Rolling Dice When We Have No Dice

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Collection of Dice

As a family full of teachers and students we spend quite a bit of time in the summer road-tripping, sitting around campfires, or otherwise being in situations where rolling physical dice is not convenient. On top of that, ever since my oldest was seven, we’ve been playing various D&D-style, theatre-of-the-mind verbal campaigns run by various members of the family. While many of these games have been completely verbal, shared stories, sometimes we’ve wanted to roll dice for a random element. I often do have a set of gaming polyhedrons with me, but many times we don’t, or there’s no proper surface for rolling, and sometimes, like camping, using our tech-devices for die-rolling is not the best use of power (When I have my phone I use Mach Dice by MachWerx).

So, what’s the alternative? We’ve developed a system that allows us to generate any random number with no dice or tech, just our minds. If we need to roll a 20-sided die to generate a number from 1-20 for instance, the Dungeon Master (DM) first picks a target number for success, then picks a number from 1-20 and keeps it to himself. Then the player picks a number from 1-20 and says out loud what it is. The DM adds the numbers together, wrapping back around to 1 when the number exceeds 20. For example, if the player picks 17 and the DM picks 8, the result is 5. This can be done for any size dice you desire. For an 8-sided die, both just pick a number from 1 to 8 for instance.

Interestingly this introduces an element of psychology to our rolling. Does the DM always pick high numbers, or does he always pick a number based off of my prior pick? It’s up to us to determine if there’s a pattern.

In any case it solves our need to role dice when dice are not available.

How do you game on-the-go? Let us know in the comments.

Note: Image of the dice in the header taken by James Bowe and found on Flickr. Licensed under creative commons. The image was cropped.

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