Dice ‘n’ Roll


Dice whirligiging
(c)2010 Lauri Maijala

Ville published a comment on Goolge+ that turned into an interesting (though a bit small) discussion. He was discussing about the GM’s role and how different people see it. One of the points he raised was “DM / GM / Whatever tries to be neutral.” My mind immediately jumped to dice with that comment.


I am quite certain that there are not many gamers out there that would not have a special relationship to their dice.

In our gaming group we have a “rule” that when ever a player rolls a “church” (or whatever it is called in English when a die lands on its corner) he/she must immediately be ashamed and train his roleplaying skills. We have been known to keep count on the worst players in this area also. We have had lengthy discussions about the different qualities of the dice (current forum has a thread eight pages long on the subject). GameScience‘s “equal access to all sides” dices were admired as well as legal casino dice. Not to mention all the various specialty dice.


Fudge dice
(c)2012 Lauri Maijala

To get back on the track here I was supposed to discuss about the games made by Fantasy Flight Games. As I am a sucker for dice they have much to offer. I GMed Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for over a year and was so impressed about the dice that I build the structure of Eldritch Sigils using different dice. It was fascinating to use the dice to tell the story in a different way.

The system of WFRP itself is a bit clumsy (at least if you buy all the products as I did) but as aI understand it the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire uses a similar kind of system that has been refined from WFRP. I have yet to try out EotE but as one of my gaming group has purchased the beginner game it is only a matter of time before I can get my hands on those dice too.

Later I have found out more games that use different ways to interpret the outcome of the dice. From these kind of games Apocalypse World was most interesting as the system was simple enough to be modified but still allowed the use of regular d6 in a meaningful way. My only problem with it is that as a GM/MC I am not allowed to roll the dice.

This brings us back to the starting point of this rant. Ass the GM’s role as the narrator of the game is usually seen as a neutral state it is the dice that allow him to act this way. In my shady past I have “fudged” the results to support the story. This seems kind of pointless as it strips away my right to be neutral.

AW and its hacks have understood this and give the GM the chance to fudge it away so to speak. GM is only tied into the result of the players. But this takes away his/her possibility to “train” or “bless” his dice in away that gets the PCs killed. It usually makes sure that the story comes first and the events are interesting.

But the GM also loses the joy of rolling two natural 20s in a row to kill a character.

Natural 20s

Can you spot the GM who rolled two natural 20s?
(c)2010 Lauri Maijala

One thought on “Dice ‘n’ Roll

  1. Interesting. I’ll get back to this AND Aki’s critique of Lamentations of the Flame Princess and 3:16 in my next post.

    Teaser: you can’t both be neutral and want to get the players killed.

    Now that I wrote this, maybe I’ll get it done, as well.

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