One of my favorite movie quotes is from Real Genius—Chris Knight, when asked about a gadget he built, states “It’s yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility.” A few days ago, for example… woke up with a bit of writer’s block and an email from Fat Dragon Games telling me that the Ultimate Dice Tower was available for 70% off!
I’ve learned over the years that the best way to avoid responsibility and kick creativity back into gear is to take my mind off the job at hand and do something completely different. Building a papercraft dice tower certainly is the opposite of writing, I thought. This is pure kismet.
I logged onto RPGNow.com, paid the $2.29 for the PDF files, and downloaded them to a flash drive. And off to the print shop with a stack of cardstock I go!
I printed 16 color sheets at $0.60 each for a grand total of $9.60… that plus the $2.29 PDF file and for less than $12 I was in business. Total time to cut out all the sheets was about 30 minutes; the fine folks at Fat Dragon Games always include instructions with their PDF files that instruct you on using a sharp blade and ruler for cutting and scoring and bending, but I’m no perfectionist. I’ve gotten quite good at slowly folding the cardstock so I get the folds right on the dotted lines. Likewise, I do all my cutting with scissors—I’m pretty good with them and it’s much faster than using a blade.
Folding and gluing is where you can get bogged down, so I highly recommend reading over the assembly instructions ahead of time and identifying any separate assemblies you can work on in parallel—this lets glue dry on one assembly while you’re working on a second assembly or a third. Glue a tab on 1, fold and glue a tab on 2, glue something on 3, back to 1. Works great and I’m for certain it speeds things up. I ended up building the dice tower in less than two hours.
Here’s the thing—it’s paper. So it’s very light. But it’s also not going to survive anything heavy that falls on top of it. There’s some rigidity and strength built into the insides of the tower, but at the end of the day if you’re intending to use it, you’ll probably want to glue it down on a base of some sort — wood or foam core, for example. Since I now own the PDF, I can make as many of these as I like ($10 for printing, of course) and I think I may try to build another one and reinforce the insides with some hot glued cardboard here and there. (I’ll save that for another day when I need to avoid responsibility.)
The Ultimate Dice Tower is normally $7.75, so getting it for 70% off was great. But don’t worry if you missed it—Fat Dragon Games is always having sales. The best way I’ve found to not miss any future sales is to sign up for the Fat Dragon Games newsletter. You can also create an account at RPGNow.com and select vendors/sellers who you wish to be notified about when it comes to new products and price changes.
Did building the tower work? Absolutely. Twice today I had a couple of brainstorms that provided me with what I needed to continue with a writing project I’m close to wrapping up. Of course, I think I’ve already identified my next Fat Dragon project when a dose of writer’s block flares up—that Ultimate GM Screen 2 looks pretty cool…