Let’s talk dice. And luck. And superstition. Because superstition is fun.
Dungeons and Dragons is a game steeped in chance. For all the help we try to give ourselves in the form of modifiers, armor, and badass weapons, everything ultimately comes down to a roll of the dice, and the dreaded Nat 1 is always lurking around the corner. Statistically, it should pop up once every twenty rolls, but sometimes it can feel like statistics has no place in D&D.
There are ways to sweet-talk luck, however. Craps players blow on their dice, or have a pretty lady do it for them. It’s no wonder that, like gamblers, D&D players often have superstitions surrounding their dice, little ways to influence the rolls that nobody can prove actually affect anything. But they work. My metal d20 only rolls well if I’ve warmed it. No, not rolled it first. I have to physically warm up the metal in my hand before it will do anything worth while. It works. Fight me.
And I’m not the only one with superstitions. I’ve asked around (okay, I asked my D&D group) and gathered a few of the common ways we try to cajole and convince our dice to show us that sweet, sweet Nat 20. If you’re having bad luck, if you find yourself questioning the nature of probability after your third crit fail in a row, maybe one of the below can help give your dice the extra nudge they need to be more friendly toward you and your character.
Rolling with a particular hand.
Always roll with the same hand? Try to switch it up. Your other hand could be your lucky one, or perhaps you have to get two of them in on the action, cupping the dice in both before letting them roll.
Warming up your dice before a session.
I mean, you have to work out all those bad rolls, right? Everything needs a warm up, even your dice. And if you’re a dice hoarder like me, you have to figure out which ones are going to behave that particular night and which must be put into dice jail before you even begin, just as a precaution.
Oh yeah, dice jail is another common superstition. Is one particular die rolling terribly? Maybe a time-out for the night will help it straighten its act!
Not warming up your dice before a session.
Watch out for those dice that will roll well the first time, then never again for the rest of the night. I have one particular set of dice that I absolutely cannot roll before I play. They’re finicky things that must be rolled cold; if I handle them too much they will punish me.
Shaking the dice.
Luck likes her dice shaken, not stirred. So don’t be afraid to rough ‘em up. Rattle that little icosahedron until it’s too scared to roll anything below a 15, then toss it onto the table and hope for the best.
All of this is partially in jest, of course. As rational adults we all know that none of the above have any real effect on the cruel whims of chance.
Or do they? Who’s to say that the temperature of a die doesn’t affect which side is favored to fall? Or that the flick of one wrist over the other doesn’t change how the die rolls, and thus how it lands?
Either way, it’s all just part of the fun, and it is way more interesting to believe we have some little effect on the way the scales tip. And hey, if something works, it works.
Do you have any strange superstitions you swear by? Drop a comment below!