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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Pre-Rolled Dice

I recently started reading Darths & Droids, a webcomic that presents the story of The Phantom Menace as a role-playing game, after the style of DM of the Rings. In strip #99, the author discusses (below the comic itself) the various superstitions that gamers will indulge in with respect to dice. This one blew me away for being at once eminently logical, hopelessly moronic, breathtakingly obsessive, and, above all, unspeakably geeky:

As pointed out so clearly in this essay on dice superstition, if dice are random, then it doesn't matter if you're superstitious about them. But if they're not... well, you better make sure you do the right thing and treat them properly. No use taking risks now, is there?

Pete, being the highly logical, calculating person he is, rejects all of that as superstitious nonsense. He instead applies the scientific approach. Over the years, he's collected somewhere around a thousand twenty-sided dice. Every so often, he gathers them all together. He sits down at a table and carefully and individually rolls each of the thousand dice, once. Of course, roughly a twentieth of them will roll a one. He takes those fifty-odd dice and rolls them a second time. After about an hour of concentrated dice rolling, he'll end up with around two or three dice that have rolled two ones in a row. He takes those primed dice and places them in special custom-made padded containers where they can't roll around, and carries them to all the games he plays.

Then, when in the most dire circumstances, where a roll of one would be absolutely disastrous, he pulls out the prepared dice. He now has in his hand a die that has rolled two ones in a row. Pete knows the odds of a d20 rolling three ones in a row is a puny one in 8,000. He has effectively pre-rolled the ones out of the die, and can make his crucial roll with confidence. Furthermore, being scientific about it means he knows that it doesn't matter who rolls the die for the third time, so he has no qualms about sharing his primed dice with other players, if that's what it takes to avoid disaster.

I think it's the idea of storing pre-rolled dice in roll-proof containers and carrying them with you that got me. That Pete is a man who takes his dice very seriously.

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Comments on Pre-Rolled Dice
  Comment from Blogger Skeptical Cat at Thursday, November 06, 2008 6:27:00 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5_OSsawz4

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.