Dice Mojo: 8 Case Studies
All of us know that dice are designed to be impartial, balanced, and random. We know this to be true. But many of us truly feel that when we play games with these dice, we will have bad luck or good luck, or even still, we may feel that our dice have their own feelings and are rolling in a certain way as if on purpose. Dice Mojo, also known as Dice Juju, can be a powerful paranoia that many gamers take very seriously. I even find myself getting caught up in superstitious behavior at the gaming table from time to time.
Dice can be fickle! Just because they have been kind to you in the past does not mean that they are guaranteed to be your friend in the future; and like the wild creatures they are, they can turn on you at any time. Anyone who has played tabletop games for several years will vouch for this quality. Most players have witnessed dice acting in strange and mathematically perplexing ways. There could arise a string of hot rolls or a series of critical failures that you simply can not explain away.
Presented here are eight Dice Mojo case studies, conducted over the last several years. These are documented accounts of actual players with whom I have shared a table, with their identities concealed to protect their privacy. Listed are their habits, their superstitions, and their purported evidence in support of their claims.
Case #1 – MR. PINK
Mr. Pink will always roll his dice before the game begins in order to ROLL OUT all of his lower numbers. He is not the only player that has been seen do this, as it appears to be common practice among RPG players to test out their dice before play. He will take each die that he plans to play with… and rolls it as many times as it takes to roll a 1. Then Mr. Pink will stop, set it aside, and continue to the next die. The idea here is that the next number that they roll will assuredly be a higher number, since the lowest roll had already been used up. At the same time, Mr. Pink. may become upset with his dice if they roll the highest number repeatedly before reaching the desired 1, claiming that he had “used up” all of his highest rolls for the session.
Case #2 – MISS VIOLET
Miss Violet would often SOAK her dice in different types of beverages and liquids in order to affect their outcome. She would soak her dice in beer if she wanted them to roll consistently lower as the alcohol would cause them to be sluggish and weak. Contrarywise, she would also bathe her dice in energy soda if she wanted them to roll higher. She tended to use Red Bull, as it was plentiful in the house at the time, although in one instance it was proposed that coffee might work better, also giving the dice a wonderful roasted aroma. Miss Violet would even experiment with different sticks of incense to see if the fragrances inspired her dice to perform differently. At the time of this study, the results have been inconclusive.
Case #3 – EBONY JR
Ebony Jr. would implement the tactic of SHAMING his dice into submission. For minor offenses, he might place the poorly rolling dice up on a shelf, far away from the festivities. The die was left alone to reflect on its actions while the other dice still got to play the game. For more major faults, he would decide an appropriate punishment for his dice. His aim was to teach the offending die an unforgettable lesson, as well as to send a message to the other dice that they had better learn from the others’ mistakes. While it was not witnessed for this report, there were stories of hammers and vices being used, but Ebony Jr’s preferred technique of execution was via the microwave. He claimed that it was an effective technique but could not provide evidence to support his methodology.
Case # 4 – CAPT GRAPE
Capt. Grape was an ardent believer that the way in which you SHAKE your dice, as well as the way in which you CAST your dice, these will determine how successful your results will be. He would discuss the importance of the rolling surface, how one’s hands should be clasped together, as well as advise both the vigorousness as well as the duration of the shake. If someone were to begin rolling consistently low numbers, he would start monitor their form and offer advice on developing better rolling skills. Capt. Grape would also advise that a person should have a longer shake period for the most crucial rolls, allowing more time for the dice to randomize themselves, as if they would know the importance of the roll. On more than one occasion the player’s he advised would cite that his guidance helped them roll higher numbers.
Case #5 – PROF COBALT
Prof. Cobalt keeps a separate set of dice for each individual character for each individual game. He believes that the dice and the character become connected, that they begin to have a mutual understanding and will therefore act in accordance with each other. The dice will roll for the character in the way he or she needs them to roll, to help the character tell the best story that is true to their personal nature. He says that it does not feel appropriate to roll the same dice for a different character, or to roll a different set of dice than that particular character is bonded to. Prof. Cobalt will keep each set of dice in the service of only that one character after a few games of experience and would only use those dice again if the character were to be retired permanently or killed in action.
Case #6 – LADY OLIVE
Lady Olive had a series dice that she has custom procured for their color and their ENERGY. She has communed with them and had an understanding with them that they will not be used for paltry rolls but are sacred amongst her collection. She will only bring out these dice, usually a small handful of them, whenever she needs to cast a particular spell at crucial points in the game. On average, these dice do roll extraordinarily well. Lady Olive claims something of a spiritual bond with these dice, related to Viking heritage, as she will utilize rune stones for divination in much the same way. It has been observed, that when she applies these dice along with a moment of deep concentration, the results have been peculiarly positive.
Case #7 – SIR MOCHA
Sir Mocha was in a situation with so many consistently bad rolls from one single die that everyone in attendance could swear that his dice were deliberately trying to kill his character. The dice would roll absurdly low, over and over again, regardless of the scenario. He attributed it to the cigar box in which he kept his dice, saying that it once belonged to his wife’s grandfather, and that he believed the box was haunted. After one session of multiple critical failures, it was elected by the group that he retire his most afflicted 20 sided die with a new one. He was gifted a brand new d20, and Sir Mocha was back to rolling random numbers again instantaneously. He has since retired the cursed d20 as well as the old cigar box, finding better results on average since that time.
Case #8 – MYSELF
I have the habit of arranging my dice, particularly the d20, so that their highest number remains facing up on the table between rolls. For example, the d6 should have a 6 on top, the d10 a 10, and so on. This is so that the dice are being trained on how they should land, learning what is expected of them. This also gives them the appearance of a troop of soldiers that are standing at attention and are geared up for battle. This helps me to feel as if I am giving my dice an edge on their rolls and I do tend to have some really lucky rolls in clench situations, although the overall effectiveness of this habit is inconclusive.
Case Study Findings
My conclusion is that respecting Dice Mojo benefits a player in two ways. The first is a riff on Pascal’s Wager which itself leads into probability theory. Seventeenth-century mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal postulated an argument in apologetic philosophy whereby a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does exist, such a person will have only a finite loss of simple pleasures to receive infinite gains, and thus avoid infinite losses. In short form, maybe it is better to believe, just in case. Or in more colloquial terms, don’t tempt fate.
More importantly is that everyone should be allowed to feel connected to the culture of gaming in a fun and tactile way. Dice are a conversation starter and a bridge builder. Even you and I have not played together in the same campaigns, we can still reminisce about dice stories and feel connected. A good player knows that there are several ways to mitigate luck-dependency in their games, and an entire evening of fun really shouldn’t hinge solely on your next roll. However, everyone should play in the way that is the most fun for them and do whatever it takes to feel the most engaged in the story.
KEEP ROLLING THEM BONES, IN WHATEVER WAY YOU SEE FIT!