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5 Ways Dice Wreck Your D&D Game (and how to fix them)

Written by MythicParty - Published on June 17, 2015
Dumb Dice

The Prime Directive should be to not let dice mess games.

Gamers have a Love/Hate relationship with our funny-shaped polyhedrals.  One minute they’re amazingly awesome.  Then they suddenly suck, transforming into amazingly aggravating things.  Dice are the cats of gaming accessories. But regardless of which way Lady Luck leans, we should not let these bits of hard plastic muck up the collaborative storytelling of RPG.  Here are 5 ways dice wreck things and how you can prevent that.

PROBLEM #5: Not having enough of the kind required to complete a roll; causing a pause while the necessary amount are borrowed from others or they reroll a bunch, forced to remember and do math on the fly.  SOLUTION: this usually happens with d6s but it can affect any die, especially at higher levels.  Ask everyone to determine what the max amount of each die they character could possibly need at their current Level. Then work together to meet all these quotas, sharing amongst your group or buying extras as needed. DMs are no exception, so plan ahead to have a full stack of everything yourself.

PROBLEM #4: Letting them fall off the table; they bounce all around the playing surface, scattering off to parts unknown which stops the action until they’re found.  SOLUTION: Simply insist that for any roll to officially count, it must be made inside the dice tray.  No exceptions. This tray can also double as a turn marker, where it is placed in front of the current player, then passed to the next person in the initiative order.  Handing the tray off formally ends their turn for that round. Do this little thing and you’ll solve multiple problems at once.

PROBLEM #3: Constantly blaming dice for rolling poorly, to the point where they’re ‘shamed’ or yelled at or placed in a freezer, rather than just calmly set aside. Or the opposite, overtly publicly praising them.  SOLUTION: make it known in advance that these delay of game distractions will have a reasonable negative penalty. Just like those in professional sports.  [insert your favorite sport example here] Have players police themselves but don’t be afraid to enforce the group rule either. The idea is that it isn’t a punitive punishment, but rather a serious reminder to keep the focus where it belongs and act like adults.

PROBLEM #2: Allowing them to dictate illogical outcomes; such as the example from the 3.5 DMG where “the lowliest kobold can strike the most magically protected, armored, dexterous character on a roll of 20.”  SOLUTION: Implement the variant from the bottom of page 25 of that same DMG where a natural 20 is instead treated as a result of a 30, and conversely a natural 1 is treated as a result of -10.  These modifiers will still help the success/failure of these rolls without the incredulity of 5% of the time anyone is always succeeding while 5% of the time anyone is always failing.

And the #1 PROBLEM of dice: Allowing any dice that are hard-to-read whether because of their funky coloring, small size, or unmarked numbers; having to stop and squint to see what the results are. Then there is actually misreading them, accidentally or otherwise.  SOLUTION: Look, D&D is a group game, but another label for whomever is behind the screen is ‘referee.’  DMs absolutely not only have the right to veto any dice they feel could hinder the story, but they can also push players to only use dice with clear, visible numbers. If people can’t quickly see a definitive result after a roll, then that’s not a good die and it should be taken out of rotation.

So those are the 5 that we came up with.  Ironically they all came up last game ssession, which makes me wonder how many times these dice problems mess up other people’s games. Or if there are other problems we didn’t include in the list.  Let us know in the comments below.

Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

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5 Ways Dice Wreck Your D&D Game (and how to fix them), 2.5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings » Leave a comment



6 Responses to “5 Ways Dice Wreck Your D&D Game (and how to fix them)”
  1. Reester says:

    Uh… Are any of these (except possibly #2) really a problem for anyone? Not enough dice, so having to re-roll a few and, god forbid, add the totals is a PROBLEM? Having a spaz at your table who can’t control where he rolls his dice? Dice that are “too hard” to read?

    C’mon guys – I follow this site for articles that actually help me run my games. This is an article you post on April Fools Day. Just silly. Fail.

  2. Josh says:

    None of these issues have ever wrecked a game for me, so maybe that verb is a little over the top. However, I’ve definitely seen some of them as a waste of time… especially the dice rolling off the table, which causes players to scrounge around on the floor, completely halting the flow of the game itself. I particularly like the idea of the dice tray that signifies whose turn it is to act. As the article states, this has the potential to solve multiple problems with one change of procedure.

    This article might not be brilliant or innovative, but it is solid, useful advice. I enjoyed it. Perhaps Reester wouldn’t be so critical if the title was something like, “Five Ways Players Waste Time with Dice (and how to make them more efficient).”

  3. Tibian says:

    thats good , 100% agree :)

  4. Freerangegeek says:

    Some of them are not big issues. But #4, especially the solution, is great! And I will even try implementing it tonight!

  5. MythicParty says:

    @Reester: Thanks for giving us our next April Fools Day column.

    @everyone else, Thanks for the balanced comments. If you indeed got something out of this one, please also do a quick vote to help balance out the 2 Stars this one currently has.


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