Dice Mojo: Etiquette and Management
Following the conclusions supported by the evidence found in the previous Case Studies, we have learned a couple of key points:
Dice can be fickle and temperamental.
Dice can have hot streaks and cold streaks.
Dice can have personalities through sets or as individuals.
Dice are influenced by good and bad Dice Mojo
Keeping these elements in mind, we can now turn our attentions to the proper management of our dice. If you intend to use your dice in any upcoming campaigns or any Role-Playing Game sessions, there are a series of actions to keep in mind at various stages of the game.
Before any polyhedrons are rolled within the confines of the game itself, it is prudent that you conduct a little pre-game care to initiate good Dice Mojo. Then you should follow strict practices during the games, to maintain your Dice Mojo. Lastly, you will assess the results of your dice’s performance and follow up with after-care as needed to encourage better or sustained Dice Mojo.
Before the Game
WARMING UP - Dice need to be ‘warmed up’ before play as any athlete requires stretching and calisthenics to get the internal fluids pumping. Warming up your dice begins by rolling it around a few times in your hands, and then out onto the gaming surface to roll out any bad numbers in advance. But be careful not to roll it too much or you may expend all of your good Dice Mojo too early. Once a die starts rolling well, and feels warmed up, you can set it aside. You may want to come back to your dice from time to time and warm them back up as letting them sit idle for too long may cause them to 'go cold', which can hamstring your dice for the remainder of the game.
THE RALLY - If an individual die is not performing well, many find the practice of putting it back in the dice bag and shaking it around a bit in order to rally it. Again, if your dice are athletes and they are not up to the task, think of this as sending them back into the locker room at halftime with the rest of the team. You want to get them psyched back up and rally their energies for the second half of the big game.
PROPER TRAINING - Always leave your dice with their highest number facing up on the table between rolls. For example on a 20 sided die, you would want to leave the number 20 facing upright which will train the dice on how they should land. This is similar to muscle memory, where the die will remember how it needs to land due to so much repetition. You could also line up all of your dice in facet order, (if you are using a 7pc set from d4 to d20 for example) ranging from the smallest to largest, all set with the highest number showing on top. This is considered training for the entire team, where they all know what is expected of each other as well as themselves.
Coach’s Note: There is a faction of players who conduct a radically different form of pre-game training. These people will leave their dice with the optimum number facing downward as a way to trick the dice into thinking that it had already rolled badly, leaving their lowest number on top. Their reasoning is that the dice are still learning via muscle memory so that they will know what not to roll, as any other number would be better than this one.
During the Game
SILENCE IN THE BACKSWING - You should not be speaking or making any undue noise during another player’s roll. Even if you are cheering in excitement, you may inadvertently jinx another player’s roll. This custom may be more about etiquette and being present in the moment than anything to do with causing a bad roll, but it is not something worth risking. It is rude to talk over someone else’s moment and the dice may react accordingly.
POWER OF WILL - Some people have claimed that the probability of rolling successfully is dependent upon their personal will to fight, their internal chi, or some other form of metaphysical energy. The player’s dice may be reading their owner’s mind and allowing pure human spirit to regulate their actions based on the strength of their bonds! If your heart is not in the moment, who are you to expect that your dice will do all of the fighting for you?
RESERVE YOUR LUCK – If a player is having a particularly good streak of rolls that lasts too long, they may use up all of their good luck and start rolling poorly. In many of these cases, players will bench that fatigued die, retiring that lucky die early in the game, and save their Dice Mojo for another time. Now the player can send in their 2nd string dice for a while and when they need their star dice back, it will be rested and ready for action.
TEMPTING FATE – It is a common rule that there are certain things you do not say to keep from jinxing a roll. This is similar to talking about a basketball shooter having a perfect night just before taking a shot from the foul-line or the theatrical superstition, called the Scottish curse, whereby speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre. You are tempting fate and inviting in disaster. Thusly, a player should never say the phrase “anything but a …". For example, if the player, in a heated moment of combat states, “I know I can kill this troll if I roll anything but a two”, they will almost certainly roll the number said aloud out of spite.
NO SHARING – While the practice of not sharing is in stark opposition to the communal nature of role-playing games, this does not extend to your dice and you should never let another player use them. Some seasoned players will suggest you let no one but you even touch your dice, even to admire them, but this is not a universal rule. The concern is that another player, particularly one that is already in a state of bad Dice Mojo, can either use up all of your good rolls or they can break your attunement to the dice. Savvy players make sure keep an extra set of neutral dice on hand for each game loan out so that there are no issues with your own luck or for poor sportsmanship by being stingy.
BE THE ALPHA – Players who speak to their dice can, in some occasions, help influence their results when rolled. Conversely, you must learn the personality traits of your dice to know to what they will best respond. In general, most dice do not respect kindness, they respect intimidation. The dice may also falter under such extreme pressure, so this the tactic of aggression should be used conservatively. Now, some of your older and worldlier dice can be sweet-talked and may be coaxed into doing the right thing. A polite request at the perfect moment may make the difference between failure and success. If they oblige you with the numbers you need, don’t forget to reward them or they will turn against you in a heartbeat.
After the Game
GOT TO KEEP THEM SEPARATED – After the game concludes, you may need to consider placing any offending low-rolling die into quarantine. Many players will opt to separate their unlucky die away from the rest for fear of their lack of good Dice Mojo affecting the rest. Then, if this die continues to perform poorly, it might need to be sent down to the minor leagues and allow another new talent to take its spot on the big team. Here, a bad die can certainly ruin the bunch.
A SEAT OF RESPECT – Building dice towers, shrines, or ornate storage boxes as tribute (to either the dice gods or the dice themselves) may bless one's dice with good Dice Mojo. Some dice will work hard for you, no matter what, but other dice may crave respect from you as their master/owner. A winning team’s locker room should reflect the many victories they have earned and make them feel appreciated. Give the dice a seat of honor and they may reward you for your deed with further excellence.
BACK TO THE GREEN ROOM – When you are not using you dice, another storage option would be a special bag, preferably a very soft one. Dice prefer a cozy resting place when not in use unless they are on display and being the center of attention. Again, when the team is finished winning the game, they will recover faster and be in better spirits if the Green Room lounge that is prepared for them is extra luxurious. Dice enjoy warm velvet bags, ornate bejeweled bags, chainmail bags, and their favorites tend to be repurposed or handmade bags.
I GRANT THE A NAME – If you find that one of your dice, or even a full set of dice are particularly outperforming every other polyhedral that you have, you may want to consider giving them a name. These dice should hold a certain level of prestige, being named and selected for their heroic deeds, and only be brought out for very important rolls. This can intimidate your other dice to rise to the occasion for fear of being benched and allow your named champions to come out and execute game winning moments at the perfect time.
Etiquette and Management Conclusion
Just as we learned in the Case Studies about Dice Mojo, so much of these practices are subjective and meant to be about taking old traditions and making them your own. Maybe your gaming group creates new superstitions, or you have found a few of your own that, much like any hardcore sports team fan, just becomes a part of your gameday fun! Conduct your dice care and your self-care how you best see fit. Do not allow others’ judgement to dampen your fun, and make sure you are not doing the same to them with your superstitions.
KEEP ROLLING THEM BONES, IN WHATEVER WAY YOU SEE FIT!