September 23, 2013
“And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
In Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, this was said to the amassed youth as they prepared to find out which among them would be selected to be tributes. It was also said to the tributes when they were presented before the people of the Capital. “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Well, the odds were not in many of their favors, as they were chosen from among who knows how many to be tributes, then among them, only one was expected to come out alive. So no, the odds were not in their favor.
Players in role-playing games have to deal with the odds all the time. Dice rolling, a core part of many games, is all about chance. You roll the dice, you take a chance. The best way to mitigate that chance is to have your character be good at something, either giving them a higher bonus to add on to the dice roll or giving them more dice to roll as part of a pool. Yet even so, the odds are not always in their favor. Gamer dice are evil, pure and simple. They taunt and they trick, all without ever needing to say a word. You roll a pool of 20 dice, only needing a few to come up as fives or sixes, and you find yourself staring down at countless fours. Useless, useless fours. Ask any Shadowrun player. The skilled warrior in D&D, with a +15 to his attack roll, is trying to hit someone who has an Armor Class of 20. This means they only need to roll a five or higher on a d20. What do they roll? A two. What the odds say a player’s chances are and what they actually are will often be two different things. Unfortunately, there is no way of countering the mean spirit of gaming dice.
Just as my own set has been given the rather foreboding moniker of “the death dice,” a friend of mine has recently granted unto his dice the title of “troll dice.” He named them this because he has a rather amusing habit of rolling exactly what he does not need to roll way, way too often. It often leads to very amusing moments for the rest of the group, but sadly frustrating moments for him. Worse, he is not the first player I have seen with such poor dice karma. Every group seems to have at least one. That one player who cannot roll to save their life (or the lives of their characters, more accurately), or who will roll really, really well on something they really did not need. Having truthfully seen someone jokingly roll a “style my hair” check and roll a 100 on a 100-sided dice after completely failing the last four or five attack/defense rolls, I am a strong believer in dice karma.
Yes, dice karma. No, I do not know how you get it, or how you lose it, but I know it is there. It is the reason I am very respectful of not only my own dice, but the dice of other players, and since I seem to have very good dice karma, I must be doing something right. It is another of the many gamer superstitions that exist among role-players, but as they say in those beer commercials about football fans; “Its only weird if it doesn’t work.”
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