to her house. People would have been very accommodating, and I suspect several would have sympathized and might have sent her dice to elevate her mood. But now the alternate is true and any reason that she might provide, valid or not, reeks of being nothing but another excuse.
I replied to DM that I hoped she could indeed get the box out as promised because I knew the entire group was looking forward to the whole thing getting moving again, and that I too was waiting with excited anticipation. I also commented that I had seen similar set backs in other traveling boxes and the budgeting for this could be difficult. I remarked that one person even STOLE a box and never commented back. DM knew the situation I was talking about and even remembered the person's name. I wasn't intending to guilt trip her or imply she was attempting to do the same, but it might have been the motivation she needed. On August 21st, I heard back again.
Box out, I'll send tracking once home
Exactly 1 hour later, I received a picture of the receipt which listed the tracking details. Once I received it, I spent about 5 days to get ready, record a video of the unboxing and sorting, and post it in the group so they had a nicer view of all of the dice that were still in transit. Just in case someone called me out for what I had taken, i waited 2 more days and then dropped the box in the mail on to participant #8.
It was not until after the package was received on September 3rd 2019, and continued progressing forward at a more traditional pace, that I sat down and thought about what was actually in the shipment. I re-watched my own video and remembered be a little underwhelmed by the contents. Then I pulled up the picture that DM had posted when she first received the dice, grabbed the picture she had sent directly to me with what she said she was taking when i started seeing discrepancies. She had absolutely GUTTED the package, taking multiple sets and adding nothing remotely equivalent.
There were sets that were inexplicably missing, especially as DM never properly posted full pictures of what was removed and what was added, but even among what images she provided to me there were good sets that were just gone. Again, these trades do not have to do a perfect 1-to-1 swap, and sometimes people may end up with valuable dice that they did not expect, but it should be somewhere along the lines of fair! This is what I noticed was missing.
7pc set of red and green swirled dice I would guess was worth about $5-$7
2pc set of 2 Pirate Dice which retails around $7-$8
7pc Scarab Jade Green with Gold set, likely from Chessex priced about $8-$10
7pc gold polyhedral set I suspect is from Metallic Dice Games, worth about $10-$12
7pc lime green speckled set, possibly from Chessex Pound O' Dice, worth about $12-$15
A Q Workshop Dragons dice set worth $13-$15.
DM claimed to have added 3-4 sets to the box, but the ONLY dice I could tell she threw in, other than a few extra pieces of random, were a junk set of flat acrylic purple dice worth maybe $3, and a mixed set of different green dice, also worth $3-$5 collectively but would not be considered a "set, and another grayish-green set that might be worth All of these sets would be worth $3-$5, at best. So the conservative difference here was a value of over $40.
What about me? I actually showed more constraint than I wanted to, just to keep me in good standing for future boxes. I only took two 7pc sets worth around $20 total and added back 4 sets worth $30 total. Then I scooped up around 14 loose d6’s and added back 8 d6’s (all Chessex) and 3 d10’s. But even those d10’s were 2 Kickstarter exclusives and 1 Q Workshop exclusive. Of course, in every traveling dice box, regardless of theme, I throw in a single d6 with a little hedgehog on it, in memory of my hedgehog Peter Quill and as a token of good luck and positivity to anyone who needs it.
That is part of the fun of this whole experience! Everyone can add fun things and make their contributions personal. Then they get to see who excitedly accepts their donations and they pass that energy on from person to person. Yet in every other box that I have been a part of, and a good number of ones that I missed but still followed, there is always someone like JG or DM who breaks the flow and breaks the fun because they are selfish or irresponsible.
If you are wanting to join in the fun of something like this, it does require you to commit to the timetable involved for a quick turnaround, and to have the resources to pay to ship it back out. Yes, this is an investment in time and money, but that is an expected part of the deal. If you didn’t have an extra $15-$20 in your pocket to spend on shipping, and if you did not already know of some dice you could add in to the kitty, then a traveling dice box is not for you.
As of right now, participant #15 who we will call KK, has disappeared from the face of the Earth. They received the package around December 2nd of 2019, then had a “concern” and needed to talk to the moderator or the admin. KK did not explain it in the group forum, so there must have been some direct/private messaging going on. KK later said they would take pictures of the dice in better light, but was only going to trade a single d20. Then, for over 10 weeks, there was no further communication from KK again.
Participants tried commenting on the lack of movement, possibly to illicit a response and see if KK was still out there. They tried direct messages, especially by the final participant. It was disheartening to see so many of these people commenting about how disappointed they all were, by KK and by the community at large. This group-event used to be one of the best ways to trade dice and build community and people were missing the novelty of it now. With the DM’s and KK’s of the world, collectors turned to other means of acquiring dice, trading for money and removing the uniqueness that a traveling dice box would allow.
This week there was some level of reply from KK, only in response to the admin of the box, who was the original sender. But the group continues to wait. I have a personal theory regarding KK’s disappearance, but I will keep that to myself. Currently, that is where the trail runs cold but I will make future updates if someone is able to get the box rolling again, and dig a little deeper into what happened to cause yet another extended delay!
EDITORS NOTE: The comments by DM were listed exactly as written, except in the cases where it broke our brain and we were forced to add punctuation, fix spelling errors, etc. DM also has a very fat thumb and would drop a letter “b” into 2 words out of every sentence.